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History Archive


Before commercial broadcasting

Amateur broadcasters were deeply involved with early broadcasting. One of the most well known was Charles Maclurcan of Sydney. Indeed, it is claimed that he was the first to publish a program for his regular broadcasts. Many early experimenters formed the "back-bone" for local broadcast stations. The photograph on the right was taken in 1928 of Geoffrey Thompson 3GT of Thornbury, Melbourne.

"Wireless" is taken over by "Radio"

History records that the initial foray into broadcasting during 1923 using "sealed sets", (radios fixed tuned to one broadcasting station only), was doomed! By mid 1924, only 1400 receiving licences had been issued in all Australia!

Consequently, major changes were planned in the form of Class A and B (Commercial) "open" broadcasting stations. Once implemented, the public responded, causing an almost immediate ten-fold increase in licenced receivers!

Amateur broadcasters, although popular with the public, were forced to curtail their activities. Only a limited number of frequencies were made available, these were controlled by the WIA and were only available when the commercial stations closed at night. For some time, many commercial stations did not operate on Sunday afternoons which enabled amateur stations, like 3RI, the Railways Institute amateur radio club station to "entertain" (or more correctly, conduct test transmissions) from its studio in the Flinders Street Railway station building.

Examples of Amateur Broadcasters c1934

Ivor Morgan, VK3DH was a keen Amateur Broadcaster. He made his own aluminium disc recorder and used it to record samples of other broadcasters during 1934. This recorder scribed the signal grooves directly into the soft aluminium disc. There was no coating on the surface of the disc as in the usual "Acetate" discs.

In the first segment, three experimenters are heard identifying their stations. The stations are: 3BW Portarlington, 30Y Camberwell and 3BH Moonee Ponds.

The second segment contains Ivor telling the true story of the talking Cockatoo. There are printed reports about this event (or happening) and the ABC included it in a radio documentary about amateur radio called "The Hams" which was broadcast in 1946 and for which the Institute holds the script.

Both of these segments are from a WIA CD entitled "The Sounds of Amateur Radio" Volume 1, available from the WIA Book Shop on line.

Published Amateur Station Programs from 1928

This page provides an indication of test transmission "programs" transmitted by Amateur Broadcasters in 1928. Most of the stations listed were well known in the Melbourne area. The popular Railways Institute Station 3RI was often heard in New Zealand and PNG as well as interstate.

Performance Rights for Recorded Music 1935

In February 1935, The Postmaster-General's Department contacted all Experimenters to "encourage" them to immediately ensure that their "performance" of recorded music complied with the law within Australia.

Reading between the lines, it appears that a number of issues could have been involved here. viz:
The (obvious) necessity for "broadcasters" to pay appropriate performance royalties and
The effect that the amateur "broadcasters", operating on short-wave bands and capable of reaching interstate, had on the "regular" or commercial broadcasters.

The way it was in 1935!
Read the 1935 letter below.

Bill Seivers VK3CB - The Final Word c1950 (From The Sounds of Amateur Vol-1)

This recording was made around 1950 on a paper based magnetic disc - a little like the "floppy discs" used in early computers. In this case, an early English "Recordon" office dictating machine was used. Recovering the audio from these 230mm diameter discs proved challenging, but with the help of Chris Long VK3AML, an Audio Archivist, some very interesting statements, by a number of early Australian experimenters have been preserved and are held in the WIA Archive.

Files For Download

Examples of Amateur Broadcasters (From Sounds of Amateur Radio Vol-1)
SoAR v1 pt1.mp3

Ivor Morgan relates "The Talking Cockatoo" broadcast!
SoAR v1 pt2.mp3

Amateur Broadcasters Programs Listener In 1928
Programs 1928 L.I.ed.pdf

Recorded Music - 1935 PMG Circular
PMG Recordings 1935.pdf

Bill Seivers VK3CB - "The Final Word" c1950 (From The Sounds of Amateur Radio Vol1)
Bill Seivers VK3CB c1950.mp3

Page Last Updated: Monday 4 June 2018 at 14:13 hours by Webmaster


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