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History of Australian Radio

It has been said that Radio grew from a convergence of thoughts from great minds, dating back as far 1752 when Benjamin Franklin identified positive and negative electrical charges - from there... Italian Volta, Frenchman Ampere, German physicists Ohm and Hertz, the Italian Marconi, the Scotsman Bell, Americans Edison and De Frost played a part.

Here is a timeline that shows the development to Radio.

1844 Samuel Morse successfully transmits the words “what hath God wrought?” along a 17 kilometre telegraph wire between Baltimore and Washington in the United States.

1876 Alexander Graham Bell patents a device capable of transmitting a voice signal by modulating the electric waves travelling along a wire.

1887 Heinrich Hertz creates the world’s first man-made radio waves.

1895 Gugliemo Marconi, increases the distance at which wireless waves can be detected by using an aerial for reception and another for transmission.

1901 Marconi receives the first transatlantic wireless signal (the letter s ) at Signal Hill, Newfoundland from Cornwall, England.

1905 Wireless Telegraphy Act comes into being, to acknowledge and establish under federal control communications by wireless for navigational purposes. The Marconi Company establishes a two-way radio station at Queenscliff in Victoria.

1906 Reginald Fessenden first broadcasts using Amplitude Modulation (AM) on a spark transmitter. That same year, Lee De Forest patents a diode vacuum valve detector that over the next two years would lead to him inventing the three-electrode amplifier.

1910 Wireless Institute is formed in NSW. The Institute organises wireless contact between two trains travelling at forty miles an hour. 
That same year, Ernest Fisk arrives from England with patents from Marconi and Telefunken - three years later he becomes Managing Director of Amalgamated Wireless Australia Ltd (AWA). Both feature prominently in the history of radio in Australia.
Wireless transmissions appear to have commenced in Australia around 1910, by ham operators - these continue until the start of World War One which brings about virtual radio silence.
After the War a number of amateur operators unofficially transmit regular music and entertainment for short periods of time.

1916 De Forest, later named the "Father of the modern Radio" uses his valve amplifier as a receiver and his 100 watt 3-electrode tube (Triode), commences AM radio transmissions in the United States.  

1920  The first commercial radio station in the USA starts operating on November 2 from the Westinghouse Electric Building in  Pittsburgh.

1923 The first regular radio broadcast starts in Australia.
By mid-year the Commonwealth Government gives approval for what is called the broadcast plan based on sealed radio sets. Listeners can, on payment of a subscription to a private company and a licence fee, purchase sets locked to the frequency of a particular station, or stations, so you could only listen to the stations you paid for. The government licence free is ten shillings for one station and one pound for two or more.  Two sealed set stations were authorised for Sydney.
November 13 - 2SB, Sydney Broadcasters (Sydney) Limited, provides the first commercial radio service in Australia from a studio, set up in the old Smith’s Weekly building in Philip Street Sydney. Initial programming is a concert, George Saunders is the station’s first announcer.
December 5, 2FC follows with its first public broadcast, also in the form of a concert. The station is 2FC, named after its owners the department store Farmer & Co. Ltd. The studio is on Farmer’s roof garden and the transmitter at Willoughby.
After several months of transmission it becomes evident that listeners are confused by the similarly-sounding call signs of 2SB and 2FC. In March 1924, 2SB becomes 2BL.
In July of that year, the Government establishes two categories for broadcasting: A-class stations financed - in theory - entirely by licence fees from listeners and B-class stations dependent on selling advertising time.

1924 By the end of the year, thirty-eight thousand licences are taken out by listeners throughout the Commonwealth; twenty-six thousand in New South Wales.
A-class stations are authorised to transmit on power of 5,000 watts. A radio signal in the early days can carry for hundreds of miles, and licence fees are fixed at 35/- (shillings) a year, for listeners within a 250 mile radius, 30/- outside that to 400 miles, and beyond that 25/- (shillings).
First of the B-class stations on air is 2BE Sydney, starting on 7 November 1924 however it ceases operations in November 1929.

1925 AWA are selling radio sets - two different four-valve sets, in handsome cabinets for ₤56 (pounds) 10 shillings and 68 pounds respectively. Their crystal set ‘with a range of 12 miles’ is priced at 6 pound.  While the Meyer Brothers are offering a five-valve set complete, installed for 48 pounds 10 shillings and instructions on how to make a crystal receiver for 7 shillings and 6 pence.
The oldest existing commercial radio station is 2UE, whiched commenced on 26 January to be followed one day later by 2HD Newcastle.
In February that year one Victorian listener is fined 5 pound and 2 pound costs for not having a licence.

1928 In mid-year the Government decides to establish a national broadcasting service, with A-class stations.

1929 Between July and December the following year, the Government takes over by purchase, lease or agreement all A-class station.
After calling for tenders in 1929, the Australian Government grants a three-year contract to the Australian Broadcasting Company, consisting of Greater Union Theatres, Fullers Theatres and music publishers J. Albert & Son. They take over all A-class stations and produce programmes on a national basis.
Three hundred and ten thousand homes (310,000) have receivers - Radio has arrived.

1930 Prior to then there were only twelve B-class licences issued.
The first station in this area is at Gunnedah, started by amateur operator Marcus Oliver, 2MO commences transmission on 16 June 1930.
FARB (Federation of Australian Radio Broadcasters) is established.

1931 Groups of radio players are operating from the ABC studios in both Sydney and Melbourne. The 1930s see the beginning of radio drama with stage plays and books adapted into radio plays. Also original plays and serials are written for the medium. Techniques of radio production are being perfected through these radio dramas.

1932 The Australian Broadcasting Commission is established.

1934 Commercial Radio wins probably, the greatest scoop of its young career when the England versus Australia cricket Test Match series is played in England. Commercial radio owners come up with the idea of broadcasting matches from overseas. Before the year's series is complete many people buy a set and new licences are taken out. Australian commercial radio had established a unique reputation for sporting broadcasts that is immediate (ball-by-ball) and highly entertaining.

1935 In April, the Armidale Newspaper Company Ltd and Northern Newspapers Ltd of Inverell apply for and are granted licences to operate a “B-class radio station” at Armidale and Inverell.
2AD Armidale and 2LV Inverell are the first radio stations in Australia to be started, owned and operated by a newspaper company, and operate under Northern Broadcasters Ltd.

1936 Radio 2AD commences broadcasting on Wednesday 5 February, on 1080MHz with power of 100 watts.  With an office in the Armidale Express building in Beardy Street Armidale and a studio building on north hill, referred to as “The Top of the Hill”.