July 30, 2010

Perth: 6PR

Radio was almost a decade old in Australia when Perth received its first commercial radio station – 6PR – in October 1931, although Perth already had an A-class (funded by listener licence fees) radio station – 6WF – that began broadcasting in 1924 and would be a foundation station in the ABC when it was inaugurated in 1932.

6PR’s original broadcast frequency was 880 kHz – a position that it stayed at until 1978 when it moved slightly up the dial to 882 kHz with the advent of 9 kHz spacing on the AM dial.  The station still broadcasts on that frequency today.

6PR broadcast a range of program formats including ‘beautiful music’ during the 1970s, leading to 6PR gaining dominance in the Perth market.

By the late 70s the station carried a format dominated by talkback and racing coverage, as the station was owned by the state’s TAB agency.  By the early 90s, racing broadcasts were removed from 6PR when the station had secured a second frequency – 1206 kHz, formerly assigned to 6KY – to operate a dedicated racing service.


Above: 6PR in the mid-1990s.

In 1994, 6PR was taken over by Southern Cross Broadcasting which also owned the popular 3AW in Melbourne.  In the late ‘90s, Southern Cross bought FM music station 6NOW to run in tandem with 6PR.  Southern Cross re-branded the FM station on-air as 96FM.

6PR and 6NOW are now owned by Fairfax Media which bought the metropolitan radio network in the carve-up of Southern Cross Broadcasting in the late 2000s.

Website: 6PR

July 24, 2010

Warragul: 3UL, 3GG

Warragul, a town south east of Melbourne and in Victoria’s Gippsland region, received its first local radio station, 3UL, in 1937.  The letters in the call-sign are said to be taken from the last two letters in the town’s name.

The station initially broadcast further down the AM dial but eventually settled at 531 kHz, the lowest AM channel available, and could be received over much of Melbourne as well as Gippsland.

By the mid-1980s 3UL, like most other commercial AM stations at the time, had commenced transmission in stereo:


And in 1987, 3UL celebrated fifty years on-air:


In November 1989, 3UL changed its call-sign to 3GG, reflecting the station’s coverage area of ‘Greater Gippsland’ and continuing the trend of ‘double letter’ call-signs which became popular in the 1970s and ‘80s. The station had also moved its studios to the larger Gippsland town of Traralgon.


3GG is now part of the Macquarie Southern Cross regional radio network and in 2002 launched its FM sister station, Sea FM (call-sign: 3SEA), which is now Star FM, broadcasting on 94.3 MHz in Warragul and 97.9 MHz in Traralgon.

Website: 3GG

July 16, 2010

Adelaide: 5SSA

Adelaide’s first commercial FM radio station, 5SSA, launched in September 1980.  The station was originally branded Double SA-FM and broadcast on the frequency 107.5 MHz.

After a couple of years the station trimmed its on-air branding to SAFM – a moniker it continues to use to this day – and moved slightly up the dial to 107.1 MHz.  A translator station was established in the Adelaide Foothills district on 91.1 MHz – it has since moved to 90.3 MHz.


The logo above served the station in various forms through much of the ‘80s right through to the mid-2000s.

5SSA was the founding station in what has become the Austereo radio network.  The network first expanded outside of Adelaide later in the 1980s with the purchase of Melbourne’s 3FOX and Sydney’s 2DAY.  It also bought Brisbane AM radio station 4BK and successfully converted it to the FM band – as B105 (call-sign: 4BBB) – in 1990.    Austereo also owns radio stations in Perth (including Mix 94.5) and has interests in radio stations in Newcastle and Canberra.

The Austereo network now also incorporates the national Triple M network which also has a presence in Adelaide with 5MMM.

Website: SAFM

July 13, 2010

Cairns: 4CA

Cairns, located in far north Queensland, welcomed its first commercial AM station, 4CA, in May 1936.  The frequency originally allocated to the station was 1470 kHz.  It was later moved up the dial, ending up at 846 kHz, with a translator station installed in Gordonvale on 954 kHz.


4CA in 1988 (above) and in 1992 (below).


4CA did end up converting to the FM band to 102.7 MHz (call-sign: 4CCA) with the on-air branding 4CAFM, while the former AM dial position was assigned to a new station, 4EL, and branded as AM846 and later Easy Mix 846.

Prime Radio, the regional radio network owned by Prime Television, has since bought the 102.7 MHz and 846 kHz frequencies and has now converted 4CAFM back to its former AM frequency and returned its branding to 4CA, while the FM frequency is now branded Zinc 102.7.

However, 4CA (still bearing the same logo as it was back in 1988!) is still assigned the 4EL call-sign for official purposes only, and Zinc 102.7 still carries the official call-sign 4CCA.  Zinc is also relayed via translator stations 93.5 MHz in Little Mulgrave and 92.5 MHz Mossman.

Website: 4CA

July 10, 2010

Melbourne: 3KZ, 3KKZ

3KZ was Melbourne’s third commercial radio station when it launched on 8 December 1930.  The significance of the call-sign ‘KZ’ is unknown, although the station did have ties to the Labor Party which had ‘K’ in all of its radio station call-signs.

The station’s original broadcast frequency was 1350 kHz, moving to 1180 kHz in 1935 and then to 1179 kHz in 1978.

