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The First 50 Years – Part 1

Posted by ken On February - 3 - 2010

The West Australian newspaper’s TVW 50th Anniversary supplement published on Friday October 16, 2009….


Courtesy of WA Newspapers
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It might be tempting to suggest that the brief experience of being an installer of rooftop antennas during the birth of Channel 7 set Kerry Stokes on the path to owning his own network. It would not be entirely true, however.
The potential of the medium which now occupies so much of his business attention was not revealed to him until three years later when he paid for a television commercial to help his new real estate business. The telephone, he says, went wild.
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When television started in WA, not many of those involved knew how it worked – or had ever seen it.

An unforgettable ride into history was about to begin.

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When WA Newspapers Ltd won the bid for the licence, WAN managing director James Macartney told Jim Cruthers that he wanted TVW to go on-air one year later.

There was no studio, no programs, no staff. Even the Bickley transmitter was yet to be built. They did it. Against the odds, and with far more enthusiasm and commitment than skill and experience, they did it.

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Television changed people’s homes – indeed, it transformed family life for ever.

It is hard to imagine, in these sophisticated times, how exciting the arrival of television to WA must have been.

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From humble beginnings, TVW7 was founded on vision and strong sentiment.

But it was hard work and innovation that ensured the success of ‘the people’s channel’.

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James Macartney wanted the station to have a strong community base, to be a people’s channel.

The enduring element of that sentiment is Telethon.

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When television began in WA, the tools for news-gathering were few and expensive.

Initiative was the key to getting the big stories in Perth.

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Darcy Farrell switched from WA Newspapers to TVW in July 1959, just three months before the station opened.

On the basis of “two or three weeks” training in Melbourne – where they were not all that expert anyway – he had to learn a new set of skills in a hurray, principally how to change his thinking from the written word to the spoken word, and how to put those words on film. And how to teach others to do it.

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Former general manager Bill McKenzie signed on at the start, and never looked back.

They all learnt on the job, doing anything that needed doing, and worked every day preparing for the October 16, 1959, launch. “Then it occurred to us that we’d have to do it all again the next day and the next.”

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One Response to “The First 50 Years – Part 1”

  1. Andrew says:

    i tried to download some of the PDFs but they just come up blank?

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