Station 2GZ, Central New South Wales, commenced operations on Thursday, October 31st, 1935, with a powerful transmitter situated at Amaroo, twelve miles from Orange. Rapidly 2GZ became one of the most important and popular radio stations in the Commonwealth.
At its inception 2GZ dedicated its efforts to the ideal of “Country Service,” and by devotion to this ideal and by careful attention to the requirements, in entertainment and information of country listeners, has won the largest listening audience in Central and Western New South Wales. The station’s primary service area exceeds 30,000 square miles.
With the expanse of 2GZ’s business activities over the first period of twelve months, it became necessary to contemplate a move citywards, and November, 1936, saw the main studios and offices of 2GZ transferred to Spring Street, Sydney, with the Country Studios and sales department remaining in Orange, in the hands of Alan Ridley as country representative.
Inside six months it was evident that more spacious studios and offices were the only answer to ever-expanding sales and broadcasting schedules, and in March, 1937, the official opening of the new and commodious home of 2GZ at Hosking House, Hosking Place, Sydney took place.
2GZ’s Sydney Studios are among the best equipped in Australia, and possess unique constructional qualities. They are known as “floating studios,” being in fact, a building within a building. To gain the necessary height for perfect acoustic qualities the roof was lifted and scientifically reconstructed, the floors were layered and sealed. Special lighting, ventilating and sound-proofing systems were installed. In all there are three studios, two producers’ booths, an audition room, and a control room, comprising a complete and fully equipped unit capable of under taking all types of radio work.
War-time and post-war conditions have delayed plans for the construction of more commodious studios in Orange, but as soon as circumstances permit, it is intended to provide offices and studios, a meeting and rest-room for the general public, a modern dance floor, and a concert hall to accommodate a thousand people, all under the one roof.
2GZ’s regular features include an up-to-the-minute news service and market and sales reports over the only permanent land-line serving the area. Weather data and forecasts, local and interstate race broadcasts and sporting information, actuality descriptions of local sporting events, and educational talks by authoritative speakers on various subjects, are frequent features of the 2GZ programmes.
2GZ aims to foster the spirit of community effort and to promote the ideals of good Citizenship. The station has sponsored the Orange Civic Orchestra, has conducted a Progressive Farmer Competition to stimulate interest in modern production methods, regularly provides radio facilities for all outstanding community interests, encourages local talent, and stimulates interest in the art of debating by placing its microphone at the disposal of adult and high school debating teams.
The 2GZ Country Service Fund has an outstanding record of charitable work, and considerable sums have been made available through it to further the activities of many philanthropic movements. The Fund is supported by the 2GZ Country Service Club which was inaugurated in 1937 and also has a long and successful history of service to country people in association with the 2GZ Junior Country Service Club.
Personalities of 2GZ
J. E. RIDLEY, general manager of 2GZ has been associated with the station since its inception. It was not long after that event that he attained his present position. Mr. Ridley has lived most of his life in the country districts of N.S.W. and has a keen insight into rural conditions. He has an excellent knowledge of the entertainment side of radio and holds the Operator’s Certificate of Proficiency in Radio Telephony. Mr. Ridley is Country Vice-President of the Broadcasting Federation of Australia. In 1944-45 he visited the United States, his purpose being to study broadcasting as practised in America. He paid particular attention to new technical developments such as frequency modulation and new technical developments such as television. Mr. Ridley visited many stations which serve rural areas and gleaned much information on the type of services rendered. Some of the information has already proved of value to 2GZ listeners and another outcome of Mr. Ridley’s journey was the Progressive Farmer Competition recently held.
