Saturday, 26 January 2013

Radio History in Newcastle AU

The history of Newcastle Radio Stations
Spero Davias
(updated June 2017)

2KO Newcastle

KOFM (call sign: 2KKO) is an Australian radio station, serving Newcastle and surrounds. It broadcasts at 102.9 megahertz on the FM band from its studios in Charlestown. It is owned by Southern Cross Austereo and Its sister station is NXFM.

The station commenced operations as 2KO, based in the Newcastle suburb of Kotara on August 1, 1931. Founded by Allen Fairhall (later Sir Allen Fairhall) 2KO was licensed to The Newcastle Broadcasting Company. The station operated on 1410 kHz with a transmission strength of 25 watts. The station launched from the backyard of a resident's home, with the licensee's dining room being the only studio the station had at the time. Programs ran from 7 to 10 p.m., later moving into daytime programming. Ten minutes of ad time was sold during the week, selling around 15 pounds ($30 today) of revenue for the station. Chief Engineer was K. N. Greenhalgh AMIRE. Studio & Production Manager was 2KO Chief Announcer Harold Pickhover. Advertising & Merchandising Manager was Keith F. Winser F.O.A.

Two years later in 1933, the station moved its AM transmitter to Sandgate, and was operated from several locations including 72 Hunter Street, Newcastle until January 1937, when new studios and offices in the heart of Newcastle in the CML Building at 110 Hunter Street, Newcastle. In its time on the AM band, the station had its power increased twice, first to 2,000 watts, and then to 5,000 watts, using a directional aerial system.

In the days before television, peak listening time was around 8pm, but with television arriving in the country in the late 1950s, the station had to change formats to survive the new medium. This was even more the case when 2KO's owners at the time, United Broadcasting Company (who also owned Sydney's 2UE), itself owned by the local Lamb family, was part of the consortium that brought television to Newcastle, launching NBN Television on channel 3 in 1962.

These changes led to 2KO becoming one of the first, if not the first, Top 40 music radio stations in Australia. This took the audience by storm, and helped re-established radio as the personal medium.
In 1978, as part of a nationwide realignment of radio station frequencies, 2KO moved to 1413 kHz.

In May 1988, 2KO moved to its current facilities at 252 Pacific Highway Charlestown.
On October 12, 1992, 2KO converted to the FM band, changing its callsign to 2KKO, and branding itself as KOFM 102.9. Four years later, on January 22, 1996, the parent company of KOFM (and of NXFM), Radio Newcastle Pty. Ltd., was purchased by Austereo. A few more years later, Austereo sold 50% to RG Capital Radio Network, whose stake in the station then transferred in 2004 to Macquarie Regional RadioWorks, upon the purchase of RG Capital's stations. On April 2011 Southern Cross Media bought out Austereo for $714 million giving Southern Cross Media full ownership of KOFM.


The Honourable
Sir Allen Fairhall

Sir Allen Fairhall KBE (24 November 1909 – 3 November 2006) was an Australian politician 
and Member of the Parliament of Australia for the Division of Paterson from 1949 to 1969. During that period he held a number of ministerial portfolios, most notably Supply and Defence.
Fairhall was born at Morpeth, New South Wales, and attended East Maitland Boys' High School. After school he was apprenticed as an electrical fitter at the Walsh Island Dockyard in Newcastle, while attending Newcastle Technical College. At the same time he developed an interest in radio and gained an amateur radio licence. He was able to convince the then Postmaster-General's Department that Newcastle needed a second commercial radio station. In 1931 he established 2KO. During World War II he worked on the supply of signals equipment for the Australian armed services. From 1941 to 1944 he was an alderman of the City of Newcastle.

Former presenters

  • Harold Pickhover *James Aloyius Montgomery Max *Emma Gibbs *Ron Roberts
  • John O'Brien *Pat Barton *Bert Burns *Ron Gibson *David Mulley
  • Cliff Musgrave *Leon Bailey *Peter Harn *Phil Hunter *Ron Hurst *John Jones
  • Sam Kronja *Allan Lappan *John Laws *Gary Meadows *John Melouney
  • Warwick Teece *John Thompson *Gray Clark *Mal Elliott *Mike Jefferys
  • "Big Steve" Wakely *Alan McGirvan *Peter Meehan *Ed Webster *John Waite
  • Tony Stanton *Tony "Music" Williams *Lee Cornell *Chuck Hobler *Art Ryan, Ron French
  • Peter O'Callaghan *Jim Stewart (Jim Ball) *Matt Tapp *Brian Towers (Wayne Kerrick)
  • Tommy Tucker (late) *Paul Turner *Ray Waite *Ross Weldon *Tim Webster *Vince Neill *Paul Hardy (late)
  • Barry Coleman *Iain Edwards *Bob Gallagher *Peter Graham programmanager *Bill Grundy *David Jones *Mal Hedstrom *Richard King *Mike Connors * Nat Jeffery *Andy Simpson *Fiona Cameron *Kev Kellaway
  • John Henry *Stewart Horne *Selwyn Jones *Wayne Mason (Frank Fursey)
  • John O'Callaghan *John Paige *David Ross *Mike Ahern *Peter Brennan* Mike Duncan* The 80's Guys (reforming in late 2010) * Jo King* Barry Graham, Pete Davis
  • Nick "Nicko" Condon* Dion Clewett*
  • "Peter Buckley" - 1982
  • Clayton Brown - Breakfast Producer ( David and Tanya)/ Announcer / Voice Artist..."The Fugitive"


The Technical side....

