Home | Back to Wavescan Index

"Wavescan" is a weekly program for long distance radio hobbyists produced by Dr. Adrian M. Peterson, Coordinator of International Relations for Adventist World Radio. AWR carries the program over many of its stations (including shortwave). Adrian Peterson is a highly regarded DXer and radio historian, and often includes features on radio history in his program. We are reproducing those features below, with Dr. Peterson's permission and assistance.

Wavescan, December 27, 2009

Philippines on Mediumwave - Early Years

In the unfolding events of radio history in the Philippines, we come now to the story of early radio broadcasting on mediumwave during the period extending from the very beginning in 1922 right up to the early 1940s. This interesting saga begins with the earliest experimental stations back in the era when many other countries around the world were also still in the experimental era, as far as radio backgrounds are concerned.

It was in the year 1922 that test broadcasts began from a small 5 watt station located at the Nicholls Airfield, outside of Manila. This station was established on an experimental basis by an American, Mrs. Redgrave. It would be presumed that she was the wife of one of the airways personnel associated with the airfield.

In June of the same year, 1922, two additional small 50 watt experimental radio broadcasting stations were established by Henry Hermann, one in Manila and the other at Pasay, also in Metro Manila. At the time, Henry Hermann owned an electrical company, known as the Electrical Supply Co.

Two years later, Hermann installed a 100 watt broadcasting station that superseded the two smaller units, and on October 4 in that same year 1924, he sold the station to the Radio Corporation of the Philippines. The Radio Corporation of the Philippines, RCP, was closely associated with the American parent company, RCA, Radio Corporation of America.

At this stage, international callsigns were assigned to American radio stations, and this facility was identified under the callsign KZKZ. In order to procure wider coverage, RCP upgraded their new radio station to 500 watts, on the channel 1110 kHz.

Another well known mediumwave station was established in Cebu in 1924, and this was KZRC, also owned by RCP, the Radio Corporation of the Philippines. Cebu city is located on Cebu Island, 350 miles south of Manila. Initially, programming for this 100 watt station was produced at the station in Cebu. However, this station was subsequently closed, and in 1929, it was re-opened with programming as a live relay via a shortwave station in Manila.

However, the concept of feeding live programming from one mediumwave station to another via a shortwave radio link proved to be unsatisfactory, due to variations in propagation and also to high levels of atmospheric noise in the tropics, and so the station was closed again.

A few years later again, the station was procured by Erlanger & Galinger, merchants in both Manila and Cebu, and the station was re-opened on 937 kHz. In this new circumstance, station KZRC became associated with the well known KZRH in Manila.

In progressive chronological order, next on the radio scene in the Philippines was KZRQ with 500 watts on 1350 kHz. This station was initially owned by Far Eastern Radio Inc., though it was subsequently taken over by RCP.

During the same era:

KZUY was opened in Baguio Manila with 500 watts on 810 kHz
KPM was opened in Iloilo with 500 watts on 750 kHz

and the well known:

KZIB was opened in Manila with 20 kW on 1154 kHz

This latter station, KZIB, was owned by Mr. I. Beck, hence the callsign, KZIB, and it was installed at the Beck Departmental Store.

The most famous callsign during this 1930s era was KZRM, Radio Manila, owned and operated by RCP, with studios on top of the Manila Hotel, and with twin 1 kW transmitters at the RCP shortwave facility nine miles outside of Manila. This station began originally with just 1 kW, but in 1933, a 50 kW transmitter was installed and the station was heard widely throughout the Pacific rim.

Station KZEG was inaugurated in Manila in 1933. This station was also owned by the merchants Erlanger & Galinger, hence the callsign KZEG. Station KZRH was established in 1939 in Heacock Building and it identified on air as Radio Heacock, hence the callsign KZRH. The final mediumwave station that was launched during this era was also well known, KZRF, Radio Filipinas. This was in 1941, with 1 kW on 780 kHz.

Throughout the 20 year period running from 1922 to 1941, a total of thirteen mediumwave stations were launched in the Philippines, mainly in Manila. However, by the decisive year 1941, only six of these stations remained on the air. These were, in alphabetic order:

KZEG Manila Erlanger & Galinger 1 kW 780 kHz
KZIB Manila I. Beck Dept Store 1 kW 900 kHz
KZRC Cebu Heacock Dept Store 1 kW 1200 kHz
KZRF Manila Far Eastern Broadcasting 1 kW 780 kHz
KZRH Manila Heacock Dept Store 1 kW 720 kHz
KZRM Manila Far Eastern Broadcasting 50 kW 620 kHz

We are holding four original QSL cards from these stations during this pre-war era; two from KZRM, and one each from KZRF and KZRC.

Early in the New Year, we are planning to take up the Philippine radio story once again, and on this next occasion it will be on the story of their early shortwave stations.