25 July 2021

Those D.J. Shows: country radio in late 60s Victoria


That joyous early Supremes song Those D.J. Shows strikes a chord with me. It's about getting out of school and racing home to listen to a Top 40 record show. YouTube Spotify

Even in country Victoria, where I grew up, it wasn't unusual to find a late afternoon radio show aimed at teenage pop fans. Maryborough station 3CV even had one called DJ Show.  

Further north, in Swan Hill, it was the 1330 Show on 3SH (1330 kHz) which held phone-in polls that seem quaint from this distance: Are you a rocker or a jazzer? or Mods versus surfies! Remarkable, considering that this was around late 1963, when the afternoon and evening highlights on 3SH included 4pm Back to the Bible, 6:45 Dad and Dave, and 8:30pm Old-time Dance.

The 1966 ad for 3CV (above) is from the teenage pop magazine Go-Set, showcasing 3CV disc jockeys Rod Batchelder, John McPhee and Graham Lever. It reflects how I remember some country radio from the late 1960s. The graphics are groovy, and the music format is Top 40. 

Like some other commercial country stations in the late 1960s, 3CV was following the big city trend of programming Top 40 music hosted by disc jockeys. I was a teenager who was picky about both music and radio, but I never hesitated to listen to 3CV Maryborough or 3SH Swan Hill as alternatives to the capital city Top 40 stations. (One or the other was always nearby, depending on whether I was away at school or back home at my parents' place.) A bonus was that you could hear some great songs that weren't being played on the big city stations.

My memory of a golden era of country pop radio might be a little selective, though, as I saw when I looked up some of the Country Radio guides in Melbourne's Age newspaper. 

At that time, in 1966, traditional content still dominated across the 13 commercial stations* in regional Victoria. Listings like these hardly suggest wall-to-wall Top 40: 11:40am Friendship Club (3SR), 10:15am Singalong (3SR), 3:15pm Variety Fair (3BO), and 8:30pm Bible Speaks To You (3HA).

Several serials were still on air across the state, including Dr Paul (3BO, 3CV, 3HA, 3NE, 3SH, 3TR). The serials were disappearing from Australian radio, and in the capital city Melbourne by this time only 3DB was still airing them. The networked radio quiz shows - Quiz Kids, Winner Take All, Pick-a-Box  and all - had already folded or migrated to TV which came to Australia in 1956.

When I looked at 3CV's schedule in the Country Radio guide around the time of the  Go-Set ad, I was surprised to see that it doesn't mention deejays Batchelder, McPhee and Lever, nor does it name the programs from the ad. 

Batchelder's Big Breakfast Show is easy to spot - 6am Breakfast Show - and you can guess that McPhee's Big 100, or Lever's Go Go Show fitted in somewhere to 2pm Hits, 4pm Teen Beat, and 7pm Music. Not as exciting as the THE GREATEST SHOW IN VICTORIA the Go Go Show, though. (3CV's DJ Show came later.)

In the capital city radio guide in the same paper, top-rating Top 40 station 3UZ had for some time listed most of its programs as deejay shows - DON LUNN - Breakfast session, STAN ROFE SHOW, KEN SPARKES SHOWso I had expected something similar.
In fact the only on-air name to appear in the 3CV schedule is 11:30am Binnie Lum, the notable women's broadcaster who had been dropped by Melbourne station 3XY in 1964 but survived on the regional Victorian Broadcasting Network (VBN).

Certainly, there's nothing much in the Guide to suggest that 3CV was THE STATION THAT'S GETTING THE COUNTRY GO-GOING From Victoria's Swingin' Centre. Perhaps it was a lack of space, or perhaps the writer of the Go-Set ad didn't coordinate with whoever typed up the schedule for The Age. Even so, I do remember listening to deejay shows on 3CV, but I suppose I would have twiddled the dial when anything else came on.


