Radio RAAF Butterworth

Established 1 August 1960
The voice of the Royal Australian Airforce in Malaysia...

Photo above left taken near 1966 - Radio RAAF Butterworth before refit and addition of the third studio.
Sent in by Mike Greyson.

The two most listened to radio stations by us in Malaysia were Radio Australia and Radio RAAF Butterworth (RRB). On this page is a small collection of some nostalgic pieces of history. It is of significance to note that RRB was staffed entirely by volunteers.




RRB library In the studio In the studio RRB Antenna

The above photographs have been contributed by Mike Greyson.

Sound Tracks

You can listen to a short sound file of some announcers signing off for the night.

Hear more audio tracks on the RAAF School Penang YouTube channel, here.

Listen to Radio RAAF Butterworth (160 kb)
" RAAF Radio Butterworth is now ceasing transmission from frequency 1445 kHz. This station broadcasts from studios situated at Butterworth in Province Wellesley with Malaysia. On behalf of the Officer in Charge, management and staff of RAAF Radio Butterworth, goodnight."


Following are several clips, the first two of which form the beginning and end of an hour-long recording sent in by Mike Greyson, former announcer at the station. Mike is at the microphone and the program "Giants of Jazz" was recorded on 21st January 1968. This is the last program in the 9-month series Giants of Jazz.

The Bob Greeney section comprises short clips of around 3 minutes' duration. Thanks to Mike for editing these and sending them to me. So all I did was convert the files to .wav and upload them here for you.


Part 1 - Program Beginning (about 1 and a half minutes)


Part 2 - The Close (about 3 minutes)



Short cuts from Bob Greeney's 1967 Christmas program!

(You may need to wait a few moments for the correct play icons to appear)


Track 2 The opener to the recording - runs for 3mins 54 secs.

Track 13 Bob speaks of “Christmas on 1445”.

Track 17 Featuring Judy Dunn

Track 21 Features two girls.. Judy Dunn and Denise Guest.




1972 Magazine

December 1972 cover

John McConnell at the turntables


The RRB Magazine was published monthly and was a comprehensive magazine which included a lot of articles of interest, with the programme guide in the centre pages. This is the Christmas issue and includes articles from Christmas messages, farewells, road safety, recipes, puzzle pages, tech topics, crossword and Church service times.

"Phono Cartridges"
For a while, designers of reproduction systems smiply made the stylus do what they wanted it to by increasing the tracking force until the stylus had to put in the groove. This had its obvious disadvantages; and though today they still recognize the dilemma, designers have been learning what the problems are and finding better ways of circumventing them than by the use of brute force.

"As the stylus rides in the groove of a record, there is a great deal of actual contact pressure between the two. This pressure is a result of nothing more than the applied tracking force in an un-modulated groove. When the groove starts pushing the stylus around, contact pressures can rise considerably above 24 tons per square inch and the amount of rise depends on how much the stylus resists the grooves' efforts to move it. When the resistance to movement is significant, groove destruction does take place, and the stylus starts to rattle around between groove walls ot produce the familiar shatter of tracking distortion

Most specifications give a figure for compliance which is expressed in terms of the distance in 10-6cm the stylus is displaced by a 1 dyne force (roughly 1mg). Modern magnetic cartridges boast up to 20 x 10-6 cm/dyne or more."
Extract from above issue of RRB magazine



"The high standard of programmes to be heard from this station during the month of December would not be possible without the kind co-operation of the following organisations: Festival Records, RCA, EMI, Philipp's Southern Trading P/L, Penang Tourist Association, Radio Malaysia, The ABC, The BBC, Radio 2UE, Radio 4BH, The Federation of Australian Commercial Broadcasters, The NZ Broadcasting Corporation, British Forces Broadcasting Service."


Some pages from the December issue of RRB Magazine. On the programming side of things, remember Party Time? Saturday nights at 9.00 p.m.

Monday to Wednesday

Thursday to Sunday

Lorraine Dorman & Jeff Lethbridge

Jenny Pratt
and Marie Nicholson


Joan McCallum

Meet the Staff

1975 Magazine

(Courtesy Martin Black)


Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 |Page 5 | Page 6 | Page 7 | Page 9 | Page 12 | Page 14

Page 16 | Page 17 | Page 19 | Page 21 | Page 25 |Page 27 | Page 29 | Page 31


1966 Announcers

(Courtesy Tricia Cook)

2nd from left:
Host of late evening show.
4th from left: Denise Guest
5th from left:
Mrs Barbara Cook. Barbara was the Senior Announcer in 1965 and 1966 and worked the breakfast shift (from 6:00 a.m to 12 noon).
Far Right:
Marlene Tankard
2nd from right: Judy Dunn
3rd from right:
Mrs Janet Ingall

4th from right: Denise Guest

L to R:
Michael Greyson (British Army), ?, Ray Jennings (RAAF),
L to R from 5th left: Brian Duddington*, Tony Semmler (RAAF Technician), F/Sgt Kennewell (RAAF Technician), Andy Nagy (Aust. Army), Bob Smith (RAAF), Mal Musgrave (Aust Army).
13th left Dave Grainger (RAAF).

* Brian was at the time senior announcer and host of Saturday Night’s Party Time.


Transmission: The station broadcast from two 500 watt transmitters, using each on alternate days, both at 50 per cent power. They also had a choice of two simple antennas, an inverted L and a folded dipole. This station was occasionally heard further afield, and on some occasions, even in India and Sri Lanka. Radio RAAF Butterworth served some 5,000 Australian personnel at the air base, and it left the air when Butterworth was closed in the late 1980s.
(Courtesy AWR)

Tidbits: RRB would record the news from the BBC for broadcasting. During the Merdeka riots of 1967 RRB was forbidden to broadcast any item pertaining to the riots. Time magazine was banned from the country during that time also.

