Home | Back to Wavescan Index

"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, March 4, 2012

Emissora Radio in Goa India - 1: The Early Years

The one-time Portuguese territory of Goa, located on the west coast of the Indian sub-continent, is listed as the smallest state in the Union. The coastline of Goa is just 63 miles long, and the total area is just 1500 square miles. The small capital city of Goa is Panaji though in Portuguese days, it was known as Panjim, and the official language is Konkani written in the Indian Devanagri script. Tourism is given as one of their chief industries, with some two million tourists visiting the area each year.

The history of Goa can be traced way back to the earliest days of pre-history in India, when the Konkan people moved into the area from the north. It is known that Middle Eastern traders from Sumeria traded with the Goan people more than 4,000 years ago; and around 1775 BC, the area was also settled by Phoenician seafarers from the eastern Mediterranean.

The earliest reference in Indian writings to the territory of Goa is found in the Bhishma Parva around 800 BC, when the people were known as cattle herdsmen and land farmers. Over the years, Goa has been recognized under many different names, such as Sibo by the Greeks, and Sindabur by the early Arabs.

Portuguese influence in the area began in 1498 when Vasco da Gama reached nearby Calicut on the Malabar coast; and over a period of time, the Portuguese established more than twenty small colonies in the coastal areas of the Indian sub-continent, with Goa as the largest and most important.

During World War II, Portugal remained neutral, and thus Goa remained neutral also, though surrounded by British India. It is known however that three German trading vessels took shelter in the Mormugao Harbor, and in 1943 one of them was sunk by British forces due to the fact that a radio transmitter aboard the vessel was alerting lurking nearby German submarines about the movement of British shipping.

During the middle of last century, the Indian government made several requests to Portugal to release their distant colony of Goa so that it could be absorbed into the Indian Union; and ultimately, on December 19, 1961, Indian forces moved into the area and took over. Goa was subsequently incorporated into India as a state, and the other remaining Portuguese territory known as Daman & Diu was taken over as a Union territory.

In 1938, cable communication was established between Goa and the mother country of Portugal, and we would suggest that this was via the cable terminal operated by Cable & Wireless in Bombay. Eight years later, the resident engineer for the cable company in Goa, Victor Carvalho, gave technical assistance to the newly formed Radio Clube, and a new radio broadcasting service was instituted with the use of a small amateur transmitter that was donated by Jose Ferriera.

The date of this first radio transmission from this small new facility was May 28, 1946, and the territorial Governor-General issued a postage stamp on the same day to commemorate the event. The first improvised microphone was encased in a coconut shell.

It is not known exactly where this small radio broadcasting station was located, nor what power and frequency were in use. However, it would be presumed that it was installed into an already existing building somewhere in what we might call suburban Goa. It is probable also that the low power amateur transmitter was tuned to a shortwave channel, (perhaps 7 MHz?) due to the fact that the channel that was chosen for the subsequent more substantial radio station was in the shortwave broadcast bands.

Two years later, a substantial radio broadcasting station was erected on the rise of a hill at Althino in Nova Goa (New Goa), Panjim. Both studios and transmitter were installed here, and this early transmitter was an American unit made by the American Federal Telephone & Radio Corporation of Clifton, New Jersey in the United States.

This new transmitter was rated at .5 kW, and a locally made power amplifier raised the aerial power up to 1 kW. The original shortwave channel was 7230 kHz in the 41 metre band, though soon afterwards, the operating frequency was moved to the more familiar 9610 kHz in the 31 metre band. This station was widely reported in several countries of Europe, as well as in the United States and the South Pacific, and numerous QSL letters and cards were issued in confirmation of listener reception reports.

Two years later again, that is in 1950, a mediumwave transmitter was installed at the studio location and this operated with 2.5 kW on 557 kHz. At this stage, regular callsigns were allocated to this radio broadcasting service, though the calls sounded like amateur callsigns. The call for the mediumwave outlet was listed as CR8AA, and the shortwave outlet was identified as CR8AB.

In 1952, that is four years after the station was launched at Altinho, an offsite transmitter base was constructed three miles distant at an isolated country location known as Bambolim. The first transmitter installed here was a shortwave unit rated at 7.5 kW. Seven years later, a 10 kW shortwave transmitter was installed at this location, and also two mediumwave transmitters rated at 10 kW and 5 kW.

We should also mention that a 50 kW shortwave transmitter with a new antenna system was installed at Bambolim for an intended new External Service, and test broadcasts were heard far and wide beginning in August 1960. This new External Service was on the air, broadcasting east and west on two channels in parallel, one at 50 kW and the other a 10 kW unit operating at 7.5 kW.

Trouble was brewing for Portuguese Goa, and on Monday December 18, 1961, Emissora Goa left the air at 8:00 am. At the time, Emissora Goa was on the air with a total of six transmitters:

Bambolim 2 SW 50 kW and 7.5 kW
1 MW 5 kW on 880 kHz
Altinho 1 MW 1440 kHz
2 FM

The station at Bambolim was destroyed by the Indian air force in a bombing raid, and an aerial photograph shows the whole facility burning furiously. Goa was taken over next day, Tuesday December 19, 1961, and Goa was thus absorbed into the independent nation of India.

More about these things next week.