By Sir Allen Fairhall, K.B.E., VK2KB 
This story was originally published in Amateur Radio in 1974

"I had built my first working receiver in1924 when there was little official broadcasting but with amateurs providing a good deal of rough interest. When serving an apprenticeship to Electrical Fitting in the years 1925 on, I met fellows who actually knew the amateur broadcasters including 2CS, 2MS and some others. Then the bug bit and I became A2KB in 1927 complete with a UX201A in TPTG, Slop Jar rectifier and an OV1 receiver. 

My interest also led me to build an Electric Gramophone with a pair of UX250's with all of ten watts output. The Great Depression hit the bottom of its curve coincident with the end of my apprenticeship in 1929 and I was looking for a non-existing job for quite a while, meantime filling in the rest of the day on 40 metres. Those were the happy days when amateurs could still romp on the 240 metre band. 

It occurred to me that a little publicity might drum up a little business in radio servicing. So Sunday mornings found tank coils switched to 240, the gramophone tied in as a modulator and 2KB became a regular Sunday Morning Broadcaster to the great content of listeners charmed by faithful rendition of such records as I was able to borrow. Some of it was even very good, since I was ignorant of little things like copyright and played one or two well known works over the air which were banned to every other Broadcaster. Then out of the blue some hopeful business man asked me to do some advertising. Sadly I refused. But a great light dawned and with my hand shaking with eager anticipation I wrote to the Chief Radio Inspector and had the temerity to ask for a "B" Class Licence. 

Twelve months went by while I floated a company, argued myself into the support of local organisations, and waited. Then one day, the licence turned up. However, I soon learned that having a licence was one thing - knowing what to do with it was something else. Money was now needed in what was considerable quantity for the hard times we were enjoying. Raising money for Broadcasting Stations has come a long way since 1931 but the result then was a big round lemon. 

After another six months the Radio Inspector was breathing down my neck, 'Use it or send it back!' I was not going to give in that easily. I bought another length of oregon and raised the rear mast to make it 40'.  

Then  I  turned  my  UX210  TPTG  into  a power amplifier with crystal control, bought a microphone on the 'pay if ever I can basis' and 2KO Newcastle was in business. 
In the 240 metre days I met a young character by the name of Pickhover who knew where there were stacks of gramophone records for the borrowing. He became Chief Announcer and between us we managed to do a reasonable job as engineers, copywriters, announcers, salesman, accountants and anything else that has to be done around a Broadcast Station. 

It seemed acceptable to the Radio Inspector who gave his blessing to the use of 6 watts in a suburban back yard on a temporary basis. Now our 9am Sunday morning station became a fixed 1 hour programme after which it shut down until 7pm. There was one snag. The trawlers fishing the NSW Coast at the time used 240 metres CW to check fish prices to see whether it was worth bringing the catch in. They mostly managed to chose 9am on a Sunday morning and their signals were mostly RST 592 and the QRM was killing our audience. 

Our routine on Sunday mornings became to key the rig and tell the trawlers in Morse to  get the hell off our frequency and let us entertain the populace. This is the only case to my knowledge of a Commercial Broadcasting Station sending CW. For the record it is interesting to note that the 2KO Newcastle Station Log Book shows the revenue for the first month came from two commercial announcements at 4 shillings each!"


2HD Newcastle - Australia's second oldest existing radio station.

History 1925-1945
2HD began broadcasting on 27 January 1925, a day after Sydney's 2UE began operations, making it Australia's second oldest existing radio station. The station's call sign are the initials of the founder, Harry Douglas, not "Hunter District" as commonly believed. Douglas was a keen amateur radio enthusiast, and an alderman on the Newcastle City Council from 1919 to 1922.
The station was originally in the suburb of Hamilton, but moved to the corner of Darby and King Streets soon after. Douglas sold the station to William Johnston in 1928, who sold the station to the Airsales Broadcasting Company two years later in 1930. Airsales owned the company for 10 years, and was responsible for the move to its landmark studio building in Sandgate, which was 2HD's home for nearly 50 years. Although the building itself is very different, the middle section of the building is still the 1931 building.

