In 2017, triple j’s ‘Hottest 100’ countdown will remain on January 26th, however, the date of future countdowns will remain in discussion. Earlier today it was leaked that triple j was possibly considering changing the date the countdown is broadcast away from Australia Day.
The decision was passed down by content director Ollie Wards, who stated this afternoon on triple j’s Hack program: “This isn’t something that just cropped up today. It’s been something we’ve been thinking about for quite a while.” Wards says that the station wants to “acknowledge all the different perspectives” surrounding the issue.
However, any stance the station takes on the issue will be a political one, especially as the ABC is supposed to maintain an apolitical status. “Having it on the 26th is political and moving it is a political move,” Ward says. Ward acknowledged that hosting and listening to the Hottest 100 on January 26th, is something that many Indigenous Australians “can’t get on board with”, however stated that he needs to consider everyone’s perspective and that the station will continue to talk to people about moving the broadcast.
The decision comes after an increase in listener and musician discussion over the last few months to change the date of the countdown’s broadcast. An online petition, requesting the radio station to choose another date, received over 4000 signatures and Indigenous musicians, Briggs and Trials just last week, called for the station to change the date of the countdown in order to show solidarity with Indigenous Australia.
In the official statement released this afternoon, the station reiterated its alliance with AIME, Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience, a program which aims to close the educational gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youths. Last year during the Hottest 100, triple j listeners raised over $100,000 for AIME and intend to continue to raise money and awareness alongside the program during future countdowns.
“Our partners at AIME acknowledge the different perspectives of 26 January and want to work with us to change the narrative of the day.”
This afternoon on Hack, Ward stated that the station is “genuinely trying to make a tangible difference” to the lives of Indigenous Australians through its partnership with AIME.
January 26th marks the invasion of Indigenous territory by the British and the beginning of the genocide of the Aboriginal people. So to celebrate Australia as a nation on this day is often seen as insensitive and offensive. Opposition to the celebrated date began with Indigenous Australians on January 26th 1938, when a Day of Mourning was held in protest to the last 150 years of racial oppression and genocide. In recent decades, non-Indigenous Australians have joined the discussion and fight to change the national day of celebration to a more historically appropriate date.
Whether triple j and the Hottest 100 should be leading this fight is debated by much of its audience and the public, many who claim that the date doesn’t need to be changed at all. For now, the Hottest 100 will remain on January 26th, Australia Day, Invasion Day, Survival Day- whatever you call it and whatever it means to you.