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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 N272, May 11, 2014

Tribute to Shortwave WYFR: International Relay Services

In the onward progression of topics in which we regale the fascinating history of shortwave WYFR-WRMI, we pause to give consideration to the many relay services that were rendered by this powerful radio station in times gone by. In fact, this information covers a lengthy time period, beginning right back in 1925 and right up to the late 1960s.

It was back in its earlier years that the predecessor stations relayed the programming from a local mediumwave station via an experimental shortwave transmitter. The original 2XAL in New York City relayed remote broadcasts in the area for live transmission by mediumwave WMCA, and that was for a two year period beginning in 1925.

Then, when both the mediumwave and shortwave transmitters were co-located at nearby Coytesville in New Jersey, the programming from the mediumwave studios of WRNY in New York was carried as a live tandem relay over the experimental shortwave transmitter W2XAL. That was for another period of five years extending from 1927 to 1931.

The shortwave transmitter W2XAL was transferred from Coytesville in New Jersey up to Boston in Massachusetts in 1931 where it was relicensed under a similar callsign, W1XAL. At its new location, the experimental W1XAL often carried a relay from the mediumwave WEEI which was owned and operated by the Edison Electric Illuminating Company. Towards the end of the 1930s, W1XAL also carried program relays from the Mutual and CBS radio networks, though this was on a somewhat irregular basis.

However, beginning in 1940, this notable shortwave station was now at its new Hatherly Beach location in Scituate along coastal Massachusetts with two transmitters under the new callsigns WRUL & WRUW. At this stage, these two 20 kW transmitters began the broadcast of programming provided by the Norwegian embassy in New York and beamed across the Atlantic to northern Europe.

Then, during the Christmas season in 1941, WRUL carried a relay of programming on behalf of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation beamed to Canadian troops on service in Europe. These Christmas broadcasts were on the air at the time when the only CBC shortwave service was a low power operation located at Vercheres, before their large Sackville facility was developed.

In 1942, along with all of the other shortwave stations in the United States, WRUL was taken over by the United States government for the relay of programming produced under the direction of OWI, the Office of War Information. This programming grew and ultimately became the twin program services of Voice of America and the Armed Forces Radio Service.

The Hatherly Beach shortwave station carried the OWI-VOA-AFRS programming on an official basis for a period of 10-1/2 years, ending June 30, 1953. However, a relay of specific programming on behalf of the Armed Forces Radio Service, AFRS, was soon afterwards re-included into the WRUL scheduling, and this additional relay service was on the air for another half a dozen years, up until the end of the year 1959.

Then too, WRUL also carried a relay of United Nations Radio in New York, and this was on the air for a couple of years, 1952 & 1953.

During the year 1960, the Spanish programming from WRUL was taken on relay and re-broadcast by the infamous Radio Swan that was located on Swan Island in the Caribbean. Radio Swan, together with its subsequent name change to Radio Americas, operated two transmitters; mediumwave 50 kW on 1160 kHz and shortwave 7.5 kW on 6000 kHz.

During the following year (1961) at the time of the Bay of Pigs event, WRUL carried a relay of VOA programming in Spanish, and also during the following year at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. In fact, it is reported that the American government took over WRUL as a VOA relay station at this stage for a period of three weeks in October (1962). Consideration was given around that time to the possibility of taking over WRUL again as a full time relay station for VOA programming. However, in actual reality, WRUL was not taken over again by the United States government as a full time VOA relay station.

We should also remember that the programming from shortwave WRUL was also rebroadcast by other shortwave stations located in Europe, Africa and the Americas. For example, back during the era of European turmoil, the BBC in London re-broadcast the live programming from WRUL, including the weekly editions of the program "Friendship Bridge", in which British refugee children in the United States spoke to their relatives back home.

The programming from shortwave WRUL was also taken on relay at times by:

Beginning around August 1967 and under the new callsign WNYW, the Scituate shortwave station carried a DX program under the title "DXing Worldwide". This weekly program was included in their schedule on Saturdays and Sundays, and it was based on the air mailed sheets from the Radio Sweden DX program, "Sweden Calling DXers".

