Timeline of Australian radio

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  • Although Australia's first officially recognised experimental was made in 1905 (see below), some sources claim that in 1897 (just two years after Guglielmo Marconi's original radio experiments), there were transmissions in Australia, either conducted solely by Professor William Henry Bragg of Adelaide University[1][2] or by Prof. Bragg in conjunction with G.W. Selby of Melbourne.[3]




  • 1910: The Maritime Wireless Co. Ltd formed by Edward Hope Kirkby, his workers and Father Archibald Shaw[8]
  • 1911: The Maritime Wireless Co. Ltd sold to The Maritime Wireless Company (Shaw System) Limited[9]
  • 1911: Australian Government employs their own wireless expert to build the coastal wireless service after interests representing Telefunken didn't perform to the governments satisfaction on the first 2 at Sydney and Perth - Graeme Balsillie [10]
  • 1911: Balsillie contracts the The Maritime Wireless Company (Shaw System) Limited to manufacture all the apparatus for the remaining 17 wireless including the generators and motors[11]
  • 1912: The first Coastal wireless station opened in Melbourne
  • 1911: The first long range (520 km) coastal radio station was established in Sydney.[12]
  • 1912:
    • The Applecross Wireless Station long range station was established in Western Australia.
    • Shorter range stations were established in Melbourne, Hobart, Brisbane and Adelaide.[13]
  • 1913: Marconi and its main competitor Telefunken amalgamated to form Amalgamated Wireless Australasia Limited (AWA).[6]
  • 1919: The first radio "broadcast" in Australia was organised by George Fisk of AWA on 19 August 1919. He arranged for the National Anthem to be broadcast from one building to another at the end of a lecture he'd given on the new medium to the Royal Society of New South Wales.[6]


  • 1921:
    • Amateur radio broadcasters commenced transition. The first radio licence in Australia was granted to Charles Maclurcan for station 2CM, which broadcast from the Wentworth Hotel in Sydney, an establishment owned by the Maclurcan family. Broadcasts consisted of classical music concerts on air on Sunday nights.
  • 1922:
    • December, "The Regulations: radio laws for the amateur" was issued by the Australian Government. This resulted in Australia's first broadcast licence (2CM in Sydney) being issued to Charles MacLurcan in December 1922. ref "Australian Radio History".
  • 1923:
    • Following intensive lobbying for the introduction of radio broadcasting, the Government, in May 1923, calls a conference of the main players in the radio manufacturing industry. This led to the sealed set regulations where stations could be licensed to broadcast and then sell sets to "listeners-in". The receiving device would be set to receive only that station.[6]
    • 2SB (from 1924, 2BL) in Sydney is the second official station to be licensed. It commenced service on 23 November 1923. Sydney's first official station, 2FC with Licence No.1 commenced service on 9 January 1924.[14]
  • 1924:
    • 3AR and 3LO went to air on 26 January and 13 October 1924 in Melbourne.[6]
    • The Government introduces a two-tiered licence system in July 1924. In the first half of 1924, only 1400 people took out sealed set licences. It was quite easy for listeners to avoid the licence fee by building their own sets or modifying one they had bought to receive more than one station. The radio industry successfully lobbied the Government to introduce a two-tiered system, the "A" licenses to be financed by listeners' licence fees imposed and collected by the Government, and "B" class licenses to be offered to anyone else who wanted to have a go. The B stations would have to generate their own revenue through advertising. A class stations could also advertise but few did. This system was an amalgam of the British system where the non-commercial BBC had a government-imposed monopoly and the USA where the free market was the driving force. The "A" class stations were the original sealed set stations plus one in each other capital city - 2BL, 2FC, 3AR, 3LO, 7ZL, 5CL, 6WF. By years end, 40,000 licences have been issued.[6] At this time, there was also talk of the introduction "C" class stations which would exclusively advertise the products of the station owners(s). This concept was abandoned in 1931, but the Postmaster-General's Department was already in talks with the Akron Broadcasting Co. Pty. Ltd in Melbourne, and, so, in lieu of a "C" class license Akron was given a 'B" Class license with some severe restricting conditions (see 3AK).
    • The first "B" class station on air was 2BE in November 1924.[6]
    • South Australia’s first radio station 5CL (A class) went to air on 20 November.[6]
  • 1925:
    • The oldest surviving "B" class (commercial) station is 2UE, which went on air on Australia Day 1925 as 2EU.[6] The reputed reason for the change of callsign is that EU sounded like "Hey, You".
    • 3UZ Melbourne begins broadcasting
    • South Australia’s first commercial radio station 5DN goes to air 24 February.[6]
    • Number of licences issued reaches 80,000.[6]
  • 1926: The British Government nationalises radio by buying out the British Broadcasting Company and forming the British Broadcasting Corporation. The Australian Government held a Royal Commission into Wireless but didn't immediately follow the British lead. It did encourage the "A" class stations to amalgamate in order to maximise efficiencies and maintain standards.[6]
  • 1927:
    • AWA conducts a series of transmissions to Britain. These regular broadcasts were heralded by a kookaburra's laugh - a practice that's still used by Radio Australia today, nicknamed "Jacko".[6]
    • 3DB Melbourne commences broadcasting
  • 1929:
    • 2BE closes due to financial collapse.[6]
    • The Government nationalises the transmission facilities and contracts the provision of programming to the Australian Broadcasting Company (now Australian Broadcasting Corporation), a consortium of entertainment interests.[6]



