The Predicament of Triple J

The Predicament of Triple J

Alex Capper

I would firstly like to preface this article by saying I won’t be discussing whether or not the date of the Triple J Hottest 100 and/or Australia Day should be changed. The arguments for and against are widely known and established and I don’t believe I can offer any meaningful insight that isn’t already out there.

Rather, with the recent announcement by Triple J that the date of the Hottest 100 in 2017 will be remaining on Australia Day, I would like to offer some thoughts on the complex matter at hand for the radio station.

It seems in recent years that the Hottest 100, the world’s largest music voting competition, has become increasingly political. With the bubbling discourse surrounding the lack of female representation paired with the controversy of the date, the Hottest 100 is stirring debate outside of the fact that fucking Macklemore won in 2012.

In regards to the date, Triple J has officially labelled it as ‘under review’. The radio station also promotes the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) during the countdown as an effort to alleviate tension surrounding the event. In 2015, the radio station raised over $100,000 for the program that supports education initiatives for Indigenous kids and adolescents with the aim to ‘close the gap’ in educational outcomes.

Nevertheless, discourse is still simmering away over the date, pulling the radio station in both directions.

Petitions are gathering momentum to change the date and artists, such as A.B. Original, are directly challenging the date through producing protest music that discusses the pain endured by Indigenous Australians over the national holiday.

On the other side, the decision to keep the date received considerable praise on Triple J’s Facebook page, with one popular commentator stating ‘Common Sense Prevails’. This argument contends that the Hottest 100 is about a celebration of music and social politics should be kept to the side.

Honestly, I think those people must be from Egypt, cause they’re livin’ in Da Nile.


(Not Sorry)

Nevertheless, the root of the conflict that faces Triple J is that they are an apolitical, taxpayer funded, government radio station facing a highly political decision under the accountability that they are essentially meant to represent every Australian taxpayer.

But I don’t live under a rock, certain demographics are definitely more receptive to the Triple J ethos and therefore feel more connected to the actions of radio station than others.

So, theoretically, Indigenous Australians to One Nation supporters to the rest of us in-between contributes to the station. In turn Triple J needs to consider that Australia Day means different things to every different Australian.

It’s certainly an unenviable position.

With this announcement, it seems that the directors of Triple J are undoubtedly conflicted. It appears on a personal level that they are willing to change the date, but as a government organisation, they’re acting on behalf of the government.

Consequently, it seems Triple J is playing the waiting game. As soon as the political and social climate allows for a smooth transition, then I believe they will make the move. But I can already hear the protests, why should they have to wait? They’re an alternative radio station; it’s in their handbook to make these kinds of symbolic statements that can lead to tangible outcomes.

And those are certainly valid arguments, ones I undoubtedly sympathise with.

But it’s been a long-time since Triple J was making NWA-inspired protests.

However, Triple J faces the fact that if a government radio station recognises Australia Day as unjust, then it would exacerbate tension on the federal government to act by tenfold. I certainly believe it would breed an internal conflict that could have devastating consequences for Triple J.

And with the recent budget cuts to the ABC, the last thing Triple J wants is to antagonise the federal government any further.

I feel for Triple J, I really do.

If they were privately funded and could act in their own interests entirely, I adamantly believe that they would have changed the date. But in reality, no matter what decision they make a large amount of people are going to feel dissent and a certain sense of underrepresentation, justified or not.

However what Triple J does have going for it is that it offers a chance for, particularly young Australians everywhere, to engage with a platform for discussion.

In short, I believe Jack Manning-Bancroft, director of the AIME initiative, summed it up best.

‘What I love about Triple J and the Hottest 100 is that we have a chance to speak to millions of Australians and provide a platform to shape a narrative for the future filled with colour, joy and love of our difference.’

The Hottest 100 is a great way to celebrate music, back Australian artists and it’s something I believe that everybody should feel happy and embraced to support. I hope Triple J can come to a resolution that would satisfy everyone.

But I ain’t living in Egypt anytime soon. 

Alex Capper, once affectionally called by Ross & John of 3AW as the '7 foot fucker', loves the Essendon Football Club, stalking reddit and dabbing. He thinks he can speak French, but he can't.