The mysterious story of the Essendon tape

One of the most exciting things to bring you on this blog has been recordings of Hitz FM. Often they’re 60-90 minute cassettes recorded by the announcers themselves. Sometimes they’re 8 hour “logger tapes” which were recorded in the station (to be kept in case of legal issues).

But even more exciting – are the recordings that were made back in the 90s by Hitz FM fans themselves. They’d listen to them over and over when the station was offair. Listen to them as they got ready to go out – or when driving.

And today’s mystery surrounds a fan’s cassette.

As I mentioned yesterday in our “day 1” post of Hitz’s 9th broadcast, for a long time I had NO audio from that period. But one day I was going through a digitised tape recording a friend sent – and suddenly I found a match. The recording included 3 songs released around September 1996 – Flava (Peter Andre), Woman (Nene Cherry) and Spinning The Wheel (George Michael -Forthright Radio Edit). There were also Hitz announcers Liz Maher (1-4pm weekdays) and Michael Griffin (4-7pm weekdays).

Here’s what we know…

Sometime during September 1996, a mystery listener in Melbourne was taping Hitz FM. They filled a 90 minute cassette and put a Hitz FM sticker on it. But what happened to that cassette over the next 19 years – we may never know. For now, I’m calling it the “Essendon tape”.

Hitz FM fan (& 90s music guru) Matthew Robottom takes up the story at this point.

Around 2015, I was at a second hand music store in Essendon one day. It was Essendon 2nd Hand CDs Records and Books – before they moved away from the railway station. I was rummaging through their tape section. Suddenly, I came across a recordable cassette with a homemade Hitz FM cover (picture below).

The mysterious “Essendon cassette” – available to stream below

As it was only $2, I took a chance on it, hoping that the tape would match up with the art. And to my delight, it did! So what you’re about to hear is the audio from that tape which I played to death, and a rare piece of Hitz FM history.

I was able to ID all the tracks on the tape, and it’s a fantastic mix of club, dance, pop, and even a touch of rock!”

The “Essendon Tape” track listing

Side A:

  • Club Zone Megamix (From Mastermix 121)
  • [Quick break – Michael Griffiths]
  • Ruffneck – Everybody Be Somebody
  • George Michael – Spinning The Wheel (Forthright Radio Edit)
  • Tony Di Bart – The Real Thing
  • [Break – Michael Griffiths re requests]
  • Nada Surf – Popular
  • [Hitz FM celebrity promo]
  • Coming Out Crew – Free, Gay & Happy (Deep Throat Vocal)
  • Itch-E & Scratch-E – Sweetness & Light
  • Lisa Maxwell – Thinking Of You (House Extended Version)
  • [Quick break – Liz Maher]
  • Look Twice – Do You Wanna Boogie
  • [Quick break – Liz Maher]
  • The Ethics – La Luna (Lunchbox Remix)
  • La Bouche – Be My Lover

Side B:

  • The Prodigy – Firestarter
  • Strawpeople – Taller Than God (Angus McNaughton Remix)
  • [Quick break – Liz Maher]
  • Tony Di Bart – Turn Your Love Around
  • Dominica – Gotta Let You Go
  • [Hitz FM ID “The Real Hitz”]
  • Apollo 440 – Krupa
  • Bit Machine – Any Kind Of Vision
  • [Hitz FM ID “Melbourne’s hottest new music”]
  • Peter Andre – Flava
  • [Quick break – Michael Griffiths]
  • Daisy Dee – Just Jump
  • Bass Culture – Love The Life 96
  • [Hitz FM epic “Rockin 4 Myself” name promo]
  • Neneh Cherry – Woman
  • [Quick break – Michael Griffiths]
  • Caught In The Act – My Arms Keep Missing You
  • [Quick break – Chris S]
  • Love To Infinity – Pray For Love

Again, a massive thanks to Matthew for sharing his tape, his photo and his story. And now, let’s jump back to September 1996.

Click on the graphic below to start the stream…

If you suspect that YOU – or any family/friends might have an old “Hitz tape or 2” somewhere – PLEASE contact me.

We’re slowly building up a library of streamable Hitz FM recordings. And that old tape in a shoebox at your place – could be another piece of gold!

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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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