"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, April 10, 2011
American States on Shortwave: Texas - Whatever Happened to Shortwave Station KAIJ in Dallas, Texas?
Whatever happened to the American shortwave station KAIJ in Dallas, Texas? That is the question asked by Peter Grenfell in New Zealand as part of his entry in our annual DX contest last year. In response, Peter, this is what we find as a result of a spate of interesting radio research.
The state of Texas is the largest of the 48 mainland states. At the time of European exploration, it is estimated that 30,000 Indians lived in the area, many of whom lived in permanent settlements. The first Europeans to visit the area were Spanish explorers who mapped the coastline in 1519.
The French established a small and temporary colony inland at Fort St. Louis; the Spanish sent many Catholic missionaries into the area; and when Mexico asserted its independence from Spain in 1821, Texas became a part of the Mexican Empire. In 1836, after several skirmishes with Mexican forces, Texas declared its independence as the Republic of Texas.
Nine years later, Texas joined the United States. However, during the Civil War, Texas seceded and joined the Southern Union; but in 1870, Texas again rejoined the United States.
The twin cities of Dallas/Fort Worth are located in the central northern area of this large state of Texas. The twin city Metroplex has a population close on 7 million, making it the second largest in the United States. One of the world-shaking events that occurred in Dallas was the tragic death of President Kennedy back in the year 1964.
It so happens that there were two attempts over the years at establishing a shortwave station in Texas; one was unsuccessful and the other was successful. The first attempt was made back half a century ago, and the other just a quarter of a century ago. Here are the details.
Back around the beginning of the year 1960, a request was lodged with the FCC in Washington, DC for approval to establish a shortwave station in Dallas, Texas for coverage into Latin America. In May, the details of this new shortwave station were published in a radio magazine in Australia, Radio & Hobbies.
This news item stated that this new American shortwave station would operate at 50 kW on 15180 kHz and that it would broadcast into Latin America during the daytime, in English and Spanish. As further details became available, it was stated that the owner of this new station was Albert L. Cain, who was also an amateur radio operator with the callsign W5SXT. The intended callsign for this new shortwave station was KFRN, and a news report published in August 1960 stated that the station was under construction.
The 1961 edition of World Radio TV Handbook lists this new station, under the company ownership of Global Broadcasting, not in Dallas, Texas, but instead in Tulsa, Oklahoma, though now no callsign is shown. That is the last reference to the new shortwave station KFRN, planned but never completed.
In more recent time, there was the well known shortwave station KCBI-KAIJ which was located a few miles out from Denton, just north of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The application for this new station was lodged with the FCC on March 18, 1983. The requested callsign was KCBI, which was also the callsign of their FM station that was inaugurated seven years earlier. The callsign KCBI honored the Criswell Bible Institute, which was established in Dallas by the First Baptist Church.
The transmitter and antennas for shortwave station KCBI were installed in an isolated area of corn country 16 miles east of Denton, a little north of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The transmitter was a re-engineered mediumwave unit manufactured by General Electric and there were two antennas, both described as corner reflectors.
The first test broadcasts from station KCBI were noted on 11790 kHz around Christmas 1984, and the station was inaugurated in the middle of the following year, on July 28, with studios in the Baptist Church in Dallas. Initially the station was on the air with a regular daily schedule, but during the following year, this scheduling was reduced to just the weekends, due to a shortage in funding. Shortly afterwards, the station was closed and placed up for sale.
Four years later, the station was re-activated, and then sold for $1,000 to the University Network for the programming of Dr. Gene Scott. An additional shortwave transmitter, a Continental unit rated at 100 kW, was installed in 1994 and the callsign was changed to KAIJ, though it is not known to this day just what was the significance of these new identification letters.
During the height of its operation, station KAIJ was on the air with a full 24 hour daily schedule on both transmitters, 100 kW and 50 kW. However, as time went by, this scheduling was reduced until just one transmitter was in use part time.
The station was sold again, this time to Peoria Broadcasting Services, though it was on the air again with little more than occasional test broadcasts.
Two years ago, this shortwave station was procured by an organization called Leap of Faith, and the equipment was removed from Denton in Texas and re-installed at an isolated country area near Lebanon in Tennessee. The 100 kW transmitter was refurbished for use at its new location, and two rhombic antennas were installed.
Test broadcasts from this shortwave station now located in Tennessee began in January last year under the callsign WTWW which stands for We Transmit World Wide. Program broadcasting began officially at 1500 UTC on February 19 on 9480 kHz, though at reduced power. Full power broadcasting began on March 1.
So, that’s the story of the two shortwave endeavors in Texas, both in Dallas. Station KFRN back in 1960 was never erected, neither in Dallas nor in Tulsa. Station KCBI was inaugurated in Dallas in 1985, it was re-designated as KAIJ nearly ten years later, and now it is on the air as station WTWW in Lebanon Tennessee.
There are a few QSL cards from the original KCBI in the collections of international radio monitors, and three different styles are known; a 1973 calendar, a two sided On the Air Card, and an On the Air card with a plain back. After the University Network procured the station, two cards were in use, both under the title, Two If By Sea Broadcasting. One card shows the callsign KCBI, and the other card shows the callsign KAIJ. QSLs are currently being issued by email and by post for the transferred station WTWW at its current location in Lebanon Tennessee.
As an interesting side note, when this shortwave station was on the air under the callsign KCBI, it broadcast a delayed relay of the early DX program from Adventist World Radio in Poona, India. The program title at the time was "Radio Monitors International", the AWR studios were located in suburban Poona, and the broadcast from station KCBI was on the air under the auspices of Radio Earth. The broadcast of "Radio Monitors International" via KCBI was on the air for a few weeks beginning on October 13, 1985.
