History of wireless telegraphy and broadcasting in Australia/Topical/Publications/Australian Radio History/Timeline

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1906 The first official Morse code transmission in Australia was conducted by the Marconi company from Queenscliff, Victoria, to Devonport, Tasmania, overseen by Ballarat inventor Henry Sutton.

1908 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), with licensed amateur operators using homemade equipment to experiment with Morse code.

1912 A Government network of coastal and island Morse code stations was established for telegrams and shipping emergencies. For security reasons, these stations were controlled by the Navy during WWI.

1913 Amalgamated Wireless Australasia (A.W.A.) was established by merging Marconi and Telefunken

1918 The first experimental direct Morse code transmissions were conducted between England and Australia.

1918 The first public demonstration of music and speech broadcasts in Australia was conducted by licensed amateur operator Walter Coxon (later 6AG and 6WF) at the Perth Royal Show.

1919 A.W.A. conducted their first demonstration of music and speech broadcasts to engineers in Sydney, hosted by their Chairman Ernest Fisk.

1919 A.W.A. established the first direct Morse radio communication between Australia and the United Kingdom.


1920 A.W.A. became Australia’s first manufacturer of valves.

1920 The second A.W.A. demonstration of broadcasting was conducted for parliamentarians in Melbourne.

1921 A.W.A. experimental station 3ME in Melbourne was the forerunner of Radio Australia (see 1939).

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 (licence number one), signed by the Prime Minister Billy Hughes, (2CM Sydney), issued under “The Regulations - Radio Laws of the Amateur 1 Dec 1922”.

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. It became “Radio and Hobbies” in 1939, “Radio Television and Hobbies” in 1956, then “Electronics Australia” in 1966.

1922 Valves were installed in A.W.A. radios, 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 (which changed to 2BL in March 1924), commenced broadcasting before 2FC on 23 Nov 1923, using 857 KHz. These licences were issued under the “Wireless Telegraphy Regulations 25 Jul 1923”.

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.

1925 2UE in Sydney was the first in Australia to experiment sending still pictures by radio to newspapers.

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 experiment (unsuccessfully) with “Talk Back” radio. They quickly realised the drawbacks of not being able to delay and edit the callers. (Also see the 1967 2UE and 3DB entry).

1927 A.W.A. station 2ME in Sydney was the first Australian station to experiment with F.M. (mono only on 9 MHz.).

1928 6WF in Perth became the only station to be operated by the Federal Government (for 10 months).

1929 6WF broadcast the first Australian stereo experiments on 1-9-1929 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’). These transmissions were often received in Melbourne (also see 1935 4CM entry).

1929 The privately owned Australian Broadcasting Company took over the programming of all twelve “A” class stations. This created Australia’s first joint programming radio network.


1930 2UW in Sydney formed the Federal Radio Network with nine other stations in five states.

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 (Commercial Radio Australia in 2002).

1931 3AK in Melbourne was the only applicant for a “C” class licence, which were actually meant for universities (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 Australian Broadcasting Commission (A.B.C.) was established, taking over the twelve commercial “A” class stations previously programmed by the privately owned Australian Broadcasting Company. From then on, they were financed by compulsory listener licence fees instead of commercials until 1972. During the first 12 months, 6,000 listeners were fined for not having a listeners licence.

1932 A proposal that all non-metropolitan stations use long wave instead of medium wave was considered.

1932 The first independent 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.

1934 3DB in Melbourne had the largest record library in the world.

1935 4CM in Brisbane was granted the first television licence in Australia (see pages 11, 12, and 13).

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 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 (see article on page 20).

1937 The one millionth listener receiver licence was issued.

1938 The first demonstration of stereo broadcasting in Australia using one transmitter was trialled by Ray Allsop from 2BL on 9 MHz. (also see the 1929 6WF entry).

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”.

1939 All experimental broadcasting, television, and amateur licences were cancelled due to WWII security concerns.

1939 Radio Australia (“Australia Calling” until 1945) commenced with VLR (previously A.W.A. station 3ME) at Lyndhurst, and VLQ (previously A.W.A. station 2ME) at Pennant Hills. Programming was provided by the A.B.C. All programs commenced with a kookaburra laughing.

