Macquarie Sports Radio 954

Macquarie Sports Radio (call sign: 2UE) is a commercial radio station in Sydney owned by Macquarie Radio Network. It currently broadcasts from studios in Pyrmont, New South Wales.[2]

Broadcast areaSydney
BrandingMacquarie Sports Radio
FormatSports radio
Former callsigns2EU
Former frequencies1025 kHz AM (1925–1935)
950 kHz AM (1935–1978)
OwnerMacquarie Media
(Radio 2UE Sydney Pty. Ltd.)
Sister stations2GB
WebcastiHeartRadio stream




Electrical Utilities applied to the Postmaster-General's Department for a licence for a new B Class (later commercial) station licence. The station was to have the call-sign 2EU, based on the initials of Electrical Utilities. However, before the licence, PMG - Broadcasting Station Licence No.12, was issued on 7 November 1924, Electrical Utilities advised the PMG that it wished to reverse the initials in the call-sign - thus the licence was issued to 2UE.[3]


2UE opened on 26 January 1925. The founder of Electrical Utilities and 2EU/2UE was Cecil "Pa" Stevenson, who was also 2UE's chief engineer, and one of the most prominent personalities in Australia's early broadcasting history. Prior to opening 2UE, he had operated experimental station 2IY, as well as working alongside a couple of other early experimenters.[4][5]

The original studio was in the dining room of Stevenson's Maroubra home; and an 80 feet (24.384 metres) transmitting tower was installed in his back yard. All the equipment was homemade; the studio and equipment costing £750 ($1,500) to build, and £9 ($18) per week to operate. Within a short time the studios were moved to Stevenson's radio store in George Street, Sydney.[4]

Most programming was provided by 78 rpm recordings or player piano rolls. It is reputed that whilst changing records or rolls, Stevenson would whistle so as to prevent dead air.[4] 2UE was originally on the air daily from 8.00 pm to 10.00 pm.[6] The station is reputed to have broadcast Australia's first radio advertisement. A local butcher was so disconcerted with the sounds between recordings and piano rolls that he paid Stevenson one shilling (10¢) to substitute his whistling with short talks about the quality of the butcher's meat. One shilling then became the station's standard advertising rate.[7]

There are records of early 2UE broadcasts being picked-up in the USA and New Zealand.[4]

2UE is the oldest current commercial radio station in Australia.[8][9]

In 1929, through Cecil Stevenson, 2UE experimented with sending pictures by radio using radiovision or mechanical television. The experiments were short-lived due to the lack of receivers to pick up the transmissions.[4] (Melbourne stations 3UZ and 3DB also both conducted similar experimental transmissions in 1929.)


Broadcast Services Association

As a cost saving measure in the depths of the Great Depression, in December 1935 it was announced that an organisation to be known as Broadcasting Service Association, Limited, would co-ordinate and provide combined production resources for 2UE and 2GB, but without owning or operating either station. On 7 January 1937, it was announced that the two stations would operate as the Red Network and the Blue Network; a concept which was copied from the US's NBC network, which operated a Red Network and Blue Network at this time. However, the concept never transpired in Australia, because in February 1937 2GB announced that it was going to form its own national network, and that eventually led to the formation of the Macquarie Network in 1938[10][11] which was at first jointly managed by 2GB and 2UE.[12]

Major Broadcasting Network

In 1938 2UE and 3DB Melbourne, launched the Major Broadcasting Network which for many decades was Australia's second most important radio network, after the Macquarie Network. The main person behind the formation of the Major Network was David Worrall, manager of 3DB, and a most important figure in broadcasting history.[13][6]

The Major Network's Sydney outlet later changed from 2UE to 2CH and then to 2UW before 2UE yet again became the Major Network outlet in Sydney in September 1950[6][14] The Network broadcast a wide range of live variety programs including quizzes and dramas including soap operas, mostly emanating from the 3DB or 2UE studios.[15]

The formation of the Major Network actually happened after two earlier attempts by David Worrall to form a network with 2UE as the Sydney station. In 1933, a loose grouping, but the first Australian attempt to form a commercial network, was attempted, known as the Federal Network. Then, in 1933 the Associated Broadcasters of Australia was formed but, again, did not last long.[6]


In 1938 2UE and 2GB, as partners in the newly formed Broadcast Services Association moved their studios and offices to Savoy House, 29 Bligh Street, Sydney,[12] with 2UE on the 4th and 5th floors and 2GB on the 6th and 7th floors.

In 1930 a new transmitter was installed at Lilli Pilli.[4]


In 1933–34 Stevenson sold the station to Associated Newspapers Ltd, publishers of The Sun.[7]

Time Signal

In 1938 the station was commencing its broadcasts at 6.00 am with The Alarm Clock.[7]

From 1939, 2UE became the first Australian station to broadcast six pips from the Australian observatory as an hourly time signal.[4] For many decades all Australian stations carried the six pip time signal first heard on 2UE, and some stations still do.


The 2UE Dramatic Players were established in the 1930s providing a number of dramas and serials on a repertory basis. The Players were led by George Edwards, arguably the most prominent radio actor and producer of the time. Some time later, Paul Jacklin[16] was appointed as 2UE's head of production.[6] Malcolm "Max" Afford[17] also played an important role in 2UE's dramatic productions in the 1930s and into the 1940s. Right up to the early 1960s 2UE was to produce many dozens of audio plays for the Major Broadcasting Network. These mainly consisted of 15 minute serials or soap operas and 30 minute dramas. However, probably the most important dramatic production to emanate from the 2UE studios was the Australian version of the Lux Radio Theatre[18][19][20] which was heard at 8.00 pm every Sunday evening until 1952 – in pre-television days, arguably the most listened-to hour in the week for any radio station. (For much of its time on air, the Lux Radio Theatre was in competition with 2GB's Macquarie Radio Theatre later known as the Caltex Theatre.)[21][7]

Live Music

2UE transmitted many live musical broadcasts during this era. These ranged from classical to pop. The importance of these types of programming at that time, is highlighted by the fact that in 1933 the 2UE Academy of Music was formed under Rex Shaw[22] and Professor Clarence Elkin, so as to train singers and instrumentalists, particularly in the classical field. However, the Academy only lasted about a year.[7]

Cricket / Don Bradman

In the 1930s, Test Cricket had a particularly high profile and most capital city radio stations, both the ABC and commercial stations, used the cricket as a vehicle for competitive programming, often interspersing live variety programs with news of the ongoing match supplied by overseas cablegrams. In 1931 a Sydney menswear store arranged for Don Bradman to broadcast twice weekly during the cricket season. He was on a two-year contract at the very high sum of £1,000 a year; a deal which is credited with keeping Bradman in Australia.[7]

Bradman also regularly played the piano during 2UE's weekly Call to Youth program.[4]



In July 1941 Prime Minister Robert Menzies officially opened a new 1,000 watt transmitter at Concord. The transmitter tower was wired with explosives by the army, so that an enemy could not have used it, should there have been a World War II invasion.[4]

Fire destroyed the Savoy House studios in 1943, and another Sydney station, 2CH, gave 2UE temporary accommodation in their own studio complex.[4]

Horse Racing

2UE was well known over many decades for its coverage of races, both in Sydney and, through relays, of meetings throughout Australia. It also relayed Sydney races both through Major Broadcasting Network affiliates and through other stations. The 2UE racing service commenced in 1945 when Sports Editor Clif Cary, already well known for his cricket broadcasts, started a service then known as the Associated Sports Broadcasts which relayed horse racing and other Saturday afternoon sporting events to nine other N.S.W. stations.[7] The racing service ended in 1983 when Des Hoysted called the last race to be broadcast by 2UE. The long list of 2UE race-callers included Clif Cary, Ken Howard, Des Hoysted, Andrew Martin and Harry Solomons.


