Unknown poster designer, c1993

1973 Radio ANU begins transmission from the Drill Hall.

In 1973 a group of students and staff at the Australian National University started a forum for progressive voices via radio. Called Radio ANU, it operated from a space in the Drill Hall on the edge of the campus. 

1975-76 2XX emerges as Canberra’s first community station.

In 1975 the Whitlam Government was wanting to start community media in Australia.  Radio ANU was keen to be among the pioneers in this new Australian media. Negotiating with community groups, it took advantage of this new and exciting opportunity.  Radio ANU was granted one of the first handful of Australian community radio licences.

Friday July 2, 1976 Radio ANU morphs into 2XX. 

Broadcasting began from the Drill Hall using two broadcast studios and a third studio for production. 

A low-power transmitter and associated facilities which had formerly belonged to Canberra’s first commercial station, Radio 2CA, were also used.  Reception in the northern parts of Canberra and the inner south was reasonably good. Further afield the signal was less reliable. 

Radio Jukebox, 1988
Annie Franklin http://www.anniefranklin.com

From 1976 2XX becomes a significant part of the cultural, social and political scene in Canberra. 

The Station’s audience grew steadily. 2XX’s programming and other activities quickly expanded to serve wider community interests in the ACT and the surrounding region.  From the early days, 2XX was grounded in folk music roots, activism and the local arts and music scenes.

The mid-70s to mid-80s.

2XX became a platform for local musicians and promoted touring artists of interest to its audience.

In an era when Triple J was called Double J and could only be heard in Canberra between midnight and dawn, 2XX was active in the local music scene.

1979 The Food Co-op opens next door.

2XX had made its home in one wing of the ANU’s Drill Hall. In 1979 The Food Co-Op, Australia’s first, moved into the other wing. 

This enabled great synergies to occur. The Drill Hall became a bustling hive of activity and community action and 2XX attracted a passionate, busy, and growing membership. 

Freedom Radio 2XX, 1985
Deej Fabyc

1979 Gay Day on 2XX

Marking the 10th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the first anniversary of the Lesbian and Gay Mardi Gras, and the bravery of the activists known as the 78ers, Gay Day on 2XX included discussions on the custody rights of lesbian mothers and a history of the Australian Gay Liberation movement. Gay Day was one of 2XX’s earliest campaigns.

1985 Multitrack recordings and live-to-air performances.

A fourth studio was fitted out as a multitrack recording studio for local musicians to make independent recordings and give live-to-air performances.

1988 Fire damage and anti-apartheid activism.   

2XX suffered devastating fire damage to its transmitter site. The cause of the fire was uncertain. Initially thought to be the result of an electrical fault, it was later speculated to be an act of arson. 

This possibly related to the anti-apartheid activism and boycott that 2XX supported.  Despite this setback, 2XX continued to express solidarity with the anti-apartheid movement. With the support of concerned Canberrans and the government 2XX was quickly back on air.

Splash Out, 1996
Tina FiveAsh

c1994-1998 Splash Out.

2XX’s annual extravaganza event for Canberra women, Splash Out celebrated International Women’s Day. Held at the Civic pool, 2XX’s Women in Radio broadcast the day’s events live to air.

1999 2XX moves to the Griffin Centre.

The ANU wanted to use the Drill Hall for another purpose and so 2XX had to find a new home. 

2XX moved off the ANU campus and into the Griffin Centre. Cutting the chord with the ANU required a whole new outlook and self-reflection about the Station’s direction. 

2000 A switch to FM. 

On AM 2XX had poor and limited reception. Moving to 98.3FM took 2XX with clarity across Canberra. Now a genuinely broad community organisation, 2XX could open up to new audiences.

2005 On the move again.

Radio 2XX Calendar 1991.
Designer: Jeremy Lee

The original Griffin Centre was demolished. With three new studios in the new Griffin Centre, the Station didn’t miss a beat.

2020 2XX goes digital.

2XX entered the DAB+ digital radio era. Broadcasting digitally has resulted in a clearer and sharper experience for all listeners.

2020 A major studio upgrade.

2XX had a major upgrade in equipment, helping the station stay on the cutting edge of broadcast technology.

2021 2XX 45th anniversary. 

Broadcasting for 45 years, 2XX is Canberra’s oldest community radio station. Providing diverse, local programming the Station is still governed by the same purpose and a similar range of activities as in 1976. 

These include giving access to radio to people within the community, enabling their involvement in an independent and diverse alternative to mainstream radio.  While looking back on a strong history, 2XX looks forward to a vibrant future. By growing and engaging with its listeners it is truly people powered radio.

Gay Day on 2XX, 1979
unknown poster designer, National Gallery of Australia, gift from John McPhee, 1981, copyright the artist