  • 1945:
    • Hector Crawford Productions, later called Crawford Productions, was founded by Hector Crawford and his sister Dorothy Crawford. They would also run the Crawford School of Broadcasting, which taught radio actors such as Noel Ferrier skills for a radio broadcasting career. Crawford Productions as one of the few companies that successfully made a transition from radio to television.[17]
  • 1948:
    • Experimental FM broadcasts commence[6]
    • The regulatory body, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, is created[6]


  • 1957: A Government inquiry into FM radio heralds little interest[6]
  • 1958: Top 40 format is adopted by Australian commercial radio


  • 1961: The Government authorises the use of the international VHF FM band for television.[6]
  • 1967: Talkback radio began in early 1967 on 6PR in Perth it was later introduced on 2SM in Sydney and 3AW in Melbourne.[18]
  • 1968: 3AK Melbourne expands to 24-hour transmission


  • 1970:
    • TUNE! FM launches as Australia's first university radio station.
  • 1972:
    • The Labor government's Media Minister Doug McClelland abolishes radio and TV licence fees, making the ABC funded directly from the federal budget[18]
    • 5UV in Adelaide becomes the first public radio station on air in Australia[18]
  • 1974:
    • The McLean Inquiry into FM rejects the Broadcasting Control Board's views on FM radio and recommends that the VHF FM band be opened to FM radio stations, that a community radio sector be established, and that the ABC have an FM network[18]
    • 2MBS Sydney commences broadcasting as the first full-time FM station in Australia, playing classical music 24 hours a day.
  • 1975:
    • 2JJ (Double Jay) commences transmission on the AM band in Sydney. Double Jay is the first non-commercial 24-hour rock station in Australia[18]
    • 3MBS-FM Melbourne commences broadcasting classical music 24 hours a day[18]
    • Multi-cultural radio is launched with the formation of 2EA Sydney and 3EA Melbourne
    • Public access station 3ZZ is established in Melbourne[18]
    • Twelve Australian community radio stations are licensed as an interim move by the federal media minister, Dr Moss Cass. Because the licences may have been technically illegal under the Act, they are dubbed Cass's "Dirty Dozen"[18]
    • Brisbane's 4ZZZ is established, the first community FM broadcaster in Australia
  • 1976:
    • ABC FM begins broadcasting
    • 3MP begins broadcasting, the first new commercial radio licence in Melbourne since 1935
  • 1977:
    • 6UVS begins broadcasting from the campus of UWA, Perth. (6UVS later becomes 6RTR)
  • 1978:
  • 1979
    • PBS FM starts regular broadcasts on 21 December from the Prince of Wales Hotel studio.[19]


