Radio History

Discussion of radio history continued from Radio History.

Well it was this day, 1 January 1986, that one of Melbourne radio’s greatest upsets took place… when at (I think it was) 7am Beautiful Music 3AK became The New 3AK. Gone were the smooth instrumentals and elevator music that attracted double digit ratings and all of a sudden Aretha Franklin’s Freeway Of Love heralded a new format of ‘contemporary hits’ for the yuppies of Melbourne. Problem is that none of them tuned in and 3AK’s ratings plummeted and it could be said have never really recovered.

3AK’s defense was that Beautiful Music only attracted old listeners that weren’t attractive to advertisers but I’m not sure that broadcasting to 2 per cent of Melbourne was any more attractive to those same advertisers!

But 3AK’s loss was a windfall for 3MP in a matter of days after the 3AK change picked up the Easy Listening format, including several 3AK announcers who had just lost their jobs, and their mediocre ratings took a leap in the space of one survey and would stay towards the top end of the ratings for many years to come.


My Sydney Morning Herald subscription to their archives gives you access to every radio ratings since 1970.
Here are the Sydney radio ratings from April 1990:
Triple M: 18.6
2UE: 10.6
2WS: 10.0
2DayFM: 9.1
2UW: 8.7
2CH 7.9
2GB: 7.3
2KY: 6.5
2BL (702): 5.7
Lite’N’Easy (2SM): 3.1
JJJ: 3.0
The same story also reports on the Melbourne survey where KZ-FM knocked The Fox from top spot.

Wow! How times have changed.

Just look at those ratings for Triple M, 2UE and 2DayFM…I’ll bet those stations wish they had those sorts of numbers now! :stuck_out_tongue:

In the “Grant Broadcasters” thread, during the discussion where 4CC & 4RO are now sharing the same programming outside of breakfast, even though both stations are in the same licence area, this below was brought up:

This was back in 1993, after 3EE “The Breeze” was shut down in June that year, due to low ratings.
There’s an article from The Age in November 1993 about the 3EE-3MP simulcast, which mentioned that the ABA upheld complaints from 3MMM, Gold 104, Fox & 3AW, in that 3MP had breached a licence condition by simulcasting on both 693kHz & 1377kHz and that it would face a $50,000 fine if they continued simulcasting beyond 23rd December 1993.

As a result, Magic 693 was born in March 1994, playing older music than that heard on 3MP, but not before 3MP won the 2nd radio ratings survey for 1994. Both Magic & 3MP were owned by the same company at the time, which was Wesgo.

You are halfway there…

There was also the time before 3EE where the owner of the new Bay FM Geelong purchased 3XY during it’s decline before selling to AWA. It started as overnight networking, went into full time Bay FM/3XY once they had kitted out their new building in Corio then ACA pulled the plug short of a year later.

BayFM Wiki
BayFM Sweeps Compilation (Includes Bay/3XY sweeps)

It was sad to see 3XY reduced to being a mere relay station for Bay FM but I must admit the music was better than anything Fox or Triple M was putting out at the time… even if I had to listen to AM mono (my reception of Bay FM was sketchy at best so still had to make do with 1422).

3XY did break away from the simulcast of Bay FM on Saturday afternoons when they had (for a brief while) rights to broadcast AFL games. I don’t know how they afforded that. I seem to recall one of their commentators was a young Channel 10 sports reporter called Eddie McGuire.

I remember hearing a bit of 3XY from that era via a bit of night skip.

They had quite a convoluted call sign from memory due to the simulcast.
It was something like “1422 and FM93.9, 3XY”.
Agree that the music was good… very rocky, Def Leppard, Aerosmith, that kind of stuff I think.

Yes I do seem to recall something like “93.9 Bay FM, 1422 3XY” but I think they eventually just settled on “Bay FM/3XY” without having to stumble over too many frequency numbers. And then XY split from the simulcast so that fixed the call sign issue

I don’t remember the Bay FM callsign being used on 1422, but then I only heard that incarnation of 3XY once or twice (via night skip).

Does anyone know how those stations just fell into being HPONs, rather than staying commercial stations, compared to other markets where the heritage AM stations are still going with the FM station just added as a supplementary license? Particularly annoying in the case of 3GL’s old frequency, when Geelong really could have done with a third station.

To go on a tangent I’d complain about the concept of narrowcasting within the main AM/FM band in general. Those frequencies should all either be made commercial stations in the cases of the highest power ones, or be given over to community broadcasters.

It sucks that so many regional towns will get racing radio and/or a country music station on a narrowcaster, but be stuck with just two local mainstream stations.

Presumably the really preferential treatment racing radio got stems from (former in most cases) state ownership of the betting agencies, and wanting to get as much gaming revenue as possible?

I’m not sure, but it bugs me too, they’re not the only ones though.

The old AM frequencies for 2WL & 2OO Wollongong, 2GO Gosford, 2KO & 2NX Newcastle also lost their commercial status. It wouldn’t have hurt to have at least one of them left as a commercial licence in both Wollongong & Newcastle & definitely left as an AM commercial licence in Gosford.

