Koalas, Kangaroos & Kiwis – The Australian Radio Listener Clubs

by David Ricquish

A social phenomenon of the early days of radio was the listeners club that many stations established. As a means to build a loyal audience they were highly successful, and usually developed around women listeners, and children.

In Parkes, local listeners to 2PK joined the Koala Club, in South Australia, 5AD and its country network had the famous Kangaroo Club, and in Far North Queensland, 4TO had its Kiwi Club.

‘Cecily’
[Cecily Spicer]
2PK Sunshine Club

Announcers used on air names such as ‘Uncle Richard’, ‘Auntie Peggy’ and many more like them, as the children’s clubs took on a family like tone to their activities. Most clubs were local in nature, just in the city or town where a local commercial radio station broadcast. Nationally, there was the famous Argonauts Club of the ABC which merits its own history, with many famous people today still able to tell you which boat crew they were assigned to on joining.

5AD’s Uncle Richard
[Dick Moore]

More social clubs than listeners clubs, their activities were mind-boggling. As well as the usual run of dances, social events, charity fund raising and so on, some clubs funded entire rest homes and school rooms. They held talent quests, beauty pageants, went on grand tours by car and train across the country and fulfilled an important social role in many country areas.

The children’s clubs were full of sports and cultural events, short story and poem writing, recitals in the radio station studio, art exhibitions, days out to the zoo, boat rides, and other activities to keep the children entertained, educated and occupied.

Alison Black, 2NZ Country Service Club

During WWII, these listener clubs often led local fund raising activities for clothing, food supplies, fully outfitted ambulances and mobile canteens, as well as money for guns, munitions and war bonds.

Through the 1950’s and into the mid-1960’s, these clubs continued to prosper and many not so old listeners will still remember listening to their favorite ‘Uncle’ or ‘Aunt’ on the radio, wearing their club badge with much pride, and the friendships they formed whilst attending club activities.

Doreen Sarah
3MA ‘Sunshiner’s Gang’
5AD Kangaroo Club logo

As the social cohesiveness of the 1925-65 period melted away under the onslaught of TV, large scale immigration changes, the protest movements and the baby boomers teenage years, the radio listener clubs also began to disappear.

Looking back, it’s heard to appreciate that during the 1930’s and early 1940’s, one station alone could enroll over 65,000 members in its Kangaroo Club [as 5AD Adelaide achieved] and today there are hundreds of thousands of Australians who still have memories, old photos and the occasional club badge still hiding in a bottom drawer.

7LA Boys’ Club

We’ve found over 100 of those old radio listener clubs, and here they are back in the light of day. If you have memories, memorabilia, photos, badges or other items about them you’d like to share with others and make sure they get safely kept for future generations to enjoy, contact us today. We’d love to hear from you. Especially, if you were a radio ‘Uncle’ or ‘Aunt’!

