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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, January 2, 2011

Whatever Happened to Curom Radio on Curacao Island in the Caribbean?

An interesting exchange of information between well known and highly respected international radio monitors is printed in the November issue of the American radio magazine, NASWA Journal. The question under discussion was: What happened to Curom Radio on the island of Curacao? This exchange of information prompted a spate of research on our part; and in our program today, we present our findings, in this story of shortwave broadcasting on the island of Curacao.

The island of Curacao is located in the Caribbean, just 44 miles north of Venezuela in South America. Curacao is just 44 miles long, and less than ten miles wide. The highest peak is Mt. Christophelberg at 1230 ft. high, and the island has no rivers and no lakes.

It is understood that Amerindians from South America arrived on the island around 2500 BC as the first inhabitants, though none of these peoples are found on the island today. The first European colony was established by the Spanish around 500 years ago, and the Dutch took over a hundred years later.

During the year 1800, the French attempted unsuccessfully to take over the island of Curacao, and subsequently the British took over twice for a few years, but the island still remains as part of the Dutch kingdom. During World War II, the American and British forces took over the island temporarily as a protective measure that ended after peace returned to Europe.

As a matter of human interest, the world's oldest inhabitant, Eugenie Blanchard, died last November at the age of nearly 115. She had served on the island of Curacao as a Catholic nun.

Wireless came to Curacao very early. In the year 1908, the Dutch warship, Jacob van Heemskerck, brought a set of wireless equipment to Curacao and this was established in Fort Rif at the mouth of Willemstad Harbor as a coastal wireless station. The original callsign was CRC, though this was regularized to PJC a few years later.

This callsign, PJC on Curacao, is reminiscent of the more familiar callsign PCJ which was the call of the well known Dutch international shortwave broadcasting station back in the early days of radio broadcasting. In fact, back 3/4 of a century ago, radio journals of the era sometimes got the callsigns mixed up, and the Curacao call was sometimes printed incorrectly as PCJ, instead of PJC.

In 1928, for the first time, a radio telegraph service between Curacao and Holland was established by PJC on Curacao. Two years later a similar radio communication service was established between Curacao and New York.

According to a report in the club magazine from the International Shortwave Club in the United States, Curom Radio, as a shortwave broadcasting entity was launched around April 1937. This was the first radio broadcasting station on the island, and it was installed in Rif Fort, as a function of the maritime radio station PJC.

This new radio broadcasting service, under the specific callsign PJC1, emitted just 150 watts on 9091 kHz and occasionally it was heard in the United States. This was officially a government radio broadcasting service operated by the Curacao Radio Club, from which came the abbreviated name, Curom Radio.

In 1941, the ISWC magazine proclaimed that Curom Radio would soon be upgraded to 2 kW; and in 1943, the station was relaying programming on behalf of AFRS, the American Forces Radio Service, on 5930 kHz with a power of 3 kW.

A final listing during this era is found in a publication in New Zealand, which shows Radio Princess Juliana Radio on 7250 kHz in 1946. However, the World Radio Handbook lists PJC2 with 3 kW on either 7250 kHz or 5017 kHz from 1947 through 1953, though the last listing in this reference source shows that the station was inactive.

A report in the NASWA Journal states that Curom Radio was noted on shortwave in the United States during the year 1960 with programming in the 31 metre band.

According to Jerry Berg in his monumental book on Broadcasting on the Shortwaves, Curom Radio was again reactivated for a short period of time in the 1970s when it was heard again in the United States on 17513.5 and 20779 kHz.

According to the WRTVHB, mediumwave radio came to Curacao in 1953 with a power of 3 kW on 722 kHz. Subsequently, other mediumwave stations, all commercially operated, have been inaugurated on the island.

These days, there is no shortwave broadcasting service on the island of Curacao, and just one mediumwave station, though 24 FM stations are listed. The one mediumwave station is PJZ86, the familiar Radio Curom, with 10 kW on 860 kHz.

It should also be noted that a mediumwave station under the callsign KWJG was installed at the Hato airfield on Curacao in the year 1943. This station was a local unit, probably quite low powered, operated for AFRS, the American Forces Radio Service.

In its early years, Curom Radio was branded by the radio magazines of the era as being a poor verifier. However, as time went by, this scene changed and many QSL cards were issued. The highly desired QSL card from Radio Curom shows a stylistic map of Curacao with a tall antenna tower.

