Category Archives: History

The Pioneering Otago Radio Stations

When Telecom unearthed its files on early private radio stations in Otago, it came up with more than dust and cobwebs. Radio New Zealand historian JIM SULLIVAN recounts the “fascinating stories” of the province’s radio station in the 1930s.

DUNEDIN was New Zealand’s “radio capital” in the early 1930s as it boasted more radio stations than any other city. Public radio was administered by the Broadcasting Board in Wellington and it had two Dunedin stations 4YA and 4YO.

RADIO – In the “Good Old Days” – Reference to 2AQ Taihape.

RADIO – In the “Good Old Days”.

From “The N.Z. Radio Times” dated Wednesday, June 10, 1936.

Station 2AQ, Taihape, owned and operated by Morton W. Coutts, first came on the air in 1922, and in the following article Mr. W. T. Chappen tells of the thrills he experienced while using an old-time receiver during the years that 2AQ was transmitting.

With a view to suitably illustrating this article we delved deeply into dusty relics of bygone days and finally managed to unearth these sets, although we are still uncertain whether they were used in the stone age or for communication between Britain and Rome in the time of Julius Caesar.

Frank Barnett’s NZ Card Collection

The following are Frank’s cards courtesy of his son Bruce of Taieri Mouth near Dunedin.

How to write a “DX Report” – Hints from Merv Branks

Here are some tips on “Report Writing” from the March 1938 issue of “The N.Z. Radio Times.

The author is a very well known past NZRDXL member in the name of Merv Branks. Merv at this times was a very senior and well respected member of the “NZ DX Club”. For those that are unaware, Merv used the pseudonym “The Southlander” when writing to the newspapers and magazines of the day.

Report Hints by Mrev branks


Some further in-sights into the life of one time DX Champion – Frank Barnett

Frank as well as belonging to the “NZ DX Club” was also a member “NZ DX RA”.

This is his actual “NZ DX RA” badge which is now in the possession of his son Bruce.


After his station 4ZO was closed by the Government, he took up occupation with the “New Zealand Broadcasting Service. The top of the photos below, shows Frank operating the NZBS mobile recording unit’s cutting lathe in 1948. He was the main technician involved in touring in this ex army truck “mobile recording unit” around Otago and Southland to interview some of the remaining pioneers about their lives on the goldfields and such. Son Bruce remembers it being parked at their place in Alison Crescent, Dunedin on the odd occasion. The vehicle had jacks at each corner to level it to enable the cutting lathe to operate.

Nationwide Membership List for NZ DX Club

The attached list is my attempt at trying to assemble a membership list for the NZ DX Club. It is only a partial list based on my limited access to copies of “The N.Z. Radio Times”.

I would like to extend this list for historical prosperity, so if any members have other copies of the “The N.Z. Radio Times” I would like to have a lend of them. They will be very well looked after and returned safely.

Bill Marsh –

DX Club Membership


A DX Competition from 1936

An item from “The N.Z Radio Times” dated Tuesday, August 4, 1936.

This is an account of the winner of “The DX Challange Cup” a very sort after cup by members of the “NZ DX Club” in that time period. Note the receiver used and the tally of verifications. This was a period of record low sunspot activity when MW ruled supreme.


Australian AM Station List from 1932

New Zealand MW Station Listing from 1932


Some Trophy Results from 1976 – 1978

Albert Stanton Cup for Broadcast:

1st Southland 3420 points — 2nd Caterbury 2414 points.

Hope McGregor Cup for Shortwave:

1st Auckland 2861 points — 2nd Southland 2813 points.

Columbus Trophy:

1st Southland 6233 points — 2nd Canterbury 5123 points

Denis O’Callahan’s Personal History Of Radio Hauraki


It started for me when I was living in New Caledonia, having washed up there on a yacht and got a job with a local radio repair shop and a guy called Stan Clinch, who ran an outfit called Kiwi Radio. He’d been a wartime radar technician and had gone back to New Caledonia where he had been stationed during the war, to set up a radio repair shop.

Something of the life of a “one-time” DX Champion from the Dunedin Area and some early NZ Radio station cards.

