Music / Features
Complete The Connection -
Celebrating PBS FM's Radio Festival with
Milo Eastwood
Words and interview by James Lynch
Tuesday 24th May, 2022

Beloved Melbourne community radio station PBS 106.7FM are currently in the midst of this year’s Radio Festival, their annual fundraiser that encourages listeners to dig deep and reciprocate the unrelenting support the station gives to the broader music community all year round.
This year’s theme ‘Complete The Connection’ is particularly fitting - after moving their entire radio station a block up the road during the pandemic, they’re currently in need of a final push from their supporters to help them fully settle into their brand new digs at Collingwood Yards. There’s also a heap of killer prizes to be won (which you can check out at the bottom of the article), although perhaps the best prize of all is sharing in the circular, reciprocal energy and supporting the station that supports you.

To learn a little more about where PBS FM is heading and where our support gets them, we had a chat with PBS icon and Breakfast Spread host Milo Eastwood.
TJ: Hey Milo! So it’s Radio Festival time of year once again - how many radio festivals are you up to now?

ME: This will be my fifth as the Breakfast Spread host, but I think it'll be my sixth or seventh year of being a part of the whole thing, jumping on people's shows and sort of helping out. But actually, even before that, I did a few in the phone room just as a volunteer before I was even on an announcer. So honestly, maybe this might be seven or eight, in terms of just generally being involved.

It's pretty impressive.

Yeah, time flies [laughs]. It doesn't feel like I've been at PBS for that long, but I guess I have been.

They’ve really suckered you in.

Yeah, it seems like it. I mean offering me the dream job certainly doesn't go astray with making the time fly by, but yeah, they've done pretty well to get me to stick around.

From the outside looking in, your Radio Festival and Drive Live always feels like really fun, exciting times from a listener’s perspective, but I'm sure there's probably a far greater significance felt within the station when it's all happening. How important is the Radio Festival for PBS? What's the atmosphere like at the moment?

There's kind of two ways to go about that. There's obviously the bare bones, financial side of it. Because we are an independent radio station, it is actually incredibly important in terms of keeping the station afloat financially. But the thing that I love about Radio Festival is just seeing all the people come through with their memberships; just truly getting to witness with your own two eyes the community that we've built that we don't usually otherwise see on a daily basis. We do every now and again with the text line and all of that, but the two weeks of Radio Festival every year, I think it's really important for the station just to clock this kind of support that we have out there in the community because it's kind of largely intangible outside of these two weeks of the year.

Is it a reminder? Or do you always know it’s there and this is just a chance to see it?

Kind of a bit of both. It is definitely a nice reminder. We know the support is out there, but it's always really nice to actually see it come through with actual numbers on paper, just knowing that we're not just in a glass soundproof booth talking to no one. I think sometimes when you're on the radio, it is very easy to forget the broad range of people that are actually tuned in, who do appreciate what we work to achieve. And I think Radio Festival is just a really beautiful way of actually just being able to see that in a short amount of time.

Photo by Louis Oliver Roach

This year's theme for the festival is ‘Complete The Connection’. Could you tell us a bit about what that means both to the station and you personally?

We've recently started a new era in our lives at PBS with our new studios at the Collingwood Yards. And it may feel like, to listeners and the outside perspective, that we’re nicely settled in and everything's peachy, but to be honest, only about 40% of our facilities are actually set up and good to go. They are basically just two studios that we're operating from at the moment, so we just have to finish it off and create our home for the next 20 or hopefully more years. So we do need to kind of complete the connection literally, in terms of setting up our new space.

But completing the connection with our listeners as well is always important. It's sort of a connection that we're always trying to build and work on, to try and reach new people. And a part of reaching new people in the future involves broadening what our media landscape is; whether that might be podcasting or working on more online content and just to facilitate that.

And also on a very literal level, we are creating a new link to our broadcast transmitter tower up on Mount Dandenong. So we will literally be completing the transmission in that sense as well, but that's a very techy and boring way of looking at it. But it is also very true. And without that tower broadcasting out, there is no PBS, so it's extremely important that we get that connection up and going again.

And hopefully once that happens, it means that will drop off air a whole lot less. The connection will be clearer, the sound will be crisper and hopefully a few more people out in regional areas might be able to cop the broadcast as well.

I love how literal that answer was, whoever came up with that theme is a mastermind.

