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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, July 21, 2013

Focus on Africa: The Mozambique Radio Story With Colin Miller

Our thanks to Colin Miller in Sarnia, Ontario, who wrote this story in 1996 and sent it to us for inclusion in Wavescan.

When the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama discovered the coast of Mozambique in 1498, little did he realize that a few centuries later this land would be one of Portugal's largest and richest colonies. In the 16th and 17th centuries an extensive coastal trade in gold and ivory was developed with the Arabs, who had already established settlements along the East African coast. It was for many years one of the unhealthiest places in Africa, being notorious for fever and a bad climate.

In 1544 the explorer Lourenco Marques visited the territory around Delagoa Bay, and built fortifications at the site of the city that was later named after him. The Dutch set up a trading post here in 1721, the first attempt at a permanent settlement. The real growth of Lourenco Marques was stimulated by the construction of the railroad to South Africa just over a century ago. It was for many years a popular holiday resort for South Africans, and the luxurious Polana Hotel provided a Continental atmosphere. Lourenco Marques is known as Maputo today; the population is over a million.

Mozambique has a total land area of 309,494 square miles and a population of more than 17 million. It lies along the southeast coast of Africa, and it is bounded by the Indian Ocean on the east, Tanzania in the north, Malawi and Zambia in the northwest, Zimbabwe and Swaziland in the west, and South Africa in the west and south. It consists of coastal lowlands, and high mountains in the northwest. Part of Lake Malawi lies along the northwest border.

Ethnically, the population can be divided into three groups. The Tonga group live south of the Save (Sabi) River. Between the Save and Zambezi is the Karanga group. The Nyanja inhabit the northwestern part of Mozambique. The Limpopo, Save and Zambezi are the main rivers. It is mainly an agricultural country, and sugar cane, cashew nuts and shrimp are the major products.

Broadcasting began in Portuguese East Africa on March 18, 1933, when a small station opened in Lourenco Marques. The following year C. J. McHarry, a South African, made plans to start a broadcasting service to South Africa. When the Radio Clube de Mocambique was founded in 1935, listeners in South Africa tuned in to the familiar Portuguese voices announcing: "Aqui Lourenco Marques, Radio Clube de Mocambique, transmitir en ondas curtas. This is the Radio Club of Mozambique".

The station, affectionately known as LM, presented most programs in English, and a few in Afrikaans, with popular music and entertainment predominating. When the Portuguese government gave McHarry the right to sell advertising on the air, LM introduced commercial radio to southern Africa.

Colonel Richard L. Meyer had been associated with the International Broadcasting Company of London. This company operated English stations, and Radio Toulouse, Radio Lyons and Radio Normandy in France. In 1947 he took over the management of LM Radio in association with John Davenport--later an executive of the Reader's Digest Association--and beamed this highly successful commercial radio service into South Africa.

In 1948 "Anything Goes", one of the first South African-produced radio variety shows, was recorded by Charles Berman, produced and hosted by Peter Merrill, scripted by Monte Doyle and featuring Dan Hill and his orchestra (not to be confused with the Toronto-born singer-songwriter), and other well-known entertainment personalities in South Africa. These celebrities provided many subsequent radio productions, especially after the birth of Springbok Radio, the first commercial station on South African soil, in 1950. "Anything Goes" was recorded in front of a "live" audience in the 20th Century Theater in Johannesburg, for broadcast on LM Radio. The show proved to be so popular that at one performance in 1949, 4,000 people surged into the theater, breaking the large glass entrance doors!

Another program at that time, "This Is How", provided household hints and other information for housewives, as well as contests with prizes of hampers of sponsors' products. This period was the golden era of radio in the region.

One of the most popular programs for many years was "Lucky Dip", where listeners sent in music requests and dedications for broadcast. One of the most popular broadcasters on the station at that time was David Davies, the "man with the golden voice".

When rock 'n' roll was beginning to make its presence felt in the fifties, it was quite common to hear requests from various fan clubs; for instance Elvis Presley, Pat Boone and Cliff Richard. You would often hear anonymous requests: "to Cindy, from you-know-who". At the end of the show, a draw was made with prizes of gift certificates for record singles.

And the kids were not forgotten either. Each afternoon at 4:00 there was a program of birthday greetings and music requests, followed by serials such as "Superman", and specialty shows for the youngsters.