Australian States on Shortwave: Victoria
The Australian state of Victoria is the smallest state in the entire continent, though within it resides the second largest population. In the early days of English discovery and settlement, Victoria formed an integral part of the colony of New South Wales. It is estimated that around 30,000 Aborigines lived in the territory of Victoria at the time of European settlement.
The first permanent settlers came from England on the ship HMS Calcutta and they established what turned out to be a temporary settlement near what is now the city of Melbourne in the year 1803. The colonial administration in Sydney, New South Wales was apprehensive that the French would form their own colony in the area and this early settlement was formed to demonstrate a legitimate British claim to the territory.
It was separated as a colony sixteen years later, and it was named in honor of Queen Victoria in England. Along with all other mainland territories, Victoria was federated into the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.
The capital city of the Australian state of Victoria, with a total population of six million, is Melbourne with four million. The city of Melbourne was the capital city of the Commonwealth of Australia from 1901 to 1927 during the interim time of development of the Capital Territory, Canberra.
In the Australian radio world, the initial number of the mediumwave callsign indicates the state in which the station is located, and the number 3 indicates Victoria. This pattern of identification for radio stations followed the European pattern that was established in the early days of radio broadcasting.
A total of three different commercial radio stations in Melbourne experimented with the concept of shortwave broadcasting as an increase in coverage area during the early years, and the first was 3LO in 1927. Even though the AWA shortwave station at Pennant Hills near Sydney in New South Wales subsequently became more prominent, yet the early 3LO broadcasts from their own transmitter at Braybrook were a significant milestone in the Australian scene of international radio broadcasting.
At the time, station 3LO was commercially operated during the era before it was taken over by the federal government as a national broadcasting station. The shortwave broadcasts from 3LO created an interest both within Australia and in overseas countries, and their international broadcasts were relayed to local listeners by radio stations and networks in England and the United States, and occasionally in other countries.
Initially the shortwave broadcasts from 3LO were radiated at night from their own lower powered shortwave transmitter that was on the air under the callsign VK3ME, but subsequently, relays were taken out via the 10 kW AWA transmitter at Ballan. The 3LO shortwave broadcasts ended in 1929 at the time when 3LO and 3AR were amalgamated and taken over by the government for what became the nationwide ABC radio service. However, at that stage, AWA continued producing their own programming for broadcast over the same two shortwave transmitters at Braybrook and Ballan.
Then it was that another commercial station in Melbourne, 3DB, took out a relay via VK3ME five years later for the Melbourne Centenary Celebrations, a relay that lasted for a period of three weeks. The programming content in this shortwave relay to the world was taken from the regular evening broadcasts of the mediumwave station 3DB.
The other commercial station in Melbourne that was heard on shortwave during this era was 3UZ, the Oliver Nielsen station in the capital city. Their chief engineer constructed a 150 watt shortwave transmitter that was noted on air for two short periods of time, in 1930 and again in 1931.
We can remember also the ABC shortwave station located at Lyndhurst out in the country, with its several transmitters and several program streams. Experimental transmitter VK3LR began its life as a low power PMG facility for experimental development in a galvanized iron shed near Lyndhurst.
As time went by, the building was rebuilt, renovated, and re-renovated; and transmitter VK3LR became VLR, and subsequently additional transmitters were installed, and these took to the air mainly under the callsigns VLG, VLH and VNG. Programming was provided by the ABC Home Service and also by Radio Australia; and VNG carried the chronohertz time and frequency service. The Lyndhurst station, with its bevy of 10 kW transmitters, was closed down at the end of the year 1987 at the conclusion of around 60 years of international on air service.
Then too, the other major shortwave station for Radio Australia in Victoria is the facility near Shepparton which was inaugurated with a 50 kW RCA transmitter in mid 1944. Still on the air to this day, Shepparton was on the air internationally with callsigns VLA, VLB, etc. running down to VLF, all rated at either 50 kW or 100 kW. There was also a 10 kW transmitter at Shepparton under the callsign VLY during that era.
We can also remember that the studios for Radio Australia are located in Melbourne, and this programming has been fed to their transmitter sites located in five states, as well as in overseas countries.
Finally, we look at two program broadcasting stations that were on the air carrying programming for army personnel. In 1955, Radio Puckapunyal was noted in New Zealand and Australia with just one broadcast of an hour duration each week. This station was located in an army camp out from Melbourne, and it was active on shortwave for just a few weeks.
The other army station was located at another army encampment, known as Digger’s Rest, a little further out from Melbourne. This station was on the air with live programming for army personnel under the callsign VMA. It was noted at two different time periods, 1982 and 1987, and the programs were intended for army personnel on service overseas.
Thus, in the Australian state of Victoria, we have seen that a total of more than a dozen shortwave transmitters at more than half a dozen locations have broadcast regular and special radio programming during the past more than 80 years. Every one of these stations issued QSL cards, some of which are now rare collector’s items.
The colorful QSL cards issued by Radio Australia for their broadcasts over Shepparton and Lyndhurst are well known, and the ABC cards for Lyndhurst are also well known, as are also the VNG double sized cards. Occasionally, cards for VK3ME are offered on eBay, and also for 3LO and 3UZ. The two army stations also issued QSL cards for their unique broadcasts.
However, there are no known QSL cards issued by 3DB for the three week period of broadcasts during the centenary celebrations in 1934. However, it is known that 3DB issued a QSL card for their mediumwave station during that era, and we would presume that they issued the same card for their shortwave broadcasts also.
Next month, we will look at the shortwave scene in another state, Queensland.