Up on the Murray River at 3SH Swan Hill in 1966, some of the station's on-air personalities were starting to appear in the printed schedule. The ubiquitous 10am Dr Paul serial is still there, and so is 11:30am Binnie Lum (VBN again) along with networked cooking celebrity 11:15am Graham Kerr. But there are also some local names: 9am Alan Kidd Ladies' Show, 12pm Mal Sutton and 4pm Bob Taylor. Still hanging on were early evening serials 6:45pm Dad and Dave and 7:15pm Three Brothers, and that country radio fixture from the USA, 9:30pm Back to the Bible

By 1968, though, it was wall-to-wall disc jockeys at 3SH. (The 3SH ad above is from Go-Set in June 1967). No serials, no specified "ladies" show, and no American evangelism (not in the program guide, anyway); just 5am Denis O'Kane Show, 9am Mal Sutton Show, 12pm Barry Bissell Show, 4pm Bob Taylor, 7 pm John Browne, with news at least hourly. This looks a lot like the DJ oriented schedule of 3UZ. The entry for 3SH in the Australian Radio Almanac (1967) uses the phrase strictly top 40 format.

3SH's Barry Bissell became a legend of Australian radio, best known through his years at FOX-FM in Melbourne and as founding host of the national Take 40 Australia

In a 2019 Swan Hill Guardian interview, Barry recalls the change from “very old school” programming to a "hits format" soon after he joined 3SH in 1967 when he was still a teenager. He says, “There was a box of 45s (records) in the studio, and an A, B and C list, but I cheated all the time and played my favourites; which everybody did.” This sort of personal input might help to explain my impression that the records on a country station could depart from what was heard in the big city. 

In 1968, 3TR Sale* was also listing deejays' names as program titles: 5am Laurie Miller, 9:30am Sam Gales, 2:30pm Keith Wells, and 5pm George Danes.  

Other stations list only one or two on-air names, but to be fair there are programs scattered throughout the Country Radio schedules that were probably filled with Top 40 music. Apart from the generic 2pm Music (3NE but common across the board), they include the aforementioned  5pm DJ Show, plus 7 pm Top 40 Hits in DJ Show to Midnight (3CV), 6pm Teentime (3HA), and 5:45pm Latest Hits from the Charts (3UL). There could even be some pop hits behind the neutral 7:30pm Evening Show (3HA), and although 4pm Music for Moderns (3CS) is an ungroovy name, the timeslot is right for an after-school deejay show.

Other examples don't really scream "Top 40": 10:30pm Jazz Club (3YB), 10:40pm Armchair Melodies (3BA), 7:15pm Light and Lovely (3GL), and 8:30pm Serenade (3SR), so the trend wasn't unanimously followed. 

Although I remember the music, country radio was full of other content. Country stations served their local communities in the way that the local newspapers did. As Barry Bissell says, it was "market reports, funeral announcements, dedications to those in hospital". They aired networked content and syndicated shows distributed on records, but they had a full roster of local announcers from opening to closing.

There were shows for children such as 4:35pm Children (3NE) and (I'm guessing) 4pm Sunshiners' Club (3MA); and women's shows 2pm Women's Corner (3BA), 9am Women's Mag (3GL). In their heyday, some women's shows had active clubs with an off-air presence, as the 3SH Women's Club had with its own club-rooms. A surprising number of religious programs were aired, especially but not necessarily on Sundays: 3:45pm Christian Science (3BO), 5:30pm Religion (3BA), 9pm Salvation Army (3NE).

These days, it's sad to see multiple stations carrying identical lineups from a distant hub, sometimes with only one or two local announcers. Increasingly, this happens in a town where the local paper is struggling or has closed down. On the bright side, many country towns now have a thriving community radio station, including 99.1 SmartFM in Swan Hill and Goldfields FM in Maryborough Vic.

Back in the day, regional commercial radio could even do proper local news coverage. One night in Swan Hill in 1963, when it seemed half the town turned out to see a fire that had broken out in a timber yard, we were joined by 3SH's Ken Guy with a portable recorder, covering the story for the next day's News. 

I shared that with Ken on a Facebook thread not long ago. He said he didn't remember it, but it sounded right. It's good to know that not all my memories of country radio are faulty.

