Looking Back - 1939 to 2011 - the Autobiography of Robert V. J. Padula, OAM

1964 - Senior Technician work in the Melbourne CBD

1941 - Bikes and Cars
1943 - Hiking - Hills and Coasts
1944 - Growing up in the War Years - Part 1
1944 - Growing up in the War Years - Part 2
1944 - Growing up in the War Years - Part 3
1945 - Auburn schooldays - Part One
1945 - Auburn Schooldays - Part Two
1945 - Auburn Schooldays - Part Three
1945 - Upwey and the Puffing Billy
1945 - Gramaphones and Record Players
1946 - Flinders St Station
1946 - Astronomy
1946 - Beach and Swimming Adventures
1946 - Going to the Pictures
1947 - Adventures at the Altona Bungalow
1947 -The Listener-In Magazine
1947 - Balwyn WIldlife Sanctuary
1948 - Fishermen's Bend Aerodrome
1948 - Radio Australia QSL cards
1948 - Excursions
1949 - Australian Rules Football
1949 - Radio Monitoring at Auburn
1950 -Trains and Ships
1950 - Radios for Communications
1950 - Radio Listening Clubs in Australia
1950 - World Radio TV Handbook
1950 - Shortwave Radio Propagation Research
1950 - Medium Wave Radio Propagation Research
1950 - Radio and Hobbies Magazines
1950 - Discovering shortwave radio at Auburn
1951 - Photography
1951 - Competitions on local radio stations
1952 - Camp Buxton - YMCA Shoreham
1952 Tennis and Ten Pin Bowling
1953 - Stamp Collectiong
1953 Camberwell High School
1954 - Royal Visit to Melbourne
1954 - Shortwave Radio reception at Auburn
1956 - Melbourne's Olympic Games
1956 - Trainee Telecommunications' Technician
1957 - Trainee Technician - field work
1957 - National Service Registration
1958 - Laverton Air Show
1958 - MOOMBA Parade
1958 - Trainee Technician - field work
1959 - The move to Mont Albert
1960 - Working at Deepdene Telephone Exchange
1963 - Trade Unions, Staff Associations, Industrial Relations
1964 - Senior Technician work in the Melbourne CBD
1964 - Project support for Radio Australia
1964 - Project support for Radio Australia
1964 - Amateur Radio
1964 - Media Writing
1964 -Travels
1964 - Engineering Support for International Broadcasters
1965 - Professional Employment with PMG/Telstra
1967 - Professional Qualifications - Institution of Engineers Australia
1967 - Australian Radio DX Club Photo Gallery (to 1979)
1972 - Wireless Institute of Australia
1972 - Natural disasters in Melbourne
1980 - Australian Radio DX Club Gallery (to 1995)
1981 - Award of the Medal of the Order of Australia
1995 - Padula Books
SPECIAL CHAPTER - Oldtime Australian Radio Drama from the 1930s
SPECIAL CHAPTER - Radio Monitoring Clubs in Australia - 1920 to 1949
SPECIAL CHAPTER - Melbourne Picture Theatres - History - 1906 to 1970

Herald and Weekly Times Building - 1928

2011 Herald Building

1964 Strowger PABX switches

1964 - The Beatles arrival at Essendon Airport



The year of 1964 is well remembered as the year in which the Beatles came to Melbourne!

There was a vast parade down Swanston St watched by thousands, and the Beatles appeared on the balcony of the Melbourne Town Hall, then stayed at the South Cross Hotel.

In my employment with the Postmaster General's Department, I spent 12 months in 1964 maintaining telephone and Private Automatic Branch Exchange (PABX) services in the Herald and Weekly Times newspaper building in Flinders St, Melbourne.

This was a promotion to the grade of Senior Technician, after two years as a Technica at Deepdene Exchange.

I was one of three senior specialist technical staff with responsibility for this work, which included maintenance of services in the city block bounded by Flinders St, Russell St, Exhibition St, and Collins St.

