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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, July 18, 2010

Early Shortwave in the New Pakistan

In our progressive stories about the development of radio broadcasting in Pakistan, we come to the era immediately following Partition, in which the first new radio stations were established in the Asian territory that is now known as Pakistan. This takes us back to the year 1947.

At the time when Pakistan was separated as its own political entity, there were just two radio stations on the air, mediumwave in both Lahore and Peshawar. Interestingly, the first series of new radio stations installed in the new Pakistan were all shortwave, and not mediumwave. This is what happened.

A few months after Partition, a representative of the new Pakistani government visited England to negotiate the purchase of equipment for several new radio stations. Soon afterwards, it was announced that new radio stations would be installed in five cities in Pakistan, and that the transmitters at these locations would operate on shortwave at 7.5 kW. This is an indication that the representative in England must have made contact with the Marconi Company in Chelmsford, which was noted for the manufacture of shortwave transmitters rated at 7.5 kW.

The five cities in which these new shortwave transmitters were to be installed were Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar and Rawalpindi. However, as the unfolding of events would demonstrate, not one of these transmitters was installed anywhere in the territory we know as Pakistan.

The first new radio station installed in Pakistan after partition was located in Karachi. The equipment was installed in a tent on a vacant block of land, to the northwest of the Adventist Hospital in Karachi. It was a low powered shortwave unit rated at 250 watts input with 100 watts output, radiating from a 1/4-wave dipole antenna. This new station, with the callsign APK, was inaugurated on August 14, 1948, exactly one year after Partition, to the very day.

A few weeks later, the new APK was heard in Western Australia on 6060 kHz. Subsequently, a QSL letter was received from the station, as a world first.

The available evidence would indicate that a similar station was also inaugurated in Rawalpindi on the same day, the one year anniversary of Partition. This was another low powered shortwave station, identified as APR3, and rated at 300 watts. Records of the era indicate that this station was indeed inaugurated, but apparently its life span was quite short as there are no known loggings indicating the reception of this station.

The third new shortwave station in Pakistan was located in Lahore and it was inaugurated one year later again, on November 1, 1949. This new shortwave station was located on vacant land near the railway station and it was identified as APL2, with 300 watts. The only known loggings of this transmitter were made by a listener living in India.

A fourth shortwave station was listed for Murree, up in the foothills of the rugged high mountain ranges in the north of Pakistan. The World Radio Handbook for the year 1954 lists the scheduling for this station, morning and evening on 3440 kHz and during the day on 6250 kHz. The American radio magazine, Radio News, also lists the same scheduling. However, it is not known as to whether this station ever took to the air, or whether it was simply advance planning that was never implemented.

The fifth new shortwave station in Pakistan was installed in the frontier city, Peshawar, and it was inaugurated on October 15, 1960. This was a 10 kW AWA transmitter from Australia and it was inaugurated under the callsign APP2.

By this time, Pakistan was also installing higher powered shortwave transmitters, but that is a story for another occasion. Suffice it to say that it was intended in earlier times to install shortwave stations in two other cities, but these plans were never fulfilled.

Multan, it was expected, would one day receive a low powered shortwave transmitter, and Hyderabad, a high powered shortwave transmitter. However, the radio scene in Pakistan in those days was turning towards the usage of mediumwave transmitters for local, regional, and national coverage, and so the implementation of shortwave transmitters for local listeners was coming to an end.

Radio Newspapers Aboard Ship

In our story about newspapers published on board ship that received their news by wireless and radio, we go right back to the year 1899. This was during the early era of the experimental wireless work by Marconi. At the time, he was returning to England by ship, at the end of a visit to North America for the purpose of establishing his commercial interests on the North American mainland.

The ship that Marconi was traveling on was the SS "St. Paul" which had been built in Philadelphia Pennsylvania just four years earlier. Marconi was supervising the new spark wireless apparatus aboard the ship.

Two world firsts were accomplished on this voyage. It was the first occasion in the history of wireless that the arrival of a ship was notified to the authorities on land, and it was the first occasion that a newspaper was printed on board a ship using information that was derived from news reports received by wireless.

The land based station at the time was on the Isle of Wight which had itself also achieved another first. This station had achieved the first international communication by wireless in a Morse Code contact with France across the English Channel.