Also in the fifties, new transmitters were added, and a separate service was available with religious programming during the evening on a frequency in the 60 meter band. This featured various American syndicated programs like "Back to the Bible", "Hour of Decision" and "The World Tomorrow".

During that period, LM Radio carried out a series of stereo tests on shortwave. These were the first such tests in southern Africa, and to my knowledge the first on shortwave in the world. Two frequencies were used in the 60 meter band, one for the left channel and the other for the right. This meant that you had to have two separate receivers to achieve the stereo effect. Not too many households had more than one radio in those days, as transistor radios were only just coming on the market. I was one of the unfortunate ones who could not enjoy the program in stereo. I had to flick back and forth between the two frequencies but couldn't make much sense of it. The program included a short drama presentation with some dialogue between two people, and either a ping-pong or a tennis game.

The station underwent a major format change in the late fifties, as the new trends in music were attracting the younger set. The block programming was replaced by DJ's playing rock 'n' roll and teenbeat music. LM was becoming more popular than Springbok Radio in South Africa, especially for teenagers and young adults. This continued into the sixties and seventies.

But political changes were to put an end to this and the radio station was handed over to the Armed Forces. LM Radio had been under SABC control since 1972, and relays of the station began on local medium wave transmitters in South Africa.

On June 25, 1975, independence was achieved from Portugal and the Radio Clube de Mocambique was renamed Radio Mocambique, and it became state controlled. On October 12, the LM Radio facilities were nationalized, and the existing station finally closed, moving to Johannesburg as Radio 5.

Of course, during the years that LM Radio was on the air, RCM also operated a domestic Portuguese service. This was also heard clearly in South Africa and provided a radio service for the large Portuguese community there. At one time RCM was operating up to four program services, including LM Radio.

Short wave regional stations were opened in the fifties at Nampula, Quelimane and Porto Amelia (now Pemba). These stations broadcast in Portuguese as well as in local vernaculars. In June 1969 the Dondo station opened near Beira with two 10 kW, one 25 kW and one 100 kW shortwave transmitters, as well as one 50 kW and two 10 kW mediumwave transmitters. At least one of the shortwave units was still operating on 3370 and 9637 kHz in 1996.

During the Portuguese colonial period, a few independent private stations were on the air. All of these were nationalized in 1975 when the new government came to power. Emissora do Aeroclube da Beira, a commercial station operated by the Air Club of Beira, was on the air in the late forties using a 300 watt shortwave transmitter with the call CR7IB. By 1958 the power had been increased to 5 kW.

Radio Pax, also located in Beira, opened in 1955. It was a religious station, operated by the Franciscan Fathers. It used two low power shortwave transmitters with the calls CR7RA and CR7RB. The power was also later increased.

In 1968, Radio Mocidade (Radio Youth), a station for students, was inaugurated on a low power mediumwave transmitter in Lourenco Marques. It was owned and operated by the Portuguese Youth Organization, and operated on an irregular schedule.

As part of its nationalistic policy, the government changed the names of various towns in 1976 to reflect the new African rule. Lourenco Marques was renamed Maputo. In 1977, a new interval signal was introduced on Radio Mocambique, consisting of an indigenous musical instrument, the mbira, similar to a xylophone.

In the years following independence, Radio Mocambique introduced an external service, broadcasting for a few hours each day in English to South Africa and what was then Rhodesia. This service was still on the air in 1996, although the new political situation in the region changed the program content.

As with so many third-world countries, broadcasting facilities deteriorated because spare parts were difficult to obtain. Transmitters either broke down or were not operating properly. Some drifted in frequency. I can remember one occasion when one of the Maputo transmitters drifted on to that of another Maputo program, causing interference!

Radio Mocambique, being a public company, has been facing severe financial difficulties in more recent time. One of Radio Mocambique's transmitters in Maputo, began carrying the BBC Portuguese service in May 1996.

Maputo, probably: MW 738 kHz 50 kW
SW 3210 kHz 10 kW
3338 kHz 10 kW
6111 kHz 10 kW
and perhaps 15290 kHz 120 kW

According to a BBC Monitoring report, Manuel Veterano, Chairman of the station's board of directors, indicated that 12 out of the 15 short wave transmitters were off the air. As a result, the domestic service was audible only in the southern part of the country.

Stations that still seemed to be active on short wave were: