A Chronology of the First Sixty Years


- The Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905 is proclaimed

- Australia's first two-way wireless telegraphy station is built Marconi's company at Queenscliff in Victoria.


Australian Marconi and its main competitor Telefunken merge to form Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd. (AWA).


The first direct wireless messages are transmitted from England to Australia


19 August - the first "broadcast" in Australia is organised by George Fisk of AWA. Fisk 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 NSW


17 November 17 - Professor Robert Jack assembles a small transmitter at Otago University in Dunedin and transmits the first ever radio broadcast heard in New Zealand. The only known fact about the programme’s content is that it included the then-popular song Hello My Dearie.


The New Zealand government issues a new set of broadcasting regulations under the Post And Telegraph Act 1920. Under the new regulations the country is divided into four numerical transmission regions. The regulations also stipulate that the owner of a receiving set is to pay an annual license of five shillings while a permission to transmit costs two pounds.

The first telephone trunk line is installed between Sydney and Brisbane

May - the Australian Government calls a conference of radio industry players. This leads to the creation of the so-called "Sealed Set" regulations. Stations were licensed to broadcast and to sell radio sets to 'listeners-in', but these receivers would be factory-set to receive only that station.

1 July - 2FC in Sydney is the first Australian radio station to be licensed

13 November – the official start of regular radio broadcasting in Australia by 2SB, Sydney (later 2BL) with an evening concert programme


26th January - 3AR Melbourne goes to air

June - The government's Sealed Set scheme proves to be an abject failure, with only 1400 listener licences issued in the first six months.

July - The government replaces the Sealed Set system with a two-tiered system of "A" and "B" class licences, and permits the use of freely tunable receivers. By year's end 40,000 listener licences have been issued.

13th October -- 3LO Melbourne goes to air

November -- 2BE Sydney becomes the first "B" class station on air


The number of radio listener licences in Australia increases to more than 80,000.

New Zealand's Radio Broadcasting Company (RBC) begins operation after reaching an agreement with the NZ government to begin a national broadcasting system. The company absorbs a number of separate stations (1YA, 2YK, 3AQ, 4YA) to which the government had been paying a subsidy of £15 per week.


AWA conducts the first tests of short-wave transmissions to England.

The NZ government establishes a short-wave radio-telegraph link with Samoa.


The Australian Government nationalises all "A" class licences and contracts the provision of programming to the Australian Broadcasting Company, a consortium of entertainment interests.


The ABC, and stations 2UW, 3DB, 4BH and 5AD collaborate to provide coverage of the cricket test match series in England.

A telephone trunk line is established between Adelaide and Perth

A public radio-telephone service between Australia and New Zealand is inaugurated.


Station 6PR launched in Perth by electrical retailer Nicholson's


Allans and J.C. Williamsons launch 3AW in Melbourne

The Australian government nationalises the Australian Broadcasting Company.

The Radio Broadcasting Company’s assets are acquired by the New Zealand Broadcasting Board (NZBB), which is now in charge of New Zealand’s broadcasting services. The Board’s 4-year term is largely regarded as a stopgap measure before eventual nationalisation.

1 July -- Prime Minister Joseph Lyons inaugurates the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), established under the Australian Broadcasting Commission Act. This completes the structure of the Two-Tier system, with 12 ABC stations and 43 commercial stations. Under the draft Act, the ABC was initially to be allowed to broadcast advertisements but this was dropped from the final Bill and the ABC was funded by radio listeners' licence fees. The ABC controlled twelve stations – 2FC and 2BL in Sydney, 3AR and 3LO in Melbourne, 4QG in Brisbane, 5CL in Adelaide, 6WF in Perth, 7ZL in Hobart and the relay stations 2NC in Newcastle, 2CO at Corowa, 4RK in Rockhampton and 5CK at Crystal Brook. Opening day programs included the first "Children's Session" with Bobby Bluegum, the first sports program, "Racing Notes" with W.A. Ferry calling the Randwick races, "British Wireless News" received by cable from London, weather, stock exchange and shipping news, the ABC Women's Association session (topics were 'commonsense housekeeping' and needlecraft), a talk on goldfish and their care, "Morning Devotions" and music. All programs are broadcast live until 1935.


Professor Bernard Heinze is appointed part-time musical adviser to the ABC.

Controversy dogs the NZ Broadcasting Board. It bans the broadcast of a talk by Indian philosopher Jidda Krishnamurti for being "too objectionable" but permits author George Bernard Shaw's to broadcast a talk in which he airs his Socialist views, creating a public outcry. The Board also incenses listeners by purchasing all private B-class stations and closing them down.


The first disc recorder is installed in the ABC’s Sydney studios, enabling the pre-recording of programs for the first time.


Newly elected New Zealand Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage announces his intention to set up a new commercial radio network and introduces the NZ Broadcasting Act 1936. The controversy-plagued NZBB is dismantled and replaced by a new government department, the National Broadcasting Service (NBS). Auckland’s 1ZB is bought and opened as the first station of the government-owned National Commercial Broadcasting Service (NCBS).


New Zealand commercial station 2ZB opens in Wellington, followed by 3ZB in Christchurch and 4ZB in Dunedin.


4BC Brisbane is sold to the Australian Broadcasting Commission


Radio Australia is incorporated as part of the ABC.

The New Zealand National Commercial Broadcasting Service adds the temporary station 5ZB to its ranks. Built in a refitted luxury railway carriage, the mobile station tours the North Island for three months.

December -- the ABC begins publishing the ABC Weekly.


June – wartime censorship is imposed and the Department of Information (headed by Sir Keith Murdoch) takes control of the ABC’s 7pm nightly national news.

September -- control of the news is returned to the ABC, after listeners expressed a preference for independent news presented by the Commission.


7 January – The ABC’s Children's Session, including the "Argonauts Club" (first broadcast in 1933-34 in Melbourne) is revived as a national program. By 1950 there are over 50,000 Club members. The Club encourages children's contributions of writing, music, poetry and art and becomes one of the ABC's most popular programs, running six days a week for 28 years. It is co-hosted for its entire 31-year run by Atholl Fleming, known to generations of Australians by his on-air names "Mac" and "Jason". By 1950 the club has over 50,000 members with 10,000 new members joining each year in the 1950s. Many notable Australians worked as presenters on the show including poet A.D. Hope ("Antony Inkwell"), future ABC General Manager Talbot Duckmanton ("Tal") who hosted a weekly sports segment, actors Leonard Teale ("Chris") and John Ewart ("Jimmy") and future "Mr Sqiggle" host and film producer Patricia Lovell. Painter Jeffrey Smart ("Phidias"), commented on art, and popular children's author Ruth Park contributed dramatised stories. Her main character, which began life as a bunyip, eventually evolved into her beloved "Muddle Headed Wombat" charatcer (voiced inimitably by Johnny Ewart) and its popularity on ‘The Argonauts’ led Park to write her popular series of Muddle-headed Wombat books in the 1960s.


The Australian Broadcasting Act is passed, giving the ABC the power to decide when, and in what circumstances, political speeches should be broadcast. Directions from the Minister to broadcast or refrain from broadcasting any matter now had to be made in writing, and any exercise of the power have to be mentioned in the Commission's Annual Report. It is used only once, in 1963.

'Kindergarten of the Air' begins on ABC Radio in Perth; it is later broadcast nationally and becomes one of the ABC’s most popular programs.

The NZ government bans the broadcasting of children’s birthday greetings, weather forecasts, references to shipping movements or any other message that could potentially be used to contain a code.


Auckland station 1ZM is loaned to the United Sates Army for the use of American troops stationed here.


December – the ABC’s "The Country Hour" premieres.


The Australian government acquires the shortwave broadcasting assets of Amalgamated Wireless Australasia (AWA) and forms Overseas Telecommunications Commission (OTC).

Legislation is passed requiring the ABC to broadcast Parliament when it is in session. The Parliamentary broadcasts are put onto the interstate network, and, in subsequent Annual Reports, the Commission comments on the disruption caused to its programming by those broadcasts.


June 1 -- the ABC's independent national news service is inaugurated.


The Australian Broadcasting Control Board is established.

Experimental FM broadcasts begin in Australia.


Four new NZ community stations open as part of the NZBS post-war expansion.


OTC launches public telex (teleprinter) services


The ABC opens offices in London, New York and Port Moresby

September 16 -- television begins in Australia with the first broadcast by commercial station TCN-9 in Sydney.

September 27 -- TV stations GTV-9 and HSV-7 in Melbourne open

November 5 -- the ABC's first TV broadcast from its Sydney studios, imaugurated by Prime Minister Robert Menzies.

November 19 -- The first TV broadcast from the ABC's Melbourne's studios


Televison begins in New Zealand.


The Australian government authorises the use of the international VHF FM (88-108 mHz) band for TV broadcasts. All experimental FM radio stations are closed and plans for community and other FM stations are put on hold for over a decade.

Control over New Zealand broadcasting passes from the government department New Zealand Broadcasting Service (NZBS) to a new independent body, the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation (NZBC).


2UW Sydney cancels all radio drama and serials and becomes a Top 40 pop music station. DJ Ward "Pally" Austin joins the stations new on-air lineup.

The ABC opens offices in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur


New Zealand journalist David Gapes formulates plans to set up an illegal offshore pirate radio station, Radio Hauraki, modelled on the pirate stations currently operating off the coast of Britain.


OTC establishes international satellite telcommunications services via Intelsat II

The ABC opens offices in New Delhi and Tokyo

9 April -- the Auckland-based New Zealand Herald runs a story headlined "PIRATE RADIO STATION IN GULF PLANNED", giving the first public information about the plans for pirate station Radio Hauraki.

April -- Radio Hauraki applies for a private broadcasting licence but the NZBC and the NZ Government turn their application down.

1 May -- the Wellington Dominion Sunday Times publishes a leader headlined "BREAK THIS MONOPOLY", criticising the NZBC's control of radio and supporting Radio Hauraki.

July -- news emerges of plans for three more NZ pirate stations.

