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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, July 3, 2011

Early Shortwave Relay Stations in Australia

The era of experimental shortwave broadcasting in Australia extended from July 1925 to the first weekend in September 1939, a period of a little over 14 years. This era of shortwave broadcasting began when the chief engineer of a commercial station in Perth, Western Australia commenced the relay of programming from his local longwave broadcast station over his own suburban amateur station. This era ended when the Australian government issued a wartime edict closing all shortwave activity in the nation except for approved communication stations, and the ABC shortwave relay station VLR.

We go back to the beginning, we categorize all of these stations according to the type of station, and we begin with two projected stations that were never erected.

The mediumwave station 2KY in Sydney was officially inaugurated on October 31, 1925. In the original news release about the new station, reference was made to the fact that they planned on installing a shortwave transmitter to increase the coverage area of their mediumwave station, and also for the benefit of listeners in other countries.

At the time of the inauguration of 2KY, the mediumwave unit in Trades Hall Sydney, mention was made again of their plan for an international shortwave transmitter. However, it seems that the Federal government disapproved of the idea, and so the shortwave unit was never installed.

Another attempt at obtaining a shortwave license was implemented by the commercial station 5CL in Adelaide, South Australia in 1928. Their intent was for coverage in country areas, but the PMG Department also disapproved this request.

Very early on the scene were three amateur radio stations that were in use for the relay of programming from their local broadcasting stations.

The very first of these experimental relays on shortwave took place in Perth, Western Australia in July 1925, when Engineer Walter Coxon re-broadcast the programming from local station 6WF over his own amateur station 6AG at his suburban home. The purpose of this shortwave relay was to increase the coverage of the longwave station 6WF throughout the country areas of Australia's largest state, around 1/3 of the total area of the continent.

The first shortwave transmitter at 6AG in suburban Perth emitted around 50 watts; the second at another suburban location was rated at 200 watts; and the third location for this relay facility was at the main location of 6WF, in the Westralian Farmers Building in downtown Perth.

Another station engineer, Ray Allsop by name, served the commercial station 2BL in Sydney on the eastern edge of the continent. Beginning in February 1926, he used his amateur transmitter 2YG, at two consecutive locations in suburban Sydney, for the relay of the mediumwave station 2BL to a wider audience.

Next we go down to Melbourne in Victoria where engineer L. C. Glew relayed the programming from his commercial station 3UZ via his amateur station 3LG. Initially this was in April 1928, and soon afterwards he constructed another shortwave transmitter, rated at 150 watts, that was co-sited with the mediumwave unit in downtown Melbourne. During the following years, the power of this unit was increased to 500 watts.

Next, in our listing of early shortwave stations in Australia, we take a look at the three stations that were operated by AWA; in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.

The first of these three AWA facilities was the well known station VK2ME located at Pennant Hills, an outer suburb of the state capital, Sydney. On September 5, 1927, the first Empire Broadcast, with programming from 2FC Sydney, went on the air for overseas listeners via a new 20 kW shortwave transmitter. This station, VK2ME, was subsequently taken into use for the relay of radio programming produced in the AWA studios in York Street Sydney.

Down in Melbourne, the AWA sister station, VK3ME, was also in use for the relay of radio programming to an overseas audience. Beginning in 1927, the programming was taken from the commercial station 3LO, though subsequently, AWA began to produce their own programming for the international audience. In an endeavor to reach a larger audience, the subsequent programming from VK3ME was transmitted from the Beam Wireless Station VIY with 10 kW at Ballan, out from Melbourne. Interestingly, the Centenary Celebrations at the regional city Ballarat in 1934 were covered by special radio programming from another mediumwave station in the state capital, station 3DB, and this programming was also broadcast to a larger audience by VK3ME.

The third AWA shortwave station during this experimental era was VK6ME, located at Applecross, between the state capital Perth and the port city Fremantle. This transmitter was rated at just 200 watts and it made its first on air test broadcast on January 27, 1936. Programming was produced in the specially installed AWA studios, which were co-located with the transmitters at Applecross.

We should also remember the PMG experimental station originally located at Lyndhurst, out from Melbourne in Victoria. This station came on the air in 1928, and it grew into the Lyndhurst Radio Station, with transmitters carrying the programming of VLR, VLG, VLH and Radio Australia.

Thus we see the following list of nine experimental radio broadcasting stations on shortwave in Australia during this early era of 14 years, running from July 1925 to the first weekend in September 1939: