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At 8.00pm on 1 July 1932, the Prime Minister Joseph Lyons inaugurated the ABC.

The ABC then controlled twelve stations 2FC and 2BL in Sydney, 3AR and 3LO in Melbourne, 4QG in Brisbane, 5CL in Adelaide, 6WF in Perth, 7ZL in Hobart and the relay stations 2NC in Newcastle, 2CO at Corowa, 4RK in Rockhampton and 5CK at Crystal Brook.

State Member for Kalgoorlie, Herbert Henry Styants, opened 6GF Kalgoorlie on 10 December 1936. With parliamentary commitments in Perth, he couldn’t do so in person but recorded an opening address for replay on the night.

Mr Styants (ALP) was the Member for Kalgoorlie from 1936 to 1956 dying in 1982 at the age of 89. He is buried in Karrakatta Cemetery in Perth.

6GF, 648KHZ, began broadcasting from the first floor of the Post Office building in Hannan Street at 8.00PM. The inaugural broadcast was of a concert to mark the occasion.

It’s said the inaugural broadcast was interrupted by the abdication announcement of King Edward.

Later the station moved its studios to the Salvation Army Citadel, prior to moving to the former premises on the corner of Porter and Brookman Streets.

In 1936 the ABC began establishing studio broadcasting orchestras in all States. Wireless choruses, dance bands (including the very popular Jim Davidson’s ABC Dance Band) and a National Military Band were also formed in the early years.

Sporting events were covered, including the now famous ‘synthetic’ broadcasts of cricket tests played in England between England and Australia, where ABC commentators, using cables from London and sound effects produced in the Sydney studios, achieved authentic sounding commentary of the match in play.

Drama was performed live, with many plays specially adapted for radio. All 36 of Shakespeare’s plays were produced and broadcast between 1936 and 1938.

Schools broadcasts began and by 1935, radio lessons were broadcast in all mainland States. By 1953, over 80 per cent of all Australian schools State and private utilised the ABC schools broadcasts as part of their weekly curriculum.

An example of early community participation on the ABC in Kalgoorlie. Florence Mabel Griffiths was a factory worker, barmaid and domestic in Kalgoorlie after arriving from the United Kingdom. She married Peter Gandini in June 1929 and had two sons John and Peter. Mrs Gandini used sing on 6GF and appeared in the chorus of Handel’s Messiah. With her family she moved to Perth in 1938.

The Children’s Session, with its Argonauts Club, was revived as a national program in 1941. By 1950 there were over 50 000 Club members. The Club encouraged children’s contributions of writing, music, poetry or art and was one of the ABC’s most popular children’s programs, running six days a week for 28 years, until it was broadcast only on Sundays and was finally discontinued in 1972.

In 1934, the ABC hired its first journalist. In 1936, the first Federal News Editor was appointed to control a national news service which was relayed to all States except Western Australia. News broadcasts now included material written for radio while ‘backgrounders’ were provided by ‘prominent students of overseas affairs’. In 1939,
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a Canberra correspondent was engaged who began a nightly review of the proceedings in Parliament. News sources were also expanded by the engagement of many local news gatherers.

The War Years

With the outbreak of World War II, strict censorship was imposed and most programs had to be submitted to censors three weeks before broadcast. For the first few months of the war, even weather reports were not broadcast due to the censorship restrictions.

At the end of June 1940, the Department of Information took control of the 7.00pm nightly national news. However, after listeners expressed their preference for independent news presented by the Commission, control of the news was returned to the ABC in September 1940.

A new kind of daily program for very young children, Kindergarten Of The Air, began in Perth in 1942. After its initial success in Western Australia, it was produced nationally, becoming one of the ABC’s most successful programs.

Many ABC staff members joined up as the war continued, giving the opportunity for women to become announcers, supervisors, and musicians. The first woman announcer, Margaret Doyle, was appointed in 1940, and by 1942, there were 19 women announcers. In 1939, the ABC had also bought a cable news service and the right to re broadcast all BBC News Bulletins. National news bulletins to all stations were then broadcast three times a day. In December 1941, another mobile unit was sent to Darwin. Correspondents were sent throughout the south east Asia/Pacific war theatre and a third mobile field unit was established in Papua New Guinea in 1942.

Early in 1942, it was agreed that, in view of the serious war situation, all national and commercial transmitters would relay the first part of ABC news bulletins (Australian news from Canberra) at 7.45am, 12.30pm and 7.00pm, and the Commission also offered the overseas section of these bulletins free to those commercial stations wishing to take them. The more serious programs would be broadcast on the national network, and lighter entertainment programming with more local content would be reserved for the metropolitan stations.

The variety of programming increased dramatically. A Light Entertainment Department was formed and programs such as ABC Hit Parade, Bob Dyer’s Dude Ranch, The Wilfrid Thomas Show (which ran for almost 40 years), and The Village Glee Club began.

Special programming was developed to meet the needs of rural areas. The Country Hour was inaugurated in December, 1945. It included a serial called The Lawsons which was replaced in 1949 by the serial Blue Hills (which ran until September 1976). In 1951, rural ‘extension’ officers had been appointed to a few rural areas to do local interviews and reports. The officers were so popular in the country areas that rural extension officers were appointed to major country areas throughout Australia.

Sporting sessions were re introduced and many sporting events were covered.

Esperance artist and well known former Kalgoorlie Boulder resident, Moya Tamblyn, has strong ties with ABC Goldfields Esperance as this correspondence attests:
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