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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, October 27, 2013

75th Anniversary: Voice of Turkey on Shortwave

The transcontinental nation of Turkey is a unique country, lying in both Asia and Europe. Their national name, Turkey, is spelled in the same way as the large American bird; and interestingly, the two are indeed somewhat related.

Back in the original language, the country name Turkey meant "the land of the Turks." In mediaeval Latin, the country name was Turchia; and in English, this became the now familiar Turkey.

Something like 500 years ago, the Guinea Fowl in Africa was introduced into Europe via the country of Turkey, and so the Guinea Fowl was sometimes referred to as the Turkey Fowl, or the Turkey Bird. When the early English colonists began to settle in North America, they encountered this new large wild bird, which they initially though incorrectly thought was related to the Guinea Fowl, so they named this American version as the Turkey.

Geographically, the country of Turkey is almost rectangular in shape; it occupies all of Asia Minor, and it also extends across the Bosphorus waterway into continental Europe. The country is more than a thousand miles long and five hundred miles wide, with rugged snow covered mountain ranges in the east from which flow the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers into ancient Iraq. The verdant central Anatolian plateau is the country's farming and livestock area, and some of the narrow coastal localities have become popular tourist resorts for local and international travelers.

Turkey is noted for its interesting and varied ancient history. Ancient stories tell that Noah's Ark of Biblical fame came to rest on the slopes of Mt. Ararat, the country's highest mountain. In fact, local residents in the city of Nakhchivan just across the eastern border from Turkey will show you a tomb that they say is the tomb of Noah.

The original settlers in Turkey were the Hittites who moved into the area and established an ancient empire some four thousand years ago. They were followed by Greek colonists, and then the old Roman Empire under their famous general, Pompey. It was under the Roman emperor Constantine the Great that the seat of the Roman Empire was moved from Rome in Italy to the city of Byzantium in Turkey, which was renamed Constantinople, and in turn this became the now familiar Istanbul.

The grand patriarch of Biblical fame, Abraham, settled temporarily in Haran, a small village in southern Turkey, after his departure from Ur in Iraq and before he migrated to the dusty plains in southern Palestine. In the times of early European civilization, the legendary city of Troy in coastal Turkey flourished as an important commercial center with its own succession of kings.

The armies of ancient Persia strode across Turkey; and in return, Alexander the Great marched his hordes across the same territory. While part of the old Roman Empire, Turkey was visited by the great Christian emissaries, St Paul & St John; and the beloved Virgin Mary lies buried in the ruins of the historic city of Ephesus. Around a thousand years ago, Islam was introduced into Turkey with the arrival of the Seljuk Turks from Russia and Mongolia.

During the Dark Ages in continental Europe, the Turkish Empire flourished in the Middle East and North Africa; and the modern foundation for the Republic of Turkey was established in 1923 under President Mustafa Kemal.

Turkey today, with a total population of 75 million, contains eight major cities with a population of more than a million. Their capital city, Ankara with a population of more than four million, is located in the center of the country, though the largest city is Istanbul on the west coast, with a population of fourteen million.

The earliest advent of wireless in Turkey took place in Meydan soon after the end of World War 1, around the year 1921. The word Meydan means market place in several of their languages and it would be presumed that this particular Meydan refers to a market place near Istanbul on the west coast of Asia Minor. The wireless station at this location was intended for use as a maritime facility for communication with nearby shipping.

Early in the year 1922, Professor Dyke at the American sponsored Roberts College in Istanbul bought some wireless equipment from a Russian army officer and installed it in the college laboratory. Student Henry Moreau, who had already successfully constructed several simple radio receivers, dismantled the receiver, re-constructed it, and re-installed it in the laboratory.

On this home brew equipment, they successfully brought in most of the radio stations on the air in Europe at that time, including Berlin with a radio lecture. That was in the Autumn of the year 1923.

However, in the following Spring, the Turkish government in Ankara issued a decree, requiring that all unlicensed radio equipment should be dismantled. Soon afterwards though, Professor Tubini made a visit to England and while there, he bought several items of radio equipment made by the Marconi company. On his return to Turkey, he approached the national government in Ankara and successfully received a permit to install the equipment at Roberts College and begin teaching a radio class.

Three years later, that is in the year 1927, the Post & Telegraph Adminstration installed a longwave communication transmitter in Ankara. This new facility operated initially on 166 kHz with a power of 7 kW, and in the course of time it was licensed under the callsign TAC. A similar station was installed simultaneously at coastal Istanbul with a power of 5 kW; and soon afterwards another similar station was installed at Osmanieh, in the central south coastal area of the country, with a power of 6 kW.

The Voice of Turkey tells us that the first international broadcast on shortwave was made in the Arabic language with the use of a communication transmitter at Ankara Radio. This isolated though historic international radio broadcast took place on January 8, 1937.

In the meantime, a set of offices and studios was installed in a new Broadcasting House in the capital city Ankara. At nearby Etimesgut, two radio broadcasting transmitters were installed, 120 kW on longwave for national coverage and 20 kW on shortwave for national and international coverage. Two omnidirectional antennas were erected for the shortwave transmissions.

Initial test broadcasts from the American made RCA shortwave transmitter began in May 1938 under the callsign TAO and these were heard in the Americas, in Cuba. A series of subsequent test broadcasts began in November under the amended callsign TAS, and these were heard in Australia. On October 28, 1938 the Voice of Turkey began regular broadcasting on shortwave in four languages, Turkish, English, French and German.

Less than two weeks later, on November 10, 1938, President Mustafa Kemal Ataturk died, and so the new radio broadcasting station quickly conveyed the news throughout their country and to listeners overseas. On shortwave the single new 20 kW transmitter for the Voice of Turkey was on the air under the callsign TAP on 9465 kHz and TAQ on 15190 kHz.

At the present time, the Voice of Turkey is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Their first shortwave broadcast was made from the communication station Ankara Radio on January 8, 1937; preliminary test broadcasts from their new RCA 20 kW transmitter began in May 1938; and regular shortwave broadcasting began on October 28, 1938. That all happened, exactly 75 years ago.