ALAN RIDLEY, Station Manager, resident at Orange. He joined the staff of 2GZ as Country Representative before the station commenced in 1935. From time to time he has spent periods in Head Office, Sydney, as Sales Manager, and as Acting General Manager during the visit of the General Manager (Mr. J. E. Ridley) to the U.S.A. Alan Ridley enlisted in January 1942 and served in New Guinea with the Infantry. Invalided home in 1944 he was discharged and resumed broadcasting duties in 1944. During his war service he relaxed by studying broadcast engineering, and secured his ticket of proficiency last year. Alan Ridley’s younger days are memorable for his exploits as an International Footballer. He toured England in 1929 and 1933 with the Australian Rugby League team, and in 1936 represented Australia against England in the test series in Australia.
B. C. CROUCH, M.I.R.E., Aust., A.M.I.R.E., U.S.A., Chief Engineer, Country Broadcasting Services Ltd., was educated at Mosman and Neutral Bay. He took a five years communications and telephony course at Sydney Technical College and from 1922 to 1939 served in installation, operation, and maintenance in the Engineering Branch Equipment P.M.G.’S Department. Between 1929-31 Mr. Crouch was in the Wireless Branch attached to 2BL, engaged in shortwave observation for the Australian Broadcasting Company. In 1931 he joined 2GB, engaged in studio and station operation, and design and construction of complete studio control equipment and transmitter. He took up his present position in October, 1935. Mr. Crouch has experimented in short and medium wave transmission since 1920. He was in the R.A.N. Reserve 1924-34 and holds a 1st Class P.M.G. Commercial Operator’s Certificate. He was born in Beechworth, Victoria in 1908. Recreations: Gardening, wrestling and golf.
IAN McDONALD, Programme Manager, has just returned to that position after four years in the Radar Section of the R.A.A.F. in which he held the rank of Flight-Lieutenant. Jan’s radio experience goes back several years to announcing and copy-writing days in country districts of N.S.W. and includes the organising of an extensive system of radio news services in the early days of the war, programme managing, play, script, and story writing, outside broadcasts and live artist shows. He is now making an intensive study of public tastes in music and other forms of entertainment.
MERV. BEEH, born in Sydney in 1914, matriculated from the Canterbury High School to take up Dentistry. Music, however, proved to have a stronger appeal. In 1935 he toured N.S.W. and Southern Queensland as pianist with Dante, and in the following year was leader of his own band of eight performers at the Toowoomba Trocadero. After varied radio experience he became a school teacher at Willala, 21 miles west of Boggabri, and in 1942 spent six months toughening up as tractor driver with the C.C.C. before joining the R.A.A.F. In that service he trained as a wireless air-gunner and managed to organise concert parties and handle Department of Information broadcasts in his spare time. A nervous break-down and six months in hospital preceded his discharge and return to commercial radio. Merv. is the moving force behind 2GZ’s live artist shows.
DICK TURNER, mid-day announcer and “Uncle Dick” in the 2GZ Children’s Session, is also heard in feature sessions using his pleasing baritone voice to advantage. Born in 1908, Dick was educated in England, and for the past seven years has been associated with Australian Commercial radio in Queensland and New South Wales. His story-reading from 2GZ in the afternoons is a particularly popular spot. His experience in radio ranges from announcing to station managing, and he is versatile in the art of dramatic production.
JOY MARY HUNT was born in Melbourne in 1926, and was educated in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. She says she was too busy writing stories and haunting radio stations to do very well at anything except English. However, she passed a business course in Sydney, and had her first radio experience in Victoria where she conducted sessions for a Stock Agent. Joy was proud of the fact that she once assisted (?) to conduct a horse sale. She returned to Sydney and for six months did sound effects for “Lux Radio Theatre” and “Big Sister,” before joining 2GZ where she is heard in Children’s Sessions from the Orange studio.
ERIC CHILD, announcer, is heard principally in the Breakfast Session and during the weekly Children’s Concerts. He was born in London, 1910, played in bands on leaving school, was record critic for London Musicians’ Magazine, and did occasional art work for the same magazine. Eric contributed articles on jazz for other publications and conducted programmes of swing recordings from the B.B.C. He went to sea as Radio Officer in the Merchant Navy in 1940 and was torpedoed in the Java Sea in 1942. He was radio announcing in Western Australia for six months before joining the R.A.N.V.R. as Sub-Lieutenant in October 1942. Eric contracted one of the many forms of dermatitis in New Guinea waters and on being demobilised medically unfit in April, 1945 made Australia his home. He has a passion for jazz music and playing the drums. He owns a collection of about 1,600 jazz recordings.
