A website has been created in response to the ABC’s decision to cut music programming from Radio National.
The site, savernmusic.com is also urging people to sign an on-line petition arguing the decision has “disastrous implications for the independent and non-mainstream music industry in Australia, and for listeners Australia-wide, particularly in remote or regional areas”.
Hundreds of high-profile artists and industry professionals, including Paul Kelly, Gurrumul, Missy Higgins, Kate Ceberano and Katie Noonan, as well as numerous prominent members of the arts industry, have publicly endorsed the campaign to save ABC Radio National Music.
Meantime it’s been reported the ABC Board has asked Director of Radio, Michael Mason, to explain the rationale behind the cuts.
While it’s also reported Michelle Guthrie has hired Jim Rudder, a veteran consultant to Rupert Murdoch’s global pay-TV company, Sky, to help restructure the ABC.
It was late last month ABC RN staff moved a no-confidence motion against radio management over recent radio division cuts.
More than 60 Radio National staff met at the broadcaster’s Ultimo office.
The CPSU confirmed to radioinfo that staff unanimously passed a motion of no confidence, citing ” systemic failure” in senior radio management and “the erosion of the editorial and managerial responsibilities of executive producers.”
All but one of RN’s music programs expected to be cancelled with the loss of eight staff.
The campaign, to save RN is spearheaded by an open letter and a petition signed by over 12,000 people, calling on the ABC Board to intervene and reverse a decision to axe four iconic music programs in 2017.
These are The Daily Planet, The Inside Sleeve, The Live Set and The Rhythm Divine. The open letter also opposes the removal of Jazztrack from Radio National’s schedule.
In addition, musicians around Australia are organising “busking protests” outside ABC headquarters, in capital cities and in some regional centres, to be held over the next few days.
Melbourne-based musician Ruth Hazleton, who initiated the campaign, said: “That our national broadcaster should air very little music content makes no sense and it makes even less sense that the industry and public haven’t been consulted.
“This will have dire repercussions for Australia’s independent recording and touring artists, visiting international artists, festivals and venues, promoters and managers all over the country.
“The proposal that Double J will adequately cater for 30+ audiences of jazz, folk, country, adult contemporary, world and independent music won’t wash.
As noted many times in the comments on our petition, this is a particular blow to rural, regional and remote Australia where digital radio and some networks are not available and where Internet coverage is poor and often expensive.”
Ms Hazleton said it would be impossible to replace the experience and knowledge of the presenters who are being made redundant, Lucky Oceans, Paul Gough, Geoff Wood and Alice Keath.
“These are all well-respected thought leaders who have had enormous impact on the shape and success of our independent industries.”
In a public statement published in the campaign’s Facebook group, Katie Noonan wrote, “I simply can not fathom how anyone would have thought this was a good idea for the Australian people … In regional Australia these radio shows are literally the lifeline for cultural connectivity … Having been lucky enough to tour this great big country of ours many times, I know how absolutely vital these programs are to people’s lives … The catastrophic effects of these cuts will be enormous on multiple levels – this decision has simply not been thought through properly and absolutely needs to be reversed…”
Also in a public statement, author Tim Winton wrote, “At a time when it seems every element of home-grown culture is under siege, it’s bewildering to see Radio National stripping music shows from its programming.
RN listeners treasure eclectic musical programming; we appreciate being treated as grown-ups. Because music is bigger and broader than a teen demographic. So, why reduce our chances of hearing new and interesting music? When RN is already overburdened with talk, why unbalance things even more? This is a mistake.”
The campaign has also attracted considerable international support. In a public statement, Irish singer-songwriter Glen Hansard wrote, “It’s important that local music is played in the national airwaves; it’s part of the evolving of the national spirit”.
Other big names to endorse the campaign include Archie Roach AM, Tim Freedman Shane Howard, Sarah Blasko, Megan Washington, Neil Murray, Mike Nock, Don Walker, Lindy Morrison OAE, Andy Irvine, Gina Williams, Paul Grabowsky AO, Rob Hirst, Deborah Conway, John Butler, Iva Davies AM, the Waifs and many, many others.
Among the music industry groups, music promoters and music festivals to add their endorsement are Byron Bay Bluesfest, Woodford Folk Festival, Opera Queensland, Port Fairy Folk Festival, the National Folk Festival, the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues, the APRA/AMCOS Board and Gaynor Crawford Presents.