60 Years of QLD TV

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

50 Great QLD TV Moments: in Analogue

This post has been nearly six months in the making. Today we celebrate the end of a analogue era: one that has been full of it's ups and downs, and technological changes. This is simply...
This countdown, has been widely sourced: and is a look back down memory lane, for those who can remember the change to colour, or QLD's Commonwealth Games win just two years ago. This is a countdown that is as historic as it is lengthy. This will easily be the longest post you've ever read on this site, but it has to be long to do it justice.
We now begin the countdown, at #50: when how we got interstate and international news in QLD changed forever, with one major event, 35 years ago.
In 2013, we take live interstate news for granted, but there was a time though, that interstate news in Brisbane was usually a costly affair. During the first fifteen or so years of television in Queensland, it was a daily ritual, to see representatives of TV newsrooms, at the old Brisbane Airport, waiting for newsfilm, not just from interstate, but from overseas as well. This ritual continued well into the 1970’s, even though satellite news became available from overseas (but was still transferred to film) : it was too expensive for one network to run themselves. There was also the interstate bearer (consisting of a mixture of coaxial cable and microwave links between Sydney and Brisbane), but it cost $200 a minute to operate, and was saved only for major news events.  The event many of the pioneers of QLD TV news felt, changed newsroom’s opinions on the bearer, was the Granville train disaster on January 18, 1977. Hour upon hour, of live coverage of that event aired, on Brisbane TV stations, all using the bearer. The various newsrooms decided after Granville, to start using the bearer as the main source as opposed to the secondary source: with TVQ-0 being the first to use it, and with regular usage of the bearer, it opened up the door for the rise of electronic news gathering (whose first implementation in Australia, happened not long after the arrival of colour, when DDQ-10 in Toowoomba converted from film to video tape to produce their regional news, a year and a half before metro stations converted), along with a direct link with the satellite gateway in Sydney, which saw news in Brisbane begin to change. Eventually, with the arrival of the AUSSAT satellites in the mid-1980s: stations started to have satellite dishes, and started to get overseas news direct to the station, along with faster interstate news (not just Sydney/Melbourne, but from Adelaide and Perth too), than even the bearer could have handled.
The Gold Coast getting the Commonwealth Games: something we would have never thought of a generation ago, when Brisbane won the 1982 Commonwealth Games unopposed. The bid process for the GC took three years, and it came down to the vote on Remembrance Day in St Kitts and Nevis, up against a stellar competitor: Hambantota in Sri Lanka. Queensland watched, and waited and got up early on the 12th of November, to hear the announcement on almost every channel: and at 8:03am QLD time, the announcement happened, and the Gold Coast had done what many said was impossible: and brought the 2018 Commonwealth Games to Queensland, bestowing a honour, that it holds, as the only Australian state to have held two editions of the Commonwealth Games.
The National Party of Queensland after 1989’s election loss, was beginning to change. A lot of the old blood had left in the wake of the Fitzgerald Inquiry, and slowly and surely some new players stepped up. Enter Rob Borbidge, a member of the new blood of Nationals in Queensland which was scandal-free, and rose to become leader in 1991. Borbidge also did the most important political act, since the end of the Fitzgerald Inquiry, and reunited with the Liberal Party as a coalition, and eventually became QLD Premier after a hung parliament in 1996, and served in that role until 1998, when beaten by Peter Beattie. However, the Nationals and Liberals struggled in Queensland with rotating leaders, until two critical moments happened: 1. The 2004 election of Campbell Newman as Brisbane’s lord mayor, and 2. The merger of the National and Liberal parties, to form the LNP in 2008. But there was still a issue: there needed to be a leader who could unify the LNP: Although, Laurence Springborg went to the 2009 election, and lost to Anna Bligh, the next best thing came in 2011: when Campbell Newman, was preselected for Ashgrove, and resigned as the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, to aim for one position: Premier. After a drawn out campaign, Queensland turned out on March 24 to ask for change. They got it, when Campbell Newman and the LNP literally won in a landslide. Was Queensland fed up with Labor or was really it because of Campbell’s cult of personality? Time will tell, like it always has in Queensland politics.
Picture this. You are sitting in a news studio, having a talk to your co-anchor during a commercial break: only for a commercial break to end early.This is what happened, to Marie Louise Thiele, one winter’s night in 2000: when a commercial break conversation with Geoff Mullins (who had only returned to weekdays on Ten, two years earlier, after another incident with poor cues for studio microphones, led to Glenn Taylor’s sacking)  was aired, and it ended up on the front page of the Courier-Mail, and eventually led to a on-air apology, the night afterward.
A great marketing strategy, of it’s day. Darling Downs Television, under the stewardship of Laurie Burrows, was struggling to get national ad revenue after the introduction of colour: particularly as the national advertisers, in Sydney/Melbourne didn’t have ad-rates for QLD as a whole, instead negotiations were made one-on -one with each regional station: But Laurie wasn’t fazed. After failing to get a unified QLD rate card, he allied with two other stations in a similar predicament: 11/8 Television in Lismore (now Southern Cross Ten in Northern NSW) and 9/8 Television in Tamworth (now Prime7 Northern NSW) and created with John Singleton, a crafty campaign to get the nationals on to the three stations, about seceding from Australia as “Great Eastland” in mid-October 1975: right in the middle of the death throes of the Whitlam government. It was a roaring success, and saw it evolve into a buying group: under the name “Great Eastland Television” which survived until aggregation as a loose alliance (which eventually became a loose network) between NRTV and 10/4/5A (later Vision TV) Toowoomba. 

This story starts in a era, when television presenter’s contracts weren’t much of a talking point, but when people always watched the station launches on New Years Day. Nine spent a boatload (mind the pun) to bring Jermaine Jackson to Cairns, to shoot Nine’s 1990 launch. When it aired in Brisbane on that New Years Day in 1990, it featured Bruce Paige, smiling with Robin Parkin, in a segment. However, within days of it’s debut, it was edited out: Bruce Paige had left Nine for “greener pastures” at TVQ, only just settling into it’s third owner in twelve months, while still under contract with Nine. Naturally, Nine took Paige to court, and everything that Nine built, was aired in front of judges and Brisbane news viewers. Eventually, the last day came and Nine settled, and Bruce Paige was off to Ten. Nine news execs at the time, said that Paige would “never again work for Nine”. But as the fates would have turned, Ten eventually fell into receivership (announced by Paige himself on the 6pm news), and let go of Paige in late 1990. After a short stint in Townsville doing news for newly aggregated QTV in 1991,It was on Xmas Day 1993, Bruce Paige returned to Nine, which was the greatest moment for Lee Anderson during his tenure as QTQ news director.
However, over 20 years later, another incident with Nine’s news, would spring into lounge rooms and at the start of last year, into Fair Work Australia.  On the last night of QTQ’s EKKA news broadcasts in 2011, a live cross with reporter Melissa Mallet, in the Nine News helicopter, after a major breakthrough in the Daniel Morcombe case, was marked as “near Beerwah”, when in reality it was just the Nine News helicopter circling Mt Coot-tha. Somehow, Peter Doherty and Geoff Breusch two reporters for 7, picked this up, and notified their superiors in the Brisbane newsroom the following night. Seven flipped their “tower cam” towards Nine’s helipad, during another live cross, this time to Cameron Price, and revealed that Nine’s chopper that Price supposedly was “near Beerwah”, was in reality sitting on Nine’s helipad. Nine proceeded to go into damage control, and on the 25th of August, abruptly sacked Price, Mallet and producer Aaron Wakeley with Lee Anderson quitting his role as news director. While Cameron Price went to Sky News, and Wakeley and Anderson joined the QLD Government as media advisors to Campbell Newman, Melissa Mallet proceeded into a role with Seven in Townsville, and then decided to pursue action over her dismissal from Nine through Fair Work Australia, in January 2012. It was a modern day revisiting of the Paige affair, except it was focused on the Choppergate incident. Brisbane’s news bulletins were filled with shots of the comings and goings for a week, and eventually Nine settled out of court, in May 2012. As for Melissa Mallet: she was let go by 7 in June 2012, and now does radio news in Townsville for Southern Cross Austereo’s two stations 4TO/Hot FM.
This moment, is one that QLD viewers who lived through it won’t ever forget. It didn’t just affect communities and families, it affected the medium of television itself. The start of 1985, saw a trade union situation that had simmered slowly for months suddenly hit flashpoint. “Black Feburary” saw the backbone (including linesmen: the people who repaired damaged powerlines) of the South East Queensland Electricity Board (SEQEB, now Energex) , suddenly go out on strike, and then not long afterward then premier, Joh Bjelke Peterson sacked the strikers. What followed was a story that would escalate into a situation that crippled SEQ for weeks. Commercial lighting was restricted along with air-conditioning: this meant TV stations couldn’t use as much lighting for their production output as normal let alone cool their studios, something you’d only notice if you were watching… unless you got hit by a blackout caused by load-shedding (which in turn fuelled complaints about programs missed, to the point: when the dispute ended Brisbane stations re-aired content that wasn’t shown due to Mt Coot-tha load-shedding, or wasn’t seen by a wider audience due to load-shedding during the dispute), that for 10 days, saw SEQ suffer darkness. Eventually the load-shedding ended, but the fight continued: with one momentous day in April, at a SEQEB depot on Lamington St New Farm (today we know it as the Powerhouse arts facility, back in 1985 it was a abandoned power station, with part of the land serving as a depot for SEQEB) where unionists were joined by concerned clergy, with the Brisbane media (not just TV, but newspapers as well) watching on, as they’d had been during the dispute. 100 people were arrested, in some of the most dramatic scenes in QLD industrial history that rivalled the “Right To March” demonstrations of the late 1970’s for the way it was handled by police. Eventually, the workers settled, and there has been no major dispute in the QLD electricity industry since.
The major fires, that have been caught on camera in Brisbane and in QLD have been many: these four fires sum up the one of the hardest jobs for a news reporter: the fire story, one where a lot of empathy is involved where quite often: lives and livelihoods have been lost.

Whiskey Au Go Go fire: March 8 1973.
The fire at the Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub in Brisbane 40 years ago, is one of the worst urban fires caused by arson in Australian history.  Fifteen people perished in this tragedy, a sad record for mass death in Australia that would stand until the Port Arthur massacre in 1996. One of the contributing factors to the high death toll has to be that escape was restricted: most notably the fire exits, and stairwells were greased. Eventually two people were convicted over the firebombing (although one was later released), but the mystery remains (one common theory, is that more were involved), while the site is now home to a 24hr gym (after being a technology retailer for over a decade), like many that are springing up all over Brisbane.

Reids Department Store fire, Ipswich: August 17 1985.
Brisbane and Queensland has also suffered major retail fires in the analogue era. Although a major retail fire occurred at Chermside Shopping Centre in 1971, it didn’t hold back the potential of the centre, it simply rose out of the ashes. However, in the city of Ipswich a hour west of Brisbane, when it lost Reids department store, early in the morning of August 17 1985, it was a shock. Reids was a Ipswich institution: dating back to 1849, (back when it was Ipswich NSW) as Cribb and Foote, a store which evolved into a universal provider much like it’s contemporaries, Allan and Stark, McDonnell and East and McWhirters in Brisbane: and also survived the purchasing spree David Jones (TC Beirne, Finneys), Waltons (Overells, and Waltons incidentally had a store in Ipswich, a former TC Beirne store) and Myer (Allan and Stark, McWhirters) did in Queensland during the 1960’s. Eventually, Cribb and Foote was bought by Walter Reid and Co, and the store was converted to the Reids banner, but the memories of Cribb and Foote helped Reids retain loyalty. After the fire, the entire centre of Ipswich changed dramatically, while retail dollars started shifting towards the newly opened Redbank Plaza. Much like Chermside: out of the ashes of Reids and (other major demolitions, including Waltons Ipswich) came Ipswich City Square (but without Reids, which eventually shut down after moving to temporary premises or Waltons) with McDonnell and East as anchor, which only lasted until the recession of 1990. Since that time, the Ipswich city centre has aimed for revival, with two catalysts, Riverlink, on the opposite bank of the Bremer, opening in 2007, and a major project around the Ipswich mall which saw the section of Ipswich City Square, where Reids stood, demolished in 2012, Icon Ipswich, which is hoping to get Myer or David Jones, to open in Ipswich, along with a major renewal of the CBD. But, it needs to be remembered, that Reids was the heart of Ipswich, and it needs to be remembered by any future retailer to commemorate the heritage of Cribb and Foote.

Childers Palace Backpackers hostel fire June 23 2000.
Childers, west of Bundaberg, is a town, which had a major tragedy occur on the night of June 23 2000 to the Palace Backpackers hostel that accommodated some of the seasonal workforce (mainly backpackers), that chose to come to Childers for fruit picking season. Fifteen people perished, in the timber hostel, from a deliberately lit fire, and the 69 survivors who got out of the building, were helped by the generosity of the Childers community. The culprit was eventually found, and jailed for life for the arson of the Palace and death of the people inside. But, it helped introduce a transformation of the growing backpacker industry in Queensland. One of the key issues discovered, was the lack of working smoke detectors and fire alarms: and in the years that followed, the Queensland government introduced mandatory smoke alarms and fire safety measures in all of QLD’s existing backpacker and budget accommodation facilities, and all new backpacker venues would be built with very strict fire regulations. 

