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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 16, 2010

Early Shortwave Stations in the Philippines

Thus far here in Wavescan, we have presented three programs on the radio story in the Philippines; their early Morse Code wireless stations, their early mediumwave stations, and the story of RCA Manila on shortwave. In our program today, we continue in the Philippine story with this information about their early commercial shortwave stations.

We go back to the beginning, in the year 1930, and that was when RCA Manila began a relay on shortwave from mediumwave station KZRM. This was the beginning of radio program broadcasting on shortwave in the Philippines. The station was owned by the large departmental store Erlanger & Galinger, and the last two letters of the callsign KZRM stood for Radio Manila.

This shortwave relay service was closed eighteen months later, though it was re-opened again three years later again, still as a service from one of the RCA communication transmitters located at their large radio station nine miles out from Manila. However, in the year 1937, a 1 kW transmitter was installed for the specific usage of mediumwave station KZRM as a shortwave relay unit. This transmitter carried the KZRM programming on any of five different frequencies up into the year 1942.

The shortwave lead that was taken by mediumwave KZRM was followed up soon afterwards by several other mediumwave broadcasting stations in the Philippines. In 1938, two new radio stations made their appearance on the international shortwave bands and these were KZIB and KZRF.

Shortwave station KZIB was owned by Mr. I. Beck, hence the callsign KZIB, and the studios were located in the Crystal Arcade in Manila. This station, with its 1 kW transmitter, was first noted in Australia in July 1938. Programming was sometimes taken from the mediumwave station KZRD, and the two channels in use were 6040 and 9500 kHz.

The other shortwave station that was inaugurated in 1938 was KZRF, which was actually a sister station to the well known KZRM mentioned just a little earlier here in this program. The studios for station KZRF, with the callsign indicating Radio Filipino, were located in the Insular Life Insurance Building, and it was owned by what was then known as the Far Eastern Broadcasting Corporation. They operated on 6140 kHz with 1 kW and the program relay was from mediumwave KZEG.

During the following year 1939, five more shortwave stations were inaugurated, three as fixed land stations and two as mobile stations.

Station KZEH was heard in the United States on 9585 kHz, but its appearance on shortwave was very short lived. Station KZHS lasted no longer, and it was heard in Australia on 9580 kHz. Perhaps the two shortwave stations KZEH and KZHS were in reality, just the one station.

The new 1939 station KZRH fared much better. They installed their studios on the seventh floor of the Heacock Building with the transmitters on the roof. This station was inaugurated in July 1939 with 1 kW on any of three different shortwave channels. The callsign KZRH identified their slogan, Radio Heacock. On their second anniversary, they made a special broadcast with the Italian passenger liner, Benemato, which carried the Philippine callsign KZSN. The two mobile stations under the callsign KZRB and rated at 1 kW were owned by the Far Eastern Broadcasting Corporation, with which the aforementioned KZRF and KZRM were affiliated. Station KZRB was noted in early November in Australia on 11850 kHz.

The two mobile stations were established for the purpose of relaying programs from an outside broadcast back to the studios of the parent stations. If the full details were known, perhaps we could guess that the main mobile unit was licensed as KZRB, standing for Radio Broadcast, and the other unit was licensed with the sequential callsign KZRA.

Finally, two more shortwave stations were added to the Philippine radio scene; KZRC Cebu in 1940, and a government defense station in Manila, KZND in 1941.

Station KZRC was the only pre-war shortwave station located in a regional city in the Philippines; Cebu City on Cebu Island. It was first heard in Australia in March 1940 on 6100 kHz, a channel previously in use from the parent Manila station KZRH. Station KZRC, Radio Cebu, both shortwave and mediumwave, were inaugurated simultaneously, with 1 kW on each channel, and the studios were located in the Heacock Building in the southern city of Cebu.

It should also be stated that radio station KZRC in Cebu remained on the air as the last independent Philippine radio station right up until June 1942, until taken over by the Japanese occupation forces.

The last shortwave station to be inaugurated before the Japanese invasion was operated by the Department of National Defense in Manila under the callsign KZND. This was a low powered station of just 600 watts and it operated at first on 8790 kHz with subsequent test broadcasts on 9515 kHz. This station was on the air only during the last half of the year 1941.

QSL cards and letters were issued by several of these exotic shortwave stations located in the Philippines. Cards from KZRM with the large red callsign letters were often reported by international radio monitors in the Pacific Rim. Stations KZRF and KZRH also issued QSL cards, and KZND verified by letter. The provincial station KZRC in Cebu issued a particularly attractive QSL card, printed in pink and black.

It becomes evident that the increased activity with the bevy of new shortwave stations in the Philippines at the end of the 1930s and the beginning of the 1940s was in direct response to the bristling of political events on the part of the major powers across the Pacific. At the end of the year 1941, there were nine shortwave broadcast transmitters on the air in the Philippines. These were all rated at 1 kW, except for KZND at 600 watts, and one of the KZRH transmitters that was rated at 10 kW.

