“The music I liked to hear, all the time” – Trevor Jarvie

“Such music I never dreamed of, and the call in it is stronger even than the music is sweet! Row on, Mole, row! For the music and the call must be for us.”

Under the generalship of Rat, everybody was set to do something or to fetch something.

– Kenneth Grahame The Wind in the Willows

Imagine, if you will, the life of a student in Melbourne in 1967. A rather isolated existence for a new arrival from Sydney, with only a few friends, and diminishing interest in the Ph.D. he was supposedly engaged upon. Trevor Jarvie takes up his own story: “A small record collection, and when money permitted, the occasional concert or play. And a radio. Oh yes, a radio. I used to think it would be a very nice thing to have a radio station which played the kind of music that I liked to hear all the time…then I discovered that one of the things I liked doing more than anything else was mixing people who shared my tastes, and were interesting to be with”.

That made Jarvie want to spend time learning about all that “AM and FM stuff”, and to write letters to newspapers and submissions to bureaucrats. His aim was quite simply to “help other people like me”.

Among the founders of Sydney’s radio station 102.5 Fine Music (beginning as 2MBS-FM) the principal animator was Trevor Jarvie. He is a man of protean interests and contagious enthusiasm. Animator is the right word – “giving life, making alive”. If anyone has a claim to be THE founder, it is Jarvie.

At first MBS (the Music Broadcasting Society of New South Wales) was just an idea in Jarvie’s head, as one of its original members, Doug Keech, now says. In 1967, while pursuing a doctorate in chemistry in Melbourne, Jarvie came upon a letter to The Age from Brian Cabena, the first to call for a radio station that would be listener-owned, and would broadcast only fine music. “What a splendid idea,” thought Jarvie “a station run and operated by music lovers”. He subsequently got in touch with Cabena.

This was the origin of MBS Victoria (whose station 3MBS, years later, followed 2MBS on to the air). Soon, he was glad that chemistry “deserted” him and Jarvie returned to Sydney and began a degree in English literature. He also formed a Sydney MBS committee, organising advertising and distributing leaflets promoting its cause.

Like Kenneth Grahame’s Rat, Trevor Jarvie felt the call of sweet music, and soon everyone was doing or fetching something. Those who know him may find other resemblances with the worthy Rat… the first thing you notice is the eyebrows, a face never at rest – alert – thinking.

It’s very fitting that Trevor Jarvie  was pictured on the cover of the Station’s very first program guide. Many ‘founders’, when asked how they first became involved, said “I met Trevor Jarvie”. He always seemed be able to identify a potential contributor.

The author remembers when Jarvie first asked him to ‘do something’. It was 1973. He was asked to write the program notes for concerts MBS was organising at the Cell Block theatre. He knew the author through a mutual friend, one of his fellow English postgrads, a singer. Those notes were the first of what became thousands.

When the station started, Jarvie was the Society’s secretary – a good match, that, since he is outstanding with words. His style is unmistakable, he commands his subject, and every word is drenched in enthusiasm. He had a rarer gift as well, leadership in the best sense. Even when he disagreed strongly, you still felt  involved with his projects, and valued.

Trevor Jarvie was – and still can be – both winning and annoying. He’s tenacious. He senses that if you bother decision makers long enough about a good idea they’ll act, eventually, if only to get him off their backs. He pops up everywhere in this history – it makes for some good stories.

David Garrett

David Garrett has been associated with Fine Music 102.5 since before it hit the airwaves 40 years ago. A regular on-air presenter, he is also a former Board member and Treasurer of the organisation. David is well known as a writer and speaker on music and history. His Ph.D. from the University of Wollongong explored how the Australian Broadcasting Commission became a presenter of concerts and builder of orchestras. David has taught history at Monash and Sydney Universities. For thirty years he was a music administrator and programmer, for Sydney Philharmonia, then for the ABC and Australia’s six symphony orchestras.

The research and writing for Fine Music: Forty Years of FM Broadcasting are made possible through a generous donation from station volunteer and former Chairman Ron Walledge.

For information on how to donate or subscribe to Fine Music 102.5 click here.

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