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The origins of this web site

Posted by ken On September - 5 - 2009

Following a number of complaints about this web site not covering all Western Australian television stations at this time, we consider a few words of explanation are in order.

It seems the site’s activities have also caused confusions regarding its relationship with the Australian Museum of Motion Picture Technology (AMMPT), which is conducting a “50 Years of TV in WA” exhibition at the Fremantle Arts Centre from Monday 5th October, 2009 -to- Friday 4th December, 2009.


AMMPT is a separate body of cinema and television collectors, who are devoted to restoring and preserving heritage equipment used by both industries.

The WA TV History web site is about heralding the activities of all who worked in the local television industry, but has made a pledge to AMMPT to only cover the TVW history until their 2009 exhibition is over.

Both groups have a common passion for preserving the history in it’s many forms, so its hoped that each can compliment the other in achieving this.

2009 is a special year for TVW Channel 7 in Perth, for on October 16th of this year we celebrate 50 years of television in Western Australia.

50 years of 7.jpg

This web site wishes to commemorate the occasion and give recognition to the many people, past and present, who have contributed to our local television history. The information provided here is courtesy of TVW and the many staff who made it all happen.

It is a collaborate site where all the content comes from past TV employees in one form or another. The very people who made decisions, sold advertising or made and presented the programs, built and maintained the facilities, or provided support in many other ways.

Coordinating all this is Richard Ashton, Gordon McColl and Ken McKay.

Gordon Ken Richard.jpg
Gordon McColl, Ken McKay and Richard Ashton

Richard Ashton and Gordon McColl were the first two TV studio cameramen in Western Australia, providing the live pictures on the opening night of TVW on Friday October 16th, 1959.

Gordon John D Brown & Richard.jpg
The Dawn of TV in WA: Gordon McColl, John D. Brown and Richard Ashton

Both gentlemen performed with distinction, rapidly rising to the role of program producers and directors.

Gordon was the director of Club 7 Teen during the period Johnny Young was the host, whilst Richard directed many programs, including a stint with In Perth Tonight. He was one of Max Bostock’s Special Events team, who planned or were involved with everything from the Christmas Pageant origins, to spectaculars at the Perth Entertainment Centre.

Gordon was, and still is, an avid photographer. In the early years he captured many behind the scene images that give a unique perspective of life at Seven in those days.

Richard has the distinction of probably being the longest serving employee in the WA commercial television industry. From 1959 to 1999, 40 years rising from cameraman to that of Manager of Group Color. He still volunteers his time as a cameraman for the yearly Telethon presentations, and has been involved with that charity event since it’s inception in 1968.

Richard at 2008 Telethon.jpg
Richard Ashton on Camera for the 2008 Telethon

Though Richard is now retired, he assists TVW7 with their film library, early film projection and historical television equipment collection on a voluntary basis. He is also the official researcher and librarian of the Australian Museum of Motion Picture Technology (Western Region).

This year Richard will be undertaking a Research Fellowship with the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra, which sadly means he will miss out on TVW’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

Ken McKay was one of the pioneering videotape operators, dating back to TVW’s introduction of this recording media in 1962. He was also part of the 1962 Commonwealth and Empire Games crew at Perry Lakes, and prior to that was involved in audio as a boom operator and panel operator. Most of his time was devoted to videotape operations, as part of the team recording everything from early specials such as Invitation to the Dance and the Good Oil to the full range of program record and playback activities during the first decade of this mediums use. Videotape cut editing was his specialty, before the advent of electronic and computer editing. Ken worked in the broadcasting industry for 31 years before venturing into online activities and internet provision.

Ken McKay operating an early vintage RCA TRT-IB videotape machine in the 1960s

We now busy ourselves video recording and editing, photo scanning, photo copying and documenting the recollections of the many veterans. At all times leaving the original content with the people who supplied it. We are also making DVD’s of the people we video record, giving them a copy as a memento.

The Team.jpg
Lunch break after an editing session: Richard Ashton, Jason McKay and Gordon McColl

Ken is also assisting the TVW reunion committee with their web site and helping process the many registrations by maintaining the list of reunion attendees and the Roll-Call of all known TVW staff.

Prominent people who have been most helpful, or contributed content, include virtually all the major TVW executives from the early days. This includes managing directors, general managers, chief executive officers, news editors and the many rank and file. TVW in the early days was like a family, and that culture is still fondly remembered today.

A great byproduct of all this activity is that it has enabled many old colleagues and friends to renew lost contacts, resulting in a variety of get togethers.

The idea for the WA TV History web site came from Ken’s early efforts to set up a similar site for the Australian Museum of Motion Picture Technology (AMMPT).

Sadly they asked that it be dismantled when there were fears that it would pre-empt their exhibition from October to December of 2009.

That would have been the end of it if it wasn’t for Jill Glass the TVW Promotions manager saying how useful the station Roll-Call was, considering 2009 is TVW’s 50th anniversary year.

Ken then agreed to mount a separate TVW theme web site to commemorate this special occasion. whilst making a pledge to AMMPT to not incorporate ABW2, STW9, NEW10 and BTW/GSW material until after the AMMPT exhibition is over… so as not to duplicate anything they were doing on the other stations.

From 2010, we hope to feature all stations equally, particularly as that year is the 50th anniversary of ABW Channel 2 in Perth.

One benefit a web site has over an exhibition, is that it enables people world wide to view the content. This has been most useful establishing contacts with TVW veterans who are now spread far and wide. Many now will be travelling from overseas and interstate to attend the TVW reunion on Sunday October 18th, 2009.

A television museum is something this state desperately needs. A permanent means of displaying the vintage equipment contained in the many private collections, and the considerable memorabilia that is surfacing as a result of this special occasion.

This web site’s collection of stories and images will be offered to the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) as a permanent record, subject to the approval of the many contributors.

We hope you find this site useful and informative, and welcome all suggestions.

Any help with stories or photos will be most welcome.

One Response to “The origins of this web site”

  1. joan dye (nee cohen) says:


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