Macquarie Sports Radio 1278
|First air date||8 September 1935 (as 3XY)|
|Former callsigns||3XY (1935–1991)|
|Former frequencies||693 kHz AM (1992–2006)|
1420 kHz AM (1935–1978)
1422 kHz AM (1978–1991)
|Affiliations||Macquarie Sports Radio|
|Owner||Macquarie Media |
(Radio 1278 Melbourne Pty Ltd.)
3XY began broadcasting on 8 September 1935, the original licence being held by the United Australia Party (and later the Liberal Party). [Rival station 3KZ was licensed to the Industrial Printing Co. Ltd. for and on behalf of the Australian Labor Party (Victorian Branch).] However, from commencement, 3XY's programs were provided by Efftee Broadcasters Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Efftee Studios, who were one of Australia's first movie makers. Efftee was owned by Frank Thring Sr., father of internationally renowned actor Frank Thring Jr. Tom Holt, the father of the future Prime Minister of Australia, Harold Holt. was in control of Efftee Studios at this time and was also appointed as the first manager of 3XY. 3XY originally broadcast from studios in the former ballroom at the top of the Princess Theatre, Melbourne, but in the early 1960s, the station moved to purpose-built studios in Faraday Street, Carlton; this was the first of a number of subsequent relocations.
Like virtually all broadcasters prior to the introduction of television in Australia and the invention of the transistor radio, 3XY broadcast a variety of programming styles; theoretically providing something of appeal to all its prospective listeners. The station's original slogan The Quality Station was taken seriously by management, who tried to produce programs which they often perceived as being superior to similar programs being produced by rival stations.
3XY was the last commercial radio station to come on air in Melbourne until 3MP began broadcasting in 1976, 41 years later. By the time 3XY began broadcasting in 1935, most listeners had established their broadcasting patterns and they often continued to listen to 3XY's rivals, which is usually seen as the reason why 3XY was very low in the ratings for some decades. Despite generally low ratings, there were a few popular programs, including the children's session sponsored by Peters Ice Cream, One Man's Family, Raising a Husband, etc. The station also produced some top class live variety programs with artists of the calibre of Stella Lamond; Doug McKenzie; Max Reddy, Leslie Ross, etc.
Frank Thring Jr. started his career as both a thespian and radio announcer at 3XY in 1941, as a young man of 15. His numerous jobs at the 3XY microphone included being Uncle Frankie in the children's session. Thring's acting career, whilst mainly centred around the Melbourne theatre scene, also included periods in London and Hollywood.
Because of the lack of listeners, 3XY did not get as much advertising revenue as some of its rivals, but this was, in part, compensated for by the broadcasting of many sponsored religious programs, particularly on Sunday afternoons, as well as sponsored non-English programs, mainly Italian.
From the commencement of the 1936 Australian rules football season (about seven months after 3XY had first come on air) it became the very first station to broadcast descriptions of Victorian Football Association games. 3XY later broadcast games of the Victorian Football League. They also broadcast descriptions of Melbourne thoroughbred horse races each Saturday, as well as transmitting some interstate races. On some weeknights, harness races, then known as the trots, were broadcast.
Prior to 1967, the station had many prominent announcers, as well as a number of broadcasters who would go on to achieve fame at other stations. These included Frank Avis, Laurie Bennett, Graham Berry, Carl Bleazby, John Boland, John Burls, Ray Chapman, Peter Charleston, Bern Davis, Col Denovan, Jack Dyer, Keith Eden, Doug Elliot, Peter Evans, Vi Greenhalf, Mary Hardy, Ken Hibbins, Geoff Hiscock, Ken Howard, Tom Jones, Craig Kelly, Maurie Kirby, Wayne Kirby, Paul Konik, Alwyn Kurts, Ray Lawrence, Barry Looms, Bernice (Binny) Lum, Alex McNish, Bruce Mansfield, John Magee, Ian Major, Tom Miller, Alf Minister, Bert Newton, Bill Passick, Sir Eric Pearce, Stan Rofe, Bob Rogers, Will Sampson, Barry Seeber, Wallace Sharland, David Shoreland, Paul Sime, Clyde Simpson, Eric (''Tiny'') Snell, Roy Stenye, Cyril Stokes, John Storr, Jeff Sunderland, Madge Thomas, Frank Thring Jr., Hal Todd, Iven Walker, Jeff Warden, Dorothy Wilby, Madge Wister, Johnny Young, etc.