1939 2UE in Sydney was the first Australian station to broadcast the six pips every hour.


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.

1940 Grace Gibson established her radio production company, specialising in radio serial transcriptions.

1941 2HD, 2UW, 3AR, 3KZ, 4AT, 5KA, and 5AU were closed by the military for airing WWII security breaches.

1942 2UW broadcast the first nationally sponsored top rating serial “Big Sister”, five days a week for five years.

1944 The Australian Army and RAAF operated 29 broadcasting stations in New Guinea and several Pacific islands during WWII to entertain our troops. Most transcription programs were provided by 2GB (see pages 85 - 87).

1944 Australia’s longest running radio serial, “The Lawsons” by Gwen Meredith (later “Blue Hills”) started on the A.B.C. with 5,795 episodes.

1945 5KA Adelaide was the first Australian station to experience an announcers strike (caused by a flea infestation).

1945 Hector Crawford established Crawford Productions, specialising in radio serial transcriptions (later television).

1948 Australia’s first Antarctica broadcasting station, 0HI, is opened on Heard island (moved to Mawson in 1955).

1948 The A.B.C. launched experimental F.M. stations in most capital cities on 92.1 MHz. They all closed by 1958.

1948 The Australian Broadcasting Control Board is established to regulate broadcasting (Australian Broadcasting Tribunal in 1976, Australian Broadcasting Authority in 1992, and Australian Communications and Media Authority in 2005).


1951 The transistor (which led to Integrated Circuits) is invented, which eventually 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 begins in Australia, resulting in an increase of music programs on radio, and a further decrease in radio serials (also see 1935 4CM entry, and the First Licensed Television article on pages 11, 12, and 13).

1956 The A.B.C. opens offices in London, New York, Singapore, and Port Moresby.

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.


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.

1967 2UE in Sydney and 3DB in Melbourne were the first to legally broadcast “Talk Back” programs at midnight on the 17th April. (Also see 1926 2BL entry).


1972 The Federal Government abolished radio and television receiver licence fees which were used to fund the A.B.C.

1972 The Federal Government decided to introduce F.M. radio on the U.H.F. band. However, this decision was quickly changed to the generally recognised international V.H.F. band after intense industry lobbying.

1972 5UV in Adelaide was issued with the first community broadcasting licence in Australia. Eleven other community licences were then issued despite legal advice that the licences were illegal.

1972 2MBS in Sydney was issued with the first fulltime F.M. broadcasting licence in Australia.

1975 Ethnic radio stations 2EA in Sydney and 3EA in Melbourne (Ethnic Australia) were launched.

1975 2JJ in Sydney became Australia’s first non-commercial 24 hour rock music station.

1975 Some stations started using satellites to relay their programs.

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, which created twelve additional A.M. channels on the medium wave band.

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. They were quickly followed by 3FOX in Melbourne, 2MMM and 2DAY in Sydney, 4MMM in Brisbane, and 5SSA in Adelaide.

1980 The A.B.C. changed from a Commission to a Corporation.

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 nonexistent.

1986 2GF Grafton announcer Mike Summers broke the world record for the “Longest Continuous Broadcast by One Announcer” (120 hours). This world record was then broken by Bruce Carty at Gosford in 1993, and published by the Guinness Book of Records.


1990 The A.B.C. launched its’ Parliamentary Broadcast network. Since August 1994, this network has also been used as a 24 hour ‘News Radio’ outlet whenever Parliament is in recess.

1991 2VM in Moree became the first A.M. regional station to be granted a supplementary F.M. licence.

1998 Some stations started relaying their programs live on the internet. 2GB in Sydney was the first.


2007 The A.M. medium wave band was extended to 1701 KHz., creating another eleven channels. However, very few receivers covered these additional frequencies.

2009 Digital radio transmissions were introduced in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth, using the proposed but never activated 9A television channel.