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Those D.J. Shows
Right now, I'm in school
But as soon as the homebell rings
I'm gonna run to my locker
And gather up all my things
Then out the door
Running home I'll go
Faster than a new jet plane
And then turn on my radio
I'm gonna listen to those D.J. shows
I'm gonna be diggin' that rock 'n' roll
If I don't I'll go insane

This was an early Supremes track written and produced by William "Smokey" Robinson. It didn't make their first album Meet The Supremes and remained unreleased until an expanded edition of the album in 2010. [Also on Spotify]

Patrice Holloway also recorded a version, also unreleased until years later. YouTube

- - -

3SH was clearly serious about promoting its on-air personalities, as seen in the Go-Set ad for 3SH (above, in text). Of all the Victorian country stations listed in the 1967 Australian Radio Almanac [view here], it has the biggest entry. Note the phrase strictly top 40 format. .


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Click here for all posts at this blog about 3SH (or mentioning it).

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VBN: the Victorian Broadcasting Network, 1965 trade ad.



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The Victorian commercial country stations listed in the Country Radio guide in The Age in the 1960s, with their call-signs and frequencies at that time.

3BA Ballarat 1320 kcs (kHz)
3BO Bendigo 960
3CS Colac 1130
3CV Maryborough 1440
3GL Geelong 1350
3HA Hamilton 1000
3MA Mildura 1470
3NE Wangaratta 1600
3SH Swan Hill 1330
3SR Shepparton 1260
3TR Sale 1240*
3UL Warragul 530
3YB Warrnambool 1210

3LK Lubeck 1090, near Horsham (now 3WM), was mainly a relay station for 3DB Melbourne and wasn't listed in the Country Radio guides.

*3TRFrom 1930 it was in Trafalgar but moved to Sale in 1932 then to Traralgon in 1989. Even earlier, in 1929, it was an amateur station 3FB owned by Frank Berkery.

Australian AM stations were changed in 1978 to space them at 9 kHz intervals instead of the original 10 kHz.

13 July 2021

Australian Radio Almanac (c.1967): Victoria

I have a copy of the Australian Radio Almanac that I bought when it was published by The Age and Keith Winslet Publications. Trove estimates 1967, although it could be 1968. It was probably a one-off publication. 

It is a small, slim booklet with a national map of station locations, lists of radio stations, and other features of interest to radio fans. 

The highlight, though, is Voices of Australian Radio, 30 pages of thumbnail photos and brief written notes about Australian announcers on commercial radio and the ABC.

The coverage of stations is uneven. Melbourne's high-rating  3UZ has 0 notes and 3 photos, while 2GB Sydney covers 4 pages, with some quite detailed notes. Even regional station 3SH Swan Hill has 6 notes and 6 photos each.

Perhaps it depended on material supplied by the stations and some were more interested than others, or perhaps there was a subscription plan.

Physical copies of the book are held by five Australian libraries: go to Trove and click on Borrow (5).

As a sample, here are the cover and the pages for Victoria.

Click on image for larger view.


22 March 2021

The Zazous, from recklessness to the Resistance.

Philippe Edouard, PopArchives correspondent in France, looks into an unlikely youth movement in Occupied France. This is almost a prequel to his post on 1960s yé-yé.

In January 1964, The Beatles set out to conquer the world, beginning their journey at L’Olympia in Paris. The day after the first concert, the newspaper France-Soir took the group down with the headline: “The Beatles: old zazous made over by yé-yé, their yé-yé is the worst we have heard in four years."

We know what yéyé is, but what did the journalist mean when he called the Fab Four zazous?

From the end of the First World War, Europe succumbed to jazz. At the start of the 1930s, Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grapelli invented a purely French style, jazz manouche (gypsy jazz), which combined jazz, gypsy music and musette, but without percussion or brass. This genre was all the rage with youth, even as everything was still being influenced by the USA and the arrival of the more universal "swing" jazz. 

Swing! The word is out. Far beyond jazz, swing refers to a state of mind.

In 1938 Johnny Hess (who sang in duet with Charles Trenet from 1933 to 1937) achieved a huge success with Je suis swing with the refrain  Je suis swing, je suis swing, zazou, zazou, zazou, zazou dé , inspired by Cab Calloway's piece Zaz Zuh Zaz which he had admired in concert at the Salle Pleyel in Paris in 1934.

Some amateur musicologists argue convincingly that the father of the zazous is the American musician Freddy Taylor (also as Freddie). A pillar of New York's Cotton Club, he arrived in Europe in 1933 with his combo and his impressive dandy wardrobe that included the famous zoot suit. His repertoire mesmerised the audience with the outrageous onomatopoeia of scat singing. He moved to Paris where he ran a club in Montmartre and worked with the stars of jazz. This did not prevent him from continuing to tour, and he was a remarkable success in Rotterdam. By chance or not, the Netherlands saw a movement similar to the zazous.