16 September -- one day before setting sail, the ship MV Tiri is detained in Auckland Harbour, preventing the Radio Hauraki team from going to sea.

23 October -- "The Battle of the Tiri": the Radio Hauraki crew try to leave Auckland Harbour on board the Tiri. First, the ship runs aground, but it soon floats free on the rising tide. Then the Tiri gets stuck under a drawbridge which police lower to try to stop her, but Hauraki supporters including David Gapes sit under the mechanism to stop it being fully lowered, and with help from members of the 200-strong crowd the Tiri is freed and starts sailing out. Finally police board the ship, but the captain locks himself in the wheelhouse so they pulling out the fuel line, shutting down the main engine. The crew are arrested and the Tiri is towed back to her berth. The crew are set free on bail in the early hours of Monday 24 October 24.

26 October -- Radio Hauraki stages a public rally in the Auckland Town Hall; government spokespersons are invited to speak and NZ Prime Minister Keith Holyoake attends. Over 2,000 Hauraki supporters jam the Town Hall bearing banners including "LICENCE RADIO HAURAKI", "WE WANT PIRATES", "SURFIES SUPPORT HAURAKI", "FLAT EARTH SOCIETY SUPPORTS RADIO HAURAKI", and "DOWN WITH THE NZBC".

10 November -- the MV Tiri sets sail from Auckland

21 November -- Radio Hauraki starts test transmissions on 1480kHz

1 December -- Radio Hauraki begins broadcasting but is soon taken off air when high winds damage the transmitter mast.

4 December -- Radio Hauraki commences regular broadcasts; the first song played on air is Matt Munro's Born Free


The daily morning current affairs show 'AM' premieres on the ABC

The ABC opens an office in Washington

April - talkback radio is introduced on 2SM in Sydney and 3AW in Melbourne.


28 January -- the Radio Hauraki ship MV Tiri runs aground upon rocks in treacherous weather in the entrance to Whangaparapara Harbour; the crew are forced to abandon ship and the Tiri is damaged beyond repair.

28 February -- Radio Hauraki resumes regular transmission from a new vessel, the MV Tiri II

10 April -- MV Tiri II is beached at Whangaparapara Harbour during Cyclone Giselle.

15 May -- the Tiri II is beached again at Whangaparapara

13 June -- The Tiri II runs aground for the third time, at Uretiti Beach

December -- Radio Hauraki begins 24-hour broadcasting


The New Zealand government passes new legislation allowing for the licencing of private commercial stations. Radio Hauraki lodges an application for a licence in Auckland


24 March -- The NZ Broadcasting Authority rejects the NZBC’s claims against private broadcasting and awards the first two private broadcasting licences for the Auckland area to Radio Hauraki and Radio i.

June 1 -- the final marine broadcast of NZ pirate radio station Radio Hauraki from aboard the Tiri II.

26 Septmeber -- Radio Hauraki makes its first broadcast as a licenced private commercial station.


The Labor government's Media Minster Doug McClelland abolishes radio and TV licence fees, making the ABC funded directly from the federal budget.

The ABC opens an office in Bangkok.

2CH Sydney drops all 'ethnic' programming from its roster and changes to an all-music "easy listening" format.

2 April - the last broadcast of ABC Radio's Children’s Session and the long-running "The Argonauts' Club", which premiered on 7 January 1941 and was hosted for its entire run by Atholl Fleming, aka "Mac".

6 May – former Argonauts Club host Atholl Fleming dies.

July - 5UV in Adelaide becomes the first public radio station on air in Australia.


ABC Radio's "Lateline" premieres.

31 May – 3AK Melbourne, formerly the top-rating pop station in the city, bids farewell to its old format and audience on 31 May 1973. Spectrum's I'll Be Gone is the last rock single played on the station before it switches to an easy-listening format.


17–21 February -- 4ZZZ Brisbane University broadcasts during Orientation Week on an experimental licence.

The McLean Inquiry into FM rejects the Broacasting Control Board's views on FM radio and recommends that the VHF FM band be opened to FM radio stations. It also recommends the establishment of a community radio sector and the of an FM network for the ABC.

15 December -- 2MBS Sydney commences broadcasting as the first full-time FM station in Australia, playing classical music 24 hours a day.


The Australian Postmaster-General's department (PMG) is abolished. Telecommunications and postal services are devolved into two new stautory bodies, Telecom Australia (later Telstra) and Australia Post.

The ABC inaugurates "The Science Show" and "Coming Out Ready Or Not" (later retitled "The Coming Out Show").

19 January -- 2JJ (Double Jay) Sydney goes to air, becoming the first non-commercial 24-hour rock station in Australia; Double Jay and its shortlived sister station, 3XX Melbourne, are granted the first new radio licences issued in a capital city since 1932.

1 July -- 3MBS-FM Melbourne commences broadcasting classical music 24 hours a day

Public access station 3ZZ is established in Melbourne

Twelve Australian community radio stations are licenced 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".


ABC Online

Caslon Analytics

Dr Jeff Langon - Adventures In Cybersound
"The History of Radio in Australia"

New Zealand Radio History

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