Under controversial circumstances during World War II, 2HD was closed in 1941, under the National Security Regulations. At the time, around 25 staff were employed by the station, and stories claimed that the station's owners were sending covert messages, based on the timing of the music being played etc. 2HD remained silent until near the end of the war when the Australian Labor Party and the Labor Council of New South Wales bought the station, and resumed transmissions on 15 January 1945.[1] One of 2HD's notable personalities of the 1930s was Uncle Rex Sinclair, who continued to perform on local radio and stage until shortly before his death in 2001.

The Labor Party and the NSW Labour Council owned 2HD from 1945 until 1999. For the first 29 years of its ownership, the station was under the management of Jim Storey, with his wife Twink acting as program director and on-air personality. Other announcers during this time included Harry Randall, Stuart Dibbley and Tom Delaney.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, 2HD was one of the founding shareholders of local television station NBN Television.

2HD broadcast in the popular The Good Guys of Life format, also used by other stations, including 2SM Sydney. Presenters during this time included Harry Randall, Tom Delaney, Art Ryan, Haff Enegg, Mal Lamonte, John Hill, Allan McGirvan, Mike Jeffries, Malcolm Elliott, Keith Harris, Graeme Gilbert, Don Mayo, Rob Maynard and Cliff Musgrave. Towards the end of this period, announcer Geoff Gregory joined the station, but was better known as a program director, and host of the Sunday night program Country Sounds.
After the Good Guys era ended, 2HD transmitted other formats including Easy Alternative and country. In 1977, the original office building on Maitland Road Sandgate was closed. Several years prior to that, the building was gradually being demolished, starting with the destruction of the original transmitter building to make way for a dual carriageway along Maitland Road in 1964. The increased traffic and the location of the road near the old building was taking its toll. A new administration building, nicknamed "the submarine" was built, and NSW Premier Neville Wran opened the building in 1977.

In the late 1970s-early 1980s, the station was the subject of a takeover bid from NBN, which resulted in a shake-up in ownership at the television station, and the bid was eventually rejected.
For decades after the end of the "Good Guys" era, the station's ratings were in the doldrums, however, the station accomplished its first number one ratings success in 1987, after adopting a strong news and talk format. Factors in this success were the recruitment of 2KO's Pat Barton to present their breakfast program, and Warwick Teece, whose Openline program was a huge success. Program Director Peter Butler was a key part of the station's success, guiding the team to the top of the ratings. The coverage of the Newcastle Earthquake in 1989 by the news team, led by Tony Briscoe, won the station a National Radio Award. The 90's saw 2HD confirm its place as the top rating station in Newcastle, led by the breakfast team of David Collins and Tanya Wilks who notched up over 8 years of consecutive survey wins, and supported by Geoff Jay and Richard King.
The station expanded, following the purchase of local FM station New FM in 1995, which resulted in internal remodeling of the building. In 1999, the NSW Labor Party and NSW Labour Council sold the station to Bill Caralis / Super Radio Network
In 1997, the station added the John Laws morning program to its lineup, becoming a ratings success. After Laws retired, Steve Price took on the morning shift, then in 2010, Steve Libermann. The station lineup in 2011 consists of Richard King for Breakfast, John Laws (returned 31 January 2011), Meryl Swanson in the Afternoons from 12-4pm, Talkin' Sport from 4 - 7pm, Graeme Gilbert with Talk Tonight and Gary Stewart Overnight.


2NX Newcastle 

NXFM (call sign: 2XXX) is an Australian radio station, serving Newcastle, New South Wales and surrounding areas. It broadcasts at 106.9 MHz on the FM band from its studios in Charlestown. It is owned by Southern Cross Austereo and is a sister station to KOFM.


NXFM's history can be traced back to Singleton radio station 2HR, owned by Hunter River Broadcasters Pty. Ltd. The station launched on August 30, 1937. Shareholders included the Singleton Argus and the Robinson Family. Three years later, the station was moved to Maitland, with transmitter at Lochinvar.
In those days, 2HR operated on 680 kHz with 300 watts of power, and was affiliated with the Macquarie Broadcasting Network. Programs were originated locally between 6:30 am and 6:30 pm, before taking the Macquarie feed at 6:30 pm.
In the 1950s, 2HR was relocated to Newcastle, with its transmitter located in Bolwarra. Station manager Ken Robinson was a former Army officer, and his identification number had the letters NX. Therefore, the station was given the callsign 2NX, and a new frequency at 1341 kHz.

