"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 N269, April 20, 2014
Tribute to Shortwave WYFR-9: On the Air with WNYW, Radio New York Worldwide
In our previous topic on the historical development of shortwave station WYFR-WRMI, we came up to the year 1967, during which Walter Lemmon, the energetic entrepreneur who was associated with the earliest origins of the station back 40 years previously, passed to his rest. At the time, the station was on the air with five transmitters, 4 at 50 kW and 1 at 80 kW, under the new callsign WNYW, Radio New York Worldwide. Eight of the 11 antenna systems were still in use.
The previous year, 1966, was a year of massive expansion for shortwave station WRUL, with new studios, a new callsign, a projected new location, and a special shortwave receiver designed for mass production. During this same year, the mail response to the programming on shortwave WRUL was enormous, at 3,000 per month.
Four years after Bonneville International in Salt Lake City Utah acquired shortwave station WRUL at Hatherly Beach, Massachusetts, they transferred studio production to a new location. At this stage, CBS Radio had recently moved from its long term lease at 485 Madison Avenue in New York City to its own new building nearby, and Bonneville took up the 3rd floor of the vacated building with 9 studios and 6 control rooms. The studios for the Bonneville FM station WRFM were also installed into this location, though their FM transmitter was atop the famed Empire State Building.
Effective June 1, 1966, the old shortwave callsign was dropped and the new callsign was adopted, and thus the historic WRUL became the new WNYW, reminiscent of the station slogan, Radio New York Worldwide. A special QSL card was printed in honor of the occasion.
By arrangement with the Drake radio company in Miamisburg, Ohio, a special radio receiver was designed for sale to WRUL listeners. This was the WRUL Drake SW4, which was subsequently modified into the SW4A version. It is known that 600 SW4 were constructed before the updated SW4A was introduced.
In this same year 1966, plans were announced for a new shortwave station which would be located on the Jersey Barrens near Chatsworth, New Jersey. The 40 acre site at Hatherly Beach was just too small and too old.
It was intended that the new site with its 735 acres would contain 5 transmitters (2 at 250 kW, 1 at 100 kW & 2 at 50 kW) together with a bevy of curtain and rhombic antennas. The FCC issued a Construction Permit for the new station, and work at the new site began around mid year 1966.
However, all of the majestic expansion plans that were laid out in 1966 went up in smoke during the following year 1967. There was a disastrous fire of suspicious origin at the Hatherly Beach facility on Sunday morning, April 9 (1967) and none of the original WRUL electronic equipment survived.
Work had already begun on the new facility at Chatsworth, and Bonneville announced that the new station would be quickly completed and activated later in the same year. However, instead, work on the new Chatsworth station was actually terminated, and the Hatherly Beach station was rebuilt.
During the interim period, Radio New York Worldwide WNYW took out a temporary relay from two other shortwave locations. Shortwave historian Jerome Berg of suburban Boston tells us in his informative volume, "Broadcasting on the Short Waves, 1945 to Today," that the WNYW programming was transferred to RCA Rocky Point and to ITT Brentwood, both of which were located on Long Island in the state of New York.
This new and temporary fill-in relay began during the next week after the fire, on April 17, 1967. This interim procedure was in vogue for somewhere around four months and it ended somewhere around August when the rebuilt facility at Hatherly Beach was reactivated with a whole consignment of new equipment.
In the rebuilding program, it is stated that truckloads of new transmitter equipment from both Continental and Gates began to arrive at the Hatherly Beach station, including the following transmitters:
Another source tells us that it was:
Then, when the new WNYW was activated, it is stated that the complement of new transmitters was:
Programming for the new station, WNYW at Hatherly Beach, was compiled in the studios of FM station WRFM in New York City and forwarded on tape to Hatherly Beach. CBS news bulletins and occasional feature programs were provided live via landline from WRFM New York to WNYW Hatherly Beach.
In the early 1970s, shortwave station WNYW was placed on the market for sale, and one of the early enquiries came from the Far East Broadcasting Company, who were already operating major shortwave stations KGEI in San Francisco and FEBC Manila in the Philippines. Bonneville International also offered to sell the station to the Voice of America for just $1, though VOA did not take up the offer.
Another enquiry came from Family Radio at Oakland in California. They were already providing programming to the station for 16 transmitter hours daily, beginning January 22, 1973. Then, on October 20, of that same year (1973), the station changed hands and shortwave WNYW at Hatherly Beach, Massachusetts with studios in New York City became WYFR with studios in Oakland, California.
