Radio History


Sorry - I am obsessed with the smh archives.

The New 2UW was launched in 1981 - and in its first survey it jumped from an 8.3 share to a 15.1%. Now that’s what I call a successful repositioning of a radio station. Not exactly a gradual build over time - everyone switched over during summer!

By September 1981 The New 2UW was the No.1 station in Sydney:

Nothing in radio ever lasts though. By the beginning of 1984 the station was struggling and relaunched as Magic 11. The “magic” was that it disappeared within seven months.


Apparently station management claimed that they couldn’t make a profit from Beautiful Music which was being listened to almost entirely by 40+ demographics. Press reports at the time stated that 3AW with its much more expensive talk format could manage to make profit from a 40+ audience but it was noted that 3AW at least had a small but decent listener base under-40 (which presumably would stay with the station as they become over-40s), whereas 3AK had no younger listeners coming in at the lower end of the age scale and older ones were dying off. Looks like they just didn’t see a way out of the predicament, so they threw the whole lot out. Ironically, the sort of music format that 3AK tried in 1986 (and XY a few years later) was probably not unlike what stations like Smooth are doing now. Just a few decades ahead of their time, perhaps?

And for 3MP picking up the easy listening format… I guess 3AK never thought anyone else would try to pick up such a format… but 3MP’s sister station in Sydney (2CH) had been doing easy listening for years. So it probably shouldn’t have been too much a surprise.

Source: The Age


Thanks Nick for digging up a great read. Its interesting how fm was not an instant success back in 81. I suppose most cars did not have an FM radio. Its ironic the next best radio survey was by KISS was when they played top 40 radio in the modern era.


An amazing read about 2SM on FM.

Imagine a world if 2SM had made it to FM. Would Triple M be what it is today?

Interesting also of the reference to “SM-FM”. This suggests that could’ve been the name had it been a permanent switch.


There was a rumour when the AM to FM conversions were being auctioned in the early 90s, that 2SM were going to bid and if successful, they would return to rock music.

Which also makes me wonder what 2UW or 2WS would sound like today if they were still on AM.


Probably what 2SM and 2CH are now :wink:


If 2WS were still on AM, it would still be based out of Western Sydney, with the AM mast for 1224kHz (now broadcasting 2RPH) still located in Prospect.

But would C91.3 came to existence if 2WS was still a local Western Sydney station? In fact, the proposal for Campbelltown & the Macarthur region getting its own commercial radio station was mooted as early as 1985, a few years after local community station 2CT bit the dust, and when 2WS was still less than a decade old.

Of course, that dream would not became a reality until May 2000, when the Campbelltown commercial licence was auctioned & won by WIN for $10 million. C91.3 went to air in August 2001, not long before WSFM (as 2WS has become known by then), along with another Western Sydney-based sister station 96.1 (now The Edge), moved out of Seven Hills to North Ryde.


I have a feeling 2WS wouldn’t have stayed local to western Sydney if they’d stayed on AM. If still owned by ARN they’d probably be like 4KQ/Cruise.


A ratings battle between Triple M and “SMFM” would’ve been quite interesting, that’s for sure!

With the success of Smooth 95.3 in recent years having lead to a decline for 2CH, I also think it would’ve been interesting to see what would’ve happened in the Sydney radio landscape if the station on 1170AM decided to make an FM conversion during the 1990s (or even the Early 2000s when the new licences which ultimately went to DMG/Nova were up for bids).

I’ll get to my thoughts on that in a moment, but personally I think it was inevitable that at least two existing Sydney AM stations would convert to the FM band sometime during the Early/Mid 1990s.

As much as I could imagine SCA wishing the market only had access to 2DayFM and Triple M even to this day, I really don’t think it would’ve been appropriate for a city the size of Sydney to only be allowed two commercial FM stations until at least 2001.

Yep, I agree with you there. The music format probably would’ve been Classic Hits and the 2WS callsign might’ve been retained, but the local Western Sydney feel to the station most likely still would’ve gradually faded out during the Late '90s/Early 2000s.

Although while having one FM and one AM station seems to work OK for the company in Brisbane & Adelaide, surely I can’t be the only one who suspects that ARN always would’ve wanted to have both their stations for the country’s two largest markets on FM?


PLUS if SM-FM has taken off, would we have ever heard of Bill Caralis?


Here’s an article that relates to 2SM’s attempt at buying an FM licence in Sydney.

It’s mid 1989 and the owners of 2SM sold the iconic Milsons Point building (that overlooks the harbour to this day) and Stereo 10 in Brisbane. They were also planning to sell 2NX. They were to use this money for the FM licence auction.

I think what caused the downfall of the plan were the low ratings of 2SM (as Lite’N’Easy 1269) at the time and this meant low ad revenue. The station was languishing at a 3% share. 2WS was rating with a 10 share.

2SM sold the North Sydney building for $9.65M in 1989. It is an eight story building. It’s still the only high rise building in that area of Milsons Point. According to Domain the average price for a one story house in Milsons Point in 2018 is $3.2M. Forget broadcasting on FM. The property today would be worth a bomb. And how many people can say that Duran Duran, Boy George and Madonna have been on their property?


At around the same time, there was a dispute between 2WS & the federal Communications Minister over the AM/FM conversion, in which the owner, Wesgo, claimed that they were being disadvantaged under the tendering process, in that they had to bid full price for an FM conversion despite their service area only covering a third of Sydney. They were effectively ineligible to bid for an FM conversion, so Wesgo sued the Communications Minister, therefore pushing back the closing dates for tenders for two new FM licences, and ultimately, delaying the AM/FM conversions of two Sydney stations for the next 2 years.

It wasn’t until September 1991 that the AM/FM conversion tendering in Sydney had finally been resolved, with the two new FM licences awarded to 2WS & 2UW. 2WS converted to FM on 1st June 1993, whilst 2UW converted to FM as Mix 106.5 on 30th April 1994.


The reception is not the best around the city and the northern beaches. 2RPH have a repeater. So I get the feeling it would still be a western sydney station. Thanks @TV-Expert for old articles great reading. :blush:


I think they’d like KQ and Cruise on FM too if they could.


There was a plan for 4KQ to convert to FM in the early 90s, but then-owner, Wesgo, chose not to not go ahead with it, claiming that its profitability could be enhanced by remaining on the AM band. Today, it rates quite well against the FM stations.

The station that is now Cruise used to be 5DN (which is still its official callsign), which converted to FM in 1990 as 102FM, later X102. However, because it was a talk station on AM, it was a huge change, resulting on the new FM station to receive rather lacklustre ratings against SAFM (now hit107), KAFM (now 5MMM) & AM music station 5AD (now Mix 102.3). There was a bit of a swap of licences, with X102 becoming owned by 5AD, resulting on that station to move from AM to FM, with a new station created on 1323. 5DN was eventually reborn as an on-air name, which remained until 2005, when it became SEN after ARN leased the licence to Pacific Star. After that venture failed, Cruise 1323 launched in late 2005, and eventually became a high-rater for an AM music station, challenging some of the FM stations to this day.


TV-Expert; Great summary of the most complex changes to ownership and callsign history of any capital city radio stations in Australia.

You need a PhD to have kept up with the changes.


And is currently the callsign used for what is now Cruise


And 5AD was first known as 5AD FM when it first moved to 102.3 before becoming Mix 102.3


They also transferred their “Easy Listening” format across, which was pretty much unheard of for a commercial FM station in the 90s, at least before Mix 106.5 was launched.


2day was easy listening, but it did change in the early 90s maybe late 80s.