This article relates to a Mr Frank W. A. Barnett owner of 4ZO Dunedin and builder of its transmitter. It has been scribed by Bill Marsh (Jnr) with all historical background information supplied by Frank’s son Bruce formerly of Wanaka and now of Taieri Beach near Dunedin. It is a small world as it is understood that Frank introduced my dad Bill (Snr) to the hobby of DX around 1935 and when I was restoring my dad’s first ever DX receiver chassis (1934 Patterson 185AW) it was son Bruce who was able to supply a missing cabinet and knobs along with a spare chassis. This first meeting between Frank and Bill (Snr) most likely had some connection with the Dunedin Branch of the NZDXRA.

Some early “Insights” into Dunedin’s “B” Stations.


From the “Otago Daily Times”, 3 August 1935, page 22.





From the Branch Minute Books – Transcribed by Bill Marsh – Christian names added ( )

The first meeting of the Southland Branch of the New Zealand Radio DX league was held at the residence of Mr R. DUFF (Roland), 22 Jackson Street (Invercargill) on Tuesday 31st August, 1948.

Members present: Messrs. Warburton (Lloyd), Branks (Merv), Cushen (Arthur), Goodsir (George), Allan (Alex), Perkins (Harvey), Tombs (Evan), Frampton (Des), Duff (Roland), Mercer (Graham) and Carter (Dudley).

Moved Mr. Tombs 2nd Mr. Frampton that a branch of NZRDXL be formed.

Election of Officers;

An International Log from a NZ DXer.

From; THE AUSTRALIAN RADIO WORD, Page 46, September 1, 1937.

DX  News and Views *** A page for letters from DX readers.

An International Log

Bill Marsh (Snr.)

A few words about dxing in New Zealand. VK’s on 20 metres have been coming in well for the last three months, and very seldom were signals less than Q5, R8-9. A few of the best were VK’s 4JU, 2XU, 2ADE, 2HF 2MH, 3AL, 2IQ, 3ZL, 5GM, 5AW and a few others, the best tone for  music being VK5GM and 3AL. VK2XU and 4JU have the best all-round transmitters. My set does not go down to 10 metres, but I can receive VK2GU, 3WB and a few others on harmonics. There are a few ZL’s on 10 and 5 metres, but have not beard any yet.

4XG Gore 1548 kHZ – Radio New Zealand

I am currently in Invercargill visiting family. Whilst going through some of my sister’s old photographs the other day I came across a verification card addressed to my mother. 4XG Gore was operating on a temporary warrant at this time. The year 1979 is way past my dad (Bill Marsh Snr) interest in sending out reports. I can only suspect the transmission by this station has some important significance as I am not aware of a call 4XG. I am assuming that my dad realised the significance of this transmission and my mother wrote the report and she received the verification. Can anybody provide some history on this station as it has me completely puzzled.

The Wirelss World from 1930


By Magna Vox.


From the Otago Daily Times , Issue 20993, 4 April 1930, Page 5.


Hearing KGO in 1924




From the Auckland Star, Volume LV, Issue 179, 30 July 1924, Page 8.

“Come round to-night.”‘ said Jenkins, as I swung on a neighbouring strap in our morning tramcar. “You will have a real treat; you will be able to hear K.G.O.”. Who or what K.G.O. was I had not the faintest idea. The cryptic letters conveyed to me merely a sense of my inferiority, mill I was loath to seek explanation under the gaze of many envious eyes turned in the direction of our conversation. To display ignorance of radio terms in these enlightened days is tantamount to being unable to recognise a Ford car, either by eye or by ear. So, in a fit of misguided enthusiasm I declared that nothing would keep me from hearing K.G.O.

Radio Notes from 1934


Prepared for the Guardian by STENTOR.

From the Ellesmere Guardian, Volume LV, Issue 64, 14 August 1934, Page 2.

Mr D. N. Adams, of Timaru, has been the successful competitor in the DX Cup competition, logging 546 verified stations. This competition originated some years ago, and each year the advance made in the number of stations logged has been amazing, indicating not only the worldwide growth of radio, but the great advances made in the construction of radio receivers. In 1931, 291 stations were logged, 366 the next-year, 416 in 1933, early this year 500, and now 546. Another remarkable feature of the competition is that on all four occasions the coveted trophy has been won by the aid of a Majestic receiver, a splendid tribute to the high standard of quality maintained by this well-known instrument.

Radio Notes from 1933


(Written for the Guardian). By “Screen Grid.”

From the Ellesmere Guardian, Volume LI, Issue 39, 19 May 1933, Page 3.