New Grace Gibson Studios Opened

New Grace Gibson Studios Opened

‘Pete’ Lyon, American Academy award winner, discusses the script for the Al Munch TV film with Grace Gibson, its producer, and well-known Australian actor, Charles Tingwell, who plays the lead in the now-completed film.

The newly-renovated and equipped studios of British Australian Programs Pty Ltd, now owned by Grace Gibson and located at the City Mutual Building, 60 Hunter-st, Sydney, were formally opened April 29, marking a twofold celebration for the Grace Gibson organisation.

The second celebration was for the 612th episode of Dr Paul, the top-rating day program (Lever Bros, 48 stations nationally) – the first recording to be made in the new studio.

Present were the players in Dr Paul and producer Therese Desmond, adaptor Judy Johnstone and sponsor’s representative, Norman Mills of Lintas Advertising.

Other visitors included John Taylor, gm of 2UW (serial’s Sydney outlet), Francis Levy and Jim McKay, 2UW assistant station manager and sales manager respectively, Noel Battye, Grace Gibson selling rep, Francis ‘Pete’ Lyon, who is producing a TV film in Australia for Grace Gibson, and Eric Solomon (B&T managing director).

The lavishly-equipped new studios and offices represent a mile-stone in the history of the transcription company, probably the best known in Australia.

Apart from extensive structural alterations to offices to enlarge them, at least £5000 has been spent on new studio recording and auxiliary equipment.

John Woodward, manager of the recording division of British Australian Programs, cutting the first disc in the new studio – the 612th episode of Lever Bros’ Dr Paul.

This side, under the technical direction of BAP recording division manager, John Woodward, includes the following:

  • New American Magnecorder PT 63AH tape machine.
  • New studio control with eight turntables and nine pick-ups into the one channel, with two pick-ups adapted on the one turntable for continuous effects.
  • New AWA studio consolette adapted for the company’s own purposes.
  • A complete duplicate recording channel for standby.
  • AWA high-power recording amplifiers plus auxiliary amplifiers.
  • Full range of microphones for studio purposes and full sound effects library.

Other improvements to the new headquarters include rubber flooring with sponge rubber base in the studio, effecting a marked improvement in the studio’s acoustic properties.

Technical alterations are additionally planned to ensure that this part of the organisation will be kept abreast of the latest improvements.

Lawrence H. Cecil, production manager of the Grace Gibson concern – and one of Australia’s best-known and experienced producers.

Part of Radio History

In addition to alterations to the offices, new carpeting, painting and furnishing has been effected throughout.

For the last twelve months also, veteran radio producer Lawrence H. Cecil has been production manager and responsible for many first-class shows.

Pleasant, highly-popular personality Grace Gibson, a successful businesswoman as well as being a talented and able radio producer, has made herself and her organisation part of commercial radio history in Australia.

Brought out by 2GB 18 years ago, Grace Gibson pioneered American transcriptions here and sold the first American programs (Frank and Archie and Chandu the Magician) to 2GB.

She started the American Radio Transcription Agency – cable address, Artransa, which became the title of Macquarie Broadcasting Service’s successful transcription subsidiary.

Headed Hollywood Company

She went back to America at the outbreak of war in the Pacific in 1941 and became the head of a large program-production company in Hollywood.

Returning to Australia in 1944 to marry Irishman Ronnie Parr, personnel manager of Consolidated Press, she founded Grace Gibson Radio Productions, which today ranks high among the successful program sources in the southern hemisphere.

In its eight years of operation it has produced a total of more than 6000 quarter-hour programs producing no fewer than 25 a week, all of which are sold.

It is the organisation’s proud claim that it never produces a program unless it is sold, and has a record of never having produced a show on which it hasn’t more than got its money back.

View of the newly-decorated and equipped BAP Studios.

“Never had a flop”

As manager Betty Barnard says, “We’ve never had a flop.”

Numbered among the most successful of its hundreds of shows are Drama of Medicine (which has had world airing), Dossier on Dumetrius, Dragnet, Night Beat, Dramas of the Courts, etc, etc.

It regularly receives congratulatory mail from station listeners in all parts of the world.

Perhaps one of Miss Gibson’s boldest and most enterprising ventures, and which promises to be an outstanding success, was the bringing out recently of experienced Hollywood film editor and director, Francis ‘Pete’ Lyon, to make a television film here for American audiences.

With US interests backing the venture it is tipped to go down big with Americans and possibly lead to a boom in Australian-locale films.

Scripted in typical crisp style it deals with the adventures of an American private detective in Australia.

Lyon has completed shooting ahead of schedule and plans to return to Hollywood on May 12.

The film, if successful, will probably lead to a series of 52 being made here based on the central Al Munch character.

Miss Gibson, who plans to arrange a showing of the completed film in Sydney described the rushes as ”terrific”.

Visitors at the new Grace Gibson studios’ inauguration. From left, Miss Gibson’s husband, Ronnie Parr, Judy Johnstone (Dr Paul adaptor), Gwen Plumb, Dianah Shearing, Alastair Duncan (Dr Paul), Kathleen Carroll, Peter Bernados (BAP panel operator),
and below, Laurel Mather (Elizabeth in Dr Paul), Betty Woodward (wife of BAP’s John Woodward) and (behind her) Jim McKay, 2UW sm, John Woodward (BAP recording division manager) and behind him, John Wiltshire, Grace Gibson, Betty Baranrd, behind her, Ann Fuller, Therese Desmond (Dr Paul producer), Grant Taylor, Francis D. ‘Pete’ Lyon, in front of him, Ray Hartley, Jim Joyce, John Taylor (2UW gm), Noel Battye (GG sales), Eric Solomon (B&T managing director) and Francis Levy (2UW assistant station manager).

Miss Gibson also has the exclusive representation in Australia for the Standard Library of Hollywood, producers of sound effects discs and which has a large musical library.

Connections with NBC

Her organisation has close connections with the US National Broadcasting Company, from which it buys scripts such as Dragnet, Night Beat, Dr Paul and the Story of Mary Lane.

Manager of the recording division, John Woodward, who has had long and valued experience in radio, started with AWA, then went to the Australian Record Company’s technical staff. He was a Merchant Navy radio operator during the war.

Well-known Grace Gibson staffer, Betty Barnard, has been 13 years in radio and first became associated with Grace Gibson as a secretary at Macquarie.

Peter Bernados at the console in the new panel room where eight turntables work through one channel.

She was secretary to MBS general manager R. E. Lane, and then was sent to Melbourne as an inside sales rep.

Later, Miss Barnard joined George Matthews as manager of British Australian Programs and after returning to Artransa for a period joined Grace Gibson Productions which she manages and is also secretary of BAP.

She handles all country selling and capital city selling outside Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Panel operator Peter Bernados, joined the organisation from Macquarie.

Future plans, now that the concern is in its new studios, envisage embarking on more ambitious programs such as in the musical field, which it has not so far attempted.

This slice of Australian Radio History is © Broadcasting and Television, May 9 1952.

Cleve Costello Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation.

Digital version of text, images and layout © Radio Heritage Foundation 2006.

Supported by the Australian High Commission, Wellington
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