Slacks Creek house fire tragedy August 24 2011.
While most of these tragedies have happened due to deliberately lit fires, the event at Slacks Creek nearly two years ago is unique, for it was a tragic accident. The worst house fire in Queensland history, occurred on August 24, 2011. The cause of how such a incident occurred, we may never know. But, 11 people died, from two families from the Samoan and Tongan communities living in the house on Wagensveldt St, out of the eleven people that passed away that night, eight were children. There was a outpouring of grief from both communities, along with the Logan community in general, who were astounded by the damage caused, not just to possessions, but to human life too.
This moment has three key watermarks. The first was the election in 1961, of Clem Jones as lord mayor of Brisbane.  Although it didn’t spell immediate doom for the tram and trolleybus network, all new route construction was terminated. However, the second watermark has to be the fire fifty years ago, on September 28 1962, at the Paddington tram depot (itself a disaster still in people’s memories), which saw the loss of a fifth of the Brisbane tram fleet. Not long after, the closures began, and in 1965 saw the third watermark, a report commissioned by BCC and the QLD Govt, and handled by firm Wilbur Smith and Associates that recommended the end of trams: and by April 13 1969, all remaining tram services in Brisbane (although trolleybuses ended a month earlier) were ceased, and a era ended. Although many proposals have come and gone since 1969 about reviving trams in Brisbane: the most notable being the BrizTram proposal in the late 1990’s which would have seen refurbished heritage rollingstock sharing the rails with modern low-floor trams designed similar to the older stock: what would have been if the Brisbane network had been retained into the 70’s and 1980’s. But another project is succeeding where the Brisbane proposals failed: the Gold Coast Rapid Transit system, which is due to open in 2014, which had a major milestone last year: the first tram track laid in SEQ for regular passenger operation (as opposed to the Brisbane tram museum’s tracks at Ferny Grove) since the 1960’s, in Southport, and will soon go into testing of their rollingstock: which will be designed for the Gold Coast’s needs (including the addition of surfboard racks) into the future. But will Brisbane see a tram return? Time, and possibly the success of the GC tram network, will tell. 
This next part of the countdown is designed to be a tribute, to some of the great people who have worked and help define the QLD TV industry, throughout the “analogue era” who have passed on in the last 20 years: although there will also be some individual articles, for others not mentioned here, as we get closer to #1.
Don Seccombe: A newsreader, who was for a entire generation of QLD viewers, the most notable. Don, started at the ABC, when television was in it’s infancy, and eventually made the move, to QTQ-9, where he stayed, for the best part of 20 years, including pioneering the first ever male-female news duo in Australia, in the mid 1960’s. By the time Don retired in the mid-1980s, he chalked up a record at the time, as one of the longest serving weekday newsreaders on any commercial station in Australia , only one other newsreader challenged: Brian Henderson in Sydney. Don’s expertise stretched past reading the news, including a gameshow “I’ve Got A Secret”, but sadly, we lost Don on December 30 1993: at the age of 62.
Tony Gordon: a multi-talented presenter, who we lost too soon. Tony’s career in QLD (after honing his skills in Adelaide, and on radio) was launched by, becoming a reporter on 7’s Wombat, in 1984. Tony, soon would gain the skill that made him legendary, when in 1987, he was the second Wombat reporter to receive his own spin-off (Eric Summons (Boris The Black Knight) being the first), entitled “Rewind”. By the start of the 1990’s, however he went to Nine, and briefly hosted “In Brisbane Today”, and also became known for his voice over work. Eventually, he returned to 7, and became one of the founding fathers for “Creek To Coast”, all while he pursued his passion outside television: aerobatics. I remember turning on the news, on January 28, 2001, and hearing of the aerobatics accident that cost Tony his life, as the lead story. Tony Gordon was only 45 years old when he passed on, and the aerobatics community has paid tribute, with numerous awards named in his honor.
Shirley Strachan: The Skyhook, who went beyond. Shirley Strachan had success before moving into television, as the lead singer of the of the most popular incarnation of Skyhooks, but it was in 1979, that Shirley, became the master of the reinvention: with a kids program, called “Shirl’s Neighbourhood” which aired on 7 in Sydney/Melbourne, and on 9 in Brisbane which ran until 1983. But, the fans asked Shirl to reform the “classic” Skyhooks, and there were reunions in 1983, 1984, and most notably 1990, where Skyhooks even got another #1 record.  Shirley then moved in another direction, very similar to when Shirl’s Neighborhood began fifteen years earlier, this time as a TV carpenter, for Nine’s Our House, a role he served (and for a while, also doing 4MMM’s breakfast in Brisbane, with a young Dean Miller, as well as a regular panel spot on the Brisbane Footy Show) until a tragedy occurred: a helicopter crash (during a training flight) into Mt Archer, near Kilcoy on August 29 2001 at the age of 49. The Australian music community will always remember the contributions Shirl, made to music in Australia.
“Captain” Jim Iliffe: The original star of kids TV in Brisbane. Jim Iliffe, was, the second major face to debut on QLD television (after Hugh Cornish) on the second day of QTQ-9’s operation in 1959. Coming from a radio background (with another first: founder of the first radio training school in Brisbane, which later expanded into a combined school for radio/television) as well as being a World War 2 veteran, Jim, was well loved by audiences from day one. The most notable feature of “The Channel Niners” was at the beginning of each episode: Captain Jim landing on what was supposedly Mt Coot-tha in a helicopter, surrounded by kids. In reality, this classic piece of footage was shot near Brisbane airport with a loaned helicopter and pilot: and viewers in the 1960’s were none the wiser. Jim also knew that television in Brisbane, could not survive on the radio stars making the move to television forever: much like radio couldn’t survive if it had nowhere to train the prospects of the future. Thus, he concentrated on content and looking at bringing in people to television first, and in 1968, he made his first big television discovery: Kerri-Anne Wright: who we know today, by her married name, Kerri-Anne Kennerley. Kerri-Anne served as a hostess for the childrens shows on QTQ, until she took a path that eventually made her a national star in the early 1980’s for the original Good Morning Australia. Jim eventually retired in the early 1970’s, and assisted in the selection for his successor: which was his second big discovery. Jackie McDonald, was hired by Jim to replace him and the program that had paved the way for over 50 years of QLD-produced children’s content on QTQ, and continued bringing up future prospects through his “AIR-TV” school, while publishing two books along the way. Then on June 25 2005, Jim passed away, after a fall, at the age of 83: A well lived life, for someone who had been so instrumental in the shaping of the QLD TV and radio industry, as well as for training the future for those industries.
Brian Tait: Brisbane TV’s first major prime-time star: Brian Tait was a actor by trade, when he arrived in television, in it’s infancy: from Brisbane’s Theatre Royal (demolished to make way for the Myer Centre). Eventually Seven needed a variety show, and asked Tait to host, and it was through the “Late Show”, Tait won the first ever Logie Award for QLD TV in 1961. The Late Show eventually evolved into a televised version of the old Theatre Royal, and became a Friday night staple for Brisbane, beating whatever Nine, and later 0, put up against it, until the passing of it’s main star, George Wallace Jr in 1968. Tait retired from television in the mid-1970’s, and returned to theatre, and in his twilight he was still giving wisdom to up and coming stars. Brian passed away on October 18, 2007 at 80 (three weeks after the 40th anniversary of George Wallace Jr’s passing), and many people still remember the contribution that Tait made during the first golden era of Channel 7 in Brisbane.
Paul Sharratt: the great reshaper of the QLD TV industry: If Jim Illife, was responsible for getting Queensland’s industry finding it’s own stars, it was Paul Sharratt who gave the QLD industry a solid production base. Coming from England in the early 1970’s, Paul was already a seasoned entertainer. His first taste of Queensland, was hosting a ice spectacular on the Gold Coast, and Nine offered to tape the ice show, and discovered that Sharratt was just as keen on the production side, as he was on the presenting side. Sharratt was then given his own show, and won many QLD Logies, including 1974: where Studio 9 swept all the awards. As Studio 9 wound up, Paul got back to his roots, by taking over a venue known as “Orson’s Music Hall” in Surfers Paradise, which got transformed into a TV show, along with Sharratt productions beginning to fill the airwaves at QTQ, including Stairway to The Stars (a talent quest), The Ugly Dave Gray Comedy Hour, Happy Go Round and kids program, Boomerang to just mention a few. The music hall (which by the eighties had moved to the Iluka resort, (which in 2013, is awaiting demolition (in what will be the first GC highrise to be demolished), to make way for a new highrise) was brought to Brisbane as part of the British Pavilion for World Expo 88. Eventually, the Music Hall at the Iluka closed, and Paul went on a new journey: to America, and eventually was given the job of helping to produce the 2009 Daytime Emmys, along with recording a segment for the 50th birthday special QTQ was running… then on May 28 2009, Paul suffered a heart attack and passed away. The Gold Coast community remembered his efforts, and there is a park in Labrador, named for Paul Sharratt: the man that not just re-energised the QLD TV industry, but helped shape it, into a production hub.
Noel Stanaway: The weather man for the second golden era: Weather presenters come in all forms, whether they were experienced weather experts, or one of those weather presenters who liked a joke or two: Noel was a weather expert, coming from a sailing background and gave people a reason to watch 7’s weather reports in the 1970’s and 1980s. It was that interest in sailing by Stanaway, that gave birth to the marine reports, that we now take for granted in the TV news here in Queensland, along with Stanaway penning books on boating, along with encouraging people to explore Moreton Bay. It was a awkward switch in 1989, when Noel left Seven for Ten, while Ken Brown left Ten, for Seven (and went on to continue the Stanaway legacy, with the Coastwatch segments, and a weekend TV show) and eventually Stanaway reappeared after aggregation, and presented weather, and then boating reports for Sunshine Television (now 7QLD) along with becoming the commodore for the Mooloolaba Yacht Club, turning the club around. Noel passed away on the 4th of May 2011 after a stroke, at the age of 75, and leaving many fond memories for viewers here in Queensland, as well as the sailing community.
David Jull: first face of TVQ and federal parliamentarian: David Jull, came into television in QLD much the same way the early stars did: through radio. On July 1 1965, he was given a honour, that many people who remember only his political career would be astounded at: that is, the first face, on TVQ-0, Brisbane’s third commercial station. Jull rose through the ranks, to become a director of TVQ’s parent company, until he decided in 1975’s federal election (which followed the Whitlam dismissal) to run for the seat of Bowman (surrounding Cleveland), for the Liberal Party. After losing his seat in 1983, he became a executive for the QLD Tourism board for a year, and then ran for another federal seat: Fadden, on the northern Gold Coast, and stayed in that seat, until retiring in 2007: in the process being called, “the best tourism minister Australia never had” for his hard work plugging the tourism industry in Australia. However, the last five years of his life, he spent fighting cancer, and he passed away on September 13 2011, and was given the honour of a state funeral, for his services not just to television, but to the federal parliament.
David Fordham: The “Fordo” that Brisbane grew to love: David Fordham came to Brisbane, in the early 1980’s, from NBN in Newcastle, who had used him as a sports anchor, for their successful hour-long news. It wasn’t long until “Fordo” was anchoring the sports stories of the early 1980s for 7, including the 1982 Commonwealth Games, and bringing up a young upcoming sports reporter, who’d eventually become the main sports anchor for BTQ, Pat Welsh. After leaving Brisbane for Ten Sydney in 1985: he ended up part of Ten’s great sports stories of the late 1980’s, including the Seoul Olympics, before deciding to return to Brisbane in 1988, and formed the backbone of Ten’s sport in Brisbane, after the departures of Rob Readings and Billy J Smith. Eventually, in the late 1990’s Fordo returned to 7, and rotated regularly with Pat Welsh, before facing a health fight: with Fordham falling ill with leukaemia just months before the Sydney Olympics, and how Fordham fought back, returning to air just before the 2000 Olympics. In 2001, however David retired, and went on the public speaking circuit. Eventually, Fordo fought another health battle, this time with prostate cancer, and it was this, that silenced David Fordham, on December 15 2011. The Fordham legacy is carried on by Ben Fordham, who does sports reporting for Today, and is following in his uncle’s footsteps.
Frank “Tommo” Thompson: The king of camp oven cookery: Frank Thompson, or as viewers got to know him, as “Tommo”, was a natural entertainer, after travelling around Australia, he settled into a position as the resident outdoor chef and one of the original presenters, for a program that became iconic: Creek To Coast, in 1999. During the run he had on Creek to Coast, he made camp oven cookery a art, and also penned a few books on the subject during that run. Tommo also ended up seeing Queensland for the program, and also became a much sought after personality for caravan shows to show off his cookery. The only thing Tommo loved more than the camp oven, was his wife, of many years, Betty, and after a well lived life, Tommo passed away on Boxing Day 2011, and was missed dearly by his workmates, at Creek to Coast.
Mike Lattin: The programmer who rose to become a executive: Mike Lattin was a man who earned his way in the television business, starting as a cameraman in Canberra, before becoming a programmer, and made his way to Brisbane, working for Seven, as part of a core team of programmers and one publicist who slowly turned Seven’s position in Brisbane around. In the mid-1980’s, he became the lead publicist and programmer for TVQ-0/10, working to turn the Brisbane station from a Cinderella on 0, to a equal amongst it’s network brethren. Lattin’s greatest achievement at TVQ, has to be the entire build to World Expo 88, with a deal signed in July 1985, that made TVQ the official broadcaster of the event. Over two and a half years of planning went into this massive endeavour, with a minor hiccup: the sale to Darling Downs Television in September 1987, who installed their long term station manager in Toowoomba, Laurie Burrows as the TVQ GM and also made the decision to convert TVQ from 0 to 10 during Expo. When TVQ’s Expo 88 pavilion opened, Lattin was one of two deputy commissioners for the pavilion. Soon after Expo, Northern Star bought TVQ, then Northern Star’s east coast assets were sold to Broadcom, all while Ten’s ratings and revenue slid after programming failures: when eventually, Mike was called upon to rebuild the schedule, at one point commuting between Brisbane and Sydney, to handle programming on a network level. After leaving Ten in the early 1990’s, he spent time in New Zealand, then back to Australia as a executive at Optus Vision, at the height of pay TV’s boom in Australia, along with serving as chairman of industry body ASTRA, until 2001. In 2003, he joined Globecast Australia, as CEO, and served in that role until just weeks before his passing. After struggling with a long-term illness, Mike Lattin passed away on July 13 2012, and will be remembered by many for his efforts in the corporate world, and as a master programmer.
John Miller: The total package: John Miller was born for radio, being one of the first second-generation radio presenters in QLD: after his mother who regularly performed in the early days of Brisbane’s radio industry. It was solidified, when Miller, a young newsreader, was partnered with a woman named Majella Marsden and a man who would reshape Brisbane’s radio scene: Wayne Roberts on 4BK. It was this combination that created many great memories for listeners, and eventually made cross-over appeal: when specials were commissioned for Ch 7 featuring Wayne and the 4BK Brekky Gang. It was television that lured him into staying after the 4BK gig ended: and his new passion was local current affairs succeeding Earle Bailey, the original producer of Haydn Sargent’s Brisbane, (which evolved into State Affair in 1980): a genre that Nine had done well with, the original incarnation of Today Tonight. Miller didn’t just give State Affair life, he was the cornerstone that held 7’s team together and enjoyed many successes, until the program’s shock axing in April 1987, to make way for a hour’s news. Time passed by, and a new owner took grasp at Seven, and in 1988, the hour news and networked TWT (Terry Willesee Tonight) were gone with TWT reverting to a Sydney program like it was prior to 1987, until Terry Willesee left for Nine, while Melbourne (and Sydney after the TWT end) gained Hinch at Seven, and Brisbane gained with Andrew Carroll, and under the stewardship of Miller, “Carroll at Seven”. While Carroll at Seven is a forgotten local program of Seven’s, (With Miller at the helm, it had a lot to live up to), eventually ending, so Seven could network Hinch, and later Real Life into QLD. Miller’s re-emergence on radio in the late 1990’s was seen as a reinvention, much like it was in the eighties, when he moved from radio to television, this time with a AM station which had taken many wrong directions to answer the challenge that FM brought: 4BC. When 4BC found the format it excelled at, talk radio: John Miller was there in a heartbeat. Handling the Breakfast, and later Drive shifts: John served as a loyal presenter until retirement from the microphone in 2007. After radio, he went down the production route, including securing the City Hall restoration progress including a unaired documentary, along with documentaries. But, sadly we lost John on September 7 2012, after a major fall at home. The funeral a few weeks later was attended by many friends, and many of Miller’s former workmates in both television and radio, to pay tribute to a man who shaped so much of the agenda in Brisbane for nearly three decades.
Haydn Sargent: Talkback’s pioneer: Haydn Sargent was a pioneer in more ways than one, when it came to television and radio. The first talkback presenter, on 4BC, was beloved by audiences in the morning slot that he made his own for a generation of Brisbane listeners.  Television also interested Haydn especially coming from a religious background along with realization of the value of commercial current affairs, and in 1968 launched a 30 minute program on Channel 0 in daytime, with a budget of $25 a week (what would have cost today: $275) entitled “Look”, but was axed after Haydn’s views conflicted with Reg Ansett, the then owner of 0 Brisbane and Melbourne. After some soul searching, another project arrived with Haydn hosting, something proclaimed as a world first: a talkback TV show, “36 1000” named for it’s telephone number, also in the daytime slot. After “36 1000” ended, after it was aired interstate, Haydn was offered  a late night program: and incidently discovered a young Maxine McKew (who went on to the ABC, QTQ’s Today Tonight, then back to the ABC, then off to Ch 10’s Canberra bureau, then back to the ABC again, before winning in 2007 the federal seat of Bennelong in Sydney for Labor and held it until 2010) and eventually stepped away from TV to focus on radio… that is until 1979, when Seven created a program, for the 6:30 slot, to compete with Today Tonight on Nine. Haydn Sargent’s Brisbane lasted for over a year, before Haydn left again, but with one thing to it’s credit: when it started, it reflected what commercial current affairs should have been, and gaining high ratings initially, and forced TT to change. Des McWilliam at Channel 0, offered a olive branch to Haydn, and launched the shortlived “Sargent Report” in the 6:30 slot, after changing plans, which would have seen TVQ go to a hour news (TVQ eventually moved to 1hr in 1985) and after the TVQ program ended, Haydn concentrated on radio again, along with bringing up a young protégé: Greg Cary, who was destined to replace Haydn in the morning slot after his early 1990’s retirement from 4BC. After retirement, he became a driving force for Family Radio Brisbane (now 96.5FM), in their quest for a full community radio licence, which they received in 2001. Eventually, Haydn fell ill, and battled the illness until February 14 2013, when his passing was announced by Greg Cary (who finally gained “Haydn’s slot” in 2008, when the networked John Laws program ended) on the station that he shaped, and was remembered by his peers as a man of many talents.
Paul Griffin: the one station performer, who outshone all others: Paul Griffin, was a newsreader’s newsreader, and he earned his spot in the spotlight. After six years of radio experience: two with 4ZR in Roma, and then four years with 4KQ, Paul was recruited for television in the early 1970’s: with the big story, that launched his career, the biggest QLD news story of the 20th century: the 1974 Brisbane floods. The story goes, that the QTQ newsroom’s resources was stretched so far, that even Don Seccombe, the lead newsreader, was out recording a story at Milton, leaving no newsreader at QTQ. In came Paul, and presented the news to a city desperate for news on the disaster, and once Brian Cahill went back to 7 sometime later, (and then went eventually to 0, to anchor their news), Paul Griffin at 25 (the youngest weekday co-anchor QTQ ever had: a record that still stands), had become the co-anchor to Don Seccombe, a role that he’d earn a Logie for in 1979, the same night, QTQ won the first individual news Logie, by any Queensland commercial station. Throughout the 1980s, he was seen as the successor by many, to Don Seccombe: especially when ratings fell, and Nine tried manoeuvres, such as local late news (which Griffin anchored), hour long Saturday night news, even rearranging the 6pm schedule. However it was the move in 1983 by Nine to lure Frank Warrick from Seven to anchor with Don Seccombe: that saw Paul move out of the spotlight. Leaving Nine in 1987, he realised that his talents could be used differently. He moved into public relations, a sector that through his own company, “Paul Griffin Communications”, helped define here in Brisbane, although he was a notable absentee from QTQ’s on-air 50th birthday celebrations. Sadly, we lost Paul on March 6 2013, at the age of 64, to heart failure. Paul Griffin is remembered for the stories he helped deliver, and bearing witness to a television news industry changing rapidly, for when he started, it was film, and a expensive bearer: when he left it, it was about to arrive in the satellite age thanks to AUSSAT.
