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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 1, 2012

New Year Radio: Radio Events Around the World on New Year's Day

In our program here in Wavescan last week, we presented the story of Christmas Radio; that is, the story of interesting and important radio events that took place throughout the years on Christmas Day, December 25. Today here in Wavescan, we follow a similar theme; and on this occasion, we present interesting and important radio events that took place on New Year's Day, January 1, throughout the years.

But first, let's take a look at the story of New Year's Day itself; and in the beginning, we go back to ancient Roman history and the year 46 BC. According to the encyclopedias, it was Julius Caesar who made some important changes to the calendar in that year in order to stabilize the calendar with the regular rotation of the year. Some months were changed and renamed, though the regular rotation of the seven day weekly cycle was not interrupted. His new annual calendar is identified these days as the Julian Calendar.

Julius Caesar introduced January 1 as the first day of each New Year, with which we are quite familiar today. However, during the Middle Ages, several countries in Europe were observing different dates as New Year's Day, including March 25, as the beginning of Spring.

By this time, the annual calendar was well out of step with the annual rotation of the year, and so Pope Gregory introduced a new calendar, now known as the Gregorian Calendar, in the year 1582. Again, some of the months were changed and renamed, though again, the weekly cycle of seven days remained unchanged.

Once more, January 1 was designated as the beginning of the New Year. Nearly 200 years later, in the year 1752, January 1 was officially implemented in England and in the American colonies as New Year's Day.

Now to the radio scene on New Year's Day. January 1 of the year, 1902 was a very important day. This was the first occasion upon which both speech and music were intentionally transmitted in a large public demonstration.

On this occasion, the controversial Nathan B. Stubblefield demonstrated the transmission of music and voice from one central location near the courthouse in Murray, Kentucky to five nearby receivers. It is thought that this demonstration may have utilized ground conduction, though indeed it was a wireless transmission. In 1948, a commercial radio station was inaugurated in Murray, and it was named in honor of Stubblefield with his initials; station WNBS, 1 kW on 1340 kHz.

Exactly 20 years later to the very day, that is, 1922, the Department of Commerce issued a list of current mediumwave stations on the air in the United States, all 28 of them. On New Year's Day in 1971, cigarette advertising was banned on radio and television in the United States.

In 1926, the first radio broadcasting station in Ireland was inaugurated, with 1.5 kW on 790 kHz. This station was launched under the callsign 2RN, seeming to express the Irish pronunciation of Eireann, a name they use to designate their country. The studios for this new station were located in Little Denmark Street, Dublin, and the transmitter was at the McKee Army barracks, out near Phoenix Park.

Two years later, on January 1, 1928, radio broadcasting in Holland was inaugurated under the AVRO concept, a program producing organization that was aired over the existing radio broadcasting system. Even to this day, this same system is in vogue, with about a dozen program producing organizations on the air over the Dutch national public service network of stations on mediumwave and FM.

During the year 1938, the BBC London introduced two foreign language services into its international radio programming. The first of these was Arabic which went on the air on January 3, and the second was German which was inaugurated on March 29. Some nine years later, on January 1, 1947, all of the foreign language services in the international mediumwave and shortwave programming from the BBC London were amalgamated into the one General Overseas Service.

During the past 90 or so years, three different radio stations located in Winnipeg Manitoba have been on the air under the same Canadian callsign, CKY. The second of these stations, a commercial enterprise, was inaugurated on New Year's Day 1950, with 5 kW on 580 kHz.

Then there was Europe No. 1 which was launched on New Year's Day 1955. This station was located in the Saar, a German state bordering with France and it was established to provide commercial radio coverage over France. This station was on the air longwave with 400 kW on 182 kHz.

We could think also of the radio scene in what was in earlier times British Malaya. On New Year's Day 1959, the country split into two different entities, Malaysia and Singapore. The radio station in Singapore became Radio Singapore; and the radio station in Kuala Lumpur, on that same date, became Radio Malaysia.

The radio scene in Nigeria was made up of individual and separate radio stations in some of their major cities in the era of turmoil and war; but, on January 1, 1952, the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria assumed control of all radio stations throughout their country. On the island of Taiwan, a new international service was introduced in 1979 under the title "Voice of Asia," with transmissions on 621 kHz mediumwave at 500 kW, and on 5980 kHz shortwave. On New Year's Day in 1993, Radio Beijing became China Radio International.

