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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, October 17, 2010

Massive Flooding in North India - The Lucknow Story

Recent news from India tells of massive flooding in the north, particularly in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Heavy monsoon rains together with the necessary release of water from three major dams has caused excessive flooding throughout the state. The main highway running towards Delhi was under two to five feet of water in several places, more than 100 villages and towns were totally flooded, and food has been air dropped to marooned people sheltering on the top of tall buildings. Even to this day, the state is still reeling from the recent devastation.

The state of Uttar Pradesh was known in earlier days under the British Raj as United Provinces, with the initials U.P. After partition, the name of the state was changed to Uttar Pradesh, meaning Northern Province, thus keeping the same initials in English, U.P.

Uttar Pradesh shares a northern border with Nepal, and it has a massive population somewhere around 200 million people. Found within its borders are at least four well known cities: Agra with its famous Taj Mahal, Benares with its Hindu bathing rituals, Fatehpur Sikri, the now abandoned and silent red city, and Lucknow as the state capital.

The regular Hindu festival known as Khumba Mela is celebrated every four years at several of the major cities in Uttar Pradesh. Regular attendance always attracts several million people, and on special occasions according to a pre-arranged calendar, the attendance is considerably larger. In the 2001 Kumba Mela the total attendance was 60 million people, including 1 million foreigners, making it the largest festival, it is claimed, in the entire history of planet Earth.

The city of Lucknow was founded in the 1200s, and at the time, it was known as Lakshmanpur. When the British came in 600 years later, the name of the city became Lucknow, as it is today.

In a news report, Jose Jacob VU2JOS at the National Institute of Amateur Radio in Hyderabad, states that the radio and TV stations operated by All India Radio at Bareilly were flooded and taken off the air. Bareilly city is located half way between Lucknow and Delhi.

It can be remembered that Priyanka Chopra, Miss World 2000, spent her growing up years in Bareilly. She is well known today as a famous film star in India.

The first wireless station in the state of Uttar Pradesh was installed at Allahabad back in the era before World War I. This station was on the air in spark gap Morse Code under the callsign VWA. Available information would suggest that it was closed a dozen years later.

The first radio broadcasting station in Allahabad was located at the Agricultural Institute and it was opened in 1935 under the callsign VUA with 100 watts on 1071 kHz. This station was on the air for a period of 14 years, and it was closed when a new station was opened by All India Radio under the same callsign VUA with 1 kW on 760 kHz. The inauguration date for the new VUA was February 1, 1949. Six years later a 50 kW mediumwave transmitter was installed and the operating channel was moved to 980 kHz.

These days, Allahabad is on the air with two program channels of AIR programming, 20 kW on 1026 kHz and 10 kW on 100.3 FM.

Moving over now to the capital city in the state of Uttar Pradesh, we note that the first radio station was an experimental broadcasting facility installed by the Department of Physics at the University of Lucknow. This station may have been the very first broadcasting station in the state. It was on the air daily with a short period of broadcast programming. This service was on the air until the era of World War II, when the transmitter was taken over by the British military.

A regular broadcasting service for Lucknow was inaugurated on April 2, 1938 under the callsign VUW with a power output of 500 watts. However, a 5 kW transmitter was inaugurated shortly afterwards, and in 1955 a 50 kW mediumwave transmitter was installed.

These days AIR Lucknow is on the air mediumwave with 300 kW on 747 kHz and 10 kW on 1278 kHz.

As far as shortwave broadcasting is concerned, the story is quite simple and straightforward. A 10 kW shortwave transmitter was inaugurated in 1958 and it was first noted in Australia on 4880 kHz in September. This unit was replaced by a new 50 kW transmitter in 1992, and this is still in use to this day.

AIR Lucknow has usually occupied three or sometimes four shortwave channels throughout the broadcast day, changing frequency every few hours to meet the changing propagation conditions. These days they are noted on 4880 kHz morning and evening and 7440 kHz during the day.

In earlier times, AIR Lucknow was a reliable verifier, and the Indianapolis collection contains many cards from this station, in fact, confirming the reception of programming over a period of time from four different transmitters. Likewise, cards have been received from AIR Allahabad in earlier times verifying their 1 kW transmitter. All QSL cards for the AIR stations in Uttar Pradesh are processed these days at the AIR national headquarters in New Delhi.

Wavescan Update - Karachi in Pakistan & Hyderabad in India

A few weeks ago, we presented the complete story of radio broadcasting in Karachi, Pakistan, and at the time, we thought that we had discovered all of the available information on the early radio stations in that city. However, we have subsequently come across some additional information that sheds some light on the early radio scene in the city, back in the days when it was part of British India.

This new information goes way back into the 1920s, at the time when it was a popular concept in Greater India for local radio clubs to establish their own mediumwave broadcasting stations. For example, back during this era, several local radio clubs established small radio broadcasting stations in such places as Lahore (VUL), Dehra Dun (VUU), Calcutta (2BZ), Rangoon (2HZ), and other places also.

Now, it so happened that a small radio club was established in Karachi, back at the time when it was a small city. Back in the 1920s, an official document was issued each year in the United States under the title Foreign Radio Broadcast Stations, in which active and projected stations were listed worldwide. These documents are held by the Library of Congress in Washington DC.

The 1926 edition of this document lists the Karachi Radio Club, and the station is shown as active with 40 watts on 425 metres, corresponding to 706 kHz, though no callsign is shown. The 1927 edition of this document shows exactly the same information.

No further listings are given for this small radio station in any known documents anywhere. The available evidence would indicate then that there was indeed a small short-lived mediumwave broadcasting station on the air in Karachi back in the mid 1920s. It would appear that the station was on the air for only a short period of time, and we would guess that the Karachi Radio Club ran out of money, or maybe their patrons left the area for service in other localities.

However, this Karachi radio station now assumes an important significance, because it was surely the first radio broadcasting station on the air in the territory that became Pakistan.

In another recent edition of Wavescan, we presented the full story of radio broadcasting in Hyderabad Deccan, in India. Our correspondent in India, Jose Jacob VU2JOS at the National Institute of Amateur Radio in Hyderabad, sends us an update regarding the active transmitters on air in Hyderabad. This now is the full and up-to-date list, giving all of the active transmitters at four different locations:

Safiabad Studio Location - City of Hyderabad

LB Nagar LP Low Power Site - 1st Location, 10 miles from studios, installed in historic old building

LB Nagar LP Low Power Site - 2nd location, building adjacent to 1st location

Hyat Nagar HP High Power Site - 14 miles from studio