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Who’s Been Sleeping in My House. The 5KA Story

Last year ABC TV was running a weekly series titled “Who’s Been Sleeping In My House?”

The premise of the series was an archaeologist would travel to various old buildings and homes around Australia and find out some of their history.
During the term of the programme they did a story relating to a house with a mysterious past in Adelaide.
The story was that the house was the location of a radio station which was shut down during World War 2 for sending radio messages to the German warships about the movement of troop ships leaving Australia for the war. They carried on about a secret transmitter in the roof etc….but never got near the real truth. The radio station in question was 5KA and the house was the original home of the radio station, a house in Kintore Avenue in (now) Prospect
I worked for the 5KA network for 5 years and this is my understanding of what really happened. Early in 1940, broadcasting regulations were altered and all broadcasts were censored and weather reports banned totally. The govt was also concerned about pacifists. 5KA was owned by the Jehovah Witness Church and they were against war. In 1941, the Naval Department closed 5KA. the reasons given, but not made public, was that Victoria Reynolds, Social Editor of The Advertiser, had allegedly said on air “as I was coming to work today, I met Gordon March, you remember him, he used to be Manager of 5DN, and by jove didn’t he look magnificent in his naval uniform. He was going to Port Adelaide to go aboard his mine sweeper and he asked me to give you all his kind regards”. Following the closure the Government removed the license of the station. The Church appealed to the High Court, but lost the case.
The line-up of on air personalities at 5KA in the mid-60s

The line-up of on air personalities at 5KA in the mid-60s

Wild rumours abounded as to why the station was closed. Radio 5AU, a regional station in Port Augusta which was also owned by the church, was also shut down at the same time. The suggestion there was that every time a ship left the port, 5AU played the song “Red Sails in the Sunset” to alert German spys. Nothing was ever proven regarding the rumour but 5AU was also taken off the air.
5KA reopened in December 1943, now owned by the Methodist Church and the Labour Party. By 1954, general opinion was the Jehovah’s Witness Church had been extremely hard done by, but I believe no compensation was ever paid.
Some of the stars from 5KA in the mid 60s included Warwick Prime on breakfast, Roger Dowsett from noon to 4pm, Stuart Jay on drive, Ian Sells ‘Loco’ show and Reg Hoare mid dawns.


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8 Responses to Who’s Been Sleeping in My House. The 5KA Story

  1. Michael Hunter April 9, 2015 at 12:33 am #

    For a lot more info and memorabilia concerning the Loco Show on 5KA, please check out

    • sylvia rose August 19, 2016 at 2:58 am #

      I used to listen to 5KA in 1946 on our old bakelite manel ‘wireless’. I listened to the football broadcasts when I was supposed to be doing my homework. I went into all the competetions and won picture (cinema) tickets to lots of shows. However, I particularly recall a show called “Are You An Announcer” compered by someone called Pat Hodgkins. I think 5KA was seeking announcers! One of the contestants the night I went to see the actual show being broadcast was Jack Hume -I think he won – he was a policeman I believe.
      I wonder what became of Pat Hodgkins the announcer and compere of this show. I think Jack Hume went on to better things later in life. By the way the show/broadcast was held upstairs in the old Methodist Church – I think this was where 5KA was broadcasting from in 1946.


      • Maxwell Wills April 19, 2022 at 12:59 pm #

        Hi Sylvia,
        This morning Tues 19 April 2021 I saw ur post of Aug 19 2016 !

        I was a teen starting at 5KA a week before it went on air Dec 6th 1943 as a junior Tech,
        I carried out all outside & auditorium broadcasts including each Sat night at the Palladiam
        ( Harry Bokes band) & 3 Church services ea Sunday for 3 1/2 years followed by Senior
        Tech at 2BH ,Broken Hill
        Actually Pat Hodgkins was the winner of that show, he came from Melbourne , yes Jack
        came from the Police force, a nice guy!
        I recall broadcasting with Pat H from the verandah( in those days) of Moores overlooking
        Victoria Square where hundreds gathered following the end of war in 1945 where in
        jubilation the crowd tossed pennies & half pennies at us

        Enjoy , Max

  2. Brian Johnston October 16, 2016 at 5:30 pm #

    Thanks, Bob, for the story about 5KA & the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Between 1971 & 1975, my wife and I rented a flat ($10 a week!) at 43 Fifth Ave, St Peters, in a 1901 house named Baroona, and the story we were told was that 5KA had at one stage been sited there & given rise to the rumours of treasonous messages. Could that address be at all relevant do you think?
    Brian Johnston.

  3. Isabel August 16, 2018 at 12:52 pm #

    I beleive, ‘Red sails in the sunset’ was certainly a tune played in Britain during WW2
    that was significant in alerting the enemy that ships were on the move.

  4. Peter April 13, 2019 at 1:22 am #

    I have a letter dated 7th Oct 1936 signed by “James P Jack, Engineer in Charge 5KA also 5RM”.
    Is there any information or history of that period?

  5. Peter Holmesby May 3, 2021 at 8:33 pm #

    Ive only just read this article and i have a little bit to add.
    In my early years of life we lived in Nth Glenelg and mum and i,not having a second car,would walk to Jetty Rd via Adelphi Cres…across Anzac Hwy and down Durham St to shop
    On the NE corner of Durham and Augusta Sts there was an old house with a big stone brick combo wall around it…i beleive it had some form of barbed or similar wire on top
    In the yard and on the roof stood poles with long wire attennae attached.
    Mum told me that during the war the person living there was of German extraction and persauasion and was believed to have been sending messages to the Germans of wartime information by ham radio.Perhaps this was the clandestine part of 5KA

  6. Steve Wray November 28, 2022 at 12:26 pm #

    I never heard any of the DJs in that picture. In the 1950s, when radio was big and there was no television, we used to enjoy listening to Lionel Williams in the morning. He was a very nice guy. When Channel 9 started up, he joined it for the lame, but nice “Adelaide Tonight” show.

    We used to listen to Bob Moore, who MC’d an evening quiz show. His daughter, Vickie, was at the high school that I attended (Brighton High School, now mickey-mousized – it was great when I was there, 1960-1964).

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