And finally, a European country was divided into two entities, also on New Year's Day 1993. Czechoslovakia became the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Thus, Radio Slovakia became a new and separate entity on that date. At the beginning of the next year, 1994, Adventist World Radio took out a relay from the large shortwave station located at Rimavska Sobota in Slovakia, ultimately utilizing the availability of all four transmitters. The 250 kW transmitter designated RS09 at Rimavska Sobota gave remarkably wide coverage to AWR programming.

And there you have it, the story of interesting and important radio events that took place around our world on New Year's Day.

Radio Panorama RP14: Early Music Transmissions - 2

In our sweeping panorama of early wireless and radio events over a lengthy period of time, we come to the year 1892, and the beginning of the intentional transmission of music. It was in this year that the eccentric experimenter, Nathan B. Stubblefield, gave his first private demonstrations of the transmission of voice and music.

The location of these early experiments was his melon farm near Murray in Kentucky, which now forms part of the campus for the Murray State University. The available evidence would suggest that his earliest experiments were utilizing ground conduction of the wireless signal, and subsequent experiments using massive lengthy coils of wire were by induction, rather than by electronic radiation.

As mentioned earlier in our program today, Stubblefield made a public presentation of his equipment at the Courthouse in Murray before an invited audience totaling more than 1,000 people on New Year's Day, 1902. From a single transmitter location, he fed his programming to five different receivers at nearby locations.

Three months later, Stubblefield gave a public demonstration on the Potomac River in Washington, DC with a transmitter on board a small steamer, the "Bartholdi," and a receiver on shore.

Interestingly, in that very same year, 1902, a similar event took place in Denmark. The experimenter, Valdemar Poulsen, demonstrated the transmission of voice and music with the usage of an instrument that he and his co-inventor called the "Buegenerator."

Likewise, still in this same year, we come to the work of the well known Canadian born experimenter, Reginald Fessenden. In April of that year, 1902, Fessenden successfully transmitted musical notes by modulating a spark transmitter at Cape Hatteras in North Carolina, rather close to where the Wright brothers were making experimental flights in their new airplane.

In December 1905, Reginald Fessenden established a wireless station at Brant Rock, Massachusetts and he was successful in transmitting both speech and music by modulating the spark transmitter. On December 21, 1906, he presented a public demonstration of his equipment with an experimental broadcast before an invited group of local dignitaries. This event is definitely and clearly chronicled in the verified details of history.

In question though, are Fessenden's touted Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve broadcasts from the same station a few days later. Much evidence has been piled up, both for and against, the accuracy of Fessenden's subsequent claims that he did indeed make these two intentional radio broadcasts, as historical firsts.

However, several maritime historians provide an item of information that does not seem to get quoted by researchers delving into the Fessenden controversy. These historians state that the wireless operator aboard the new American passenger liner "Kroonland" heard Fessenden's Christmas Eve broadcast while out in nearby Atlantic waters. It is true, the "Kroonland" report could be revisionist history, but further research might also reveal the veracity of this claim.

On June 15, 1904, Professor Otto Nussbaumer, at the university in Graz, Austria personally yodeled an Austrian folk song into a microphone, and the transmission was heard at a distance of 75 ft. This event is claimed in Austria, incorrectly we might add, as the world's first broadcast of music. Owing to criticism at the time, Nussbaumer never developed his experiments any further.

The American radio magazine, Radio News, reports the broadcast of music from a navy vessel at Hampton Roads, Virginia in the spring of the year 1906. An idle wireless operator on board the USS "Missouri" played the single notes of the melody of the folk song "Home Sweet Home" by varying the speed of the spark generator.

During the following year, 1907, a navy wireless operator, Lieutenant Quentin Crawford, broadcast a music program from a navy vessel HMS Andromeda, on the Thames Estuary near London. This planned music broadcast is claimed as the first radio music broadcast from a ship.

One more year later, and we find that army operators at Sandy Hook in coastal New Jersey made several experimental broadcasts of music for reception at Bedloe's Island, the location of the famed Statue of Liberty. The transmission equipment consisted of 2 banks of 5 arcs, manufactured in Germany by the Telefunken company.

Around the same era, Archie Collins, who established the Collins Radio Telephone Co., made several experimental radio broadcasts with music. He was born in South Bend, Indiana, though many of his successful music broadcasts were made in Newark, New Jersey.

I guess we should stop somewhere in this line up of early music broadcasts, so maybe we should stop right here, and we will do so, after we make mention of what is claimed to be the first public broadcast of music, announced in a newspaper in advance. The date was January 13, 1910, the successful broadcast was made live from the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, and the event was reported in newspapers next day.