Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Australian Radio History

A most remarkable compendium of radio history comes from Dr. Bruce Carty, under the title, Australian Radio History.  This lively and colorful presentation of more then 100 pages is amply illustrated with early radio memorabilia that vividly portrays the more than 100 years of collective wireless and radio history throughout the continent of Australia.
            An introductory timeline, stretching from the ancient 1906 right up to the modern 2009, gives a progressive view of wireless and radio events throughout the Commonwealth, beginning with Australia’s first official wireless communication (across Bass Strait to Tasmania) and ending with the introduction of digital TV in five state capital cities.  Also listed is a brief life sketch of many of the leading radio personnel in the early days of radio history in Australia, 
            Several feature articles tell the story of early significant events in full detail.  Among these interesting feature articles is one that lists and describes early radio receivers manufactured by the well known radio company in Australia AWA.  This listing in the year 1926 describes the crystal set receiver as well as the more recently developed superheterodyne receiver.
            Another feature article tells the story of a portable shortwave transmitter in use for remote broadcasts by mediumwave station 2UW in Sydney in 1932.  This transmitter with its associated equipment was carried by two men, and the occasion was the long list of celebrations for the official opening of one of Australia’s major tourist icons, the Sydney Harbour Bridge.   
            Another feature article tells the story of an important amateur radio broadcasting station in Brisbane back during the 1920s.  This station, 4CM, was owned and operated by Dr. Val McDowell with 20 watts on 800 m (375 kHz longwave) and it was heard throughout eastern Australia as well as in New Zealand, and also on Ocean Island out in the Pacific some 2,000 miles distant.
            Every mediumwave callsign ever in use in Australia, all 700 of them, is listed chronologically by state, with an outline history of each station; experimental, amateur broadcast and fully licensed radio broadcasting stations.  We take a look at some of the interesting facts that Dr. Bruce Carty has listed in his new book:-

              * Australia’s first licensed radio broadcasting station was not 2SB-2BL as often quoted but rather           station 2CM which was granted License No 1.  
              * All the fish in the aquarium at 2KA died during the first day of operation at their new studios in              Penrith, New South Wales.
              * Radio station 6WF in Perth opened with the use of a 10 kW transmitter obtained from Radio                Luxembourg in Europe.  The original 6WA transmitter also came from Radio                     Luxembourg.
              * Australian personnel have established radio broadcasting stations at 6 different locations in                  Antarctica.
              * Station 2UW in Sydney operated a relay station 2UX in Wagga Wagga with all programming                 on relay from 2UW via the well known shortwave station VK2ME.
            * Station 2BH in Broken Hill relayed some of the programming from 5AD in Adelaide which was             recorded and sent by train to Broken Hill.
            * In 1946, station 2XL in Cooma reported that a railway train was lost and they asked any                         listeners if they knew where the train was located to report the information to the radio                  station.
            * In 1933, 3KZ in Melbourne used all available hair dryers from one of their client advertisers in                order to keep their transmitter on the air during floods.
              * The announcer at 3AK in Melbourne lowered a rope from the open studio window to which the           morning newspaper was tied.  He retrieved the paper each morning and from its pages                read the bulletin of early morning news.
              * All local train services were suspended when the tower at 3WR Shepparton fell across the                   railway line in 1934.
              * The announcer at station 5CL in Adelaide held the microphone outside the studio window to                 broadcast the hourly chimes from the clock on the GPO building.

            Throughout the book, there are many illustrations, some in black & white and some in color.   On an introductory page, you will find the reproduction of  the front page of a brochure advertising Australia’s first serious attempt at radio broadcasting from a train; the Great White Train with station 2XT aboard.  There is a photo of the good ship “Kanimbla” with its 50 watt broadcasting station 9MI aboard. 
            You will also find a QSL card in color from Australia’s first radio broadcasting station station 2CM; a photo of 3YB aboard the motor vehicle and the railway train; a reproduction of the motor vehicle license plate showing 7HO on 864 kHz; and a photo of the mobile broadcasting station “in the islands”, 9AO.

            The author of “Australian Radio History”, Dr. Bruce Carty, has spent a lifetime in Australian radio in several different states and he writes from a rich knowledge and experience in the radio scene.  We are grateful also, Dr. Carty, for your acknowledgement of our DX host, Dr. Adrian Peterson, in your  informative pages.  Dr. Carty may be contacted at
(AWR Wavescan/NWS 260)