Between 1954 and 1962, 3XY was Victoria's only 24-hour broadcaster. (In the 1930s, the Postmaster-General's Department issued 24-hour licences to one station in each capital city market except Melbourne. In Melbourne, since 1931, 3AK had been broadcasting almost exclusively in the early-morning hours when other stations were off the air. However, on 1 February 1954, 3AK began broadcasting exclusively during hours of daylight, and concurrently 3DB, 3UZ and 3XY were all given 24-hour licences, but both 3DB and 3UZ had ceased all-night broadcasting within six months. Nevertheless, between 1962 and 1968, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board had granted 24-hour licences to all Melbourne commercial stations; 24-hour transmission on ABC stations was to follow within a few years.)
From 1 July 1967, under the direction of General Manager Bob Baeck the station became Melbourne's dominant music radio station and remained so until the early 1980s, with a Top 40 music radio format, which often topped the ratings. Its sister station during this era was Sydney's 2SM. Of the many promotions conducted by the station, the most important during the 1970s/80s was Rocktober held annually during the month of October.
3XY dropped all of its religious programming in the late 1960s under the direction of Program Manager Dick Heming. (Heming received a letter of complaint from a woman who signed herself 'Yours in Christianity' but which concluded: 'I have prayed to the Lord that you be struck dead'.)
During this period, there was a head-on battle for the lucrative Top 40 market between 3XY, by then managed by Rod Muir, and Rhett Walker's 3AK. The fact that 3XY won the battle is reflected in 3AK's rapid change away from its Top 40 format. However, 3XY's fortunes declined in the late 1980s after the advent of FM radio in Australia, a few years' earlier.
3XY DJs during this era included: Barry Bissell, Hans Christian, Jack Daniels, Greg Evans, Peter Grace, Peter Harrison, Jane Holmes, John Hood, Craig Huggins, Kevin Hillier, Mark Irvine, Peter James, Chris Maxwell, Peter O'Callaghan, John O'Donnell, John Peters, Stan Rofe, Lee Simon, Peter Grubby Stubbs, Richard Stubbs, Gary Suprain, Paul Turner, Karl van Est.
As well as its Top 40 format, in the early 1970s, 3XY also experimented with a personality format with Bert Newton conducting the breakfast program, and Graham Kennedy presenting a morning session from a studio especially constructed at a cost of $10,000 in the bedroom of his house in Frankston, thus saving him from even having to leave home to present the show. He often broadcast whilst in pyjamas. During the late 1970s Derryn Hinch presented a current affairs morning program.
The Liberal Party continued to have a marked influence at 3XY. In the late 1970s and 80s, the manager of the station was Stanley Guilfoyle, husband of Liberal Senator Margaret Guilfoyle. Magnus Cormack, a former Liberal senator, served as chairman of the company after his retirement from politics in 1978. The company's articles of association provided that, upon the sale of the company, any proceeds should be "given or transferred to some institution or institutions having objects similar to the objects of the company". In 1986, the radio licence was sold to businessman Paul Dainty for $15 million. The proceeds were used to establish the Cormack Foundation, which became a major donor to the Victorian Liberals.
After losing the ratings and financial battle with FM rivals 3EON and 3FOX, the 3XY licence was bought in late 1989 by the parent company of BAY-FM, a Geelong based station which was then just about to come on air. When BAY-FM commenced broadcasting in December 1989, 3XY briefly simulcast the BAY-FM overnight programs, retaining its rock music format during the day. However, once new studios in Corio Bay were completed, Bay FM and 3XY began full-time simulcasting, 3XY breaking only for coverage of Australian Football League (AFL) games, which they were contracted to cover. After a period of 12 months, the then-Australian Broadcasting Authority demanded that the two stations begin separate programming. While the two stations remained in their Corio studios, Bay FM relaunched with an easy listening format, with 3XY retaining its soft rock format. In 1991, 3XY was sold to AWA Limited, owners of 2CH Sydney and other stations, who almost immediately shut the station down and re-opened it seven months later as 3EE.
