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Radio National is an Australia-wide non-commercial radio network run by the Australian Broadcasting Corporationmarker.

Radio National broadcasts national programming in areas that include news and current affairs, the arts, social issues, science, drama and comedy. Some programs are relayed on Radio Australia, the ABC's shortwave international free-to-air service.

Most radio programs are available for real-time streaming over the Internet, as audio-on-demand, or for download as MP3 podcast files up to four weeks after broadcast. Some programs are available as audio going back to 2005, when Radio National commenced podcasting, and for many, transcripts are available on the Radio National website. Flagship programs have been archived back to 1996.


From 1928, the National Broadcasting Service, as part of the federal Postmaster-General's Department, gradually took over responsibility for all the existing stations that were sponsored by public licence fees ("A" Class licences). The outsourced Australian Broadcasting Company supplied programs from 1929. In 1932 a commission was established, merging the original ABC company and the National Broadcasting Service. It is from this time that Radio National dates as a distinct network within the ABC, in which a system of program relays was developed during the subsequent decades to link stations spread across the nation.

Radio National's Sydneymarker station 2FC first broadcast on 5 December 1923. 2FC stood for Farmer and Company, the original owner of the station before the ABC took it over.

The origins of the other stations in the network were:

3AR Melbournemarker – 26 January 1924 "Associated Radio".
5CL Adelaidemarker – 20 November 1924 "Central Broadcasters Ltd"
7ZL Hobartmarker – 17 December 1924
4QG Brisbanemarker – 27 July 1925 "Queensland Government"
6WN Perthmarker – 5 October 1938 "Wanneroo"
2CY Canberramarker – 23 December 1938
2NA Newcastlemarker – 20 December 1943

From 1947 until the mid-1980s, "Radio 2" (as it came to be known, after BBC Radio 2) was broadcast to the major metropolitan centres, with additional reception in adjacent areas. It contained most of the ABC's national programming.

In the 1970s, the network's program format began to take on a more serious tone, a style which continues to this day. Art critic Peter Timm later remarked that the network is "virtually the only non-print media forum for art in this country."

In 1985, the ABC renamed "Radio 2" as "Radio National". Since 1990, all Radio National stations have had the same callsign format, Radio National preceded by the appropriate number for the state or territory, sometimes followed by the locality (e.g., "2RN Sydney", "3RN Melbourne").

As a result of cuts in the 1996–97 budget, Radio National was hit with a reduction of a million dollars in its funding, with a significant impact on programming.

2008 restructure

In 2008, controversial programming cuts raised the issue of political interference in the public broadcaster and its executive structure. Presenter Stephen Crittenden leaked confidential Radio National programming changes in an unscheduled live broadcast before the start of his show, vehemently criticising his superiors.
Welcome to the program.This week, the new line-up of Radio National programs for 2009 was announced. The Religion Report has been decommissioned, along with The Law Report - I'm sorry, The Media Report, The Sports Factor, The Ark, Perspective, In Conversation, and Street Stories, and Radio Eye.These programs are all going in order to make room for, quote, "more interdisciplinary work on the network", and the 8.30 time-slot is being remodelled to give it, quote, "more consumer focus". The decision to axe one of this network's most distinctive and important programs has been approved by the Director of ABC Radio, Sue Howard, and it will condemn Radio National to even greater irrelevance.The ABC specialist units have been under attack for years, but the decapitation of the flagship program of the Religion Department effectively spells the death of religion at the ABC.That such a decision has been taken in an era when religion vies with economics as a determinant of everything that's going on in the world almost beggars belief; but you have to remember that just a couple of years ago they axed the Environment Program.The ABC Religion Report has always been fearless, and I don't have to tell you that it has put many powerful noses out of joint. This is a signal to the churches that the ABC has decided to vacate the field.If you care about this program and what it represents, I suggest that you might consider writing to the ABC board or the managing director, Mark Scott.

And now, as they say, it's on with the show...

Stephen Crittenden was suspended for his outburst, amid criticism from some colleagues for his unprofessionalism and praise from others for his outspokeness. His unscripted comments were later excised from the ABC's podcast and transcript of the program, and the subsequent comment by religious commentator Paul Collins on reiterated Crittendon's fears Crittenden was eventually reinstated as a reporter in the flagship investigative program Background Briefing after an independent investigation resulted in a confidential settlement with the presenter . However his program and the other eight cancelled or merged were not re-instated.

Another casualty of the controversy was head of ABC Radio Sue Howard, who was dismissed in 2009, partly for the perception that the controversy was mishandled.


