History of wireless telegraphy and broadcasting in Australia/Topical/Stations/2KY Sydney
- 1 Overview
- 2 Labor Information Bureau
- 3 Emil Robert Voigt
- 4 Regulations 1924
- 5 Preliminaries
- 6 A Proposal Develops
- 7 Application Made
- 8 Licence Issue
- 9 Callsign Origin
- 10 Construction Period
- 11 On-air Testing Period
- 12 Station Opening
- 13 Initial Programming
- 14 Agitation on Wireless Regulations
- 15 Royal Commission on Wireless 1927
- 16 Transmitter relocation
- 17 Morley precursor
- 18 Morley incident
- 19 Station silenced
- 20 Ron Casey investigation
- 21 References
Radio 2KY is one of Australia's earliest B class (now commercial) radio broadcasting stations, having been established in 1925. It has a rich 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. The station always had a strong element of sports content, but by the 1990s that content became almost exclusively horse and greyhound racing. Radio 2KY had been a significant driver to the provision of narrowcasting categories of service introduced by the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 and the Radiocommunications Act 1992. The station was quick to begin to acquire a large network of LPONs and HPONs. The narrowcasters simulcasting the 2KY programming by satellite distribution. In 2018, 2KY is the cornerstone station of one of Australia's largest radio networks comprising 54 HPONs and 31 LPONs across New South Wales. The station's progressive outlook of the 1920s morphed quickly into corruption and scandal in the 1930s, a tale primed for any Hollywood movie director. Since World War 2, the station has reliably provided service to the Sydney metropolitan market, the most populous of any in Australia.The following attempts highlight the best and expose the worst of this most fascinating station and its staff.
Labor Information Bureau
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
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.
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
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
The new facility commenced formal testing on 23 October 1925. 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. 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. 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. 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.
Radio 2KY officially commenced operations on the evening of Saturday 31 October 1925. The master of ceremonies for the event was John Albert ("Jack") Beasley, President of the Sydney Trades and Labor Council. The venue for the opening was Sydney Trades Hall itself, fittingly in the floors below the top floor studio and the rooftop transmitting antenna of Radio 2KY. After briefly announcing that Radio 2KY was the first broadcasting station controlled throughout the world by organised Labor, he introduced Albert Charles Willis, Vice-President of the Executive Council to formally open the service. In his speech, Willis identified the two great factors which would profoundly impact the development of the human race, Labor and Radio. He noted that radio was fast annihilating distance and was playing an important part in welding together the social life not only of the Commonwealth of Australia, but of the whole world. In another speech, Mr. T. S. Gurr, General Manager, "Labor Daily," noted the great potential for the Labor newspaper working in conjunction with the Labor radio station. Further speeches were given by Messrs. J. S. Garden (sec., Trades and Labor Council), Rudolph (Manager, United Radio Distributors), A. Teece (Acting Sec., Miners' Union), Hastie (Trades Hall Association). Representatives of all the union sections also delivered congratulatory and informative messages.
Emil Voigt in his speech
Agitation on Wireless Regulations
Royal Commission on Wireless 1927
James Keith Morley commenced a career with Radio 2KY in 1936 as a political commentator. He quickly established a reputation as a forthright announcer with strong Labor-oriented views. While 2KY and the "Labor Daily" viewpoints generally closely aligned, for sometime Morley appeared to have an informal relationship with the competitor and right-leaning "The Sun" newspaper. The "Labor Daily" openly insinuated this relationship. On 24 November 1937, "The Sun" published an apparently fabricated story of a meeting of Beasley supporters with several key Labor M's.H.R. absent and implied that those absences were indicative of a fracturing within N.S.W. Labor, immediately prior to a key meeting to elect officers of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. The "Labor Daily" promptly responded that the story was a complete fabrication and published statutory declarations from the alleged participants to effect that there was no such meeting. Unfortunately Morley had relayed the "Sun's" version of events in his program and the "Labor Daily" strongly criticised his error in so doing. Of course, the N.S.W. Labor Party was involved in many such controversies during this period, reflecting the turbulent nature of N.S.W. Labor politics at the time. Morley and the "Labor Daily" seemed to have been able to put aside their differences over this particular incident. Subsequently Morley regularly appears in the "Labor Daily" with the byline of "the Labor Daily's political commentator," supplementing his ongoing role as 2KY announcer.
The Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905 and its Regulations gave almost absolute power to the Postmaster-General in the conduct of broadcasting stations he licensed under the Act. In November and December 1938, 2KY's principal news commentator
Ron Casey investigation
- "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.
- "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.
- "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.
- "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.
- "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.
- "FIRST LABOR WIRELESS STATION OPENED". The Labor Daily (New South Wales, Australia) (556): p. 5. 2 November 1925. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article238117259. Retrieved 18 October 2018.