After 17 years of continual airplay, community program Arts Alive has recorded its 900th episode in RMIT's radio studios.
Vincent O'Donnell has hosted Arts Alive from RMIT's radio studios for seventeen years.
Dr Vincent O'Donnell, former independent film maker and now RMIT academic, has hosted and produced all but a few of the Arts Alive episodes.
He said the radio program's continuing success was due to its different approach to arts reporting.
"Reporting the arts is seen as the exclusive preserve of aging specialists," he said.
"Over the years the program has tried to maintain the 'anti-ageism' of its hosts, because good ideas and good reporting of the arts is not necessarily a product of age, but of good work and honest feelings."
Over its history, the program has welcomed contributions from hundreds of RMIT media and communication staff and students, many of whom have gone on to distinguished media careers.
The program offers students from RMIT and other tertiary institutions the opportunity to develop their broadcasting and journalism skills in a professional environment.
Dr O'Donnell lists an impressive array of national media talent as past contributors.
Perhaps the most prominent of those is the six-time Walkley award winning Fairfax Media and ABC investigative reporter, Nick McKenzie.
Mr McKenzie said the program provided an important platform from which he could launch his career.
"Arts Alive is an invaluable outlet for aspiring journos and broadcasters to cut their teeth," he said.
"And Vincent is a great mentor and guide."
Dr O'Donnell's first co-host in 1997 was then RMIT student Nicole Foote, who went on to present at the ABC's youth radio broadcaster, Triple J, for more than a decade.
RMIT alumni who have contributed to the program include Fiona Parker (now ABC regional radio mornings presenter), Kate Stowell (former ABC regional radio news reporter, now a media lawyer) and Alicia Loxley (Channel 9 news reader).
Arts Alive's achievements have included a nomination for a prestigious Walkley Award for journalism, and two citations for its contribution to Australian culture.
Dr O'Donnell said the "straightforward" reporting on the program made the arts more accessible to outer-suburban, regional and rural audiences.
"At Arts Alive, we have taken the current affairs approach to exploring the political and social aspects of arts and culture, rather than evaluating performance," he said.
"The program is ideas and agenda driven, not review driven.
"And by taking this approach, the reporter can rely on the tried-and-true, who, what, when, where, why and how, approach of journalism."
In its 17 years, Dr O'Donnell said the program has only missed one on-air date, due to a road accident that caused a power outage in the Melbourne inner-city suburb Fitzroy, which prevented timely transmission of the program to the satellite ground station.
"Back then, we played the program directly to air from Melbourne via Sydney," he said.
Dr O'Donnell said this was a great example of how technology had changed over the program's lifespan.
Rather than go straight to-air, as was previously the case, Arts Alive is now digitally pre-recorded before being sent to the Community Radio Network for distribution.
About 40 member community radio stations broadcast Arts Alive on a regular basis.