4BC - Fairfax Radio Network

The Early Years at 4BC

JB Chandler was officially licensed to build and operate a broadcast station 4BC, which began operation in 1930.
August 26, 2008

The Beginning of 4BC
Many, many years ago there was a Brisbane man who followed the early overseas developments of the wonders of wireless with keen interest.

In those days there were no Australian broadcasting stations in regular operation, and he visualised the many forms of use to which this medium might eventually be put for the good of the community.

A chain of Australian broadcasting stations eventually came in to being, some for purely entertainment purposes, others with a commercial aim, but none of them seemed to exactly perform the service that this keen student of the public needs had visualised in his dreams.

One day an official notification reached Brisbane that the dreamer was to be permitted to consolidate his ideas into actual fact - this man, by name J. B. Chandler, was officially licensed to build and operate a broadcasting station, and the call sign of this station, said the authorities, was to be 4BC, Brisbane.

The station call letters 'BC' stood for 'Brisbane Chandler'.

4BC's First Broadcast
4BC commenced activities on air on Saturday, August 16, 1930 with a broadcast which caused a sensation. It was at the time when the first test match of an Australian cricket tour of England was being played, and the opening broadcast was a ball-by-ball description of the match. Reports suggest that the broadcast took the listening public of Brisbane by storm. Loud speakers installed in the city streets enabled people to follow the progress of the game.

This enterprise of the new station gave it a great start, but it was only the beginning of a series of 'broadcast scoops' based on a spirit of public service that has made the history of 4BC one of continuous and steady growth.

The successful establishment of 4BC was brought about by the station commencing its transmission when Queensland listeners were eager for a variety of radio entertainment. Also, the station had secured a good frequency, had adequate power and had established its transmitting station in an excellent position on Ipswich Road at Oxley.

Its transmitter was the first to be crystal controlled, and according to trade literature at the time, distortion from the transmission was undetectable. The studios and offices were in Adelaide Street, Brisbane, opposite the City Hall.

The Early Years
4BC started with a staff of five. There was the manager Mr Russell F Roberts, one announcer, one advertising representative, one secretary and one engineer.

The station transmitted programs for six hours a day. In those early days of broadcasting, 4BC introduced one of the most popular breakfast sessions with Eric Bessemer, otherwise known as 'Sunrise Sam' who became a household name in Brisbane.

As well as being one of the first stations in Australia to present broadcasts of the exciting England-Australia Test Cricket series of the 1930's, 4BC was also the first commercial radio station in Brisbane, and the first to broadcast in city streets for the first Australian Cricket Tour of England (1930).

4BC Firsts

  • First broadcast complete Live Artist Grand Opera (1932).
  • First station to have crystal controlled transmitter (1932).
  • First broadcast of local and interstate race descriptions (1932).
  • First to present live radio plays with own dramatic team (1933).
  • First to organise outdoor listener promotions for charity in South East Queensland (1934).
  • First to make shortwave broadcasts from the air (1936).
  • First to begin 24 hours broadcasting service (1951).
  • First with independent "Round the Clock" radio news service (1952).
  • First CBN station to be housed in its own building (1954).
  • First CBN station to install a computer for accounting and scheduling purposes (1978)
  • First metropolitan station to appear before the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal for renewal of licence (1978).
4BC Programming Highlight
One of 4BC's most famous broadcasts occurred on January 21, 1933 when Sir Charles Kingsford Smith was interviewed on the occasion of the first England-Australia airmail service.