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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 24, 2012

Falkland Islands Radio Anniversary - 1

The 30th anniversary of the end of the Falklands War took place, just ten days ago. This brief but decisive conflict began on April 2, 1982; and it lasted a total of just 74 days, ending on June 14, thirty years ago.

At 4:30 a.m. local time in the early morning hours of Friday April 2, 1982, Argentine forces successfully deployed an amphibious landing party on the shores of East Falkland Island at Mullet Creek, a small rivulet on a small peninsula some five miles north of Port Stanley. England saw this invasion as a hostile act of war, and Argentina saw this landing as an attempt to reclaim its own rightful territory, the Islas Malvinas.

Less than four hours later, another Argentinian invasion party landed ashore at Port Stanley, the capital of the Falklands; and at 9:15 a.m., Governor Sir Rex Hunt declared a surrender. Later that day, during the afternoon, Governor Hunt and other captured personnel were evacuated by plane to Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay on the South American mainland.

When Port Stanley was aware that Argentine forces had successfully landed nearby in the Falklands, the government radio station was quickly activated for the broadcast of special messages to the local inhabitants. At the time, the Falkland Islands Broadcasting Service, FIBS, was operating two broadcast transmitters, 5 kW on 536 kHz and 1 kW on 2370 kHz. Emergency programming consisted of music, known information about the progress of the invasion, counsel as to what islanders should do for self protection, and talks by Governor Hunt.

Interestingly, New Zealanders, particularly those living in the Auckland area at the top of the North Island, state that they were able to follow the progress of events in the Falklands by listening to the emergency programming that was on the air from the low powered shortwave station on 2370 kHz. They tell us that this was the first occasion on which FIBS Port Stanley had been logged in New Zealand.

Just 50 minutes after the official surrender by the Falklanders to the Argentinians, FIBS Port Stanley returned to the air under the oversight of the Argentine army, with programming on two channels, mediumwave 536 kHz and shortwave 2385 kHz. Three days later, on Monday April 5, the callsign was changed from FIBS to an Argentinian designation, LRA60, and the on air identification announcement became, "Radio Nacional Islas Malvinas." The island capital was no longer Port Stanley, it was now Puerto Rivero.

Regular programming from LRA60 in Puerto Rivero was in both Spanish and English, and it was made up of locally produced programming, together with recordings from the BBC transcription service that were already in the station library. Some shortwave programming was received off air in the Malvinas Islands and this consisted of live relays from the BBC in London, mainly sports programs, and also live relays from Argentina, often via LRA11, Radio Nacional Comodoro Rivadavia.

Additional live programming from Argentina, via RAE, Radio Argentina Exterior, with 100 kW on 6060 kHz, was also inserted into the local programming on the air at Puerto Rivero. For example, this service was noted in Sri Lanka by Victor Goonetilleke on June 6.

Plans were announced that a new pair of radio broadcasting stations would be installed in Puerto Rivero, and these would be on the air under the Argentine callsign LRA50, on 710 kHz mediumwave and 4784 kHz shortwave at a power level of 10 kW.

There was also another shortwave station on the air in the Falklands during that era and this was the Cable & Wireless station, C&W, under the callsign VPC. This was a low powered facility operating in the USB, upper side band mode, and logged usually on 24145 kHz.

During the Argentine era, this C&W station at times carried the programming from the radio broadcasting service, and this was noted also in New Zealand on 15890 kHz and 24145 kHz. These broadcasts were beamed to Buenos Aires for relay throughout Argentina on many stations, mediumwave and shortwave. At other times, this communication station carried a relay of programming for the benefit of Argentine army personnel, and also regular military traffic.

The occupation government retained the services of the C&W station engineer, who it is said, slipped in a few items of interest for official personnel in England who might happen to be listening.

The regular programming from the main broadcasting service on 2385 kHz shortwave was terminated at the end of April due to the fact that it was heard in areas too far distant; in Chile for example. Likewise, the mediumwave transmitter on 536 kHz was also closed down in early May for the very same reason, and the programming service in the Malvinas Islands was then available only on "cable radio."

However, as Jerry Berg states in his memorable historic volume, "Broadcasting on the Shortwaves," the mediumwave station LRA60 was reactivated on June 11 for just one day only in order to carry a live relay of the open air broadcast by the Pope in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

A temporary low power TV service was inaugurated in Puerto Rivero on channel 7 on April 3, with a relay in color from Buenos Aires. Then, in another development, an Argentine businessman applied for a license for a regular commercial TV station in the capital city. Also, an amateur station was established under the callsign LU4ARM or LU4ERM to enable servicemen to communicate with families back in Argentina.

On the memorable day, Friday June 18, 1982, Argentine forces surrendered to the British. The Malvinas Islands again became the Falklands, and Puerto Rivero again became Port Stanley. Governor Sir Rex Hunt was flown in from Uruguay, and the C&W commercial station resumed communication to London with its regular USB schedule on 19950 and 24145 kHz.

Then too, radio broadcasting station LRA60 returned to the air as FIBS. However, due to the fact that the mediumwave facility was damaged in the war events, this station was revived only on shortwave, with 1 kW on 2370 kHz and 1/2 kW on 3958 kHz.

More about the Falklands radio events in coming editions here in Wavescan.