A government grant awarded to RMITV will enable the student-run community station to bring to digital life historical footage of some of Australia's best loved performers.
The National Library of Australia Community Heritage Grant will go toward a large scale assessment of the station's archive, which houses early performances by RMITV alumni such as comedians Rove McManus, Peter Helliar, Dave Thornton and Tommy Little.
Footage uncovered will be brought to a new audience through a process of digitising the tapes to more accessible formats.
RMITV Technical Manager Nicholas Stevens said the tapes showed the humble beginnings of a few familiar faces.
"With the small work that has already been done there have already been some unexpected finds," he said.
"For example, on the RMITV show that Rove hosted in the late 1990's, The Loft Live, one of the live bands they had on was a young Augie March.
"The band went on to appear as musical guests on Rove Live, once Rove himself had hit the big time.
"We've also unearthed an interview with a young (Greens MP) Adam Bandt and footage of the current director of CNN Asia digital in his time as a presenter on our flagship program, Newsline."
The Community Heritage Grants program awards grants of up to $15,000 to community organisations undertaking work of national cultural significance.
Mr Stevens accepted the award in Canberra and participated in a three-day intensive preservation and collection management workshop held at the National Archives of Australia.
He said the grant had validated the station's tapes - which have been stored at the back of the RMITV office for more than 20 years - as an important historical archive.
"The footage shows the evolution of Melbourne culture over a 30-year period, and as such, the RMITV archives are one the few audio visual resources that explain what Melbourne truly is."
Mr Stevens said the footage also provides a master class in student broadcasting.
"The simple brilliance of some of the work contained in our collection provides invaluable information to the current generation on how to make great TV with modest resources," he said.
"The grant is worthy recognition of RMITV's long history as a breeding ground for comedic and televisual talent."
The Community Heritage Grants Program is funded by the Australian Government through the National Library of Australia, the Ministry for the Arts, the National Archives of Australia, the National Film and Sound Archive and the National Museum of Australia.
Mr Stevens said the RMITV team were dedicated to providing hands-on broadcast experience to students from a range of programs.
"By mixing students from every faculty of RMIT together with a wider community of artists, comedians and musicians, RMITV brings culture to the campus," he said.
With community television bandwidth expected to be shut down in late 2015, RMITV is taking student broadcasting into the future through its first web series, Follies of Youth.
As RMIT's student-run television production house, RMITV provides hands-on television experience for RMIT students and members of the local community.
Many former members have gone on to paid employment in the TV and AV industries.
RMITV produces content for both online and broadcast platforms, with te majority of content broadcast on C31 Melbourne and Geelong (digital 44).