Get it on

3AK shunned wrinklies (then embraced them) and 3XY played Top 40 hits… over and over

1 June 2022

In the early 70s, Melbourne radio station 3AK gained some ground with a cleverly crafted format of rock and pop singles and album tracks, using the slogan ‘Where No Wrinklys Fly’.

The station at the time was owned by the Packer family’s Australian Consolidated Press, which also owned GTV9. 3AK had studios at the former ‘Television City’ in Bendigo Street, Richmond. 3AK, which previously had announcers known as ‘Good Guys’, introduced the ‘No Wrinklys’ format devised by Rhett Walker and heavily promoted it on GTV9 and via print media.

A battle then emerged when 3XY adopted a Top 40 format of high rotation hits. The biggest songs of the day were on a 3-hour rotation! It was a similar format to that which took 2SM Sydney, 4IP Brisbane, 2NX Newcastle and 2NM Muswellbrook to ratings success. Together they initiated the annual ‘Rocktober’ promotion with concerts and special on-air features.

3AK and ‘More Music 3XY’ went head-to-head, with the latter eventually gaining a bigger slice of the youth audience. 3XY’s weekly printed Top 40 charts became collectors items.

3XY’s success forced Rhett Walker to take 3AK in a different direction and on 1 June 1973, the station embraced the “wrinkly” audience they had previously shunned by switching to “beautiful music”.

With its Top 40 format and announcers like Greg Evans, Peter Harrison, Joe Miller and John O’Donnell, 3XY is fondly remembered by fans of Bang a Gong. 3XY is often mentioned in comments on radio-related Facebook posts.

BaG readers have also been curious about 3XY’s frequency which was 1420 kHz, then 1422. On 23 November 1978, all AM radio stations in Australia changed from 10 kHz to 9 kHz spacing on the dial, causing 3XY to move to 1422. Likewise, 3AK changed from 1500 to 1503, 3MP moved from 1380 to 1377, and so on.

The broadcast licences of stations previously known as 3AK and 3XY still exist today, albeit with different identities and frequencies.

3AK, which changed from 1503 to 1116 kHz, is now sports station SEN.

In September 1991, 3XY signed-off on 1422 kHz and relaunched seven months later as 3EE ‘The Breeze’ on 693. It later became Magic 693 and now Magic 1278. The 3XY legacy continues today, with Magic 1278 playing many hit songs of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. Bang a Gong‘s music curator is also Magic’s afternoon announcer. Radio veteran Greg Allen can be heard from 1 to 6pm weekdays.

Magic 1278 is part of the ACE Radio Network, as is 3MP Melbourne, 2UE Sydney and 4BH Brisbane.

What are your memories of 3AK, 3XY or the other stations mentioned? CLICK TO TELL US

FUN FACT 1: The last track played on 3XY on 23 September 1991 was the same one played on 3AK in 1973 before their change from “no wrinklys” to “beautiful music”: Spectrum’s I’ll Be Gone.

FUN FACT 2: 3XY actually had two “last songs” that day. Studio announcer Roxanne Bennett finished at midday with I’ll Be Gone, then came a surprise pre-recorded tribute show voiced by Glenn A Baker. It finished at 1pm with It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll).

FUN FACT 3: When 2CH Sydney was switched off on 10 June 2022, the final song played was Thank You for the Music by ABBA.