In June 1940, France was about to live out four years under German occupation and its tragedies and deprivations.

Despite the fury of the people, Johnny Hess’s song continued to cheer up those who decided to live free, at least in spirit, especially young people from generally wealthy families. These lovers of swing were called zazous, in homage to Hess's hit. They invented a counter-culture, displaying a strong taste for America and England, and an incredible dress style in that time of scarcity.

Wide pants with rolled up bottoms, long fitted jackets and big showy shoes, shoulder-length hair slicked back. The zazou walked with a closed umbrella whatever the weather, and wore sunglasses at all times.

The girls wore excessive make-up, and raised their hair above the forehead in a “crow's nest”. They wore tight-fitting sweaters that sometimes stopped above the navel, frilled shirts with tailored suits, quite short pleated skirts, and platform shoes or stiletto heels.

Sure of his phenomenal success, Johnny Hess did it again with Ils sont zazous.

Some French jazzmen benefited from the prohibition of Anglo-Saxon records by taking the opportunity to record these standards, give them a French title, and take the credits. A real plunder!

The dance venues were closed, and it was difficult to move around because of the curfew, even more so for the orchestras and their instruments. This did not prevent the zazous from continuing their carefree life at night, in the furnished cellars, dancing clandestinely to this forbidden music.

Meneurs de jeux (DJs) innovated by switching the 78s onto amplified record players. Thus in 1941 La discothèque opened, arguably the first modern dance-club in the world. One thing is certain, its name has stuck for all eternity.

In 1942 the film Mademoiselle swing was released, in which Irène de Trébert sang the song of the same name which had already been a big success over two years [YouTube]. In this feature film, we also hear the steadfast Johnny Hess and his eternal Je suis swing. Four years already!

In the field of war, the Allies gained the advantage, and the Nazis needed even more materials and men to make it. The prisoners were no longer enough, so they called for volunteers from the occupied countries who did not rush despite the promise of a salary. The Slavs were forcibly sent.

Faced with this fact, Germany imposed the STO1 on the Vichy government, and the early facade of politeness gave way to ferocity. The Germans and the collaborating militia took the zazous for degenerates. The régime de Vichy (Vichy regime) saw them as a dangerous influence on young people because the zazous refused the indoctrination of youth. They were sometimes discredited by the population and the Resistance who saw them as futile, selfish and anti-patriotic.

Yet some zazous defied the occupier. With the anti-semitic laws that obliged the Jews to wear the yellow star, the zazou, in solidarity, attached the star to their coats with a mention of swing or zazou. Most of them were arrested and interned before being released.

Like many young people who refused forced labor in Germany, the zazous went underground to take up arms.

In the summer of 1944 came liberation, swing was still alive, and it was Andrex who hit the mark with Y’a des zazous.

Popular until 1946, this style was being replaced by bebop. The underground cellars had become clubs like the Tabou or the Caveau des Lorientais where the Existentialistes in checkered lumberjack shirts, claiming to be zazous, danced the lindy hop whose baby would be called rock 'n' roll.

Occasionally, the zazous or swing were celebrated in song. In 1963, the duo Roger Pierre and Jean-Marc Thibault devoted an EP to it, Le temps des zazous, in the middle of the yéyé period.

In 1985, Pet Shop Boys sang In the night [YouTube]. Its composer Neil Tennant recounts the possible ambiguity of the zazou vis-à-vis the occupier [Lyrics]. It was David Pryce-Jones's book Paris in the Third Reich that gave him inspiration.

Let us leave the conclusion to Gérard de Cortanze2 in his novel Zazous. “Hunted down by the Germans, hunted down by collaborators, rejected by the Resistance, the Zazous did not want to change life, simply take advantage of their fifteen years. Of age by the end of the war, they had passed from childhood to adulthood and life was about to change them."


1. Service du Travail Obligatoire (Compulsory Labor Service). In addition to the 600,000 French workers sent to Germany, there were prisoners of war. About 1,500,000 French people are said to have worked for the Nazis between 1942 and 1945. France was the third largest supplier of forced labor after the USSR and Poland. 