Pahnie Jantzen: The soul, of Wickety Wak: Pahnie Jantzen, was a New Zealand-born performer whose talent was discovered at a young age, performing alongside his family members, before making his way to Australia, as a carpenter in Brisbane, but, as life takes turns, he became a bass player, for a band that would end up being part of his life, for nearly forty years: that band, was Wickety Wak. Their fame and success, was massive, selling out hotels and clubs as a guest band, before graduating to much larger venues. Television also helped shape the Wak, with partnerships first with Jackie McDonald, and then with Seven Brisbane, with quite a few specials produced, for the station and it was in this environment, Pahnie returned to the singing sphere: making music from Louis Armstrong and Stevie Wonder, along with making much mirth, as the Wak always did. Although Wickety Wak were to have retired in 1990 (after selling out the Brisbane Entertainment Centre three nights straight, a record that still lives to this day): Wickety Wak reformations with the same core group, occurred in 1997, and most notably in 2006-09, when the band again hit the road for successful tours of QLD clubs. But the most troublesome fight lay ahead: Pahnie was diagnosed with cancer in late 2012, and made one last appearence, with Wickety Wak, at a event on St Patricks Day, 2013, at a venue the Wak dominated for years: Twin Towns at Tweed Heads, before passing away on March 28 at the age of 73. Pahnie was given a traditional Maori funeral, and will be forever remembered for the voice that made many, many fans smile.
Another one of those iconic QLD political moments came: when Joh Bjelke Peterson, proclaimed that “the day of the political street march was over” in early September 1977, which led to a march by students at UQ, that was prevented from leaving the campus by 300 officers of QLD’s police force, but, the students were undeterred. On September 22 1977, the march was tried again, this time with some cunning by the students: with the students eventually allowed to walk to King George Square, where they regathered again, and planned a march to Parliament House from there. The police prevented it, and numerous arrests occurred, and it sparked a two year campaign, to restore the basic right to march, with many confrontations and many arrests,  throughout 1978 and 1979, with the ban being lifted in 1979. Through the 1980s, the main marches shifted from student rallies, to indigenous issues, and there were many notable rallies, during the 1982 Commonwealth Games and World Expo 88, when the world was focused on Brisbane.
Brisbane and the Olympics: they are intertwined: dating back to November 1956, when Brisbane was the first Australian state capital city (although Darwin was only a stopover on the way to Cairns, where the relay began proper, and is marked by a monument on Cairns’s Esplanade) to welcome the Olympic flame on it’s way to Melbourne, to massive crowds. A generation passed, and after the success of the 1982 Commonwealth Games, Brisbane officials thought it was a great idea, to bring the Olympics to Queensland in 1992: But, Brisbane came a gallant third when the vote occurred in 1986, and set the groundwork for two more Australian bids: Melbourne in 1990, for 1996 and finally in 1993, Sydney bid for the year 2000 games: which unified the lessons learned from the two preceding bids: and produced a successful bid. Once again, in 2000: the Olympic torch arrived in Australia: but, as a nod to 1956: Queensland was the first state to host a fully fledged relay segment: spending twenty days in Queensland (a fifth of the 100 day long torch relay, compared to the 20 day length of the entire Australian leg of the 1956 torch relay) and spending three days in Brisbane, as well as a underwater stroll on the Great Barrier Reef. But the Olympic experience didn’t end when the torch left Queensland. Brisbane would also host matches for the Olympic soccer tournament. Starting a few days before the Olympics proper: the soccer tournament was held at the only venue in Brisbane at that time, that was a all-seater venue: the Gabba cricket ground. Brisbane saw during the Olympics pool matches (including the entire 2000 Olympic run of Brazil, at the time the #2 country in the world at soccer, playing all their pool matches in Brisbane: while drawing consistently high attendances) and a quarter final with the eventual gold medallists Cameroon, facing off against Brazil, in front of a sell out crowd, setting a attendance record for the Gabba post redevelopment that wasn’t broken until the completion of the final grandstand (replacing a social club for the Brisbane Lions) in the mid-2000’s. The Olympics may have been Sydney’s show, but Brisbane got some of the best soccer action of the entire tournament, and a memory which may kindle another QLD Olympic bid: as the AOC has put Brisbane as their #1 pick for future Australian bids.
1989 was a landmark year for television in Brisbane and Australia, anchored by the receivership of Qintex, owners of Channel 7 Brisbane (and other stations), and the Brisbane Bears VFL side, but another story had viewers enthralled: The year the newly switched Channel 10 Brisbane had three owners. The first owner going into 1989, was Darling Downs Television: who had picked up the station in 1987, not long after Qintex bought the Fairfax Channel 7 assets. DDQ put in their own management, including long time Toowoomba GM Laurie Burrows (who had turned DDQ into a very strong operation): and helped rework the station’s sales, and promotions, leading into the switch to 10 in September 1988. The negotiations for TVQ to be sold to Westfield began at Expo, and culminated in June 1989. Not very long after Northern Star had wrapped up the TVQ purchase, the network did a bungled mid-year relaunch, with Bob Shanks trying too many concepts at once, and saw ratings plunge. Then… the unthinkable happened: just three months after Westfield bought TVQ-10, it proceeded to sell the east coast network, including Brisbane to Broadcom, and sell the Adelaide/Perth/Canberra stations to Charles Curran. By the end of 1989, Ten in Brisbane had begun to wind back some of the local decisions of the  “year of three owners” including: letting go of the entire weekend news team except for David Fordham, and most critically: made overtures to Bruce Paige, that eventually led to the biggest QLD TV story of early 1990.
Television in colour: was a major jump for the TV industry in Australia, a very similar one to what digital-only broadcasting is doing for it today. The first experiments with colour occurred in the late 1960s, including educational films mainly for exhibition, and even a episode of Theatre Royal was filmed and relayed to the EKKA in Brisbane, as a demonstration of colour’s benefits. Although the rollout was delayed, (people were expecting colour TV in Australia in 1972, but ended up happening three years later, after six months of test transmissions) and the various stations in Queensland were preparing in their own ways: For instance, the metropolitan stations in Brisbane, started taking network campaigns, promoting “Living Colour” on Nine, “Colour Your World” on Seven, or Ch 0’s “First in Colour” which were used for a year or two after the switch. Meanwhile, the regional stations throughout QLD were preparing for colour too, including major capital infrastructure, such as new cameras and in the case of some, new transmitters. A example is DDQ-10/4/5 (Ch 5 became 5a a year later) in Toowoomba: the station invested heavily in the colour changeover, including new cameras, new transmitters, two years of station identifications, including the introduction of the iconic cube logo when they became 10/4/5a, as well as the Great Eastland initiative in late 1975. But the most memorable of the colour changeovers, has to be the ABC’s utilizing Aunty Jack (where incidently, the term “Aunty” for the ABC likely originated) to welcome colour in a unique fashion, which was followed by the first colour edition of a program that would dominate audiences for 12 years: music program Countdown. While some black and white content still aired, it was mainly pre-recorded content locally, as some of the big national programs had moved to colour filming a year before, with some content produced earlier: which had been produced in colour for international sales getting rerun.
21 years of hell: a term coined by this site, in 2011, originally, as “20 years of hell” is the perfect description for a period of time we are still living through: which started Monday the 10th of February 1992, with the Brisbane Extra premiere. Seven didn’t counter Extra initially, although Wheel was competitive, especially after Nine axed the Extra’s outside Brisbane, while keeping the Brisbane edition of Extra, due to Brisbane Extra’s success. The first major signs of weakness for Seven was a combination of moves made by Nine and Seven in the first half of 1996. Nine’s move was expanding their appeal, with the launch of their GC news service, which is still going strong. Seven’s move was more disastrous: axing Brisbane-based Family Feud, along with reworking Wheel of Fortune. This was the point that broke the camel’s back for Seven, and Brisbane switched to Extra, in their droves. Seven then made two risky moves in the next five years, that failed: first being a competitor to Nine’s GC news in 1998, co-produced by regional station Prime TV, which was axed two years later, and then a hyped attempt at a Extra competitor, Local Edition in 2000. Although Seven underwent major changes in the first half of the 2000’s, Extra was still the pain in the neck, until June 2009, when Nine executives interstate ended Extra’s successful run. Seven never responded to what Nine did at all, and saw Nine’s dominance continue unabated (although for six weeks after the Extra end, Seven’s predictions of a switch away from Nine were right) to this day.
Even though Queensland remembers the Joh era, for events like the Springbok tour, and the SEQEB dispute, one thing is often overlooked. Joh Bjelke Petersen was the first QLD premier to take television seriously: to the point that a film unit was established in the premier’s department, along with a specific media detail within the Premier’s entourage. Joh himself had a saying referring to the Brisbane media: “feeding the chooks”, and none proved more chook-feeding, than Queensland Unlimited. Five minutes was usually set aside on Sunday nights, for what would be classed today, as a government advertorial. Whether it was Joh talking about his backyard in the Bunya Mountains, a community cabinet meeting, or the plans for transport in Brisbane (while standing in the middle of train tracks), Queensland Unlimited was: the Joh show through and through. But it had a side effect: another Queensland premier later became the subject of ridicule by the press, after trying to do some stunting on the campaign trail: Peter Beattie, who was unfairly given the “media tart” tag by the press, but none will match or try and imitate the Joh era: when Joh not just ruled Queensland, but the airwaves as well.
April 30 1988, was the end of many months of expectation, and many years of work. Brisbane turned it on for the opening celebrations of World Expo 88, including a major street parade: eventually, at 10am, Sir Llew Edwards, Expo Oz, and the Brisbane media surrounded the Melbourne St gate of the Expo site, and cut the ribbon: the celebration had begun, followed by a opening ceremony that was remembered, for many things, including the Royal Barge delivering the Queen and Prince Philip from the Britannia (tied up in the Brisbane River at Newstead, on what would be it’s last ever visit to Brisbane: having previously visited Brisbane in 1970 and 1982) to the River Stage, along with a speech officially declaring open the event by the Queen, as well as a daytime fireworks display. The party continued into the night, with a concert by the Little River Band, a fireworks show and even a pink submarine. After all the hype: Brisbane’s finest hour had finally begun.
Steve Irwin was a lovable larrikin, who had gained a television role through his wildlife park he owned at Beerwah: what eventually became Australia Zoo. It was the Crocodile Hunter TV series, that suddenly saw Irwin in the spotlight, not just in Australia, but eventually in America, where Discovery Channel picked up the series, and saw Steve become a representive of the tourism industry in Queensland, and resultingly, overseas tourists began visiting Beerwah, to see “the home of the Crocodile Hunter”. Eventually, the family also ended up being part of the show, and a project was being developed for eldest daughter Bindi, that Steve was working on… on that fateful day, in September 2006, when he was stabbed in the heart, by a stingray in the Great Barrier Reef, and soon was pronounced dead. Straight away, the Brisbane stations started filing stories for national sources, and, for the networks various US affiliates, all while preparing, for what is usually the busiest period for Brisbane’s various media on it’s own: a state election. Brisbane also had a visit, from Barbara Walters, to interview Steve’s wife, and the memorial service at Australia Zoo, was televised to the nation, and world, in shock over Steve Irwin’s sudden passing. The Irwin legacy is remembered, by the road running by Australia Zoo, being renamed Steve Irwin Way, posthumous elevation to the TV Week Logies Hall of Fame in 2007 and Australia Zoo being awarded a spot on the Q150 Icons list, in 2009 as part of Queenslands 150th birthday celebrations.
Brisbane’s sporting success has been magnificent during the analogue era. But this entry’s seed is tangled: simply, it began in September 1996. The Brisbane Bears, long tagged “the bad news Bears” had the most successful season in the 10 year history of the club in 1996, including the sole Brownlow win by a Bears player, Michael Voss, who drew with Essendon’s James Hird (meanwhile, the Lions won two more Brownlow’s post-merger): losing to eventual premiers North Melbourne, in what was to be the last game under the Bears name. Earlier in 1996, a deal was struck, where the established Fitzroy Lions, and the emerging force, the Brisbane Bears would merge, to become the Brisbane Lions for the 1997 season and beyond. Although the merged club would struggle initially, it took the arrival of Leigh Matthews, who successfully led Collingwood to a 1990 AFL Grand Final win, to turn the emerging force: into one that was reckoned with. And the one line by Matthews that summed up Brisbane’s 2001 season, a line from the film Predator, prior to the Round 10 game against Essendon (the 2000 premiers) at the Gabba: “If it bleeds, we can kill it”. That line didn’t just give inspiration for that game, but for the rest of the 2001 season, and into the finals: including the first ever AFL preliminary final in Brisbane, the Lions remained undefeated to qualify for their first AFL Grand Final, against Essendon. It was doubly historic: as it was the last time until 2008, that Seven aired a AFL Grand Final, after a long association with the sport. The game lived up to the billing, and when all was said and done: Brisbane had done what many had thought impossible. The Lions were bringing the AFL premiership cup north of the Barassi Line for the first time. It also did wonders for AFL in Queensland: especially with the three consecutive AFL GF appearances that followed, with two more premierships. But the biggest effect was for the Fitzroy faithful, that had turned out to that grand final in 2001, as if it were Fitzroy V Essendon: alongside the Brisbane fans who flew in, making a unique atmosphere for not just people at the venue, but for viewers as well. After the 2001 Grand Final, the Barassi barrier would be broken four more times: Brisbane’s “Three-peat” in 2002/03 and the Sydney Swans premiership wins in 2005 and 2012.
March 1987, was a major shift in philosophy for the then “east coast” Seven Network. Fairfax, who had owned 7 Sydney since inception, and 7 Brisbane since the mid eighties, picked up Seven Melbourne, after News Limited sold off the station, after acquiring the Herald and Weekly Times newspaper group: which had owned 7 Melbourne since inception. The next move was awkward, and in the case of Brisbane and Melbourne, it was ratings killing. Fairfax introduced into both markets, a hour news service replacing a half-hour news/half-hour current affairs show. In Melbourne, ratings sharply dived, after new management ditched Mal Walden for Perth-bred Greg Pearce. Meanwhile in Brisbane, a move was made to axe State Affair, which was still a ratings success, and replace it with 1hr news. Mike Higgins, someone who had seen the lowpoints and the heights at Seven, left, and made the defection to TV0’s news, to probably allow, Des McWilliam to be more hands on with the Expo 88 planning… and he premiered on the same night, Seven launched their new hour-long news, including a three-person news desk. The move to a hour news set Seven back. Seven in Brisbane had won four consecutive years at 6pm, prior to 1987, and not only saw Seven rate lower than Nine, but the two competing newshours swapped, and for eighteen months (even after the move to 6:30pm and a return to a 1/2hr format for Seven’s news in early 1988) TVQ’s news ran roughshod over Seven, but eventually, Mike Higgins, and Kay McGrath jumped to Seven, and in 1989 finally regained the #2 position, when Kay (after a sojourn in Sydney) was partnered with Frank Warrick, while Mike Higgins did weekends. The #1 position at 6pm would only elude Seven Brisbane for the next eighteen years.
State of Origin rugby league originated, out of the decline of what was then traditional interstate rugby league, caused by the ability for Sydney clubs (wealthy, thanks to poker machines) to take the pick of the QRL’s talent pool, which saw QLD clubs not able to fund a higher wage, due to the lack of poker machine revenue. This resulted in, QLD teams since the introduction of poker machines in NSW, excluding 1959: that couldn’t win the yearly interstate series, not to mention: QLD players who moved to Sydney for more money, ended up playing for NSW: that is until 1980, when a decision was made to turn the third game of the interstate series, into a state-of-origin game…
July 8 1980: A birth of a new league concept.
Lang Park on that winter’s night in 1980 was full to capacity, all ready to see many of their QLD favorites who went to Sydney, including one Arthur Beetson, step on the field in the maroon of QLD, opposed to the blue of NSW, alongside the favorites from the Brisbane Rugby League, such as Mal Meninga, later to become QLD coach. TV viewers were glued to the set, as QLD summoned up the courage, to give NSW and the doubters of the Origin concept a rude shock, winning the game 20-10. The match was so successful, that it was repeated in 1981, and eventually became the interstate series itself, in 1982: but it was game #1, in 1980 that proved that QLD’s guts and determination could take on any challenge.
1995 SOO Series: Fatty’s Triumph.
Queensland’s determination was tested in 1995. With no Broncos players able to be called up to Origin that year, due to the team’s alignment to Super League, many people thought a second tier QLD side without the likes of Allan Langer and others, would be squashed by NSW, like they had been since the 1992 series. All the doubters were proven wrong, for game 1 in Sydney. What was a thought of as a second tier QLD side, somehow held NSW scoreless, at their home ground, let alone produce the feat of the first ever tryless Origin game, and the lowest ever score for a representive game played in Australia with QLD winning 2-0, thanks to a Wayne Bartrim kick for a penalty goal. Game 2 held in Melbourne was a more tryfilled atmosphere, with the MCG packed, with 50,000+ (30,000 less than the first game at the ‘G in 1994) and the underdog QLD claimed the series, in the second game, winning 20-12, but the most notable moment had to be Billy Moore’s Queenslander chant just after half time, preserved forever by TV cameras. Game 3, the dead rubber in Brisbane, and NSW was expected to win… but they didn’t count on the fortitude of two people: Trevor Gillmeister, who checked himself out of hospital, and played the game with a knee infection, then went right back to hospital, and young 18yr old Ben Ikin, scoring a try in his Origin debut, also becoming the youngest Origin player in history. Queensland completed the clean sweep, of what was leading into the series, as unwinnable: 3-0, and winning game 3, 24-16.
Game 3, July 1 2001: The ANZ Shocker: Langer returns to Origin.
Queensland in 2001’s series said a big farewell in game 1, to the old Lang Park with a emphatic QLD victory, and was beginning the process of being torn down, and replaced by a modern stadium (which opened in 2003) at the time of Game 3. Thus, for the first time in Origin history (but not the first interstate game between NSW and QLD under origin rules in QLD played away from Lang Park: 1997’s Super League Tri-Series (which added New Zealand to the Origin mix) final game was played at ANZ Stadium, between QLD and NSW, which is not counted in the list of SOO wins/losses, but had a historic finish: the first interstate representative rugby league game, and first RL match in Australia  decided by golden point extra time, ending after 104mins, with NSW winning by a field goal), a official State of Origin game, run by the ARL, in Brisbane, was being played away from Lang Park, at the Bronco’s then home ground, QEII Stadium, then known as ANZ Stadium. NSW proceeded to win Game 2, to set the ANZ encounter as a series decider, and the lead-up was dominated by two stories, the impending retirement from representative football, of Brad Fittler and one that sent the Sydney media for a tailspin: Wayne Bennett bringing Allan Langer back from England, to play Origin 3. When the game was played on July 1, QLD didn’t just have a good night… it was a excellent night, although NSW set a Origin record that still stands: the fastest try in Origin history, QLD rampaged home thanks to the combination of Langer and Darren Lockyer, coming home 40-14, with the same NSW press that criticised the Langer selection, stunned enough, that they could only think of two words to describe QLD’s performance at ANZ that July night: “Bloody Alf”. 
