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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 N273, May 18, 2014

Focus on Asia: On the Air Shortwave from India's First Capital City, Calcutta - 3

On the previous occasion when we looked at the story of radio broadcasting in India's first capital city, Calcutta, on both mediumwave and shortwave, we covered the earliest years up until the beginning of World War 2 in 1939. In this the third topic in this mini-series, we pick up the story during World War 2, and onwards.

At that time, the studios were located in the rented building at 1 Garstin Place, and there were just two transmitters on the air. These two units were mediumwave VUC with 2 kW on 810 kHz and shortwave VUC2 which was scheduled with 10 kW on either 4840 kHz or 9530 kHz. We would suggest that both transmitters were operational at the same location, Cossipore, in outer northern suburban Calcutta.

There were just a few changes and developments at All India Radio Calcutta during the war years. The entire rented building at Garstin Place was taken over for AIR usage, and several additional studios were installed. On shortwave, four channels were listed for use by VUC2 according to propagation conditions: 4840, 6010, 7210 & 9530 kHz.

In 1958, AIR Calcutta took over a specially designed new studio building at Eden Gardens. This ornate building, Akashwani Bhavan, was designed as an architectural synthesis of Buddhist and Hindu architecture and it is located amidst a collection of other cultural attractions in Calcutta:

The Eden Gardens Cricket Stadium is in fact the largest in India and the third largest in the world, with a total capacity at one stage of 120,000 sports fans.

To this day, the Eden Gardens building is still the headquarters for All India Radio Kolkata. Currently, programming is produced in 21 studios in six languages, including the national language Hindi and the ancient two and three thousand year old Sanskrit.

Programming in these studios is transmitted over three mediumwave channels and eight FM channels, as well as on shortwave. Some programming produced at AIR Kolkata is also on relay via local regional transmitters in Agartala and Kurseong.

The two major mediumwave transmitter bases for AIR Kolkata are located at Amtala and Chandi and they are in reality, almost a single transmitter station. These two facilities are located less than 1/4 mile apart, some 15 miles south of Kolkata itself.

Two years ago, Dr. Supratik Sanatani, together with three other well known Indian international radio monitors, made a visit to these twin AIR stations, and he wrote a feature article regarding his observations.

The station at Amtala, he said, is a single building made up of two wings. The Amtala station is located on Amtala Road near Pritala, and the Chandi station, with a similar design, is located just 500 yards to the southwest. Small emergency studios have been installed in each transmitter building.

The transmitters located in these twin facilities are:

Amtala Entry Way 2.5 kW 1220 kHz Old Westinghouse from 1948, now silent. To be replaced by DRM transmitter.
Left Wing 100 kW 1008 kHz BEL HMV140 Serial No 3, Kolkata B.
10 kW RIZ Mobile emergency transmitter.
Right Wing 50 kW SW
Antennas One mediumwave tower. Two shortwave dipoles 41 & 90m, SSW.
Chandi Left Wing 200 kW 657 kHz Two @ 100 kW Kolkata A, each @ 120 kW. On air with combined output 200 kW.
Right Wing 20 kW 1323 kHz Commercial Service, Kolkata C.
Antennas New 400 ft mast, earlier felled by cyclone.

It is presumed that the original 10 kW Philips shortwave transmitter model KFVH10 from 1938 was originally installed at Cossipore, co-sited with the early mediumwave unit. It appears that this transmitter was later re-installed at Amtala. In addition, a low power 250 watt shortwave transmitter was brought into use under the callsign VUC3 in 1949. Nearly three years later, this unit was withdrawn from service.

In addition, there is another major transmitter base located near Kolkata. Back in the year 1966, AIR announced that it planned to install a super power transmitter, made in Russia and rated at one megawatt. This mega-facility was developed at a new location north of Calcutta itself and it is identified under two location names, Mogra or Chinsurah.

The Russian made transmitters, two at 500 kW, were taken into service on August 15, 1969, and they were heard almost worldwide. This high powered international mediumwave station has been noted on four different channels; 590 & 1130 kHz at 10 kHz separation, and subsequently on 594 & 1134 kHz after 9 kHz separation was introduced in Asia.

Programming from this super powered station is on the air in Bengali, Nepali & Tibetan for the neighboring countries of Bangladesh, Nepal & Tibet; and wide area coverage in India is provided with programming from mediumwave Kolkata A. This station usually runs at full power during the day and at around half power at night.

The two Russian made transmitters at the Mogra-Chinsurah station were replaced by three Thompson made transmitters at 400 kW each during the year 2012. These three units can be run separately or in combination, and in digital as well as in analog mode.

The Story of Radio Broadcasting from Non-Existent Radio Stations

Ever since radio broadcasting became established in many countries throughout the world, nonexistent fictional radio stations have made an appearance in radio dramas; and of course, in more recent time, in television shows as well. That's the story in this special episode of Wavescan.

The theme music in today's program, "On the Road to Gundagai," was used to introduce a very popular, slow moving, country style, farcical Australian radio drama way back in the year 1937. At times, and for special events in the program, a radio station featured in various episodes of this lengthy series of evening radio broadcasts. The program was called "Dad & Dave," the setting was in a non-existent country town called Snake Gully, and the non-existent radio station carried the non-existent callsign 2SG.