The newspaper printed on board the passenger liner "St. Paul" was issued under the title, "The Trans-Atlantic Times". From that time onwards, the Marconi company claimed an unbroken succession of newspapers printed at sea with the usage of news information received by wireless.

In the very early years, there was a ship newspaper with the title "Aerogram". In 1915, due to commercial buy-outs in the United States, the name was changed to "Ocean Wireless News" and this was made available to many ships plying the coastal passenger trade along the eastern seaboard of North America.

In those days, a cover was printed on land, often in color and with lots of advertising, and this was made available in bulk to ships equipped with a wireless receiver and some form of printing press. The inside section of the ship newspaper was compiled from up-to-date reports received on the wireless equipment, it was inserted into the color cover, and the newspaper was sold to passengers.

A 1925 version of the "Ocean Wireless News" features a color cover, drawn by an artist and showing passengers and crew making ready to depart at the beginning of a voyage. This particular edition was distributed on board the SS "Manchuria" which was built in Camden, New Jersey in 1904 and at the time, it was in passenger service with the Panama Pacific Company in the Americas.

Another example of a ship newspaper was a daily edition of "The Wireless News" on board the ship "Makura", sailing across the Pacific. This ship was built in Glasgow, Scotland and it was operated by the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand. The outer cover of this paper, in an issue dated in 1923, shows a photo of another vessel plying the Pacific, the "Niagara."

The Canadian Pacific Company operated a large fleet of passenger and cargo vessels across both the Atlantic and the Pacific. The same name, the "Wireless Press", was used for all of their shipboard newspapers regardless of the ship and its service area. For example, the SS "Montcalm" was in the Atlantic passenger service and the "Duchess of Richmond" was a cruise ship that voyaged to many destinations; and the name of their shipboard newspapers in both cases, was "Wireless Press".

The issue of "Wireless Press" for Tuesday April 6, 1937 shows that the "Duchess of Richmond" was on a Christian World Cruise. The single sheet newspaper, derived again from radio reports, gives an inside view to world events at the time. Among these 1937 news events are the following:

The Cunard Line was well known in earlier years for at least three of its mighty, luxurious passenger vessels; the "Britannic", the "Olympic", and the ill-fated "Titanic". Another passenger liner operated by Cunard was the "Alauna", built in Glasgow in 1925 and plying across the Atlantic. A 1926 edition of their shipboard newspaper shows the title as "Wireless News Sheet". The outer cover advertises three of their more famous ships, the "Aquitania", the "Berengaria", and the "Mauretania".

Lesser known ship lines also issued daily newspapers aboard ship, such as for example, two of the companies with cargo and passenger ships in Alaskan waters. The Pacific Steamship Company operated the "Dorothy Alexander" and a 1931 edition of their ship newspaper, the "Daily Radio News", shows that it was a duplicated version produced on a typewritier. The masthead, printed in blue, states, "The World's News by Radio".

The Alaska Steamship Company operated several ships in Alaskan waters, including the "Northwestern" and the "Victoria". Both ships produced their own newspapers, though the title was the same in both cases; "Radio News".

The list of ship newspapers produced from news transmitted in Morse Code by wireless and in voice by radio is almost endless. We could mention the "Doric", operated by the White Star Line, based in Liverpool England. Their newspaper was titled, "Latest Wireless News".

The Grace Line ships operated in the waters of Latin America and they had a company format for their newspaper which included a full sized black and white photo on the front cover. For example, a 1938 cover shows part of the Panama Canal, and a 1939 cover shows native dancing in Peru.

The Japanese line of luxury passenger ships owned and operated by NYK during the 1930s, also issued their own shipboard newspapers. These ships, such as the "Chichibu", the "Asama" and the "Tatsuta", plied the passenger trade across the Pacific, and the cover of their radio-based newspaper was printed in Japanese, though the inner content was in both Japanese and English. All of their ships used the same cover and the same format, though the contents varied, according to the information received by radio from Japan.

These days, in our very modern era, many ships still print a shipboard newspaper, though the layout is prepared on land, and each entire issue is transmitted to the ship by fax radio in a completed form ready for printing.