By the 1980s, 3KZ had settled into a popular ‘hits and memories’ format with a playlist focused on the hits of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.  The station also ran one of the most successful sticker promotions ever to be conducted in Melbourne, with the familiar heart-shaped 3KZ logo plastered all over Melbourne:


By the end of the ‘80s, a decade where FM radio was becoming the dominant radio medium, 3KZ more than held its own with strong ratings figures, usually sitting around the top 3 radio stations in Melbourne.  But, despite its popularity, it could not fight against the FM band forever and when the opportunity came to bid for an FM conversion licence in 1989, 3KZ bid $32 million for the privilege. 


3KZ was the highest bidder for one of the two FM conversion licences in Melbourne and chose to convert to the 104.3 MHz frequency which would place it between Melbourne’s existing commercial FM stations, 3FOX (101.9 MHz) and 3MMM (105.1 MHz).

At 12.00am on 1 January 1990, 3KZ re-launched as KZFM (call-sign: 3KKZ).  With 3KZ proven popular on the AM band, there was not much need to alter much of the station’s format in converting to FM, so the station kept its ‘hits and memories’ playlist.


Presenting Melbourne radio listeners with their first new commercial FM station in almost ten years, the conversion to FM paid an immediate dividend.  In the first ratings survey for 1990, KZFM recorded a rating of 14.6 per cent – bringing an end to an almost three-year run at the top for 3FOX – and an increase of more than three points from the last survey as 3KZ.

But as sharp as KZFM’s rise to the top was, its popularity was short-lived.  By the second survey for 1990, 3FOX was back at #1 and KZFM had dropped to third place.  KZ endured further decreases over the next four surveys, and by mid-1991 the station was sitting on a rating of 7.7 per cent, as other FM stations had emulated part of KZ’s playlist and more modern hits were creeping into KZ’s format, thereby weakening their position.  It was now rating lower than it had been on the AM band and now with the additional pressure of meeting the interest repayments on its $32 million loan that it used to fund the FM conversion bid.

In October 1991, KZFM re-focused on the hits of the ‘60s and ‘70s and re-branded itself as Gold 104 – a move that offered a definite point of difference from the other FM stations and would return ratings increases, but not enough to stop it falling into receivership.  The station later ended up in the hands of the Austereo radio network (which also owned 3FOX) before being sold to the Australian Radio Network which already owned rival station TTFM (call-sign: 3TTT).

Website: Gold 104.3

July 04, 2010

Wagga Wagga: 2WG

Wagga Wagga, located almost exactly midway between Sydney and Melbourne, claims to be the largest inland city in NSW with a population of around 47,000. 

The city’s first commercial radio station, 2WG, launched in June 1932.  It was founded by local husband and wife team, Eric and Nan Roberts.  The original broadcast frequency was 1155 kHz, later adjusted to 1150 kHz in 1935.  It now broadcasts on 1152 kHz.

By the early ‘90s, 2WG had established an FM translator station on 107.9 MHz in the town of Tumut.  It now also has a translator station on 100.7 MHz in Gundagai.



2WG also launched a sister station, FM93 (call-sign: 2WZD), on 93.1 MHz in 1994.  The station is now part of the regional Star FM network.  Star also has a translator station on 103.1 MHz in Tumut

2WG and Star are now part of the Macquarie Southern Cross regional radio network.

Website: 2WG

July 03, 2010

Coffs Harbour: 2CS

2CS was a relative latecomer to the AM dial when it launched on the NSW north coast town of Coffs Harbour.  The station was launched in December 1985, broadcasting at 639 kHz.


The station has since made the conversion to FM (call-sign: 2CFS) and is now broadcasting on 106.3 MHz with a sister station Star FM (call-sign: 2CSF) launching in 2000 on 1o5.5 MHz. 

2CS and Star FM are owned by Macquarie Southern Cross.

Website: 2CS FM 106.3

July 01, 2010

Canberra: 2KIX, 1CBR

Canberra is Australia’s national capital city – founded and designed in the early 20th century as a neutral point between Australia’s two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, and since 1927 has been the centre of Australia’s federal government.

On 27 February 1988, Canberra made Australian broadcasting history with the launch of two commercial FM stations on the same day.  The two stations were the first in Australia to be licensed as secondary stations to pre-existing AM radio stations.  The two new FM stations were also the first new commercial FM stations to launch in Australia since the initial roll-out of commercial FM in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth in 1980.

One of the new stations to launch in 1988 was KIX106 (call-sign: 2KIX).  KIX was the supplementary station for AM radio station 2CC which was part of the Australian Radio Network.

KIX106 in 1988 (above) and in 1991 (below)



Above: KIX in 1993

In 1994, KIX was re-branded as Canberra FM 106.3.  The revamped station coincided with a change of official call-sign to 1CBR, as ‘1’ had been adopted as the radio call-sign prefix for Canberra although existing radio stations could elect to retain their NSW-based ‘2’ call-sign.


The station later adopted the branding Mix 106 and is now known as Mix 106.3.  Changes in the ownership of Canberra’s radio stations now have Mix 106.3 and rival FM station, 104.7 (call-sign: 2ROC) operating as sister stations.  The two stations are now owned in a joint venture between  Austereo and the Australian Radio Network.

2CC and its former AM rival, 2CA, are now jointly owned by Capital Radio Network.

Website: Mix 106.3