We also looked after the newly commissioned Pentaconta Crossbar PABXs in the newly constructed Southern Cross Hotel in Russell St, the big new Walton's
department store in Bourke St, and the CML Building in Elizabeth St.

Those buildings, except the Herald office, are long gone, having been replaced by new structures!

I learned a heck of a lot about the operations of a major newspaper. In those days, the Herald was the afternoon paper, with the first edition on the streets at around noon, known as the "City" edition. Then there was the "City Extra" edition, which appeared in the early afternoon, followed by the "Late City Extra"  and "Final Edition" in late afternoon. The "Final; edition would be bought by commuters leaving their city offices as they wound their way to Flinders St or Spencer St railway stations.

I recall that the Herald was sold half way across Princes Bridger by a gentleman in a black leather apron and baseball cap.

On Saturdays, the final edition was "All Sports Last Race", which followed the "Final" edition.

No Sunday papers in those years!

Football matches were played only on Saturday afternoons, for the Victorian
Football League (VFL)- they would finish at around 4.30 pm, and the All Sports Last Race edition would carry the results in red printing at the top of page one, and was on sale in newsagents around Melbourne around 6pm! Now that's really fast service!

As far as I know, the ONLY time when the Herald was published in the morning
was on June 2 1953 on the occasion of the Hilary/Tensing ascent of Mt Everest and the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. I still have a copy of that edition, which was marked "Late City Extra"! It cost three pence!

The company also published the "Sun News Pictorial" paper - the first edition came out at about 11pm, which was the country version, offloaded on to trucks and trains at Spencer St railway station. The final edition came ut at around 5am, which was the suburban edition.

It was traditional to buy the Sun at your local railway station and read it n the way into the city!

Many people chose the tabloid Sun over tghe broadsheet "The Age". It was ust too messy trying to open and read the large pages of the Age in a rowded compartment of a railway carriage!

Our little technical group was offered perks and inducements or roviding quick on-demand service when anything sent wrong with the elephone services.

We had access to the staff canteen at the Herald Office for free meals - e were given free copies of each of the papers when they were published.

The Herald office was huge - all typesetting was done by hand - computers would not be invented until 20 years later!

The rotary high-speed presses were massive, with big cylinders which had lead curved plates. At the end of each "run" these plates were melted down and reused.

I also recall seeing stacks of curved plates containing the biographies and photos of famous people, which could be used at short notice for "special editions" in the event of the passing of an important person.

The senior management of the Company was located on the top floor, and we often chatted in the lifts!

In that era, the Herald office had many "outdoor extension magneto telephone lines" to various locations around greater Melbourne. These included lines to the Law Courts, the Victoria Police ("Police Rounds"), the Stock Exchange, Victoria Barracks (St Kilda Rd) all racecourses and major football grounds. It was from those direct telephones that reporters would ring in the sporting results and scores, and other activities, on Saturdays, without the problem of using the automatic network.

Every Saturday, one of us would be rostered on, based at our office in the Herald building, which was adjacent to the Herald's main switchboard. Faults on any of the external magneto extensions would be reported to the switchboard and it was our job to fix them! Occasionally, this was due to failure of the physical open wire aerial links by storms, winds, or other causes. We were expected to know where these phones were located and to rush out there in a taxi.

The PABX at the Herald office had been installed in 1925, and consisted of Strowger electro-mechanical switches and uniselectors in conventional racks.

This survived until well into the 1970s when it was replaced with a modern installation. This switchgear (bi-motional selectors) required constant maintenance. The problem was aggravated by the enormous amount of black sooty particles of printing ink which permeated the entire building from the

Frankly, the environment was appalling, not helped by the heavy pollution from the Flinders St railway yards directly opposite.

In later years, the Herald and Sun News Pictorial were merged into the Herald-Sun, and in 1993, the offices of the Herald-Sun moved to Westgate Park, Port Melbourne, ending the Flinders St occupancy which had begun in 1925.

