Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Anderson, George Herbert (1897–1974)

by Murray Goot

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

George Herbert Anderson (1897-1974), broadcasting executive and market researcher, was born on 20 March 1897 in Hobart, son of Rev. Henry Hudson Anderson and his wife Catherine Margaret, née Dakin. Educated at The Hutchins School (where his father was headmaster for fifteen years) and at Zeehan and Stanley state schools, from 1912 George worked on the survey and construction of Tasmanian railways.

When he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 13 July 1915, Anderson was 5 ft 7¼ ins (170.8 cm) tall and weighed 10 st. 6 lb. (66 kg). He served in Egypt and France with the 13th Field Company, Engineers; commissioned in March 1918, he was posted to the 5th Pioneer Battalion. By the time he sailed for home in May 1919, he had matriculated through the Australian Corps Central School and had met Helen Lana Anderson. They married on 9 December 1920 at St Matthew's Anglican Church, New Norfolk, Tasmania. He became a local orchardist, farmer and grazier, and a director of the Derwent Valley Fruitgrowers Co-operative Co. Ltd.

Moving to Sydney in 1925, Anderson was assistant general secretary (1926-35) of the Graziers' Association of New South Wales. He joined the Australian Garrison Artillery in 1926 and was an executive-member (1929-30) of the New South Wales Constitutional Association. Employed by Country Broadcasting Services Ltd, he was general manager (1935-38) of 2GZ Orange, a foundation director (1936-38) of Northern Broadcasters Pty Ltd and country vice-president of the Australian Federation of Commercial Broadcasting Stations. In 1938 he was appointed station manager (later deputy general manager) of 2GB Sydney and sales manager for Macquarie Broadcasting Services Pty Ltd. At 2GB he conducted surveys to assist programme planning and to sell air-time to advertisers.

As temporary lieutenant colonel, Anderson commanded the 9th Field Regiment, Australian Field Artillery, from May 1940 until he transferred to the Reserve of Officers in August 1941. He was mobilized and appointed temporary major in May 1942, joined the A.I.F. in July, performed staff duties with II Australian Corps and retired in October 1943.

Next year Anderson organized a large survey to show what 'scientifically-applied methods of measuring the likes and dislikes of the Radio Listening Audience could establish'. After his report, Radio Research in Australia, was published in 1944, he resigned from 2GB to establish the Anderson Analysis of Broadcasting, a company he wholly owned until 1958. His main competitor was McNair Survey Pty Ltd. Anderson offered clients a national radio survey (subsequently expanded to cover television and the press) which he ran at least three times a year, based on about five hundred homes. Ratings depended on interviews with housewives who reported on the household's listening behaviour; in 1947 Anderson switched to diaries, supplemented by interviews.

By the early 1960s Anderson had established a smaller market research division, Mecar Pty Ltd, and opened offices in all the mainland capital cities and in New Zealand. By late 1973, when his and McNair's organizations merged, he had over one hundred full-time staff and many part-time interviewers, mostly women. His recreations included motoring, tennis, golf and swimming; in later life he played lawn bowls. He died on 9 February 1974 at St Ives and was cremated; his wife and daughter survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • W. A. McNair (ed), Some Reflections on the First Fifty Years of Market Research in Australia 1928-1978 (Syd, nd)
  • R. R. Walker, The Magic Spark (Melb, 1973)
  • Commercial Broadcasting, 24 Aug 1944
  • Broadcasting and Television, 10 June 1965
  • G. H. Anderson papers (National Library of Australia)
  • private information.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Murray Goot, 'Anderson, George Herbert (1897–1974)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/anderson-george-herbert-9356/text16429, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 12 December 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2018