The final on-air program as 3XY was a one-hour pre-recorded special, commissioned by AWA and produced and presented by music historian Glenn A. Baker. It was a tribute showcasing the music of 1976 when 3XY was number one in the radio ratings. Roxanne Bennett was the last 'live' announcer on 3XY, finishing her shift at 12 noon that day with Spectrum's song I'll Be Gone the final song played before the one hour pre-recorded special was aired. The last song to be ever aired on 3XY, was AC/DC's It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll), at the end of the pre-recorded special.
AWA formally applied for a change of callsign from 3XY to 3EE and a change of frequency from 1422 kHz to 693 kHz. Both requests were granted by the Australian Broadcasting Authority. Although it was a relaunch of the 3XY licence that had existed since 1935 and not the issuing of a new licence, AWA chose to promote the forthcoming 3EE as a "completely new" station.
(A new licence for the 1422 kHz frequency was purchased at auction in 1994 by the Greek Media Group. Initially the licence was for a specified period of three years, and was then to be subject to a five yearly auction cycle. This rule was removed, and the station was effectively permitted to continue on a permanent basis. The new station adopted the 3XY call-sign. It is a narrowcast Greek language commercial station, with no connection to the station of 1935–91.)
The "new" station 3EE began official transmission at 7.00am Friday 2 July 1992. Promoted as The Breeze, the station had a mix of easy listening music, personality talk and Saturday AFL football. Some programs garnered a loyal following but overall the station failed to gain a commercially viable audience in its target demographic of people aged 40+. AWA had a three-year strategy to grow the 3EE audience, but in 1993 the company decided to exit the commercial broadcasting sector and concentrate on its core business of electronics design and manufacture. AWA sold 3EE to Wesgo Communications, owner of another Melbourne station, 3MP, based in Frankston, an outer south-eastern suburb. A few months later in 1994, AWA sold 3EE's sister station in Sydney 2CH, bringing to an end AWA's 70 years in radio broadcasting.
1993-2017: Magic 693/1278
3MP and 3EE simulcast their programs until the ABA ordered that they cease the practice and recommence two separate formats. As from December 1993, 3EE used the marketing name of Magic 693, whilst retaining its official call-sign 3EE. It had a 1940s, 1950s and 1960s music format, while 3MP maintained its more mainstream easy listening format on 1377.
Media operator Southern Cross Broadcasting, which also owned Melbourne radio stations 3AK and 3AW, bought the 3MP and 3EE licences, and in accordance with media ownership laws which restrict any organisation from owning more than two radio stations in one region, they chose to keep 3AW and 3EE (Magic 693), while selling off the lower rating 3AK and 3MP licences.
From 1 May 2006, Magic 693 became Magic 1278 after switching frequencies with 3AW.
On 13 April 2015, the station's entire on air line-up, and most of the programming and production team, was made redundant, as the result of the merger of Fairfax Media's radio assets and the Macquarie Radio Network. Immediately, a new music format was introduced that focused on the classic hits of the 1960s and 1970s.
In November 2015, it was announced that the station would begin networking programming into Brisbane on sister station Magic 882. The last song to be played on Magic 1278 was Thank You for the Music by ABBA.
2017-2018: Talking Lifestyle
On Monday 27 February 2017, Macquarie Radio Network relaunched 3EE as Talking Lifestyle. The launch of Talking Lifestyle into the Melbourne and Brisbane market followed 18 months of development by Macquarie Media and a soft launch in the Sydney market in September 2016 through 2UE. The Brisbane outlet was Talking Lifestyle 882.
2018: Macquarie Sports Radio
On Wednesday 4 April 2018, the three Talking Lifestyle branded stations relaunched with a new sports radio format under the name Macquarie Sports Radio with coverage of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. 1278 takes all Melbourne Storm matches as well as a selection of interstate NRL matches broadcast by the Continuous Call Team
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