BY BOB PADULA, OAM (Melbourne, Australia)


The world-wide radio monitoring community, has been saddened at the passing of long-time radio monitoring enthusiast, Robert Harcourt Chester, following an illness, at his home in the Adelaide suburb of Cheltenham, South Australia, at the age of 61, surrounded by his loving family and their music, on January 2, 2005.


My last conversation with Robert was in mid December, after a period of hospitalisation, and he was hopeful for a full recovery from the debilitating illness with which he had been inflicted.


I had known Robert for some 45 years, due to our shared interests in the radio monitoring hobby.


Robert’s initial involvement with radio monitoring began in the early 1960s. At that time, there was no Australia-wide DXing organisation, and Australian hobbyists enrolled in either or both of the New Zealand Radio DX League or the NZ DX Radio Association. 


There had been an all-Australian DX Club in operation until around 1949, when it was abandoned due to lack of interest.


In the early 1960s, the few survivors in Adelaide of that early Club formed themselves into a very small, localised DXing group known as the South Australian DX Club. Robert was accepted into that Club and he also joined the New Zealand Radio DX League.


By the mid-1960s, interest in organized radio monitoring across Australia had increased, due to war-surplus communications equipment becoming available, and the first of the inexpensive Japanese-manufactured receivers had started to appear. Members of the two New Zealand based Clubs in Australia were lamenting the lack of a national, local Australian club, eventually resulting in the establishment of a completely new national organisation for Australian DX hobbyists.


Robert had strongly supported the concept of a new national Club, and was one of 23 enthusiasts, along with myself, who were the founding members of the new Club. He was the only foundation member in South Australia.


In January 1969, Robert took up his first official position in the new club, responsible for a key editorial function devoted to long-distance medium-wave monitoring. He held that position continuously for 20 years, until December 1989. During those two decades, he developed a superb knowledge of Australian mediumwave broadcasting operations, meticulously researching and compiling the first “Australian Mediumwave Guide”. In subsequent years, he produced several further editions of the Guide, which had become an accepted reference worldwide.


For several years in the 1970s and 1980s he was responsible for assembling the Australian mediumwave listings in the World Radio TV Handbook, a task which he undertook with a very high level of dedication, care, and an extraordinary attention to detail.


In mid 1967, he accepted a continuing responsibility which was to endure for ten years as a script writer and announcer for the weekly DX session “World at Your Fingertips”, heard over the Victorian country mediumwave station 3NE, Wangaratta. This work was done in conjunction with me, alternating weekly.


In 1972, he joined the script writing team for Radio Australia’s weekly DX program “DXers Calling”, which was later to become “DX Time”. He maintained that responsibility for a continuous period of 16 years, until the program’s termination in 1988.


From late 1972 until 1986, Robert was the Manager of the South Australian regional Branch of the national Club. From mid-1986, he was appointed as the South Australian Advisor to the Club’s Melbourne-based Management Committee.


In January 1973, Robert was awarded Life Membership of the national Club, in recognition of his outstanding service over many years to the Club and to the hobby. The Award was announced at the second national Convention of the Club, in Sydney. In my last conversation with Robert, he mentioned the Award, which he cherished greatly.


In his hobby career over some 45 years, his dedication, loyalty, and interest in were of the highest order, not only in supporting the Clubs he had joined, but also with his willingness to actively share his hobby activities and accomplishments, and to guide, help, and develop other persons who had entered the hobby.


He attended the first National Convention of the national Club in Melbourne in 1972, and many others which were held in various states until the last such event in 1985. Such was his commitment that he travelled from Adelaide via tiring overnight bus to the convention cities.


Robert had also been prominent in the “Southern Cross DX Club”, a relatively small regional group based in Adelaide during the 1970s until its eventual abandonment some years later.


Whilst his main DX interests had been with medium-wave, he was also a very accomplished short-wave hobbyist. He was a volunteer technical monitor for the large German broadcaster Radio Deutsche Welle, a role which he had maintained for many years up to the time of his passing. He had also been officially recognized by various other international broadcasters for his volunteer monitoring efforts, and at various times he was a member of other DXing organisations outside of Australia.


He had also amassed many hundreds of mediumwave and shortwave QSLs, in his quest for QSLs from as many different broadcasters as possible. His reception reports were amazingly comprehensive.


At the time of his passing, Robert was an enthusiastic member of the world-wide Electronic DX Press Radio Monitoring Association, based in Melbourne.


Even though Robert’s demeanour was quiet, modest, and unassuming within the radio community, he was never afraid to make his views known, in a responsible and thoughtful style, for the betterment and advancement of the hobby and the organisations which he had joined.


Robert maintained many other interests. For many years, he was actively involved with FM Christian religious broadcasting stations in Adelaide, as a panel operator and presenter. Following his retirement from his employment in the South Australian Government Service, he established a modest mail-order business, and spent many hours in his beautiful garden. He was a dedicated member of the Lutheran Church. 


Robert’s contribution to the Australian monitoring hobby over four decades was outstanding. His loyalty, kindness, moral strength, and sincerity to everyone whom he knew are qualities which stand out amongst many others.


He never failed to offer strong moral support, inspiration, and encouragement to other hobbyists during times of sorrow, need, hardship, or any other adversity.


Robert is survived by his wife Beryl, sons Nathan and Paul, daughter Heidi, sisters Loretta, Royce, and Arlene, and their respective families.


Robert was laid to rest on Thursday January 6, 2005, following a service at the Good News Lutheran Church, Albert Park, Adelaide.


All hobbyists who knew him are mourning his passing.


Sadly missed.


Bob Padula, OAM

404 Mont Albert Rd

Mont Albert VIC 3127






Note: Expressions of sympathy may be sent to the family of the late Robert H. Chester, at 12 High St, Cheltenham, South Australia 5014.  I would be pleased to pass on any E-mailed messages to his family should you wish to send these to me in the first instance.


Republication of this Tribute, within your own community, would be welcomed, which should not be abridged or modified.