The airlift rescues of the 2011 flood in regional QLD, most notably Theodore (where the entire town was evacuated by aircraft) and Grantham (where people were plucked from roofs of houses and businesses amidst fast flowing floodwater, the highest ever recorded for the catchment), as well as North Bundaberg earlier this year remind us of what was at the time the greatest airlift in QLD’s history. The various media from Brisbane arrived in Charleville, to cover a flood emergency, only to end up in it. Every available helicopter in QLD was sent to the outback town. It was early in the morning, when the various journalists, cameramen and photographers, staying in the town’s accommodation facilities, suddenly saw floodwater from the Warrego River in their rooms. By dawn, the town was on their roofs, including the journalists: while the hospital was evacuated by boat and the helicopter evacuation to the town’s airport, on higher ground began. Eventually, 3,000 people were moved to the airport, and a tent city was erected. The Warrego peaked at 8.54m, flooding the entire town: resulting in major damage, and a heartbreaking cleanup. After another flood event in 1997 (lower than 1990), steps were made to build a levee bank to protect the town, first to 1997 height, then to 1990 height after the 2011 flood disaster, was prevented from flowing into the town itself thanks to the levee.
As we approach the end of analogue, we should remember what it was like, back when the TV industry was trying to move to a upgraded broadcast standard, but the real beginning of what became digital TV in Australia was seen 25 years ago: at Expo 88 in Brisbane, when as part of Japan’s demonstration of “Leisure in the Age of Technology” inside the Japanese Pavilion, the installation of three high definition analogue sets, using the MUSE system developed in Japan, was utilised as part of a greater display on modern Japan. Australians probably asked pavilion attendants, when it was coming here, and eventually, when technical standards in Europe and other countries, started to be rewritten to make way for Analogue HD: a new innovation arrived, digital television. Thus, Australia chose to not go for analogue HD, but use the digital medium. Another fight loomed, over what “digital TV” would be in Australia, either standard definition, or high definition, and eventually it was decided both would be utilised, alongside the analogue signal with a target date of switchover set for 2008. Test digital transmissions occurred in late 2000, and finally on the first day of the centenary of Australia’s federation as a nation, the first digital signals were transmitted in the capital cities. At the time of launch: the most expensive digital television sets that provided HD pictures (around the same size as a standard living room HD set today) cost $10,000, set-top box converters cost $500. The ABC and SBS were the only stations allowed to set up multichannels, from day one: ABC used their multichannel for a split ABC Kids/FlyTV channel (which launched in August 2001, but shut down due to budget cuts in 2003: the slot is now ABC2) and SBS developed a extended version of their World News coverage: as the SBS World News Channel, in June 2002 (which became SBS2 in 2009). Regional QLD and the Gold Coast followed in launching their own digital signals in 2003. Eventually, the switchover date was changed by the federal government to 2013: after the slow takeup of digital initially, however it took the launch of commercial multichannels, along with the Freeview initiative by broadcasters, (which both began in 2009) as well as prices coming down on digital televisions with built in tuners  and other equipment: (with the $10k 81cm HD set in 2001, now selling for as little as $200, the arrival of smaller sets with HD tuners on the market (as a alternative to new set top boxes for aging second televisions in homes): as well as the rise of in home digital recorders (made possible, by the arrival of the first practical DVD recorders and DVD-hard drive recorders with digital tuners (first with standard definition tuners built in, then later on with HD tuners), which saw the main medium of in-home recording change, from VHS tapes, whose players needed set top units linked up by cables, to DVD and HDD with digital tuners built in) to get Brisbane and Australia finally taking digital seriously.
Seven, in the preceding 8 years since Extra’s arrival, had struggled at 5:30 at night. A struggle only accelerated, by the mis-steps the network made in the period of 1998-2000, at delivering a Brisbane-only solution. The first thing people saw of these mis-steps, was a attempt at Gold Coast local news, anchored by Melissa Downes, co-funded by affiliate Prime, a arrangement which only lasted two years, when BTQ pulled funding in May 2000, and was eventually axed by Prime at the end of 2000. Another mis-step, was the manoeuvre by Seven to capture the Extra audience, while the program was on summer hiatus (a regular occurrence, until the mid 2000’s) by slotting in a repackaged summer series for the highly successful Sunday afternoon program The Great South East in late 1999, (which also traditionally aired new episodes Tuesday nights in non-ratings until the mid 00’s) to air five days a week: and also failed to gel with viewers. But the one that topped it all in this period: was none other than Local Edition. Unlike repackaged GSE, and GC news, this was a bold attempt, by Seven to regain lost viewers, with a bold new product. Anchored by Peter Ford and Melissa Downes, along with a stellar reporting team, including notable journalists, such as Matthew Fynes-Clinton (recruited from the Courier Mail), Peter Doherty (on loan from the newsroom), and a young up and comer: Sarah Harris (who built a successful career after LE). Although it was promoted heavily throughout the Sydney Olympics (likely to be the highest rating period in Australian TV history), it had to live up to the hype. Day one’s ratings came out two days after premiere day, in October 2000 (same day as a Closing Ceremony replay), and Seven smiled… at 105k average from 5pm-6pm: it was a raise above the average Seven had been getting with other content (around 75k 5-6pm average prior to Olympics). But it’s ratings soon went downhill, with some great pieces done by some of the reporters: Aniela Hedditch’s piece on Popstars 2 auditions (which actually saw a audition by Aniela, that went far) and Peter Doherty’s piece on the lost member of Status Quo, but, as the media was starting to tag LE as “Limited Edition”, and even newspaper articles were talking about the infamous “these chairs are too comfortable” interviews as ratings slid further. Eventually, after a shocker: which saw LE have peak ratings of 55k (after many things Nine did to dent LE: including the first running of a 5 day a week stripped Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (pre Hotseat version) in Australia), Seven terminated the project. It was a precursor to the big moves in 2001 at Seven Brisbane, that reshaped the newsroom. Melissa Downes, after LE, stayed at Seven, until the changes of 2001: and jumped ship to Nine, to rise through the ranks, and become the main weekday newsreader for Brisbane in 2009, while Peter Ford, went back to NBC to cover Afghanistan, before developing breakthrough technology to help people who were confined to wheelchairs, control computers with the power of their minds, including showing it to Stephen Hawking. If you want to know more about what Peter Ford has done post-LE, a recent edition of Australian Story is a must watch.
TV news in Brisbane had been all about the helicopters, since the late 1970’s, even though some fads passed by: like newsboats, the helicopter became a flying measure of the ratings pull of your news. However, two incidents spring to mind: both involving helicopters for TVQ-10, and both involving the same pilot. Peter Clark, had been piloting the TVQ helicopter since the early eighties: and in Feburary 1989, was involved in a mechanical-failure incident, where the helicopter lost power and submerged in Moreton Bay, just metres from a night-time beach landing on Moreton Island, with three passengers: lead-news anchor, Anna McMahon, then deputy news director for TVQ, John Fidler and Melissa Haughty. All four people survived, and a piece from the 1989 TVQ chopper wreck is on display at the Queensland Police Museum, to mark the role QLD’s Water police had in the recovery of the chopper. Just over nine years later, another incident occurred with a newer Ten chopper, this time on one of the most routine trips news helicopters make in Brisbane: a return to Mt Coot-tha. At around 12:30pm on August 18 1998, the Ten news helicopter, with Peter Clark piloting, after coming back from a meeting at Archerfield, slammed into Mt Coot-tha, after a turn was misjudged, due to medical issues with the pilot, causing temporary vision loss. The resulting impact, killed Clark, and totally destroyed the helicopter. Brisbane’s various newsrooms rushed to the scene, including Ten, and was shocked by the scene that literally unfolded in their backyard. The investigation into the 1998 incident by the ATSB is on their website.
1989, in Queensland, state politics was a continuous news story, especially leading into a state election year, the first since Joh Bjelke-Peterson resigned two years earlier. Starting with the removal of Terry Lewis from the top slot of QLD Police Commissioner: the story of that year continued to grow, with the Merthyr by-election in May (caused by the resignation of Merthyr MLA Don Lane, who was implicated in the Fitzgerald Inquiry), causing a major loss for the National Party, and showing signs of the party’s weakness in SEQ. Then in July, the actual Fitzgerald Inquiry report was released, and the political climate in QLD deteriorated in September, with a successful leadership challenge by Russell Cooper against Mike Ahern, all while the Nationals were souring in the polls. While all this was happening, Labor’s new Opposition leader, Wayne Goss, was biding his time, until the inevitable state election happened in December. Labor steamrolled it’s way back into power, with Goss in the role, of being the first Labor premier elected in QLD since the introduction of television, thirty years earlier, with one line in that victory speech that would get replayed for years to come: that summed up the mood in QLD Labor after the landslide win, after so many election losses...  simply: “this is the end of the Bjelke-Petersen era”.
We now wind the clock back to 2001, to a television story that had been eight years in the making. When QLD was aggregated initially, QTV, offered local news in most markets, along with Sunshine Television. But progressively, bulletins in non-core areas for these broadcasters (i.e. areas outside Sunshine’s former solus coverage areas of Mackay and Wide Bay/Sunshine Coast and QTV’s former solus coverage areas in Cairns and Townsville) were axed, in the early 1990’s, and while Sunshine Television became Seven QLD  (owned by the network) in 1995, Ten Queensland, known as Telecasters, continued to produce locally a hour of news at 6pm for it’s home market until 2000, when it started taking TVQ’s 5pm news, alongside a half hour local news at 6pm. Around the same time, Ten Townsville, was producing local news for Darwin and Central Australia, for the Telecasters-owned Seven Central and Seven Darwin. Then came the shock: Telecasters (which at that stage consisted of four stations, two 10 affiliates (the former QTV and NRTV), and two Seven affiliates(Darwin and Central Australia) was bought in mid 2001 by Southern Cross Broadcasting, which operated 10 affiliates in Victoria, southern NSW and a dual 7/10 station (which eventually became a full Seven affiliate in April this year, after digital switchover, and the arrival of a digital Ten)  in Tasmania. But the next decision by Southern Cross would leave many people out of profitable work, in two states. November 21 2001, will always be remembered in the regional television sector as Black Wednesday. Using the excuse of digital upgrade expenses, Southern Cross proceeded to axe the Townsville and Cairns Ten News services, the Central Australia/Darwin Seven News service, and the Ten Capital news service in Canberra in one foul swoop. Naturally, it caused protests, and Win also made time to cover the story, of the axings, but the saddest part had to go to the news team in Townsville, who had to produce the final bulletin. Joanne Desmond (who went on to Seven, to relaunch a Townsville news service) anchored the news bulletin that night, while long time weatherman, Steve Price (not the talk presenter from Sydney, but Townsville’s “Pricey” also went to radio, as the host for 4TO-FM’s breakfast shift) known for his vests, all 104 of them, by the time the local news service ceased, said a few anticdotes, and then the bulletin closed with the imagery of the Ten News logo flushed down the toilet, as a way of telling Southern Cross, “don’t tread on me”. 
The resulting moves, saw the federal government call a inquiry into regional news, and instituted a standard of coverage regulation for the aggregated markets, while Seven QLD, reintroduced a local news service to Cairns/Townsville, not long after the inquiry’s findings were released (with Joanne Desmond, back in the chair, gaining higher ratings than the WIN product), and eventually saw a news expansion phase by Win and Seven QLD in the late 2000’s: Win’s local news expanded to Mackay and Wide Bay (Seven’s other two strongholds) in 2009, making Win the only network in aggregated QLD, with local news in every market, and Seven expanded their local news to Rockhampton (Win’s second strongest market in QLD) in November 2010, while Toowoomba is waiting patiently, for the launch of their own service from Seven: as it is the only market without two commercial news bulletins in aggregated QLD. Today, the Cairns studios are a car dealership, while the Townsville studios on the Strand, in the historic Queens Hotel, lie empty, waiting for the redevelopment bug to hit, and both cities get their local news piped in from Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast (Seven’s being based there since inception and Win’s moving there in 2012), while Southern Cross only produce news updates from Canberra.
2013, is a important year for rugby league in Queensland: especially as it is the Brisbane Broncos’s 25th anniversary of joining what was, the Sydney competition in 1988. The team for it’s first four years, had made finals, missed them, had roster shifts, but it was in September 1992, that the Broncos shone. Making their way through the 1992 finals series, the team entered a historic grand final, against the old guard of the Sydney league: St George. Queensland sat glued, as a Brisbane team played a game of two halves in Sydney, one more dominant than the other. The result was a 28-8 victory to the Broncos, and set off celebrations in Brisbane and Queensland: especially when it boosted the causes of the expansion bidders in Brisbane (what became, the short-lived (due to the effects of the Super League war) South QLD Crushers), and Townsville (what became, the North QLD Cowboys, that is still thriving to this day, including the feat of the first Queensland team, that wasn’t the Broncos to make a NRL grand final, in 2005), who got their franchises in late 1992. The Broncos soon began a dynasty, of five more premierships (1 NSWRL, 1 Super League and 3 NRL crowns) without ever losing a grand final, something no recently added team in the modern era had ever done: only it’s 1988 brethren Newcastle (with 2 grand final wins from 2 appearances), comes close to the Broncos streak.
The radical reshaping of SE Queensland throughout the last fifty four years, has seen many issues with heritage: sometimes for good, sometimes for bad. Four of these demolitions saw outcries, while one sparked a boom in tearing down the old for the new on the Gold Coast. But let us start with the most protracted of the demolition debates…
The Regent Theatre 1978, 2008-11: Brisbane’s Regent theatre opened it’s doors in 1929, and was a iconic statement on Queen Street, alongside it’s contemporaries, the Wintergarden and Her Majesty’s. In 1978 however, Hoyts proposed to demolish the theatre and rebuild a multiplex on the site, however the people of Brisbane rallied, and eventually, the theatre box was retained, the foyer heritage listed, while the basement carpark became Queen St’s (the mall came later) first McDonalds restaurant. Although Hoyts sold the lease to Greater Union’s Birch Carroll and Coyle brand in the early 2000’s the threat of demolition, cropped up again in the late 2000’s, this time to the theatre box. Brisbane rallied again, but this time couldn’t prevent the demolition of the theatre box, and due to the lean state of the Brisbane property market (as the replacement for the theatre box was a office tower) a empty gap now lies where the theatre box stood, much like there is a gap in Brisbane’s hearts for the Regent.
The Bellevue Hotel 1979: The Brisbane Drop’s first real victim, was the Bellevue Hotel near Parliament House, on the corner of Alice and George St. Built in the 1880’s, the Bellevue was for a long time one of Brisbane’s premier hotels, and included magnificent iron lace balconies, on it’s second and third floors. However, with it’s proximity to the government precinct, the Bellevue was eventually acquired by the Queensland Government, and was used as accommodation for rural members, while a permanent facility: the Parliamentary Annexe (which also included space for a temporary Legislative Assembly chamber, so the existing building could be refurbished), was built. The government also took off the balconies, and eventually designed plans for a new building, but was butting heads with the National Trust… until the first midnight demolition, by a demolition team that would become well known: the Deen Bros, and on Saturday April 21 1979, Brisbane awoke to see the Bellevue being torn down, amidst a protest, of people who wanted to see a full restoration. The site today, is the State Works Centre, and is now in the demolition firing line, when the new government office tower at 1 William St opens, and the building will likely be sold off, for another redevelopment.
Cloudland Ballroom 1982: Brisbane was just celebrating a successful Commonwealth Games, when another demolition occurred, that caught Brisbane by surprise: Cloudland Ballroom, had been a Brisbane institution, and had grown up with the city, not just as a dance hall, but also a concert venue, market venue even a venue for exams. People began worrying about the buildings future earlier that year, but the big shock was on the morning of November 7, when Brisbane awoke to find that the iconic dome on the hill at Bowen Hills, had disappeared. The Deen Bros were also brought in for the Cloudland demolition job, and made a quick effort: so quick, protesters didn’t gather, like they did for the Bellevue, leaving a city stunned. The Cloudland site today is occupied by “Cloudland Apartments”, while the Cloudland name lives on for a new generation: as a upscale nightclub, in Fortitude Valley.
Her Majesty’s Theatre 1983: Her Majesty’s in Brisbane, was the first theatre on Queen St: built in the 1890’s, and helped found a theatre precinct, which eventually stretched from Her Majesty’s near Edward, to the Odeon near Albert St. No other city in Australia had the choice Brisbane had in that strip, for cinemas and live entertainment. However, the precinct would slowly change in the late 70s/early 80’s as theatres closed down, with the Regent being rebuilt, Odeon (used as a temporary site for Hoyts while the Regent was rebuilt, and being eventually demolished) and Wintergarden being acquired, and levelled for a new shopping complex bearing the theatre’s name, while Her Majesty’s was also acquired as a second stage for the Wintergarden complex, and was facing a similar fate: except, that the façade was meant to be retained. After all was said and done, the site was awaiting demolition… until the addition of a unexpected final show, during the 1982 Commonwealth Games, a fitting farewell to the dame of Queen St: a royal command performance for the Queen, something that QTQ-9 produced, with the master producer: Paul Sharratt and featuring Slim Dusty and Rolf Harris to name a few, to great applause. Eventually, the entire building including façade was demolished in October 1983, to make way for the second stage of the Wintergarden, and also, a Hilton hotel integrated into the shopping centre. 
The Surfers Paradise Hotel 1983: Just a month before the Her Majesty’s demolition, there was another major demolition, this time on the Gold Coast, of a hotel that had become iconic, Jim Cavill’s Surfers Paradise Hotel. Opened in 1923, and rebuilt after a fire in 1936, the hotel became known for it’s beer garden in the 1950s, along with it’s streetside bar, known as the “Birdwatchers Bar”. The Gold Coast literally grew up around the hotel, until plans were announced for the Paradise Centre, consisting of accommodation, a shopping centre, a leisure facility, and a rebuilt Surfers Paradise Hotel… thus on September 13 1983, the hotel was demolished to make way for the second phase (the first phase, consisting of Grundy's indoor amusements (now the largest Timezone in Australia), the GoldCoaster waterslide complex (later removed) and two apartment towers: Allunga and Ballah, had been finished earlier in the decade). The third incarnation of the Surfers Paradise Hotel reopened a year later, complete with Birdwatchers Bar (this time designed with one-way glass), as well as a supermarket, and third all-hotel (as opposed to holiday apartments) tower: (today it is the Grand Chancellor Surfers Paradise). Eventually in 1994: the hotel condensed to just a tavern, with the corner site and Birdwatchers Bar being transformed into a Hard Rock Café, which opened in 1996. However, the Paradise Centre development’s success inspired many other developments in the next two decades: such as the Oasis, at Broadbeach in 1989 (replacing the Broadbeach Lennons, which had seen the area grow around it), Showcase on the Beach at Coolangatta (incorporating the Coolangatta Hotel) in 1988, Australia Fair at Southport (replacing and incorporating the Pacific Hotel) in 1990 and culminating in the opening of the Chevron Renaissance complex in 1999 (on the site of the iconic Chevron Hotel which opened in the 1950’s, which had been left vacant as the early 1990’s recession put a stop to the original plans for a redevelopment of the site), with the majority of these new complexes having accommodation and entertainment integrated into the shopping centre, making them one-stop destinations, much like the Paradise Centre pioneered.
The storms that define us, are the highlights of a typical Queensland summer. Nothing says summer in Queensland more, than a hot day followed by an afternoon storm to cool everything down. But there have been times, in the analogue era, where the typical afternoon storm, has turned a lot worse…

