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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, December 23, 2012

Radio Afghanistan Returns to the Air on Shortwave - 7: Target Broadcasting into Afghanistan

In our program today, we return to the radio broadcasting scene in that landlocked country in western Asia, Afghanistan. We have come almost to our recent era, just before and just after the recent turn of the century; and in particular, we examine the story of target broadcasting into Afghanistan.

At that particular time, we discover that the radio broadcasting scene in Afghanistan was one of utter chaos and confusion. Large stations and small stations in other countries were beaming their programming into that needy country on shortwave and mediumwave, and lots of radio stations, large and small, were on the air within the country under all sorts of names and titles. At times, there have been two different stations on the air under the same identification slogan; and on other occasions, stations have been on the air with almost identical slogans.

As a background setting to this era of international radio confusion, we note that the BBC London increased its programming into Afghanistan in the two national languages, Dari & Pushto, with transmissions from high powered shortwave transmitters located in England, the Mediterranean, Asia & the Middle East. Likewise, so did Deutsche Welle, with the usage of relay transmitters in the Middle East, Africa & Asia.

China Radio International, with studios in Beijing, and high powered transmitters at three different locations within China, produced special programming beamed into Afghanistan; as did the Voice of Russia, with studios in Moscow and transmitters at several different locations in Russia itself, and in Tajikistan also.

In countries nearby, special programming was produced and beamed into the stricken country, on both mediumwave & shortwave. Radio Pakistan was noted with programming specifically for Afghanistan on mediumwave and shortwave from Peshawar, and from the Islamabad high power site over transmitter API9 at 100 kW. All India Radio also produced special programming in their Delhi studios and beamed the service westward from four different shortwave sites, at 250 & 500 kW.

We could mention similar endeavors on the part of many different international broadcasting organizations in many different countries, such as Radio Cairo in Egypt, the Voice of Iran in Tehran, the Voice of Turkey in Ankara, and the Voice of the Tajik in Tajikistan. Likewise, FEBA Radio, Trans World Radio, and HCJB Global also prepared special programming for coverage into Afghanistan.

The United States increased its radio coverage into Afghanistan with the creation of what we might call special radio stations. The Voice of America split its programming into four different streams with programming as:

Likewise, Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe introduced two new streams of programming for Afghanistan, and these were:

The American welfare organization, USAID, installed at least two mediumwave stations in Afghanistan. One was located at Bamiyan, the valley where once stood the two huge Buddhist statues carved into the abrupt hillside; and the other was at Jalalabad, just across the border from the famed Khyber Pass.

To further complicate the issue, there was a Radio Afghanistan in the north and a Radio Afghanistan in Kabul and a Voice of Afghanistan in Armenia; there was a Radio Amani or Radio Peace in Kabul and a Radio Peace on shortwave in Russia, a Radio Sohl, Radio Peace, based in France; there was a Radio Free Kabul and a Radio Free Afghanistan; there was a Radio Freedom and a Radio Message of Freedom. And so the story goes on.

An organization in Denmark planned on establishing two, rather low powered mediumwave stations, both at 200 watts, for coverage into Afghanistan. Their plan was to install one station at Peshawar and another in Quetta, both in the edge of Pakistan, and beam the programming into the two neighboring Afghan cities, Jalalabad, & Kandahar.

Radio Pakistan itself opened a new service into the neighboring areas of Afghanistan from Peshawar. This station was on the air on both mediumwave and shortwave, as Nawa-e-Dost, the Voice of a Friend. The mediumwave unit was listed with 300 kW on 540 kHz.

We should also mention the usage of the airplane stations that were flown in from Pennsylvania in the United States. A total of six of these airplane radio broadcasting stations is available, and we would suggest that probably three were flown over to the Afghanistan area. Transmitter power is listed at 10 kW.

Around mid October 2001, these airplane broadcasts were first noted, and these transmissions were heard on three different channels mediumwave: 864 kHz, 980 kHz & 1107 kHz. The two channels, 864 & 1107 kHz, are Asian channels at the 9 kHz allocations, and normally in use at Kandahar & Kabul. The 980 kHz transmission seems to represent an American channel at a 10 kHz allocation.

Radio monitoring observations indicated that the ground-based programming for the transmitters in the airplane service was broadcast on 8700 kHz USB, upper side band, but the location of this feeder relay has never been determined. The planes were on the air with programming under the title, "Information Radio."

When the planes returned to the United States 1/2 a year later, the broadcasts of Information Radio were taken over by a mobile army unit at Kandahar. The technical equipment and studio were installed into four Humvee vehicles, and placed under a tent. Two transmitters were in use at this temporary facility, a 1 kW shortwave unit on 6100 kHz and a mediumwave unit at 5 kW on 864 kHz.

You have just heard Episode Number 7 in the sequential story of radio broadcasting in Afghanistan spanning thus far some 87 years. We plan to conclude the Afghan story early in the new year, with the installation of the rather new shortwave transmitter provided by the Indian government.