Promotional slogan

During this era, 2UE was known as The Modern Station.[4]

Sale of 2UE

In 1954 John Lamb purchased 2UE from Associated Newspapers, for £165,000 ($330,000). Lamb also owned 2KO Newcastle, New South Wales. John Lamb died in 1978, and his son, Stewart, moved from Newcastle to Sydney to look after the Lamb family's interests in 2UE.[23]

Gary O'Callaghan

Gary O'Callaghan was Sydney's number one breakfast announcer for 28 years, winning 159 surveys.[24][4]

Top 40

2UE instigated Australia's first Top 40 on 2 March 1958, with former Newcastle announcer Pat Barton[25] as the host of a daily Top 40 program. The number one song on the very first Top 40 chart was Pat Boone's April Love.[4][26]


New promotional slogan

During the 1960s, the station was known as The Brighter 2UE.[4]

Sydney's Pop Music station

In the early 1960s, 2UE dropped virtually all of its variety and drama shows. It was considered that television had become the home for these types of programming. 2UE increased its reliance on a Top 40 format, becoming one of the first stations in Australia to devote most of its air time to pop music, but by the end of this decade 2SM had superseded 2UE as Sydney's most popular Top 40 station.

Popular 2UE DJs in this era included Bob Rogers,Tony Withers and John Laws.[4]

Commencing in 1966, a major pop music promotion on 2UE Sydney and 3UZ Melbourne was Hoadley's Battle of the Sounds, a national rock band concert staged to promote Australian talent and foster new bands. However, after a few years, 2SM was appointed as the Sydney outlet for the Battle of the Sounds, replacing 2UE.[27]

One popular variety program that did survive for many years was the National Old Time Dance with Jack Papworth's orchestra, every Friday evening. It was relayed to stations across Australia. At one stage it was broadcast from The Albert Palais, Leichhardt.[4][28]


Until 1967 talkback was illegal in Australia because of government concerns that: a) people may say something they shouldn't; and b) callers may not know they were on the air. Nevertheless, many stations, particularly 2UW in Sydney and 3AK Melbourne, did broadcast talkback from 1963. However, 2UE and 3DB (Melbourne) were the first Australian stations to legally present talkback, commencing on 17 April 1967. Journalist Ormsby Wilkins was the first 2UE talkback host.[29]


Country Music

Although 2UE was mainly broadcasting Top 40 during this period, in the early 1970s it also featured some country music, including programs hosted by Studio Manager Nick Erby. John Laws also included a deal of country music in his programs.[7]


Ownership Changes

The Lamb family sold 2UE to Kerry Packer in the 1980s, and Packer then sold it to Alan Bond but when the Bond Empire was crumbling in the early 1990s,the Lamb family was to buy back 2UE.[30]

CBC Network

In 1986, under Kerry Packer, 2UE and 3AK Melbourne, embarked on a shared talk-back format called the CBC Network which featured selected Melbourne and Sydney based programs being broadcast across both stations. Two separate breakfast programs were broadcast for both Sydney and Melbourne but that was the only shift with separate programming. All other programs, whether emanating from Sydney or Melbourne, were heard over both stations. Well-known Sydney and Melbourne news broadcaster and radio management expert Brian White managed both stations. However, the CBC experiment was a short-lived failure.[31]

Huge Prize

In 1984 2UE ran a competition, Millionaire Mania in which a prize of $20,000 a year for 50 years, was offered. This was believed to be the largest ever radio prize, to that date! 2UE management was no doubt relieved when Premier Neville Wran drew out the name of someone described as an "older lady".[7]


Cash for comment

2UE was the centre of the cash for comment affair, an Australian scandal that broke in 1999. It concerned paid advertising on talk back radio that was presented to the audience in such a way as to sound like editorial commentary. The affair was first reported on the ABC program Media Watch by reporters Richard Ackland, Deborah Richards and Ann Connelly. They revealed that 2UE hosts John Laws and Alan Jones had been paid to give favourable comment to companies including Qantas, Optus, Foxtel, Mirvac and major Australian banks, without disclosing this arrangement to listeners. The Australian Broadcasting Authority found that John Laws, Alan Jones, and 2UE had committed 90 breaches of the industry code and five breaches of 2UE's license conditions. 2UE was fined $360,000 for John Laws's improper conduct.[32]


News Talk

2UE continued to broadcast a news talk format, involving current affairs oriented programs with talkback across the day and more relaxed programming at nights and on weekends. News updates were broadcast at the top of every hour, provided by Macquarie Radio Network.

