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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 23, 2011

Radio Australia: Offshore Relays - Part 2

Last week, here in Wavescan, we presented the first part in our two part sequence on the story of Radio Australia and its off-shore relays, and that was during the earlier eras. In our program today, we present the story of the off-shore relay facilities in use by Radio Australia in more recent time, and these relay facilities are specific attempts by Radio Australia to increase its reliable coverage into the many countries of Asia, and beyond.

We go back to the summer season of 1982/1983 and that was the time of a series of disastrous and lengthy bushfires in the states of eastern Australia and the state of South Australia. These wide spread fires resulted in a combined loss of $7 billion.

In fact, during this same fire season, a mobile reporter for the mediumwave station 5DN in Adelaide was on duty, reporting live from one of the fire fronts. It so happened that this journalist, Murray Nicoll, was in the locality of his own home in the nearby Mt. Lofty Ranges, and he gave a live description over the air of the fires destroying his own home.

He declared: At the moment, I am watching my house burn down. I am sitting out on the roadway in front of my own house, where I have lived for the past 13 or 14 years, and it is going down in front of me. The flames are in the roof and everything around the house is black. There are fires burning all around me. The front section of the roof has fallen in, my water tanks are useless, and there is nothing I can do about it.

For a few days around early October 1982, Radio Australia took out a series of 30 minute relays via BBC shortwave facilities located in England and beyond in order to inform the world of the seriousness of these disastrous and destructive fires in several areas of Australia. These offshore, temporary relay transmissions were broadcast in England on high powered mediumwave, and also on half a dozen shortwave channels. At least one of these shortwave relays in England came from a 250 kW transmitter located at Woofferton and this was heard on 21590 kHz.

In addition, BBC shortwave transmitters located on the islands of Cyprus, Masirah and Ascension also carried this same programming relay regarding the bushfires in Australia. Radio Australia verified the relay of their programming from all of these different locations with their own QSL cards.

Beginning in the year 2001, Radio Australia added several new shortwave relay locations for their regular programming in order to present an improved signal into several countries of Asia. These relay stations were BBC Singapore, VOA Tinian, IBB Saipan and RTI Taiwan. Interestingly, according to contemporary reports, the relay broadcasts from the shortwave station located on Saipan Island were on the air for only one day, January 29, 2001. Next day, this shortwave programming was transferred to other relay sites. The relay service via Tinian was soon afterwards transferred to Al Dhabbaya in the United Arab Emirates, due to maintenance work at the station on Tinian.

During the same era, half a dozen mediumwave and shortwave transmitter locations on the island of Taiwan also carried program relays on behalf of Radio Australia. These relays via Taiwan are still on the air to this day, and the locations are listed as Tainan, Tanshui and Paochung.

The program feed for the transfer of this radio programming beginning in the year 2001 was provided by WRN, the World Radio Network in England, and at that stage, the Miami shortwave station WRMI was also re-broadcasting the WRN satellite radio programming, including the relay from Radio Australia. A QSL card in our Indianapolis collection dated April 23, 2001, verifies the relay of Radio Australia via WRMI.

Just last year, another offshore relay station was added to the overseas network in use by Radio Australia. This new facility is shortwave station T8WH, located on the island of Palau, way out east of the Philippines. Half a dozen shortwave channels are in use throughout the broadcast day, and the programming is beamed to China, Burma and Indonesia.

It will be remembered that station T8WH was established on Palau by High Adventure Ministries under the callsign KHBN. When Palau became fully independent, the callsign was changed to T8BZ, and after the station was sold to World Harvest Radio of South Bend in Indiana, the callsign was changed to T8WH.

It should also be remembered that Radio Australia fosters the development of FM relay stations throughout the Pacific Islands. They are operating two digital shortwave transmitters in the DRM mode at Brandon, south of Townsville in Queensland, at about 8 kW. The purpose of these two transmitters is to relay their programming to several different islands throughout the Pacific where the signal is received and re-broadcast on local FM.

It is known that a dozen or more of these local FM relay stations have been established on islands throughout the Pacific and each is receiving the programming via the DRM transmitters located on the north east coast of Australia.

Back in 2005, Radio Australia programming was also heard via the DRM digital mode with 35 kW on a shortwave channel at Rampisham in England.

As our final item regarding the offshore relay of Radio Australia programming, we report an interesting item from Jose Jacob, VU2JOS, at Hyderabad in India. He reported hearing Radio Australia on relay via a 100 kW shortwave transmitter located at Novosibirsk in Siberia. The frequency was 7460 kHz and the date was December 4, 2003. As he states, this was obviously a switching mistake somewhere along the line.