Although radio broadcasting began in South Australia in 1924, it was not until ten years later that a ‘wireless set’ was installed in the common room for boys. This was also connected to an electric pickup for listening to gramophone records. Girl boarders had to wait a few years to enjoy the same privilege, and by 1937 the kitchen staff were enjoying the comic antics of ‘Dad and Dave’ on a second-hand wireless as they prepared meals.
Only months before the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the boys realised from the unbearable ‘shrieks, whistles and buzzing’ emerging from the wireless that it had reached the end of its life. So they were delighted that it was replaced by ‘an imposing nine-valve set… with overseas reception.’ Listening to the wireless in those days was very much a group experience.
All this is a far cry from the mass popularity of transistor radios from the early 1960s; the ghetto blasters of the late 1970s; 5CC student radio, first heard over the College airwaves in 1971; and digital radio, launched in Australia in 2009.
Jenni van Wageningen