More Ownership Changes

In March 2001, the Lamb family sold 2UE and 4BC to Southern Cross Broadcasting for a reputed $90 million.

In July 2007, Fairfax Media purchased all of Southern Cross Broadcasting's metro radio assets, including 2UE, 3AW and 4BC.[33]

On 22 December 2014, it was announced that Fairfax's radio division and Macquarie Radio Network would merge.[34] The merger was finalised on 1 April 2015.[35]

Despite having had a strong relationship in the 1930s through the Broadcast Services Association, by the 21st century 2UE had been a constant rival of 2GB for many decades. Both of these Sydney stations had offered a similar format. In the early 2010s 2UE slipped badly in the ratings,[36] suffering major blows when long time breakfast program host Alan Jones moved across to the 2GB breakfast program and when broadcaster John Laws retired from radio, leaving his 2UE morning program at the end of 2007.

On 9 April 2015, with 2UE and 2GB now both owned by the newly merged Macquarie Radio Network, the 2UE newsroom was closed after 90 years with the last news report being broadcast at 6 pm that day. The news teams of both stations were merged with "significant job cuts."[37][38]

Station ratings and market position

In the eighth and final ratings survey for 2013, released on 10 December 2013, overall 2UE scored a 4.2% market share well behind market leader 2GB on 13.3 which was ahead of next placed ABC702 on 10.4. This rating placed 2UE tenth out of the 14 surveyed stations. During this survey period, its Monday to Friday share slipped to 3.2 per cent of the available audience, putting it behind Macquarie Radio Network's 2CH which averaged 4.6 per cent and meant 2UE was only ahead of three stations. The 2UE drive show slipping a further 0.7 points after the firing of Jason Morrison in the middle of the survey, and evenings slipping further losing 2.6 points, its biggest drop in the survey.[36]


On 1 November 2013, 2UE's parent company, Fairfax Radio Network (FRN), announced that it had signed a five-year contract commencing with the 2013/2014 Australian cricket season, to broadcast the Boxing Day and Sydney Test matches, all One Day Internationals, the Big Bash League (BBL) and International T20 matches on network stations including 2UE. Subsequently, in December 2013, FRN decided on an earlier start to their coverage by including the Perth test match which commenced on 13 December 2013.[39] Fairfax stated that "Fairfax Radio Network will bring to its coverage more than 60 years' experience of broadcasting sport, assembling a star-studded commentary line up".[40] The coverage will provide a ball-by-ball commentary of all broadcast matches.[41]

The commentary team is anchored by Tim Lane and Bruce Eva, together with a panel consisting of the following experts[42]


A number of parties have attempted to sue 2UE for defamation. In February 2012 Mamdouh Habib won his claim and was awarded almost $150,000.[43] 2UE was found to have defamed journalist Ray Chesterton in an August 2005 broadcast made by John Laws.[44]

2016–2018: Talking Lifestyle

In September 2016, 2UE relaunched with new branding and programming, moving away from its news talk position to a lifestyle format.[45]

On Monday 27 February 2017, Macquarie Radio Network also launched the Talking Lifestyle format in Melbourne and Brisbane (Talking Lifestyle 1278 and Talking Lifestyle 882). Presenters broadcast from either Sydney or Melbourne.

As of August 2017, weekday presenters were:

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.[46][47][48]

A significant number of existing presenters did not return for the new format.[49]

The change of the station was not received well by many fans of the former Talking Lifestyle station. There were even a number of recommendations about switching to the alternative talk station ABC 702.[48][50]

Macquarie Sports Radio 954 is the home of Sydney Swans and Greater Western Sydney Giants matches, as well as other selected AFL matches broadcast from 3AW, plus the early Friday night NRL Game from NRL Nation.[51]