In the period between the 1950s and 1970s, 2NX's owners Hunter Broadcasters were purchased by the Catholic Broadcasting Company, owned by the Catholic Church. 2NX programming was relayed to 2NM overnight during this time, and was identified as 2NXNM.
In the early 1990s, the Catholic Church got out of broadcasting, and sold 2NX to Radio Newcastle, which was later taken over by Austereo, and then sold a 50% stake to RG Capital Radio Network (which was taken over by Macquarie Bank). 
2NX was granted a license to convert to FM in the '90s and moved to 106.9 MHz, branding itself originally as X107, before changing to its current name, NXFM. On April 2011 Southern Cross Media bought out Austereo for more than 700 million giving Southern Cross Media full ownership of NX FM.
NXFM are a sponsor of local A-League team the Newcastle Jets.



NEWFM (call sign: 2NEW) is an Australian radio station, serving Newcastle and its surrounding area. It is owned by Broadcast Operations Group, and operates at 105.3 megahertz on the FM band. Its callsign is 2NEW, the 2 being a standard prefix for stations in New South Wales, and NEW short for Newcastle. Its sister station is 2HD. On 24 May 2005 NEWFM reverted back to its original 1989 logo which has since been modernised.


NEWFM was the first commercial FM radio station in Newcastle when it commenced broadcasting in May 1989.
In 2008 NEWFM became the Hub of the Super Network FM Stations (NEWFM Network) supplying programming from its Sandgate based studios to stations from the NSW/Victorian boarder in the south, north to the Sunshine Coast in QLD and West to Broken Hill. The potential reach of the NEWFM Network is over 7 million people.[citation needed]
In 2009, NEWFM, along with its sister station 2HD announced plans to undertake a multi-million dollar ground up rebuild of its studio complex. The rebuild will see it become the most up to date digital studio complex in the country.

The station was launched on 21st April 1989, in the old NESCA House building, as a rock station for Newcastle & the Hunter. It soon went to #1 in the Newcastle market, leaving 2NX (now NXFM) on their wake in the younger market. 
Since Broadcast Operations Group bought the station in 1999, the station went downhill in both quality & ratings, except for a brief resurgence in the ratings during 2001-2002, when it re-affirmed themselves as a rock station.
Basically speaking, New FM is now a much poorer shadow of its former self. 

IT’S a long way to the top if you wanna  ... 

Oh, hi. Didn’t see you there.... We were just rocking out to our favorite song from the canteen line. It’s been in our heads all day.
That’s because the song that inspired it, AC/DC’s It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll) has been added to the National Film and Sound Archive’s national register of recorded sounds.

And apart from having a shredding bagpipe solo, the Acca Dacca classic holds special significance for the Hunter. It was the very first song played on Newcastle’s first commercial FM radio station, NEW-FM.

The station’s founder, Mike Webb, chose Long Way to the Top to put his baby to air on April 14, 1989.

It was one of my most exciting moments listening to AcaDaca blasting the air waves whilst i was standing next to the NEW-FM studio on the 4th floor of Nesca house... 

The new FM player tore off a huge chunk of the ratings at the expense of 2NX, Newcastle’s existing hit music station.

NX’s audience share plummeted from 24.1per cent to 9.9cent. NEW-FM remained the city’s top station for its first four years, commanding 29.4per cent of listeners.

This was all before NX and 2KO jumped onto the FM band and Austereo took control of NX and KO in 1996. NXFM topped the most recent ratings survey with a 19 percent audience share.



Various Snippets 

History by Spero Davias and others

There were 3 commercial AM stations in Newcastle:
2KO (KO standing for Kotara, a Newcastle suburb)
2NX (Originally a Maitland Station broadcasting from Bolwarra, a Maitland suburb)
and 2HD (the second oldest commercial broadcaster in Australia, just behind Sydney's 2UE)

In the 1970's 2NX became the teenage station, the music station. It out rated everything else. It was affiliated with 2NM Muswellbrook and 2SM Sydney (when 2SM was the #1 teenage station in Sydney and 3XY was likewise in Melbourne)

At that time 2KO was owned by the Lamb Family which also owned 2UE in Sydney. 2KO had Pat Barton for Breakfast and 2UE had Gary O'Callaghan. Both were top of the ratings.

David Jones (2NX) and Ian MacRae (2SM) challenged for king of the cornflakes in those markets however.

Also at that time the ALP /State Labour Council owned 2HD. HD tried a few formats including country, beautiful music but talk and sport was the most successful and had it in top spot when David Collins (now at KO-FM) held down the breakfast spot. He paired up Tanya Wilks to make an impressive breakfast duo.

Then along came FM and Newcastle was  awarded one FM licence. A consortium led by Mike Webb bought this licence and NEW FM was an immediate hit and took all the teenage audience from 2NX.

2NX tried classic hits and open line; then tried to challenge NEW FM as firstly X13 on AM and later as X106 when it moved to FM.

2KO reinvented itself as classic hits KO FM when it moved to that band.

2HD stayed on the AM band.

The ALP took over NEW FM as  a sister station for 2HD so that it had both the sport/news/talk and music markets sewn up.

KO and NX were then taken over by a the Austereo network and were to tackle HD/NEW.

