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Carrodus, Peter Rutherford (1929–1994)

by Patricia Clarke

This article was published online in 2019

Peter Rutherford Carrodus (1929–1994), radio station manager and classical music enthusiast, was born on 10 November 1929 at Elsternwick, Melbourne, younger child of Victorian-born Joseph Aloysius Carrodus, public servant, and his Tasmanian-born wife Mabel Florence Maud, née Waters. Before her marriage, his mother had been a Tivoli showgirl and had toured with J. C. Williamson’s company. During Peter’s childhood, most of which was spent in Canberra, the family lived for six months in Darwin where his father was acting administrator of the Northern Territory, before being appointed secretary of the Department of Interior in 1935.

Educated at Telopea Park Primary and Canberra Grammar schools, Carrodus completed the Leaving certificate in 1947. He joined 2CA, Canberra’s sole commercial radio station, in the following year as an announcer, a job suited to his mellifluous voice. After short periods at New South Wales stations, 2LF Young and 2MG Mudgee, he returned to 2CA and by 1953 was assistant manager. On 28 November 1953, at St John the Baptist Church, Reid, he married Rosalind (Roni) Evatt, only daughter of H. V. Evatt and his wife, Mary Alice, in a Church of England ceremony. Appointed manager in 1961, Carrodus led 2CA during a time when it made an important contribution to community life. While maintaining its coverage of local sport and promoting afternoon singalongs at the Canberra Theatre, he arranged national radio shows featuring well-known personalities to be broadcast from the city’s Albert Hall. He also introduced listeners to classical music in late-night sessions. When the American president, Lyndon Johnson, visited Canberra in 1966, 2CA made a studio available for the American CBS news service. In December 1967 the station resumed broadcasting twenty-four hours a day for the first time since 1939.

Carrodus had become president (1964) of the Canberra Orchestral Society, the registered name of the amateur Canberra Symphony Orchestra, during a time when it was struggling to survive and made a ‘very significant and sustained contribution’ (Canberra Times 1994, 4). His wife played the bassoon in the orchestra. In 1966 he invited Ernest Llewellyn, who had been appointed foundation director of the Canberra School of Music the previous year, to become the orchestra’s musical director and conductor. Between 1968 and 1969 the number of subscribers increased to over two thousand, while casual ticket sales amounted to another three hundred. The ‘continued steady improvement in the standard of performances’ (CSO and COS 1968–69, 1) was attributed to the influence of the School of Music and the effectiveness of its tuition. In 1971, Carrodus became orchestral manager while continuing on the committee.

From the early 1970s, 2CA had failed to gauge changes in listening patterns including the impact of television on listener numbers. When its first commercial competition, 2CC, opened in 1975, followed later that year by the ABC’s FM station and in July 1976 by community-based station 2XX, its ratings slumped by half. Carrodus revamped the station’s format, concentrating on the over-25s market to attract an older, music-loving, audience. In 1978 he was appointed to the position of manager, interstate services, at the Macquarie Broadcasting Network head office in Sydney. He left there in 1980 and joined 2MBS-FM, the first stereo FM station of the Music Broadcasting Society of New South Wales, as its professional manager. Responsible for organising five hundred volunteers, he kept the station on air around the clock broadcasting fine classical music recordings but including some jazz, which Carrodus regarded as the next most important form of music. 

In early 1985, not long before Carrodus and his wife retired to an eleven-acre farm at Mullumbimby, their third child, Rebekah, aged nineteen, died of a drug overdose. Her death affected the family deeply and Carrodus left 2MBS-FM in April. In 1990 he and Roni moved to Leura. A kind and considerate man, he was described as having a ‘Midas touch’ (Canberra Times 1994, 4) in the music industry. He died suddenly of a cerebral haemorrhage at Blue Mountains District Anzac Memorial Hospital, Katoomba, on 21 June 1994 and was cremated. His wife, and their son and elder daughter survived him.

Research edited by Brian Wimborne

Select Bibliography

  • Canberra Symphony Orchestra and Canberra Orchestral Society Inc. Annual Report. Canberra: Canberra Symphony Orchestra, 1968–69, 1971, 1972
  • Canberra Times. ‘Keeping 2CA on the Air.’ 1 December 1967, 15
  • Canberra Times. ‘A Man with the Midas Touch in Music Scene.’ 24 June 1994, 4
  • Castle, Philip. ‘2CA. Growing and Surviving with the Capital.’ Canberra Times, 13 November 1981, 10
  • Carrodus, Rosalind. Personal communication
  • Greenland, Rohan. ‘2CC Celebrates Ten Years’ Success.’ Canberra Times, 28 October 1985, 28
  • Wardle, Pat. ‘Carrodus, Mabel Florence.’ Canberra & District Historical Society Newsletter 247 (September 1983): 13

Additional Resources

Citation details

Patricia Clarke, 'Carrodus, Peter Rutherford (1929–1994)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/carrodus-peter-rutherford-27738/text35422, published online 2019, accessed online 17 September 2019.

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