Jeremy Garlett, founder of Noongar Radio 100.9fm

Perth’s Noongar Radio is an important part of the indigenous radio landscape, and has had a significant influence on the sector since its beginnings in the late 1970s.  Marley Amphlett looks back at the beginning of the station and its founder for radioinfo. 

In 1979, along with his Auntie Vi Chitty and Age editor, Duncan Graham, Jeremy founded what was to become Noongar Radio 100.9fm.

Tune in early enough in the mornings and you will hear Jeremy presenting a ‘Welcome to Country’, acknowledging our first nations people.

“We can create our own euphoria, which is an amazing thing!” said Jeremy.

Jeremy Garlett has been on the airwaves since 1979, and commenced his radio career producing pre-records at a Fremantle Studios in the late 70s.

Noongar Radio had humble beginnings as a short segment on 6NR at Curtin University in 1979. The program was called “Wanju Banburru.” Mark Cain & Barbara Keiser were instrumental in the evolution of the station, allowing the program an extended timeslot.

This led to a new premises at 176 Wellington Street and a broadcasting license for the 1170am band was secured. At that time Jeremy was a member of the Waru Aboriginal Radio Association board where he met Ken Colbung, who would later receive an OBE and Order of Australia for services to indigenous Australians.

It was during this time in the 1980s that shock-jock Howard Sattler of Drive 6PR would be accused of broadcasting racist comments. Steve Mickler, an associate of Jeremy’s, would respond to this with an academic paper entitled ‘Winning on the first race.’

This paper would help transform the airwaves allowing for a more multicultural voice to be heard. 

In 1992 The Western Australian Aboriginal Media Association (WAAMA) was granted a community broadcasting license. Noongar Radio 100.9fm aimed to both represent and promote the Perth Aboriginal Community

In 2006 the license was revoked, prompted by a series of complaints.

After nearly a decade of broadcasting license problems, Dr Hannah McGlade, was able to offer legal assistance that meant Jeremy was able to change Noongar Radios’ home to 100.9fm.
It was Jeremy’s determination and assistance from PEEDAC (an Indigenous owned and operated, not for profit organization) that Noongar Radios’ broadcasting license was reacquired.
Noongar Radio station 6NME 100.9fm was officially re-launched at the NAIDOC Perth opening ceremony in Wellington Square Park on Sunday 5 July in 2008.

As well as his commitment to Aboriginal Radio, Jeremy has 30 years of experience in uniform, working for the Western Australian police force.

“It was a really good experience. People love you for who you are, not because you’ve got a uniform. That’s what I have found” said Jeremy.

“Assisting someone coming out of a crash and bringing the person out of that, you give them stages of support. I developed a self-love program” Jeremy explains. “A lot of people were suffering from stress”.

Jeremy has had the most unusual experience of dying. Twice. “I wasn’t frightened,” he said. “You have one chance at life. I was given a second! It is the most beautiful, fantastic feeling I have ever gotten.” 
“It is humbling to be able to make a change,” Jeremy said, of being the first Aboriginal broadcaster in Australia. Jeremy encourages others in the local community to get on board and volunteer with the station. “We would love to see a lot more people, bring in the spirit of change.”
Jeremy continues to work in radio both commercially and voluntarily.
“There’s a lot of freedom in volunteering” says Garlett. “It opens up the lotus of compassion, it’s compassion to learn and to teach.”
“People need to be able to share ideas. Noongar Radio is open to the people. It’s human connection and is a community process. We are a human family. It’s beautiful, everyone here is beautiful at Noongar Radio.”
To contact Noongar Radio, call 9228 0606 during office hours or email [email protected]


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