Birth of the ABC: Tim Bowden

Birth of the ABC: Tim Bowden

In this clip, Tim Bowden explains how ABC radio, which was broadcast nationally, became a unifying factor in a big country. It was vital to Australia's cultural development and for its role in relaying news and sport around the country.

'At 8.00pm on 1 July 1932, the Prime Minister Joseph Lyons inaugurated the ABC. The ABC then controlled 12 stations – 2FC and 2BL in Sydney, 3AR and 3LO in Melbourne, 4QG in Brisbane, 5CL in Adelaide, 6WF in Perth, 7ZL in Hobart and the relay stations 2NC in Newcastle, 2CO at Corowa, 4RK in Rockhampton and 5CK at Crystal Brook.

'Opening day programs included the first Children's Session with Bobby Bluegum; the first sports program, Racing Notes with WA Ferry calling the Randwick races; British Wireless News received by cable from London; weather, stock exchange and shipping news; the ABC Women's Association session (topics were commonsense housekeeping and needlecraft); a talk on goldfish and their care; Morning Devotions and music' (ABC website).

Initially all shows were broadcast live to air, and each state ran its own programs. By the end of 1933 there were regular program relays between Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Hobart joined the network once the Bass Strait cable was laid between Tasmania and the mainland in 1936.

Tim Bowden is a broadcaster, radio and television documentary maker, oral historian and author.