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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 N260, February 16, 2014

Focus on Asia Philippines-6: Navy Wireless Station at Cavite

The Cavite Peninsula on the edge of Manila Bay in the Philippines has played a pivotal role throughout the lengthy eras of Philippine history. The Cavite Peninsula is located on the edge of modern Metro Manila and the name comes into the Spanish language from an ancient word in the Tagalog language, Kawit, meaning a hook, which is the geographic shape of the peninsula.

The earliest settlers on Cavite came from Borneo Sulu some time during the dim distant past; and because of its deep water anchorage, this location became a moorage for ocean going Chinese junks involved in international trade. The Spanish began their rule of the Philippines at Cavite in 1571; and 3/4 century later, the Dutch came and made their attack against the Philippines at this same location. The British followed in 1672 with an attack on the Philippines at Cavite, though their rule lasted for only two years.

The American era began on May 1, 1898 with an attack against the Spanish at Cavite. Nearly 1/2 a century later, the Japanese invaded the Philippines and their attack against Cavite itself began on December 10, 1941, just three days after Pearl Harbor. A little less than three years later, the Americans returned to Cavite; and ultimately the area was officially handed over to the Philippine government on September 1, 1971.

It was back in the Spring of 1903 that the American navy procured 20 sets of Slaby-Arco wireless equipment from Germany, both transmitters and receivers. One of these sets of wireless equipment was installed at the American navy base at Cavite, and a year later the station was taken into regular service for Morse Code traffic, on September 5, 1904.

The original callsign back then was UT, though this was changed on October 1, 1908 to the more familiar internationally recognized callsign NPO. Back then, the transmitter was described as a composite unit rated at 5 kW and radiating on 500 kHz.

During the year 1915, two tall towers were erected at the American navy base at Cavite and these were 141 feet and 134 feet tall. The operating power was increased from 5 kW up to 25 kW and station NPO identified as Radio Sangley, honoring the name of the American Naval Station, Sangley Point.

In the early 1920s, three new self supporting radio towers were erected at Cavite, each at 600 feet tall. When these came into use for supporting the antenna system at NPO, this naval radio station was sending out in Morse Code 2,000 words daily on longwave 13900 metres (21.5 kHz) to the navy receiver station in San Francisco. It is stated that these three tall towers were visible from Manila City, ten miles distant.

The usage of shortwave for international radio communication was implemented at the Cavite radio station in the early 1920s. For example, it is recorded in the year 1926 that station NPO was utilizing two shortwave channels, 3548 and 4283 kHz. Then, in 1929, an additional six shortwave transmitters were installed at NPO, each at 10 kW.

During the 1930s, the PanAm Seaplane Clippers, passenger and freight service, called at Cavite once each week in their flights between the United States and several Pacific locations. A color postcard from this era shows the PanAm Clipper moored at Cavite, with the skyline in the distance.

On December 10, 1941, a Japanese air raid badly damaged the radio station at Cavite setting the radio station building on fire, and damaging one of the tall towers.

Beginning just five days later, on December 15, 1941, eight daily special programs were beamed to the Philippines on shortwave for rebroadcast via 12 mediumwave and shortwave stations in Manila. Some of these relay programs were picked up at Cavite and rebroadcast on their transmitters also. Then when the Japanese took over Manila, Cavite continued to re-broadcast the program information from California for a few additional days, apparently from temporary facilities.

Soon afterwards, on January 2 of the next year, 1942, the order was given to evacuate Cavite. When the Americans returned three years later, they found the three towers still standing.

The famous wireless station at Sangley Point, the American navy base at Cavite in the Philippines, is an example of the widespread network of huge wireless stations established by America in strategic locations around our globe. As the well known writer and editor stated in Popular Communications a few years ago, "The Cavite station was a most historic wireless facility, a well known landmark." That statement came from the pen (or maybe the typewriter) of the late Tom Kneitel, writing under the pseudonym Alice Brannigan.

Australian Radio History

A most remarkable compendium of radio history comes from Dr. Bruce Carty, under the title, Australian Radio History. This lively and colorful presentation of more than 100 pages is amply illustrated with early radio memorabilia that vividly portrays the more than 100 years of collective wireless and radio history throughout the continent of Australia.

An introductory timeline, stretching from the ancient 1906 right up to the modern 2009, gives a progressive view of wireless and radio events throughout the Commonwealth, beginning with Australia's first official wireless communication (across Bass Strait to Tasmania) and ending with the introduction of digital TV in five state capital cities. Also listed is a brief life sketch of many of the leading radio personnel in the early days of radio history in Australia.

Several feature articles tell the story of early significant events in full detail. Among these interesting feature articles is one that lists and describes early radio receivers manufactured by the well known radio company in Australia AWA. This listing in the year 1926 describes the crystal set receiver as well as the more recently developed superheterodyne receiver.

Another feature article tells the story of a portable shortwave transmitter in use for remote broadcasts by mediumwave station 2UW in Sydney in 1932. This transmitter with its associated equipment was carried by two men, and the occasion was the long list of celebrations for the official opening of one of Australia's major tourist icons, the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Another feature article tells the story of an important amateur radio broadcasting station in Brisbane back during the 1920s. This station, 4CM, was owned and operated by Dr. Val McDowell with 20 watts on 800 m (375 kHz longwave) and it was heard throughout eastern Australia as well as in New Zealand, and also on Ocean Island out in the Pacific some 2,000 miles distant.

Every mediumwave callsign ever in use in Australia, all 700 of them, is listed chronologically by state, with an outline history of each station; experimental, amateur broadcast and fully licensed radio broadcasting stations. We take a look at some of the interesting facts that Dr. Bruce Carty has listed in his new book:

Throughout the book, there are many illustrations, some in black & white and some in color. On an introductory page, you will find the reproduction of the front page of a brochure advertising Australia's first serious attempt at radio broadcasting from a train; the Great White Train with station 2XT aboard. There is a photo of the good ship "Kanimbla" with its 50 watt broadcasting station 9MI aboard.

You will also find a QSL card in color from Australia's first radio broadcasting station station 2CM; a photo of 3YB aboard the motor vehicle and the railway train; a reproduction of the motor vehicle license plate showing 7HO on 864 kHz; and a photo of the mobile broadcasting station "in the islands", 9AO.

The author of "Australian Radio History", Dr. Bruce Carty, has spent a lifetime in Australian radio in several different states and he writes from a rich knowledge and experience in the radio scene. We are grateful also, Dr. Carty, for your acknowledgement of our DX host, Dr. Adrian Peterson, in your informative pages. Dr. Carty may be contacted at Bruce.Carty@bigpond.com.