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Women's Radio Club

In August 1937 Station Manager Peter Speight sought approval from the Board to increase 2AD’s operating hours each week day by thirty minutes from 5.30pm to 6pm to include a Women’s Session and a Children’s Session. It was agreed to alternate these two new programs each day.

The Women’s Session was presented by Eileen Speight, wife of the Station Manager and the Children’s Session, known as ‘The Busy Bees’ was presented by ‘Aunty B’ Phyllis Taylor, wife of the Station Engineer Lindo Taylor.

After the Speight’s left the Station in May 1938, the Women’s Session moved to a new broadcast time, Monday to Saturday from 9.00am to 10.00am with a new presenter Marion McArthur, sister of the Chairman of the Company Allan McArthur. Marion used the on-air name ‘Dorothy’, and presented the program for the next five years.

The Session became the 2AD Women’s Correspondence Club with a membership fee of one shilling (10cents) per year, with members taking on a pen-name, and agreeing to contribute one letter each month to the program.

In September 1938, following the popularity of the program with both listeners and advertisers, the Women’s Session was extended by an extra thirty minutes each day to 10.30am.  By mid-1939 the 2AD Radio Correspondence Club had almost 500 listeners as members.

Around this time a book of verse was produced called ‘Pals, Prose and Poetry’. The book was a collection of letters and verse sent into the program and selected by Dorothy. Also included was a list of Club Members by their 'pen-names'.

The Station had a special badge produced for members of the Radio Club which was designed by Marion McArthur, and worn with pride by many of the members.  Joan Blake, wife of the Manager, Roy Blake, would fill in from time to time as presenter of both the Women’s and Children’s program, her on-air name was ‘Yvonne’.

Here is the weekly program guide of the Club from the early 1940’s.

9.00   Morning Thought
9.02   Correspondence
9.30   In the Garden with Dorothy
9.45   Special Call of Remembrance
9.50   Women 
10.00   Hints - Home and Dressmaking
10.15   Short Story
10.30   Close

9.00   Mothercraft
9.15   C.W.A. Session
9.45   How Much Do You Know
10.00   Morning Thought
10.02   Correspondence
10.30   Close

9.00   Morning Thought
9.02   Correspondence 
9.30   Memories
9.45   Recital
10.00   Australiana
10.10   Kia-Ora Coo-ee
10.15   Short Story
10.30   Close

9.00   Morning Thought
9.02   Correspondence
9.30   Aids to Beauty
9.45   Nature Notes
10.00   Humour
10.15   Origins
10.20   People of Other Countries
10.30   Close

9.00   Morning Thoughts
9.02   Correspondence
9.30   Recipes
9.45   Man in the News
10.00   Dorothy Sings
10.15   Short Story
10.30   Station Close

9.00   Morning Thoughts
9.02   Correspondence
9.30   Facts
9.40   Your Health
9.45   The Wonder of the World
10.00   Travel Talk
10.15   Item of Interest

Marion McArthur resigned from the station in November 1943.

Valda Birch filled the role of presenter for a short time until early 1944 when Lois Kesteven took over as the Women’s Session presenter.  Pictured below, Club Members at their annual get-together at the Soldiers Rooms in Dumaresq Street, Armidale in 1951 . 2AD's Lois Kesteven is seated front right.

 Lois would stay with 2AD and the Session until 1953 when she moved to the Armidale Express.


Rowina Wood took charge of the Club from 1955 to 1957.

When the Radio Club celebrated its 21st Birthday on 31st August 1959, over 70 ladies attended the party in the 2AD Auditorium, of these at least 20 were foundation members of the Club.

There to help the Club President Mrs Tess Frazier (who’s pen-name was “Blue Argus”) cut the Birthday Cake was John Creighton the first Manager and chief announcer of 2AD back in February 1936 and former presenter of the Women’s Session Lois Kesteven (on left of picture).

Mr Creighton told the members that the Club’s motto ‘Everything goes to children” was a fine one, those four simple words meant so much too so many.  He paid tribute to the Radio Club Members who, over the years had raised funds for many children’s organizations and charities including the Armidale Spastic Centre, Handicapped Children Centre, Legacy, the Ohio Boy’s Home Walcha, the Coventry Girls Home Armidale, St Patrick’s Orphanage, the Far West Children’s Health Scheme as well as maintaining a cot at Sydney Far West Drummond Home.

The Radio Club held their “Spring Fair” each September in the Armidale Town Hall, this was one of the main event of the club's year. In 1964 the Club also produced a Recipes Book which consisted of tried and tested recipes complied by members of the Club, the book sold at 5/- (five shillings) a copy.

In January 1965 a branch of the 2AD Radio Club was formed in Walcha with thirteen Walcha members attending the first meeting.  The Walcha branch held a very successful Fete on 24th July that year.

Today it may seem hard to understand the popularity of a radio program for women – but many ladies have told us how back in the 1940’s and ’50, living and working on a property maybe only five or ten kilometres from town, was no different to being 100 kms away.

One lady told of living with three other families on a property in the Puddledock area some 15 kilometres from Armidale, and sharing one motor car meant getting to town was an occasional event.  

So many rural listeners across the New England didn’t have the opportunity to get to town regularly and their only means of linking with a wider community was through their daily contact with the 2AD Women’s Radio Club.

The members became an extended family, even today gather a few of them over a cuppa and they can tell stories of their old Club and with no trouble, bring to mind some of the old pen-names … Daffodil, Forget-Me-Not, Blue Argus, Moonflower, Waratah, Sally of Snake Gully, Raindrop, Blue Bell, Buttercup, Kentucky Blue, Wild Flower and many many others.

Many listeners from this region still today have fond memories of the 2AD Women’s Radio Club.