“Gough Whitlam is the reason triple j exists”

Thank the late Gough Whitlam for Medibank, equal pay for women – and triple j.

During his final few months of office, the iconic Labor PM – who died this morning, aged 98 – set up triple j precursor Double J in 1975 as a means of wooing young voters, but also with the view of setting up a National Youth Radio Network. He was controversially sacked before he could achieve that dream, but Double J – which later rebranded as triple j and has now been rebirthed as a 24-hour digital station – is one of his most enduring achievements.


Speaking on the occasion of triple j’s 30th anniversary in 2005, Whitlam paid tribute to the dedication of triple j staff and listeners who had kept his dream alive for so long. “Well may we say that triple j should provide innovative, contemporary and leading programs for Australia’s young and young at heart for many more years,” he said. Watch below.

Whitlam was remembered on social media this morning by ABC managing director Mark Scott and triple j presenters Zan Rowe and Lindsay “The Doctor” McDougall, who thanked him for the station’s very existence. Double J presenter Myf Warhurst described his death as a “stark reminder of the lack of vision in current Australian politics”.

In addition to establishing triple j, Whitlam introduced FM radio to Australia in 1974, established local content quotas for commercial broadcasters and created independent arts funding body the Australia Council for the Arts. While the council’s initial board solely consisted of experts from classical music, opera, symphonies and chamber music, its 2014 grant recipients include Marcus Whale (Collarbones), PVT, My Disco, John Willsteed (ex Go-Betweens), Kirin J Callinan, Sampology and Vance Joy.