Australian Radio Timelines
1906 The first official Morse code transmission in Australia was conducted by the Marconi Company from Victoria to Tasmania.
1908 Ballarat inventor Henry Sutton demonstrated voice transmissions while contacting a U.S.A. naval fleet visiting Australia.
1910 The Wireless Institute of Australia (W.I.A.) is formed by Walter Hannam (the first Australian radio operator in Antarctica).
1912 A Government network of coastal and island Morse code stations was established for telegrams and shipping emergencies.
1913 Amalgamated Wireless Australasia (A.W.A.) was established by merging Marconi and Telefunken.
1918 The first experimental direct Morse code transmissions between England and Australia were conducted by A.W.A..
1918 The first public demonstrations of music and speech broadcasts in Australia were conducted over several days at the Perth Agricultural Show by licensed amateur operator Walter Coxon (later 6AG and 6WF).
1919 A.W.A. conducted their first demonstration of music and speech broadcasts to engineers in Sydney, hosted by Ernest Fisk. Coverage was 500 yards and lasted long enough to play the record “God Save the King”.
1920 A.W.A. became Australia’s first manufacturer of valves.
1922 A.W.A. applied for broadcasting licenses in all parts of Australia. All their applications were refused.
1922 Charles MacLurcan is issued with Australia’s first broadcast licence, signed by Prime Minister Billy Hughes, for 2CM Sydney.
1922 Thomas Edison (inventor of the phonograph) said “The radio craze will soon fade”.
1922 The popular magazine “Wireless Weekly” was launched by Will MacLardy from 2HP (which later became 2SB/2BL).
1922 Valves were installed in A.W.A. radios for the first time, enabling loudspeakers to be used instead of headphones.
1923 2FC in Sydney (273 KHz.) is licensed as the first commercial station in the Southern Hemisphere (10-9-1923). However, 2SB in Sydney (previously 2HP, which changed to 2BL in March 1924), was launched before 2FC on 23-11-1923, using 857 KHz.
1924 3WR in Wangaratta is the first non-metropolitan station to be issued with a commercial licence.
1924 Grace Bros. department store in Sydney established the first retail outlet in Australia for selling receivers.
1924 2CM in Sydney (Australia’s first fully licensed broadcast station) moved to short wave.
1925 Research in August indicated that 75% of listeners were using crystal sets.
1925 Numerous attempts were made to experiment using radio to transmit light, heat, power, refrigeration, cancer cures, and movies.
1925 2UE in Sydney was the first in Australia to experiment sending still pictures by radio to newspapers.
1925 2XT was launched as the world’s first broadcasting station in a train. They broadcast weekly in different towns until 1927.
1926 2BL programs were relayed through shortwave station 2YG to allow 2BL to be heard throughout Eastern Australia and N.Z.
1926 2UW in Sydney was the first station in the world to broadcast serials. They didn’t stop until 1964.
1926 2BL in Sydney was the first to try “Talk Back” radio. They soon realised the drawbacks of not being able to delay or edit calls.
1927 A.W.A. shortwave station 2ME in Sydney was the first Australian station to experiment with F.M. (mono only on 9 MHz.).
1927 A.W.A. shortwave station 2ME in Sydney relayed some 2FC programs to medium wave stations in India, South Africa, Canada, United Kingdom, and the U.S.A.
1928 6WF in Perth became the only station to be operated by the Federal Government (for 10 months).
1928 3UZ programs were relayed through shortwave station 3LG to allow 3UZ to be heard throughout Victoria and Tasmania.
1929 6WF broadcast the first Australian stereo experiments by broadcasting a play using two microphones into two transmitters on different frequencies. Two receivers were needed to hear stereo.
1929 4CM in Brisbane was the first Australian station to experiment transmitting television (earlier called ‘radiovision’).
1929 The privately owned Australian Broadcasting Company completed the takeover of programming all twelve “A” class stations: 2FC, 2BL, 2NC, 2CO, 3AR, 3LO, 4QG, 4RK, 5CL, 5CK, 6WF, 7ZL, creating Australia’s first programming radio network.
1929 3DB and 3KZ cooperated by using their transmitters for television experiments (one transmitter for sound and one for vision).
1930 2UW Sydney formed the Federal Radio Network with nine other stations in five states, including 3DB, 4BC, 5AD, and 6ML.
1930 Marconi, by sending a radio signal from his yacht in Italy, turned on 2,800 lights around the Sydney Town Hall.
1930 The Federation of Australian Radio Broadcasters was established (later Commercial Radio Australia).
1931 3AK in Melbourne, owned by the Akron Tyre Co., was the only applicant for a “C” class licence, which were for specific sponsor licenses (none were issued). Their application was rejected; however, they were eventually issued a “B” class licence.
