Diamonds of the Dial: Australian Heritage AM Radio Celebrating 75 Years on the Air

“Diamonds of the Dial’, that’s what the Radio Heritage Foundation calls 40 Australian heritage AM radio stations that have broadcast continuously for over 75 years with their original station calls.

According to a new feature at their website www.radioheritage.net, most of the stations are in country areas, but Sydney is outstanding with 2BL, 2UE, 2KY, 2GB, 2SM and 2CH all achieving ‘Diamonds of the Dial’ status.

Lots of things have clearly changed in Australia since 1935, but these 40 stations nationwide still serve their listeners with established call-signs that everyone across several generations from Grandma to school-kids can find familiar.

“It’s a tribute to station owners and management that they’ve found ways to keep refreshing and bringing these stations to their listeners across the decades without dumping the original station identifications just to meet some short term fad or fashion” says David Ricquish of the Radio Heritage Foundation.

Deciding to recognize these long term stations was an easy call for the small non-profit organization which sets out to preserve what it can of Australia’s radio broadcasting heritage.

It already features the ‘Long Lost Australian Radio Stars’ profiles of broadcasters from the mid-1940’s at www.radioheritage.net and plans to feature many more stations and personalities in the near future.

For the record, the five ‘oldest’ AM radio stations on the list are 2BL Sydney, 6WF Perth, 3LO Melbourne, 2UE Sydney and 2HD Newcastle.

The oldest New South Wales station is 2BL dating from 1923, Victoria’s 3LO began in 1924, Queensland’s 4GR Toowoomba started in 1925, South Australia’s 5DN and 5RM both began on the same day also in 1925, 6WF in Western Australia began in 1924 and Tasmania’s 7BU is a relative youngster from 1935 whilst 2CA Canberra began serving the ACT in 1931.

“We’re very pleased to publicly recognise these 40 heritage AM radio stations” says Ricquish, “and we’ll add more each year – if they still keep their original call-signs”. A number of stations that would have qualified have in fact changed their identifications over the years, such as 3AR Melbourne and 4QG Brisbane [now 3RN and 4RN] and others have moved to FM such as 5KA Adelaide and 7HO Hobert.

The Radio Heritage Foundation also plans to recognise AM and FM stations that have celebrated 50, 25 and 10 years of service with their original station identifications – community stations as well as commercial and ABC stations.

“Ideally, we’ll find corporate sponsors who want to help us recognise these radio station ‘diamonds’ and their personalities who have so helped to shape today’s Australia and its popular culture over many years” says Ricquish.

“It would be fantastic to do something tangible to honor these stations as well as bring more of their colorful history online for all generations of Australians to enjoy” he adds.

The modern 2GB Sydney in 1970
© David Ricquish Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation
Ernest Martyn-Jones originally built 2BL for commercial owner Broadcasters [Sydney] Ltd
© Evening News Wireless Handbook 1924, Ray Crawford Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation
This original 2TM Tamworth logo is from 1935
© Eric Shackle Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation

In the meantime, switch on your AM radio to listen to these original 40 ‘Diamonds of the Dial’ and share in a true Australian cultural experience that goes back more than 75 years.

3SH Swan Hill broadcast week day evenings from 7.30-10pm
© Eric Shackle Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation

The current honor roll of ‘Diamonds of the Dial’ can be seen here as a PDF document:

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