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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, May 9, 2010

Early Mediumwave Stations in the new Pakistan

Our opening story today is a presentation of the information regarding the early mediumwave radio broadcasting stations in the new Pakistan. You will remember that British India was partitioned at midnight on August 14, 1947, and when people awoke next morning, August 15, they were now living in two separated countries, India and Pakistan.

Initially Pakistan was also a divided country with two Wings, West Pakistan and East Pakistan. In subsequent events, East Pakistan separated and became Bangladesh, and West Pakistan then became, Pakistan.

At the time of partition, there were just two radio broadcasting stations on the air in the West Wing, and these were located at Lahore and Peshawar. Station VUL in Lahore had been on the air at two consecutive locations for a period of twenty years, and station VUP in Peshawar, also at two consecutive locations, was now thirteen years old.

At this stage, the Lahore station was operating with 5 kW on 1086 kHz and the Peshawar station was operating with 10 kW on 629 kHz. When things got sorted out in the two dominions, the callsigns were regularized in Pakistan under the new designations for this new country, and VUL Lahore became APL, and VUP Peshawar became APP.

The first new capital city for the new Pakistan was the commercial seaport at Karachi, right on the southern coast on the edge of the Arabian Sea. However, there was no radio broadcasting station in Karachi at this stage and so the Lahore station became the temporary headquarters for the new Radio Pakistan.

The first new radio station in the new Pakistan was installed temporarily in a tent on Queens Road in Karachi. This low powered unit was inaugurated as APK exactly one year to the very day after Partition, on August 14, 1948.

This temporary station was on the air until a new and substantial station was erected subsequently in an outer area of the city. This new station was officially inaugurated during the following year, with 10 kW on 825 kHz.

Quite simultaneously, a new headquarters building was under construction on Garden Road in Karachi and this facility was officially opened as Broadcasting House on July 16, 1951. At this stage, the headquarters for Radio Pakistan was transferred from the radio station in Lahore to the new building in Karachi. However, many years later again, the Radio Pakistan headquarters were transferred up north to Rawalpindi, and subsequently into a government building in the planned capital city, Islamabad, on the edge of the high Karakoram mountain ranges.

The installation of the next radio broadcasting station took place in Rawalpindi in 1948 and this new station at just 100 watts was designated with the callsign APR. A 10 kW mediumwave unit was installed out of town on the road to Peshawar two years later.

Although several additional mediumwave transmitters were subsequently installed in various areas throughout Pakistan, from this time onwards, Radio Pakistan began to work on the installation of mediumwave transmitters with a much higher power output. These units, several of which came from Russia, were rated at 50 kW, 100 kW, 120 kW and even 1,000 kW.

Hyderabad in Sind Province began with 1 kW in 1951; this was upgraded to 10 kW ten years later, and ten years later again to 120 kW. A similar pattern is observed in the radio installations at Quetta, quite close to the Afghan border; 1 kW in 1956, 10 kW nine years later, and later again, 150 kW.

Back in the late 1930s before Partition, QSL cards were printed for general use by the various stations in the federation-wide network of All India Radio. These cards also showed entries for VUL Lahore and VUP Peshawar.

The first known QSLs from the new Radio Pakistan are dated in the year 1949, just two years after Partition. These cards showed the Radio Pakistan logo, the star and the crested moon, and they listed the early radio stations that were on the air at the time.

A subsequent QSL card gave more details about the early mediumwave stations in Pakistan. The earliest of these cards, of which there are three or four different designs, lists the mediumwave stations as follows:

Lahore APL1 1090 kHz and APL2 630 kHz
Karachi APK1 830 kHz
Rawalpindi APR1 1150 kHz
Peshawar APP1 580 kHz
Quetta APQ1 750 kHz
Hyderabad APH1 1010 kHz

Over the years, a total of nearly thirty mediumwave radio stations have been installed throughout the various population areas in Pakistan. In addition, shortwave units were also installed at seven different locations, some co-sited with an existing mediumwave station, and some at an independent self contained site. But, that's a story for another occasion.

