5DN celebrates 80 Years by digging up its past

As part of 5DN Adelaide’s celebration of its 80th year, it has dug up a station time capsule planted 20 years ago. Pictured are Jeff Sunderland, Anne Wills and Jeremy Cordeaux digging up the capsule yesterday.

The capsule, which was originally buried in 1984, was opened at 1.30pm Wednesday 11 August, as part of celebrations marking the anniversary and, afterwards, was re-buried for another few decades.

The time capsule contained items such as tapes, photographs and promotional plans.

There to witness the event were longtime 5DN personality and former station owner, Jeremy Cordeaux – who was there when the capsule was buried 20 years ago.

As well as looking at its contents, 5DN Program Director, Ben Latimer, has told radioinfo the time capsule had a CD of station programming and other memoribilia from the station added to, before its re-burial.

“It’s always exciting – and somewhat mysterious – to open a time capsule. It was a bit of a thrill to be there – it’ll be like a voice from the past, telling us about the way things used to be in our workplace 20 years ago.”

“When the capsule is re-opened in years to come, you never know what the world – and technology – will be like by then. It’s somewhat of a novelty to think that we’re providing future 5DN employees with a snapshot of where radio technology is at right now, and how the station is run in 2004.

“And who knows – Jeremy Cordeaux might even still be around for the next unearthing too!” says Latimer.

5DN will be airing a radio special about its 80 year history tomorrow at 5.15pm (repeated on Sunday 15th at 12 noon).


The 5DN story began in 1924, when Mr Ernest James Hume bought a transmitter and ancillary equipment, including the call sign “5 Don N” (with the poor sound reproduction of the day, to avoid any confusion the phonetic alphabet was employed by Hume). Along with his wife Stella and sons Jack and Ernest Jnr, he began broadcasting and what we know today as 5DN was born.

One of the first features of 5 Don N were concerts, lectures and plays broadcast live from the Elder Conservatorium of Music and the Adelaide University, via landlines Hume had laid to the Parkside studio from which he broadcast.

Some of the highlights of 5DN’s 80 years have been:

1925 – Stella Hume, Ernest’s wife, is credited with being the first female announcer in the Commonwealth.

1926 – South Australia’s first theatre broadcast of a stage play is aired on 5 Don N. The Adelaide Repertory Theatre’s production of ‘The New Morality’ was broadcast from the Victoria Hall in Gawler Place.

1935 – Mal Verco and his cheeky puppet Ginger debut. After a less than exciting first show – recorded in the studio with canned laughter dubbed in – the show was put to air before a live studio audience.. Both Verco and Ginger went on to become national stars.

1938 – General Manager Gordon Marsh appointed Rex Anthoney as the station’s first News Editor, instructing him to seek out the news personally, rather than relying on newspapers. Prior to that, announcers had simply selected items from that day’s newspaper.

1939 – Every Friday night 5DN staff went up to the Woodside army camp to stage the “Camp Concert”. Most of the acts were performed by the soldiers themselves in front of a live audience of 1000 soldiers, and the show was sent by landline to 5DN’s transmitter.

1942 – 5DN became the first station in South Australia to produce actuality presentations of the building through to commissioning of an Australian Warship – the HMAS Pirie.

1948 – Popular Sunday night show “Under The Stars” is broadcast for the first time, hosted by Vic Braham. Mel Cameron would take over in the 60’s.

1956 – After having been located variously at Parkside, Hindley St, Flinders St, Rundle St, King William St and Gawler Place, 5DN moved to its current home in Tynte St, North Adelaide.

1968 – 5DN sponsored an Australia-wide song contest, looking for a song about Adelaide. Over 200 entries were received, and Mr Cliff Johns of Belair was the winner with his entry ‘The Lights of Adelaide’. For this he won $550.

1977 – Australia’s first radio program dedicated entirely to sport commences on 5DN.

* Mel Cameron – 5DN’s longest serving announcer retired in 1976.

* Jeremy Cordeaux joined the station in 1976. He went to 5KA in 1987 but was back on DN in 1988

* March of 1977 Jeremy interviewed terrorist Hamaas Khaalis live to air. He’d already killed one hostage and was threatening scores of others. The interview was played around the world.

* Jeff Medwell retired in 1983 after 25 years at the station.

* Ken ‘KG’ Cunningham started with the station in 1977

* Murray Nicoll’s award winning live coverage of the Ash Wednesday fires took place in 1983.

* Sept 9, 1990 5DN vanished from the airwaves replaced by the FM music station 102FM.

* Sept 9, 1994 5DN was relaunched as the New 5DN on what was 5AD’s old AM frequency.