ABC Classic

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ABC Classic
ABC Classic logo 2019.png
Broadcast areaAustralia: FM, DAB (where available), DVB-T Ch-27 & internet
Worldwide: Internet radio
FormatClassical music
OwnerAustralian Broadcasting Corporation
ABC Classic 2
First air date
24 January 1976; 46 years ago (24 January 1976)
Former names
ABC-FM (1976–1994)
ABC Classic FM (1994–2019)
Technical information
ERP100 kW
WebcastLive stream

ABC Classic, formerly ABC-FM (also ABC Fine Music), and then ABC Classic FM, is an Australian classical music radio station available in Australia and internationally. Its website features classical music news, features and listening guides. It is operated by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).


ABC Classic was established in 1976 as "ABC-FM", and later for a short time was known as "ABC Fine Music" (a play on the letters FM).[1] It became known as ABC Classic FM in 1994,[2] before adopting its current name in January 2019. It was the ABC's first experiment in FM broadcasting – which had become a necessity in Australia as broadcasters ran out of AM frequencies on which to transmit.[3] This was before most commercial stations had started using FM, and the ABC was first to use satellite transmissions. The creation of ABC Classic FM was inspired partly by the example of BBC Radio 3, and its focus was on fine music and the arts.[4]

ABC Classic FM's studios were established at the ABC studios in Collinswood, a suburb of Adelaide, South Australia. The ABC's decision to establish ABC Classic FM in Adelaide was significant because most of the ABC's radio and television national program original infrastructure was and is located in Sydney. However, staffing has been progressively cut over the years, from the starting base of 60 down to just five by 2015, a particularly savage round of cuts which included the loss of popular presenter Julia Lester when her job moved to the Sydney studios.[4]

2019 rebrand[edit]

On 24 November 2018, the ABC announced that ABC Classic FM would undergo a major rebrand in 2019, and change its name to ABC Classic.[5]


ABC Classic broadcasts classical music, operas, recitals and live concerts. Former "Classic Breakfast" producer Greg Keane has been critical of changes that were made to programming methods in 2016. He says that the use of G-Selector software has led to a "loss of thoughtful, varied and original programming devised by experienced producers".[6] Around half of the music played is performed by Australian musicians, and the ABC Young Performers Awards are a way of supporting a younger generation of musicians.[1]

Live music is an important feature of the programming,[1] and past concerts are available online afterwards.[7] but has reduced over time owing to budget cuts.[4]


A number of special events are held throughout the year, including:[8]

Classic 100 Countdowns[edit]

Since 2001, ABC Classic FM has organised a number of Classic 100 Countdown surveys.[9] The results of each survey are decided by votes cast by the listeners of the radio station. The works are broadcast in reverse order of popularity over three days. The countdown culminates in the broadcast of a live concert featuring the most popular pieces and finishes with the number one listener choice. A feature of the countdown is that each piece is kept secret until just before its broadcast (including the pieces featured in the final concert).[citation needed]

Classic 100 themes have included Love, Beethoven, Music in the Movies, Composers, and Dance.[8]

AusMusic Month[edit]

Each November on ABC Classic is AusMusic Month, where Australian artists are heavily promoted. This includes more Australian composition broadcast every day; some free, limited-entry concerts around the country; all-Australian albums of the week; and many live Australian concerts.[10]


In common with all ABC Radio stations (other than Triple J, which operates its own service), it also carries news bulletins produced by ABC News. On 19 December 2005, in line with the policy applied at every ABC Radio network (except Triple J and Radio Australia), these news bulletins became state-based rather than national.[citation needed]

ABC Classic 2[edit]

ABC Classic 2, a music-only talk-free streaming station, was established in June 2014. Programmed by the ABC Classic team, it broadcasts only via an online stream and is available on the ABC's Android and iOS apps. Classic 2 specialises in streaming popular styles of classical music. The music on Classic 2 is performed exclusively by leading Australian orchestras, ensembles and soloists.[11]

Limelight magazine[edit]

The monthly arts magazine Limelight was, under its former name ABC Radio 24 Hours (1976–2003), originally owned and published by the ABC. It is now independently owned and published, but continues a strong, albeit unofficial, affiliation with the ABC and with ABC Classic in particular.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "About". ABC Classic. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  2. ^ "ABC History". About the ABC. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  3. ^ ""Our Favourites" Celebrating 30 years of ABC Classic FM" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 August 2008. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
  4. ^ a b c "Julia Lester leaves in 2015 lamenting gutting of ABC Classic FM and loss of its Adelaide radio base since 1976". AdelaideAZ. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  5. ^ Zanda Wilson (24 October 2018). "ABC Classic FM rebrands as 'ABC Classic' with new events and lineup changes". Radio Today. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  6. ^ "Veteran broadcaster Greg Keane speaks out about Classic FM". Limelight. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  7. ^ "Listen Again - Live Music". ABC Classic. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  8. ^ a b "Events". ABC Classic. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  9. ^ "About Classic 100". ABC Classic FM. 4 September 2011. Archived from the original on 9 May 2012. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  10. ^ "AusMusic Month". ABC Classic. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  11. ^ "Welcome to ABC Classic 2 #simplyclassical". About the ABC. 4 June 2014. Retrieved 17 February 2021.

External links[edit]