Tune Into JOY 94.9: Australia's Original Queer Radio Station

Written by Staff Writers
Category: Agenda Published: Friday, 02 August 2019 09:59

Over half a million people choose to tune into JOY FM, an independent station for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people of Melbourne.

Since 1993 it's provided a voice for those people, with a mission statement to enable freedom of expression and break down isolation.

Rachel Tyler Jones is the Program Director at JOY, and she's answered some questions about the station and its history.

Where and how did JOY 94.9 begin?
“Can I have a cup of coffee, then we’ll get going” were the first words broadcast on JOY, back in 1993 when we were a weekend radio station operating out of a single studio above a hardware store in South Melbourne. These days we’re broadcasting 24/7 from the Melbourne CBD, but we’re still 100 per cent self-funded through memberships, donations and sponsorship.

Why do you think a radio station like this is important?
We have over half a million monthly listeners. With that kind of reach, JOY 94.9 has become a very powerful way for LGBTIQ+ people and our allies to have our voices heard. When we engage in robust debate on air, we get to represent the diversity in opinion in our communities. When we work towards increasing the diversity in our own organisation, we give a voice to those communities that are often silenced through lack of access to a platform. A radio station dedicated to supporting the LGBTIQ+ communities like JOY is important because it is the opposite of being silenced. 

What kinds of things does the station cover on a weekly basis?
During the day on JOY you’ll hear our upbeat, high-energy music mix presented by JOY volunteers. In the evening we switch over to our specialist programming – that’s when you’ll hear everything from shows about specific parts of the LGBTIQ+ communities, such as our bisexuality (Triple Bi Pass) or transgender-centric (TransPOV) shows, to shows about issues, such as Hooked which focusses on addiction in our communities, to LGBTIQ+ news and current affairs, to our specialist music shows. Our programming is as diverse as our communities.

RachelTylerJones DeeMasonMG
Rachel Tyler Jones (left) and Dee Mason (right) at Mardi Gras in 2019.

And what's your favourite part about what you do?
As the Program Director at JOY, I have the very great privilege of working with our 150-or-so on-air volunteers to help them make amazing radio. My day job is to help give a voice to our communities. That part’s not bad.

What's the biggest misconception about the queer and gender diverse community?
That we are a monolith.

Is there a particular queer anthem that is constantly on heavy rotation and that you love to hear every time it's played?
We play a lot of queer anthems on JOY, but I have to say my favourite music moments are usually the new local tracks. A firm favourite for me from the last 12 months is Kira Puru. She’s a great performer, her interviews at JOY are always a lot of fun and her music just makes me want to dance.

Obviously the last few years have been huge for the queer community in Australia with the legalisation of same-sex marriage. What are you hoping to achieve with JOY 94.9 moving forward?
Marriage equality was huge for many people in the LGBTIQ+ communities in Australia, but it certainly wasn’t an end to discrimination, legal or otherwise. Transgender people in Australia had to keep fighting to end forced divorce after marriage equality had passed, and in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales you need to have undergone sex reassignment surgery before you can have your birth certificate changed, which not every transgender person wants to do. The intersex community is fighting against deferrable intersex medical interventions being performed on children. The bisexual and multi-gender-attracted community still faces a lot of stigma, even from within the LGBTIQ+ communities. These are just some of the issues facing some of the communities JOY exists to give a voice to, and we’ve got a long way to go before we can stop fighting.

Tune into JOY 94.9 24/7.

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