3AW first hit the airwaves at 8pm at His Majesty’s Theatre on Exhibition Street on 22 February 1932. The historic milestone comes at a time when the radio station has never been more popular with listeners. The final survey of 2021 marked the 58th consecutive survey win for 3AW, which remains Melbourne’s No. 1 station across Breakfast, Mornings, Afternoons, Drive, Nights and Weekends.
Breakfast with Ross Stevenson and Russel Howcroft wrapped up 2021 with a 24.1 per cent share – rating more than three times better than the nearest commercial competitor.
Neil Mitchell in Mornings achieved a 17.9 per cent share at the end of the year – 4.3 points ahead of his nearest competitor.
Dee Dee Dunleavy is No. 1 in Afternoons, recording a 12.9 per cent share in the last survey.
Tom Elliott is No. 1 in Drive, with a 14.0 per cent share at the end of 2021.
And Denis Walter ranks No. 1 at night, last recording a share of 20.0 per cent.
Stephen Beers, 3AW Station Manager, said: “As we celebrate this momentous occasion, we continue to be truly humbled that the people of Melbourne consistently choose us as their favourite radio station.
“We’re a trusted place that people turn to for the very latest in breaking news. But we’re also an immense source of entertainment. And for many we provide companionship. As we look forward to the next 90 years, these are things we will never take for granted.”
3AW began broadcasting from makeshift studios at His Majesty’s Theatre on Exhibition Street in Melbourne on February 22, 1932.
In 1935, 3AW Moved to 382 Latrobe Street, where it would remain for the next 55 years.
In 1990, the station relocated to Bank Street, South Melbourne, before moving to Collins Street 20 years later.
Some of the station’s most memorable programs and stars of the past 90 years include:
· Nicky and Tuppy’s children’s program Chatterbox Corner, which ran from 1932 until 1946.
· Doug Elliot who joined in 1934 at the age of 17, performing bush ballads such as Kanga on Chatterbox Corner. He would go on to enjoy a long and successful career in radio, television and politics.
· The radio serial Flash Gordon which aired in 1935.
· Roy Rene, signed in 1936. As the bawdy character Mo McCackie, Rene was one of the best known and most successful Australian comedians of the 20th century.
· The Quiz Kids show which first went to air in 1942. It featured a panel of school children who attempted to answer general knowledge questions. Hosted by John Dease, it ran for over 20 years.
· 1944: 3AW began calling VFL matches.
· The radio serial Biggles which commenced in 1950.
· In 1952, Martha Gardener first hosted a program featuring handy household hints – and did it for the next 30 years.
· Norman Banks who joined the station in 1952. Over the next 26 years he presented numerous programs, as well as calling football.
· Denis Gibbons whose 19-year career at 3AW began in 1953.
· The radio serial Tarzan which began in 1954. It was narrated by Roger Climpson who would later host This Is Your Life on television.
· David McGee who began his 31-year career at 3AW in 1955.
· Also in 1955, the weekly half-hour radio serial starring Australia’s singing cowboy, Smoky Dawson, began an eight-year run on 3AW.
· Geoff Manion who began his 30-year career at the station in 1956.
· In 1963, The Teenage Mailbag Cub was launched with Denis Gibbons at the helm. Eight weeks later it would have almost 50,000 members.
· The first form of talkback was broadcast on 3AW in 1963. Conversations were not allowed to go to air live, as per government regulations.
· In 1966, Barbara Gething began hosting the midnight to dawn shift, becoming the station’s first female overnight announcer.
· In 1967, live talkback radio was legalised.
· Nightline began its 49-year run in 1970, initially hosted by Don Taylor.
· Billie Karen: she started her seven-year run hosting the afternoon program in 1971.
· Also in 1971, Alex Kenworthy took over Nightline. He would host it for the next 20 years.
· In the same year, Jim Archer passed away at the desk while panelling 3AW’s football broadcast. He would later be declared the “3AW Ghost”, with which many staff would tell of their interactions in years to come, including David Mann, Muriel Cooper, Colin Tyrus and Philip Brady.
· In 1972, Philip Brady began an eight-year run hosting weekend music. He left 3AW in 1980, returned in 1990, and is still with the station today.
· Harry Beitzel joined 3AW in 1972. Together with Bill Jacobs and Tommy Lahiff, they would form a team hosting 3AW Football for 17 years.
· In 1973, Malcolm Stewart joined the station as a correspondent. He is still heard on the Breakfast and Drive program every day and is 3AW’s longest serving employee.
· David Mann joined 3AW as an office boy in 1973. He would rise to become Marketing Manager and is still heard on 3AW as Mann About Town.
· In 1978, Peter Hitchener started hosting Breakfast with Paul Barber.
· Derryn Hinch began hosting Mornings in 1979.
· Also in 1979, Rex Hunt joined 3AW as a football commentator.
· In the same year, Remember When began with Paul Cronin, Neville Wragg and Lennie Holmes. The program still broadcasts today.
· Darren James began at 3AW in 1979. He is still on air with the station.
· In 1980, John Blackman was hired to host Breakfast with Sam Lipski.
· Bruce Mansfield replaced Sam in the Breakfast shift in 1981.
· In 1984, Muriel Cooper started hosting the Afternoons program.
· The Coodabeen Champions: they joined 3AW in 1985.
· In 1987, Neil Mitchell joined 3AW as the Weekend Breakfast announcer, moving to Drive the same year.
· Lawyers, Guns and Money with Ross Stevenson, Dennis Donoghue and Dean Banks started as the new Breakfast program in 1989.
· In 1991, the Breakfast program was rebranded as Breakfast with Ross and Dean after Denis Donoghue departed the station.
· The Rumour File was introduced to the Breakfast program in 1993 and is still an integral part of the show, 29 years later.
· Sports Saturday with Gerard Healy and David Hookes went to air in 1995. It became Sports Today in 1997, when it moved to week nights from 6pm-7pm. It retains that timeslot with the name Sportsday and Gerard is still hosting.
· In 1996, Ernie Sigley began hosting the Afternoons program.
· John Burns joined the Breakfast program in 2000, following the retirement of Dean Banks.
· In 2005, Kelli Underwood became the first woman to call a football match.
· Denis Walter began hosting the Afternoons program in 2008 before moving to Nights in 2020.
· In 2012, Tom Elliott began hosting the Drive shift.
· Dee Dee Dunleavy started hosting Afternoons in 2020.
· Also in 2020, Russel Howcroft replaced John Burns at Breakfast.