In the late 1970s, the idea of a radio reading service was brought to Australia from the U.S.A. A public meeting was held on October 17, 1978, to discuss interest in starting an RPH station in Brisbane. This finally resulted in ‘Radio Readings,’ an hour of daily newspaper readings, Monday to Friday, on radio station 4MBS. The programme was pre-recorded at the first home of the Queensland Radio for the Print Handicapped Ltd in Elizabeth Street.
In 1984 the station was granted a licence of its own. RPH Brisbane commenced broadcasting at the 1620 AM frequency, for just 3 hours a day, from 7.00 am on February 13. The first voice on-air was that of Brian Rowell, still an announcer and presenter. The station moved to the Ansett Building in Turbot Street in 1986, but within a year had moved next door to the ANZ Bank building on the corner of George Street.
The Federal Government in 1988 announced its ‘National Metropolitan Radio Plan.’ As a result of this, on April 26, 1989, the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal (now the Australian Broadcasting Authority) called for applications for RPH services in the five mainland capitals. A telephone conference was held on December 11 as part of the Grant inquiry into an RPH licence to serve the Brisbane region. Meanwhile, in October, permission was given for RPH Brisbane to use the BBC World Service as an overnight programme. This made RPH Brisbane the first station in Australia to use this service.
On March 30, 1990, the ABT granted Queensland Radio for the Print Handicapped Ltd an ‘S’ Class Community Broadcasting Licence to provide an RPH service to Brisbane. Later that year, on September 20, the government decided to provide the old frequency and transmitter at 1296AM, after its previous resident, 4BK, became B105FM. This boosted the station’s transmitter power from 500 watts to 5,000, ie 5 kilowatts.
In 1993, RPH Brisbane moved to 468 Ann Street, which was sold in 1996, forcing the station to find new lodgings. This led to its next home at 6A/35 Astor Terrace at Spring Hill. We stayed there for 12 years, our longest stay at any one address. When the whole of Unit 6 was sold, we moved to our current location in November, 2009.
In April, 2012 we commenced trial broadcasting in digital format. The Australian Government funding for this trial continues to June 2016, for which we are most grateful.
The current office bearers are:
Acting President: Graham Bailey
Vice President: Ed Richardson
Acting Secretary: John Macnaughton
Acting Treasurer: Vacant
The Australian Government provides 25% of the station’s general funding by a grant from the Community Broadcasting Foundation and also provides further funding to Broadcast Australia Pty Ltd, who owns and maintains the station’s transmitter, via the Department of Communications. A further 65% comes from sponsorships, with station membership and donations making up the remainder. There are a number of ways that you can help us.
There are now RPH stations in all state capital cities except Darwin, and also some provincial towns. These are all affiliated with our national organisation, RPH Australia Cooperative Ltd.