New Podcast Tackles triple j Going National & 90s Alt Culture

26 September 2022 | 12:20 pm | Stephen Green

"triple j’s rise wasn’t a bloodless victory. They left a lot of bodies outside the castle walls."

A new Australian music podcast has just launched, shining a light on Australia's 90s alternative music scene. It's been a busy few months for 90s nostalgia, with Jane Gazzo and Andrew P Street's superb Sound As Ever book launching and now Just Ace takes us on a deep dive into the events that shaped the music scene we are living in today. Taking both a factual and nostalgic lens, the podcast is the brainchild of ex- Channel V and ARIA staffer Danny Yau, with its first episode tacking the history of triple j as the cornerstone of the modern Australian music scene. It's not Yau's first rodeo, with 40 episodes of the superb 90% Hits podcast already under his belt. 

"When laying out the story, there was a clear starting point. That was triple j," explains Yau. "The rise of triple j throughout the 90s changed the course of music in this country. It gave a new generation of bands careers and a new generation of music fans a home. But triple j’s rise wasn’t a bloodless victory. They left a lot of bodies outside the castle walls."

The podcast covers the cultural impact of the nationalisation of triple j and its impacts both positive and negative. The nationalisation of triple j began in 1989 and Yau suggests that while it was undoubtedly a huge win for the Australian music scene, it wasn't all positive. 

"A national youth network was always the plan, and as the 80s came to a close, triple j started broadcasting in Melbourne with other cities to follow. So began a term I would hear many times over as a music fan in Sydney. The triple j anti-Sydney bias. Because radio stations and music fans from other cities questioned whether Triple J would truly support them from their broadcast HQ of Sydney. Would triple j actually play some local, developing Adelaide band? triple j changed their programming from supporting the local scene to supporting music from all over Australia. Now - the question is, did they over correct, and shaft Sydney? Or did they play their fair share for the city they were based in? I know a lot of people who would say no - and coincidentally they all live in Sydney. But whether triple j played their fair share of Sydney music was not the point. Sydney lost its most important radio station. Lots of Sydney bands were wiped from the playlist. The bias was perceived enough that it changed behaviour. Ken West said he knew he had to go national with the Big Day Out because triple j would not support a Sydney only festival going forward."

The change not only shifted the Sydney music landscape, but also created a hole. The podcast acknowledges the new role for community stations like FBI and Triple R, a topic that is likely to be covered in future episodes and seasons of the show.

"When I started volunteering at the new Sydney community radio station FBI in 1996, a lot of people there were still bruised about triple j," said Yau. "A lot of ex triple j staff were at FBI, and the goal was to create a station that truly reflects Sydney Music Arts and Culture. FBI Radio, I’m so pleased to report, is in rude health these days (but not that it still couldn’t use more community support). But despite Sydney’s loss, triple j invigorated Australian music. triple j going national meant there was a signal hitting all Australian radios. And suddenly there was a new kind of music fan. The world was opening up and the soon the internet would unite us in another way. And the scene would get so strong that there could be a music festival of just Australian bands and artists."

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The podcast's first season will roll out from this week, with future series planned, diving in on cultural touchstones like major festivals, media (we're looking forward with trepidation to the street press episode), but also individual episodes on seminal bands both large and small who influenced the direction of the music scene as the 90s progressed. Yau says that the point of the podcast is to ensure that the artists and others who contributed to the rise of the scene are remembered. He said the success of the podcast wouldn't be measured in downloads, but in long-term cultural change. 

"I see young music fans all the time wearing t-shirts for bands like Bauhaus and Pixies. I’m hoping to do my part to see young people wear t-shirts for Clouds or the Hard-Ons instead."

Just Ace is available through Apple Podcasts or you can visit Danny on the web at