With Triple J about to turn 40, small wonder its original listeners grumble that music these days ain’t what it once was. So guys, this one’s for you
When Myf Warhurst returned to Australia after a year and a half in the UK, she didn’t tell her mates. “I couldn’t,” she laughs. “I would have had to tell them why I was back.”
Now the cat’s out of the bag: Myf will be returning to the fold of Triple J – to the team she left seven years ago after quitting the Myf, Jay and The Doctor show. She’s relaunching the old Double J, which preceded Triple J between 1975 and 1980 – and the decision of the station to bring back both an old face and old concept has come as a genuine shock to music fans who have been braying for such a move for years.
Double J will essentially be the ABC’s Dig Music rebranded and rehauled, but the name is a concession to the former generations of Triple J listeners who have mourned the lack of airtime for the sort of music they grew up with.
“It won’t all be golden oldies,” warns Myf, who’s looking forward to unearthing the sort of new music that might go unspun by Triple J. She’ll be holding the fort between 11am and 3pm every day, with a team of presenters taking the other slots.
Right now Myf is talking to Time Out from the ABC’s Sydney base. It’s out of here that she will broadcast Double J as of April 30, from the Double J studio within Triple J. After spending the past few years as a journalist and presenter in the UK, but feeling rather anchorless, she’s thrilled to have been handed a role that had only previously existed in her imagination.
Myf, how does it feel being back in the Triple J office? Did you get your old desk back?
No! [laughs] I can see where my old desk was, but we’re on the Radio National floor. It’s really nice to be back in the fold, because I was here for 10 years, then I went and tried commercial radio and failed dismally at that. You know, I think you work out where you fit once you have tried a few things. It is nice to be back, and it does feel like it fits around here.
What did you miss most about Triple J after you left?
Oh look, I was probably ready to go by the time I left, because I was too old. I was probably in my mid-thirties and it’s a youth network so we’ve all got to go at some point. There wasn’t really anywhere to go if you left Triple J and you didn’t go to a talkback… like, where do you go? So you try commercial, and if that doesn’t fit you’re back in the same position. I don’t feel I’m quite ready for talkback just yet, so when Triple J hit me with the idea of Double J, it was perfect: it was what was missing.
It’s what a large sector of the public have been braying for.
I think so, I think so. If I was missing what Double J is going to be offering, then I’m sure a lot of other people were. And also there will be a lot more interaction with local artists who really appreciate the fact that we exist now. It’s just more avenues to expose good local stuff that would not normally get played on talk or Triple J.
What can we expect to hear?
We’re aiming at about 70% new music. So it’s certainly not going to be all golden oldies – it’s just using the name Double J to link to the history of Triple J and use all their archives. I mean, there’s nothing like those archives anywhere in the world really. If you have a listen to Dig now, before the handover to Double J, they’ve made the changeover musically for the last six months and you can hear where it’s headed. I think they’re doing a really good job. I mean, I’ve only been here for two days, but it sounds really great, and I think when the full changeover happens, it’s just going to be fantastic.
There will be all sorts of older artists that I particularly love, of my era. They seem to be doing a lot more Australian tours these days, don’t they?
Will there be less of a set playlist than a Triple J presenter would have?
Yes, definitely. That’s all to be determined at this stage, but I imagine it will be a daily conversation that we’ll have in here. Everyone is very switched on about music. There will be a lot of musician chats, but a lot of interaction with the audience as well, so they will get a bit of a choice too.
Those who have watched you on Spicks and Specks know that you’re a walking music trivia mine…
(Laughs) Or those who watched me lose over the years will also know I’m not. People used to say to me, “Oh, you must have cheated, you must be cheating.” I thought, “Oh my god, if you thought we were cheating, they would never let me lose as often as I did.”
But you’ve got older siblings haven’t you? You’ve got older brothers?
Yeah, three older brothers who are all musos. I blame them for what I’ve got.
It struck me that Double J is almost going to be like the older sibling. So it’s your turn to take that role, passing on the knowledge.
Yeah, that’s a really good way of looking at it – I can finally be the older sibling to someone.
Still confused about the difference between Dig and Double J? According to the Dig website, "Dig was very blues and roots heavy, whereas Double J has a much broader range of genres and will showcase the best new releases each week as well playing the past work of the pioneering musicians that triple j has supported and championed over the past four decades."