In most parts of the country the telethon is only a fading memory – there was a time when each city, and even some regional areas, had at least one telethon aired during the year. A lot of these have long gone but a few still remain.

Perth’s TVW7 still produces an annual telethon – raising funds for local children’s charities since 1968. The TVW appeal has raised over $73 million since its inception.

In Melbourne, the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal has been an annual tradition since 1931. The appeal began as a sports carnival hosted by newspaper The Sporting Globe (published by the Herald and Weekly Times). Just over a decade later, radio station 3DB (also of the Herald Weekly Times group) joined the appeal.

Television arrived in Melbourne in 1956, and the new Herald and Weekly Times television station HSV7 conducted its first telethon in 1957 in association with 3DB and The Sporting Globe.

Even when all three media outlets were split up to separate owners in 1987, the Good Friday Appeal continued between them. It is only in 2007 that the first major change in the partnership has occurred with Southern Cross Broadcasting (radio stations 3AW and Magic) taking on the radio component of the Appeal, effectively ending a 65-year relationship between the Good Friday Appeal and 3DB (then 3TT, TTFM and Mix 101.1) The telethon also has the support of regional Victoria through the co-operation of Prime Television relaying and contributing to the HSV7 broadcast.

The appeal has continued with overwhelming support – usually breaking record totals every year. In 1968, the Appeal raised $400,000. Less than a decade later, the first $1 million final total was reached. In 2006, over $10 million was raised to fund research and major projects at the hospital. In total, since 1931, over $160 million has been raised for the hospital – enabling it to maintain its reputation as a leading paediatric hospital.

(Pictured: HSV7 weathergirl Debbie Phin and a young patient, promoting the 1976 Good Friday Appeal on the cover of Listener In-TV)

Update @ 12.05am 7.4.07: The 2007 Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal has signed off with a record total of $11,788,970.87 – exceeding last year’s total by over $1.5 million.

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