TED HUSBAND is the youngest member of 2GZ’s announcing staff. Formerly in the Public Service, Ted joined 2GZ on the engineering staff but is now concentrating on announcing, and is heard in week-end evening sessions.
GORDON RATCLIFFE announcer and merchandising representative having obtained his Leaving Certificate and Matriculation at Fort Street High School, studied Radio Engineering, and qualified as Licentiate of Advertising, he joined the staff of 2GZ as one of the “old originals” in September 1935, a few weeks before the station went on the air. Between then and the outbreak of war Gordon alternated between copy, announcing, production, and the engineering departments of 2GZ. He served with the A.I.F. for five years as Captain in the Australian Corps of Signals.
PAM MANNING, Organiser of the 2GZ Country Service Club, has conducted women’s and children’s sessions over the past seven years and is familiar with all the aspects of radio entertainment. Apart from her work as Club Organiser, she prepares and presents “Feminine Fare,” a full hour of varied entertainment for women listeners from two to three o’clock each afternoon. Feminine Fare has numerous features including many items of practical information, a service session in which listeners’ problems are solved, and interviews with women celebrities. The 2GZ Country Service club is being re-organised to meet the requirements of the postwar period, and is supporting the 2GZ Country Service Fund.
FRANK SEMPLE, announcer, has completed four years as an announcer at 2GZ. Heard in morning, mid-day, and Sunday night sessions, Frank’s original ambition was to become a singer. He emerged from the Sydney Conservatorium at the end of the five year Diploma Course with a pleasing baritone voice and many ideals. Singing jobs, however, were not easy to find in those days, and after a vaudeville tour ended, he accepted a position as a radio news broadcaster, and later entered commercial broadcasting as announcer at 2GZ.
ARTHUR ST. GEORGE came from Queensland and joined the staff of 2GZ in March 1939. He spent four years in the artillery during the war and was taken from his regiment in January 1945, to establish a radio station on Bougainville to entertain the troops. Arthur St. George rejoined 2GZ as Studio Manager in April 1946 after being discharged from the Army.
Work for the Man on the Land
While entertainment is the predominating feature of 2GZ’s programme the needs of the man on the land also receive very careful attention. The station presents a comprehensive regular schedule of market and weather reports in addition to informative sessions. In these, some of the State’s leading agricultural authorities come to the microphone to assist in keeping listeners abreast of the latest developments in scientific farming.
Typical of 2GZ’s efforts to assist the farming community was its part in the recent “Progressive Farmer” competition, the winner of which was sent on an extended tour of the United States where he is enjoying every opportunity of comparing Australian and American methods and of gathering useful information for broadcasting purposes on his return to Australia.
2GZ, the Rural Bank and the Agricultural Bureau of N.S.W. acting in conjunction, first selected nine farmers as finalists in the “Most Progressive” Class. These finalists came from places as far apart as Deniliquin, Kangaroo Valley, King’s Plains. Gleniffer, Curlewis, Oakdale, Forbes, Narromine and Broke. Each candidate underwent a close preliminary scrutiny by officials of his Divisional Council of the Agricultural Bureau, and Mr. A. K. Gardiner, of “Claremont,” King’s Plains was finally adjudged the winner.
2GZ Central NSW Country Service, Broadcast Year Book and Radio Listeners’ Annual of Australia 1946-47.
Editor: C C Faulkner.
© Ray Crawford Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation.
Digital version of text, images and layout © Radio Heritage Foundation 2011.
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I’m embarrassed to be here. I’m waiting for the state radio sponsor to arrive. He’s late. Please just ask me to go away. I’m cheap.