George Ivan Smith

George Ivan
Family name: 
Work area/craft/role: 
Interview Number: 
Interview Date(s): 
12 May 1995

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Bora: 11.7.15. Father pioneer penal reformer in Australia, superintendent of Shaftesbury Institution. Family emigrated from Dumfries in 1830. Pioneering family. Father fought in Boer War. Brought up in liberal atmosphere. Lived a mile from landing of first settlers. Saw

building of Sydney Harbour Bridge. Moved from Sydney to Parramatta. Then to Bathurst. Then Goulbum. Followed in wake of colonial expansion. Built first crystal set in 1930.

Worked on sheep stations. (Digresses on science programmes he put on at the BBC during the war with the leading scientists of the day). Began working as a teacher on £1 per week.

Applied for announcer's job at radio station 2WL at Wollongong, owned by local electrician.

Big newspapers bought in to radio. Big coal industry buUt up in the area. Did every job on this little country radio station. On the air 14 hours a day. Paid £8 per week. Describes the

variety of programmes he made. Radio became important in building up community feeling

among a scattered population. Keith Murdoch building up interests at the time. (Digresses on time he had David Low write "cartoons for the air" on the BBC). Loneliness of living in a

large empty country. Poor communications. Radio helped fill this gap. Australia isolated from

Europe. Twelve weeks sea voyage. Test match commentary broadcast simulation in studio based on tables sent from London at end of every over. Applause supplied by leather flaps in studio. Produced by Charles Moses at ABC. Some shops had radio and scoreboard in window. Crowds watched on pavement, in the middle of the night. After a couple of years

applied to Australian Broadcasting Commission to make programme on young ideas. At audition abandoned {H'epared script and spoke his own ideas. Became an announcer. (43'57")

End of Side 1.

Then started programme "Young Ideas" for listeners of his generation. Big audience in the

outback. Got into trouble over programme on youth unemployment. Got statistics from

Premier of NSW through family contact. Used these in his programme. Produced by Paul

Jacklin, who was a young Orson Weles. Pressure from politicians to sack him. Protected by

his chairman. Minister threatened the whole Commission, but backed down. Programmes on

"New World Movements": world political systems and organisations, and national political

issues. Then became Talks Editor as well as producing his own programmes. Further

programmes on hobbies for the young. Sent programme notes through the mail. Nationwide

coverage. Technical side of ABC run by the Post Office. Couldn't move their own

micr(q)hones. In 1939 sent to Melbourne to start up short wave service. Had to forestall comm^cial stations getting in on it. (Australia had only Trade Commissioners. Diplomacy

handled by British Foreign Office.) Set up in two weeks. Went on air exactly on schedule.(43'27")