Club NameStation
A1 5KA Adelaide
Amazons Club 3MA Mildura
Area Sunbeamers 2RG Griffith
Auburn Club 4MB Maryborough
Australian Women’s League 2CH Sydney
Birthday League 3AK Melbourne
Blue Birds Club 3BA Ballarat
Bobby Bear Club 3UZ Melbourne
Boy’s Club 2CA Canberra
Boy’s Club 3YB Warrnambool
Boy’s Club 7LA Launceston
Breakfast Club 3AW Melbourne
Breakfast Club 3UL Warragul
Breakfast Club 3YB Warrnambool
Bridge Club 4BH Brisbane
Busy Bees Club 2AD Armidale
Call to Youth Club 2UE Sydney
Chatterbox Corner Chums 3AW Melbourne
Cheerio Club 2KO Newcastle
Cheerio Club 2QN Deniliquin
Cheerio Club 3UL Warragul
Cheerio Club 6GE Geraldton
Children’s Glee Club 2WG Wagga Wagga
Children’s Smile Club 2GF Grafton
Children’s Smile Club 4WK Warwick
Commander Singing Club 4TO Townsville
Country Service Club 2GZ Orange
Country service Club 2NZ Inverell
Fisherman’s Club 3XY Melbourne
Friendly Circle 3UL Warragul
Friendship Circle 3BA Ballarat
Friendship Circle 3KZ Melbourne
Friendship Club 2WL Wollongong
Gardening League 7EX Launceston
Good Companion’s Club 2LM Lismore
Good companions’ Women’s Club 3XY Melbourne
Grub Club 3UZ Melbourne
Gumnut Club 2KM Kempsey
Happiness Club 2GB Sydney
Happiness Club 3KZ Melbourne
Happy Companions Club 2CH Sydney
Happy Hour Club 6AM Northam/6PM Perth
Home Circle Club 5PI Crystal Brook
Homecraft Club 5SE Mt Gambier
Home Makers Club 2CH Sydney
Joy Club 2HD Newcastle
Joy Club 6GE Geraldton
Joyster Club 2HD Newcastle
Junior Country Service Club 2GZ Orange/2NZ Inverell
Kangaroo Club 5AD Adelaide / 5PI Crystal Brook / 5MU Murray Bridge / 5SE Mt Gambier
Kipling Boys’ Club 5KA Adelaide/5RM Renmark
Kiwi Club 4TO Townsville
Kiwi Club 7HT Hobart
Koala Club 2BE Bega
Koala Club 2PK Parkes
Koala Club 3TR Sale
Koala Club 7UV Ulverstone
Kookaburra Club 2BS Bathurst
Kookaburra Club 4BH Brisbane
League of Young Airmen 7EX Launceston
Listener’s League 2BE Bega
Listener’s League 3AK Melbourne
Look Up and Laugh Club 3UZ Melbourne
Lone Ranger Club 4BH Brisbane
Merrymakers’ Club 3SH Swan Hill
Merrymakers’ Club 5KA Adelaide
Merrymakers’ Club 7LA Launceston
Night Owls’ Club 2CA Canberra
Old King Cole’s Court 3GL Geelong
Pals’ Children’s Club 3XY Melbourne
Pals’ Club 4BC Brisbane
Pals’ Club 7HO Hobart
Possum Club 2TM Tamworth
Pyjama Parade Club 2MO Gunnedah
Radio Club 2HR Hunter River
Radio Correspondence Club 2KO Newcastle
Radio Reporters’ Club 2GB Sydney
Radio Service Club 2KA Katoomba
Radio Social Club 2MG Mudgee
Radio Youth Club 2GB Sydney
Smile Club 2CH Sydney
Smile Club 2MW Murwillumbah
Smile Club 3BO Bendigo
Smile Club 4TO Townsville
Smilers’ Club 2BH Broken Hill
Smilers’ Club 2MO Gunnedah
Smiles Club 4IP Ipswich
Smile-away Club 3DB Melbourne
Stamp Club 4BK Brisbane/4AK Oakey
Sunpolishers’ Club 7BU Burnie
Sunpolishers’ Club 7DY Derby
Sunraysia Club 3MA Mildura
Sunshine Club 2RG Griffith
Sunshine Club 3HA Hamilton
Sunshiners’ Club 7HT Hobart
Tailwaggers’ Club 2WL Wollongong
Tailwaggers’ Club 6PR Perth
Waggon Wheels Club 2DU Dubbo
Women’s Association 3AW Melbourne
Women’s Association 7EX Launceston
Women’s Association 7HT Hobart
Women’s Association 7LA Launceston
Women’s Club 2QN Deniliquin
Women’s Club 2WG Wagga Wagga
Women’s Club 3CV Charlton
Women’s Club 3HA Hamilton
Women’s Club 3SH Swan Hill
Women’s Club 3TR Sale
Women’s Club 4TO Townsville
Women’s Correspondence Club 2AD Armidale
Women’s Home Forum Club 3BO Bendigo
Women’s League 2CH Sydney
Women’s Radio Club 2TM Tamworth
Women’s Theatre Circle 7HO Hobart
Young Crusaders’ Club 3CV Charlton
Younger Set Club 2CA Canberra
7EX Army 7EX Launceston

All images are © Broadcast Yearbook & Radio Listeners Annual of Australia, C C Faulkner, Ray Crawford Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation.

Supported by the Australian High Commission, Wellington
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