Bill Caralis then bought HD/NEW and NEW's listener base steadily went back to NX-FM.

David Collins and Tanya Wilks left 2HD. Tanya went overseas with her husband. DC just left.

David Collins and Tanya Wilks returned to Newcastle on KO FM. It is now positioned to capture a lot of the former HD audience (footy , DC & TW) but it has a more modern sound and a wide music mix to appeal to a younger audience.

NX is the teen station; but it also has widened its music to appeal to an older audience.

NEW FM struggles. In country markets, there is one AM and one FM licence ~ usually owned by the same group. Bil C owns many of these and they work where there is no competition. He fails to recognise that 2HD, 2SM and NEW FM are in competitive markets and so treats the potential audiences as he does the country listeners with no commercial choice.

2HD has slipped over the years. The breakfast show with Luke Grant is good radio. 9-12 with Steve Price is OK. 12-3 is Super Radio Network time coming out of the HD studio. 3-5 the same host continues with a local program. 5-7 is talkin'Sport from 2SM (also across the Super radio Network (awful name that). Then Talk Tonight across the SRN from 2SM appeals to the oldies from 7pm-midnight and a networked program from 2HD fills the SRN from midnight to dawn (5am) when Grant Goldman is networked from 2SM for either 30 or 60 minutes depending upon when the local breakfast hosts start (5.30 am in Newcastle).
A bit more to add to about Newcastle radio .....
I think NX (and also 2NM Muswellbrook) were also owned by 2SM's owners, the Catholic Church, back in the 80s (hence the 'affiliation').
There used to be a lot of Christian type messages (30 secs or so) aired on NX then (with the tagline of something like "brought to you by the Catholic Church").
Also, 2NX used the ID "2NXNM" at night time (when 2NM took a direct 2NX feed).

When 2NX first went to FM in 1992, it was known as X107FM (rather than X106).... It went to an "Always Great Rock & Roll" format shortly before changing it's name back to NXFM in late 1993 (I think).
That was mostly modern hits (with something of a 'grungy' feel to it).

2NX beat 2KO in switching to the FM band by 5 months (NX in May 92 and KO in Oct 92).
The 2 FM conversion licences were originally going to be auctioned, before 2HD decided that they wanted to remain on AM.
Tests were carried out on 100.5 FM to see whether it was suitable for a 3rd FM conversion.
I think interference to Television Channel 3 reception ruled that one out.

Apparently, according to another post somewhere on this forum (I think), the frequency allocations of 102.9 and 106.9 between KO and NX were decided by a coin toss.
KO won and chose 102.9 because they didn't want to be next to 2GO Gosford on the dial (2GO converted to 107.7 in Feb 1992).
(So yes, we could have had X103 rather than X107 for instance!).

After KO moved to FM, SBS radio moved from 1584khz to KO's old AM frequency (1413).
This allowed for a power increase to the SBS signal.
...a bit more to add about 2NX.
After NEWFM came on the scene & 2NX listener ship dropped, they tried a Classic Hits format that was aligned with 2UW (Sydney) at the time, it was successful but wasn't clawing back the young listeners from NEWFM & as 2NX wanted desperately to be back at No.1 where they had been, they dropped Classic Hits & even dropped the iconic 2NX call sign in about march '91 (I think).
Wanting to totally start fresh & launch a new station (not just re-launch an old one) to take on the new NEWFM, they applied to the ABA (as it was then) & officially changed the licence call sign from 2NX to 2XX, they then had 2 days (over a weekend) with only music (no talking or no ads) as an official test broadcast & launched on Monday morning as All New, All Hit Radio X13, the day/weekend 2NX died never to return. 

Upon changing to FM, the licence call sign became 2XXX FM (as it remains today) & they became X107 still All New, All Hit Radio.
In '93 Hunter Broadcasters, owner of 2NM & X107 FM was split & sold, Radio Newcastle bought X107 & the Cameron's bought Hunter Broadcasters & took control of 2NM Muswellbrook.

Late '93 or early '94 (not sure), X107 was re branded to NXFM (on air id only) moved out of the 770 Hunter St Newcastle West Studios up to Charlestown with KOFM & changed to a Always Great Rock & Roll Format & stayed that way till Austereo bought Radio Newcastle in the late '90s, it was then icons of Newcastle & Australian radio started to be sacked from KO & NX, & Austereo started bringing in Sydney drop-outs or new potential Sydney/Melbourne talent & using it as a nursery/retirement home, this didn't work, & it wasn't until BOG self destructed NEWFM that NXFM got back to the top where it was all those years ago, the rest they say is history.
While NX & KO are now at the top & doing very well, it's not necessarily what Newcastle wants or likes, but there is effectively no competitor for them & they are the best available at the moment.

