Cash and controversy: a short history of commercial talkback radio

Liz Gould

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While many scholars rightly point to the contemporary influence of talkback radio as an increasingly prominent platform for civic and political debate, as talkback radio approaches its fortieth anniversary, little is known about the history and development of the format. It was in 1967 that metropolitan radio stations in Australia rushed to embrace a ‘new’ radio programming format, as talkback radio became formally — and finally — legally permissible. However, the documented history of commercial talkback in Australia began many years earlier and has been punctuated by frequent clashes between radio programmers and broadcasting regulators over issues relating to the nature of programming content. As a platform for the discussion of contemporary social issues, talkback has thrived by courting controversy and debate. The commercial talkback radio format has supported the rise of a small, but highly prominent, group of men and continues to be strongly guided by economic imperatives, as witnessed in recent developments such as the ‘cash for comment’ affair. This article details the growth of metropolitan commercial talkback radio in Australia over the last four decades and looks at the extent to which public policy and economic influences have shaped the development of the format.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-95
Number of pages15
JournalMedia International Australia
Issue number122
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • talkback radio
  • history
  • regulation
  • policy
  • shock jocks


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