ABC Classic FM is a classical music radio station available in Australia, and internationally online. It is operated by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
ABC Classic FM was established in 1976 as "ABC-FM", and later for a short time was known as "ABC Fine Music" (a play on the letters FM), before adopting its current name. It was the ABC's first experiment in FM broadcasting – which had become a necessity in Australia as broadcasters ran out of AM frequencies on which to transmit. ABC Classic FM was inspired partly by the example of BBC Radio 3.
ABC Classic FM's studios were established at the ABC studios in Collinswood, a suburb of Adelaide, South Australia. The ABC's decision to establish ABC Classic FM in Adelaide was significant because most of the ABC's radio and television national program origination infrastructure is located in Sydney.
ABC Classic FM broadcasts classical music, operas, recitals and live concerts.
Live music is a major feature of ABC Classic FM schedule. Concerts are broadcast from around Australia and Internationally, via the European Broadcasting Union.
Since 2001, ABC Classic FM has organised a number of Classic 100 Countdown surveys. The results of each survey are decided by votes cast by the listeners of the radio station. The works are broadcast in reverse order of popularity over seven to ten days. The countdown culminates in the broadcast of a live concert featuring the most popular pieces and finishes with the number one listener choice. A feature of the countdown is that each piece is kept secret until just before its broadcast (including the pieces featured in the final concert).
Each November on ABC Classic FM is Australian music month, where Australian artists are heavily promoted. This includes more Australian composition broadcast every day; some free, limited-entry concerts around the country; all-Australian albums of the week; and lots of live Australian concerts.
ABC Classic FM has long featured contemporary music from Australia and internationally, in part through its specialty programs New Music Australia and New Music Up Late, through its long-standing ties to the European Broadcasting Union, its ongoing podcasts and many live or studio recordings.
In common with all ABC Radio stations (other than Triple J, which operates its own service), it also carries news bulletins produced by ABC News. On 19 December 2005, in line with the policy applied at every ABC Radio network (except Triple J and Radio Australia), these news bulletins became state-based rather than national.
On weekdays, ABC Classic FM's news bulletins are broadcast hourly from 06:00 until 19.00 AEST/AEDT and then hourly (except at 11:00, 14:00 and 15:00). At weekends, news bulletins are broadcast hourly from 05:00 till 10:00, then at 12:00, 17:00 and 19:00. All news broadcasts, other than an extended 10-minute bulletin at 07:00, run for five minutes.
ABC Classic 2, a music-only talk-free streaming station, was established in June 2014. It broadcasts only via an online stream and is available on the ABC's Android and iOS apps. Classic 2 specialises in streaming popular styles of classical music. The music on Classic 2 is performed exclusively by leading Australian orchestras, ensembles and soloists. No opera or vocal works are included in the playlist. During daytime and evenings Classic 2 typically broadcasts short excerpts from the classical repertoire, for example single movements from full symphonies. Between midnight and 06:00, longer works are included, and Classic 2 programming is also broadcast as Classic FM's "overnight" program. ABC Classic 2 is managed and programmed by the ABC Classic FM team.
The monthly arts magazine Limelight was, under its former name 24 Hours (1976–2003), originally owned and published by the ABC. It is now independently owned and published, but continues a strong, albeit unofficial, affiliation with the ABC and with ABC Classic FM in particular.