The times shown relate to Radio National's schedules in the eastern states of Australia


  • AM, The World Today, PM: in-depth news and analysis (Monday to Fridays at 07:10, 12:00, and 17:00)
  • Asia Pacific: current regional affairs in the Asia Pacific region, mirrored on Radio Australia (Tuesday to Saturday at 00:05 and 05:00)

News and analysis

  • Counterpoint hosted by Michael Duffy with views from libertarian perspectives (Mondays 16:00, repeated Fridays 13:00)
  • Breakfast: "comprehensive coverage and analysis of national and international events - serious, fun, topical and diverse" hosted by Fran Kelly (Mondays–Fridays, 06:00 to 08:30; includes BBC and CNN coverage before 06:30, and AM at 07:10)
  • Bush Telegraph: "an entertaining look at rural and regional issues around Australia" (Mondays–Fridays 11:00)
  • Background Briefing ABC Radio's agenda-setting current affairs investigative program (Sundays 09:00 repeated Tuesdays 19:00, Wednesdays 04:00)
  • The National Interest features in depth analysis of national issues of interest (Fridays 18:00; repeated Saturdays 03:00, Sundays 12:00), hosted by Peter Mares (formerly by writer and journalist Terry Lane)
  • The Health Report: appealing to "both specialist and mainstream audiences by applying a broad definition of health, and seeing health and medicine within social, scientific and political contexts" and hosted by Dr Norman Swan (Mondays 08:30, repeated Tuesdays 00:30)
  • The Law Report: "Breaking legal stories across Australia and overseas, analysing law reform, legal education, test cases, miscarriages of justice and examining legal culture" (Tuesdays 08:30, repeated Wednesdays 00:30)
  • Life Matters, hosted by Richard Aedy and including the Talkback Classroom segment, talks with the main people behind Australia's social policies – from workplace issues to education, health, family relationships, and social change (Mondays–Fridays 09:00 and 21:00)
  • Late Night Live, hosted by Phillip Adams (Mondays–Thursdays 22:00–23:00)


  • Australia Talks: Mondays–Fridays 18:00–19:00, repeated Tuesdays–Saturdays 03:00)

Arts and music

  • Artworks: What's happening now in new music, art and culture in Australia and around the world (Sundays 10:00, Tuesdays 15:00)
  • Airplay: radio plays (Fridays 21:00, Sundays 15:00)
  • Poetica: poetry featured and produced for radio (Thursdays 21:00, repeated Saturdays 15:00)
  • Music Deli: live music performances (Tuesdays 2:00, Fridays 20:00, Sundays 16:00)
  • The Music Show: latest developments in music, featured music and interviews with performers/composers (Saturdays 10:00–12:00 and 20:00–22:00)
  • Sound Quality: latest new music in the genre of electronica and others hosted by Tim Ritchie, former JJJ announcer and DJ (Fridays 23:20, Part 2 repeated Mondays 00:30)
  • The Daily Planet / The Weekend Planet: "a unique window into the world's diverse, traditional and innovative musics ... Good players don't put music into little boxes, so we don't either" (Mondays–Fridays 14:20 and repeated Mondays–Thursdays 23:10, Saturdays and Sundays 22:00)
  • 360: "the best radio features and documentaries from Australia and around the world" (Saturdays 14:00, repeated Wednesdays 13:00)
  • The Night Air: "listening for pleasure: an audio adventure in which ideas, sounds and music are remixed around a new theme each week" (Sundays 20:35; Part 1 repeated Fridays 21:30, Part 2 repeated Saturdays 00:00)
  • The Book Show: discussion of everything relating to the written word, presented by Ramona Koval (Monday to Fridays 10:00, repeated 20:00)


Radio National's religion unit provides reporting and analysis on religious and ethical issues for Australia. Following its ABC charter obligations, this unit forms a key part of the ABC's religion output, and is unique in providing the independent analysis of a public broadcaster.
  • Encounter : "a radio documentary series exploring connections between religion and life" (Sundays 07:10, repeated Wednesdays 19:00)
  • The Rhythm Divine : "a musical journey through the world of belief" (Fridays 21:00, repeated Sundays 05:00)
  • The Spirit Of Things: "an adventure into religion and spirituality, exploring contemporary values and beliefs" (Sundays 18:00, repeated Tuesdays 13:00 and Wednesdays 02:00)


  • All In The Mind presented by Natasha Mitchell, investigates the mental universe, the mind, brain and behaviour (Saturdays 13:00, Mondays 13:00). There is also an All in the Mind blog.
  • Big Ideas deals with concepts of global importance (Sundays 17:00, repeated Mondays 00:00, Friday 4.00)
  • The Philosopher's Zone: your guide through the strange thickets of logic, metaphysics and ethics, presented by Alan Saunders. (Saturdays 13:35, Mondays 13:35)


  • The Science Show: recent developments in the field of science, presented by Robyn Williams (Saturdays 12:10–13:00, repeated Mondays 19:10–20:00, Tuesdays 4:00)
  • All in the Mind: lateral explorations of the mind, brain and human behaviour presented by Natasha Mitchell (Saturdays 13:00, repeated Mondays 13:00).
  • Ockham's Razor: a weekly opinion piece presented by Robyn Williams (Sundays 8:45)

See also

External links


  1. 2FC radio mast at Willoughby National Archives of Australia c. 1920 Retrieved 2008-12-18
  2. On This Day Vic Parliament
  3. Aussie Callsigns at RadioDX
  4. Timms, Peter. What's wrong with contemporary art? 2004, UNSW Press, ISBN 0868404071, p. 102
  5. Budget Review 1996-97 Parliament House

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