abw2 ABC’s Perth TV station, ABW2, turns 50 years old today, 7 May.

ABW2, the national broadcaster’s fifth TV station, conducted its first test transmissions from 19 April 1960 and had its opening night on Saturday 7 May 1960.  The opening night’s proceedings included fifteen minutes of speeches from dignitaries, including ABC Chairman Sir Richard Boyer, before the Postmaster-General CW Davidson officially opened the channel at 7.00pm.  More than 300 invited guests witnessed the opening night from ABW’s new Rosehill studios in Adelaide Terrace, Perth.

James Fisher read ABW2’s first news bulletin.  The rest of the evening featured Tales Of Wells Fargo and The Phil Silvers Show then British series Portraits Of Power and Boyd QC.  A sports review followed and then the night concluded with the prize winning documentary Up With Guba, the story of the development of New Guinea, before transmission closed at 10.35pm.

Some of ABW2’s early on-camera stars included Ian Beatty, Geoff Walker, Earl Reeve, Jim Fitzmaurice, John Treffry, Clive Hale (who later became a national ABC presenter) and presentation announcer Diana Ward, who won the first TV Week Logie award for Western Australia in 1962.  Later names included Greg Pearce, Anne Conti, Peter Holland, Geraldine Mellett and Susannah Carr.

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ABW2 was based at Adelaide Terrace until 2005 when ABC moved radio and television operations into new premises at Fielder Street, East Perth.  The 600 square metre studio located at the new site ranks it almost equal to ABC’s studio facilities in Sydney and Melbourne.

To commemorate its 50th anniversary, ABW2 is inviting all current and former staff members to afternoon tea – as a homage to the ‘tea ladies’ that served at the station up until the early ‘80s – at the East Perth studios on Sunday 16 May from 2.00pm.  Anyone interested in purchasing tickets to the event ($25.00) are invited to contact [email protected]

A more detailed account of the history of ABW2 can be found at WA TV History.

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