Personal Note: Even though the icon 2NX is dead, it still lives on in my heart & house as it was back in the pre - '90s. I still have a 2NX T-shirt that takes pride of place in my wardrobe I got in 1981, with the rainbow coloured band around it with 2NX More Music on the front & Summer is, on the back, also I have some furniture that came out of the 2NX hunter street studios, that dad bought at the auction when he was starting up his business (I'm kicking myself now that I didn't have more money at the time to buy some of the 2NX, X13, X107 signs off the building & promotional stuff), I do have a filing cabinet complete with stickers from other radio stations on it, a whiteboard, a credenza/cupboard, but unfortunately the executive desk chair has passed on.
I was also lucky enough to be doing work experience at NXFM in '94 when the Always Geat Rock & Roll stickers & T-shirts were released & the program director gave me a T-shirt & a pile of stickers straight out of the box (along with staff) before public release, (still have most of the stickers & the t-shirt too). 
Who are some of the great on air talent that has been on 2NX?

Most of the Icons I was talking about were working at KOFM at this time however re-2NX are you talking from the 70'-'80s or at the time of Austereo taking over in the late '90's?

At the time of Austereo, if I remember, Todd Sergent was on NXFM moving on to 2NURFM, Carol Duncan now ABC Newcastle/NSW, long time 2NX jock Don Dawkins, now at 2CA Canberra, David Jones aka DJ long time 2NX jock working at KOFM at that time though, John Mc Gahen General manager at the time, Graham Rodgers may or may not have still been working there when Austereo took over (I can't remember) so I'll put him in both this list & from the past list.

Some from the past, Garry Suprain, Jim Pike, Dick Commerford, Reg Gazzard, Gordon McMillan, Jon Blake, Stewart Horne, Brian James, Rick Manchin, Gary Mac, Graham Rodgers.

I'll add more as/if I think of them, in the 70's & 80's 2NX along with 2SM & 3XY were the places to be if you wanted to be at the top & those that were there were. 
Some from the past, Garry Suprain, Jim Pike, Dick Commerford, Reg Gazzard, Gordon McMillan, Jon Blake, Stewart Horne, Brian James, Rick Manchin, Gary Mac, Graham Rodgers.

Garry Suprain was hired for NX, I recall from Brisbane when DJ left to work in Melbourne.
Jim Pike was at the time doing mid-dawn.
They engaged in banter at change of shifts and management saw the potential and so 'Garry and Jim' or "Pike and Suprain" became  a great breakfast team.
Suprain later went back to Brisbane, I think, and Pike went on to many things including working on Burke's Backyard (TV version).

Does anyone know if Garry Suprain is still involved in broadcasting?
was that the same Garry Suprain that was on 3XY in Melbourne in the '80s? 

BTW, It was X107 ~ not X106 as I mentioned ~ I knew it was X and related to frequency but should have rounded 106.9 up to 107!

Later DJ (David Jones, not his real name) returned to Newcastle to do Drive on 2HD briefly and then moved to KO Breakfast. 
Here's some more.
John Henry @ 2KO '70s/'80s?, Mal Headstrom @ 2KO/KOFM '80s/early '90s, Richard King @ 2KO/KOFM '80s/early '90s, Andy Simpson @ 2KO/KOFM '80's early '90s & still there, Tina Bernice @ 2KO? KOFM early '90s, Pat Barton @ 2KO & 2HD various times between '70s - mid '90s, Kev Kellaway @ 2KO/KOFM '80s/early 90's, John Paul Young (JPY) @ NewFM early '90s, Garth Russel @ NewFM early '90s, Peter Mobbs @ NewFM early '90s, David Huth @ NXFM early '90s, Brad Carr @ 2HD '80s, John Laws @ 2KO '60s?, pretty sure Tim Webster did a stint at either 2KO or 2HD in the late '60s or '70s, Ray Waite @ 2KO '70s/'80s, 
there's a few more right on the tip of my tongue but I just can't spit their names out, I'll add them later if I can get them out. 
And there's more....
... John Paul Young (JPY) @ NewFM early '90s, Garth Russel @ NewFM early '90s, Peter Mobbs @ NewFM early '90s, ....

Peter Mobbs did NEW-FM's first night shift when it first went to air in April 1989 (20 years ago!).

Other DJs from NEW's early days included Gavin Comber (mornings), and Chris 'Fletch' Fletcher, who joined Mobbs as the other half of the 'Mobbs and Fletch' duo that did nights in 1989-1990.

Young Spiro (so-called as he was the guy that was always winning prizes on NEW-FM sponsored by local record store Sound World, which was owned by a bloke called Spero) ended up with his own shift as well, I think...

His real name is Bill McFerrin also better known as Billy, yes he eventually got his own shift, he used to hang out at the NEWFM studios most days after school & seeing as he was there so much they thought they might as well give him a job. He worked at NXFM for quite a while behind the scenes in the early '90s, before getting a shift there too, & he actually trained me to be a panel operator at NXFM, (back in the days before computers, when everything was done manually, playing CD's, Carts & Reel to Reel tape).

