60 Years of QLD TV

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The ten moments that shaped a station: TVQ 0-10 45th.

Memories, that define a station's legacy... Ten in Brisbane has had many moments, in the last 45 years, but culling them to a fine list of 10 was hard. Included in this, are some happy, some sad moments, and some moments that live in the psyche, for years to come: This is a record, of what Ten should be remembering on July 1 2010, to set a course, to be Brisbane's voice.

#10- The Person to Person era: TVQ's news never really got the lead over 9 and 7 in the eighties (due to Brisbane's three commercial news services all being at 6pm, and only came to the hour news table, in 1985) but one promo campaign served this era justice, all thanks to a mistake 7 regretted. Seven was still #1 at 6pm in 1987, but some changes happened, (State Affair being a casualty) which saw 7 fill out a hours worth of news, head to head with TVQ-0. Mike Higgins, had left 7 in late 1986, for better fortunes with TVQ, and suddenly he was beating his former employer when 7 went hourlong. A clever campaign was devised, simply being "Person to Person" with well known singer Doug Parkinson, doing the campaign. It helped cement TVQ, prior to Expo in 1988 (where for the first time, Brisbane had news services at 6 (9), 6:30 (7) and hourlong 6-7pm (0-10)), and the campaign was retired prior to the 0/10 switch.

#9- Celebrating 10 years, with a trainload of stars: In 1975, TVQ-0 turned ten years old, and had become successful thanks to programs like Number 96, The Box, Matlock Police etc. and to celebrate their birthday, the station literally brought the stars of those programs, to Brisbane to celebrate, with a specially hired train, whose arrival was aired, live during a cartoon program, and then followed by a telethon that night.

#8- 15 months, three owners, TVQ's rough arrival on Ten: Not much is said about the first year on 10 for TVQ, but it was a shambles. The first thing that happened, was the end of Expo, followed by the inevitable sale of TVQ, to Northern Star, thus creating a five city (as opposed to three years earlier, where News Limited controlled 10 in Sydney/Melbourne, TVW-7 in Perth controlled SAS-10 (which became a 7 station after Northern Star bought ADS-7 in 1987, and swapped ADS's 7 affiliation with SAS's 10 affiliation to make ADS a 10 owned and operated station), while Qintex controlled TVQ-0 and the Perth station was still in government planning) owned and operated Ten Network for the first time. What Northern Star did, was initially, retaining some of the things DDQ implemented, the "Brisbane Style" campaign, the on-air addressing as "Brisbane Ten", while changing others (Weekend news in '89, was done by Hugh Cornish, Pam Tamblyn and former 7 weatherman, Noel Stanaway, while former 7 Brisbane station announcer during the LYB heyday, Chuck Hobler started announcing for Ten in Brisbane) trying to make the station a great independent member of Network Ten, until Bob Shanks arrived, and rolled out new promos, and new programs. Eventually, Westfield pulled out of television, and sold TVQ-10 to Broadcom, alongside 10 Melbourne and Sydney, and major costcuts occured, which saw major changes to Ten nationwide.

#7- The late Peter Clark, TVQ news helicopter pilot: If you have moved up to Brisbane in the last decade and have seen the Ten News chopper, there is a story behind it. The current Ten chopper is the third chopper TVQ has had in twenty years. The first Ten branded chopper, a legacy from the TV0 era, costing the then "princely" sum of a million dollars, ditched in Moreton Bay (off Moreton Island) in February 1989, moments before landing, with the pilot Peter Clark, alongside three passengers (one of them being then-news anchor, Anna McMahon), all surviving, with barely a scratch. TVQ then bought a replacement helicopter, and Clark piloted it, until 1998, when the unthinkable happened, a routine return to Mt Coot-tha went wrong, and the chopper (this time with just Clark inside), crashed on the Mountain, and killed Clark. TV news crews from all stations rushed to the scene, including Peter's colleagues at TVQ.

#6- The Jacki Macdonald Show: "Freak Wave" and "the Wak".
Jacki McDonald is a woman of many talents. Only Jacki Mac, could pull off, a hectic 7 day schedule in two cities, in a era where talent was usually confined to one city only. Weekends, were spent in Melbourne, for Hey Hey It's Saturday, with Daryl Somers, on Nine, while weekdays were dominated, for a breakfast program on 0, which developed a fanbase. Leading up to Christmas in '79, a contest was run, and the grand prize was a boat. Various staffers (even Santa Claus), demonstrated the features, only to be soaked with a bucket of water, with a off-air chant "freak wave". This program, would be a springboard eventually, for live music (something no other program at breakfast even tried until 2004, when 7's Sunrise moved to Martin Place) and variety acts, usually saved for prime-time, as well as launching Brisbane's band, Wickety Wak, who went on and released a record with Jacki in 1980, "Love Me, Love My Dog" as well as a pantomime "Jackie and The Space Invaders", at Her Majesty's Theatre on Queen St (which was demolished for the Wintergarden shopping centre) as well as general promotional duties (including a medley of ad campaigns the band wrote, being released for charity, one year for a TVQ telethon) until 1983 when they moved up the road to Seven and produced the first Wickety Wak television special, Waks Works 1. Recently, Wickety Wak, even though they retired twice: first in 1990, then in 2009, have wanted to do a reunion show with Jacki Mac (as commented on this blog around six months ago), urged on by their fans, both old and new, to build on the nostalgia that Jacki brought to the Hey Hey reunions in 2009.

