In 1942, Walter J. Grant (1904–61) became a major shareholder in Western Broadcasters Pty Ltd, which owned the licence for 2DU Dubbo. A Scottish-born engineer who had worked at 2KY Sydney, Grant had helped found 2LT Lithgow in 1939. He waged an ultimately successful campaign for an increase in 2DU’s transmitter power, ensuring that 2DU was one of the regional stations heard furthest across New South Wales. R.G. Osborne, an Australian Broadcasting Control Board chairman, remarked that ‘Wally’ ‘really understood country broadcasting’; in just one day in 1944, 2DU raised £101,070 for the Second Victory Loan, and in the 1954–55 floods, 2DU became a vital link in communications. Remembered by Osborne as a most ‘entertaining character’, Grant also served as an alderman on Dubbo Council. However, a consortium with which 2DU was involved in 1959 failed to secure a television licence.
After Grant’s death, his widow, Christine, served as managing director of Western Broadcasters until 1972, and then chairman until 1977. Their daughter, Janet M. Cameron (1938– ), formerly a teacher, became managing director, and her husband, Dugald, chairman. By 1986 Grant Broadcasters Pty Ltd also owned radio stations in Mudgee, Nowra and Parkes. Then, in what Janet Cameron described as ‘the worst decision I ever made’, the company sold three stations, keeping only 2ST Nowra. This was a time of acute uncertainty in the broadcasting industry, and Cameron accepted a lucrative offer for most of her company.
Soon regretting the decision, Grant Broadcasters bought stations in Muswellbrook, Bega, Wollongong, Bendigo, Geelong, Mildura, Murray Bridge and Darwin. In 1990, Cameron became a founding shareholder in, and director of, Sea FM. Her experience with a listed company was not a happy one. Describing herself as a ‘plain-vanilla kind of person’, she was irritated by analysts who were always urging new, ‘sexy’ purchases. When Sea FM was taken over in 1996, Grant Broadcasters banked a healthy profit.
Cameron concentrated on building up her family company, taking advantage of new rules allowing broadcasters in regional areas to acquire second licences, and buying nine Tasmanian stations in 2000. The company was now worth $125 million, and Janet’s three children occupied executive positions in it, with Grant and Dugald Cameron Junior looking after the Sydney and Melbourne operations, and Alison O’Neil the chief financial officer. Janet Cameron also served as the first female president of the Federation of Australian Radio Broadcasters (now Commercial Radio Australia) in 1985–86.
In 2009, Grant Broadcasters entered into a joint venture with Kevin Blyton’s Capital Radio Network; in 2011, it purchased former Fairfax Media radio assets; and in 2013, it acquired Prime Media’s 10 radio stations in Queensland. This meant that Cameron’s network had interests in every state and territory. It is also involved with the Radio Sales Network and operates narrowcasting licences supported by tourism organisations.
REFs: Australian, 22 September 2008; M. Dormer, Dubbo (1988); SMH, 25 May 1996.