1931 2KY in Sydney was the first station in the world to broadcast parliament.
1932 3KZ in Melbourne stated that “Television will never be introduced into Australia”.
1932 The A.B.C. was established, taking over the twelve commercial “A” class stations previously programmed by the privately owned Australian Broadcasting Company.
1932 A proposal from Ernest Fisk at A.W.A. that all country stations use long wave instead of medium wave was considered.
1932 The first independent Australian radio survey was conducted in Sydney by Bill McNair (later McNair Anderson).
1933 2GB in Sydney was the first station to play transcription records and had the world’s largest transcription library.
1933 The popular A.B.C. program the “Argonauts Club” was launched by 3LO and went national in 1941 until closing in 1972.
1934 3DB in Melbourne had the largest record library in the world.
1934 Glebe Council in Sydney built a “Wireless House” in a park, relaying the A.B.C. for people who couldn’t afford a receiver.
1935 Radio 4CM in Brisbane was granted the first television licence in Australia.
1935 2UW in Sydney was the first station in the British Empire to broadcast 24 hours per day.
1935 The A.B.C. in Sydney installed a disc recorder, enabling the recording of programs for the first time.
1936 An undersea cable was installed across Bass Strait allowing radio programs to be relayed to Tasmanian stations.
1936 A.W.A. launched radio 9MI with two studios on board the M/V Kanimbla. This station was used to relay some programs to A.W.A. network stations via a shortwave transmitter.
1937 The one millionth listener receiver licence was issued.
1938 The first demonstration of Australian stereo broadcasting using one transmitter was trialled by Ray Allsop from 2BL on 9 MHz.
1938 The Major network, headed by 2UE, and the Macquarie network headed by 2GB, were established.
1938 6PM in Perth started Australia’s first music chart with their “Top 8 Hit Parade”.
1938 Ferris produced the first car radio designed and built in Australia; the Ferris Fultone 56.
1939 All television, amateur radio, and experimental broadcasting licences were cancelled due to WWII security concerns.
1939 The A.B.C. launched their periodical “A.B.C. Weekly”.
1939 2UE in Sydney was the first Australian station to broadcast the six pips every hour.
1939 The periodical “Radio and Hobbies” (previously “Wireless Weekly”) was launched.
1939 Radio Australia (“Australia Calling” until 1945) started with VLR (A.W.A. station 3ME), and VLQ (A.W.A. station 2ME) with A.B.C. programming in English, Spanish, French, and Dutch. All programs commenced with a kookaburra laughing.
1940 A secret underground station was installed in Perth to keep information flowing in case of attack during WWII.
1940 2GB in Sydney became the largest producer of radio drama programs in the Southern Hemisphere.
1941 2HD, 2UW, 3AR, 3KZ, 4AT, 5KA, and 5AU were closed by the military for airing security breaches during WWII.
1942 2UW broadcast the first nationally sponsored top rating serial “Big Sister”, five days a week for five years.
1942 The A.B.C. program “Kindergarten of the Air” was launched by 6WF and went national in 1943 until moving to TV in 1965. 1942 Hector Crawford established Crawford Productions, specialising in radio serial transcriptions.
1944 The Australian Military open 29 radio stations in New Guinea and several Pacific islands during WWII to entertain our troops.
1944 “The Lawsons” (later “Blue Hills”) started on the A.B.C. with 7,094 episodes. It was Australias’ longest running radio serial until surpassed by “How Green Was My Cactus” which was still in production in 2018.
1944 2BH Broken Hill broadcast several WWII Relief Concerts which were also on shortwave via the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
1944 Grace Gibson established her radio production company, specialising in radio serial transcriptions.
1945 5KA Adelaide was the first Australian station to experience an announcers strike (caused by a flea infestation).
1947 Commercial radio programming consisted of local live 32%, Australian records 64%, and U.K. and U.S.A. records 4%.
1948 Australia’s first Antarctica broadcasting station, 0HI, is opened on Heard Island (moved to Mawson as 0MA in 1955).
1948 The A.B.C. launched experimental F.M. stations in most capital cities on 92.1 MHz. They were all closed by 1958.
1948 The Australian Broadcasting Control Board is established to regulate broadcasting.
1951 The transistor (which led to Integrated Circuits) is invented, which revolutionised portable radios and other electronic devices.
1952 Most radio variety and drama programs were replaced by quiz programs compared by Bob Dyer and Jack Davey.
1956 Television was relaunched in Australia, causing an increase of music programs on radio, and a further decrease in radio serials.