A series of talks and music exercises for pregnant mothers was broadcast for a short while by RRB. However local authorities deemed it was not suitable for public broadcast in that area and transmission ceased. I am told that the last words spoken on this series were to the effect of: "This was the last programme, but never mind, we've had a swell time."

(Courtesy Wallace Mills)



From John Harriss:


I worked at Radio Butterworth as a news/program presenter in 1965/1966. I also learnt a lot about electronics from the technicians working there in their off-duty hours. In later life, it stood me in good stead. I went on to be an electronics engineer. Thank you guys for your patience and inspiration.

I was one of the few "Poms" (1 Sqdn (LAA) RAF Regiment) working on Radio Butterworth; and apart from reading the News, also hosted a program called "Saturday Night, Units One Two and Three".

I also hosted a late night program who's name escapes me......Altzheimers I guess.

On the photograph, the only faces I can truly name amongst the amazing friends I made at the station (it's been forty two years, which in anybodys book is a long while) is Marline Tankard - Bottom Row and first on the right and the lady who used to host the late evening show.... Bottom Row and second from the left.

I would love to contact any people involved with Radio Butterwoth as "times is getting short"....and was a great period with the Beatles, Stones, PPM and thier ilk shaping our lives at the time.

Any feedback would be appreciated.

My Name........John Harriss.
Thank You,

Leona Keyes

During our tour (1972-1975) my daughter was born at 4 RAAF. The next morning I was feeling a little homesick and lonely, when a call came on the radio from our friends in my husbands squadron and they played "Little Ray of Sunshine"for me. I will never forget how that lifted my spirits at that time. It wouldn't have been possible without the wonderful people who kept the radio station going.

Kind Regards
Leona Keyes

Chris Wright
"I was an announcer on RRB 86/87, doing a range of shows, from breakfast to Saturday sports. The experience I received helped me to continue on community radio on 8TOPFM, in Darwin. I now do the breakfast shifts on RHEMAFM, in Mount Gambier. RHEMAFM is part of a very large Christian
radio network throughout Australia and New Zealand.
I have nothing but great memories of my time on RRB and am glad for having been involved."
Chris Wright
Suzanne Harper

My name was Suzanne Harper, the daughter of Warrant Officer Bill Harper BEM.

In 1960 I was 13 years old and in my third year of my father’s posting to Butterworth. For two and a half years I had been a student at the Butterworth Convent, while my family and I lived on the Base.

I had been very active performing in plays for the 'The RAAF Butterworth Theatre Company' and I had hoped to return to Australia, before my parents, but they were reluctant to send me, so I left school, half way through year nine and spent the remainder of the year, helping the Commanding Officer’s wife, Mrs Hartnett, prepare and present the morning women’s program ‘Mainly for Women’ at the fledgling radio station, set up on the base, with the assistance of the ABC. At the tender age of 13 and absolutely full of confidence, I used to begin the session with the following introduction: “This is Radio RAAF Butterworth, broadcasting on a wave length of 1440 kilocycles in the 208 meter band, the time is 11:30, and I now present ‘Mainly for Women’ I’m sure the listeners had no idea that I was so young. When we were not on air I used the Hartnett’s ‘Grundig’ tape recorder to record and dub programs that were provided by the ABC.

Sometimes I interviewed visitors to Butterworth. I remember interviewing a woman who had just come from Katmandu and I was fascinated by the mystery and romance of her story.

At the end of 1960 I returned to Melbourne and dutifully went back to my old school to complete my secondary schooling and then went on to become a teacher. Now as a mother of adult children I am still amazed that my parents granted me that latitude at such a young age. Through out my life I have dabbled in radio and theatre while continuing with my teaching career.

This fascination for radio all stems from that Butterworth experience.

Suzanne Milsom (Sue)

David Guy Anthony Fothergill

In the middle of 1979 Wing Command Leo Wilkinson, father of my good friend Peter 'pug' Wilkinson, proposed starting a radio show with a group of Raafy kids. I think it was a one or two hour broadcast on a sunday afternoon. From memory there were six of us, Pug, me and cant remember. Tracy Cooper and Cathy Jacobs maybe. A couple of us were priviliged enough to have some fun doing the grave yard shift from late night to early morning.

After getting together we called our show "TEEN SCENE"

With an input of music,sick jokes or news from all six we did several live broadcasts in pairs and also recorded a few shows. With all of our parents getting repatriated around the same time, 79'80, our radio announcing careers sadly came to an end...probably just as well.

Probably as a precurser to my future life my most vivid and poignant memories come from the stations parties and interacting with slightly older, much cooler RAAF personnel who volunteered at RRB. Many became good fleeting friends including Dave Bradshaw, Graeme Davies and non-service members sibling Geoff Montgomery. Peter 'JJ' Grant using several whole watermelons as basketballs on concrete, long distance dart games around the inside of the U shaped building with Geoff during night-shift spring to mind.

Ahhh...funny days.

The words of the Australia's national anthem are indelibly stamped in the mind and the school song a jingle in the background after 5 years of singin' em every monday morning, but the words...."this is the voice of the Royal Australian Air Force in Malaysia where the time is...." will echo forever in the ether. :]

Thanks Dad and Mum and Cynthia.

David Guy Anthony Fothergill