50 years of Channel Nine history exhibited


Michael Thomson and Ray Wardrop. Picture: Andrew Ritchie
Michael Thomson and Ray Wardrop. Picture: Andrew Ritchie

WALKING through the soon to be abandoned halls and studios of Channel 9, sports presenter Michael Thomson reflected on almost 30 years with station.

The station is just days away from relocating from its Dianella home of 51 years to a state-of-the-art facility at 253 St Georges Terrace.

Old dusty and bulky equipment has been pulled out of storage, with decades old cameras and dormant obsolete VHS tapes lining shelves ready for the move.

Thomson, who began his career in journalism in print before switching to television, took a stroll down memory lane, describing the old technology and layout of the news studio.

“You had the newsreaders at the front with the journos at the back pounding away on the typewriters,” he said.

“It was loud but it all added to the drama of the news of the day.

“That changed in about 1989 I reckon, the news room then moved because Sky Sport used to be here, then this space became wholly, and solely for Perth.

Studio design was not the only thing that has changed, with technological advancements revolutionising the way news was sourced and reported.

“In those days we would type (stories) to hard paper copy and they’d feed it into a machine and that was sort of the auto cue, so you were reading a mirrored image on the paper,” he said.

“(We also used) Betacam when I started and now it’s all on small memory chips.

“The technology change has been massive.”

Thomson recalled years ago the method of reporting from Kununurra on a man killing campers in the Kimberly.

“The only way we could (do it) was to go to the Telecom building in the middle of Kununurra at night and we plugged the cables in and we had to organise it with Telecom so we could cross to the Today Show,” he said.

“Now, with the technology, we can do a live cross from anywhere.”

Throughout the years, the studio was host to international superstars.

Thomson remembered a brush with fame when he shared a makeup room with singer Paul Simon .

“He was here to do a live satellite cross to South Africa; I remember going into makeup and looking in and I thought ‘gee that looks like Paul Simon sitting in the makeup chair’.

“I said hi and he seemed very nice.”

Managing director Ray Wardrop said the move had been on the cards for three years, since the Nine Network purchased the business from WIN TV.

“The building was pretty run down when Nine took it over and the building is 51 years old and it was built for a different era of TV,” he said.

“(Now) we’ve the most modern TV station in Australia, it really is state-of-the-art.”

Mr Wardrop said an online auction would be launched later this month for furniture, fittings, equipment and memorabilia.

What: Exhibition: Channel 9 Perth 1965 to now

When: September 5-October 3, Monday to Saturday 9am-2.30m, Sunday 11am-4pm

Where: Grand Lane, off Murray Street Mall, CBD

Admission: Free