3MBS was conceived by music fan and radio engineer Brian Cabena in 1968 to address the lack of classical music being played on the radio. Cabena wrote a letter to The Age newspaper, calling for interest in a listener-run classical music radio station. 200 people attended that first meeting and founded the Music Broadcasting Society (MBS) of Victoria.

In 1974, the McLean Report recommended that TV should be removed from the internationally-recognised FM band to allow FM radio broadcasting to begin. MBSV members travelled to Sydney to help establish 2MBS (now called Fine Music 102.5FM), which first went to air late that same year. July 1975 saw the launch of 3MBS in Melbourne, with Carl Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana’ having the honour of being the first work played by the new station.

Then as now, 3MBS relied on subscriptions from listeners to fund its operation – and, for a time, programming information was divulged to subscribers only! In the printed program notes mailed to the subscribers, all music items were numbered and, as the programs were broadcast, presenters would announce the items by number only, a practice abandoned in 1976. 3MBS continues to produce a monthly program guide (the On Air magazine) which is delivered to all subscribers in either printed or email format.

In 2007, 3MBS relocated from Brian Cabena’s original shopfront in Kew to our current home within the beautiful cultural precinct of the Abbotsford Convent. At the time of the move, the station looked to the future and invested in digital technology, incorporating digitally-linked studios and a performance studio (complete with control room) into the new premises. These excellent facilities enable the station to record and broadcast in-house performances by local, national and international musicians. Further funding from subscriptions, donations, bequests and sponsorship continues to be sought in order to maintain and upgrade these amenities to consolidate 3MBS’s position as a major hub of Melbourne’s musical life.