Steve Graham did brekky with Garth Russell as the 'Garth and Steve' duo on NEW in the early 90s also.

I think Maynard F Crabbes (formerly JJJ) also did some shifts at NEW around 1990 or thereabouts too... 
Some technical history for those young ones... Take 40 Australia used to arrive at the station on usually 4 tape reels that had to be changed approx. every half hour, so a panel op. had to be in the studio to load up & change over the tapes. The panel op. also had the weeks playlist, so if anything happened to the tape or tape decks, the panel op. could continue the countdown by playing the music themselves off CD's, albeit without the chatter from the host, same for all similar programs. Never happend to me, but I do know of occasions where the tape tangled up in the deck & couldn't continued to be played. 
Billy McFerrin Now a PD in Tassie, I think. Nice guy.... 
Mal Hedstrom began in Newcastle at 2NX as the floater. He has worked for NX, KO and HD. He was at 2KA for Penrith relaunch in 1978. (info thanks to John Rogers)
Andy Simpson came to Newcastle from 7HO Hobart to do drive on 2NX when DJ did breakfast. They both later moved to KOFM. Andy is still there.

Garth Russel is now at 1233 (2NC ABC)
Tim Webster has worked for NX, KO and HD doing music and talk shifts
Ray Waite also worked for both KO and HD.

Alan McGirvan (the first voice on 2JJ (double J Rock  on AM, before it became JJJ on FM) was the breakfast good guy on 2HD. (2HD was linked with 2SM before 2NX was) He went to HD after KO. He started as a booth announcer at NBN  (info thanks to John Rogers)

Mike Jeffreys also did a talk back show on both HD and KO before going to UE, UW and is now doing breakfast on ABC in Canberra , I believe.
Yes, Doug Mulley was on WS long ago (circa '79), but the David Mulley referred to elsewhere (no relation) is the one of 2UE/2KO fame.  He was a young jock in the '60s who became GM of 2KO for some time in the '70s and '80s...before Wesgo bought KO in the mid '80sLast heard of running (owning??) a trophy shop in the Newcastle area.
Also other Newcastle radio stars from what were (in my opinion) - a few that spring to mind are Pat Barton, John Laws, Matt Hayes,  Gray Clark, Mike Jefferys, David Mulley, Clif Musgrave, Art Ryan, John Hill, Alan McGirvan, Rod Spargo, Graeme Gilbert, Twink Story, Dick Comerford, Malcolm T, Tony "Music" Williams.
Phil Hunter was a star in his own right during these heady day of Radio. If I have a good look through the notes in my old diaries I can come up with dozens of others that worked in Newcastle Radio in the 50's, 60's and 70's. Radio was fun in those days before accountants and corporations found out that radio licences were a milch cow!
Besides the studio at the Newcastle Showground I also remember the 2KO OB studios at Jesmond Centre and Kotara Fair - the punters loved it - I know because I was one of those kids pressing his snotty nose up against the glass!  I have always wanted to worked on the wireless but now at 59 I'm still at the bank - some would think I'm lucky I guess looking at what has happened to the radio industry since they started handing out BAs in Communications to idiots!


Recent local radio notes:

Radio Newcastle Pty Ltd
Around the 10th July 1990, Word had got around that Wesgo Communications Pty Ltd had to unload 2KO as soon as possible. Within a couple of hours, a consortium of local business people formed a new company, Radio Newcastle Pty Ltd, where just in a few days a 'trust unit' was formed, to purchase 2KO from Westgo.
On October 12, 1992, we transformed the old 2KO AM station into the all new KOFM.

As we were in an expansion mode, and in moving along, 2NX was also purchased by Radio Newcastle Pty Ltd from an entity within the Snowy Mountains group
Later 2NX was also transformed to NXFM
The next step was for us to purchase 2GO in Gosford, as we had reached the 'crossroads'
during the next board meeting it had to be decided on which path we follow.  To march forward and purchase more radio stations to increase profitability or sell and capitalize. 

At this stage in time there was a lot of uncertainty in the radio industry so it was decided by the board to sell both KOFM and NXFM.  

On the 22nd Jan 1996 Radio Newcastle Pty Ltd sold the company including the new KOFM and NXFM to the Austereo Network


Hunter Valley radio call signs and their meanings.

By: Mike Scanlon/Newcastle Herald 26 JAN 2012

Memories are fading. People might forget that commercial radio history and the important role the famous Lamb family and Allen Fairhall played up here.
Well, it's far too big a subject to cover fully here, so I'll merely touch on the Fairhall legacy. 
It's a fascinating yarn of how a once amateur wireless enthusiast started Radio 2K0 (now KOFM with a sister station NXFM).
It was August 1931, in the depths of the Great Depression. Despite few funds, 2K0 grew to become one of Australia's leading regional radio stations.
Launched from a suburban house, the licensee's dining room was 2K0's first studio. Fairhall (later Sir Allen) then became a politician, rose to become the nation's defence minister and, people say, could have been Prime Minister had he ever nominated. 