November 4 1973: the great Brisbane tornado. Queensland’s storm season, is usually defined by smaller events. The 1973/74 storm season however was defined by two large events, with two completely different results. November 4 1973, proved that the storm season had arrived, with brutal consequences due to the unawareness of Brisbane for tornadoes, especially late afternoon/evening. At around 6pm, when people were watching the news, or having dinner, a tornadic storm formed and dropped a funnel near Brookfield: a suburb west of Mt Coot-tha. It proceeded to rampage for a remarkable 51km, unleashing it’s fury through Brisbane’s suburbs. It wasn’t until daylight, the next day, that people saw the devastation, including houses and businesses destroyed, or damaged, in a dozen suburbs. But the biggest tragedy for some (particularly those in the storm’s path near the Brisbane River when it “jumped” from the northside suburbs to the southside suburbs), was to come: as while they were still patching up, and negotiating insurance claims from this event, the 1974 flood hit, and caused more problems for insurers. Queensland since 1973, has had other notable tornado events, including the most intense tornado in Australian history: a F4 at Bucca, near Bundaberg in 1992, as well as the recent tornado outbreak, related to ex-cyclone Oswald: which saw Bargara, Burnett Heads and Coonar hit by tornadoes, on the 26th of January 2013.

January 18 1985: Hail at peak hour, Brisbane’s worst hailstorm. Brisbane and hail, is another pairing, that usually means some minor damage: but there is one event concerning hail, that is quite often talked about. January 18, 1985 produced what was at the time, the most destructive hailstorm in Australia’s history in terms of cost to insurers, which is today, eclipsed only by Sydney’s $2 billion damage bill for a hailstorm in 1999. It started off as a cell in the Gold Coast hinterland, aided by a change coming up the coast, then pummeled the Centenary suburbs, before offloading it’s fury on Brisbane’s inner-north… right on peak hour. What made it so destructive, was that it was a combination of cricket ball sized hail, and winds, that peaked at 185km/h (equivalent to a high range category three cyclone) that produced a dramatic situation, where cars driving home, were pummelled, homes were getting roofs blown off, windows were broken due to near horizontal hail hitting them, due to the winds and power was lost to many people, as well as the electric rail network in Brisbane. Major damage also occurred to retail facilities such as Chermside shopping centre, along with a swathe of industrial sites near Brisbane airport. A side effect was, that so many windows were broken, glass had to be shipped from interstate, as Brisbane ran out of local supplies. When all was said and done, the damage bill was in 1985 dollars: $400million. Since that time, there was have been a few widespread destructive storms, such as the events during the 1987 storm season: notably October 16, (which shared the newspapers in Brisbane the next day, with Black Thursday stock market news),  Rememberance Day 1987 (which saw some damage to the Expo 88 sunsails due to 100km/h winds) and November 24, which saw the highest wind gust reported in Brisbane since 1985, a 150km/h gust at Tennyson Power Station, as well as the Christmas Eve storms of 1989, which saw tornadoes in Redcliffe. Other notable hail events, include November 29 1992, where the Gabba was hit, during a test match (repeated again, in 1998), and most memorably, the 19th of May 2005: where it wasn’t the size of the hail that mattered: it was the depth of the drifts, up to 15cm deep, in the inner suburbs, along with damage to the roof of the ABC at Toowong. But, the events of 1985 were about to be revisited dramatically…

November 16 2008: The Gap “cyclone”: In the 23 years since January 1985, Brisbane’s population had exploded. Many of these new residents hardly knew the destruction a storm in Brisbane could cause. November 16 2008 was a wakeup call. A very severe late afternoon storm, was detected on radar in the Gold Coast hinterland, and caused hail and wind damage at Mt Tamborine, merged with another cell, near Ipswich, and headed due north, through the suburbs growing in severity, eventually, spawning a couple of microbursts, at Mt Coot-tha (lifting the roofs of the TV stations, along with causing the Seven Brisbane newsroom to flood from the ceiling), and most severely at The Gap, where houses didn’t just lose roofs, some were torn apart. The most notable thing about the event in 2008, was that viewers turned on their video cameras, and gave their own eyewitness accounts of the devastation (usually events like these are documented by storm chasers, of which there are plenty of in Queensland), something that had never been seen in QLD before, and thus we have records of what was seen in the “eye”, confirming it’s power, as the people referred to it as the “Gap cyclone”. We may never know how fast the microburst that hit the Gap was, due to the lack of wind reading equipment in the area, but the damage it caused was very widespread, including 200,000+ homes losing electricity at the peak, with many homes still waiting for restoration, the next morning, and The Gap itself waited a lot longer for restoration, while the army was called in to assist in the cleanup mission, which was slowed by a week of severe events, including a flash flood event in the Ipswich/Lockyer area, caused by similar conditions to a freak storm event in 2001: that flooded Brisbane’s inner suburbs: and caused dramatic damage, including many cars swept from Zupps at Aspley, into nearby Cabbage Tree Creek. The final cost insurers paid out when it was said and done: $320m, and a major lesson for SEQ, especially going in the last few years, of not just lean storm seasons, but of flood events as well.
The radio industry, was a big news maker in the 1980’s, especially with the arrival of commercial FM radio, in 1980. The average listener, was still on the AM band, for music however due to Brisbane being only allocated one standalone FM licence initially, FM104 (today it is Triple M Brisbane), but it’s original format of contemporary rock wasn’t a winner: it was a change to a harder format, and the “Rock in Stereo” positioner that made FM104 one of the three main driving forces in commercial Australian FM in the 1980s: alongside Triple M Sydney (thanks to Doug Mulray), and SAFM (the seed for the Austereo network). AM had to compete: and it was the arrival of AM stereo in the mid 1980s that was seen as the savior for many of the AM heavyweights: including 4IP.