1956 The A.B.C. opened news offices in London, New York, Singapore, and Port Moresby.
1956 The Periodical “Radio, Television and Hobbies” (previously “Radio and Hobbies”) was launched.
1957 2GB in Sydney is the first Australian station to broadcast news on the hour, every hour.
1957 A.W.A. produced Australia’s first transistor radio. It was called the “Transistor Seven”.
1957 A Government inquiry into the possible introduction of F.M. radio generates little interest.
1958 2UE in Sydney started the popular “Top 40 Charts” with “April Love” by Pat Boone as the first number one.
1958 2CH/2SM, 3UZ/3XY, 3CS/3GL, 4BK/4BC, 5AN/5CL, and 6PM/6PR experimented with stereo by broadcasting the left and right channels on separate stations. Listeners needed two receivers to hear stereo.
1961 2UV in Sydney was issued with the first educational broadcast licence in Australia, operating on 1900 KHz.
1962 2FC in Sydney established a duplicate station at Emu Plains in case of a nuclear attack on Sydney during the cold war. Apart from late night testing, it never went to air. The tower was in the Emu Plains prison until 2009.
1966 The periodical “Electronics Australia” (previously “Radio, Television and Hobbies”) was launched.
1967 2UE in Sydney and 3DB in Melbourne were the first to legally broadcast “Talk Back” programs at midnight on the 17th April.
1972 A decision to introduce F.M. radio on the U.H.F. band was quickly changed to V.H.F. after intense industry lobbying.
1972 5UV in Adelaide was issued with the first community broadcasting licence in Australia.
1972 2MBS in Sydney was issued with the first fulltime F.M. broadcasting licence in Australia.
1973 The Australian music quota for commercial radio was 10% (12.5% in 1974, 15% in 1980, and 20% in 1986).
1974 The Federal Government abolished radio and television receiver licence fees which were used to fund the A.B.C.
1975 Ethnic radio stations 2EA in Sydney and 3EA in Melbourne (Ethnic Australia) were launched.
1975 2JJ in Sydney became the world’s first non-commercial 24 hour rock music station.
1975 Some stations started using satellites to relay their programs.
1976 The Australian Broadcasting Tribunal was established (previously the Australian Broadcasting Control Board).
1977 The Special Broadcasting Service (S.B.S.) was formed to take over 2EA and 3EA after the A.B.C. refused to.
1978 A.M. radio station frequencies were changed from 10 KHz. spacing to 9 KHz. spacing, creating twelve extra M.W. channels.
1978 2WEB in Burke became the first of a small number of A.M. stations to be issued with a three letter callsign.
1980 3EON in Melbourne was the first commercial station to be issued with an F.M. licence.
1982 7RPH in Hobart became the first Radio for the Print Handicapped station.
1985 A.M. radio stations were allowed to convert to stereo; however, A.M. stereo receivers were almost non-existent.
1986 2GF Grafton announcer Mike Summers broke the world record for the “Longest Continuous Broadcast by One Announcer” (120 hours) as recognised by the Guinness Book of Records.
1990 The A.B.C. launched its’ Parliamentary Broadcast network (2PB, 3PB etc.).
1990 2VM in Moree became the first A.M. regional station to be granted a supplementary F.M. licence.
1992 Programs were presented in 69 languages across Australian radio stations.
1992 The Australian Broadcasting Authority was established (previously the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal).
1993 Bruce Carty on 2CCC broke the world record for the “Longest Continuous Broadcast by One Announcer” as recognised by the “Guinness Book of Records”. He achieved over 121 hours.
1994 The ABC Parliamentary Broadcasting Network went 24 hours with “News Radio” programs when Parliament wasn’t sitting.
1998 Some stations started relaying their programs live on the internet. 2GB in Sydney was the first.
2002 Commercial Radio Australia was established (previously the Federation of Australian Radio Broadcasters).
2004 Australia had 107 AM and 150 FM commercial stations, plus 14 AM and 328 FM community stations.
2005 The Australian Communications and Media Authority was established (previously the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal).
2007 The M.W. band was extended to 1701 KHz. creating 11 more channels. However, few receivers covered the extra frequencies.
2009 Digital radio transmissions were introduced in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth, using the proposed but never activated 9A television channel (digital trials commenced in the following year in Canberra and Darwin).
2013 Commercial Radio Australia appoints GFK to replace Nielsen as their ratings research entity.
2013 The moving of all television stations from the F.M. band was finally completed, allowing more F.M. radio licenses to be issued.
2014 On 2nd November Alan Jones on 2GB achieved his 100th consecutive ratings win.
2015 2GB and 2UE announced a forthcoming merger, with 2CH to be sold.
2017 Ray Hadley stated “when I leave this industry, it will owe me nothing, but I will owe it everything”.