Missy Higgins, Kasey Chambers, Kate Miller-Heidke and Sarah Blasko have launched a petition calling on the government to allocate funding that would allow Double J to pivot from its current, digital-exclusive format to a national FM broadcast.
Formally launching in 2014, after the ABC merged its Dig Music brand with triple j, the station skews towards older listeners, compared to its primarily youth-oriented sister station, triple j.
Double J largely plays music from older artists, many of whom established their brands with support from triple j. It currently streams digitally online, through standard DAB platforms and via the triple j app.
This new petition, also co-signed by Deborah Conway and The Waifs‘ Vikki Thorn, asks Paul Fletcher – the Liberal Party’s Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts – to throw his support behind an initiative to have Double J aired on its own dedicated FM broadcast.
The petition’s launch coincides with International Women’s Day, and the group believe that a switch to an FM broadcast would benefit “all Australians, but particularly Australian women”.
In their statement, the group – all of whom are also set to perform at the newly launched Wildflower festival – wrote: “While our live performances together attract crowds of 5,000-10,000 people per night, none of these fans can hear our new music on local FM stations. In the United Kingdom, BBC Radio 2 continues to play artists like ourselves.
“In the United States there are dozens of so called ‘AAA’ and ‘Non-Comm’ stations that allow fans to discover new releases from established artists. Thankfully, some older male musicians can still have their latest songs heard around Australia on the Triple M network but, sadly, there is no local FM equivalent for women.”
The group tied their efforts in with the upcoming federal election, asking both the Coalition and the Australian Labor Party to allocate “modest extra funding during the first year of the next Government” to ensure that the ABC will be properly equipped to move Double J to an FM setup.
They continued: “At the moment this fantastic digital-only channel plays a lot of new music by female (and non female) artists over the age of 30 but its reach is severely limited.” They went on to detail the trend of “othering” successful artists – particularly women – once they reach a certain age bracket.
It’s an issue that has long surrounded triple j, including last year, when a tweet by the youth broadcaster (“did it hurt? when you aged out of the youth radio station?”) caused backlash and prompted debate about the topics of ageism and sexism in Australia’s music industry.
In their statement, the group behind the petition explained that they had “benefitted hugely from FM radio exposure in our 20s and 30s”, noting that “the hits we had in those years continue to receive recurrent airplay”.
“However, like our male counterparts, we continue to release new music of which we are proud and we believe that our fans deserve an equal opportunity to hear it on the radio,” they continued. “The expansion of Double J would be a relatively simple solution to this current inequity for artists and fans alike.
“We fully respect that there are more significant issues which require the attention of Governments – particularly when it comes to the many serious challenges faced by women. Nonetheless, the United Nations’ expressed goals for International Women’s Day are to ‘celebrate women’s achievement, raise awareness against bias and to take action for equality’.
“We respectfully submit that the expansion of Double J to the FM band would neatly meet each of those goals.”