Australia’s only LGBTI radio station, JOY 94.9, is planning a huge party to mark its 25th birthday this year.

Kicking off with its annual Radiothon membership drive, the Melbourne-based station is this month reflecting on how far it has come and why the community still needs JOY.

From humble beginnings above a hardware store, JOY commenced broadcasting at the height of the AIDS crisis in December 1993, thanks to a dedicated group of gay and lesbian activists looking for ways to connect with the men isolated by the illness at Fairfield Hospital.

Two and a half decades later, the station is reminiscing on all of the community milestones JOY has been there to inform, educate and celebrate.

“Radiothon is the one time of the year we allow ourselves to celebrate how great we are,” said CEO Tennille Moisel.

“From providing much-needed connection for isolated members of the LGBTI community to overtly calling on politicians to legislate equality, JOY and our people have been there fighting for our rights and celebrating when we see progress.

“This year, we are 25 years proud.”

Program director Chris Tait said that around 230 volunteer presenters have contributed to JOY’s special birthday programming.

“Our presenters have prepared amazing shows that reflect on JOY, our journey and what we have accomplished as a community, and you can listen to them from the first to the eighth of June all day,” Tait said.

“From the timeline of critical events that have shaped our community—discrimination, violence, illness and exclusion—to the inexplicable way our community loves to celebrate our successes, this Radiothon we will celebrate the way JOY has been here for all of it.”

JOY was the first gay and lesbian radio station in the world. Today it remains the only LGBTI radio station in Australia, and one of only three full-time LGBTI stations in the world.

The station is calling on the community to help them continue to fight discrimination and break down isolation for another 25 years by becoming a member or donating now.

Radiothon runs throughout June. Tune in to 94.9 FM in Melbourne or stream via the website.

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