In 1921 Keith Murdoch became Editor-in-Chief of the Herald, which then became the highest circulation paper in Australasia. The following year Hugh Dennison's Sun Newspaper Company (established in 1910) launched the Melbourne Sun News-Pictorial. The Herald & Weekly Times was an aggressive company, however, and in 1925 it bought and then closed down the Melbourne Evening Sun, a competitor to Herald, as well as the Sun Newspaper Co. The Sun News-Pictorial then became the highest-circulating Australian daily newspaper.

In 1928 the company opened a new building in Melbourne, which it celebrated
with the issue of a medal (NU 33124). At that time the Herald and Allied
Publications published the Herald, The Sun News- Pictorial, The Weekly Times, Sporting Globe, Table Talk, The Listener-In, The Home Beautiful, The Weekly Times Annual and Table Talk Annual.

In 1929 the business expanded into Melbourne radio, buying radio station 3DB. The business expanded with interstate newspapers, and in 1956 it launched HSV-7 commercial television station. The following year it gained control of the Melbourne Argus, including a stake in GTV-9, which it quickly sold. In 1960 its purchases included the Melbourne and Brisbane Truth. Rupert Murdoch, Keith Murdoch's son, launched the Australian in 1964 and began to buy extensive international publishing businesses in the later 1960s.

This was a weekly publication, which first appeared in 1927. It was small format, about half A4, and by the late 1930s had grown to over 60 pages! It contained details of daily radio programs for the following week.

Details about daily shortwave transmissions were also given, in order of language: listings of May 23 1937 showed broadcasts from the German station DBA in various languages,  and from Czechoslovakia OLR.Italian programs from RO were also provided. I think RO was the Italian Radio! Broadcasts from the French station TPA were provided.

The magazine had many features, including constructional articles for receivers, crystal sets, antennas, amplifiers, adverts for Melbourne-based firms selling radio and electrical equipment, ads for cough medicines, books for home mechanics, Ju-Jitsu schools.

There was a special "Junior Section". An article of May 23 1937 was titled "DX Listening and Reporting - how to tune in distant stations and how to get verifications of reports".

In 1934, the Australian DX Club was founded in Melbourne, and was strongly
linked with the Listener-In.

This Club, via the "Listener In", published the "Australian DX Club News, with reports from readers about SW and MW stations members that they had been hearing, QSLs received, schedules, technical tips, and antenna details. Melbourne members met at the Wireless Institute of Australia rooms in Queen

Branches came into being, such as at Bendigo, Barmera, Sydney and Brisbane.

In 1938, the Club started its own magazine - I have a copy of the first edition and manyh others, into the 1940s!

The ADXC continued until its abandonment in 1945. In its heyday, it arranged
picnics, dances, excursions and amplifier contests, listening competitions.

Membership of the ADXC was three shillings and sixpence annually - members were allocated "callsigns" such as ADX2V (V=Victoria), ADX9N (N=NSW).

In 1938, the ADXC started a monthly radio program over Melbourne's only all-night commercial broadcaster 3AK, 1500 kHz, at the convenient time of 2 am! 3AK used to come on the air at 6pm, and was owned by the "Mack's furniture company.

The Listener-In" ceased publication in 1954. TV had started in 1956, and a new magazine for Melbourne readers appeared in 1957, known as "TV Radio Week", the name being later changed to "TV Week", which survives to the present.

Our duties in maintaining the new Pentaconta Crossbar PABX systems ranged
right across the Melbourne CBD. Nobody else had any understanding of how this new equipment worked and we were the experts! After-hours faults were signalled to the staffed 24-hrs main exchange, and the duty officer would then ring one of us and advise that an "urgent alarm" had appeared at one of these PABXs and were we available to go into the city and attend to it. This often happened at weekends, day or night, so we hot-footed it into the city, usually by taxi, sometimes in our own car.

These duties were called "recalls" and we were paid at full overtime rates by the Department.

