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Radio and Television

When radio hit the airways in the later 1920's, Mackay was not very far behind the early starters in the field.  Two local men, J.H. Williams and his son, J.H. Williams jnr. were the founders of 4MK radio station that went on air for the first time on 12 January, 1931.  It was the 5th radio station in Queensland and the 17th in Australia.

At first broadcasts were made for about two hours each night except Thursdays.  J.H. Williams jnr was announcer, operator and programme arranger, with assistance later from his father.  The two of them ran the whole enterprise for four years until joined by brother Lloyd, and later by sisters Dorothy, Audrey and Aline.

First broadcasts were made from the family home in Nelson Street, moving in 1950 to the top floor of the old School of Arts building in Gordon Street.  The present studios in Sydney Street were built in 1971.

The ABC station 4QA was officially opened in Mackay in January 1951, the 8th in the state.  Previous to this Mackay news was broadcast from 4RK, Rockhampton.

The opening of the regional station was a gala event, held in the Masonic Hall with over 100 invited guests including the Postmaster General, Mr. L.L. Anthony, Chairman of the ABC, Mr. R.J.F. Boyer and other dignitaries.  Three Mackay artists, Joan Pasco, Florence Pollock and Peter Lettice, accompanied by the official ABC pianist Hilda Woolmer, entertained the assembly.

Television came to Mackay in December, 1967 with the opening of the ABC's ABMQ4.  The transmitter was installed on Mount Blackwood.  Mackay was the 39th national TV station completed in the metropolitan and regional network.

The promoters felt it necessary to instruct viewers on the benefits of the new medium.  An editorial in the local press summed it up:

"What is Television? A benefit or a menace? A pleasure or a time-waster? A source of entertainment and information or a sop for boredom and idleness?

TV, like marriage, is here to stay, and also like marriage, is for better or worse.

Everyone has the responsibility to make it 'for better'."

The editorial then outlined the responsibilities for manufacturers, retailers, advertisers and viewers, finishing with a list of benefits, leaving readers in no doubt about the joys of owning a TV set.

Some of the programmes advertised which bring back memories of those early days, include Adventure Island, The Avengers, Dean Martin Show, Till death Do Us Part, The Forsythe Saga and Four Corners.

The commercial station MVQ6 arrived on the scene in August,1968, less than 12 months after the ABC, although it was the culmination of eight years of preparatory work.  A company was formed in 1960 under the chairmanship of H.J. Manning of Mackay Printing & Publishing Company.  It became a public company in 1967.

The official opening took place on Friday 9th August 1968, with a dinner at the Hotel Whitsunday for 150 guests, including Dr. Rex Patterson, member for Dawson, the Mayor of Mackay, Mr Ian Wood, Dr H.J. Taylor, chairman of directors, Mr. M.E. Low, managing director, and Miss M. Mackay, granddaughter of the founder of Mackay.  Mr. H.J. Manning, the original chairman, was unable to attend, also the Postmaster General, Mr. A.S. Hulme, whose speech was pre-recorded.

The special programme began at 7.30 with a look behind the scenes, "This is MVQ6" and interviews with people responsible for the building of MVQ6: a 10 minute film "The Sweet Heart of Australia" depicting the sugar industry in the Mackay district; and a one hour "Julie Andrews Special".

A third commercial television station, Mackay QTV Television was officially opened on 23 October 1990.


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Mackay Historical Society and Museum Incorporated 2001-2006.
created 12 August 2004.
last updated 09 August, 2006 .
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