Home | Back to Wavescan Index

"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 N270, April 27, 2014

Focus on Asia - Philippine Radio History-8: The Japanese Era

At the time when the Japanese administration took over the city of Manila on January 2, 1942, there were no active radio stations on the air in the area. A few days earlier, that is towards the end of the month of December, some of the usable equipment had been removed from the radio stations and the remainder was deliberately damaged or destroyed. Just one antenna system was left intact in the Manila area, and this was located at Cubao in Quezon City. Thus all radio stations, commercial mediumwave and shortwave in greater Manila, international communication stations on the edge of Manila, and navy radio at Cavite, were all silent.

However, in the era just before the Japanese occupation, it is reported that there were 108 radio stations on the air throughout the entire Philippines, though little is known as to what happened to them under the Japanese administration.

The American army had safely removed the 1 kW shortwave transmitter at KZRH in Manila and they re-activated this as the Voice of Freedom in Malinta Tunnel on Corregidor Island on January 5. A few days later, American personnel activated another shortwave station on the Bataan Peninsula as a part time relay for the California station KGEI. The transmitter for this relocated station was a 1 kW mobile unit that had been previously in use for the original Far East Broadcasting Company under the callsign KZRB.

Then a few days later again, that is on January 14 (1942), a restored KZRH was activated in Manila under the Japanese administration. The Japanese had discovered some radio equipment hidden in the basement of the Heacock Building on Escolta Avenue and together with some of their own imported equipment, they re-launched shortwave KZRH on one of its original channels 9640 kHz. The inaugural five hour program began at 7:00 pm Manila time.

For a period of almost exactly four months, a war of words was waged between the Japanese KZRH in Manila on 9640 kHz and the American Voice of Freedom in Malinta Tunnel on the adjacent channel 9645 kHz. However, the American General Jonathan M. Wainwright addressed the Japanese General Masaharu Homma in a special series of three broadcasts in English and Japanese over the Voice of Freedom on Corregidor Island on May 6 (1942) requesting surrender. At 11:00 pm next day, General Wainwright made a special broadcast over the Japanese held KZRH in Manila, indicating that the American forces had indeed surrendered.

It was around this time also that the only other radio broadcasting station still on the air anywhere in the Philippines, mediumwave and shortwave KZRC in distant Cebu to the south, was also taken over by the local Japanese administration.

During the next two and three years, the Japanese established a whole network of mediumwave broadcasting stations throughout the Philippines and these were identified with callsigns similar in style to the sequence of callsigns in Japan. Each callsign, using the English alphabet, began with the letters PI, standing rather obviously for Philippine Islands, followed by two additional letters. The 3rd letter in the callsign indicated the sequence in which the station was established and the final 4th letter indicated the city.

Some of these callsigns were as follows:

PIBC Philippine Islands B = 2nd station C = Cebu
PICD Philippine Islands C = 3rd station D = Davao
PIDI Philippine Islands D = 4th station I = Iloilo

Additional mediumwave stations were installed in five other cities:

Programming from these mediumwave stations was presented in five different languages:

In Manila itself, the callsign of the main network station was changed on October 14, 1943 from KZRH to PIAM. This was the ceremonial date for Philippine independence. Program details were printed daily in the Manila Tribune. The meaning of the Manila callsign was as follows:

PIAM Philippine Islands A = 1st station M = Manila

On shortwave, the callsign in use for international radio programming via the revived KZRH-PIAM was PIRN:

PIRN Philippine Islands R = Radio N = Nippon

Other programming from the Philippine radio stations was an off air direct relay on shortwave from Radio Tokyo in Japan. At one stage, the Philippine stations were under the administrative control of the larger and more powerful Radio Shonan in Singapore. The final broadcast from station PIAM in Manila was at the end of the year, December 30, 1944.

There was an interesting clandestine station on the air in the Philippines during the Japanese era. A man by the name of Malonzo stole goods from Japanese warehouses and sold them on the black market. With this illicit money he bought radio equipment and placed a clandestine station on the air. This station, mobile in nature, moved around Manila to avoid detection. It was heard in the United States and it was acknowledged in a broadcast from shortwave KGEI in California.

Shortwave station KZRH in Manila, under the Japanese callsigns PIAM and PIRN, was heard quite regularly in Australia, New Zealand and also over in the United States. Two shortwave channels were in use, 9640 & 11600 kHz, sometimes in parallel. The station identified on air as The Voice of the New Philippines.

It is reported that the only shortwave communication station in the Philippine Islands that was renovated and in use under the Japanese administration was Globe Wireless. Globe Wireless in Manila began as Dollaradio in 1929, and the name was officially changed to Globe Radio in 1934.

Thus, the Japanese era of radio broadcasting in the Philippines stretched from the beginning of the year 1942 until the end of the year 1944, a total of almost three years. As far as we know, no QSLs were ever issued from any of these stations during the era of Japanese control.