MR. A. RAINBIRD, meteoroligist at the Weather Bureau, gives the forcast
in the first Weather Forecast programme on ABN, on Tuesday, November 6.
Weather reports will be a regular feature on Channel 2, and will be arranged
and televised by the A. B. C. Rural Department
Extract: The A.B.C. Weekly-November 3, 1956
AND FROM INSIDE THE WEATHER BUREAU
The Advent of Television
There is no doubt that the advent of television in Sydney and Melbourne
in 1956 was a major milestone in Bureau communication with the general
community, many of whom were engaged in workplace activities where Bureau
products were extremely useful.
In the early years of 1956 Harold Bond and John Lillywhite visited the
ABC offices in Sydney to discuss the form of presentation of weather forecasts
and other information in their TV programs. These were followed by discussions
on the same subject with commercial TV stations.
The ABC decided to follow the British Broadcasting Commission practice
of having the weather session presented by meteorologists from the meteorological
office. After ABC auditions in Sydney and Melbourne, programs in Sydney
commenced on 6 November and those in Melbourne on 31 December 1956. Allan
Rainbird, Ray Sheard and Alan Wilkie (brother of Ray and later to become
a fulltime weather presenter on a commercial station in Sydney) were the
presenters on ABC TV in Sydney while the Melbourne team for ABC TV was
Gordon Hunter, Tony Powell, Geoff Tyler and Arthur Woolcock.
In the meantime the commercial TV stations in Sydney and Melbourne decided
to use their own presenters and after a period of elementary training
in the Bureau TCN 9 commenced broadcasting weather programs on 15 September
in Sydney and HSV 7 broadcast two weather presentations each night beginning
on 4 November 1956.
Allan Rainbird has been one of the most generous in responding to my request
for information on his career in the Bureau. He recalls that following
the completion of his cadetship in Sydney and training as a forecaster
in Melbourne he joined the Sydney Divisional Office and worked as a forecaster
with Max Moss, Gwynne Wilson, Ken MacKinnon and Bruce Kell. He also worked
in the Climatological Section and remembers an interesting assignment
in 1954 when he and Ken Smith were attached to an army unit at Holsworthy
camp some distance from Sydney to provide meteorological information for
a 25-pounder artillery calibration shoot. It lasted three to four days
from daylight to dark with little opportunity for rest.
By 1955 Allan was a full-time member of the forecasting team which by
that time included Alan Wilkie (brother of Ray) and Ron Sheard, who, as
mentioned earlier, together with Harold Bond and Allan comprised the team
from the Sydney Divisional Office who made history by being the first
Bureau weather presenters on the ABC. As previously mentioned, though,
the Sydney commercial TV station TCN 9 had commenced weather presentations
some weeks earlier based on information provided by the Divisional Office.
Allan recalls that the Sydney ABC TV station ABN 2 was officially opened
on the eve of Melbourne Cup day by Prime Minister R. G. Menzies in November
1956. Regular transmissions began on Melbourne Cup day with Allan presenting
the weather program immediately following the 7 pm news. It says a great
deal about Allan's self-confidence and ability to communicate that he
was chosen by the ABC to be one of the Bureau presenters and that he made
history in presenting the very first broadcast by a member of the Bureau.
He mentions discontent among some of the forecasting team when the ABC
had not selected them to be weather presenters. Another unhappiness was
that rosters were amended to enable the forecasters who were TV weather
presenters to be available to attend ABN 2 in the evening.
Allan also mentions that his visits to Gore Hill were full of interest
as he met many interesting celebrities appearing on ABN 2 and enjoyed
working with the ABC staff. He observes that the appearance of Bureau
staff on television contributed much to the improvement of relations between
the Divisional Office and the news media. The Sydney newspapers had been
critical of the Bureau for some time, possibly because of a lengthy period
of temporary occupancy of the Deputy Director's position in the Sydney
office. David Mares had a very cordial relationship with newspaper staff
in the pre-war days, possibly because he had occupied the position for
many years during which he had developed harmonious working arrangements.
We will hear much of Allan later. He was one of the many cadet meteorologists
whose contributions to the development of the Bureau were significant
in the progress made during the Dwyer years. (1955 - 1962)
Published with Permission
Gibbs, W. J. 1999 'A
Very Special Family: Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology 1946 to 1962',
No. 13 May 1999, Bureau of Meteorology
Published online: Federation and Meteorology, 2001
Online Edition, Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and
Bureau of Meteorology 2001, pp.1027-28,