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Video clip synopsis – A young boy plays along with a musical game during one of the many ABC broadcasts for children. Children from around Australia tune into a kindergarten broadcast over the ABC. Tim Bowden remembers the ABC children's program The Argonauts.
Year of production - 1950s
Duration - 2min 48sec
Tags - children, creativity, culture, radio, script writing, see all tags


Family radio

How to Download the Video Clip

To download a free copy of this Video Clip choose from the options below. These require the free Quicktime Player.

download clip icon Premium MP4 families_pr.mp4 (20.7MB).

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Additional help.

About the Video Clip


The first video clip is an excerpt from the film This is the ABC produced by the Film Division of the Department for the Interior for the Australian Broadcasting Commission in 1955. The second video clip is an excerpt from the film The Invisible Link, produced by the Department of the Interior for the Postmaster-General’s Department for the Australian National Film Board in 1951. Both archival video clips are on the From Wireless to Web website, produced in 2005.

The interview with Tim Bowden was recorded for the website. Tim Bowden is a broadcaster, radio and delivision documentary maker, oral historian and author. You can view his full biography 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


Students will:

  • discuss the style and content of the archival radio clips and compare to radio and television today
  • listen to a variety of contemporary radio programs and discuss genres and styles
  • write a short script for a children’s radio program and record it

Curriculum links
National: The Statements of Learning for English- Year 5

Year 5 Reading
Students read and view texts that entertain. They read and view imaginative texts. These texts contain characters, settings and plots developed in some detail, and may contain topics and issues that extend beyond the immediate plot. Students understand that the main ideas in imaginative texts are developed through interconnecting plot, character and setting. They identify how language is used to portray characters, people and events in particular ways (eg to create a positive or negative perspective).
Students have the opportunity to draw on their knowledge of texts and language to clarify meaning. They know:

  • the function of the different stages of imaginative texts (eg in stories an orientation sets the scene and introduces and describes characters, a sequence of events can build up complications and resolutions to create tension and suspense)
  • that figurative language (eg simple similes) conveys images of settings and characters

Year 5 Writing
Students write texts for known readers to entertain, inform and persuade in print and electronic mediums. They write imaginative texts that may include stories, simple poems and scripts. They understand that writers can explore their own ideas and feelings through the characters and situations they create in imaginative texts. When students write imaginative texts, they describe characters and settings and use dialogue. They develop a storyline of sequenced events with a problem and a resolution and include details relevant to the storyline. They create an ending that draws together elements of the storyline, sometimes in a resolution.

Year 5 Speaking and listening
Students understand that speaking and listening provides opportunities to clarify ideas and understandings on a topic, to give simple arguments and to seek the opinions of others. They understand that people, places, events and things can be portrayed in particular ways.

This is an extract only. Go to The National Curriculum Statements for English
Teachers and students should consult their state’s curriculum and learning programs.

Background Information


The wireless delivered education and entertainment to children, companionship to women at home, and gave families an evening pastime.

The ABC’s Children’s Session with its Argonauts Club began in 1933, and by 1950 the club boasted 50,000 members. School lessons were broadcast in all States. Programs such as Women’s Session and Banish Drudgery dominated morning slots, with hints on health, mothercraft, the science of beauty, cooking and cleaning. Popular recorded music (English and American crooners and dance bands) was the staple of the commercial radio stations.

But family serials were the most popular entertainment, and most popular of these sagas was Dad and Dave, based on Steele Rudd’s classic On Our Selection (1899). According to the first radio episode in 1937: “this is a human story of two typical Australians … their families, their lives, their hopes, their dreams, their fears and their triumphs … you’ll laugh with them … and perhaps their troubles will remind you of your own …” (Kent 37)

Classroom Activities

  1. Getting started
    As a class view the broadcaster interview with Tim Bowden and the archival video clip from The Invisible Link then discuss-
    1. the Kindergarten of the Air clip- what signals to us that this is a program from a long time ago? Is there a comparable radio program for very young children today? Compare Play School on ABC TV with the style of this program.
    2. the reasons why radio dramas and programs a such as the Argonauts were popular in the 1950’s.
  2. Scan the dial of a radio and ask students to name the genres of programs they hear: music, talk, news, interviews, issues etc. Or copy or download a variety of clips of radio from the Internet. Radio drama is still broadcast on radio national on the ABC, and book readings. Try to listen to a selection of these.
    1. Discuss the general popularity of radio today, compared to that of television, and whether radio is better at doing some things than television, eg: talkback, music
  3. Recording a radio program
    In groups, children write a short script for segments of a radio program: from the station ID to DJ and music, reviews of books, films and TV, sports announcements etc
    Using sound effects and music if required, rehearse then record your group’s radio segment as a sound file for your school’s intranet. (Remember you don’t have to record everything in one “take”.)

Further Resources


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

Go to Having Fun, The War Years, scroll down to Children’s Radio Club advertisement from Western Mail, 2 December 1948

Go to The ABC celebrates 100 years for more about children’s programs.

Go to The Education Shop for articles about radio in Australia and further activities