How Glenn Wheatley Helped Invent FM Radio In Australia

Musician and talent manager Glenn Wheatley helped change the face of Australian music with astronomical success for his clients John Farnham and Delta Goodrem.

Wheatley passed away on February 1, aged 74, surrounded by his family.

However a new podcast – Behind the Hits: The Life of Glenn Wheatley – also explains how Wheatley put FM radio on the map in Australia.

Wheatley witnessed the power of FM radio in America to get exposure for his first major management clients –Melbourne group Little River Band – who sold over 20 million albums in the US alone during the 70s. But in the late 70s the Australian radio landscape was dedicated to AM stations.

“I thought why don’t we have FM radio,” Wheatley said in the podcast. “For the next two years I walked Parliament House’s carpet threadbare trying to convince every politician I could about why we needed FM radio in Australia. The problem was 50 years ago we’d given the (FM) band away to fire, police and ambulances – the essential services.”

Wheatley convinced politicians to move the essential services to the UHF band, freeing up the FM band to create a whole new commercial radio business.

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His station, EON FM, became the first commercial FM radio station in Australia when it began in 1980.

“I wanted to be the first so badly. The studio was lined with egg cartons…we were held together by alligator clips but we were the first to go to air.”

EON FM would rebrand as Triple M and Glenn Wheatley would remain involved in radio his whole life.

The podcast also explores his worst business decision – following tax advice which saw him jailed in 2007 for tax evasion.

“I took advice from my lawyer which I thought was tax planning, it wasn’t tax planning, it was basically tax avoidance,” Wheatley said. “I was guilty, I did it, but I thought it was basically above board. It wasn’t. I couldn’t believe it, Glenn Wheatley going to jail, how did this ever happen?”

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Cameron Adams