Radio History


If only Caralis listened to the experts, then we would’ve have an oldies station that is musically between WS/Smooth & 2CH, a gap currently missing on Sydney commercial radio. :pensive:


After Kick AM folded at the end of 1996, 2SM was then owned by RG Capital (the then same-owners of 2GO & Sea FM on the Central Coast), who returned it to a classic hits format, and gradually went with an oldies format, covering only 60s & 70s hits, which was a clear point-of-difference from 2WS. This was similar to what 2CA was sounding like at the time.

It pretty much came to an end when Caralis bought 2SM in late 1999.


I remember the day Caralis bought 2HD and NEWFM. The satellite link to Lismore was up within hours and several people were out the door. That night at 10pm, NEWFM as we knew her and loved her, died. The first program uplinked from Lismore was The Heat.

Ironic considering just a few weeks prior at a Christmas party, NEWFM played “Road To Nowhere” and dedicated it to NXFM.

I can still hear the screeching laughter at Charlestown.


I believe that 4WK in Warwick, Queensland has recently relaunched AM stereo.

There are still a (very) few stations in the US that keep it alive.

Thing is that some of the current model transmitters made by Nautel, and possibly others, have the stereo exciter built in. So AM stations could be back in stereo with just the right audio feed.

Not many people listening though :sunglasses:


Yes I was living in Sydney in the second half of 1995 and I recall it was Kick playing country. I was working with a guy from Texas at the time and I recall he wasn’t impressed with the type of country music they were playing LOL

The format wasn’t 100% country though. They slogan was “cool country, rock and blues”. Quite broad really.


And up until late 1999 was it still called 2SM playing oldies music?

A shame that this current “everything that is old is new again” era wasn’t so big back then. Otherwise 2SM would’ve been performing much better prior to Caralis purchasing.

… So did Bill immediately switch format and logo overnight?


What has changed is that the top two stations have those as their only top line talent, far from the depth the stations in the 80/90’s had.

He’ll be chuffed for the memory.

90’s was a lot closer to the 60’s, now 20 - 29 years on, that audience has a new generation below them.

Radio is the poorer for not having him on air. 2WS spent well with their ‘ahead of their time’ investment with Mulray on drive.

4BC. Steve left it that way, whomever in between left it that way, Brandon left it that way, only good luck if it remains that way.

Despite planned FM conversions, AM sites will not be entirely eliminated, techs such as @gordo92 are required to fill the void of the many older generations retiring or who have died and their knowledge has gone to the grave.

Some relent to the beancounters, others become creative and innovate. Hallmark of resourceful engineer.

What a mess. Needed consistency but wasn’t happening with that programming blunder.

I recall that RG had a share in 2SM but did not provide the management leadership. Murphy had his share.


Here’s a few screenshots of handycam footage (unfortunately I’m not sure who originally filmed this, but I can tell you it was something the Frankster provided to me last year) showing the Mulray-era 2WS studios:

If you look closely enough, you might be able to see a FOX8 logo in the background - presumably this program (or highlights of it) may have aired in a televised package on the premiere Foxtel entertainment channel at the time?

Although from all reports I’ve heard over the years, the Doug Mulray on 2WS drive era didn’t last overly long, probably because the presenter wasn’t really the best fit for the station’s traditional audience? A pity, because it seemed like there were some really innovative things being done.



Indeed and the change of management above network level a problem.

The technology was years ahead of its time.

Sadly no one invests to this level today. This was the dot com boom.


I think Doug would make an excellent talk jock these days… smart incisive interviews, trenchant comments, great sketches et al.

But I just think Doug wasn’t interested.,. He had his pile of cash, Miss Lizzie and the Blue Mountains compound.

Plus an enduring interest in chemistry and herbs.

Mike Carlton is another who should have had a much longer career… except that he turned into bitter, nasty piece of work.


Yes stereo by way of a 6kw BE TX

I actually fixed up the AM Stereo as it had a wildly off centre stereo sound stage even when been fed with mono audio… Used to give me the shits when listening on my Sony JX-220A… 15 mins and the audio was back to centre… As for the AM Stereo remaining on 4BC… Well when the current engineer finds out how to turn off the pilot it won’t be stereo anymore :frowning_face: Either way 4BC is pointless having the pilot on when they refuse to send it Stereo audio… But listen when the back-up tape starts as it is full stereo with good separation… well at least while I was there, it has likely changed since i left.

