Lesbian Community Radio Programme

1984 –

Lesbian Community Radio Programme

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. It was updated by Linda Evans in 2019.

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 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 Programme.

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

1994-2018

By 2018, the Lesbian Community Radio Programme (LCRP) had been providing a forum for lesbians to hear about and contribute to the network of Wellington lesbian communities for 34 years, with its format of news, interviews, music and current events of interest to the diverse lesbian communities of Aotearoa New Zealand.

By the late 1990s the collective of programme makers had expanded, and members had begun to operate in the studio as well as presenting on-air. A committed group of programme makers and technicians continued to ensure that the weekly show went to air, notably Prue Hyman, who was the co-ordinator for over ten years.

As it moved into the 2000s, the programme remained broadly by, for and about lesbians, reflecting the differing political and social perspectives of later collective members. The internet provided a wider range of music and news sources, both local and international, for LCRP to draw on. From 2002 the programme was largely funded by the Armstrong and Arthur Charitable Trust for Lesbians.

LCRP adapted to many changes in studio and broadcasting technology. From 2011 LCRP was available as a podcast, providing a much larger potential audience. In 2016 Access Radio became an FM station, and in 2018 the Access Internet Radio NZ (AIR) app was launched, enabling people to listen on their phones and other devices.

A collection of LCRP programmes from 1984–2010 is archived in LAGANZ, the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand Te Puranga Takatapui O Aotearoa, housed at the Alexander Turnbull Library.

Linda Evans

Postscript: 2019

From March 2019 the collective decided to change the name of the Lesbian Community Radio Programme to the QUILTED BANANAS Radio Programme.  The collective advised that:

…as an acronym this stands for Queer, Intersectional, Intersex, Lesbian, Takataapui, Trans, Enby (non-binary), Diverse ... Bisexual, Asexual, and Nanas (because a lot of us also identify as nanas). As a metaphor, the name QUILTED BANANAS is about celebrating all the slippery overlaps these communities can have.  

This change was being discussed among listeners and by the collective.

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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