2. Also author of ‘Laisse tomber les filles', a history devoted to yéyé. The link is obvious with regard to the zazou phenomenon.

Johnny Hess - Je Suis Swing (1938)

Johnny Hess - Ils sont zazous (1942)

Andrex - Y'a des zazous (1944)

Cab Calloway - Zaz Zuh Zaz (1933)Django Reinhardt and the Quintette du Hot Club de France, with Stéphane Grappelli (violin), Freddy Taylor (vocals) - I'se A Muggin' (1936)

25 February 2021

Toppermost of the poppermost: the charts

Occasionally a visitor to my website emails that they are not happy about the chart placings that I list for Australian records. They are usually people who are heard on those very records. That is is to say, artists.

There are two sources of disappointment: The Legendary International Hit and My Record Did Better Than That! The quotes below are not real examples. I'm improvising around the theme of emails I've had over the years from artists about the insultingly low chart placings I've listed for their records from the 50s, 60s, or 70s.

1. The Legendary International Hit
• Our manager definitely told us we were #10 in Los Angeles.
• We were shafted by the Aussie music business, but our record charted Top 20 in Pennsylvania!
• Oh yeah, we were big all over the world. #1 in Sweden, Greece and Czechoslovakia.

These claims are nearly always wrong, and I usually know that before I've checked the sources. 

You can also see statements like these in old newspaper stories. Back then, who was going to check any of this? There were no obsessive smart alecs like me who would go online and dig around till they found an answer. There was no "online", for a start.

If you said in 1965 that a record was big in Hungary, how would an Aussie music journo or the work experience kid from Go-Set know anything different? In any case, the effort and resources needed to do a fact-check would be ridiculous for a harmless little claim like that.

I wouldn't suggest that the artist made it up, because they seem sincerely to believe the legend. It's more likely to have originated with a creative publicist or journalist. Or a manager.

My favourite hypothesis is that somebody mailed a chart (in an envelope, with a stamp) from an obscure locality in the US where our artist was racing up the chart at the local radio station, and everyone jumped to the wrong conclusion. (How about a chart from WNRI Woonsocket, Rhode Island, say?) But more later on radio station charts.

Honourable mention In 1976, Sydney singer Jeff Hilder  told The Sun-Herald that he was back in Australia after living in Venezuela where he had been on the local charts. 

Yeah right, thought this smart alec. We'll see if that stands up to 21st century fact-checking. 

Well, it's not easy to find archival Venezuelan charts, but I found Jeff at #6 in Venezuela in February 1972 with a song called Mañana será otro día. Sorry I doubted you, mate.

2. My Record Did Better Than That!
• But we were #5 in Melbourne! Here's the actual 3DB chart that I clipped from the newspaper.
• How could I have been only #16 in Adelaide when I was #5 in Australia overall?

This is more complicated, partly because people have such faith in The Charts of the past. It's as if they were handed down in stone by some all-seeing data collector in the sky, who knows exactly how many 45s were sold in any week in 1965. So if they see #5 printed somewhere, it must be #5. Read on to see why not.

Retrospective charts The charts that we consult today for Australia in the 50s, 60s and 70s have been retrospectively compiled from whatever data is available from those years. This pretty much means radio station charts, also known as surveys. (It makes sense, given that the rise of the Top 40 chart, and the loose genre of Top 40 music, came from American radio in the 1950s.)

Each station with a music format would publish its own chart, distributed as a leaflet by music stores, or printed in the local paper. 

In larger cities there could be several charts, and they would all be different.

It wasn't until the 1980s that Australian record charts began to be based solely on reliable sales figures, when the national ARIA chart was established, initially using data from Kent Music Report. In 1997 ARIA started collecting data electronically, direct from music stores, giving rise to the modern concept of a music chart being based on hard sales data. Set in stone, you could say.

The pool of radio station charts would change over the years, as stations changed their formats or stopped publishing charts. For example, Gavin Ryan's Melbourne chart book uses 1967 charts from the 3DB Top 40, the 3AK Top 100, and 3UZ's Official Top 40 (officially 3UZ's, maybe, nothing more).

