John Laws famously labelled his commercial radio talkback program, and its genre, 'dial-in democracy'. Amongst the mellifluous tones of Laws and 'Andrea', the gravelly rasps of Brian White and Derryn Hinch, and the impatient injunctions of Alan Jones and Howard Sattler have been the voices of countless 'ordinary' Australians. Here, I consider how voices of 'the people' have been heard in Australian print media outlets, led by The Bulletin, since the nineteenth century, and on Australian radio since the 1920s. The discussion moves from community singing to radio clubs, programs like Voice of the People to Australia's Amateur Hour, and of course to talkback. Along the way, it reflects on issues such as the flow of ideas and influences between Britain, the United States and Australia; the ways in which notions of the public and the community have been deployed by commercial radio managements and interpreted by broadcasting regulators; and how listeners and callers - like some regular writers of letters to the editor - can emerge as media identities in their own right.