Wednesday, 07 July 2021
Charles Darwin University
Announcer Bob O'Callahan spinning the wax in 1985
Announcer Bob O'Callahan spinning the wax in 1985

Territory FM marks 40 years of keeping it local

Darwin-based radio station Territory FM is celebrating a major milestone with its 40th anniversary.

Territory FM Station Manager Matt Bern said the station first went to air at 5pm on 5 June 1981, in a ceremony officiated by the first Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, Paul Everingham.

“We were initially known as 8CAR-FM, and we had the distinction of being the first hi-fi stereo station in Darwin,” Mr Bern said.

The station’s first presenters were Patrick Harding and David Christion and the first song they played was an instrumental track titled ‘A Walk In The Forest’ by Horst Jankoski.

“It was a crazy ramshackle all-sorts station in those early days. We operated from a demountable, on a shoestring budget, with a borrowed transmitter,” he said.

“Five-years-ago we produced a book about Territory FM full of wild stories from those early days. There’s so much history in our walls.”

Five Prime Ministers have walked through the studio’s doors, and so have hundreds of musicians, including Paul Kelly, Peter Garrett, Daryl Braithwaite, Jessica Mauboy, Peter Murray, Cliff Richard, and Joe Elliot of Def Leppard.

The station has also featured talented presenters including Doc Holiday, Maggie Kent, Chris Holleley, Bob O’Callahan, Julia Christensen, Echo Cole, Daryl Manzie and Joe Miller.

In the 90s the station was known as TOP-FM and it played a key role in providing service to Katherine following the devastating 1998 floods.

TOP-FM’s mobile studio, generator, and portable transmitter were immediately dispatched to the stricken town—support greatly appreciated the recovering Katherine community.

The station’s current music format is greatest hits, punctuated by local news and sports.

“Community radio is about inclusion, and we’re also proud to give a voice to members of our vibrant multicultural community,” he said.

On Sunday nights, Territory FM features hosts who speak in their native tongue and play the latest chart-topping hits from India, Korea, Latin America, Germany, PNG and Samoa.

“We’ve come a long way, and we’ve emerged as one of the most successful community radio stations in Australia in terms of longevity and sustainability,” he said.

“And we’re grateful that we’ve had the generous support of so many volunteers, sponsors and listeners over the years. Our team is extremely proud of this milestone, but it’s also a wonderful achievement for our community.”

104.1 Territory FM broadcasts under a community licence held by Charles Darwin University.