Radio charts Back then the radio charts were compiled from a number of sources. If a chart did list its sources, it might include record sales, listener requests, or audience surveys. For example, charts from 2UE Sydney and 4BK Brisbane in the 1960s cite "public survey" as well as sales. Public survey could mean anything, and would allow leeway in constructing a chart to reflect the station's playlist and its listeners' preferences.

It's not uncommon to find a song that charted at one station but not at another in the same city.

As chart collector and compiler Tom Guest puts it, At times 'hits' were played on one radio station only and thus appeared on their own charts and not on those produced by stations who, for various reasons, did not include the songs on their airplay lists.

Sales figures and radio charts Sales figures were based on samples rather than comprehensive data from every outlet in town. Wayne Mac, in his radio history Don't Touch That Dial, writes: To compile the 40 most popular songs, stations telephoned selected record stores in their area which reported sales figures on records and sheet music. In addition to raw sales figures, the position or ranking of the week's 40 most popular songs was also subject to overseas sales trends and a station's own predictions...

I don't believe the collection of sales data was always a rigorous process. The ring-arounds to local record stores could be as informal as asking what was selling. One of my reliable correspondents, who worked at a capital city record store, says that it depended on whoever happened to answer the phone, as it wasn't unusual for that person to boost their favourite records.

Retrospective charts can disagree The job of the latter-day chart compiler is to apply some kind of statistical method to reconcile the differences and come up with plausible charts for a city. 

At my website I use Gavin Ryan's charts for Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. For two cities there are alternatives: Tom Guest's Melbourne chart book (Thirty Years of Hits) and Top 40 Research's chart book for Sydney (The Book).

This could be confusing to a casual reader. If Gavin Ryan's Sydney chart book has The Rolling Stones' The Last Time peaking at #1 in April 1965, that's it, isn't it? Either The Last Time was #1 in Sydney or it wasn't. So how is it that the other Sydney chart book, The Book, has it peaking at #2

Sometimes the contrast is greater: down in Melbourne, Gavin Ryan has The Ray Price Quartet's A Moi De Payer (1962) at #6, Tom Guest has it at #24.

Clearly, these differences are partly down to differences in statistical methods. I'm not privy to these, but Tom Guest told me that he weighted his placings in favour of 3UZ, the highest rating Top 40 station in Melbourne during the 60s, something that makes good sense to me. Even so, Tom has The Groove's Simon Says peaking at #6, and it's Gavin who has it spot on the 3UZ peak at #4. (Add 3DB's #8 to the list and you have three different peaks for the song.)

Another variable is the availability of historic charts to each compiler. Some of them can be found in newspaper and magazine archives, but otherwise it depends on chart collectors. The compilers I know of started out as collectors, but there can be gaps in the charts they can access. Gavin Ryan lists his sources in each book, with a note to the reader: If anyone has further charts that are not listed above, I would be most appreciative if you could pass them on to me for future updates of this book.

Comparing radio charts In spite of these variables, and the presence of outliers in many charts, popular songs could follow similar trajectories in and out of competing station charts.

As one example, I looked at the chart history of an Australian record from 1967, Simon Says by The Groove, as it charted at 3UZ and 3DB in Melbourne. (Chart site ARSA has an uninterrupted run of charts from these two.) It shows up how the charts could differ from each other in detail, but it also shows how close they could be.

Simon Says was on the charts from September 1967 to January 1968. It did better on 3UZ than on 3DB.

3UZ: 18 weeks on the Top 40, 4 weeks in the Top 10, peaked at #4.
3DB: 16 weeks on the Top 40, 2 weeks in the Top 10, peaked at #8.. 

National charts Even the standard national Australian charts for these early decades, now published by David Kent, are based on radio surveys. As he puts it at his website, before rock'n'roll and in the earliest Top 40s, Hit Parade lists were compiled from sales of sheet music as well as records, plus other factors such as public requests and (perhaps) the opinions of radio stations’ personnel!

David Kent's own Kent Music Report provided the de facto official national charts from 1974 till 1983 when ARIA started its charts. Even then, Kent's data, which had increasingly emphasised sales figures over radio surveys, was licensed to ARIA until 1988. 

