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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, May 22, 2011

American States on Shortwave: Utah-The International Story of Shortwave KUSW/KTBN

At the time of European exploration in 1776, four tribes of Indians were living in the Utah territory, most of whom lived in little villages, pueblos, or in cliff dwellings. The first European settlers were Mormon migrants who moved into the area in 1847. At the time, the Utah territory was part of the Mexican Empire. However, one year later, Utah was taken over by the United States, and nearly half a century later again, Utah became the 45th state in the United States.

The state of Utah featured in three different developments in nostalgic American history. The famous Pony Express began delivering mail between the eastern states and California in 1860; the telegraph line between Washington DC and California was opened in 1861; and the two sections of the transcontinental railroad were joined up in1869. All three of these ventures traversed through Utah.

The first attempt at shortwave broadcasting in the state of Utah took place in the year 1939. At the time, the shortwave broadcasting station W9XAA was on the air in Chicago with a 500 watt transmitter located at suburban Downer's Grove. Experimental shortwave station W9XAA was owned by the Chicago Federation of Labor, who also operated the well known mediumwave station WCFL.

The Chicago Federation of Labor in Chicago wanted to sell its co-owned shortwave station W9XAA to mediumwave KSL in Salt Lake City in Utah. They lodged a request with the FCC to sell the station, increase its power, and move it to Saltair, near Salt Lake City. However, in September 1939, the FCC denied this request, and so this first attempt to establish a shortwave station in Utah came to nothing.

A second attempt to go shortwave in Utah was also associated with the mediumwave station KSL. In 1962, the International Educational Broadcasting Corporation, IEBC, in Salt Lake City bought the well known historic shortwave station WRUL near Boston in Massachusetts. Two years later, Bonneville International was formed, they took over IEBC, and then they purchased KSL. Then four years after the purchase of the shortwave station WRUL, the callsign was changed to WNYW.

This second attempt on shortwave in Utah was thus more successful, though the studios were in New York City, and the transmitters were at Scituate Beach near Boston in Massachusetts. However, due to the fact that this well known shortwave station was out of state, we will reserve the details of that story for another occasion.

In the meantime, we go back to Utah and the story of their next shortwave station, KUSW-KTBN. In 1987, the total facility for this new station was constructed in just five months at a near country location, south west of Salt Lake City in the Salt Lake Valley. The offices, studios, and the 100 kW Harris transmitter were all installed into the same building, and the TCI log periodic antenna system was supported from two towers, 145 ft. tall.

Super Power KUSW Worldwide Radio was owned by Carlson Communications who also owned a small network of AM mediumwave and FM stations in three adjoining states, Utah, Nevada and Arizona. Soon after the shortwave station became airborne, reception reports began to arrive at the rate of around 30 each day. One reception report came from the pilot of an American air force plane who was listening while in flight. All reports were acknowledged with their one QSL card, showing an artistic representation of the distant mountain range.

At that time, Carlson Communications was already producing full time programming for its AM and FM stations in the three state network. However, the programming for shortwave KUSW was produced independently and specifically for a shortwave audience.

On December 20, 1990, the programming from shortwave KUSW was relayed via an American navy vessel off the coast of Panama during the downfall of President Manuel Noriega. It is possible that the navy vessel that carried this unusual relay was the USS Vreeland. When the staff at KUSW were informed that their station was under relay off the coast of Panama in Central America, they went live with special programming.

Just four years after station KUSW was inaugurated, it was sold to the Trinity Broadcasting Network for around $2 million. The last day for broadcasts as KUSW was on December 16, 1991; and the first day of broadcasts under the new callsign KTBN was two days later, December 18. The programming from KTBN was always a relay of the audio channel from the satellite services of the Trinity Broadcasting Network.

However, a little over 17 years later, this same station was closed again, this time on March 31, 2008. The station, under the two consecutive callsigns, KUSW and KTBN, had been on the air for a total period of 21 years. The entire facility, shortwave transmitter, antenna system and associated equipment in Utah, was dismantled and shipped to Anguilla in the Caribbean where it was absorbed into the electronic equipment already on air at the station known as the Caribbean Beacon.

While on the air as KTBN, a total of three different QSL cards were issued, one in black and white and two in color, though each card showed exactly the same scene with the antenna system and the backdrop of the distant mountain range.

As an interesting side note, the audio channel of four different television programs produced by the Adventist Media Center in California and in South Bend Michiana were broadcast over this shortwave station when it was on the air under the callsign KTBN. At the time, these syndicated TV programs were broadcast worldwide over the multi-satellite networks that were carrying the mainstream TV programming from the Trinity Broadcasting Network.

These Adventist TV programs, with the sound track on shortwave over KTBN, were

At the time, a news release from Adventist World Radio alerted listeners in the international shortwave world that courtesy QSL cards would be issued confirming the reception of these programs on shortwave, and a few cards were indeed issued.