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  • Writer's pictureDale Roberts

Interview: All about Melbourne's own JOY Eurovision show


Michael, Leea Nanos, Io and Liam

Today, fans will be tuning into Joy 94.9 to hear the JOY Eurovision team countdown the Top 100 Eurovision songs of all time as voted by Australians.


The countdown has been going on for several years in partnership with OGAE Australia.


JOY are such an important part of Australia's Eurovision community and we wanted to catch up with the crew to find out more about them and their history.


We chatted to Michael and Liam from the team.



For those who don't know about JOY 94.9, can you let us know about the station and the importance of it for the LGBTIQ+ community?


Liam: JOY 94.9 is a community radio station based in Melbourne that has been on the air since late 1993. Like all community radio stations, we exist to serve and support a specific community and our community is the wonderful queer community. For me personally, the importance is that it’s wonderful to listen to a radio station that has all walks of the queer umbrella represented in the media as the norm, and we don’t have to be the minorities for once — and as a gay, cis male it’s nice to have a place where I can easily exposed to the full spectrum of the queer community.


Michael: JOY is one of very few media organisations in the world that has a full-time radio broadcast licence, which gives us an added responsibility of sharing the voices of our diverse communities. The catch is that we rely on members, donors and sponsors to stay on air and keep producing our wide range of content, including inclusivity and diversity training, AV and tech services, podcasts and radio.

So JOY Eurovision, tell us all about the show!


L: Well, there’s three of us — Michael, Io and myself! The show is every Saturday at 6pm, roughly between January and June.


M: Our main focus is on the music and the people behind it. We know the rainbow community loves Eurovision, but it’s more than just the big show on the Sunday morning, so we spend the first few months of the season either previewing or recapping the national finals that led to the final 30-odd entries. Because we only have 1 hour each week on air, we turn to the podcast to share some of the other content that we can’t fit in in the lead up to the contest.

How long has the show been going for?


L: We all joined at different times, I believe I joined in 2018, but I had been a recurring guest on the show as early as 2013.


M: JOYEurovision has been going since around 2012, initially as EuroSongCountdown on The Full Catastrophe with Hikaru and Andy. Things kicked up a gear when I got accredited to cover the 2013 contest for JOY, and here we are today.

Out of you three hosts, how would you describe your relationship with Eurovision, are you all obsessed with it as much as the other?


L: I would say that I’m probably the biggest nerd of the three of us, so my obsession manifests slightly differently to Michael and Io’s, but I’d say we’re probably all equally as obsessed.


M: I certainly can’t give you a history of winners and losers, but I’ve watched every one since I can remember. As a child, I'd have to wait to watch it on VHS because 8:30pm was past my bedtime. As a teenager, I sat through that tricky local SBS coverage era. And as an adult, I’ve been pretty lucky to be part of the action in some way for the last 10 years.

What have been some highlights for JOY Eurovision over the years?

L: Beyond pulling off the Top 100 several times, the very special public holiday edition of JOY Eurovision I managed to pull where I got to play every single Estonian Eurovision song peppered with a few interviews here and there for four hours was definitely a personal highlight.


M: We’re only a small team and we do this as a labour of love around all the other things that life brings. But I think we punch above our weight. Being able to sit down and interview contestants, get to know delegations, build relationships with other Australian journalists and having what we do shared by others are huge highlights. On a personal note, my first Eurovision in Malmö was massive – I had no idea what was going on, but I still got the chance to meet so many amazing artists (while still making time for fika breaks), and being in the press room repping JOY when Guy Sebastian performed in Vienna was like nothing else.

Now on to the Eurovision Top 100 countdown, how did it come about and how long has it been going?


L: The Top 100 was a crazy idea concocted between former OGAE Australia president Christopher Dean and Michael. Christopher wanted to do a big splashy Eurovision countdown, and as the station’s Music Producer, Michael knew how to get it done. That and the station has some wiggle room on public holidays for some more adventurous programming choices.


M: To be honest, I was the one who wanted something glitzy! OGAE Australia was going to present the Hottest 100 as a YouTube playlist event in 2019, but what fun is that? As a member, I approached the committee and canvassed the thought of making it something on the same level as the ESC250. It did help that I had some sway as Music Director, and that it was quite a novel idea for the station to run. We had to be wary of another countdown taking place during the January long weekend, which meant a change of name and a different day – the Monday public holiday.

We know the OGAE Australia fans are right into the countdown, but how have JOY listeners taken to it?


L: I sure hope so!


M: Eurovision is a big event for many JOY listeners. The Top 100 is right up there. We get lots of interaction on social media on the day, as well as a heap of messages through to the studio and hopefully that can continue this year.

You also have the show babble POP!, is there any crossover with the Eurovision show?


L: babblePOP! is the same team, with the same rough show layout and quite often we play songs from artists who have been in Eurovision, but it’s a little more of a mixed bag. You don’t quite fully know what you’re gonna get from an episode of babblePOP! whereas an episode of JOY Eurovision is usually a bit more obviously themed.


M: Unlike JOYEurovision, babblePOP! is entirely in languages that aren’t English. We’re always hoping that some of our Eurovision favourites release songs in other languages so we can play them on air! What are three songs you are secretly hoping make the countdown or do well?


L: Firstly, I will say ‘Koit Toome & Laura - Verona’ since it’s my favourite (recent) Estonian Eurovision song and I’m still not over it not qualifying, secondly I’d say ‘Jessica Mauboy - We Got Love’ since it’s my favourite Australian Eurovision song and I was displeased that it wasn’t on the countdown last year and for a third song, I’ll say ‘Sibel Tüzün - Süper Star’ because I am always amused by our Austral-Turkish contingent canvassing hard to get it higher and higher on the list every year.


M: ‘We Got Love’ is an Australian classic and should be a staple in every Eurovision countdown. As a Slovenian, Sestre’s ‘Samo ljubezen’ speaks to me. Thanks for your time and good luck to the whole team for Monday!


L: No Aussievision, thank you!


M: We can’t wait to count down with you (#ESCTop100, onair@joy.org.au, SMS 0427 JOY 949)!


Tune into the countdown today and find out more about JOY Eurovision at https://joy.org.au/

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