Facts and friction: traditions and innovation within ABC Radio National

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Radio's history has been one of survival, resilience, expansion and continuing re-invention. While in the present no less than in the past, radio's innate flexibility and adaptability to new technology will ensure its ongoing relevance as a medium, this article considers the particular significance of specialist traditions and production cultures unique to a public service broadcasting "form" such as ABC Radio National (RN). Drawing on rich seams of historical and comparative research, and on past investigations of "cultural radio" developments and forms since the 1930s, the article examines the particular ecology of RN, and the role and legacy of journalists, producer-broadcasters, "creatives" and engineers who contribute to re-invention and innovation in media forms, radiophonic expression and content. In doing so it also reveals the historical tensions between information and culture in the national broadcaster, and in the mix between creative and more narrowly defined journalistic practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-49
Number of pages13
JournalAustralian Journalism Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

This article is an output of the ARC Discovery Project DP140102514 (Lead CI Dr Virginia Madsen), "Cultural Conversations: A History of ABC Radio National" (2014-2018)


  • ABC Radio National
  • Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)
  • cultural radio programming
  • radio and innovation
  • cultural broadcasting
  • public service broadcasting (European, BBC, Australia)
  • Radio broadcasting--Australia--History
  • cultural institutions
  • media history
  • broadcasting history


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