triple j’s requestival is weird… good weird

Triple j’s Requestival has been underway all week, with mixed responses from listeners.

If you came in late, here’s the deal

Because everyone is shut in with Coronavirus and listening to the radio, the national youth station wanted to make a connection with them by allowing listeners to request their own playlist.

Every song played between 6am – 9pm is made up of requests from listeners, with the best stories behind the requests discussed by the presenters.

We have had plenty of comments to the radioinfo inbox from listeners of all age groups saying it sounds weird. But good weird. They like the variety and the stories behind the requests. And it seems you don’t have to actually be young to get a request to air. Nor do you have to choose triple j’s usual style of music.

With more than 73,000 song requests and counting, the triple j audience has gone nuts for the shut-in request format.

Young listeners are hearing things they never heard before, or discovering the original artists who wrote songs that they know from current artists, but never knew were covers of much older songs.

Older audience reaction from fans can be summed up by this comment from Rob Kaldor, a 40 something podcaster and digital marketer currently studying at AFTRS. His request was ‘Change in Mood‘ by Kids in the Kitchen.

I am wondering if Triple J is breaking its raison d’etre by essentially appealing to me as 40 something year old Gen Xer. On its website, Triple J is the national youth broadcaster for young Australians. Their music is alternative with a focus on new Australian artists  and they have launched a range of musicians from Silverchair, Missy Higgins through to Vance Joy and Bear and Boy.

Don’t get me wrong – I am a long-term fan of the network. Over the years I have spent many an Australia Day weekend listening to the Hottest 100 whilst attending a BBQ or driving up or down the coast. But alas, my listening habits have long since moved in an easier listening direction. I share my ears with ABC Sydney, Double J, WS FM and dare I say in this forum – Spotify. 

But this week, I turned the dial (or more accurately asked Siri) to return to my old listening habits. My reason for this return is the current democratisation of the station via its Requestavil week. 
Triple J has thrown the keys to the car to anyone who downloads the Triple J App and requests a song. Literally any song can be requested. The only rule is that each person can only request one song per day and there needs to be a reasoning or a story behind the request.
The outcome has meant that the usual Triple J staples such as Tame Impala, Ocean Alley are now sharing the ‘Wireless’ with Michael Bolton, the Wiggles, Britney Spears and even Beethoven.
I am loving it and finding the reaction of the announcers as entertaining as the actual melange of music in my headphones. The stories behind each request have been as expected, incredibly varied from family road trip memories, recollections of sexual exploits as well as other completely random and often moving music triggered yarns. So as entertaining as the offering is to me, I wonder if it is democracy gone mad or simply a case of ‘be careful what you wish for.’

It has become almost like a game, to craft you story well enough to justify the presenters playing it on the national youth network. As one post on the triple j website said: “It’s a lot more fun convincing a radio station or presenter to play you a song than Siri or Alexa.”

29% of requesters so far are in Rob’s demographic (over the hill… oops, over 40), while 71% of requestors so far have been under 30, with almost half (48%) aged under 24.

All the generations seem to be loving it, at least for now. The radio sounds like nothing you’ve heard before, the textline is going off and triple j’s app is being inundated with emoji reactions with every new song that’s spun.

The station has played triple j faves, classic tracks, one hit wonders, love song dedications, theme songs an lots of listeners’ favourite local artists.

A screen shot from the network’s text screen shows the seleciton of requests includes John Denver and even the Hamster Dance.

Yesterday on triple j’s Good Nights, Bridget Hustwaite played ‘Break the Rules’ by Melbourne artist IJALE for the first time on triple j. This morning on Breakfast, upcoming female NZ rapper JessB received her first play during triple j Breakfast when Sally & Erica played her single ‘Mood.Beethoven’s ‘Fifth Symphony’ and John Cena’s entrance music have also been requested.

Things got very moving, like when triple j Mornings host Lucy Smith noticed that two listeners from Armadale had both requested ‘Fuck Em Only We Know’ by BANKS, because it had played when they first met their partners. Both of them had separately and unknowingly requested it about one another… Cute!

Insiders from the ABC report hearing comments around the halls from the network’s hipster presenters such as, “I think my grandmother requested that,” and “Who knew Paul McCartner was in a band before Wings.” All in good humour of course.

Weeknights presenter Bridget Hustwaite was agast as the thought of playing Nickleback and took to twitter with her reaction, which sparked plenyt of reaction from her followers.

All Zane Rowe had to say about the theme for the Antiques Roadshow was, why not!

The stories and songs could get even weirder before the week is over.

Will triple j ever be the same again?




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