1923 - Evolution of Australian Domestic Radio

Project Overview
1800s - Land Telegraphy
1874 - Guglielmo Marconi - a Tribute
1895 - Wireless Telegraphy
1901 - Wireless Telegraphy
1902 - Wireless Telegraphy in Australia
1904 - Australian Coastal Radio
1906 - Wireless Telephony
1912 - Melbourne Radio - VIM
1914 - Shortwave Wireless Telephony
1920s - Commercial Shortwave Telephony Development
1920s - Receivers
1920 - The huge RCA Longwave Station in New York
1920 - Wireless broadcasting in Australia
1920s - First shortwave stations in Victoria
1921 - Discovery of Shortwave Propagation
1921 - Koo Wee Rup (Victoria) Experimental Wireless Receiving Station
1923- Longwave Broadcasting in Australia
1923 - Evolution of Australian Domestic Radio
1924 - 3LO - Melbourne's Second Broadcaster
1924 - 3AR - Melbourne's first broadcaster
1924 - The Braybrook (Melbourne) Transmitting Site
1925 - First Shortwave Stations in Western Australia
1926 - First Shortwave Stations in New South Wales
1926 - RAAF Communications - Laverton (Vic)
1927 - Beam Wireless Worldwide
1927 - Beam Wireless from Australia
1928 - ABC Lyndhurst (Victoria)
1930 - AWA Receiving Station at La Perouse (Sydney)
1930 - AWA Radio Centre at Pennant Hills
1933 (to 1969) - Shortwave Radio Clubs in Australia
1936 - Ship Broadcaster - the MS Kanimbla
1939 - Belconnen Communications Station (Canberra)
1940 - RAAF Receiving Station at Werribee (Victoria)
1941 - RAAF Frognall (Melbourne)
1941 - ABC Brisbane
1942 - Army Wireless Chain - west of Melbourne
1942 - Dutch Stations in Australia
1943 - ABC Radio Australia - Shepparton (Victoria)
1943 - Army Shortwave HF Stations in Melbourne
1944 - ABC - Radio Australia - Looking Back
1945 - PMG Receiving Station - Highpark (Victoria)
1945 - Radio Australia - DXers Calling
1946 - Radio Australia - Communications Programs
1946 - VNG Time Signal Station
1948 - Radio Australia QSL Cards
1948 - ABC Sydney
1966 - ABC Cox Peninsula (Darwin)
1970 (to 2012) - Shortwave Radio Clubs in Australia
1975 - ABC Gnangara (Western Australia)
1975 - ABC Carnarvon (Western Australia)
1978 - Omega Navigation Station - Woodside (Victoria)
1985 - ABC Northern Territory
1989 - ABC Brandon (Queensland)
2003 - Private Shortwave Broadcasters
Timeline - Part One - 1839 to 1927
Timeline - Part Two - 1928 to 2012
SPECIAL - Licencing of Shortwave Broadcasters
SPECIAL - Radio Receivers for Shortwave
SPECIAL - Radio Monitoring as a Hobby
Bibliography, References and Resources
Links to the author's personal websites

1924 - advertisement from Wireless Weekly

1921 - 2CM broadcasting from Wentworth Hotel

No story about Shortwave broadcasting from Australia would be complete without reference to the beginnings of local Australian broadcasting, and this summary should be of interest to readers of this Project.


Charles MacLurcan was issued with the very first radio licence in Australia for station 2CM. This was broadcast from the Wentworth Hotel in Sydney, owned by the MacLurcan family, and Charles broadcast popular classical music concerts every Sunday night.

Radio 2CM was the first radio station in Australia to publish a regular program guide and Charles was clearly good at generating publicity, because his first broadcast resulted in over 2000 letters from enthusiastic listeners.

If you look at most histories of Australian radio, you won’t find mention of 2CM, nor will you find mention of almost 50 other radio stations that were on the air in1921 and 1922 – well before 2SB was granted the first commercial licence in 1923 and then changed its call sign to 2BL in 1924.

In fact 2CM could trace its heritage back to a morse code station, XDM, which began broadcasting in 1911 and established numerous long distance records such as being heard in New Zealand with a power of 0.0037 watts.


Following intensive lobbying for the introduction of radio broadcasting, the Government, in May 1923, called a conference of the main players in the radio manufacturing industry. This led to the sealed set regulations where stations could be licensed to broadcast and then sell sets to 'listeners-in'. The receiving device would be set to receive only that station.

2FC in Sydney was the first radio station to be licensed on 10 September 1923 (going to air officially on 9 January 1924), but its opponent 2SB (later to be called 2BL) was first to go to air officially starting on 23 November 1923.

3AR and 3LO went to air on 26 January and 13 October 1924 in Melbourne.

The Government introduced a two-tiered licence system in July 1924. In the first half of 1924, only 1400 people took out sealed set licences. It was quite easy for listeners to avoid the licence fee by building their own sets or modifying one they had bought to receive more than one station.

The radio industry successfully lobbied the Government to introduce a two-tiered system, the 'A' licences to be financed by listeners' licence fees imposed and collected by the Government, and 'B' class licences to be offered to anyone else who wanted to have a go. The B stations would have to generate their own revenue through advertising. A class stations could also advertise but few did.

This system was an amalgam of the British system where the non-commercial BBC had a government-imposed monopoly and the USA where the free market was the driving force.

The 'A' class stations were the original sealed set stations plus one in each other capital city - 2BL, 2FC, 3AR, 3LO, 7ZL, 5CL, 6WF. By years end, 40,000 licences have been issued.

The first 'B' class station on air was 2BE in November 1924

South Australia’s first radio station 5CL (A class) went to air on  November 20.

The oldest surviving 'B' class (commercial) station is 2UE which went on air on Australia Day

  • 3UZ Melbourne began broadcasting
  • South Australia’s first commercial radio station 5DN went to air February 24
  • Number of licences issued reached 80,000.

The British Government nationalised radio by buying out the British Broadcasting Company and forming the British Broadcasting Corporation. The Australian Government held a
Royal Commission into Wireless but didn't immediately follow the British lead. It did encourage the 'A' class stations to amalgamate in order to maximise efficiencies and maintain standards.

3DB Melbourne commenced broadcasting

2BE closed due to financial collapse.

The Government nationalises the transmission facilities and contracts the provision of programming to the Australian Broadcasting Company (now Australian Broadcasting Corporation), a consortium of entertainment interests.

Australian Broadcasting Company was nationalised by the Australian Broadcasting Commission Act (1932). This finalised the two-tier system with the national broadcaster, the newly created Australian Broadcasting Commission, having 12 stations, and the commercial sector, with 43 stations.

The ABC was funded by listeners’ licence fees until the 1970s, when Federal Government appropriation became the primary source of funding. Initial plans to permit advertising on the ABC were dropped from the final bill presented to the parliament

On 29 June 29 1932,
2WG in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales went on the air on a purpose-built 2000 watt transmitter.

At 8.00 pm on July 1 1932, the Prime Minister, Joseph Lyons, inaugurated the ABC. It then controlled 12 stations – 2FC and 2BL in Sydney, 3AR and 3LO in Melbourne, 4QG in Brisbane, 5CL in Adelaide, 6WF in Perth, 7ZL in Hobart and the relay stations 2NC in Newcastle, New South Wales, 2CO at Corowa, New South Wales, 4RK in Rockhampton, Queensland and 5CK at Crystal Brook, South Australia.


1925 - 2FC studio

1923 - erecting 2FC antenna

Enter supporting content here

Contact the author at this Email link