  • 1980:
    • The first commercial FM radio stations are launched: 3EON and 3FOX in Melbourne, 2MMM and 2DAY Sydney, 4MMM Brisbane, 5SSA Adelaide, 96FM Perth
  • 1982:
  • 1984:
  • 1986:
    • 2UE Sydney and 3AK Melbourne launch the experimental CBC Radio Network, a networked talk-back format
  • 1988:
    • Commercial FM radio is launched in Canberra
  • 1989:
    • Commercial FM radio launches on the Gold Coast
    • Sydney's Triple J begins expansion to other capital cities


  • 1990:
    • 3KZ Melbourne converts from AM to FM. Other stations to convert include 3TT Melbourne, 4BK Brisbane, 6PM and 6KY Perth, 5KA and 5DN Adelaide.
    • May 19, 1990, Australia's first S39 supplementary FM Station goes to air in regional Australia as 2VM Moree Launch 2NOW (NOW FM) on 98.3 From Mt Dowe in North West NSW.
    • Commercial FM commences in Hobart
    • 3AK becomes Australia's first Italian-language commercial radio station
  • 1991:
    • Melbourne radio station 3XY signs off after 56 years of broadcasting
  • 1992:
    • 8DN Darwin has its licence revoked for breaching the ownership conditions of the Broadcasting Act
  • 1994:
  • 1998:
    • NetFM broadcasts Australia's first Internet radio transmission.
    • NetFM commence full commercial broadcasting in Sydney on 13 November.



  • 2000: Triple J New England was first broadcast
  • 2001: DMG Launches the Nova brand with Sydney's Nova 969 first hitting the airwaves.
  • 2002: The Australian Broadcasting Corporation commences a digital radio service called DiG in November.
  • 2004: 3AK Melbourne becomes an all-sports format as SEN
  • 2005:
    • Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is formed on 1 July 2005 by the merger of the Australian Communications Authority (ACA) and the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA)
  • 2006: Melbourne radio stations 3AW and Magic swap frequencies on the AM band
  • 2009: Digital radio officially launches in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.wia.org.au/members/history/research/documents/WIA%20MAIN%20T-%20LINE-Nov%202013%20EXTENDED.pdf
  2. ^ Bernard Harte, When Radio Was The Cat's Whiskers, 2002, privately published Dural, NSW
  3. ^ Mimi Colligan, Golden Days of Radio, Australia Post, 1991
  4. ^ Australian Senate, 2003. Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act: Chapter I. The Parliament: Part V - Powers of the Parliament. Retrieved 2011-03-05.
  5. ^ "Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905". ComLaw. Retrieved 2012-10-01. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Langdon, Jeff (1995)
  7. ^ R R Walker, The Magic Spark, 1973, Hawthorn Press Melbourne.
  8. ^ Correspondence from Father Guis Archives of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart - Missionarii Sacratissimi Cordis Iesu (MSC) Archives Sacred Heart Monastery, 1 Roma Avenue, Kensington 2033 - 1911
  9. ^ Articles of Association of said company Archives of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart - Missionarii Sacratissimi Cordis Iesu (MSC) Archives Sacred Heart Monastery, 1 Roma Avenue, Kensington 2033 - 1911
  10. ^ National Archives of Australia, Melbourne Office: John Graeme Balsillie - Records (1910 - 1920) Information and records in Postmaster-General, correspondence files c1910-20 [MP 341/1].MP 341/1
  11. ^ copy of the contract Archives of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart - Missionarii Sacratissimi Cordis Iesu (MSC) Archives Sacred Heart Monastery, 1 Roma Avenue, Kensington 2033 - 1911
  12. ^ Roger Meyer. "The Role of Coastal Radio Stations in the Early Days of Communications With Aircraft". Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  13. ^ "Coastal Radio Service in Australia during WWII". Peter Dunn's "Australia @ War". Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  14. ^ Australian Radio History, Bruce Carty, Sydney, 2011
  15. ^ "Radio Station 2WG". Wagga Wagga City Council. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  16. ^ a b c d History of ABC Radio
  17. ^ Barry York (1 January 1999). Speaking of Us: Voices from Twentieth-century Australia. National Library Australia. pp. 71–. ISBN 978-0-642-10715-2. 
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h Australasian radio: A Chronology of the first 60 years (2004)
  19. ^ http://www.pbsfm.org.au/history


External links[edit]