2WG Women's Club
From the late 1920s onwards, radio stations throughout Australia began establishing social clubs targeting specific listener groups. Major aims of such clubs included building audiences and loyalty; develop community presence and a sense of companionship; providing social opportunities and initiating charitable and other benevolent activities
Following on the success of such clubs in Sydney and Melbourne, Nan Roberts decided to establish 2WG's own Women's Club which was launched on November 1st 1937 with Susan Barrie as its presenter and an official club slogan of "Let us be as happy as we can and happiness comes through service".
Within three months the Club was reporting over 500 enthusiastic members with the Club Rooms and theatrette, in the basement of the 2WG studios, finished and ready for use. The February 1938 edition of Radio Pictorial reported that the opening party for the club rooms, attracted over 100 members from all over the district. They were greeted by the Wagga president, Mrs Colquhon and Susan Barrie.
Even at this early stage, members were using their made up radio names rather than their own names. These made up names were carefully recorded in the membership books and always used on-air.
A green satin banner was created where club members could have their names embroidered in gold - you paid for this - it was another way of raising money.
Kay Millin took over the running of the Club in mid 1938 when membership had grown to 3,500. Kay was an established broadcaster and writer from South Australia. Her full name was Kay Catherine Millin Brownbill and she went on to be the third ever woman elected to the House of Representatives, representing Kingston, South Australia from 1966-1969.
Membership continued to grow rapidly and branches were established throughout the Riverina. By the late 1940s, over 22,000 women were, or had been members, of the Club. There were branches in every town, many of them very active in running social activities and associated fund raising.
In the late 1930s, Ada 'Cobbie' Webb, previously the Secretary, took on the role of president and stayed in that position for the next 19 years. Her commitment, energy and enthusiasm made the 2WG club one of the most active and successful in New South Wales; her efforts being recognised by the award of an MBE in 1955 for services to charity.
In late 1950s, Cobbie stepped down as full time president. By that time the role of the Club was changing in line with the evolving needs of country women and Radio 2WG was also changing. In its final years, the Club focused very much on fund raising and support for The Haven.
Fund raising played a major role in directing the Club's activities. Money was raised in small amounts, eg. the mile of pennies down the main street of Wagga; raffles; fines for activities, words; lunches and afternoon teas; trading tables etc. At one stage in the 1950s, Bushells sponsored afternoon tea and singalongs in the basement theaterette every Thursday - another fund raising opportunity. In addition, the Club also catered for a variety of local functions, including weddings, with the proceeds going towards a range of local charities.
Larger fund raising activities included dances and later, more formal balls. Many were held at the Wonderland Theatre in Wagga. An early function, held in June 1938, attracted over 700 to dance to the music of Pat Ryan's orchestra.
Funds raised were destined for local charities, making a substantial contribution to local facilities. These included installation of an automatic lift into Wagga base hospital; acquisition of a mobile xray machine; furnishing a maternity ward; provision of an ambulance and a continuing project of providing a baby box including a layette (jackets, bonnets, booties, nappies etc) to any woman needing it.
Branch Achievements (920KB)
During the second world war, the Club prepared and dispatched comfort parcels of cakes and other baking as well as knitted scarves and many pairs of socks for the troops. In addition they raised enough money to donate a field ambulance and a mobile canteen to the army as well.
The Women's Club broadcast every morning. At first from 10.45-11.00 and 11.30-12.00. Later this changed to morning and afternoon sessions.
These sessions provided the link between members, playing a vital role in building a sense of community amongst the members, many of whom were unable to travel into town on any regular basis. For many women, this was their only link with the Club and their fellow members. Cobbie's role in running these sessions is fondly remembered by many listeners.
At its height, the Women's Club was making a substantial contribution, not only to the local community, but also to the success of the radio station as a whole. Mr Roberts, 2WG's owner, wrote to Cobbie in the mid 1940s congratulating her on the success of the Women's Club and her part in this.