It should also be stated that the maritime station on Curacao, with which Curom Radio was associated, also issued QSL cards as verification of listener reports. Two cards are known; one shows a map of the island, and the more recent card shows the figurative shield of Curacao in color.

So, Curom Radio was indeed on the air shortwave, back many years ago, and apparently during three different eras, beginning in 1937 and ending in the early 1970s.

Radio Panorama RP7: Early Signals through the Air

It was in the 1800s that a host of scientific and amateur experimenters in the Old and the New World played with chemicals and metals in an effort to thrust an intelligible electrical signal into space and to pluck it out again, equally intelligible, at a distance. Many great men, and an equal number of lesser men too, whose names and achievements have been chronicled and re-chronicled by professional and amateur historians, participated in the quest for adequate methods whereby meaningful signals could be transmitted through space.

However, not only was the development of wireless techniques dependent upon the inventive genius of many scientists and experimenters, but it was also dependent upon available technology.

In our regular series of topics under the title "Radio Panorama", we come to the era of early experimentation in signaling through the air. In the year 1802, Italian philosopher Gian Domenico Romagnosi experimented with electricity and a compass needle. He discovered that a spark discharge from a voltaic pile caused a deflection in the needle of a nearby magnetic compass, and he published his findings in Italian newspapers.

Two decades later; the year is 1820, the month is April, and the country is Denmark. It was at this time that Hans Christian Oersted, professor of science at the University of Copenhagen, invited a group of students and friends into his home to observe a scientific experiment. He intended to show that an electric current passing through a wire produces heat, and that it also causes a change in the deflection of a magnetic compass needle. The compass was mounted on a wooden stand nearby.

Oersted demonstrated that the electricity flowing through the wire produced a change in the deflection of the compass needle, even though the compass was several feet away from the wire. He was surprised however, to discover that a change in the direction of the flow of the current also produced a change in the direction of the compass needle.

On September 3 of the following year, 1821, Michael Faraday in England made his initial experiments with a wire and a compass. A vertical wire, with an electrical current running through it, was moved near a magnetic compass needle, thus causing the needle to deflect.

Ten years later, Michael Faraday made another series of similar experiments and it happened to be at the same time as Joseph Henry was working independently along the same lines in the United States. Joseph Henry passed an electric current through a wire on the 2nd story of a house and discovered that the spark induced a similar current in a wire two floors below.

At this stage, Joseph Henry performed his experiments mostly in August 1830, and Michael Faraday performed his experiments a few months later. However, Faraday published the results of his experiments first and he is generally given the credit for this discovery of magnetic induction, which is an early fore-runner to wireless transmission.

It is stated that the Scottish physicist, James Clerk Maxwell, began his initial experiments with electro-magnetic waves in the year 1861. However, his greatest contribution to the introduction of wireless technology was not his experimentation, but rather the development of his mathematical and theoretical basis for the propagation of electro-magnetic waves.

Maxwell presented two major papers on his theories to the Royal Society in London, one in 1867 and the other in 1873. It was upon the Maxwell theories about the propagation of electro-magnetic waves, and his insightful predictions regarding their usage in wireless technology, that inspired subsequent experimenters to persevere in their onward search for practical realities in the transmission of electrical and electronic signals through space.

During the year 1879, David Edward Hughes in London began experimenting with the transmission of a wireless signal. A coil of wire and a battery served as the transmitter, and a coil of wire and a telephone acted as the receiver.

The initial experiments were conducted in his London home, and afterwards he went out into the nearby street. When the circuit in the transmitter coil of wire was broken, the spark could be heard in the telephone in his receiver circuit. He discovered that the strongest signal could be heard at about 180 ft., and the signal got weaker until it could not be detected at about a quarter mile.

During the two following years, David Hughes made public demonstrations before prominent people, though he never developed his experimentation any further.

Comes the year 1887, and the noted experimenter, Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, constructs a simple wireless transmitter and receiver. At the time, Hertz was Professor of Physics at the Karlsruhe Polytechnic in Germany.

As the transmitter, Hertz used a coil of wire and a battery connected to two polished brass knobs quite close together. As the receiver, Hertz used a coil of wire connected to two more small brass knobs. When a spark was induced across the knobs in the transmitter circuit, a similar though smaller spark was noted in the receiver circuit several feet away.

These experiments by Hertz were a major development that set the stage for the introduction of experimentation in the transmission of wireless signals.