American Applause Cards

On several occasions in recent time here in Wavescan, we have presented information about the early history of radio cards. In summary thus far, the earliest QSL cards, issued in the United States in 1916, were Reception Report Cards, and they were re-introduced in 1919 when amateur radio was again permitted. Soon afterwards, a new form of radio card was introduced and these are known as Applause Cards.

As far as can be determined, the first Applause Cards were printed and issued in the United States in the year 1923 and one of the main purposes of these cards was to draw attention to the programming from a local mediumwave station. In this way, they were a form of advertising.

The pre-printed cards were circulated freely, through radio shops and in any other convenient way. The card encouraged listeners to tune in to a mediumwave broadcasting station, listen to the programming, write their comments on the card of what they enjoyed about the programming, and then post the card to the station. It is probable that the station did not respond to the listener with a QSL verification card in reply.

Some of these cards were designed with a particular station in mind, with the address of the station already printed on the card. Other cards were printed and issued on behalf of radio manufacturers encouraging listeners to respond with the use of their brand of radio equipment; and still other cards were generic, and could be used with any type of receiving equipment and posted to any station that the listener could hear.

It would appear that the earliest of these Applause Cards appeared on the American market in in the year 1923 and our copies advertised radio equipment made by the Dictograph Corporation in New York City. These particular cards were all posted in 1924 during the month of May and they were addressed to an experimental mediumwave station W1XAL in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts. The owner of this station was the famous Irving Vermilya who is credited as being the first licensed amateur radio operator in the United States with license number 1. The callsign for his mediumwave station during broadcast hours was WBBG.

Our earliest Applause Card with a valid postmark is dated March 23, 1924. It was from a listener in Cincinnati, Ohio and addressed to the radio station WHAS in Louisville Kentucky. This is actually a postal card, typed and handwritten in the style of the then current Applause Card, and the listener simply states that he heard a musical item in their evening broadcast.

Two other listeners reported hearing the same broadcast, one in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the other in Baltimore, Maryland. The listener in Baltimore described the program as excellent, and the Pittsburgh listener stated that he enjoyed the program.

Listener comments on several Crosley cards addressed to the Crosley radio station WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio described what they liked about the programming, such as:

We enjoy your programs at all times.
We always do enjoy your musical programs.
We particularly enjoyed your minstrel music.
We enjoy the singing.

Two slightly different versions of the Applause Cards issued by the Grebe Radio Company in Richmond Hill, New York list the callsigns of their two broadcasting stations, WAHG and WBOQ. It will be remembered that these two Grebe mediumwave stations were the early fore-runners to the CBS shortwave stations that were subsequently installed at Wayne, New Jersey and Brentwood on New York's Long Island.

Two Applause Cards from California during this same era in the early mid 1920s present a glimpse of their usage over on the west coast. One card was prepared by the Chamber of Commerce in San Jose and it shows five small pictures in color, representing their early Spanish history, and food production in the well watered areas of the Santa Clara Valley. This is a generic Applause Card that could be addressed to any radio station. The other California card was addressed to the mediumwave station KGO and it is the regular Dictograph card referred to a little earlier and printed in the year 1923.

We mentioned at the beginning of this feature on Applause Cards that they were in use in the United States in the early to mid 1920s. That statement is correct, but we do hold one card from another country. This card was printed in Cuba for use in responding to the programs broadcast from station PWX, the mediumwave station operated by the Cuban Telephone Company. The style of the Cuban card indicates that it was copied from the American cards and it would be dated around 1924. The picture on the front of this card shows the station building with the radio towers behind the building. This style of card was also used as a QSL verification card by station PWX.

The usage of these Applause Cards in the radio scene in the United States did not continue for very long, no more than two or three years, and they are now regarded as an interesting curio from the early history of radio broadcasting.

On the next occasion when we take another look at early radio cards, we will present details regarding the early mediumwave QSL cards.

(For some examples of applause cards, see "Applause Cards" in the "QSLs & Other Station Memorabilia" section of the "DX History")