Yeah, there is a very literal answer to that question. There is time to read between the lines in our theme this year, but there is also a very practical and quite an urgent sense to it as well.

Speaking about the new studio, I’d say it would be safe to assume that PBS has evolved a fair bit in the time you've been there. What does it feel like having been involved in the station for eight years now?

It feels like we're growing up a lot as a station. Just even outside of the actual programming that goes on - just these new studios and the way that they're set out and the way that we feel when we broadcast now that we're in these working, functional, beautiful rooms. I think it really elevates us all when we're actually on air to be better, and to work on our broadcasting.

I noticed, especially just even in the first week of moving into these new studios that everybody sounded a whole lot more confident and on the ball, even if they were constantly fucking up on the new equipment

The station is forever evolving and changing. The P in PBS stands for progressive, not public, and I feel like as time goes on, we are becoming more and more progressive with our programming and our musical selections and just the kind of energy that we're throwing out there. I feel like PBS has never sounded stronger than it does at the moment.

It also feels like you're aware of your responsibility at PBS.

I mean, for me particularly, doing it five mornings a week, putting out 15 hours broadcasting a week, I’ve had a sense of that for a while, but I think a lot of the other announcers that do shorter stints each week certainly discovered that sense of responsibility, especially over the last couple of years when everybody was locked up at home with only the radio for company. I think people truly embraced the responsibility that comes with doing a radio show on an FM band station.

Photo by Lucas Packett

Something else that kind of stuck out to me when I was looking through the press release that I got sent about the Radio Festival was the term ‘algorithm free music’, which feels particularly significant at the moment. With that in mind, could you talk about how significant community radio in general is to you?

To me personally, it's a way of discovering music that I might not otherwise. The internet is so good at telling you what you already like. The algorithms on the internet shouldn’t be completely discounted at having a role to play in the distribution of modern music, but how are you supposed to evolve your taste, or find new things that you didn't otherwise know about? I think a perfect example of that is the show on Friday mornings on PBS Ports of Paradise with Patty. Before listening to PBS, I had no idea what mid century exotica music was, and I don't think Spotify was about to throw any at me. And just by purely listening to the radio and listening to somebody else's passion, like their own personal human algorithm inside, that's basically what each and every one of the radio shows on the station are.

And you're not going to like at all, there’s always going to be music that you're going to turn your nose up at, but you got to give it a go to know that you don't like it in the first place. I feel like community radio, PBS and everything about it, is just so important to just developing people; not just their taste, but people as people and exposing them to new things and ideas.

I really like that term ‘human algorithm’.

[Laughs] yeah, we've all got one inside of us. I feel like my brain has an algorithm of the music that I like. It certainly leaps out at certain things and not at all.

In light of Radio Festival and especially what you're trying to do with this year's festival, can you articulate what the community means to PBS?

I mean, quite simply, without the community, there is no radio. The community is everything to the station, because without a loving, open and willing listenership, there's no radio to make, I suppose.

The community, it also influences the content we make. We don't have too many outsider influences on our station in terms of corporate interests or big labels that buy airtime for their music, because that just doesn't happen. But we do keep our community in mind with the content that we make and make sure that it's representing all the different corners of people that we reach. I'm sure there's corners of it that we could be doing better at as well, but that's a part of evolving and changing as a station. So, yeah, without the community, there is no community radio.

And finally, I don't know if anyone should really need any convincing on why they should get involved in the Radio Festival, but do you have any final words for any undecided subscribers who we need to get over the line.

If you are a regular listener of community radio - if you even tune in once or twice a week, if you have Shazamed a song that you have heard on the radio in the last twelve months that you have then gone and downloaded or streamed or maybe even gone to the artist’s gig - this type of radio does not exist outside of the listener powered variety.

There are so many great community stations out there and they all do something different, and I think PBS in particular really focuses on that sort of niche of people's brains where they just want to discover new things, so if anybody out there has found a new band, found a new song, or simply just enjoyed a program on the air to the point where they've listened for the full two hours, that can’t happen without listener’s powering the station. The second it's no longer listener powered, there's external sources that are dictating how it's done, what is played and how it's gone about. So if you are a fan of people powered radio, be part of the people that power.
Head to and help the station 'Complete The Connection' by joining up or renewing your membership before midnight on Sunday May 29th. You'll also go in the running to win a win a huge stack of prizes which you can check out here.