But now back to Dungog's main street early last winter. There, on public display in the front window of a local bakery, was a broadcasting relic - an almost historic mini-radio studio, full of dark dials, knobs and record turntables, part of Dungog community radio station 107.9FM. "The equipment's not there now though. It's been dismantled and is in my garage," owner and former valley radio identity David Sayers revealed. "This 1969-70 broadcast equipment was used there until last August. A lot of its components were from the same year as the moon landing. That's why it worked wonderfully and lasted so long.
The equipment's as tough as old nails,"he said."I bought it from the old 2K0 before it moved to Charlestown because it was so reliable." Sayers said he was no longer involved with the Dungog radio station.
This "Voice of the Valley" was now instead called "Dungog Shire's Own".

"As for Valley radio call signs, I believe the KO in 2K0 stood for Fairhall's Newcastle suburb of Kotara, and Oregon. His [13-metre] backyard timber mast to broadcast was made out of Oregon," Sayers said.
He said the old call sign 2CK stood for Cessnock, but there was a mistaken belief Radio 2HD might be shorthand for "Hunter district". "It's actually named after Harry Douglas, the man who started the station [in 1925]," Sayers said. Twiddling radio dials in the past used to be a simple thing. Now there's at least 27 listed Hunter Valley radio stations (mostly FM) crowding the airwaves from Woy Woy to Port Stephens and Upper Hunter. They include Christian and hospital radio operations to stations such as 2CHR-FM (for Central Hunter Community Radio) and 2G0 at Gosford. Even Newcastle radio veteran John McGahen was surprised."In the old Newcastle days, about the 1960s, there were only 2HD, 2K0, 2NX and the ABC," he said.

McGahen, a retired general manager of 2NUR-FM as well as 2K0 and NXFM and 2NM (at Muswellbrook), has seen many changes over the years. "The real story behind the early radio call signs 2NX and 2NM is that NX was actually a wartime prefix to designate our servicemen who had 
gone overseas. NM was the code for those who stayed in Australia," he said. "I also remember that in 1978 all AM radio frequencies had to be changed to get more band space. For example. Radio 2K01410 went to 1413, while 2NX1360 went to 1341. I think that old spot is now Racing Radio," McGahen said. Popular 2NUR-FM community radio volunteer Russell Thornton later gave more insights into the radio game.

"Back in the mid-1950s, the old gramophones had the station on their radio dials, but 2NX wasn't there. So management then had the clever idea of getting its people to doorknock listeners asking if they would like to have their radio's tuned". he said. "After they did that, they also left a little red sticker on the dial so people could easily find 2NX again.

"And up at Radio 2CK an announcer was once blamed for burning the station down after accidentally leaving a heater on overnight.

Thanks to - Mike Scanlon / Newcastle Herald 26 JAN 2012 for the previous article.


Up and coming soon.... 
  • Radio Newcastle Pty Ltd is made up of local Newcastle business people.
  • Wesgo regional manager, Mr John McGahen is appointed General Mgr 2KO, 
  • 2KO from around 1989
  • How and why we purchased 2NX from Snowy Mountains Radio Pty Ltd
  • the two camps 2KO & NEWFM 
  • shareholders revolt
  • the undoing
  • Radio Newcastle Pty Ltd. sells KOFM & NXFM to The Austereo Network


Thanks to all the contributors..... Spero Davias 2014 

(updated 2016)



  1. Fantastic information
    Have been searching for any info about my late grandfather John Douglas who I believe was a broadcaster with the then 2nx in the 1950s/60s any info greatly appreciated
    Troy Douglas

  2. Mal Hedstrom was at 2KA for Penrith relaunch in 1978.

  3. McGirvan went to HD after KO. He started as a booth announcer at NBN.

  4. Very enjoyable blog Spero. Am convinced the first song played on NEW-FM was 'It's A Long Way To The Top' but the
    version by John Farnham from The 'Age OF Reason' album.

  5. Hey Spero, what a mammoth job of research, yeh I'm a little late to reading this! I worked with a lot of these people from 1972 til 1981 at both 2KO & 2HD. The 70's was a fantastic time to be in radio, just so much happening in music especially Oz. I have many wonderful memories of these people and still catch up today. Not to take away from anyone I worked with but, I had a fantastic time with Pat Barton at 2KO, nothing like seeing that happy smiling face at 3.30 am to start your day! Cheers steve tippett

  6. For the high tech buffs out there, check out the added "The Technical side...." on the 2KO story..