Lesbian Community Radio

1984 –

Lesbian Community Radio

1984 –

Theme: Lesbian

This essay written by Linda Evans was first published in Women Together: a History of Women's Organisations in New Zealand in 1993.

Update coming soon!

In 1981, Radio New Zealand (RNZ) started Wellington Access Radio on Station 2YB (783 kHz), to provide a voice for groups not served by other public radio stations. Housed at Broadcasting House in Bowen Street, and staffed by RNZ employees, Access could offer high levels of technical assistance to interested community groups and individuals.

The first lesbian content on Access was part of 'Leave the Dishes in the Sink', a 1981 series of six programmes made by a feminist collective, which included some lesbians. In 1983, Womanzone, a programme 'by, for and about women', was set up. At the beginning of 1984, lesbian members of the Womanzone collective arranged to make a regular one-hour lesbian programme for Womanzone, broadcast at 4 pm on the last Sunday of each month. [1] There was some opposition, but generally the Womanzone collective was strongly supportive of these programmes.

By October 1984 a lesbian group felt able to start the Lesbian Community Radio Programme (LCRP). [2] Originally half an hour a week, it was broadcast at 11 am on Sunday mornings. Later it shifted to 10.30 am, and every fourth programme ran for an hour.

Lesbian Radio poster

Linda Evans

Poster advertising Lesbian Community Radio.

A wide variety of lesbians made programmes for the show; many more were interviewed or contributed items, music and ideas. The collective policy was to broadcast only lesbian voices, as mainstream radio provided almost no opportunity for them. By 1993 programmes had included topics as diverse as lesbians and menopause, teaching, and EEO legislation, together with lesbian poetry, music, news and views. A regular 'What's On' feature informed lesbians about groups, shows, meetings and other events of interest. From 1987, when talkback became technically possible, it became a regular and popular addition.

In 1991, following the restructuring of broadcasting, Wellington Access Radio brought in partial 'user pays' charges, though the station was primarily funded by New Zealand On Air. The major fundraiser for the programme was Dykes Out Of Debt (DOODS). Set up in 1991, it provided a regular monthly sum towards air-costs. Some individuals also contributed.

Though LCRP began only in 1984, it became extremely important. The powerful 2YB transmitter allowed Wellington Access Radio to be received throughout the country by those with suitable aerials. The ordinary reception area extended from the middle of the North Island to the South Island. Isolated lesbian groups and individuals could therefore keep in touch via the programme. One talkback session revealed a lesbian who had 'listened for years' before she dared to make contact with others.

In 1993 Wellington Access Radio became independent from Radio New Zealand. LCRP planned to continue to provide a link between individuals and groups within the new structure.

Linda Evans

Notes

[1] The women were Alison Laurie, Maxine Gundersen and Robin Shave.

[2] Group members were Linda Evans, Alison Laurie, Tighie Instone and Robin Shave.

Published sources

Access Radio Newsletter, 1981–1992

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