27 April 2009

John Pearce at 3SH Swan Hill

[The Argus, 1932]

For the Love of Mike, the memoirs of Australian radio announcer John Pearce, were published online a few years ago. His radio career starts just after the War, when he chanced upon a job at 2QN Deniliquin after he was de-mobbed from the RAAF. He went on to 3SH Swan Hill, 7HO Hobart, and to 2GB Sydney, where he was one of the pioneers of Australian talk-back radio.

Pearce's site is no longer online, but fortunately we can still access the whole work at the Internet Archive [title page, table of contents].

Being a radio fanatic from way back, I find this insider's view of radio irresistible, especially the chapter on 3SH, our local station during my teenage years. Pearce seems to have been at 3SH around the late 40s to early 1950s.

Pearce calls 3SH a "fun station", a "happy station", and this comes through in his reminiscences. There are plenty of endearing characters and entertaining stories: the outside broadcast at a local dance (how quaint!), hillbilly amateurs on the Christmas Appeal radiothon, grappling with a local politician to make sure he stayed near the mike, locking the duty announcer in the outside dunny while a three-minute song was playing...

The station manager at 3SH was Harry Lithgow, still there when we moved to Swan Hill in 1961. I believe Chief Engineer Bernie Walsh was still around then too.

Since For the Love of Mike has disappeared from an active website, and does not seem to have been published as a book, I'm posting the chapter on 3SH, which gives a great insight into the workings of a country commercial station in the pre-rock'n'roll era.

Victorians to the North:

Chapter 7 of John Pearce - For the Love of Mike

In the days when broadcasting meant radio, and not television and/or radio, the Victorian Broadcasting Network consisted of a head office in Melbourne and three country radio stations.

The main one was in Hamilton, the second best was in Sale and what was left went to Swan Hill, way north on the River Murray, the dividing line between Australia and Victoria. I got a job as an announcer at the latter. I can't remember how I got it, not even how I learned about it. Read it in the paper, maybe. However, it was mine; and I arrived after the adventure of the drive in my vintage Hupmobile...

Continued here...

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