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Gippsland’s first radio station 3TR celebrates 90 years

The region’s first radio station, 3TR, went to air on 29 September 1930 and is still young, fresh and vibrant!

By Greg Allen-Pretty

3TR in Stawell St, Sale, 1957. Photo by announcer Ken Guy.

Gippsland’s first radio station is now 90 years old and is still dominating the region’s radio listening. Now two separate stations, TRFM and Gippsland’s Gold began life as 3TR on 29 September 1930.

In fact the roots of 3TR go back even further, when the Trafalgar Radio Club was tinkering with low power broadcasts as an ‘experimental’ station in 1929. Operated by Frank Berkery, it was known as 3FB. However it wasn’t long before the amateur service developed into a fully licenced commercial radio station, relaunching as 3TR in 1930. It was Gippsland’s first radio station, at a time when there were only four in Melbourne and two others in regional Victoria.

Archibald Gilchrist from Melbourne station 3DB led the Trafalgar Radio Club in this new endeavour but it soon became apparent that changes were needed for 3TR to be commercially viable. Gilchrist bought 3TR from the club in 1932 and moved it to the larger town of Sale. With studios in Stawell Street then York Street (Princes Highway), 3TR remained there for the next 57 years, providing music, news and sport for listeners across Central and East Gippsland. The station grew from strength to strength through the war years, the era of radio serials and quizzes, then the birth of Top 40 music.

Keith McGowan was one of many significant radio figures who spent the early years of their careers at 3TR. This is Keith at the 3TR microphone in 1961.

The next big change came in 1989 when 3TR made another move, this time to Traralgon. Then in 2002, 3TR became two stations. With the granting of an FM licence 3TR-FM was born, while a separate station continued on 3TR’s old AM frequency of 1242 kHz, today known as ‘Gippsland’s Gold’.

Some if this history is from our earlier article: Gippsland’s 90 years of radio

Under the ownership of the ACE Radio Network, TRFM and Gold continue to be a vital part of the Gippsland community as official emergency broadcasters, providers of local news and information, and by partnering with many community groups and events in the region – all this within a popular format of music and entertainment. As commercial stations, TRFM and Gold are also important to the Gippsland business community and economy, providing an effective opportunity for businesses to promote themselves to a mass audience.

The most recent research into the listening habits of radio listeners from Morwell to Orbost in 2019 revealed that more people are tuning in to TRFM and Gippsland’s Gold than any other radio combo. The Xtra Insights survey confirmed that ACE Radio reaches 79,400 people every week in the region between Morwell and Orbost, or 58% of the population aged 10+.

In 2020 there are more sources of news and entertainment available than ever before. Yet TRFM and Gippsland’s Gold general manager Mat Cummins said the stations have never been more needed, relevant and appreciated.

“We’re proud of our history, and continue to be proud of the role we play in the lives of Gippslanders today,” Mr Cummins said.

“3TR has always been a shining light in Australian regional radio and is still highly regarded in the industry. And the fact that we continue to attract the loyal support of listeners and advertisers means we’re on a strong footing for a successful future.”

90 years of 3TR is something to celebrate, which Mr Cummins said they will do as soon as Covid-19 restrictions allow. An announcement will be made regarding a public event when social distancing rules are relaxed.


3TR, 3GI and 3UL were the first three stations in Gippsland, and are still around with new identities: Gippsland’s 90 years of radio

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