In the interests of the historical events of the era, we list in alphabetic order, all of the shortwave broadcasting stations that were on the air in the Philippines at the end of the year 1941:

* Manila KZIB 1 kW Mr. I. Beck
KZND .6 kW National Defense
KZRA (?) 1 kW Radio Broadcast, station A (?), mobile
KZRB 1 kW Radio Broadcast (?), mobile
KZRF 1 kW Radio Filipinas
KZRH 1 at 1 kW and 1 at 10 kW Radio Heacock
KZRM 1 kW Radio Manila
* Cebu KZRC 1 kW Radio Cebu

Radio Broadcasting from Japanese Ships

It was back three quarters of a century ago that three luxury passenger liners were built at two different shipyards in Japan. These three ships joined NYK, the Nippon Yusen Kaisha Company for passenger service across the Pacific between Asia and the United States.

These three ships were all built around the same time, during the years 1929 and 1930. They all served in the luxury tourist trade in the Pacific, and occasionally beyond. All three were requisitioned into the Japanese navy in 1941, they each served as troop carriers in the Pacific, they participated in high profile diplomatic exchange events, they served as carriers for prisoners of war, and each of these ships carried new wireless equipment. In the tragic events during the middle of last century, all three ships were sunk by torpedo action from prowling submarines.

The Asama Maru was launched in 1929 from the Mitsubishi Shipyards at Nagasaki as a super quality luxury passenger liner specifically for Pacific passenger traffic between Japan and the United States. On several occasions, this ship carried noted political leaders attending important meetings in different parts of the world.

In 1933, Matsuoke Yosuke, the Japanese delegate to the League of Nations meeting in Geneva, Switzerland returned across the Pacific on the Asama Maru. As they were nearing Yokohama Harbor, Matsuoka was invited to make a radio broadcast to the nation of Japan from the ship. This broadcast was picked up by NHK Japan and relayed live on mediumwave throughout the nation. When the ship berthed at Yokohama Harbor, the NHK representative from station JOAK in Tokyo met the League of Nations delegate for another radio interview.

Two years later, this same Asama Maru was berthed at San Francisco in California and an important luncheon was staged aboard by the local Junior Chamber of Commerce. One of the prominent mediumwave stations in San Francisco, station KJBS with 500 watts on 1070 kHz, arranged for a live broadcast of the event.

A landline carried the proceedings from the berthed ship to the radio station. The date for this auspicious occasion was July 31, 1935, and the purpose for the broadcast from the Asama Maru was to publicize the events associated with the upcoming Harbor Day, the sixth such event at San Francisco.

The sister ship Chichibu Maru was built and launched at the Yokohama Shipyards in 1930 and the international radio callsign for this ship was JFZC. In 1936, this ship was noted in communication with K6XO at the RCA shortwave station located at Kahuku on the northern tip of the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

In the year 1938, the Chichubu Maru was listed among several passenger vessels that were noted as presenting occasional radio broadcast programs. As the custom was in those days, occasional broadcasts were presented from the ship, for a pick-up relay of programming by nearby land based mediumwave stations, and sometimes simply for direct reception by any shortwave listener who happened to tune in.

The third NYK sister ship, the Tatsuta Maru, was launched at the Mitsubishi Shipyards in Nagasaki in 1930, and its allotted callsign was JFYC. It would appear that the ships under the flag of the Nippon Yusen Kaisha company shared similar callsigns, with the J standing for Japan, the F for the company, the final letter C perhaps standing for the word company or commercial, and the third letter in the four letter sequence identifying the particular ship.

During the year 1940, conflict was active in continental Europe, and tensions were growing in the Pacific. It so happened that there were several mediumwave stations on the air in Shanghai in China that were operated by parties representing many different countries.

The American station XMHA was on the air with three transmitters on both mediumwave and shortwave and its programming was heard far and wide. Station listings from that era show that XMHA was on the air mediumwave with 500 watts on 600 kHz and 100 watts on 1100 kHz, and on shortwave with 1 kW on 11980 kHz.

According to Time magazine, and other news reports also, the Japanese government in Tokyo ordered all passenger ships and navy vessels to jam the broadcasts from station XMHA when their ship was in the vicinity of Shanghai. Contemporary monitoring reports state that the jamming signals sounded like a loud squeal.

Shipping schedules show that the one year old Katori class light cruiser, Kashima, was in Shanghai Harbor for a state visit right at the time when the jamming signals were noted. It is quite probable that the jamming signals at that particular time actually emanated from the radio equipment aboard the Japanese navy vessel, the Kashima.

There are no known QSLs for any of the broadcasts from any of the Japanese ships during the 1930s and the early 1940s.