In Newcastle, the 2NX one went to 2KY/SKY Racing, as did the 2WL one in Wollongong.

2GO Gosford one went to the Italians, (now Italian/Chinese), that demographic on the central coast is very small, the’d have at a guess less than 1000 listeners, they often have periods of unto a week or more off air, so obviously no one listens or cares?

2OO Wollongong also went to the Italians, but don’t know how often they are off air or how many listeners they might have?

2KO Newcastle went to SBS, I probably can’t begrudge that one.

The big waste is both 2KY Sydney & 4TAB Brisbane are still commercial licences, but only used as narrowcast for sports/horse racing.

In the case of 3XY the commercial licence became what is now Magic 1278 (3EE). The 1422 frequency was then re-assigned to an HPON which just happened to take on the “3XY” branding although it has no connection to the former commercial station other than occupying the same spot on the dial.

Similarly, 3AK moved from 1503 to 1116. The old 3AK spot was then re-assigned to a community licence, 3KND. Although 3AK’s shift to 1116 resulted in a HPON (3BM, an Italian language station) being bumped off the dial. Presumably its HPON licence was just not renewed. (and even more ironically, 3BM was an HPON that had originally converted across from the 3AK licence. Peter Corso sold 3AK to Southern Cross Broadcasting in 1994 when he acquired the HPON on 1116)

It certainly was, until at least the simulcast was dropped. I have some tape recordings of 3XY from back then… if only I had something to play them back on now!

Never seen that clip of the sweeps before, thanks for posting. Takes me back to my very young years and the early days of FM radio in Geelong.

I read once a while back that when 3GL went to FM they applied to retain the AM broadcast as well as the new FM licence, as the old 1341 signal provided coverage into the Western District that the FM signal could not replicate. A few people out that way were upset they’d lose the call of the Cats games and the like that they had listened to for years, but it was not granted and 3GL turned off not long after 95.5 went to air.

In hindsight they probably had a point too. Even today, you can hear AM commercial radio from Colac and Warrnambool in Geelong, but there’s not a trace of their FM counterparts. I imagine the reverse was true while 3GL was still on air.

Incidentally, did the Geelong FM stations used to have better coverage into Melbourne than they do today? I remember hearing/reading that they did but the Melbourne FM stations complained about licence area encroachment (despite doing the exact same thing into Geelong themselves)

Interesting. If 3GL were still around today, then Geelong would’ve had its own ‘classic hits’ station, considering that Bay 93.9 now has a more contemporary format. The same could be said for Wollongong & the Central Coast, in which its local commercial FM stations are playing mostly modern music, and therefore, if at least one of the AM licences in both regions had retained its ‘commercial’ status, there would’ve been at least a ‘classic hits’ station available locally on the AM band.

Look at Bendigo & Mildura for example. Their local commercial FM stations are owned by SCA, in which its adult music station plays the “Greatest Hits from the 80s to now”. They also have a commercial AM station owned by Grant Broadcasters, which has a ‘classic hits’ format & is more 60s-90s based.
If BOG hadn’t bought the AM stations in Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie & Orange back in 2005, then those stations would’ve had a ‘classic hits’ format as a decent alternative to the SCA “Greatest Hits” station in those markets. As a result, they basically lost 1 commercial music station in each of those markets, leaving SCA to have a monopoly in the commercial music radio department.

Having said that, 1314 Ballarat and 1260 Shepparton are still listed as ‘commercial’ stations, yet seem to be able to get away with effectively broadcasting as a narrowcast (as far as I know, they don’t have the 3 hours of local content?).

I wouldn’t like to think that 1341 Geelong would have suffered the same fate.

You could say the same for 1161 in Maryborough, which has a commercial licence, yet it effectively broadcasts as a narrowcast.

They are commercial licences in the same way that 3UZ (and 2KY and 4TAB) is with its racing and sports format. But it is true the regional racing stations (such as 1314 Ballarat, 945 Bendigo and 1260 Shepparton) have been granted an exception from the local content criteria. As I understand it the operators put up the argument that they are running those regional relay stations as a public service and not making any money from them as such.

Now I’ve just learned about these:

Has anyone used anything like this before?

@TV_Expert I believe 3GL were requesting an AM/FM simulcast when they converted, rather than to be a separate station. The supplementary licences for incumbent broadcasters weren’t a thing then, and given Bay had just started Geelong had doubled its commercial radio options anyway. 3GL/K-Rock were worried they’d lose listeners they’d been broadcasting to for years, but evidently that reason was not enough to justify them keeping their AM transmission.

Incidentally, has any other station around the place ever got to keep its AM broadcast when it went to FM? I think maybe 4TO in Townsville had both for a few years?

And TVAU, I’ve never specifically used the device you referrred to, but I did previously hardwire my old cassette walkman into my sound card. It wasn’t a totally effective way of doing things but it worked. I’ve seen those devices with turntables and I’m told they work ok, so I can only imagine they’d be good for cassettes as well.