#5- The Team To Watch: Eyewitness News with Des McWilliam and Jacki McDonald...
There are some things, even Jacki couldn't control. The press in Brisbane was one of those things. By 1983, Jacki had been doing the Brisbane-Melbourne commute for nearly five years, while the 0-10 Network had become Network 10, and Nine in Melbourne had gained strides in the ratings. The Brisbane press, found some large photos, of Jacki in Melbourne dressed as a sandwich (even though Hey Hey was done with TVQ's blessing, and the Brisbane media knew of the Jacki Mac two city schedule as early as 1980), just as TVQ had launched a major billboard campaign inspired by the "Team To Watch" campaign used by the News Limited owned Ten's in Sydney and Melbourne (which had massive ratings gains thanks to moving to hour-long news) to boost ratings for the cost of $150,000. By the end of '83 however, Jacki committed to the Melbourne Hey Hey gig (which moved to primetime, and aired nationally) full time, while TVQ-0 became TV0, and prepared to air the 1984 Olympics.

#4- Controversy in the late 90's-early 00's...
This era's basis began after a incident concerning Glenn Taylor, (where the mikes were left on, and Glenn made a remark, during a story) had gotten him sacked. Geoff Mullins replaced Glenn, and the TVQ floor crew had not learned their lesson from a decade earlier (where Geoff and Anna McMahon returned from a ad break one night, no intro was played, instead you having Geoff and Anna talking about toxic shock), and cut from break a little too early, and caught Marie-Louise having a entertaining conversation about her husband with Geoff. Naturally, she had to apologize to viewers the next night. But the clip of that 2000 incident with Marie Louise, became viral, in the late 00's, and is a hit all over again, as a typical Australian news blooper.

#3- Bruce Paige comes to Ten: The Lifestyles of the Rich and Vocal.
1990 began, for Ten, as a recovery period from the "year with three owners", but they aimed for a big name, to change TVQ's position, in the news ratings. Around the same time, Bruce Paige's contract expired with Nine. Ten took advantage of a off contract Paige and some rumors of a bad off-air relationship with former TVQ'er, co-anchor Robin Parkin, and after a legal battle during non-ratings, Ten debuted Bruce, solo, in early February. By the end of 1990 however, Paige was one of the victims of cost cutting after Ten went into receivership, and went to Townsville, to launch QTV's statewide news service, with Des McWilliam taking over TVQ's news until Glenn Taylor returned home to Brisbane (after a stint in Melbourne for 7) in 1991.

#2- Ten, Brisbane Style: The inevitable move from 0 to 10.
September 9 in 1988, is remembered for the switch that was a culmination of nearly fifteen months of planning. It all started, when the then owners of TVQ-0, Qintex bought their competition, in Brisbane, BTQ-7, alongside the 7 Network stations in Sydney and Melbourne in July 1987. This created a duopoly, which has never been repeated in a metropolitan area, and was asked to shed one of the Qintex owned stations in Brisbane, to please the government. Qintex retained the BTQ acquisition, while TVQ-0 was sold, to Darling Downs Television (who took on a large amount of debt, to make the TVQ acquisition), a regional station, for $123million. Qintex had done some pre-investment for Expo 88, and it was retained, now saddled with a extra task, converting their station in Toowoomba to 0, to allow TVQ to go to 10. The switchover was prepared for, at first with promos for the 1988 Seoul Olympics airing with Ten logos and eventually a $5million dollar marketing campaign, to not just get people to convert for Seoul, but build a loyal audience, as Darling Downs would sell to Northern Star not long after Expo 88.

#1- When TV0 showed the world: World Expo 88...
Our number one moment in this countdown, only would happen once in our lifetime... The world, and it's achievements displayed on Brisbane's South Bank. World Expo 88, was a major operation for TVQ-0. It had signalled it's intentions, as early as 1986, to be part of the event, to become the host broadcaster, with one slogan, that united the station's effort, (what was at the time, the largest outside broadcast by one station in Australian history, even larger than the Australia Live satellite broadcast to begin the Australian bicentenary), simply, that TVQ had "The Team For 88", below a combined Expo and TV0 logo. Brisbane followed Expo's progress, from vision, to reality through TV0's news, and by the time Expo ended, Brisbane had converted to 10, and the world applauded our effort, and we cried, for Expo's end, with a special, one of many TVQ produced on site, saying goodbye... for even though the carnival was over, we would always remember Expo 88 forever in our hearts.


  1. Hello Kuttsywood,

    I remember when Clark piloted the chopper that unfortunately crashed on the mountain as if it was yesterday... Do you know if they ended up finding out the cause of the accident?

  2. @ Albury: He had a heart attack.

    What's next for TVQ? Do you think it will ever produce local television programs (excluding News, Totally Wild, Scope and Totally Wild) again?

  3. Bit hard to say they could you never know,I personally don't watch enough of it to be able to predict what's next... one thing I have noticed though when you go to places like harvey norman etc.. there seems to be more and more 3D t.v's