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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, March 21, 2010

The Original Mediumwave Stations in Pakistan

Much in the news these days is Pakistan. Located on the western edge of what used to be British India, this territory, nearly one thousand miles long and maybe five hundred miles wide, has featured prominently in ancient historic events. Its own colorful history dates back some 4,500 years to what is known as the Indus Valley Civilization. Two ancient cities, Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, are just a pile of restored ruins these days, but they tell of a remarkable level of social development way back when civilization was young.

The main river system, the Indus with its five tributaries in the north of the country, provides life-giving water to the entire nation; and we should remember that the name Indus, which simply means river in the original language, provided the original name for India itself. The five rivers, they tell us, give us the name Punjab in the original language, and that is the name of a major province in both Pakistan and India.

Many moons ago, we presented the story of the early wireless stations in the territory that is now Pakistan, and they were located in the five cities; Karachi, Lahore, Quetta, Rawalpindi and Peshawar. That was way back in the era of the 1920s.

Here in Wavescan today, we continue in the Pakistan radio story, this time with the saga of their early mediumwave stations. It is the story of two radio stations in two cities; or, if you look more closely, it might be the story of four radio stations located in two cities.

The first radio broadcasting station in the territory now known as Pakistan, was a small amateur station installed in the YMCA building in Lahore in the year 1928. This station was funded by the YMCA, the local Text Book Company, and the provincial Punjab government.

This new and rather amateurish radio station was initially allocated 812 kHz as its broadcasting channel, though this was subsequently changed to 1200 kHz. The allotted callsign was VUL, indicating India Lahore. Radio station VUL Lahore was on the air spasmodically for a period of a little less than ten years, and it was finally closed on September 1, 1937, in favor of a larger new station due to open soon afterwards.

This new station in Lahore was officially inaugurated three months later on December 16, 1937 with 5 kW on 1086 kHz under the same callsign as its predecessor, VUL. It was one of the new radio broadcasting stations in the expanding network of All India Radio.

Thus, it is true, there were really two different radio broadcasting stations in Lahore in the era before partition; the amateur station followed by the government station, both of which were on the air, consecutively, under the same callsign, VUL.

Now up to the frontier city, Peshawar.

It was in the year 1934 that the Marconi radio company in England offered equipment for a new radio broadcasting station to the government of the North West Frontier Province. The agreement was that if the project was successful, the provincial government would purchase the equipment.

This new radio broadcasting station was inaugurated on March 6, 1935 and soon afterwards it was allocated the callsign VUP, with these letters indicating India Peshawar. This small radio station emitted just 250 watts on 1500 kHz which gave it little more than just quite local coverage. Back at that time there was a promise that the station would be upgraded to 2 kW, though this prediction was never ever fulfilled.

During the following year, the provincial government took over the control of the station, and during the next year again, the station was taken over by the Indian national government in Delhi. Then, in March 1939, station VUP Peshawar was converted into a relay station, taking its programming from the national station VUD in Delhi.

However, a totally new broadcasting station, with new studios and new technical equipment, was constructed in Peshawar soon afterwards, and this was inaugurated on December 1, 1942. This new station was assigned the mediumwave channel 629 kHz with an output power of 10 kW.

Thus, it is true, there were really two different radio broadcasting stations in Peshawar in the era before partition; the Marconi station followed by the government station, both of which were on the air, consecutively, under the same callsign, VUP.

At the time of partition between India and Pakistan, known as Freedom at Midnight, August 14 and 15, in the year 1947, there were just these two rather small radio broadcasting stations on the air in the new Pakistan:

VUL Lahore 5 kW 1086 kHz
VUP Peshawar 10kW 629 kHz

American Fax Radio - Part 2: The Story of the Stations

At the end of our program last week, we indicated that next time, we would present Part 2 in the story of Fax Radio Broadcasting in the United States; and true to our word, here is the information.

Last week, we presented an overview of the two major eras of fax radio broadcasting, the late 1930s and the mid 1940s, and on this occasion, we present the story of many of the individual stations that were on the air with fax radio broadcasts during those two eras; AM-mediumwave, shortwave, and FM.

The fax radio era began on December 19, 1933 with the experimental transmission of a specially prepared text that was broadcast by shortwave station W9XAF in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This station, with the letters FAX in reverse as part of its callsign, W9XAF, was included in the commercial conglomerate that owned the Milwaukee Journal daily newspaper, and also mediumwave station WTMJ.