Surprising Information: Radio Broadcasting in the Islands of Antarctica

Several weeks ago, we presented a feature item here in Wavescan [N260, February 16, 2014] under the title Australian Radio History. This was a review of the very readable and very interesting book by Dr. Bruce Carty, with the double title, On the Air: Australian Radio History.

One of the most interesting items in this almost one hundred page large format book provides a glimpse into an aspect of radio history that was completely new to us. Dr. Carty presents the outline story of six radio broadcasting stations in Antarctica that we had never heard about before.

These stations, some on mediumwave and some on FM, and all quite small, have been located on islands in the Antarctic, and also on what is understood to be mainland Antarctica. This is what Dr. Carty reveals about these stations, all of which have been installed on Australian territories in Antarctica.

Back in the year 1948, a 20 watt mediumwave transmitter was inaugurated on Heard Island under the callsign OHI. The international prefix for amateur radio operators in these territories is the letter O, and the HI in this callsign OHI stands rather obviously for Heard Island.

This lonely radio broadcasting station took an off air relay from the mediumwave station 2NZ which is located four thousand miles away at Inverell in the state of New South Wales on mainland Australia. When propagation was poor and the signal from station 2NZ could not be received satisfactorily, then the relay station OHI on Heard Island remained off the air.

In 1954, the Australian Antarctic base on Heard Island was closed and transferred a thousand miles further south to Mawson Base on mainland Antarctica. At this same time, radio station OHI on Heard Island was closed and much of the equipment was also transferred to Mawson where it was reactivated under a new callsign, OMA, with the letters MA standing for Mawson.

Ten years later at Mawson Base, an old radio transceiver originally in use in a taxi in Australia was converted for use as a mediumwave broadcast station and programming was received on shortwave from the BBC London and the ABC in Australia and relayed live to local personnel at Mawson. Currently, station OMA is on the air on FM, where it identifies as Radio Blizzard.

In 1957, the American navy established their Antarctic operations at Wilkes Base, on mainland Antarctica. Two years later, this facility became a joint operation with Australian participation. Then, two years later again, an Australian who was previously station engineer at commercial station 3UZ in Melbourne, Australia, constructed a 5 watt mediumwave transmitter tuned to 1573 kHz.

This radio broadcasting station, with the rather appropriate callsign KOLD, was on the air during the day with pre-recorded tapes from a local mediumwave station in the United States, WLEE. During the evening, volunteers acted as disc jockeys with live programming. In 1966, another engineer constructed a larger mediumwave transmitter; though two years later the jointly operated base at Wilkes was closed and the radio equipment was transferred to the Australian base at Casey, a mile or so distant.

That transfer was in 1968, and the KOLD transmitter from Wilkes Base was installed in the chapel at Casey Base, where the callsign was changed to OCY, with the letters CY standing for Casey. When reception was good, station OCY relayed live the programing from Australian mediumwave stations in coastal areas, including 3UZ and 3XY in Melbourne, 5AN in Adelaide, and 6KG inland at Kalgoorlie in Western Australia. These days station OCY is on the air on FM 102.5 under the slogan callsign COLD.

Another radio station on an Antarctic island was OMI, Macquarie Island. This little radio station used a CD player for providing music programming for local temporary residents.

Then at Davis Base on mainland Antarctica, there was a station with the callsign ODA. These days it identifies as ICY.

And that's the story of six little mediumwave and FM stations operating on Antarctic islands and on the Antarctic mainland, all of which were unknown to us beforehand. The only place you can read about all of these intriguing little radio broadcasting stations is in the recent book published by Dr. Bruce Carty, Australian Radio History. You can read lots of other very interesting information in his book, and you can make contact with him at Bruce.Carty@bigpond.com. We might add, that Dr. Carty requests any additional information that anyone might have about these unique little radio stations in the Australian Antarctic Territories.