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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, June 26, 2011

Australia on Longwave: Broadcasting Stations

As promised here in Wavescan two weeks back, and at the request of a distant listener, we present the 2nd episode in the story of longwave radio broadcasting in Australia. On the previous occasion, it was the story of the early coastal radio stations in Australia and their ventures into the transmission of radio programming; and today, it is the story of the early radio stations that were licensed for broadcasting on longwave.

At the time when radio broadcasting first began in Australia, radio engineers of the day considered that the widest coverage could be obtained by emitting high power on a longwave frequency. Consequently, some of Australia's first radio broadcasting stations transmitted for some years on what has since become the European standard longwave band.

Back in the early 1920s, a total of five different stations in Australia were issued licenses for longwave broadcasting, only three of these stations were launched, and all three were involved in shortwave broadcasting. This is how it happened.

The 1st station in Australia to operate on longwave was 2FC in Sydney, which was inaugurated as Australia's 2nd broadcasting station. This station, which was projected under the callsign 2LO, reminiscent of the more famous 2LO in London, was constructed by AWA, with studios in Farmer's Building in downtown Sydney, and transmitter at suburban Willoughby. Longwave station 2FC was officially opened on December 5, 1923.

The initial channel allocated to 2FC was 1100 metres, 273 kHz, with a power of 5 kW. Three years later, the transmitter was re-sited to the AWA facility in outer suburban Pennant Hills, still on longwave. However, at the beginning of the following year, 2FC did transfer from the longwave band, to 442 metres, 680 kHz in the standard mediumwave band.

Broadcasting station 2FC operated on longwave for something over 3 years, and it was also involved in early shortwave broadcasting. Today, 2FC is still on the air, though under the callsign 2RN, with 50 kW on 576 kHz.

Around the same time that 2FC was licensed, the owners, Farmer & Co., obtained a license for a 2nd commercial station in Sydney under the projected callsign 2FL. This additional station was allocated the longwave channel 880 metres, 341 kHz with a power of 1/2 kW. However, station 2FL was never launched, and the license was cancelled.

Down in Melbourne Victoria, this same commercial organization, Farmer & Co., obtained another license for a longwave broadcasting station with 5 kW on 1720 metres, 174 kHz. The projected callsign for this station was 3FC, though the call was changed to 3LO before the station was inaugurated.

Longwave station 3LO was officially opened on October 13, 1925, and it moved into the broadcast band on 810 kHz in the middle of the following year. Thus, 3LO was on the air longwave for a little over 1/2 a year; and 3LO was also involved in shortwave broadcasting. It is still on the air today with 50 kW on 774 kHz, under the same callsign 3LO.

Next we move over to Perth in Western Australia, where we find early wireless experimenter, Wally Coxon, involved with the erection of another longwave station, 6WF. This station was located in the Westralian Farmers Building in downtown Perth, with two massive radio towers, each weighing 3-1/2 tons on top of the building.

Longwave broadcasting station 6WF was inaugurated on June 4, 1924, with 5 kW on 1250 metres, 240 kHz. This station remained on longwave much longer than any of the other broadcasting stations in Australia, and it left longwave and moved to 690 kHz five years later. Station 6WF was also involved in shortwave broadcasting; and it is still on the air today with 50 kW on 720 kHz under the same callsign 6WF.

The 5th license for a longwave broadcasting station in Australia was issued to Millswood Auto & Radio Co. Ltd., in Adelaide, South Australia. They were allocated the longwave channel 850 kHz with 3 kW under the callsign 5MA in the year 1923. Millswood announced that they intended to inaugurate their new station towards the end of the year 1923, though the usual delay occurred.

In preparation for their new radio broadcasting service, they installed a temporary transmitter with just 250 watts output. It would appear that some test broadcasts were radiated from this temporary unit, but when the PMG Dept issued a new set of regulations for radio broadcasting in Australia, Millswood withdrew, and the license for 5MA was cancelled.

Thus, a total of 5 different licenses for longwave broadcasting were issued by the PMG Dept in Australia. Two stations, though projected, were never inaugurated; stations 2FL in Sydney and 5MA in Adelaide. Three stations were placed on the air; 2FC in Sydney, 3LO in Melbourne, and 6WF in Perth.

The era of longwave broadcasting in Australia began officially on December 5, 1923 with the official inauguration of 2FC Sydney, and it ended nearly six years later when station 6WF in Perth was transferred into the mediumwave band on September 2, 1929.

All three of these early longwave stations are still on the air today, though on mediumwave, and all three were involved in early shortwave broadcasting. That will be the story, the shortwave story, here in Wavescan next week.