You will note that the mediumwave callsign also contained two significant letters; WTMJ, with the MJ standing for the name of the newspaper, Milwaukee Journal. The frequency for this trial broadcast was 4100 kHz, which was an Apex Band channel, and the power was 500 watts.

Another step in the development of fax radio broadcasting took place nearly four years later, when station KSTP in St. Paul, Minnesota made the first fax broadcast on mediumwave. At the time, KSTP operated on 1460 kHz with 10 kW.

A few weeks later, two other mediumwave stations entered the fax radio race, and these were WGH in Newport News, Virginia with 100 watts on 1310 kHz and WHO in Des Moines, Iowa with 50 kW on 1000 kHz. It should be noted that the mediumwave stations that carried fax broadcasts during this era did so after midnight, at the conclusion of what was considered in those days, as the end of the broadcast day.

This cluster of three mediumwave stations that broadcast specially prepared editions of their local newspaper, all used the same fax system designed and manufactured by the Finch company.

Some four months later, another cluster of mediumwave stations entered the fax radio race, and these were three well known giants, all at 50 kW; WOR in Newark, New Jersey on 710 kHz, WGN in Chicago, Illinois on 720 kHz, and the famous WLW in Cincinnati on 700 kHz. It is remembered that the very letters of the Chicago station, WGN, stood for the World's Greatest Newspaper. Once again, these three stations were also using the aforementioned Finch fax system.

Over in California, two stations owned by McClatchy Newspapers entered the fax radio broadcasting scene and these were KFBK in Sacramento and KMJ in Fresno. One station was owned by the newspaper that was known as the Sacramento Bee, and the other station was owned by the co-owned Fresno Bee.

Altogether, it is stated, a total of fifteen mediumwave stations were on the air with fax radio broadcasts after midnight in their areas. On shortwave, it is stated, another twenty two stations were licensed by the FCC for the broadcast of fax newspapers on a regular basis.

A list of shortwave stations licensed by the FCC for the broadcast of fax newspapers was issued on January 1, 1938, but it was not until the end of that same year that the first station came on the air with the broadcast of a regular daily newspaper. These stations were described as shortwave stations, and the band in which they were operating was generally the American Apex shortwave band. These stations were permitted to make their newspaper broadcasts at any time that was convenient, which was of course usually during the local daytime.

The first regular delivery of the newspaper by shortwave radio took place on December 7, 1938. The station was licensed as W9XZY in St. Louis, Missouri, and the frequency was 31600 kHz with 100 watts. The fax bulletin was assembled in the studios of the well known mediumwave station KSD.

Other well known mediumwave stations that fostered the daily transmission of a newspaper on shortwave were:

WHAS Louisville, KY Times W9XWT 500 watts 26250 kHz
WTMJ Milwaukee, WI Journal W9XAG 1000 watts
WNAC Boston, MA W1XMX 500 watts
WLW Cincinnati, OH W8XUJ
FM WQXR New York, NY Times W2XR 1000 watts

By the time of Pearl Harbor, a total of ten thousand fax receivers had been sold in the United States, but only four stations were still on the air with fax radio broadcasts. It was an unprofitable and very expensive business. Shortly after Pearl Harbor, the FCC terminated all fax broadcasting licenses.

During the year 1944, twenty five newspapers and radio stations formed an alliance for the re-introduction of fax radio broadcasting. The first experimental broadcast of a new system, described as an electrolytic system, took place on April 17, 1946. However, by this time the concept was to broadcast the fax newspaper during the idle time of an FM transmitter.

Among the few FM radio stations that became active with the delivery of the newspaper by fax, were WGNB and WJJD in Chicago, IL, WQXR in New York, NY, and WFIL in Philadelphia, PA. A little over half a dozen FM stations actually got into fax broadcasting. However, by this time, FM radio was developing, as also was television, and the entire fax venture collapsed again, for the second time.

However, that is not the end of the story of fax newspapers by radio. In the year 1990, the New York Times began the broadcast of a regular newspaper by shortwave radio to ships at sea, and also to upscale tourist holiday resorts, and this service is still on the air to this day. Known as the Times Digest, it has a circulation of 190,000 readers in more than 50 countries on all continents. You can view a sample copy on the internet by performing a Google search for Times Digest.

Then too, over in Japan, the Kyodo News Agency prepares a daily newspaper in both Japanese and English that is broadcast by shortwave radio from communication station JJC in Tokyo, and this service is also relayed by another communication station, 9VF in Singapore.