At the time of this transaction, the WNYW schedule shows the following transmitters:
It would be presumed then that WNYW1 was the 20 kW standby transmitter, made by either Continental or Gates. Apparently this lower powered transmitter had been removed some time prior to the transfer from Bonneville to Family Radio.
Unusual QSL Cards: Metal, Wood and Plastic
Back many moons ago, we presented a special feature here in Wavescan about unusual QSL cards which were made from various forms of paper and printed card, thick and thin, including blotting paper and parchment paper. Then too, there were regular QSL cards that had been treated with oil and with varnish.
Over the years other materials have also been used in the production of QSLs, including rice paper, birch bark, and Pacific tapa cloth. We should not forget too that the QSL text has been printed on currency notes, including Japanese occupation money.
In our program today, we look at other materials that have been used to make QSL cards, including various metals, wood and plastics.
At least four different radio stations in the United States have used a copper sheet in place of a thin card as an official QSL to verify reception of their station. Three of these stations, all mediumwave, are located in the state of Montana where there have been several notable copper mines. During the 1940s when the copper QSL "cards" were available, these three stations were highly prized DX targets for international radio monitors living in New Zealand. These three stations were:
The fourth radio station that issued a copper sheet QSL "card" during the same 1940s era was an amateur station, W6SCV in Tucson, Arizona. This QSL "card" showed a hand painted picture of a western cowboy with his donkey, and the QSL text was typed in with the use of an old style typewriter.
A large tin-plated generic style QSL "card" was available several years ago for use by amateur radio operators who lived in the town of Weirton, West Virginia. This unique QSL "card" measured 8 inches by 5 inches and it advertised Weirton as the "Tin Plate Capital of the World." Two different varieties of this generic QSL "card" were available, though they were quite similar in style.
An oversized amateur QSL card from 1947 was issued by an international radio monitor living in the town of Mountain Iron, Minnesota. This QSL card measured 7 inches by 4-3/4 inches and the QSL text was printed in the usual ham style on regular thin card. However, attached to the card was a small sample of crushed iron ore taken from the Mountain Iron Open Pit Mine. This card was issued by Bob Ostman with the self-identification callsign W0-SWL.
At least three different forms of wood have been used for the production of a radio station QSL "card." In 1958 amateur station HC1CW in Quito, Ecuador had his QSL "card" made out of thin balsa wood. Balsa wood is very light and quite fragile.
In 1992 a radio listener who was holidaying in Alaska bought a tourist postcard made of plywood. Upon it he rubber stamped a generic QSL text, together with a rubber stamped impression of his home address. This QSL "card" was enclosed with a reception report to the distant mediumwave station KICY in Nome, Alaska. The "card" was duly signed and posted in Nome, though it was spoiled in transit through the postal system, and it was received in a plastic envelope apologizing for the damage to the "card."
Back in the year 1999, the European staff of Adventist World Radio staged an anniversary convention in Portugal, celebrating a significant milestone in AWR history. Five different styles of tourist "cards" were procured, each bearing a different colored picture of a tourist scene in Portugal.
These "cards" were all printed on thin sheets of cork, the same size as a regular postcard. A QSL sticker was adhered to the address side and they were used to verify reception reports of the special anniversary programming on the air from Portugal.
Cork is harvested from the inner bark of the Cork Oak Tree. Portugal provides half of the world's supply of commercial cork.
Hard plastic was used for the production of a QSL "card" issued by amateur station WB5SGY in Dallas, Texas. This "card" is formed in the shape of the state of Texas and it was issued to another amateur operator in the United States, K3ASV. Unfortunately. this hard plastic QSL "card" was also damaged in transit through the postal system; it was actually snapped into two separate pieces.
A ribbed plastic card was used by Radio Netherlands in 2012 to verify the reception of their programming via the transmitter facility on the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean. This card is a tourist postcard and it shows a windmill scene in Holland. The clear ribbing over the picture makes the entire scene look three dimensional. The QSL text was printed onto a sticker which was then applied to the back of the card.
Back more than half a century ago, there was a pirate station on the air in New Zealand. When the station was raided by the authorities, the operator wrote a QSL text onto a standard 78 gramophone record and gave it to one of the officers. This unique QSL has since become an interesting historic item.