Our story | A music store struck a chord with the radio revolution | The Examiner


The establishment of 7ZL in Hobart in 1924 was a source of considerable frustration for the northern half of Tasmania. In the beginning, you had to buy a license – either to broadcast or to receive. Receiver licenses funded radio stations. When 7ZL started, we were too far away to hear them, but we still had to pay a license fee to own a receiver. And the radios were locked to one station! Of course, we could have created our own station, except that it was illegal. The Commonwealth government issued broadcast licenses only in capital cities. Launceston’s major music store, Findlays, was selling radio sets, but was forced to know that buyers would be severely limited in what they could hear – even after 7ZL increased its transmit power. Fortunately, the law quickly changed, granting commercial licenses to broadcasters for ad-supported stations. The listening licenses remained, but the devices could pick up any station. Brothers Norman and Algernon Findlay soon started a business to own and operate commercial radio stations. As Findlays had a large Hobart store and another brother (Selwyn) there running it, the new company started with 7HO in Hobart in June 1930, broadcasting from the store. In Launceston they installed 7LA and a test broadcast was sent from Findlays premises on the corner of George and Brisbane streets on 11 December 1930. The signal could be heard clearly as far away as Zeehan and Smithton. With no programs at the moment, the show appealed for loan funds to enable them to continue. It was a huge hit, bringing in a substantial 3755 pounds in 24 hours. The official launch followed on December 15, led by Postmaster General Joe Lyons (soon to be Prime Minister) and Air Commodore Kingsford Smith. The business was an instant success, taking over the entire first floor of the Findlays store, with Bill Fitzmorris-Hill as manager. At the same time, the station has become an integral and essential part of the community. Through depression, floods, and pandemics, he reported, sympathized, and raised charitable funds. Ownership changed in 1938 when the Findlays were sold to the Macquarie network. Dan Richardson of The Examiner took over as director. The Findlays were now free to set up 7DY at Derby, bringing in the legendary Cliff Parish as manager. He had started the Sunpolishers Children’s Club at 7BU in 1935. In 1954, a major new transmitter was built in Scottsdale, and 7DY moved to become 7SD. At the same time, 7LA built a new transmitter at Riverside. In 1938, a competitor to 7LA appeared with the creation of 7EX, but that hardly mattered – 7LA was now part of our lives. It was a similar story when television arrived. Although TNT9 started in 1962, it had little impact. Radios had become transistorized, cheaper and portable. Unlike TV, we could listen to 7LA anywhere, anytime.


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