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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, August 5, 2012

Falkland Islands Radio Anniversary - Part 3: The Radio Story in England

In two previous editions of Wavescan, we have presented the story of radio broadcasting in the Falkland Islands during the era of the Falkland War, back just 30 years ago. On those two occasions, you heard the story of radio broadcasting in the Malvinas Islands during the era of Argentine occupation, followed by the radio story in Argentina itself. So, stay tuned today, and you will hear the story of radio broadcasting in England during that same time period of 74 days, a little over 10 weeks, running from April to mid June in the year 1982.

In the era before the beginning of the Falklands War, the BBC in London was on the air shortwave with a regular program beamed to the Falkland Islands every Sunday under the rather appropriate title, "Calling the Falklands." This program was on the air at 2200 UTC, corresponding to 7:00 pm in the Falklands.

"Calling the Falklands" was a 3/4 hr. program containing items and information of interest to the 2,000 inhabitants living in the Falklands. Back then, this program was beamed to the Falklands on two high powered shortwave transmitters located in England, 100 kW and/or 250 kW, and transmitting on 9915 kHz and 12040 kHz.

This BBC program was usually received in the Falklands and relayed live over the local mediumwave and shortwave transmitters of FIBS, the Falkland Island Broadcasting Service. Back then, FIBS was on the air mediumwave with 5 kW on 536 kHz, and shortwave with 1 kW on 2370 kHz.

However, at the onset of the Falkland War in April 1982, the BBC increased their program, "Calling the Falklands" from one broadcast each week on Sundays, to three broadcasts a week, on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2120-2200 UTC. To ensure adequate propagation to the Falklands, these programs were transferred from home based transmitters in England, to transmitters located on Ascension Island, half way to the Falklands.

The two channels in use on Ascension were 11820 kHz and 15400 kHz, both at 250 kW. These increased broadcasts from the BBC were also relayed over the two active transmitters at Port Stanley in the Falklands.

Then, beginning on April 26, this dedicated BBC program was increased from 3 times each week to a regular daily broadcast each evening. The feeder transmitters in England beamed the Falklands programming to Ascension Island on two channels, 15670 and 19455 kHz, both in the SSB, single side band mode, and Ascension relayed the broadcasts onward to the Falklands on the same previous two channels, 11820 and 15400 kHz.

Beginning in early May, a new programming service from England was beamed to the Falklands, and these broadcasts were aired under the title, "Radio Atlantico del Sur." The Ministry of Defence in London took over part time one of the 250 kW shortwave transmitters at the BBC relay station on Ascension Island, and the programming was beamed to the Falklands area on 9700 kHz in the morning and 9710 kHz in the evening.

This de facto radio programming was on the air for just 28 days, beginning on May 19, and ending with the final broadcast on June 15. This shortlived radio "station" was noted with strong signals almost worldwide.

Then too, we should remember that BFBS, the British Forces Broadcasting Service, also came into the act, and they produced special programming in their London studios for the benefit of British personnel on duty in the Falklands area. These broadcasts were on the air, again from Ascension, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on two channels, 17830 and 21490 kHz.

During this same era, the BBC markedly increased the output of its daily Spanish Service beamed to Latin America, and this was heard over multiple shortwave outlets in England, Ascension Island, Delano in the United States, Sackville in Canada, and the Caribbean Island of Antigua.

Interestingly, one of the large radio broadcasting stations located in Santiago, Chile carried a full daily relay of the BBC Latin American Service in Spanish during this era. This station was Radio Mineria, and it was on the air with three transmitters in parallel:

Radio Mineria CB106 100 kW 1060 kHz AM Mediumwave
CE607 2 kW 6075 kHz Shortwave
CE11960 5 kW 11960 kHz Shortwave

There was another radio broadcasting service on the air in the Falklands area during the Falklands War and this was a series of spontaneous transmissions by the Costa Rican borne son of a British diplomat. Captain Roderick Bell, Royal Marine on HMS "Fearless", spoke fluent Spanish and for a period of 10 days he broadcast frequent appeals over army radio to the Argentine officers and army conscripts, offering surrender and repatriation. Fruition came on the final day, June 14, when surrender was agreed upon and the documents were signed in Port Stanley.

Regarding QSL cards for the British broadcasts to the Falklands, many were issued. Those international radio monitors who were official monitors for the BBC obtained BBC cards with the brief QSL details typed in or hand written; and QSL cards verifying the reception of Radio Atlantico del Sur and BFBS were issued from their respective offices in London.