Radio 10 moving to Coronation Dr, July 1, 1984. 4IP along with its brethren in Sydney and Melbourne (2SM and 3XY) were radio ratings leaders leading into the 1980s, with strong content based on the top 40 format, and appeal with listeners. However, the three stations lost market share, once FM takeup rose (along with the arrival of top 40 formats on FM), due to the sound quality. 4IP, didn’t have to face up to two FM stations like 2SM and 3XY did: It only had FM104, which had chosen a rock-based format not top 40: thus the move was made to rebrand 4IP as Radio 10: a reference to it’s position on the AM dial: 1008. A new studio (complete with customised mixing desks ready for AM stereo) was constructed on Coronation Dr, and in 1984, Radio 10 opened their new home, with a gimmick: Boy George, who would be performing at Festival Hall, would open their new facility. So, it was on July 1, that a normally quiet Sunday afternoon, would see Coronation Dr closed, from Sylvan Rd (at The Regatta Hotel) to Park Rd, to see thousands attend the opening, just to see Boy George cut the ribbon. Every news crew in SEQ was in attendance, and it gave Radio 10 the free kick it needed, when it launched AM stereo… a happy medium which didn’t last long in Australia, as it reduced signal power, however the long anticipated introduction of digital radio in Australia, in the late 2000’s (along with the rise of online streaming) gave hope, as AM music stations (mostly now classic hits and easy listening stations) were finally able to transmit a clearer, sharper signal.

B105 launches Feburary 26 1990. The last week in Feburary in 1990 was a big game changer in FM radio. Preceded, by the launch in 1989 of SeaFM, ABC Local Radio Gold Coast (ABC Coast FM) and 4GGG (QLD’s first FM conversion, moving from 4GG) on the Gold Coast, as well as Triple J launching in Brisbane. The first launch was the beginning of QFM in Ipswich (what became after a frequency change a decade later, River 94.9, the original QFM frequency (106.9) is now Brisbane’s Nova station) and the second launch was very high profile: Austereo, after acquiring 4BK: a station whose reputation was built on Wayne Roberts’s breakfast show’s success in the late 70s/early 80s, was converted to FM: and became B105 (most importantly, targeting the top 40 format), with a brand new breakfast team: consisting of Jamie Dunn and Ian Skippen, and immediately soared to the top of the radio ratings sphere, overtaking FM104 (which had only just been rebranded as Triple M Brisbane). The success of B105 (who rated in it’s first survey in 1990: 26% of the Brisbane radio audience) led to a second AM-FM conversion licence (like the other capitals, were being issued) that was successfully won by 4BH, but when the time came to pay for it: neither 4BH or it’s competitors didn’t have the cash: simply, they overspent on the FM advantage: and as a result: Brisbane, for 10 years had a FM radio duopoly: achieved when Austereo merged with the Triple M network in the mid 1990s, which was only broken by, the issuing of the first new commercial radio licence (opposed to a AM station converting to FM) in Brisbane since FM104’s in 1980, with 97.3 (owned jointly by ARN (owners of 4KQ, and having to divest 4BH to keep their share) and DMG, the owners of the Nova network (who eventually got their own station, Nova 106.9 in 2005), with programming from ARN’s Mix network and based out of ARN’s building in Greenslopes, without the actual Mix branding) launching in 2001.

The end of 4IP: December 16, 1991: The Big 3 stations that defined Australian music in the 70’s, 2SM, 3XY and 4IP had rided out a storm in the 1980’s, especially as the top 40 format moved to the superior sounding FM signal, towards the end of the 1980’s. The last great move the three did together, was a change from top 40 to easy listening, which only proved a success for 2SM: which is still on air (albeit with more format and ownership changes than cut lunches) while 3XY struggled, and eventually went off air in September 1991, to make way for a new station at 693 on the dial: 3EE (the frequency is now 3AW, after the decision was made by then owners of 3EE and 3AW, Southern Cross Broadcasting to switch 3EE’s frequency with 3AW’s, to improve reception in Melbourne, in 2006.) However 4IP after the Light and Easy 1008 experiment ended, reverted to their heyday branding: but ratings sank once Brisbane had two FM stations. It saw formats change rapidly, amongst the AM stations: and a condensation of radio formats: 4BC for instance, changed to a contemporary logo, then went to a country music format, then news/talk, after a deal with the TAB to air racing expired. 4BH also tried talk, before returning to music, in the mid ‘90s. 4KQ changed format to hits and memories (abandoned by 4BK, when it became B105) and were successful, enough to topple B105 in the mid 90’s. However it was 4IP who was being lost in the shifting AM sands. The same radio survey in 1990 that B105 debuted in: 4IP was being recorded as having only 3% of the Brisbane audience. It eventually was either find a new person to reshape the station, or face oblivion like 3XY. Thankfully, the saviour arrived: of all things, the QLD TAB. With the relocation of 4IP from Coronation Dr, to the QLD TAB’s headquarters at Albion (today most notable, for being the HQ of UniTAB, and Dominos Australia), a major move was made, that was, to end the music on 4IP, rebrand the station as 4TAB, to give the TAB a permanent presence on Brisbane radio, that wasn’t bound by contracts with other stations. So, on December 16, Brisbane said a sad farewell to a station that had a major influence on Brisbane listening habits for a generation. 4TAB is still going strong, with it’s racing format, even expanding with the evolution of radio: with online and digital radio, as well as expanding to Adelaide and Darwin, (as part of the acquisitions of the SA and NT TABS) that saw the QLD TAB, become UniTAB, and eventually became (after a merger) a division of Tatts Group: who also control the Golden Casket lottery in QLD. Today, RadioTAB, is probably one of Queensland’s widest ranging radio networks (a institution at racetracks statewide): rivalled in it’s coverage depth only by the ABC, SBS and the various indigenous community radio stations in Queensland.
One simple day, yet it had ramifications: the two biggest news stories on that day, 25 years ago, were a shock to the system, and made national headlines: springing the Fitzgerald Inquiry onto the front pages of newspapers in Sydney and Melbourne, and springing Darling Downs Television into the national spotlight, as the sole Ten affiliate, a role it would hold until mid 1989.

The Fitzgerald confession: The big shock, which would send tremors throughout the QLD police force, was the admission of the then assistant commissioner Graham Parker of corruption, and proceeded to resign, to give information on others involved. The media outside QLD referred to it, as a “the equivalent to a bomb going off”, and soon after, the commissioner Terrance Lewis, was stood down, and eventually was removed as police commissioner (and also tried and jailed, as well as losing his knighthood), in the final days of the inquiry nearly two years later: proof of how deep the Fitzgerald Inquiry went into QLD’s shady underbelly.

