In late 1979, a consortium, members of which included recording entrepreneur Bill Armstrong, band manager Glenn Wheatley and stockbroker Bill Conn, successfully bid on one of two Melbourne FM licenses and set about creating a commercial FM radio station. Armstrong headed the consortium, having seen the commercial opportunities of FM radio in the US and the UK.
Despite what their license application read, they had no blueprint at all with regard to marketing, programming, administration or promotion. The next six months was then spent building a radio station from scratch. A makeshift studio was set up in Bank Street, South Melbourne, draped with hessian to deaden the noise. Late-night dummy runs were performed a week before the on-air date to test the equipment.
On 11 July 1980, Australia’s first commercial FM radio station, EON FM, began broadcasting on 92.3 MHz, beating Fox FM to the title by two weeks. Behind the microphone at the momentous occasion was DJ Peter Grace, a former deejay for 3XY, a popular radio station at the time (now defunct); he later said he was given that late night spot by default. "It's one past midnight and this is 92.3, E-O-N FM, I'm Peter Grace and this is the beginning of a long, long time..." The first song was "New Kid in Town" by The Eagles.
Armstrong was the first managing director; Clyde Simpson, the first general manager; Lee Simon, also ex-3XY, the first program director; Billy Pinnell, first music programmer – all names to circulate the Australian music industry for years. Other announcers included Karl Van Est, Joe Miller, John Peters, Andy McLean, Jan Cannon, Paul Cashmere, Kenny The Paper-Boy, Kent Forbes, John Hood, Gavin Wood, Trish Mulholand and Mark Irvine. News reader Jennifer Keyte also began her career as a cadet at EON-FM.
At first, EON FM played songs that “would not be played elsewhere”, having no play list and avoiding top 40 songs. Said Armstrong, "we thought we were going to be the beginning of a new era. It took us a while to realise we were wrong."
EON FM performed better than the other non-commercial FM stations, but was easily beaten by the AM stations. Management was worried, and shareholders were asked to invest another $1 million between them only a year after the station was launched.
Program Director Lee Simon then went against the flow of the album rock formats favoured by Australia's FM stations and radically changed EON's format by playing Top 40 hits and staging outdoor concerts. Molly Meldrum, host of Countdown, was even invited to do a regular breakfast spot with Gavin Wood, the voice-over man of Countdown. Gavin and Molly's partnership included a segment of their own version of the crime fighters "Batman and Robin". They even appeared in the Moomba procession as the crime fighting duo in the Batmobile. The combination of Gavin and Molly proved to be a ratings winner when finally in 1985, EON FM topped Melbourne’s ratings. Ken Gibson was the stations first Advertising and Marketing Manager. The station's distinctive blue-and-yellow 92.3 EON-FM bumper stickers soon became a familiar sight throughout Melbourne.
In early 1986, 3EON FM was sold to Triple M Sydney (2MMM), owned by Hoyts, for $37.5 million. The deal was reportedly negotiated by Wheatley, who subsequently became managing director of Hoyts Media. The station was rebranded 3MMM on 27 November 1988, and was moved to the current frequency.