Go-Set's national charts An earlier national Top 40 had been published in Go-Set magazine 1966-1974 (now published online at gosetcharts.com). It was compiled by Ed Nimmervol using, according to chart historian Daniel Lowe, a combination of sales figures from retail stores as well as... data from the radio stations charts from around the country

Even so, in 1968 (for example) the Go-Set carts were simply headed with This chart is calculated each week from the most recent charts from the following radio stations: 2UW, 2UE, 3UZ, 3AK, 3DB, 3XY, 4BC, 4IP, 5AD, 6KA, 6PR, 6KY, 7LA, 7HO

(The earliest charts in Britain were also compiled by music magazines. New Zealand's magazine charts in NZ Listener were based on polling rather than sales figures and the same was possibly true of NZBC's early Lever Charts.)

What should we make of all this? So if the retrospective charts we have now are not strictly a reflection of how well records actually sold back in the day, but seem to be based on sources that were open to all sorts of biases, are they a pointless exercise? If #10 in 1967 doesn't necessarily mean #10 as we understand it from say, the modern ARIA charts, am I wasting my readers' time by including chart positions at all?

Well, no. And no. It's possible to be too cynical about these collections of playlists, selective sales figures, and whatever the radio stations wanted to type into their charts. 

Even if they were nothing more than a collection of radio playlists, they would provide a pretty good snapshot of what we were listening to at the time.

At the website of pirate station Radio London (The Big L), the compilers of the Fab 40 charts understand this. Not only are they explicit about the fact that the Big L charts were never compiled from figures supplied by retailers, but they consider this to be an advantage: These Radio London Fab Forty charts differ very much from the National or 'Official' sales-based charts of the time, in that they contain numerous entries from obscure recording artists. Those quotes around 'Official' almost look like a put-down.

In the 50s and 60s, we listened to radio. There was no Spotify or YouTube, no instant downloads or file sharing. There was radio, some TV, and some vinyl if you could afford it (I usually couldn't: most of my 45s were oddities from the cut-out bins). But mainly it was radio. Our generation had a transistor radio to an ear at every possible moment. We woke up to Top 40 radio and we fell asleep to it.

Listening in to Melbourne, I was a dial surfer, from The Greater 3UZ, over to 3DB for Barry Ferber, and on to 3AK or 3KZ as the whim took me. I became a fan of 3XY when it flipped to a pop format.

As a result, if I browse through the Melbourne chart books of Gavin Ryan or Tom Guest, compiled using charts from several stations, I am looking at a recognisable analogue of my teenage listening experience and, I assume, that of my readers. 

Remember too, that radio stations were in a competitive commercial industry. It was their job to tap into the tastes and preferences of their audiences, and I doubt that their playlists and charts were compiled offhandedly. A retrospective chart based around radio playlists still has credibility, even if its sources were not based strictly on sales data.

A final digression My habit of switching stations must have been common, because when 3XY changed its format from adult-oriented albums to Top 40 singles, it placed its news at 10 to and 10 past the hour, an innovation from America. The thinking was that kids listening to the established stations would twiddle the dial in search of music when the news came on at the top of the hour. At that time 3XY would be playing a record, so the kids might discover the station and stay... But maybe only till 10 past when the news came on!

Toppermost of the poppermost are John Lennon's words, but you probably know that by now.

Sources I haven't used academic footnoting, but I've drawn on these sources.
Daniel Lowe's informed, concise overview of the history of Australian charts. [Offline but archived here.]
Detailed chart history at Milesago which covers Australia and other countries: Top 40 Radio and the Pop Charts
• The indispensable ARSA - The Airheads Radio Survey Archive
• Wayne Mac, Don't Touch That Dial: Hits & Memories of Australian Radio (2005)
• Gavin Ryan's Music Chart Books for Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth 1953-2013, (2004-2007)
• Thomas J. Guest, Thirty Years of Hits: Melbourne Top 40 Research 1960-1990 (1991)
• Jim Barnes, Fred Dyer and Stephen Scanes, The Book, Top 40 Research Services (1986)
Website for David Kent's Australian Chart Books (includes online store)
• Alan Smith's history of British charts at Dave McAleer's website [Internet Archive]
• New Zealand's Lever Hit Parades 1960-66 and NZ Listener Charts 1966-74 with brief commentary at Flavour of New Zealand.

Collectors' Corner Here is my entire collection of authentic 1960s charts