Meanwhile: DDQ-TVQ, the beginning.  The seeds for this shock buy, weren’t sown in Toowoomba, but in Sydney. Fairfax had run the Seven in Sydney since inception, and the Seven in Brisbane since the mid 1980’s. Media law changes, along with the acquisition of HWT by News Limited, saw Seven Melbourne sold onto Fairfax, who proceeded to turn Melbourne’s ratings down, and Brisbane followed. Soon, Fairfax wanted out of the television business: and the east coast 7’s, were sold to Christopher Skase, and Qintex, then owners of TVQ-0 and were obliged to sell TVQ, in order to keep Seven Brisbane. Eventually, the knight in shining armor arrived, in Darling Downs Television, after Northern Star chose to buy the assets of Kerry Stokes (ADS 7 Adelaide (which had to swap frequencies, to 10 in late 1987), CTC 7 Canberra (in the middle of the first aggregated market) and West Coast Telecasters: the winning bidder for the 10 frequency in Perth) instead of TVQ (which could have kept TVQ on 0 a lot longer, while DDQ would have gone to UHF prior to aggregation, to allow Brisbane to move to 10). Darling Downs hoped that aggregation would be kind to their business, and realised that a switch to 10 in Brisbane, could be a future money earner: and set the stage for the year to come, along with the original battle lines for aggregation in Queensland: NQTV, Sunshine/Tropical Television (with strong ties to Skase’s 7’s) and 10-4-5a/RTQ7 (which hoped to use TVQ as a bargaining chip). 
Brisbane people love a good opening: and none was more perfect, in the eyes of the QLD media, than the opening of the first Gateway Bridge. Taking six years to build, the original Gateway, was the third tolled Brisbane River crossing erected during the 20th century: after the Indooroopilly Bridge (later named for it’s builder, Walter Taylor, and was the first suburban Brisbane River crossing, and actually has people living in the pylons, and the tolls were removed in 1965, when Brisbane City Council took over management) and the Story Bridge (whose tolls were removed in the late 1940s, after a BCC takeover). So, it was in the middle of the summer holiday period that the bridge opened, and over 100,000 people turned out to enjoy what was a world record span, along with a vintage car procession, rides of all kinds, and also to hear Joh Bjelke Petersen and Russ Hinze speak the praises of the bridge. The bridge initially opened with a toll of $1.50, and had a average of 15,000 cars a day pass over it. The real boom however, was when the new domestic airport opened in 1988 (followed by the new international terminal in 1995), with direct Gateway access, along with the development of a bypass route for Brisbane. It was this bypass role, that eventually saw the Gateway reach a average of 100,000 cars a day passing over, and the need for a second bridge was required, along with a streamlined access from the north (that couldn’t be done, when the original bridge opened, due to the original Brisbane Airport being in the way of a straighter corridor from Nudgee to the bridge). So, in 2010, after four years work, the largest bridge duplication in Australian history opened, to a crowd of 175,000, nearly double the amount that visited in 1986, considering that 2010, also had the Clem7 opening day in Feburary (the first cross river road tunnel and privately funded tollway in Brisbane), that attracted 55,000 (which was capped) and the Go-Between Bridge opening in July 2010.
The Lake Eyre helicopter accident was a tragedy beyond belief for the ABC, losing three of their best people all at the same time. Even though, this accident happened outside QLD, this hit very close to home, for the ABC in Brisbane, for the cameraman who perished, John Bean ACS, was based in Brisbane, and married to Landline presenter Pip Courtney, and was regarded as the ABC’s best cameraman, winning many awards and acclaim from his peers. Experienced ABC journalist, Paul Lockyer, who spearheaded the ABC’s coverage of the flood in Grantham and Cyclone Yasi, earlier that year, along with the ABC’s most experienced helicopter pilot, Gary Ticehurst (who notably helped rescue people from yachts, during the 1998 Sydney-Hobart) also perished with Bean in a helicopter accident, while filming a documentary at Lake Eyre, which was a follow-up to a earlier documentary Lockyer did at Lake Eyre, a few years earlier. The ABC nationwide was shaken, and the memorial services for the three, were packed with colleagues from throughout the industry as they paid tribute to a fallen trio: who died doing what they loved: telling a story that needed to be told. The ABC has on their website, a tribute page, to the trio.
Brisbane during Expo 88 had grown up, so much, but it was one little switch that made the difference. Darling Downs Television had committed after the purchase of TVQ-0 to give the station a similar lifeline, that was given when ATV-0, moved up to 10 on January 20 1980, with people seeing the station in a new light. Unlike the reasoning given in 1980 for Melbourne’s switch, which were ratings related: the TVQ switch was one built over years of remarkable change since 1980: from a station that was slow to take up concepts from the network: especially hour news, to a station that was regularly hitting #2 with their newshour. Simply put, it was a branding issue, and a fear that the reception problems that happened with 0 Melbourne in it’s latter days (along with weather related issues in Brisbane during the era of SBS on Ch0 in Sydney/Melbourne that occasionally saw co-channel issues: which were rectified, when SBS went UHF only in 1986), could plague the station in the 1990’s. So, it was set: get Brisbane on Channel 10, but when, and what DDQ would get in exchange? A target date was set very early on in 1988, to get Brisbane onto the 10 frequency, before the Seoul Olympics, that Network Ten had the rights to. Other things were looked at, including how much all up it would cost: for both stations to not just prepare, but to make the move. It was decided, that a permanent move to Channel 10, would be made in September, a week before the Seoul opening ceremony: with time for test transmissions, however two things needed to be rectified: Sunshine Television’s Nambour receiver was also on 10, and needed to be moved to a new channel and DDQ would get a new channel, which ended up being Channel 0, with the assumption that UHF would be needed in the area for aggregation. Other parts included, a new Channel 10 transmitter at Mt Coot-tha, equipment modifications at Mt Tamborine (at the time of the DDQ purchase of TVQ, the only GC transmitter for Ch 0, and other commercial networks, while the new Currumbin UHF gap-filler translator (already budgeted for, and made Ch 10-ready) launched in early 1988) and the most complex technical task: the relocation of the TVQ-0 transmitter to Mt Mowbullan, in the Bunya Mountains. There was also a huge promotional task, of sending letters to every Brisbane home to notify of the change to Ten, and to every Darling Downs home, to notify of the change to 0, and to solidify the station’s new branding: Vision TV. Eventually, in the wee hours of September 10, Rob Readings, said the final goodbye to TV0, and welcomed a brand new face to the Brisbane TV scene: Brisbane Ten, with a brand new identification package, and adopting the “X” logo for Network 10 (something that had been phased in, with all Olympics promotion from as early as May, done with the X, along with the side of the TVQ pavilion, and the corporate flag for Expo 88 was done as “TV0-Network Ten”. The flag wasn’t changed, but the pavilion’s side was, to the X logo). After Expo, TVQ adopted the new news package launched by 10, and DDQ adopted a new news set for both stations based on 10’s designs for Sydney/Melbourne (TVQ’s was modified in 1990: DDQ’s was retained until the suspension of local news by new owners in 1991). DDQ stayed on 0, well into the 21st century, albeit with a call sign change in 1991: from DDQ to RTQ, and switched off the 0 signal (that was still viewable, in some parts of Brisbane, as the last main-channel 0 in Australia), on December 6 2011, as part of digital switchover in regional QLD.
(LOGIE, SAMMY AND PENGUIN AWARD WINNER): If television news in Queensland in the early 1980’s wanted proof of the value of helicopters to the bulletin: the Great Moreton Bay rescue was it. A east coast low in May 1980 had churned up the waters off Brisbane (and dumped one of the largest rainfalls since 1974, on Brisbane), and meanwhile near Moreton Island, a ship’s motor failed. A family was on board, when suddenly, a massive wave flipped the ship, broke the mast and sent the captain of the boat overboard. Nearby, a boat from Redcliffe’s branch of the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard, had come to assist, when it’s own engine failed, and suffered the same fate, except the Coast Guard vessel , flipped, after being caught in the gap between waves, and tried to ride over the waves. The two people on the upturned Coast Guard vessel, were rescued by another helicopter, not prepared for the task: it had no winch to lower rescuers, and very precariously both were rescued, with the second man rescued by the skids of the helicopter, while the yacht was eventually rescued by water police. There were two crews filming the same incident: Ch 0, who were in the Wales (now Westpac) rescue helicopter: and the Channel 7 helicopter: which had a cameraman shooting the whole situation including the footage of the Wales rescue helicopter making the dramatic moves. When the awards season arrived, the Brisbane news team for Seven swept the awards: including a Logie in 1981, where the Seven crew praised the 0 team for keeping their cool, while the chopper they were on board made the critical rescue, and the footage was later shown overseas. Three important things came out of this however: radio communications were standardised: as the Water Police were delayed getting to the yacht, due to no radio communication with either the boats or helicopters, QLD started developing a fleet of state-owned rescue helicopters, with winches along the QLD coast, and the number of TV stations that had helicopters for news rose, by the time the decade ended, the ABC had one on call, all the commercial stations in Brisbane had helicopters parked at their stations, and NQTV also had a Townsville-based news helicopter for use for their highly successful local news and other programming pre-aggregation.
(HIGHEST OZTAM FIGURE EVER RECORDED FOR A REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAM IN THE 5:30 SLOT IN SEQ: 241,000) You have just seen the figure: now how was it achieved? Eighteen years of memories crammed into half a hour, on what was a sad day generally: with the loss of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett, along with what was meant to be the retirement of Bruce Paige. But it goes much deeper. Brisbane Extra, had been a part of so many people’s lives, for eighteen years: and seen many great names pass through the doors, including the person who likely held the door open, Doug Murray. Doug came from the ABC, as the original host of Landline: back when it was a daily program (not the weekly edition we know today, and also made a appearance on the 1000th Landline episode in 2008, while still working with Nine), and once he went commercial, he made the reporting role, his own. One of the few people who were there on day 1 in 1992, Doug Murray, proceeded to end up retiring with the program, with the final show including a highlight reel of the people that Doug had met during that remarkable run. But the final word had to be from another highlight reel, along with many Brisbane identities paying tribute to Extra: and it’s longevity: as one of the longest lasting regularly airing local programs in a metropolitan market: all culminating in the moment people would never forget, the final image of Brisbane Extra being, Doug Murray turning off the lights, as the last person to leave. Nine afterwards launched a new national afternoon program, THISafternoon (the excuse by Sydney executives to end Brisbane Extra, who didn’t realize the attachment Brisbane had to Extra until the outcry about the axing began), whose whole run didn’t even last eighteen days thanks to a Brisbane viewer boycott. Heather Foord, who had landed in the Extra role after retiring from the news desk six months earlier, was sent back to weekend news, all while Seven sat on their laurels, and not realising the damage that the end of Extra could have on Seven by not acting: (especially the lack of a response by Brisbane management at 7 when the Brisbane Extra axing was announced by Nine, e.g. a press release committing to Brisbane viewers in the station’s fiftieth year) especially in the long term. 
Aggregation, Queensland had a long hard road towards market equalisation, which started with the original plan of two markets: one north (consisting of NQTV Townsville/Cairns, (the largest regional operator in Queensland by a mile), RTQ Rockhampton and MVQ Mackay) and one south (DDQ Darling Downs, SEQ Wide Bay/Sunshine Coast and a third broadcaster: which would have either been NRTV, that served the Gold Coast (and later caused a major issue for Northern NSW aggregation: the addition of the Gold Coast) or a brand new licence likely to have been licenced out of the Gold Coast, or a split of the SEQ market to allow a new Bundaberg licensee) but, after the costs were worked out (not to mention the end of the court-based licence issuing system, after the drawn out process to get NEW-10 in Perth to air, and could have held up southern QLD’s aggregation): it was decided to go with one market for the entire state: thus, for the four solus operators, it was time to align with a partner to take on the might of NQTV, who were slowly inching towards a deal with Nine. SEQ and MVQ aligned, to negotiate for affiliation to the 7 network, through some common ownership arrangements, and meanwhile, RTQ and DDQ aligned, to take advantage of DDQ’s relationship with the 10’s, although the Rockhampton station changed owners, a few years out from aggregation. But was the now QTV’s deal with Nine airtight as startup day approached? It was not, and a bolt out of the blue, arrived: the owners of RTQ: Win Television, started their own negotiations: all while DDQ ditched the Vision TV brand in favour of “Star Television” including the first reference to 10’s rebranding as “The Entertainment Network” But, come Xmas Eve 1990: QTV lost the Nine affiliation: to RTQ/DDQ, which also saw the Toowoomba station acquired (although, some of DDQ’s aggregation plans went ahead under Win control: including the awkward situation of the newly renovated Coffs Harbour facility for NRTV (inc. DDQ playout, and where DDQ’s news would have been presented from after the start of aggregation) during the Gulf War, having one room controlling a 10 feed for NRTV, and another controlling a Nine feed for newly renamed RTQ, until a full relocation happened back to Toowoomba, after Win failed to woo NRTV to Nine, prior to their aggregation a year later. QTV however was the biggest victim: Many millions were spent on a brand new station facility in Cairns, only to see the station pick up the 10 affiliation. All this, while Sunshine Television smiled, as their 7 deal was as airtight as possible, months, even years before startup of aggregation in 1990.
Brisbane’s biggest weather story of the 20th century: the 1974 flood in Brisbane was a disaster, that was played out in black and white. After a wetter than average spring, including a storm season that already delivered a tornado in late 1973: the rivers and creeks of Brisbane were primed, for something major to happen. 24 days into 1974, the inevitable, happened. A cyclone named Wanda, crossed the QLD coast near the Sunshine Coast (with strangely, little wind damage) and dragged the monsoon into SEQ, when it usually meant to be around Cairns/Townsville at that time of year. The result, was that Brisbane received over 300mm in one day, and the catchments, received much more: Mt Glorious got for the event, 1318mm for five days, which was at the time, the second highest rainfall recorded from a tropical cyclone in Australian history:  (today, it is fourth: with two events in the far north at Mt Bellenden Ker (incidentally, Queensland’s wettest spot), in 1979 and 1999 respectively making the top two.) What Brisbane saw unfold in the week, after Wanda hit, was a tragedy beyond belief: especially, in suburbs like Jindalee, which were built in the wake of the construction of Somerset Dam, and being lulled into a false sense of security, that a severe flood wouldn’t happen: fittingly called “Somerset syndrome”. Ipswich had to battle the Bremer and Brisbane rivers combined: with whole streets of homes simply washed away. But the biggest factors were to come into play: such as the barge stuck under the Centenary Bridge at Jindalee, (which had to be sunk), the Robert Miller cutting loose: almost creating a dam in the river at Kangaroo Pt, before being halted on it’s errant journey, and most critically, the first time since 1893, that floodwater had impacted on the Brisbane CBD. But, Brisbane responded, when the waters went down. The original “Mud Army” swept into action (including colour film of a Indooroopilly street being cleaned up: shot by QTQ-9, and is one of the most valuable artefacts of the disaster, along with various colour films done by residents), and helped a city get back on track. A telethon was held, and Australia dug deep… however when it was all said and done, 14 lives were lost, 8,500 homes were impacted, a damage bill of $200m (1974 dollars, today equivalent to $1.5billion) and a reminder of the Brisbane River’s power. A decade afterward, the Wivenhoe dam was built to provide flood storage, as well as water supply storage for Brisbane. 25 years after Wivenhoe’s opening however, the nightmare would return, this time in living colour.
Regional television in Queensland, took off relatively fast, compared to the southern states. While the first stations in regional NSW/Victoria (as well as Canberra) were launched within five years of television arriving in Sydney and Melbourne, QLD took a much faster route: Brisbane’s stations weren’t even a year old, when the first regional licences in Queensland were issued for stations based in Townsville and Toowoomba. But the race to air was won by DDQ-10 Toowoomba, opening on July 13 1962, followed by TNQ-7 Townsville on November 1. Technology at the time favoured the Toowoomba station, when it secured a relay of QTQ-9’s, news, but it was the vastness of QLD that prevented expansion of same-day Brisbane news for Townsville. Things like that (as well as television’s expansion to Cairns) waited, until the gaps were filled: such as the opening of RTQ-7 in Rockhampton in September 1963, and WBQ-8 in Maryborough, in April 1965, and FNQ-10 Cairns: opened in September 1966, completing a chain along the QLD coast, that was eventually linked by a bearer: not before MVQ-6 in Mackay opened in August 1968. The ABC also expanded throughout QLD rapidly at the time, usually opening around the same time as the new commercial stations. However, QLD’s vast inland was served by the ABC, and a sole station in the mining city of Mt Isa, which opened in September 1971, completing the initial TV rollout in Queensland. The various QLD regional stations converted to colour in 1975, and with technology improving: for the first time, news was aired on relay, not just to Toowoomba: but to other regional centres, including a major technological feat done in the early 1980s: with Brisbane (via Mt Isa) connected to Darwin, to allow ITQ-8 and NTD-8 (which eventually produced their own national news, once Aussat arrived) to take national news from Brisbane. The Aussat satellite’s arrival in the 1980s, was a major part of how television got to places in outback QLD: with NQTV acquiring ITQ, and launching a satellite service, alongside the ABC (while the satellite market was aggregated in the late 1990s: with the addition of Imparja, and the recent addition of Ten Central: exclusive to the VAST satellite system). However, when aggregation hit in 1991, it hit like a ton of bricks: many markets lost the local shows that made their stations unique: but the pre-aggregation era of regional television gave us, Sharyn Ghidella, Ian Leslie and many other great names, some who are now household names.
As you have seen, in this list so far: QLD has had a few tempered moments, often with large rallys, but it was the smaller rallys (especially compared to the preceding year’s Vietnam Moratorium marches), that sparked a big noise at Parliament House. The all-white South African rugby union team, was touring Australia, and wherever they went, apartheid protests followed, their every move. However, Joh Bjelke Petersen was to prevent a repeat of scenes in Sydney: where the goal posts were attempted to be cut down at the SCG by protesters, by simply enacting a “state of emergency”, which allowed the QLD Government to move the game from Ballymore, to the RNA Showgrounds (which were barricaded).  But the most notable event of the tour in QLD has to be the confrontation, between police and protesters outside the Tower Mill Hotel, which was one of the earliest live crosses on TV in Brisbane: which saw the demonstrators being chased down the hill, in front of the Tower Mill (into Albert Park, which got absorbed into the Roma St Parklands in 2001), and led to many arrests. However, the efforts by the protesters made sure that no racially-selected South African team for any sport would visit Australia, until the end of apartheid in the early 1990’s. And it was fitting, that when the South African rugby team, made their return to Brisbane, in 1993: it was to a crowd that exceeded capacity at Ballymore, but the memories of 1971 still linger, in minds of the protesters who took part.
The beginning of the biggest story in Queensland of the 20th century, was through the Courier Mail. Journalist Phil Dickie, (who’d go on to win a Gold Walkley for his stories, the first journalist working at the Courier-Mail to win one) started busting the lid on the seedy side of Queensland, around the same time Joh Bjelke Peterson was making a tilt for Canberra. The moment where it hit national attention however, was when Chris Masters at the ABC’s Four Corners, picked up the story, and expanded on it, exposing the entire inner workings of QLD’s illegal “vice” industry and the police corruption linked in to it to a nation, and the outcry from the program forced the QLD Government to act. The result, was the Fitzgerald Inquiry, and in turn helped begin the downfall of the National Party’s reign in QLD, that eventually saw the resignation of Joh, Russ Hinze and others involved in corruption (Joh was accused of perjury, three other ministers, and the former police commissioner jailed, although Russ Hinze died before he could get tried) which set the road for corruption investigations in other states of Australia, and eventual formation of authorities nationwide, such as Queensland’s CJC, which became the CMC in the 2000’s, to keep a keen eye on police and government integrity.
(LOGIE AND SAMMY AWARD WINNER) When you watch a police story on the news today, especially a of a tense moment like what happened on the Queen St Mall earlier this year, or a live car chase over seen by a helicopter, one has to think back to the 1970s, when news video, was in it’s infancy: most newsrooms still had film, and one of the most experienced of those film cameramen (which eventually moved over to videotape) was QTQ-9’s Nick Nicolaides. Nick was on the scene, of a major event in the evolution of journalism, on the beat, when he covered with his film camera, in a Brisbane suburb, a police chase that turned into a shootout. But, the line that Nick is most remembered for on that footage, and has been replayed for the last few decades, is simply “Someone yelled  out “Hey, get out of there, man’s got a gun” after the media retreated, to a safe distance. When awards season beckoned, Nicolaides won a Sammy award: but the biggest honour has to be on the 21st Logies in 1979: when he accepted the “Best News Report” Logie (the first ever for a QLD commercial station), for the incredible footage of the event. Today, Nick is happily retired, with his award winning footage preserved for all time, by both himself and QTQ, and his Logie is on the mantelpiece at his Brisbane home.
If you want proof of a program’s success, one mustn’t go past the greats of QLD TV variety. The Hugh Cornish’s, the Paul Sharratt’s and one other name, that is iconic: yet the modern day audience has seen very little footage, due to the loss of many iconic pieces of footage. That name is George Wallace Jr. George Wallace Jr, was a second generation theatre star, following in his father’s footsteps, and took television, in much the same way his father George Sr, took transitioning to film: with a few appearances, here or there, until: the Brisbane Theatre Royal closed, and the entire troupe was transferred to television on Seven Brisbane. Combined with George’s starring role: this resulted in a major ratings hit in Brisbane: and beat everything Nine put up against it for over five years (including two individual Logies for George). But, the show came to a screeching halt however, when George Jr passed away: aged fifty on September 30 1968. The honours rolled in, but the biggest honour in Brisbane TV circles, happened in 1969: when the troupe came together again, and did a tribute show for George, including revisiting some old sketches, and another honour was bestowed: this time by TV Week: who named the first incarnation of their new talent award: the “George Wallace Memorial Logie”, as a fitting honour, to someone who had in a short space of time, a hall of fame worthy career.
Brisbane faced a long road to Commonwealth Games glory. A bid was drawn up for 1978, which went to Edmonton in Canada, but Brisbane was undeterred. A bid was then lodged for 1982, which was meant to be up with three other cities, Lagos, Kuala Lumpur (which eventually hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1998) and Birmingham: but all three competing cities pulled out before the vote in Montreal in 1976: awarding the games to Brisbane by default. Brisbane was gearing up for a mammoth task: new venues were constructed, including a 60,000 seat stadium at Nathan, next door to a athletes village and Griffith University which all literally, rose out of the bushland in the area and meanwhile over at Chandler, the Sleeman Sports Complex also rose out of the bush, which included a outdoor velodrome (set to play host to cycling in 2018, as a modern indoor velodrome: something Queensland lacks), aquatic centre and two large venues, while existing venues were utilized, such as Festival Hall, for boxing, Brisbane’s City Hall (done through a restoration that lasted 25yrs) for wrestling, and suburban Moorooka Bowls Club for lawn bowls (which saw history: with the first female events for lawn bowls) and some temporary venues were designed: such as Murrarie for the first archery competition in Commonwealth Games history (the sport didn’t reappear at the Commonwealth Games (due to it’s optional status) until Delhi 28 years later). A official test event was held, the SGIO Building Society (now Suncorp) Games in October 1981, and finally in late September 1982, Brisbane’s starting gun was ready to fire: even the BCC got into the spirit: launching the “Shine on Brisbane” slogan, which became a well remembered part of living the Commonwealth Games experience, along with council buildings getting painted. The opening ceremony at QEII was memorable, including Matilda the Kangaroo (today in retirement, after a 20yr stint as Wet ‘N Wild’s mascot and fully restored, at Matilda Fuel (the company actually took it’s name from Matilda) at Kybong, near Gympie, along with mini Matilda’s now appearing outside various Matilda stations): and thousands of QLD school children taking part. The Queen’s Baton’s final leg was run by Raylene Boyle, and read by the Duke of Edinburgh: along with very loud cheers by the Brisbane crowd during the parade of nations, for not just Australia: but for the Falkland Islands as well. The memorable moments came thick and fast during those 10 days: Whether it was Raylene Boyle in her last race, winning gold at QEII, the redemption of Tracey Wickham, and the rise of Lisa Curry in the pool, and Dean Lukin in the weightlifting, over at Chandler, the Australian lawn bowls team finally winning gold at Moorooka after 52 years of trying, and the most memorable moment of all: Rob DeCastella, winning the marathon: crossing the finish-line at Stanley St in South Brisbane: as a traditional marathon course for events like the Commonwealth Games (which usually has the marathon runners entering the main athletics stadium) couldn’t be developed in hilly Brisbane: thus a flatter course was used. And when it was all said and done, Australia had won 107 medals, 39 gold. The closing ceremony was a big party, made more so by the Queen’s lap of QEII: surrounded by Australian athletes, and the world was invited to Edinburgh, and while the games ended: Brisbane would never quite be the same again, after having the world in their backyard.
The three biggest names in politics outside Canberra, in the 1980’s, were the three east coast state premiers: with either lengthy reigns and popularity (QLD Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, and NSW Premier Neville Wran), or the knowledge passed down from another generation (VIC Premier, John Cain II, whose father, John Cain Snr was also Victoria’s premier, for three reigns between 1943 and 1955.) to make the job their own. But, every successful premier has their end: what made the end of Wran, Cain II, and Bjelke Peterson was not via the ballot box, but through their own resignations. Joh particularly, tried to take advantage of his strong position, and launched, after a successful 1986 state election campaign: which saw the National Party win seats in metropolitan Brisbane, on the way to a majority, of a push for Joh for Canberra. The push failed, but the news about corruption, along with the launching of the Fitzgerald Inquiry as well as his cabinet losing faith, saw the pressure put on Joh, until, three events happened: In early October 1987, Joh announced a retirement date, (that due to events afterward, never materialized) of 8/8/88 (a very lucky number for the Chinese, and smack bang in the middle of Expo 88, 20 years since he was sworn in as premier of QLD), then no less than six weeks later, the QLD National Party voted to remove Joh as leader, replacing him with Mike Ahern.  Joh, still thought he was premier for a week, until the inevitable press conference on December 1, 1987, which made every news bulletin in QLD, as the lead story. In that last press conference as premier, he made reference to the feeling that the National Party he took to the polls 12mths earlier, had changed, as well as thanking the people of QLD, for their support, before heading off into the sunset, before being put on trial after the Fitzgerald inquiry, and again heading off into the sunset, popping up every now and then, with his last major public appearance, being given a guided tour by Peter Beattie of the new Suncorp Stadium in 2003, and a state mourned his passing, in late April 2005.
Expo 88, from the opening day back in April 1988, had been a critical success, attributed not just to the pavilion line up, but the entertainment offer: most notably, the concerts on the River Stage. The initial estimates made by the Expo 88 Authority prior to Expo 88, of a total attendance of 7.8m visitors for the entire six months, were a absolute gross underestimation. That mark was hit in early August: just five days after the halfway mark of the six month long world exposition had past. Estimates of total attendance changed faster than people had anticipated. Less than a month later: Expo total attendance hit 10 million: 4 days out from the end of Expo: total attendance hit the revised final attendance figures estimated when 7.8m was hit in August: 15 million visitors. But it was the final days that sparkled: nearly 150,000 people a day were on site, including nearly 200,000 on the second last day, enjoying the party atmosphere of the final week of Expo 88, which people thought would never end… but it had to. That Sunday night was tinged with sadness, but there was a large crowd attending at the Riverstage, and with observers not just on the Expo site, but also on the Riverside Expressway, where the Elizabeth St ramps were shut to cars (as well as half of the Victoria Bridge), to let people watch the closing ceremony, along with a flotilla of boats on the Brisbane River. The formalities included a flag handover, to Japan and Spain and a formal farewell, by Bob Hawke, and Expo chairman Sir Llew Edwards (who got a welcome from the crowd, akin to a rockstar) as well as performance segments by Spain and Japan, and the big farewell from the entertainers of Expo: from the parade crew, to the stars of “Bligh’s Follies” aquacade, as well as the street entertainers, before the biggest surprise of all: the final music act for Expo 88, a reformed Seekers (minus Judith Durham (who eventually rejoined the band in the 1990’s), with Julie Anthony in her place) singing what fitting song with the success of the event, than… “The Carnival is Over”. After a lone trumpeter played Waltzing Matilda, as the flags and the lights went down, the greatest fireworks display in the history of Brisbane, played out to celebrate a momentous occasion for Brisbane, that made sure the city was squarely on the map for tourists, and in minds of the people of Brisbane: especially those that once doubted that Expo would not be a success.
(LOGIE, DUAL WALKLEY AWARD WINNER) For twenty five years after the completion of Wivenhoe Dam, Brisbane slept soundly. Although major flood events happened in the Brisbane catchment in May 1996 and Feburary 1999, Wivenhoe Dam handled the burden from the upper catchment, preventing a severe event in the suburbs. However, for SEQ, as a whole, the event began as ground in the upper catchments above Wivenhoe was still sodden after a event in October 2010: a situation not helped by continual rain throughout the early summer of 2010-11. SEQ, a region who had gotten so used to drought in the previous decade (when Wivenhoe dam levels were down to 15% of it’s full supply capacity in 2007) : found the summer downpour a relief… that is until early January 2011: after major flood events in Emerald, Rockhampton, Bundaberg (whose 2011 flood level was exceeded two years later: with the highest ever recorded flood in Bundaberg), Mary River catchment, and outback QLD, when the big wet arrived in southern QLD, with force. January 10 2011: will be remembered for it’s destruction, with the worst flash-flood event in Australian history centred on Toowoomba (where a normally placid creek, ran rampant in the town centre and proceeded to go down the Toowoomba range) and the Lockyer Valley (where a flash flood higher than the great flood of 1893, washed away homes and lives) which cost 21 lives in both areas. Brisbane’s great test was the next day: when record flood levels were recorded in outer northern suburban catchments, while Wivenhoe was filling up, faster than it could spill. Add in Ipswich and the Bremer (at it’s highest levels since 1974), alongside the Lockyer/Brisbane flow, proceeded to swamp suburbs, like Goodna: to the roof level, in some cases over the roof. And all this was in living colour: as helicopters whirred, to show a nation the image of it’s third largest city underwater, with preparations made in the CBD to sandbag and move stock out of not just basements, but CBD riverside restaurants (with much more warning than 1974, which saw basement retailers flooded), and the flood warnings meant more in the suburbs, with flood mapping released online. 
The CityCat fleet was also evacuated, and as the peak hit: a new danger lurked, the floating Riverwalk broke free (akin to the Robert Miller: whose dockyard, was opposite) and was stopped by a single tugboat: before it could have hit the twin Gateway Bridges: just another piece of the flotilla of pontoons (including part of the “Drift” restaurant at Milton) and boats floating down stream. The flood reached a peak of 4.46m at the Port Office at 3am on January 13. When the water receded, the heartbreaking cleanup began, and it too was in crystal clear living colour, for the city and nation to see. The total damage bill was in the many billions: including major repair works to bridges throughout QLD: but one line is poignant, when looking back on what is the biggest QLD news story of the 21st century to date: from then premier, Anna Bligh at the peak of the situation in Brisbane, at EMQ HQ at Kedron: “As we weep for what we have lost, and as we grieve for family and friends and we confront the challenge that is before us, I want us to remember who we are. We are Queenslanders. We're the people that they breed tough, north of the border. We're the ones that they knock down, and we get up again.” And Brisbane and Queensland has risen to the challenge it was dealt two years ago handsomely.
As this list comes to a close, what fitting #1, there is than the beginning of television. However, Queensland’s love affair with the television medium began 25yrs earlier. Brisbane’s oldest surviving convict building: the Windmill on Wickham Terrace (a image of the building, was one of the earliest pictures transmitted on TV), was home to some of Australia’s first regular television broadcast experiments, during the Great Depression, first with a 30 line system, and evolved later on with a 180 line system (which was at the time, considered high definition), with reports of transmissions being received as far as Ipswich, a feat in itself astounding: as the transmitter was radiating 100 watts of power (compared to the current analogue transmitters: which radiate 200,000 watts of power) but World War 2 put a end to the television experiments, and the question wasn’t thought of again until the early 1950’s. The game plan, was for television to debut in Sydney and Melbourne first, with the other capitals to follow suit: and it led up to a momentous day in August 1959: when the first television station in Queensland (and for their timing: the first television station outside Sydney/Melbourne), QTQ-9 opened. Many firsts happened, that August: with Hugh Cornish being the first person on QLD television, the first news story, being the arrival of Princess Alexandria, into Canberra: on her way to Queensland, to be the royal visitor for our state’s centennial, and the first kids show aired a day later, with Captain Jim Iliffe. By the end of 1959, the ABC and BTQ-7 had launched, providing a golden age of television: which for some people say, ended when TVQ-0 opened in 1965 (when it split the commercial audience), but in my opinion, the original golden era on Mt Coot-tha ended with the early death of Brisbane’s most famous TV star of the first decade: George Wallace Jr. in 1968. As we say farewell to the analogue delivery medium that was born in the 1930’s, experimenting in a piece of QLD’s convict heritage, improved, and was unveiled to the public in the 1950’s, brightened in 1975, and ending in a era where technology has overtaken our lives, we will find it hard to say goodbye to analogue, without the tears welling inside. The same analogue medium that we saw the moon landing, Australia II’s America’s Cup victory, Cyclone Tracy, Ash Wednesday (and Black Saturday), our nation’s bi-centennial, and the end of the 20th century… will soon disappear. But, television is a changing beast. It always has, and it always will change with the times. Brisbane may be digital only from Tuesday, but analogue TV will indeed live forever in every viewer it has touched.

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