History of wireless telegraphy and broadcasting in Australia/Topical/Stations/2KY Sydney

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Radio 2KY continues today as a commercial AM radio service licensed to ???? It is the cornerstone station of one of Australia's largest networks, but its rather bland content is now almost exclusively of racing and sports in essentially a narrowcast format and all the other stations in the simulcast network are licensed narrowcasters within HPON, LPON and MF-NAS categories. But as one of Australia's earliest B class (commercial) stations, it has a proud history as perhaps our most progressive broadcaster of the era. Several prominent radio and political personalities played a part in its earliest years, principally Emil Robert Voigt, Albert Charles Willis and John (Jack) Thomas Lang among a cast of dozens. However the progressive outlook of the 1920s morphed quickly into corruption and scandal in the 1930s, a tale primed for any Hollywood movie director. The following attempts highlight the best and expose the worst of this most fascinating station.

Labor Information Bureau[edit]

In the very early 1920s, the various international trades unions peak bodies recognized the need to collect and collate the vast mass of information relevant to trade union operations. They set up their own information bureaux and recommended that country-based bodies set up their own bureaux focussed on matters particular top their own countries. On 10 March 1921, the "Australian Worker" published an article titles "The Need for a Labor Information Bureau."

Emil Robert Voigt[edit]

It was Emil Voigt who conceived of a Labor broadcasting station during a study tour of the United States. Even prior to his return to Australia, he was writing to the Sydney Trades Hall urging that a licence for such a service be sought from the Postmaster-General's Department.

Regulations 1924[edit]

From a broadcast historical perspective, the Regulations of 1924 were seen by the wireless industry generally as a great leap forward. The previous Regulations of 1923 had certainly ushered in high powered broadcasting for Australia, but in the form of the Sealed Set debacle favoured by AWA's Ernest Thomas Fisk and those held briefly under his spell. It was an unmitigated disaster for the industry, costs of receiving equipment were greatly increased, a licensed broadcast listener could "tune" to one station only (actually there was no tuning at all, the tuning was fixed), while the cost of a licence to receive was horrific excluding those of limited means from legally listening-in and effectively disenfranchising the schoolboys and their crystal sets. When the 1924 Regulations were enabled, the industry was poised for and looking towards a boom comparable to that experienced in the United States and Great Britain a few years earlier. But the Labor Movement in Australia viewed the new regulations with great concern


A Proposal Develops[edit]

Application Made[edit]

Licence Issue[edit]

Callsign Origin[edit]

Construction Period[edit]

The contract to construct the station was let to United Distributors, Ltd. which firm was managed by Rudolph. Principal engineer was E. Gordon Beard. Amongst several other engineers C. Eagle is also mentioned. Additionally Len Schultz, a prominent wireless experimenter at the time was also heavily involved in the project.

On-air Testing Period[edit]

The new facility commenced formal testing on 23 October 1925.[1] The wireless press had foreshadowed this testing phase for some weeks beforehand and wireless enthusiasts throughout Australia and New Zealand would have been checking the 280 metre wavelength nightly for some time. Accordingly the first night's testing was widely heard throughout eastern Australia. Despite the station management's desire to immediately commence scheduled programming, this would have incurred the wrath of the staff of the Postmaster-General's Department. Thus transmitted programming was mostly open carrier modulated only by a "tic-toc" clock sound.[2] Announcements were made sporadically to identify the station, while musical items and speech were also transmitted for the purpose of fine tuning the modulation systems. Multiple modulation characteristics were being assessed, and at given times on given nights, test programmes would be announced as either "A Conditions" or "B Conditions" with a request for listeners-in to submit reports of reception quality including the particular Condition announced and an A/B assessment.[3] Testing was carried out at 750 watts input to the final stage, being half the full licensed (input) power of 1500 watts. Output power to the aerial is typically one-third of the DC input power so the test power would have been about 250 watts.[4] The reason for the initial reduced power operation during testing was not the more usual caution in tuning up the transmitter, but rather a local shortage of the requisite final valves. Both licensee and contractor were suspicious of the rather sudden disappearance of valve stocks, there having been ample stocks quite recently, and an inference was made that certain elements of the Australian wireless industry were attempting to hold back 2KY.[5]

Station Opening[edit]

Initial Programming[edit]

Agitation on Wireless Regulations[edit]

Royal Commission on Wireless 1927[edit]
















  1. "LABOR BROADCASTING". The Daily Telegraph (New South Wales, Australia) (14,313): p. 11. 23 October 1925. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article245048628. Retrieved 17 October 2018. 
  2. "LABOR'S RADIO". The Labor Daily (New South Wales, Australia) (549): p. 5. 24 October 1925. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article238116436. Retrieved 17 October 2018. 
  3. "TRADES HALL ON THE AIR". The Daily Telegraph (New South Wales, Australia) (14,314): p. 11. 24 October 1925. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article245047726. Retrieved 17 October 2018. 
  4. "2KY TESTS". The Labor Daily (New South Wales, Australia) (549): p. 6. 24 October 1925. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article238116452. Retrieved 10 October 2018. 
  5. "2KY TESTING". The Labor Daily (New South Wales, Australia) (551): p. 1. 27 October 1925. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article238118641. Retrieved 17 October 2018. 
  6. http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/voigt-emil-robert-8930
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emil_Voigt_(athlete)
  8. https://www.radioinfo.com.au/news/2ky-pioneer-emil-voigt-olympic-medallist-broadcaster-and-suspected-spy
  9. https://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/athletes/vo/emil-voigt-2.html
  10. http://www.radioheritage.net/Story70.asp
  11. http://www.radioheritage.net/Story71.asp
  12. http://www.radioheritage.net/Story72.asp
  13. http://www.radioheritage.net/Story73.asp
  14. http://www.radioheritage.net/Story74.asp
  15. https://trove.nla.gov.au/people/1468384
  16. https://www.smh.com.au/national/gold-medallist-takes-the-track-less-travelled-20050614-gdlidv.html
  17. http://workers.labor.net.au/77/c_historicalfeature_racing.html
  18. https://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/from-the-archive-blog/2012/jul/23/archive-1908-olympics-emil-voigt
  19. http://www.bbc.co.uk/manchester/content/articles/2008/05/16/160508_olympic_hero_feature.shtml