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Video clip synopsis – Tim Bowden describes how radio continued to prosper after the launch of television. John Safran reveals what attracts him to television production rather than radio. Corinne Grant talks about the link between the soap box and talkback radio.
Year of production - 2004
Duration - 1min 56sec
Tags - audiences, broadcasting, change and continuity, media, radio, talkback radio, technological change, television, see all tags


Effects of TV on radio

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About the Video Clip


The interviews with Tim Bowden, John Safran and Corinne Grant were recorded for the website From Wireless to Web, produced in 2005.

Tim Bowden is a broadcaster, radio and delivision documentary maker, oral historian and author. John Safran is a filmmaker and self-proclaimed media hooligan. Corinne Grant is a comic, writer and actor. You can view their full biographies at From Wireless to Web

The website is a selective history of broadcast media in Australia. Decade by decade, from radio and newsreels to TV and the internet, this history shows how the Australian broadcast media developed and shaped the way Australians see themselves.

From Wireless to Web is a Film Australia production in association with Roar Film.

Curriculum Focus


Area of study 2. Technologies of representation

This area of study focuses on the production of representations by students in two or more media forms. Students then compare how the application of the different media technologies affects the meanings that can be created in the representations. The implications for the distribution and/or consumption of these representations are also discussed.

Different media technologies represent the world in different ways. Each, through its technology, materials, techniques, applications and processes, produces a particular representation of the world. While the different forms of media (for example, television, radio and the internet) have practices that are common, they also have features that result in the production of media products with characteristics that are unique. The use of codes and conventions to convey ideas and meaning in the representations is considered in the context of the media forms in which the technologies were applied and with reference to the specific forms and characteristics of the representations produced.

This material is an extract. Teachers and Students should consult the Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority website for more information.

Background Information


The introduction of television services in Australia brought vast changes to the radio industry. Radio’s serial dramas, variety and quiz shows – the mainstay of evening programming – appealed less to listeners when they discovered they could watch similar formats on television. Many listeners would rather watch films and shows imported from the United States than sit in a room and listen to a locally produced, original play on the radio. Some radio broadcasters predicted that television would be the death of radio altogether. But radio reinvented itself, and fought back powerfully on two fronts.

First, radio could report news instantly, while television news was initially slower to produce. So radio increased its news reporting. Radio stations bought more cars and fitted them with two-way radios, to get to the scene of news stories and quickly report back to the newsrooms. Radio promoted itself as the medium for the news 'scoop’.

Secondly, radio introduced a format termed 'talkback’. With television up and running in Australia, listeners still continued to tune in to their favourite talkback shows on radio. So radio stations looked for ways to enhance the format and invited their listeners to 'phone in’. Previously illegal, the break for radio broadcasters came in 1967 when Federal Parliament authorised the broadcast of material via the telephone. At 9am on 17 April 1967, radio host Mike Walsh on 2SM opened the lines to listeners’ calls, making him the first presenter to have his own legal talkback program on Australian radio.

Classroom Activities

  1. Why do you think radio struggled to compete with television in the early days?
    1. List two areas where you think television is better than radio.
    2. List two areas where you think radio is better than television.
    3. How did radio respond to the challenge?
  2. Answer the following questions after watching the video clip.
    1. Does radio really offer everyone a ‘soapbox’ or way of being heard? Is what Corinne Grant saying really the case?
  3. Listen to a popular talk back radio program and answer the following questions:
    1. Who do you think is listening and calling in to the program? Does the time it is broadcast influence this?
    2. Do you think the callers are a representative section of the population? List some groups that you think may not be represented.
    3. What is the main issue being discussed? Do you think these are important issues that need to be discussed?
    4. Do you think all callers are treated equally? Are the broadcasters views obvious?
    5. Do you think it is a reasoned and fair debate? Why?

Further Resources


Go to From Wireless to Web for more about the history of broadcast media in Australia.