BILTON, JOHN - IV
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John Bilton, an Otago radio pioneer is interviewed by Jim Sullivan. He recalls his interest and life in the radio sales business and also how he set up and ran his own radio station, 4ZC in Cromwell in the 1930's.
He sold radios for about 40 years and because of his own interest, he saw a need in the late 1920's and decided to start his own business and shop. He describes his sales technique with local farmers. He chose what he considered to be better brands of radios and would install them for people in Central Otago, including an aerial so that they would get a better daytime reception.
As there were some days when there was very little business, he decided to to set up his own station, which he ran from the lounge room of the family home in Cromwell.
He broadcast for three hours a day and played gramophone records, advertised his business and would report on important local events, including local sports results and news from The Cromwell Argus newspaper.
He describes how the owners of the 'B' stations petitioned the government to be allowed to advertise but newspapers opposed it. They went to Parliament and met Prime Minister George Forbes, but Forbes couldn't help because of the newspapers' opposition.
He says Colin Scrimgeour warned the government the B stations would oppose it, if it did not help them advertise. Eventually the change of government came in 1935, but they decided to nationalise the stations.
He explains how hard it was to keep the B stations on the air without advertising. They also were threatened by record companies demanding payment for playing their products.
He was finally bought out by the Government in March 1937. He says Cromwell people petitioned Parliament to keep the station going but the government didn't want any broadcasting to remain in private hands.
He did an outside broadcast for the opening of the Loburn Bridge, with relay equipment from Dunedin.
"Beautiful Isle of Somewhere" sung by Richard Crooks was his station's closedown theme. A listener thought it was him singing it himself and remarked on how good his voice was. [An excerpt of this is played,]
[John Bilton died late 1993.]
Reference number 13902
Media type AUDIO
Collection Sound Collection
BILTON, John, Interviewee
Sullivan, Jim, 1946-, Interviewer
National Radio (N.Z.) (estab. 1986, closed 2007)
4ZC (Radio station : Cromwell, N.Z.)
Date 12 Dec 1993