Australia's public youth radio station, Triple J, turns forty in 2015. The station was one of the few achievements to arise from the Whitlam government's intended bold, wide-sweeping media reforms. Radio was seen as a vehicle for strengthening the nation's democracy through improving citizen access to, and participation in, national political and cultural debate. Expansion of the media industry was also viewed by the Whitlam government as key to increasing employment opportunities. However, the challenging political environment, debates about the technical capacity for media expansion, and an economic recession reduced the grand plan for broadcast reform to something much more cautious, including 2JJ, a rock-style station. Since then, 2JJ has undergone multiple transformations in response to changing technologies, political agendas and audience tastes. In 1980, Double Jay moved to the FM band and became known as Triple J. By the late 1980s, Triple J was broadcasting beyond Sydney to capital cities and then, throughout the 1990s, rolled out to regional Australia to realise the National Youth Network. This paper considers the rather fraught campaign by the Whitlam government to open Australia's airwaves, which eventually led to the birth of Australia's first youth radio station.