Spectrum 025. Broadcasting + 50
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Spectrum was a long-running weekly radio documentary series which captured the essence of New Zealand from 1972 to 2016. Alwyn Owen and Jack Perkins produced the series for many years, creating a valuable library of New Zealand oral history.
Spectrum celebrates 50 years of radio broadcasting in New Zealand.
Jack Perkins introduces the programme and presents a music broadcast, received through a 1920 receiver and another of Morse code sent via a spark transmitter.
On November 17, 1921, a test music transmission was sent by Professor Jack of Otago University Physics Department. A re-creation of his broadcast is heard, with a recording by Madame Violetta and Ernest Pike.
With mechanic Jack Sutherland he had built a transmitter and microphone using surplus war equipment. The microphone is still working and is heard in use at Otago University. On Wednesday and Saturday evenings through until Christmas 1921, Professor Jack broadcast a series of concerts, which were picked up by amateur wireless listeners around the country.
A man (possibly Bernie Spackman) recounts the lengthy procedure that had to be gone through to obtain a valve radio receiver licence.
Charles Forrest of Sydney describes how he started a station in Wellington in February 1922 as a way of promoting the American de Forest Radio Company equipment he was selling. This was on the corner of Courtenay Place and Tory Street. This was the first regular broadcasting station in New Zealand. There was no such thing as a broadcasting licence at the time but when he got a more powerful transmitter he received a call from the Post and Telegraph Office.
Another group began broadcasting about the middle of 1922 from a store in His Majesty's Arcade. Stations began in Christchurch and Dunedin operated by local radio societies, and a second station began in Wellington, as Mr A.E.H. Simpson recalls. Its transmitter was in Gordon Place behind the Newtown Post Office. Clive Drummond was working at the Post Office and began as an announcer, "for the fun of it." He recalls playing dance music which was picked up by ships in Wellington Harbour running moonlight cruises.
Charles Forrest describes his second studio on the roof of the Hope Gibbons building and explains how he would work with sponsors such as Begg's Music shop to promote new music, such as the song "Yes, we have no bananas." He says the first person to sing on radio in New Zealand was a Mrs Violet Gyles and the first man was Mr Tony Wood. In order to buy a piano for the station they asked listeners to send in half a crown each.
Bill Huggins, an early radio engineer, recalls male voices transmitted better than female voices, but military band music was the most popular of all, which he says was a hangover from World War I. He describes his work installing radio receivers in homes.
Noel Ellison, technical superintendant of Broadcasting House in Wellington, talks about their collection of early radios and describes the features of one of them. He tunes it to pick up 2YA and explains the interference that is heard. He explains a loudspeaker, which is shaped like a horn and ran on battery power, which was fairly expensive.
1920s newspaper reports of good radio reception are read. In September 1922, the government announced new legislation to organise radio broadcasting, and it is this anniversary that this programme is celebrating.
The country was divided into four districts, numbered from north to south. A licence fee was fixed and advertising prohibited. Listeners were required to be British subjects and had to make a written application for a licence, which included a character reference. The listener's licence fee did not go to the stations, but to the Post Office.
By the end of 1922 seven stations were on the air: three in Dunedin, two in Wellington and one each in Auckland and Christchurch. Four of these were commercial, with the others run by radio associations. Of these, one is still in operation, 4XD in Dunedin. Within 12 months there would be nearly 3,000 receiving licences and 10 stations.
Reference number 22203
Media type AUDIO
Collection Sound Collection
Perkins, Jack (b.1940), Narrator
Owen, Alwyn (b.1926), Producer
Forrest, Charles, fl.1920-1975, Interviewee
Huggins, Bill, Interviewee
Simpson, A. E. H., Interviewee
Drummond, Clive (b.1890), Interviewee