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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, December 19, 2010

On the Air and Off the Air in Sweden - Pt. 2

In our program today, we continue on from where we left off two weeks ago in the story of shortwave broadcasting in Sweden. As you will remember, this topic was suggested by Claes Englund in Sweden and Bruce White in Australia.

After things settled down in Europe in the middle of last century, Sweden placed an order with the Marconi company in England for the purchase of two shortwave transmitters at 100 kW each. These two units were installed at the already existing radio station located at Horby which had been erected in 1928, and they were inaugurated in 1952.

Some 20 years later, two high powered shortwave transmitters rated at 500 kW each were installed at Horby. However, due to coronal arcing in the antenna system during foggy weather, the power level of these units was reduced to 350 kW.

At the same time as the shortwave facilities at Horby were increased, a similar project at Karlsborg took place. This station was originally established back in 1918 as a spark wireless communication facility. A 500 kW transmitter was installed in the 1970s, and the output of this unit was also reduced to 350 kW due to the coronal arcing problem in the antenna systems.

As we are aware, Sweden closed down its two shortwave stations, Horby and Karlsborg, and the one remaining mediumwave station at Solvesborg, at the end of October. Nationwide coverage on radio in Sweden is now obtained with several networks of FM stations totaling anywhere up to 2,000 transmitters.

Over the years, there have been two additional radio stations of interest in Sweden. A large communication station known as Goteborg Radio traces its earliest origins back to the year 1905. This station was progressively located at four different sites over the years, and it has been well known under the callsigns SAG and SAB.

The other interesting station is the old spark wireless station at Grimeton which was inaugurated in the 1920s by King Gustav V. The old long wave Alexanderson alternator is still functional, and it is placed on the air once each year under the callsign SAQ.

Radio Sweden was a prolific verifier of reception reports and we are aware of at least 50 different designs for their QSL cards. Likewise, many QSL cards have been issued for the old longwave transmitter SAQ, and for Goteborg Radio SAG and SAB.

We should also remember the long running DX program from Radio Sweden, "Sweden Calling DXers". The script for this program began with Arne Skoog in 1948, the program was taken over by the American George Wood in 1978, the name was changed to MediaScan a few years later, and the program ended in 2001.

This then, is the story of shortwave broadcasting in Sweden, running from 1938-2010.

A Voice Across the Atlantic - RCA & AT&T Rocky Point

Some time back, you will remember, we presented the story here in Wavescan, of the great wireless station that was located at Rocky Point on Long Island, New York. At the time, it surely was the world's largest wireless station, and if it had been built to its intended potential, then it would have become a majestic electronic wonder. This radio station was also in use at times for the relay of programming on behalf of the Voice of America.

It is not so well known however, that RCA Rocky Point was also in co-operation with another wireless organization, AT&T, for communication across the Atlantic. This is what happened.

Back during the year 1922, AT&T began experimenting with an attempt to bridge the Atlantic Ocean with a wireless signal. These experiments were underway at the early AT&T facility located at Deal Beach in New Jersey and the test communications were conducted on longwave channels. These wireless tests with a comparatively low powered transmitter were quite successful and it was demonstrated that a reliable communication service could be established between the United States and England.

The project was then moved from the AT&T facility at Deal Beach, New Jersey to RCA Rocky Point on Long Island. AT&T rented from RCA the space for the longwave transmitter and the associated antenna systems. A huge 200 kW Alexanderson alternator was installed at Rocky Point and test transmissions in Morse Code commenced in March 1926.

A little less than a year later, on January 27, 1927, the new trans-Atlantic communication service was opened from Rocky Point under the callsign WNL using the longwave channels 56.5 and 58.5 kHz. The receiver station in Great Britain was located at Cupar in Scotland, and the return service to North America was rendered by transmitter GBR, the huge Post office station located at Rugby.

Surprisingly, this longwave communication service between the United States and England was in use for nearly half a century and it was not closed down until the year 1970.

The receiver station for AT&T Rocky Point was located at Houlton in Maine, quite close to the Canadian border in New Brunswick, and in more recent time this location was in use by AT&T as a Telstar satellite receiver station.

Thus, the American terminal for the first trans-Atlantic communication service was indeed located at Rocky Point, Long Island, but it was an AT&T unit located in an RCA facility.