The year of 1964 was illuminating for me, as it exposed me not only to the
commercial newspaper industry, through daily involvement with the Herald-Sun, but also in developing expert technical knowledge and skills in Telecommunications maintenance practices as an outposted "site technical

On some occasions I started to wonder who my employer was - the PMGs Department or the Herald and Weekly Times!

I finished working as a Senior Technician  at the Herald Office in December 1964, having been promoted to a position of Trainee Engineer and commenced full-time study at RMIT in January 1965, graduating in December 1966 and advanced to a position of Engineer Class 1.

Souithern Cross Hotel soon after opening, 1962

The management of the large newly built (1962) Southern Cross Hotel issued us with vouchers for free meals in their staff dining room, at any time, in return for priority attention to any equipment faults.

The Management, there, also had us on tap whenever a visiting dignitary or foreign delegation was about to come to that big grandiose hotel;. We were asked to check out all telephone services to the suites to be used by these visitors, to make sure that everything was in good working order.

In the basement of the Hotel was Melbourne's first Ten Pin Bowling Alley, which we frequented during lunch times!

It became the place to be in the 1960's, famously hosting the Beatles in 1964, but by the 1990's it had become passe and closed in 1995 and demolished in 1997.

The Hotel had been built on the site of the famous Eastern Market.

2011: The Herald building and one of the 3DB masts

3DB Main Studio c1940

3DB was one of the first commercial medium stations in Melbourne, and its   studios and 500 Watts transmitter were located in the basement of the Herald building.

It operated on 1030 kHz, and its signal was connected via a centre-fed dipole antenna suspended between two very tall masts on top of the Herald building. At the base of the masts is an artificial "earth" mat, comprising a  grid of radial conductors.

The masts and mat are still there today, and represent an important reminder of Melbourne's early heritage.

3DB closed down on April 4 1988, with the final news bulletin read by Bert Newton. It then became 3TT, and survived until 1990.

It had a small PABX which we maintained.

All Melbourne city radio station, except 3AK, had city transmitters and many ran them as stand-bys for years after moving out to Viewbank/Lower Plenty (about 1956, 3AK 1962). Their power from the city was only around 500 Watts, so the coverage was only fair. Power was then increased to either 2 kW or 5 kW.

Following the closure of 3TT in 1990, the transmitter at Lower Plenty was  taken over as 3PB (ABC's Parliamentary Broadcasting - National). This callsign is still used today, but the service is now known as ABC News Radio, using 1026 kHz.

The Good Friday Appeal is a unique fundraising activity that brings together
people from all parts of the community in a very special way. The common goal is to raise money for The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. Individuals and businesses, clubs, schools and country towns can be seen conducting billycart races or ferret and yabby races, holding a gala ball in a grand hotel, running a golf day or shaking collection cans. The Appeal’s strength lies in the thousands of volunteers who give of their time,expertise and creativity to ensure that events are successful and the rewards are great.

It started in 1931 when a group of sportsmen and journalists from the Herald & Weekly Times' publication The Sporting Globe organised a sporting carnival in aid of charity; the Children’s Hospital was nominated as a recipient of the funds. In 1942, the Managing Director of 'The Herald' agreed that The Herald and radio station 3DB should promote an annual Appeal on Good Friday. In 1957, Channel 7 joined the Appeal and began the first daylong telethon, which continues each year at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium. Channel 7 Melbourne and The Herald and Weekly Times have remained major supporters of the Good Friday Appeal and in recent years 3AW 693 and Magic 1278 have become official radio supporters.

The Good Friday Appeal is known for the fun, enthusiasm and ingenuity of those involved. Supporters

The Appeal is a non-political, non- denominational organisation that exists solely to financially support The Royal Children’s’ Hospital, Melbourne.

One of our telephone maintenance duties in 1962 at the Herald office was to look after the many telephone lines and phones used to receive calls for the
Appeal on behalf of Channel Seven.

1968 3DB Studio showing John Eden

3DB Smileaway Club Membership Card - 1940

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