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Pic: Cam Campbell, courtesy RTRFM

RTRFM’s iconic fundraiser, In The Pines, takes place at UWA’s Somerville Auditorium on Sunday, April 30.   

It’s big times for beloved Perth community radio station, RTRFM 92.1

The station’s 40th anniversary of broadcasting has been a time of celebration, commemoration and even some commiseration, something that is reflected in RTR’s major fundraising event, In The Pines.

“Everything we are doing this year has some element of the 40th in it naturally as that is where our minds are, but when we approached Pines we decided not to make it the whole focus,” explains RTR Operations, Events & Volunteer Manager Chris ‘Chief’ Wheeldon. “We could have gone all old bands and reformations, but we didn’t think that would be the best way to capture the last three or four years of local music.

“We have been chasing Jebediah for a while now and Sodastream, Apricot Rail and Institut Polaire were all big dreams that happened to come off. The other bands playing are a great snap shot of the scene at the moment, similar to any Pines.”


While RTRFM is very much on (or ahead) of the curve when it comes to sound and culture, the station is a product of its history and it’s important to keep that in mind. Is it difficult, however, to arrive at a line-up that reflects a lot of history while also being very much contemporary?

“It can be,” Wheeldon notes, “in that some of the older bands have no context to a younger audience and who knows if the older folks will show up? So it is a balancing act to make sure we capture the past and the present. It’s not hard though, because there is so much talent in this town, all we have to do is pick them.”

In The Pines is one of the marquee gigs for WA bands to be invited to play at. Unsurprisingly, a lot of bands pitch their services, many at the strangest of times.

“A fair few bands do, but it is not an onslaught of people asking,” Wheeldon clarifies. “It is odd though, that a lot ask after we have announced the first line-up and some even ask when we have announced all 20. That is a good thing, people want to be a part of it.

“I like to think that every Perth band secretly all want to play Pines and when the question comes they jump up and down. Realistically, bands are busy doing their own thing and it is a pleasant surprise to be asked to play.”

Your ATS correspondent has been to all editions of In The Pines except 2001 (hey, I was saving a marriage!). We all have our own memories, but are there particular years or moments from In The Pines that the station holds as being real highlights?

“I am not sure I can talk for the whole station but something’s that come to mind would be when Tame Impala played, they had just broke and people were jumping the fences to see them,” Wheeldon recalls. “I think that was the only time someone was refused entry due to them not having a shirt on at the door… that was a thing in the mid 2000’s.

“Looking through old pictures of the event, there are pics of Cheater Five setting a gallon drum on fire. The Tucker B’s always loved to dress up and one year The Tigers, who were too young to play, decided they would be the official cleaners and followed the bands on stage with vacuums and a dust pan and brush. Chris Cobilis was an oddball.

“For me, my favourite memory was the 20th Anniversary of In The Pines. It was one of the first in which I was working for the station and loved being part of it, even as I was being yelled at by Leon Ewing from Beaverloop for telling him to stop playing as we were 20 minutes over curfew.”

The 40th Anniversary stands as one of the station’s greatest achievements, but 2017 has also proven to be a difficult year so far. These here are troubled times and RTR has felt it with some full-time staff being laid off. However, they’re keeping up morale at the coalface, as well as the resolve to keep going forth.

“It is fine,” Wheeldon says of the mood at the station. “It was pretty tough when we had to let a few staff members go, but we all know the reasons why and although tough, it is something the station as a whole needs to come through. The reaction from our members has been great and the resolution of the members and staff to make sure the station keeps going is very strong. In reality we just keep doing what we are doing and making sure we continue to produce high quality radio and live events for our listeners.

Meanwhile there’s more of this year left than what’s gone by? Plenty lies ahead for the 40th Anniversary.

“We have a few plans,” Wheeldon says. “We have the Fremantle Winter Music Festival coming up in June and a few other events before Radiothon hits in August.

“We are then going to have a big November, which I can’t tell you too much about at this point but keep your ear to the ground for something a little different and something very big. We’ll also be celebrating Full Frequency (dance/electronic show, 3pm weekdays) in September and heading back to St Johns Church for a special Drastic on Plastic (women in music show, 3pm Saturdays) gig in October, which I am pretty excited about.”

Meanwhile, the sauce on the Chief’s chips at In The Pines this Sunday will be…

“Sodastream, Institut Polaire and Jebs, but also seeing Doctopus playing with some decent amps,” he notes. “And I do like to see people’s reactions when bands like Forstora play… so that will be fun.”

Sunday, April 30, 2017, 11am-10pm.
Somerville Auditorium, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley.

11:45: Welcome to Country
12:00: Jeff’s Dead
12:30: Bells Rapids
1:00: The Picture Gardens
1:30: Solar Barge Big Band
2:00: Phil Walley-Stack
2:30: Craig Hallsworth
3:00: Doctopus
3:30: Dream Rimmy
4:00: Forstora
4:30: Childsaint
5:00: Apricot Rail
5:30: Instiut Polaire
6:00: Daniel Susnjar Afro-Peruvian Jazz Group
6:30: Rag N’ Bone
7:00: POW! Negro
7:30: Sodastream
8:00: Hideous Sun Demon
8:30: Tangled Thoughts of Leaving
9:00: The Love Junkies
9:30: Jebediah


Full details at




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