ADELAIDE IS BELIEVED TO BE THE SETTING FOR AUSTRALIA’S FIRST UNOFFICIAL WIRELESS EXPERIMENT in 1899 – a few years after Guglielmo Marconi’s original radio tests.
The radio signals, in Morse code, were sent by Adelaide University’s future Nobel Prize physics laureate William Bragg. These signals culminated in one exchanged over eight kilometres between Bragg, at his Henley Beach holiday hut, and his father in law and South Australia postmaster general Charles Todd at the Adelaide Observatory on West Terrace.
Adelaide’s other definite radio first came in 1972 with 5UV leading the way as a public radio station on air in Australia.
5UV (now Radio Adelaide) was set up by Adelaide University through its department of continuing education. Because of the concept of community radio stations was still not covered by federal law, 5UV was granted just 12 hours a week of continuing education material with no music and just off the AM band on VL5UV.
This was far short of the vision of Jim Warburton, head of the department of continuing education and Keith Conlon, the manager of VL5UV. Later in 1972, the federal parliament did accept the principle of public/community broadcasting.
In between William Bragg’s experiment and the start of 5UV – and especially before television arrived – Adelaide radio enjoyed golden years with stations like 5DN, 5KA and 5AD.
In a new era, SAFM was born in 1980 under the call sign of 5SSA as Adelaide’s first commercial radio station to broadcast on the FM band. SAFM became a trendsetter, launching the comedy careers of Adams Hill and Anthony “Lehmo” Lehmann among others. It was also sponsor of a major annual Skyshow fireworks from 1985 to 2006.