See also


  1. Radio and Television Broadcasting Stations. Australian Communications and Media Authority: October 2011. p. 8.
  2. Wiedersehn, Sarah (2 July 2019). "Chris Smith to leave 2GB after speculation about his future at radio station". Seven News. Retrieved 8 September 2019. Loyal fans of Smith staged a small protest outside the studios of 2GB in Pyrmont on Tuesday.
  3. copy of the original licence in the collections of Bruce Carty, Gosford, New South Wales
  4. Carty, Bruce, On the Air: Australian Radio History, privately published, 2011, Gosford, N.S.W.
  6. Walker, R.R., The Magic Spark: 50 Years of Radio in Australia, 1973, The Hawthorn Press, Melbourne
  7. Griffen-Foley, Bridget, Changing Stations: The Story of Australian Commercial Radio, UNSW Press, 2009, Sydney
  8. Carty, Bruce, On the Air: Australian Radio History, privately published, 2011, Gosford, N.S.W.
  9. 2UE was not the first B Class or commercial station in Australia. This honour goes to either 2CM or 2BE, according to one's definition of a B Class station. They both broadcast out of Sydney, and both of these stations were short-lived. Bruce Carty claims that the first B Class station was 2CM, whilst R.R. Walker plumps for 2BE. The second-oldest current commercial radio station on the air is 2HD Newcastle, which made its first broadcast just one day after 2UE.
  10. see also The Labor Daily
  11. "Radio Network System". The Sun (8457). New South Wales, Australia. 10 February 1937. p. 23. Retrieved 28 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  12. "Radio Company Formed". The Sun (1841). New South Wales, Australia. 10 July 1938. p. 15. Retrieved 28 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  14. "Drug addict's struggle back to happiness". The Sun (12, 681). New South Wales, Australia. 19 September 1950. p. 23. Retrieved 29 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  15. Jones, Colin, Something in the Air: A History of Radio in Australia, Kangaroo Press, 1995.
  18. ABC Weekly, various editions –
  20. Lux Radio Theatre
  31. Talk radio entrant faces a hard, oft-travelled road, By Mark Day, 19 April 2010, The Australian
  32. Katelyn Catanzariti (17 July 2009). "John Laws' ads cost 2UE radio $360,000". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  36. "Sydney Radio Survey No. 8 2013". Radio Today. Radio Today. 10 December 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  37. Sinclair, Lara (9 April 2015). "2UE News to go off air as newsroom merges with 2GB". The Australian. Australian Associated Press. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  38. "COMPLETION OF FAIRFAX RADIO NETWORK MERGER WITH MACQUARIE RADIO NETWORK" (Press release). 31 March 2015. Retrieved 11 April 2015. Fairfax Media Limited ... today announced the completion of the merger of its Fairfax Radio Network ... with Macquarie Radio Network ...
  39. Murnane, Matt (10 December 2013). "Fairfax Radio joins the Ashes cricket fray early". The Age. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  40. "2UE to broadcast the Cricket" by 2UE Radio, The Age, 7 February 2008. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  41. "2UE to air Ashes as ABC loses stranglehold" by Chris Barrett, The Age, 4 October2013. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  42. "3AW cricket team revealed". 3AW. 21 November 2013. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
  43. Townsend, Lucas (26 February 2012). "Mamdouh Habib wins legal battle against Sydney radio stations 2UE and 2GB". The Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  44. Meyrick, Tessa. "The "beer-bellied buffoon" and the Golden Microphone". Australian Policy Online. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  45. "2UE officially launches native-driven Talking Lifestyle format with Koch, Rowntree and Obermeder – Mumbrella". 17 September 2016. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  46. "Macquarie Sport Radio names new lineup". Radio Today. 3 April 2018. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  47. "Radio rebrand: Farewell Talking LifeStyle, hello Macquarie Sports Radio – Mediaweek". Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  48. "Macquarie Media launches sports radio lineup, with Garry Linnell axed from Sydney breakfast – Mumbrella". Mumbrella. 3 April 2018. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  49. "Shows". Macquarie Sports Radio. Archived from the original on 4 April 2018. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  50. "Macquarie Media's Talking Lifestyle to be replaced with sports format". Mumbrella. 3 March 2018. Retrieved 3 June 2018.

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