The Apollo 11 Mission on Vinyl

BY ASHLINN HARTY

Fifty years ago two Apollo 11 crew members, Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, were the first people to set foot on the surface of the Moon and safely return to Earth, with the support of their Command Module Pilot, Michael Collins.

To mark the 50th anniversary of this event, the NFSA is highlighting a rare item in our radio collection – a vinyl record produced by the Macquarie Broadcasting Service (MBS) News Division. Pictured below, the record is titled The Loneliest Journey. A record of man's greatest adventure – The Apollo 11 Mission, 1969. NFSA Title: 1559931.

Front and back of a cover for a vinyl record called The Loneliest Journey about the Apollo 11 mission. The front is blue with a small image of a space shuttle in the corner and the back is white with text describing the album contents.

 

This recording was broadcast on 2GB radio and later commercially released as a vinyl disc. It was written and produced by Brian White, a veteran of Australian radio, and was narrated by Terry Dear, the legendary host of Australia’s Amateur Hour and Leave it to the Girls. In this production White and Dear work well together, creating a powerful program that effectively engages the listener.

'The most incredible journey'

Dear's clear narration features in this introductory clip which contains excerpts from speeches by US President John F Kennedy in 1961 as he speaks about the goal to fly to the moon, and President Richard M Nixon in 1969, who held office at the time of the Apollo 11 mission:

'A shiver went down my spine'

The broadcast also features a report from journalist Derryn Hinch, representing MBS News and The Sydney Sun.

Hinch, who is reporting from Florida, spares no detail in describing the atmosphere of the launch. Dear sets the scene perfectly, right down to revealing Hinch's seat number in the press stand – 'seat 32, row E' – so that the listener might easily imagine him among the crowd of reporters and journalists:

'It's an absolute beauty!'

Once the countdown begins, Hinch gives an excited and animated report. His voice conveys a high energy while describing the scene, with a dose of Australian slang, as he shouts 'Go, go, you beaut!'.

The following audio underscores the importance for an Australian audience of having a first-hand account from a well-known reporter on the ground. This creates a decidedly more engaging listener experience than if they had taken a cross or feed from a US broadcaster:

Crossing the Australian Continent

As a commercial recording, The Loneliest Journey. A record of man’s greatest adventure – The Apollo 11 Mission is tailor-made for its Australian audience. Although it was an event taking place on the other side of the globe, Australian broadcasters made the most of any Aussie connection to the mission. The following audio clip features an excerpt from Voice of America that mentions the spacecraft flying over Australian locations, including Perth and Townsville:

The Apollo 11 mission brought a sense of hope and excitement for the future to people all over the world at a moment when space travel was a relatively new frontier.

Radio announcer Terry Dear, circa 1960, standing next to a microphone with the MBS logo on it. He is looking sideways and smiling.

Australian Radio presenter Terry Dear, c 1960. NFSA title: 354431

This vinyl disc is a valuable item in the NFSA collection because it captures that monumental event and packages it specifically for an Australian audience.

It is a unique recording when compared to other Australian radio and television broadcasts of the mission, which relied heavily on crosses and highlights packages from Voice of America.

The MBS record benefits from Terry Dear's succinct narration, which guides the audience every step of the way. Paired with the excitement of Hinch's on-the-ground reporting, the recording elicited a positive response from Australian audiences and held its ground in the television era of the late 1960s.

The NFSA wishes to thank Ian Kershaw for donating this remarkable recording into the collection.

See details of our Moon Landing: 50 Years events and screenings in Canberra on 19 and 20 July 2019.