In the years before World War I, more than 250 radio periodicals were available at one time or another in Australia. Most early radio stations were of an amateur experimental nature, and a large number of magazines promoted this advancing technology. Radio pioneers formed peer organisations, which often produced their own periodicals.
Wireless in Australia, a ‘callbook’-style listing of known Australian transmitters, including approximately 400 amateur experimental stations, 300 ship stations and 30 land or government stations, was published in 1914 by the Wireless Society of Victoria. Sea, Land and Air was published monthly in Sydney from 1918 until 1923, when it became Radio in Australia and New Zealand, which continued until 1927. This publication was the official journal of the world’s oldest national radio society, the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA), founded in 1910 to represent the interests of wireless experimenters.
Australia’s first female electrical engineer, (Florence) Violet McKenzie (1890–1922), launched Wireless Weekly from her radio shop in the Royal Arcade, Sydney. The first edition, published on 4 August 1922, described itself as a ‘journal devoted to the interests of Wireless Enthusiasts both Amateur and Professional’. The magazine carried technical information, news from radio clubs, details of WIA meetings and program listings. A dominant radio magazine in Melbourne was the Listener In, launched by the Herald and Weekly Times (HWT) in 1925 as a weekly of ‘wireless news from all quarters’. There were occasional competitors, such as Radio Times (1936–c.1950), previously the Australasian Electrical Times, created by a former Herald journalist, Harry Drysdale Bett. Tasmanian radio programs were published in the short-lived Tasmanian Radio-Talk as well as in Victorian newspapers.
Queensland Radio News appeared on 2 February 1925, approximately six months before A- and B-class broadcasting began in Queensland, and continued until 1934. Produced by the Queensland Radio Transmitters League before becoming an ‘official organ’ of the WIA, QTC (1927–31) was named after the Morse Code for ‘I have messages for you’.
There were several different types of radio magazines. Among those for amateurs and enthusiasts were the Boys’ Wireless News (1924– 25), published in Sydney, and C.Q. (‘calling any station’), published by the Australian Radio Transmitters League in the late 1920s. Major newspaper groups—particularly the HWT and its affiliates—continued to move into radio publishing, as demonstrated by Teleradio (est. 1933) in Brisbane, the Broadcaster (est. 1935) in Perth and Radio Call (est. 1937) in Adelaide. Technical magazines, affiliated with the new electronics manufacturing, servicing and training organisations, included the Amalgamated Wireless Valve Company’s Radiotronics (1935–69), Mullard Outlook (1958–1970) and Philips Electrical Industries’ Miniwatt Digest (1961–70). An engineer and founder of a radio college, Oswald Mingay (1895–1973), embraced all aspects of radio publishing, producing the Radio Retailer of Australia (est. 1933, now known as Tech Trader), Broadcasting Business (1934–48), which became the unofficial voice of the commercial radio sector, and radio yearbooks. The Hollywood-inspired Radio Pictorial of Australia (1935–52) focused on ‘personalities’ and ‘stars’.
In 1939, Sydney’s daily newspapers refused to continue publishing details of ABC programs for free, prompting the launch of the broadcaster’s own ABC Weekly, which continued until 1959. Also in 1939, Wireless Weekly became a purely program weekly and its technical articles were separated into a monthly magazine, Radio and Hobbies.
There were signs that some Australian radio magazines were already in decline before the advent of television in 1956. Dedicated radio magazines either closed down—partly because people increasingly looked to daily newspapers for radio programs—or were merged with television magazines. The Listener In became Listener In-TV in 1955, and interstate editions of TV-Radio Week were launched through the period 1957–58.
By the 1960s, Radio and Hobbies was describing itself as ‘a national magazine of radio, television, hobbies and popular science’, and even reporting on the latest developments in the ‘space race’. It morphed into Electronics Australia in 1965, which was published until 2001, making it one of the longest-running radio magazines in the world, with many loyal readers who collected extensive libraries of Australia’s premier popular electronics magazine.
The WIA continues to publish an annual callbook and 11 issues annually of Amateur Radio (first published in 1933). The magazine includes projects to build, reviews of equipment, updates on regulations, news from each of the states and contributions from readers. It features historical accounts and profiles, as well as regular obituaries with the gently euphemistic title of ‘Silent Key’.
REFs: B. Griffen-Foley, Changing Stations (2009); C. Jones, Something in the Air (1995); W. McGhie, Amateur Radio Magazines 1933–1939 (CD) (2008).