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"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, February 28, 2010

The Story of Radio Broadcasting in Tajikistan - Part 2

You will remember that we presented the story of the origins of radio broadcasting in the Asian republic of Tajikistan here in our DX program, Wavescan, last week. This topic was prepared in response to a request from our listener, Neelakandan Visvanathan in Tamilnadu, India. Here in Wavescan today, we present Part 2 in the Tajikistan story, with a focus on the shortwave scene in this former Russian republic.

As was mentioned last week, there are three major transmitter stations on the air in the small country of Tajikistan; the oldest is located in their capital city Dushanbe, another is located near Yangiyul 15 miles south, and their newest facility is located near Orzu some 60 miles south of their capital city.

Their earliest shortwave broadcasting service was inaugurated in the middle of last century as a relay of the two mediumwave channels over two transmitters at 25 kW each. These two transmitters were tuned to the lower frequency shortwave bands and the intended coverage areas were country localities within Tajikistan and listeners in neighboring countries.

Beginning about fifteen years ago, several major broadcasting organizations in Europe and the Americas began an interest in the usage of the high powered transmitters in Tajikistan as relay stations for their own programming. This all began in the year 1994, and since then at least fifteen different international broadcasting organizations have relayed their programming to central Asia and beyond via the Tajikistan radio stations.

On March 27, 1994, for example, Radio Netherlands in Hilversum Holland began a relay from the shortwave station located at Yangiyul with 100 kW on two different frequencies, 4965 and 5905 kHz. The programming from Holland was beamed to South East Asia in two languages, English and Indonesian.

The BBC London, took out a relay via the one megawatt mediumwave transmitter on 648 kHz located at Orzu for programming beamed to Afghanistan in the Pushto language. Then, in the following year, the BBC announced that they planned to refurbish the high powered shortwave transmitters located at one of the country transmitter bases.

Likewise, and during the same era, the Voice of America in Washington, DC took out a relay from the same high powered mediumwave transmitter for programming beamed to Iran in the Farsi language. In the year 2005, VOA announced that they planned on constructing their own powerful shortwave relay station in Tajikistan, with a transmitter rated at 500 kW.

Other international broadcasting organizations in Europe and the United States that have utilized Tajikistan for the relay of their programming on shortwave, have been:

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Deutsche Welle in Germany
Radio Free Asia
Radio Free Afghanistan
Radio Free Iran
Radio Santec in Germany
Radio Ap ki Dunya to Pakistan

Interestingly, programming from the clandestine DAT Radio was beamed from Tajikistan to the neighboring country of Kazhakstan for a couple of years, though this relay was via the 100 kW mediumwave facility located at Yangiyul.

Beginning in July 1996, the Voice of Tibet took out a relay from Tajikistan on 15645 kHz with programming produced in Sweden. This programming was in Chinese and Tibetan and beamed towards Tibet.

Another interesting relay from Tajikistan was with programming under the title, the Democratic Voice of Burma. This programming began in 1997 and it was in the Burmese language on 15600 kHz.

It should also be noted that Radio Moscow has been on relay from Tajikistan for more than half a century. This programming has been for local coverage as well as for neighboring countries.

We should also mention the program relays from Radio Afghanistan that were on the air from Tajikistan for a period of thirteen years, 1979 to 1991, via shortwave stations located in the Russian republics. These relay broadcasts were produced in the studios of Radio Afghanistan in the Kabul suburb of Answari Wat and they were fed to Russia initially via two communication transmitters located at nearby Jakatut, and later by satellite. It is probable that these relay stations were located at three or four different Soviet locations, though it is known reliably that at least two channels, 3965 and 4940 kHz with 50 kW each, were located at Yangiyul near Dushanbe in Tajikistan.

So, what can we hear on radio from Tajikistan these days? If you live in one of the nearby countries in Asia, you can tune in to one of their megalithic mediumwave giants, on 648, 801, 972 or 1161 kHz; and I might add, several of these units are heard from time to time in the South Pacific, Europe, and the Americas.

On shortwave, you can hear their Home Service and External Service programming on any of the three channels 4765, 4975 and 7245 kHz. Quite recently, all three channels have been heard with nice signals in North America. The 41 meter band channel with 100 kW on 7245 kHz carries programming in eight languages, running from 0100 to 1800 UTC.

As far as relay programming is concerned, this is quite difficult to find these days. It is known that the Voice of Tibet, with programming produced in Sweden, can be heard via Tajikistan on three different channels, 17595, 17560 and 17610 kHz. The Voice of Russia from Moscow is heard on four mediumwave channels and also on shortwave.

And what about QSLs? It is true, a few QSL letters have been issued from Dushanbe over the years, but not many. Radio Moscow has issued a few QSL cards specifically confirming their relays via Dushanbe, and Radio Netherlands produced a pre-printed QSL card with the Dushanbe relay name actually printed on the card.