LISTEN: On this night: Hitz FM’s 3rd broadcast ends

Right now, it seems a lifetime since I posted about the anniversary of the start of Hitz FM’s 3rd broadcast. And back on this night, March 11 in 1994 – it felt the same. Ninety days felt like ninety weeks.

Our planned 2 month broadcast – had been extended to three months. Our borrowed school classroms had become a proper office. We knew we’d be able to be heard all over Melbourne – but we didn’t realise people would LISTEN all over Melbourne.

The requests would pour in all day – and night.

It started to grow

We went from 1 phone line to 2 lines to 4. We’d stop at traffic lights, and hear the car next door playing Hitz. People started calling US wanting to sponsor our shows. It just built and built and built.

Soon the music we were playing was popping up on the Victorian chart – without appearing anywhere else. We were actually affecting music sales. We’d do events at stores and nightclubs with record crowds. Unlike the first and second broadcasts from schools – when events would often ‘bomb’ – Hitz FM’s 3rd broadcast was starting to really have an impact.

Gabe McGrath, Julie Doyle (news), Andrew Gyopar (vice president)
and seated – Adele Cookson (afternoons announcer)

Then the media caught on

In February 1994 Hitz FM was featured on A Current Affair right around the country. And it wasn’t a brief mention – it was a detailed 5 minute report covering all areas of the station. Then Hey Hey It’s Saturday. Then Peter Andre visited Hitz – and we had a near riot.

Eleven days later, the first Melbourne radio survey of the year was released. We hadn’t thought about it. And nobody in commercial radio ever thought about community stations in the ratings. Well they didn’t until ‘other FM’ (all community stations added up) jumped from 1.8% to 16.1%. And everybody knew only one thing could have caused an 800% leap.

Petitions started being given out by hand – but soon they even appeared in Melbourne’s largest newspapers.

Let’s go ‘all out’!

The Hitz crew decided to extend our 60 broadcast to 90 days. Soon there were petitions in newspapers, benefit gigs, the Victorian premier speaking about the station in parliament. Every day was another unbelievable moment. But the decision-makers in Canberra weren’t budging.

We were told ‘rules are rules’. So on Friday March 11 1994, Hitz had to end the most successful ‘test broadcast’ in Australia. We compiled – from thousands of pieces of paper – a ‘Top 89’ of the broadcast. The various announcers had a ‘final show’ from 3pm onwards. There was an incredibly party atmosphere in the station, tinged with sadness that this magical thing was about to… just stop at midnight.

But I was happy. After almost two months of separation – I was back with my brilliant co-host Darryl Rae to host the 9pm to 11pm shift on this very special night. There was mayhem around us, far too many Strongbows consumed – tempered by the very emotional calls from listeners begging us not to stop.

Now, for the first time since that incredible night – you can listen to our 2 hour show. Enjoy the terrible background music – which we were famous for. Enjoy the journey as we count down the final 16 tracks in the end of broadcast countdown. From 24/7’s Slave to the Music through to….

Well, you’ll eventually hear the number 1 song.


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Author: Gabe McGrath

Gabe McGrath is a radio creative and freelance writer. He helped set up 89.9 Hitz FM Melbourne in the 90s. This youth radio station caused a sensation and 30 years later many a 90s kid will smile when 'Hitz' is mentioned. Gabe is working on a book about that era and now blogs about Hitz Melbourne. includes tonnes of streaming audio recordings, photos, stories and behind-the-scenes info.

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