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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, April 7, 2013

Elephant Radio In India: 75th Anniversary of Radio in Lucknow

Our opening topic here in Wavescan today is a double feature: Elephant Radio in India, and the 75th anniversary of radio broadcasting in the city of Lucknow. Let's begin with the rather unusual story of Elephant Radio. This is what happened.

Now, the city of Lucknow is these days the capital for the Indian province of Uttar Pradesh. Way back under the British Raj, two Indian territories were combined together and given the name, United Provinces, U.P. Then under Indian independence, when many English given names were changed into Indian terminology, the province, or state name became Uttar Pradesh, still with the same familiar initials, U. P.

In the times of ancient history, it is said, the original founding of the city of Lucknow can be traced back to the brother of a noted hero, Luckshman by name, who was awarded this location. When he established a small city it was named in his honor, as Lucksmanpur, which in time became Lucknow. These days, Lucknow is a large city, the U.P state capital, and in many ways a fast modern city.

Every three years, a huge religious event known as the Khumba Mela is held rotationally in two different cities in this area. This is by far the world's largest religious gathering, and it is estimated that eighty million people participated in this massive Hindu ceremonial just earlier this year.

Back in the year 1938, the Khumba Mela was scheduled for Haridwar on the edge of the high Himalayas. In those days, Haridwar was within the territory of U.P. province, though subsequently, part of this territory was split off into a new state known as Uttarakhand.

In an effort to control the influx and movements of the massive crowds in 1938, the police chose to use communication by radio and they obtained three sets of radio transmitters & receivers, which were loaded onto the backs of three elephants. All three mobile units were in communication with a temporary fixed control station nearby. This procedure is listed as the first occasion in India for the use of radio for police communication.

Subsequently, police & army radio stations were established in many nearby areas, with the headquarters station located in Lucknow city. Three stations were installed up near the Indian border with Tibet, and another station was located at Rattakona in the high Himalayas. This station was described at the time as the world's highest radio station, at an elevation of 16,000 feet.

Now, while we are still in Lucknow, we are reminded that their radio station, All India Radio, is currently celebrating its 75th anniversary. It was back on Saturday April 2, 1938, that a new mediumwave station was inaugurated, with 500 watts on 1022 kHz.

However, AIR Lucknow was not the first radio broadcasting station in Lucknow. Back during the 1930s, a small radio station was constructed by the Department of Physics in the University of Lucknow. This station was on the air for just a short time each evening with the broadcast of radio programming. During the concentrated events of World War II, the British commandeered this radio transmitter and they utilized it for their own purposes.

The new AIR station in Lucknow was recognized at the time as the 8th radio broadcasting station in British India. It was launched on the air under the callsign VUW, though at one stage a few months later, the call was listed as VULW. Soon after its inauguration, a 5 kW mediumwave transmitter was installed, and then in 1955, a 50 kW mediumwave transmitter was inaugurated.

On the shortwave scene, a 10 kW transmitter was installed at AIR Lucknow in 1958, and this was replaced by a 50 kW transmitter in November 1992. However, of all the countries in the world, India is moving most rapidly towards the installation of digital radio stations nationwide, and Lucknow will of course move in that direction as well.

Currently, AIR Lucknow is noted with the following mediumwave & shortwave transmitters in the analog mode:

Lucknow A 300 kW 747 kHz
Lucknow C 10 kW 1278 kHz
Lucknow SW 50 kW 4880 and 7440 kHz

Thus it is, that AIR Lucknow celebrated its 75th anniversary, just five days ago, last Monday.