Gippsland’s first commercial radio station celebrates 90 years

Former Publisher
Pictured: Keith McGowan 3TR 1961

The first radio station in the Gippsland region of Victoria is now 90 years old.

Now two separate stations owned by the independent ACE Radio, TRFM and Gold began life as 3TR on September 29, 1930, and continue to dominate radio listening in the east of Melbourne.

The roots of 3TR can be traced back even further, however, when the Trafalgar Radio Club was tinkering with low power broadcasts as an experimental station in 1929.

Operated by Frank Berkery, it was known as 3FB and it wasn’t long before the amateur service developed into a licenced commercial radio station, relaunching as 3TR in 1930.

There were only four stations in Melbourne and two others in regional Victoria at the time.

Pictured: Photo of the 3TR studios in 1957, taken by announcer Ken Guy

3TR remained on-air for the next 57 years and grew through the war years, during radio’s golden era of serials, quizzes and the birth of Top 40 music.

The next big change came in 1989 when 3TR made another move, this time to Traralgon.

Then in 2002, 3TR became two stations. With the granting of an FM licence 3TR-FM was born, while a separate station continued on 1242 kHz, today known as ‘Gippsland’s Gold’.

“We’re proud of our history,” general manager Mat Cummins said, “and continue to be proud of the role we play in the lives of Gippslanders today.”

“3TR has always been a shining light in Australian regional radio and is still highly regarded in the industry. And the fact that we continue to attract the loyal support of listeners and advertisers means we’re on a strong footing for a successful future.”

Pictured: Noggins & Bats won 3TR’s Battle of the Sounds in 1971

Under the ownership of the ACE Radio Network, TRFM and Gold continue to be a vital part of the Gippsland community as official emergency broadcasters.

Recent research into the listening habits of listeners from Morwell to Orbost in 2019 revealed that more people are tuning in to TRFM and Gippsland’s Gold than any other radio combo.

The Xtra Insights survey confirmed that ACE Radio reaches 79,400 people every week in the region between Morwell and Orbost, or 58% of the population aged 10+.

Market rival Southern Cross Austereo, which has a competing station in the area, recently announced that Hit94.3 Gippsland would move into the Triple M Network from July 20.

Cummins said the stations will celebrate when COVID-19 restrictions allow.

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