It is probable that the best known non-existent fictional radio station on television was station WKRP, supposedly located in Cincinnati Ohio.

The first half hour episode of this American comedy series, "WKRP in Cincinnati", took to the air on September 18, 1978; and it continued for 3-1/2 years, with the final episode on April 21, 1982. Surprisingly, this CBS series was not particularly popular in its original form, though it gained popularity in subsequent re-runs.

The story is set in the fictitious radio station WKRP in Cincinnati, Ohio, initially a 50 kW mediumwave station in the first program, though in all subsequent programs, a 5 kW station. The station details were based upon a real radio station, WQXI in Atlanta, Georgia, with 28 kW on 790 kHz. The studio building as shown on television was in reality the office building of the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper at 617 Vine Street; and the radio tower was in reality the TV tower for the Crosley station WLWT-TV, also in downtown Cincinnati. This tower was demolished in 2005.

A full color tourist postcard showing the tall downtown buildings in mid distance is available in shops in Cincinnati. The card shows the callsign as WKR?, and the suggestion is that the buyer should know that the final letter in the callsign is P.

According to the story line in the TV comedy series, "WKRP in Cincinnati," the opposition (fictitious) radio station was on the air under the derogatory callsign WPIG. However, due to the growing popularity of the TV series, station WHDL with 43 kW on FM 95.7 in Olean, New York did actually change its callsign to WPIG in 1989.

At the time when this TV drama was on the air, the callsign WKRP was vacant, though subsequently other stations have adopted that callsign. In 1979, a new radio station in Dallas, Georgia with 5 kW on 1500 kHz was granted that callsign. However, 10 years later, this WKRP was given a new callsign and a new format, and WKRP Dallas, Georgia became WDPC with a Gospel music format.

In that same year, 1989, the 1 kW mediumwave station on the edge of North Vernon in Indiana took the callsign WKRP, though these days it is now WJCP on 1460 kHz. Then, in 2008, the low power TV station WBQC on channel 47 in Cincinnati itself was granted the WKRP call.

Over the years, many fictional radio stations have appeared in radio and TV programs in the United States, and to a lesser extent, in other countries as well. In the Superman TV series, the radio station associated with the Daily Planet newspaper office was WDPN, though there is now a real WDPN at Alliance, Ohio, with 1 kW on 1310 kHz.

The Flintstone cartoon series had its own radio station, with the callsign BDRX. The TV drama, "Back to the Future," with Canadian-born Michael Fox, featured station KKHV; and another TV comedy series, "Full House," presented a radio station KFLH on the impossible American channel 95.6 FM. Another impossible American channel was in use with the fictional station WNYX New York City in the TV program, "News Radio"; 585 kHz.

The seven lonely castaways on Gilligan's Island in the comedy series under the same name, sometimes listened to the programming from mediumwave station WCAU. At the time, the original mediumwave station WCAU in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was on the air under a new call, WOGL, and the WCAU call was no longer in use. It could be remembered that it was absolutely impossible for anyone on Gilligan's Island "somewhere in the Pacific" to hear the programming from any mediumwave station located in the eastern areas of continental United States under a callsign beginning with the letter W.

The time setting for the Waltons TV series was just before and during World War 2. On many occasions, the Walton family listened to the programming from their local mediumwave station, and in fact, on one occasion, their son Jim-Bob played the piano in a live broadcast over this station. However, no known callsign was ever in use over this fictitious radio broadcasting station.

A short lived TV series in Canada was on the air during the year 2000 under the title, "Drop the Beat." This dramatic program was produced by the government owned Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBC, in Toronto, and it featured its own fictitious campus radio station under the callsign CIBJ-FM.

Even New Guinea had its own fictitious non-existent radio station. This was during World War 2 at the time when the Americans and Australians were in reality operating their own local mediumwave stations for the entertainment of nearby forces personnel.

The fictitious radio station in New Guinea was supposedly located at an Australian army camp and it operated under a callsign that might be considered valid in the Australian state of New South Wales, 2BO. Supposedly, station 2BO stood for Baloney, though there does seem to be another meaning for the two letters in the callsign.

We go back now to the fictitious radio station 2SG at Snake Gully in the Australian nightly drama that ran for an amazing 16 years. The quarter hour "Dad & Dave" comedy program was produced in the Sydney studios of 2UW and it was relayed on mediumwave each weeknight evening right across Australia. The tourist town of Gundagai, located half way between the national capital Canberra and the regional city Wagga Wagga, was the setting for the fictitious Snake Gully.

So popular was this comedy series, that the non-existent mediumwave station 2SG was quoted in newspaper articles and advertising. Airzone radio receivers advertised in the Advocate newspaper in Burnie, Tasmania, dated August 18, 1938, that you could tune in to (this non-existent fictitious) 2SG on their radio receiver. Later that year, the Barrier Miner newspaper in Broken Hill, New South Wales stated in a news item that station 2SG would be heard in their area with Christmas greetings for local listeners.