A Peek Behind The Curtain At The Hierarchy That Picks Triple J’s Playlists

The J‘s they are a’changin’. Bob Seger wrote that. Do not challenge me on this.

Following today’s announcement that perennial top dog Richard Kingsmill would be moving into a broader overseeing role, with his former assistant Nick Findlay (that’s him pictured above) stepping up into the role of Music Director at Triple J, you might be wondering exactly what that means for the direction of the station, and who exactly picks the music that winds up thumping into your ears at absurd volumes as you drive to and/or from work.
The truth is that, rather than everything being funnelled out of one central musical overlord with the knowledge of a million jukeboxes coursing through their brain like they’re Edward Nigma and the radio biz is ‘Batman Forever,’ the team is structured from the top down, and pulling new tunes from the ether of the Australian underground is a collaborative effort from the whole team.
With Kingsmill moving into the role of Group Music Director, and Findlay the new Music Director at Triple J, what does the structure music hit-makers at our national broadcaster look like now?
Kingsmill, as stated, is now the Triple J Group Music Director, which means he is the overseeing boss of the group of individual music directors covering Triple J, Triple J Unearthed, Double J, and ABC Local Radio. He’s still very much in charge of shaping how each individual station sounds, but on a much broader scale now. The team of Music Directors he heads up includes:
Nick Findlay in Kingsmill’s old gig of Triple J Music Director. As assistant, he’s already been extremely hands-on in crafting who and what gets played on Triple J for the past few years, so expect no huge surprises when you flick on the radio from now on. In moving up to the top job at the J’s, Findlay’s appointment represents a feeling of trust in how ABC higher-ups perceive the station’s current direction.
Dorothy (Dot) Markek, who has been serving as the Double J Music Director. Fundamentally the same role as Findlay’s, except with a slant towards the over-30 crowd.
Dave Ruby Howe, devout cricket fan and Triple J Unearthed Music Director, who has been sifting through the tracks uploaded to Triple J Unearthed since 2011, sorting the “next big things” from the “10th place, Battle of the Bands 2015s.” So far in the role he’s given all-important legs up to the likes of Flume, Tash Sultana, The Rubens, and Methyl Ethyl, so his aim is pretty dang on-point.
Jacinta Parsons, in the role of ABC Local Radio Music Director. Again, a similar role to that of Markek and Findlay, except with the somewhat mammoth responsibility of programming music for some 56-odd local radio stations around the country. Programs the tunes yr Nan listens to on the reg.
Gemma Pike, who moves into Findlay’s old role of Triple J Assistant Music Director, because spinning tunes for the country’s largest youth music station is a bloody tough job, and many hands make light etc. Pike’s previously been working tireless at Triple J as a producer and presenter, currently taking the reigns of the Weekend Lunch shift every Saturday and Sunday.
Karla Ranby, who is the Triple J Group Music Researcher/Producer, meaning she not only produces and presents shifts, but does an arse-load of researching and maintains a meticulously organised catalogue in support of the senior team.
Those are your main players right there. Your big cheeses. Your grand poobahs.
But beyond that, the network utilises its myriad of insanely knowledgable and talented presenting and editorial staff, who gather for both daily and weekly music meetings to shoot the shit, share some bangers, and help carve out the list of tunes you hear on a daily basis. This includes the likes of Zan Rowe, Gen Fricker, Linda Marigliano, Dom Alessio, Al Newstead, and Lachlan Macara. Those discussions help shape the standard playlists you’ll hear during standard, non-genre specific hours.
When things get a bit more specific, it’s the hosts of Triple J’s specialist shows that have a large input into what they play. Whether that’s metal with Lochlan Watt of ‘The Racket,’ punk rock with Josh Merriel of ‘short.fast.loud,’ Hau Latukefu of ‘The Hip Hop Show,’ Tim Shiel from ‘Something More,’ Henry Wagons of ‘Tower of Song‘ or even ‘Sky High‘ host Lance Ferguson. Those hours see heavy input and influence from their individual hosts, in collaboration with their respective Music Directors.
These are the people who make the calls to put any banging tune on the air at any given second of the day.
It’s a massive bloody job, but in those collective hands? Triple J’s gonna be just fine.

Source: Triple J.
Photo: Supplied.