50 YEARS OF PRODUCING MEDIA PROGRAMS!
2018 represented my completion of 54 years of continuous involvement
with writing, hosting, and broadcasting "DX" programs over domestic and international stations.
involvement in writing and producing stories for the broadcast media was in March 1964,
when I started writing and taping the weekly 15 minute DX program, known as "The World at
Your Fingertips", heard over two Victorian medium-wave stations here in Australia - 3UL in Warragul,
and 3SR in Shepparton. This was under the sponsorship of the Victorian Branch of the New Zealand DX Radio Association, of
which I was a member. Sadly, the NZDXRA closed down in 2007. In those days, there was no Australian national radio monitoring
organisation - there had been such a club, but it had ceased in 1946.
WAYF had in fact
been on the air for a year or so previously, broadcast only over 3SR Shepparton, by Bruce Eastwood. On Bruce's
retirement from the field, he invited me to take over, which I did, and I expanded its coverage by syndicating it over 3UL
In 1965, 3SR discontinued this, and other programming, due to a major change of focus,
leaving us only with 3UL, which ran the show on Saturday mornings with a rather limited listenership.
I moved the show to 3NE Wangaratta, for a Sunday night release, which hosted our program continuously until 1976, when it
was decided jointly that the program was no longer serving any useful purpose, either for the station or the hobby, and it
From 1967 until 1976, the programs were written and remotely taped on alternate weeks by
my South Australian colleague, the late Robert Chester, and myself.
in international radio DX programs began in 1965, when I commenced script writing for the weekly
"Australian DXers’ Calling" over Radio Australia.
program first went on the air on July 9, 1946, and was written and presented by Graham Hutchins, Melbourne, who had been involved with the management of a local DX Club. I had been a keen
and avid listener to the program since around 1953 as a schoolboy, and I used to copy the details of the programs into a log-book.
log-book is sitting in front of me as I write this, some 63 years later, and the program of February 13, 1955 reported that
Radio France Asie, in Saigon, was on the air on 15430 0800-0815 and on 9775 at 1400 to Europe.
The program also reported that RRI had installed a new 20 kW transmitter on 9550 (still there at Makassar!), and that Radio
Australia would be carrying live commentary of the 5th Cricket Test between visiting England
and Australia. Target areas were announced
as including the West Indies, Africa, Korea, Japan,
and the British Isles.
As it turned out, I actually
went to one day of that famous Test, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground!
The untimely passing
of Graham in 1965 now required RA personnel to personally prepare and read the weekly scripts. I had been
a regular contributor to the program since 1963, and I was surprised when RA invited me to assume script writing responsibility
in 1965. I continued to write the scripts each week until 1982, which were read by senior RA announcers. I was not permitted
to include any information about stations in Communist-bloc countries, such as Radio Peking, Radio Moscow, Radio Tirana, etc!
I was also instructed to give as much information as possible about the Voice of Free China broadcasts. Those directions emanated
from sources extremely high up in the Australian Government. I complied!!!
In 1972, I was appointed
the script manager, where I introduced and trained other Australian DX hobbyists to these duties, with all
of us sharing the roster coordination and writing tasks. The shared arrangements continued until 1976, when the program was
discontinued as part of a major and extraordinary change in RA policy.
However, RA's Japanese
department had also been using the scripts for many years, translating them into its weekly "DX Time" programs,
and we continued to prepare the scripts for the Japanese service until it itself was closed down in 1989. Estimates as to
the number of regular listeners to "DX Time" were put at many millions. That was in the days of the 1970s following the CB
"boom", when enormous numbers of Japanese schoolchildren were attracted to shortwave listening, coining the term "BCL" (ie,
"broadcast listener"), fuelled by the burgeoning Japanese electronics' manufacturing industry.
massive exposure of millions of Japanese children to the hobby was reflected in the vast numbers of QSL reports received by
Radio Australia's Japanese section, the
majority of which were for reception of "DX Time"! It was an enormous flood, which was beyond the capability of RA to manage.
I helped RA to process those reports, most of which were "gimme QSL" requests - there were mountains of mail in big boxes!
Indonesian service also took the scripts for its own DX program until 1989, but there is no longer any Indonesian DX program.
representations from listeners, in 1982 RA decided to reintroduce a "communications" program in the English service, calling
it "Spectrum", which ran until September 1983. This was hosted by the
late Dick Speekman, formerly of Radio Netherland's "DX Juke Box" (which had also been closed down!)
Dick with weekly SW and DX notes, as well as being an interviewee, until that program was subsequently terminated in September
1983! One month later, it reappeared under the new name of "Talkback",
prepared by RA staffers and Dick was no longer involved.
Each week, until June 1985,
I wrote the shortwave news, and visited RA's studios in the new East Burwood
(Melbourne) complex to tape the shows. This was a new experience for me - everything had to be precisely scripted - no colloquial
expressions - no departure from the written scripts - and no jokes. I was given full access to the complex, and had to book
a studio and operator in advance. There were also strict rules for annunciation, pronunciation, and "speaking style" to ensure
that the Australian accent didn't seem too prominent!
These studio facilities at
the time were an eye-opener, state-of-the-art, with everything on large tape spools, running at 1 7/8
inches/sec. Everything broadcast had to be backed-up and archived for several weeks. It helps the soul to know that what you
are taping will be going out to the entire world in a few hours time!
The East Burwood
complex was closed down some years ago when ABC's operations were centralised in the Melbourne
"Southbank" building. The East Burwood buildings remain, and have
been converted into residential units. The surrounding land has been re-developed and is now closely packed
"Talkback" came to an abrupt end in June 1985 and the popular DX news was never
I had, and continue, to be involved with DX-type program production over other international
broadcasters. This has included "Pacific DX Report" over the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation
(1979-1981), "South Pacific DX Report" over HCJB (1979-1986), "DX Newsline" over Trans World Radio
Guam (1982-1992), and "DX News"" over Adventist World Radio Guam (1994 onwards).
Since 1995, I compiled the
monthly "Australian DX Report" scripts over HCJB (in the DX Partyline program) and also on WHRI,
and since 1999 over Adventist World Radio Asia. Since May 2006, I’ve been producing the weekly “Australian
DX Report” over WWCR, Nashville, Tennessee,
with 377 episodes having been produced.
HCJB discontinued its DX Partyline programs in May 2011.
In 1997 I launched
the Australian Internet Radio Service, where my weekly "Australian DX Reports" (with music!) may be downloaded free of
charge by anyone, anywhere, or accessed as a Podcast!
All of the work is done
on a voluntary, spare-time basis, and I have lost count of the number of hours dedicated to the tasks
over all those years. Unlike some people, I neither seek payment, nor insist on recognition for all of this - I do it because
I enjoy it, with a desire to help others.
Postscript: Radio Australia was closed down by the Australian Government in
So, there you are...