Triple j's big boss Richard Kingsmill has come in near the top of our Power 50, though it's not to say he's lost any sway since last year — more that triple j's successes were the result of a wider range of people.
Here's what triple j and Kingsmill have kept busy with this year, including celebrating triplejunearthed.com's 10th birthday, the Hottest 100 and One Night Stand.
So far, UNIFIED's Jaddan Comerford has come in at #7, Future Classic's Nathan McLay and Chad Gillard have come in at #8, Apple executive Janelle McCarthy has come in at #9 and Spotify's Alicia Sbrugnera and Marcus Thaine has come in at #10.
Head here to pre-order the AMID Power 50 for the full list.
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Triple J, Music Director
Fluctuating ratings, off-the-hook celebrations and departing announcers: our national youth broadcaster experienced a typically eventful 12 months in 2016. There were plenty of wins to balance the challenges, however, and the even spread of people responsible for triple j's successes is the greatest factor in our 2015 Power 50 number one relinquishing his title this year.
The station's annual Hottest 100 poll is its biggest event on the calendar, and more than two million votes were cast for the second consecutive year. The countdown threw up a surprise winner, with The Rubens knocking off the more-favoured Major Lazer and Kendrick Lamar, but a larger controversy was brewing. A petition was started and calls were increasing for the poll to be moved from Australia Day, viewed by many as the date Indigenous Australians had their land invaded by the British. Triple j content director Ollie Wards became the station's voice on the issue, appearing on its own current affairs program Hack to reassure listeners that all options were being considered but the 2017 countdown would proceed on January 26. Many seem to think it is only a matter of time before the date is changed, but the issue is reportedly divisive amongst the station's own staff. With triple j favourites Dan Sultan and AB Original drawing attention to the inappropriateness of Australia Day celebrations on the latter's recent single January 26, and next year's countdown looming, expect a long-term decision to be made by the station soon. Whichever way it falls, a strong damage control plan will be needed; passions run high on both sides of the argument.
A quick look at the most recent poll shows just how important triple j is to local acts, however: 54 of the 100 songs voted in come from Australian artists. The station is a huge supporter of homegrown performers, with around half of its playlist made up by Aussie talent. Announcers' opinions are sought on new tracks, but as music director, it's Richard Kingsmill that labels pitch their songs to. Last year we wrote that he was one of the few people in the industry to have a door spot waiting for him at any gig in the country, and that observation still stands. Many consider an album's commercial prospects dead in the water if they cannot get a single away at triple j, and Kingsmill can be notoriously blunt when an artist or song is not to his liking. But for all the criticisms directed at the station and its playlist, the music director has diverse music tastes and he introduces a wide range of artists to triple j listeners through his new music program 2016. A strong audience reaction to a song in that show can be enough to get it moved up the station's priorities list. His Friday night program The Funhouse on double j, meanwhile, is a fascinating dive into the Kingsmill record collection.
The broadcaster's biggest new music initiative, triplejunearthed.com, celebrated its tenth birthday in 2016. It named Flume the greatest Unearthed find in a list of its 100 best discoveries in that decade, a solid reminder of the station's ability to break acts. (Incidentally, Kingsmill has reviewed more than 450 songs on the Unearthed site since its launch, a strong rejoinder to those critics who dismiss him as being too out of touch to be programming youth-oriented playlists.)
The station's Like A Version segment has become a highly desired showcase for acts of all levels, and the Friday morning performance is now one of the most sought-after guest spots on the station. A well-received cover is given plenty of on-air spins and can be shared widely via social media. The most recent Like A Version compilation debuted at number one on the ARIA chart, and had spent seven weeks inside the top 20 as this list went to print.
One Night Stand returned in 2016 after a year off, and nearly 15,000 people attended the concert staged in Geraldton, WA (population: roughly 40,000) to witness an epic set by the event's first female headliner, Alison Wonderland. Just as celebratory were Matt Okine and Alex Dyson's 5 Raves In 5 Days parties, staged to send off the departing breakfast hosts who are leaving the station at the end of the year. Organised with producer Jono Harrison and triple j publicist Gerry Bull, the shows had punters queuing for hours to gain entry and then partying wildly with talent-heavy line-ups of triple j favourites. If you were looking for a definite example of the passion and devotion the station inspires in its listeners and the artists it promotes, this was it.
Okine and Dyson aren't the only on-air talent being replaced in 2017, with Lunch host Lewi McKirdy, Roots 'n All's Sarah Howells and Weekend Arvos presenter Kyran Wheatley all leaving to pursue other interests. Station manager Chris Scaddan also departed in 2016, to take on the new role of ABC Head Of Music.
The station's new incoming hosts won't have long to find their feet, with triple j's ratings fluctuating after a dominant start to 2016. The final survey of the year saw significant drops for the breakfast, morning and afternoon shows in Sydney, morning and afternoon slots in Perth and weekends in Brisbane; these were partially offset by strong gains for breakfast, mornings and afternoons in Adelaide.