Yes, In rural areas you simply can’t replace AM because of the decent coverage it provides…
My love for AM comes from the fact I also have a Amateur Radio License and enjoyed playing around with AM on the ham bands long before I even got into broadcast… The issue @crankymedia is that as you say the older techs are passing on and the ones who are still around have had bad experiences with young people wasting their time, so they don’t even bother trying to pass it on anymore… And frankly I can’t blame them.


Yeah reading the Wikipedia on 2sm a lot of the work was done in 70s is now been adopted by a lot of radio stations. ie they apparently introduced program directors, djs did not pick the music etc. Taken to the extreme new talent, who are behind the mic, dont get an easy chance to be creative anymore. Community radio could be the only exception.

The corporate world before the internet and networking, each radio station had more autonomy in there respective remote location, now decisions can be made over email, networking stations is easier, less expensive. The direction or creative flair can come from a selected few rather than people behind the mic. In the old days a Sydney office running 4bc 90% remotely was not practical.

I believe a lot of the next creative talents will start in YouTube for tomorrow’s radio stars. The google model whilst having rules anyone who wants a radio or media career could start there and do whatever they like within the boundaries of google.

We agree over history, its unique personalities that largely enables radio stations to win surveys so google in my view is becoming the media outlet of where the old fashion radio star can start their careers. 50s and 60s mainstream radio was more like community radio each radio stars had a unique show, music etc. Youtube stars might transition to radio or tv. (or maybe not, they just remain on YouTube).

There are always exceptions but changes over history seem to point to this phenomenon taking place not just in radio but in all aspects of modern life where headquarters can have more control of the product they sell because of the internet. Even talkback radio has been scaled back over the years, youtube and forums like this allow people to have a say without the need to call a radio station :slight_smile:.


I just found a great little history of 2SM on Soundcloud. It was made when 2SM launched as Sydney’s Hottest Country. It did make me laugh when they said the launch was about returning the station to its halcyon days. Cough.

Go to Soundcloud and search for “2SM Sydney’s Hottest Country launch”

The first song played was Achy Breaky Heart. Cough.


Re Automation

I recall an article in a Sydney newspaper in the early 90s re automation when that was starting to have an impact.

It stated that whilst 96.1 used automation overnight (the radio program guides that used to appear in the SMH “The Guide” listed it as ‘Fred Automan’), 2DAY and Triple M both still preferred live mid-dawns then as they stated it was a good breeding ground for announcers.

Obviously none of that now, the only breeding ground is really training schools and community radio (sadly).


I really miss mid-dawn announcers


Yeah its disappointing that there are only 2 stations in Adelaide with a live mid-dawn show, FiveAA and community station Coast FM (they were even live 24/7 Christmas Day)


At least Adelaide has one commercial radio station running a local midnight-dawn show. Here in Sydney, I think just about everything is either automated or networked between midnight & the breakfast shows these days. 2CH might have voicetracked breaks, but that’s about as good as it gets.


I wonder if the number of staff have dropped in the radio industry since the 70s and 80s. Or perhaps these days there might be more sales staff and managers and the like. My guess in the 70s and 80s a heap more staff were gainfully employed in the radio industry with all the different newsrooms and reporters etc. Even though in Sydney there were less radio stations. I never worked in radio so I really dont know.

I wonder if the overall profit margins have dropped in real terms?


Yes, my thoughts are that, whilst revenues will have dropped from newer forms of competition including Pay TV and the internet, computers, automation and networking will have also reduced costs too.

Whether profit margins are higher or lower, not sure though.


Yeah I remember in the early 80s all radio stations competed with each other. Did not seem to be one owner owning two stations. Did a law change in the 80s?

I remember Stan Zemanek saying he was disappointed 2day fm and 2 triple m being under the one owner when the merger happened, after being such great competitors. Little did he know about the future of 2ue.


I think the 2 station per owner limit wasn’t introduced until 1994?

Prior to that, it was only possible in regional areas and via a supplementary (Section 39) licence whereby the AM licensee could get a supplementary FM license. These were available from 1990, and I think @hatdj 's NOW FM in Moree was the first such station on air?