Aspect. 1971

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Media type
Documentary radio programs
Nonfiction radio programs
Radio programs
Sound recordings
RNZ Collection
Owen, Alwyn (b.1926), Producer
CURRAN, Gerard, Assistant Producer
Bell, Brenda, 1891-1979, Speaker/Kaikōrero
Drummond, Clive (b.1890), Speaker/Kaikōrero
HUGHES, Stan, Speaker/Kaikōrero
JONES, B. S., Speaker/Kaikōrero
SPACKMAN, Bernie, Speaker/Kaikōrero

A documentary tribute to Professor Robert Jack of Otago University and early radio broadcasting in New Zealand. Produced by Alwyn Owen to mark the 50th anniversary of radio broadcasting.

Introduced by Brian Cashin and Keith Hambledon.

A re-creation of Professor Robert Jack's first broadcast is heard. He back-announces "Hello My Dearie" (the first song played on radio in New Zealand) and then introduces "In the Combat" from Il Trovatore, sung by Madame Violetta and Ernest Pike. (An excerpt is played from a 78rpm disc.)
Several unidentified men and Brenda Bell give their recollections of hearing Professor Jack's early broadcasts.

Professor Jack was head of the Physics Department at Otago University. Stan Hughes who was a mechanic in the department, recalls Professor Jack's personality.

Reading from Professor Jack's unpublished "Notes for History' about his early experiments with radio broadcasts. His 1921 transmissions were the first in Australasia.

Jack Sutherland also worked at the university as a mechanic. With Prof. Jack he designed and built a transmitter, microphone and generator. Noel Ellison. technical superintendant at Broadcasting House explains the technical problems they first had to overcome.

In Shag Valley in North Otago, radio amateurs Frank and Brenda Bell, were listening. Brenda recalls monitoring the university's test transmissions and getting in touch with Dunedin via the local doctor's telephone, as the telegraph office was closed. She tells a story about relaying the message that the song "Hello My Dearie" was heard.

There was little public reaction as only dedicated enthusiasts could hear the broadcasts using home-built receivers.

Mr L.S. Spackman of Auckland outlines the difficulties in getting a radio licence. He used to monitor Morse signals and was unaware of Prof. Jack's experiments, so was surprised to hear music one evening.

Clive Drummond of Wellington explains that he was also listening, after becoming interested in radio during his World War I service as a telegraphists.

Mr B.S. Jones was a ship's radio operator in 1921 and describes picking up the transmission while off the coast of Otago, which he says was very exciting.

Further reading from Jack's radio log.
The wife of Governor-General Lord Jellicoe and her daughter heard broadcasts while on board the H.M.S. Melbourne.

Dr Miles Barnett, a student of Prof. Jack's and recalls hearing a broadcast while visiting the Bells in Shag Valley. They rang Jack and he announced it over the air with 'almost boyish excitement.'

A re-creation of the quality of the early music broadcasts is played using equipment of the era. The popular song "Whispering" is played.
Brenda Bell comments that Otago University still holds Professor Jack and Jack Sutherland's original equipment, which Noel Ellison describes.

It is still in working condition and a recording made via Jack's original microphone is heard. His transmitter eventually acquired a call-sign, 4XO.

By early 1922 broadcasting became more mainstream, with accounts in the press and other stations being set up. Lionel Slade recalls running displays of radio reception at church bazaars, with the public being invited to try and find the "hidden gramophone" where the radio music was coming from.

Credits: Gramophone records and equipment from the collection of Michael Woolf, Professor Jack's works read by George Arnott, produced by Alwyn Owen with Gerald Curran of Dunedin.