Riding Radio Waves with DJ ANT HILL

Riding Radio Waves with DJ ANT HILL

DJ ANT HILL is a musician and aficionado of musical facts.
He lives on the east coast of northern N.S.W. where he hosts a radio show about Australian pub band history. 
Yamba is a popular yet sleepy tourist spot where the mouth of the Clarence river meets the Pacific Ocean. Yamba feels somewhat isolated because to get there off the Pacific highway, is a fifteen minute drive along one road, one road in, one road out, which in turn makes it a pretty special spot on the map to visit. 

  So we take a road trip up the East coast of Australia to discover some local community radio.

Yamba's community radio station TLCFM 93.5  bellows out from a replica lighthouse building on a site known as Pilot Hill, which has a pretty ripper view of the Pacific ocean. A signal, whether it be light or sound, has been sent out from the site of TLC.FM from as far back as 1854, when a pilot station was established on its namesake the aforementioned Pilot Hill, to assist vessels crossing the treacherous Clarence river bar. From 1879 the ' Clarence River lighthouse' has been an iconic Yamba fixture. 

Albeit not the same building......

As the lighthouse became automated and over shone by the bright light's of the Pacific Hotel it fell out of use. In 1988 a group of ' forward thinking volunteers' had an idea for the now decommissioned building. Radio licences were obtained, funds raised and a rebuild of the lighthouse, had begun, this time with out a lantern.

' The Lower Clarence Community Radio Station', or ' T.L.C ' had a home and in full grass roots manner was on air, broadcasting while the building was still being reconstructed. It has been sending out sound waves ever since. 



The story of the Clarence River Lighthouse is a fascinating insight to our relatively  short yet impactful maritime history, it's also an insight into repurposed spaces.

But how important is a local Radio Station and who listens in a time of pod casts?


W.P.S.C:  DJ Ant Hill welcome to the W.P.S.C Journal. Tell us about your show and what exactly is " Sticky Carpet " when it's not something under your feet in a pub band room?

 DJ ANT HILL: Sticky Carpet was initially a show championing the Golden Era of Pub live music in Australia through the 70’s and 80’s. I grew up in it, so I had first hand recollections of the sounds and scene emerging at the time. Australia was attempting to burst out of its cocoon status of being a backwash outstation musically, covering songs from mainly USA and UK, to a place where we began to feel confident about writing lyrics and tunes that mirrored our culture and surroundings. Artists flourished. It was exciting. Since those early shows I’ve branched out to include artists from around the world. Most venues everywhere are synonymous for sticky carpets.

W.P.S.C: Is this your first foray into Radio?

DJ ANT HILL: It is. In my formative years as a teenager I accumulated a vast array of pop trivia in the in the far recesses of my brain. From Countdown charts to who was the bass player in the Divinyls. From Abba to punk. Stones to Stranglers to the Stone Roses. I now wish I’d delved and dabbled in this industry years ago. It suits my ability and personality. Better late than never.

W.P.S.C: How did you first get a foot in the door?

 DJ ANT HILL: A chance meeting with an affable, music loving man named Jeff at a cafe. He questioned my choice of 'Bonsoy' while I was ordering a coffee . The ensuing conversation went from milk preference to the rise of new wave bands in England in the 80s. He had retired on the Northern Rivers 2 years ago and spent most of his time volunteering in various community services when he could. One of them was TLC FM radio, doing a radio show twice a week. Morning shift. Drive time. He loved it. So through Jeff, his encouragement and mentoring I took up the offer and created my own show playing mainly alternative music. Sadly Jeff passed away last month from a sudden heart attack. He will be missed.

W.P.S.C: Oh! Jeff sounded like a bit of a magician. My condolences to you. TLC FM must be the stuff of dreams, it feels like a station with a lot of grit where all the broadcasters volunteer and love what they do. What a legacy to pass on.

What is the criteria to host a show? 

 DJ ANT HILL:  Anyone who has a love of music and the sound of their own voice will revel in broadcasting.  The skill and techniques of announcing will come with time but to just have fun and find tunes that have given you pleasure and playing them to an invisible, awaiting audience is a buzz.  The patter between songs is just an extension of what you’re playing and who you are. Be careful of politics and points of view. They could get you in trouble. I find humour cuts through.


W.P.S.C: In an age of podcasts and streaming, how popular is community Radio ? 

DJ ANT HILL: Very popular. Your demographic is extensive. 6 to 96. All local but dedicated. Streaming and podcasts have their place but they have constraints. On researching whether Sticky Carpet could be utilised as a podcast I realised the limitation on music  content meant that 48 min of me talking with 12 minutes of tunes didn’t cut it. As a background film score to your life radio is unsurpassed. Listen while you toil.


 W.P.S.C: Not everyone has a Jeff in their lives sadly, what advice would you impart to someone who was interested in getting into Radio?

DJ ANT HILL: Do it. Make playlists. Pick a theme or style you admire and run with it. There is always someone out there who will enjoy and appreciate what you’re playing. And on the fine art of broadcasting; just be yourself. Wise words from a close friend. Yes, you Ed.

W.P.S.C: Ha ha, you're welcome, happy to oblige. I remember first seeing the Station and figuring out it's story and I really did think you were a perfect match. I think it's a pretty iconic place to broadcast from, how does it feel to transmit from a lighthouse station?

DJ ANT HILL:  My regular shout out about the surroundings is… " Transmitting from the little white lighthouse, above the mighty Clarence, upon the Yamba headland, on the land of the Yaegl people. " 

Idyllic and nourishing.

 W.P.S.C:  Yes it's a great shout out taking you straight to place. So many of us work from home these days, we work from our studio and like to stream lots of audio and listen into loads of local radio around the country while we work, it's a way of travelling other than your show, who else should we tune into? 

  DJ ANT HILL:  There is plenty to choose from on TLC FM. Country, rock, punk, funk, electronica. Old and new. Ballad to Ballsy. Tommy Z after me on a Thursday does a show called Mixed Bag. Funk, soul and beats are his thing with a radio voice to back it up. Stewy on a Friday arvo doing punk to funk is another I admire due to his total aloofness doing a show. Completely irreverent yet engaging. I’ve learnt a lot from those two. It really is a smorgasbord of sounds. 


W.P.S.C:  Thanks TLC FM 93.5 and Anthill for bringing a bit of east coast down to us on Warn Marin/ Western Port Bay. TLC FM 93.5 has an app you can download, anyone who isn't in it's local range can tune in via the app and have a little Yamba time. 


Read more about the Lower Clarence Community Radio 93.5 here:  TLC FM