Radio - the 2MW story

2MW broadcasting at the Junior Chamber of Commerce Trade Fair, C.1965. Photographer George Anderson
2MW broadcasting at the Junior Chamber of Commerce Trade Fair, C.1965. Photographer George Anderson

The Postmaster-General's Department of the Commonwealth of Australia first issued The Tweed Radio and Broadcasting Company Pty Ltd with a broadcasting station licence under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905-1936 (Licence No 127) in 1936.

The license allowed 2MW to erect a Broadcasting Station at Murwillumbah "one and ¾ miles North East from Murwillumbah Post Office" and to operate from 6 November 1936 to 5 November 1938.

Application for the commercial radio licence was made by Mr A A (Arthur Aubrey, known as Aub) Budd, A C Pratt, F E Nicholl as Directors, and J A Small as Secretary of the Tweed Radio and Broadcasting Company Pty Ltd.

The company had been incorporated on 30 November 1936 and sought shareholders among the local community. Following a slow start it was ultimately established with 75% of shares held by the Budd Group and 25% by the Tweed Daily. Members of the original board of the Tweed Radio and Broadcasting Company included “Mr F E Nicoll, Mr J T Raward, Mr A C Pratt, Mr J C Price, the latter two representing the Tweed Daily, and Mr A Budd as Chairman.

The official opening of the station and first 2MW broadcast took place on the evening of 2 September 1937, only 5 years after the commencement of broadcasting by the Australian Broadcasting Company - ABC). The program for the opening night broadcast was published in that day's edition of the Tweed Daily.

The official opening was performed by the Minister for Works and Local Government (Hon. E.S. Spooner, MLA) and was preceded by a formal dinner to mark the occasion, held at the Hotel Murwillumbah. The guest list for the dinner together with quotes from a number of the speeches given during the opening broadcast were published in an article in the Tweed Daily the following day (3 September).

The Tweed Daily article (3 September) declared “The function [dinner] was attended by a large gathering representative of interests and public bodies embraced in the area from Brisbane to Lismore, and the various speakers were generous in their praise of the station and the benefits it would confer on the area to be served.” Following the dinner the party adjourned to the broadcasting station in Condong Road for the official opening.

Among the first words spoken by Mr A A Budd (as Chair of the 2MW Board of Directors) at the inauguration of Radio 2MW were ‘our earnest ambition is to provide a service that will be of material benefit to all sections of the community. I feel very confident", he continued "that this station, which I may say is your station, will prove to be not only a most useful commercial medium, but will be valued greatest because of the part it will play in the advancement of education and knowledge of affairs, the musical art, social intercourse, sport, and all those things which go to make the lives of people more useful and happier".

The role played by Mr T A Small in initiating the action which ultimately led to the granting of a licence to the Company and in "setting in motion the forces which were responsible for station 2MW being on the air" were also acknowledged by Mr Budd.

Standard Telephones and Cables (Australasia) Ltd, and Lekmek Radio Laboratories were acknowledged for their supply of transmitting and studio equipment; Mr L N Schultz, consulting engineer for his advice on complex technical matters, Mr P S Buchanan and Mr H P Hancock for their role as architects, and Mr Mervyn Vardy builder.

2MW became a vital part of the Tweed community, developing from a station that broadcast a few hours a day to one which was on the air 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

Early shows included Tong’s Hilbilly Harmonies, These Old Shades, and Swap Shop. For a while the station broadcast from the School of Arts on a Saturday morning, with children coming in to sing and dance. This was called The Smile Club and was very popular. Church services on Sunday mornings were also broadcast to the public.

2MW was vital in emergency situations, keeping the community informed. The station pioneered the shark patrols on local beaches, flying with Cliff Lanhan and broadcasting where the sharks had been spotted.

In 1986, 2MW was acquired by Northern Star Holdings. By 1987, the station was known as Easy Listening 97 and operated from a studio at Tweed Heads South, broadcasting from Broadbeach to Byron Bay. Now Radio 97 is part of the Super Radio Network, encompassing over 20 stations around New South Wales.