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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 N325, May 17, 2015

Tribute to Nepal-3: The Story of Radio Nepal

Singha Durbar: Radio Studios and Early Transmitters, TV Facilities (1951-20xx)

Nepal Radio was officially organized on April 1, 1951, and the inaugural broadcast took place just two days later, Tuesday, April 3 (1951). The new radio broadcasting station in Nepal, the first permanent station in their history, was set up in a two story building in Singha Durbar that had previously served as a privately operated school.

Singha Durbar is the locale for the royal palace and government offices within Kathmandu, their national capital city; the Nepali name, Singha Durbar, means Lion Palace. The inaugural radio broadcast was on the air for a period of just 4-1/2 hours.

A makeshift studio was set up in the ex-school building and the radio transmitter was a 250 watt unit operating on 7100 kHz in the 40 metre amateur/broadcast band. The introductory electronic equipment was gathered from at least three other locations; a temporary radio broadcasting station located at Biratnagar in eastern Nepal, and a hybrid carrier current cable radio station known as Mohan Aakashbani at Bijuli Adda in suburban Kathmandu.

The transmitter itself had previously been in use in Kathmandu for government communications during the previous half dozen years.

Two years later (1953), a 60 watt mediumwave transmitter tuned to 1500 kHz was co-installed at the Singha Durbar station. Then, in the mid 1950s at the time when a new transmitter base was under development on the edge of Kathmandu with aid from Australia, the original 250 watt shortwave transmitter was re-engineered for use on mediumwave 1500 kHz.

Some 30 years later again, a new studio building was constructed adjacent to the original building and this was officially opened by His Majesty King Tribhuvan on May 9, 1983. At the same time, new transmitters for Radio Nepal were officially taken into service at a nearby suburban location.

The funding for all of these needed developments at Radio Nepal; studios, transmitters, new regional mediumwave stations; was provided by aid from Japan over a period of many years. The total value of this huge foreign aid package was US $8.1 million.

Then 12 years later in 1995, the first FM service for Radio Nepal was inaugurated for coverage of the Kathmandu valley.

Television in Nepal began with a test broadcast on the last day of the year 1983 (December 31) and a regular service was introduced a few days later on January 5 (1984). Full operation was introduced during the following year (1985).

These days the government operated Nepal TV is headquartered in two large buildings in the same Singha Durbar location, quite close to the well established radio studios. Two channel operation is maintained under the titles, Nepal TV on Channel 5 and Nepal TV Plus on Channel 8. Plans are underway for a complete transition from analog to digital TV by the year 2017. Two emergency TV transmitters, one for each channel, are located at the TV studios in Singha Durbar.

Phulchowki: TV Transmitters (1985-20xx)

The main transmitters for the government operated Nepal TV and Nepal TV Plus, at 5 kW (Channel 5) and 2 kW (Channel 8), are installed on top of a hill at Phulchowki, 10 miles south east of Kathmandu.

Jawalakhel: Shortwave & Mediumwave Transmitters (1955-1997?)

The first dedicated transmitter station for Radio Nepal was located at Jawalakhel, just three miles south east from Kathmandu. Australian AID provided a 5 kW shortwave transmitter and new studio equipment in 1955, and then a second 5 kW transmitter was installed half a dozen years later.

The first new shortwave transmitter was on the air usually on 7100 or 7105 kHz, and the second unit was usually on 4600 kHz. These units were manufactured in Australia by the well known AWA company. A 1 kW mediumwave transmitter was also installed at the Jawakhel Shortwave Station, and it is presumed that this unit was also manufactured in Australia.

It was at this stage that callsigns were allocated for the radio broadcast transmitters in Nepal. The mediumwave transmitter at Singha Durbar was allocated the call 9NBM, with the 9N representing Nepal, the NB indicating Nepal Broadcasting, and the M standing for mediumwave. The new callsign for Radio Nepal shortwave at Jawalakhel was 9NB7, with the 7 standing for the original 7 MHz channel.

In the mid 1960s, there were some scheduled occasions when both of these 5 kW transmitters were on the air at the same time, usually with parallel programming. Then when the older unit faded, it was at times cannibalized for parts for the newer unit. In the latter years of its usefulness, the Jawalakhel shortwave station was on the air spasmodically, and usually at least once a year with a few test broadcasts.

The last known monitoring observations regarding the usable 5 kW transmitter were noted in early 1997. It is known that this transmitter was then transferred to the Kathmandu mediumwave station at Sainbu Bhaisepati where it was maintained for fill-in usage on shortwave.

Khumaltar: Shortwave, Mediumwave & FM Transmitters (1968-20xx)

During the year 1968, a second shortwave station for Radio Nepal was developed at Khumaltar, some 5 miles south from the city of Kathmandu. Initially, this station contained a 100 kW Marconi shortwave transmitter from England, Model BD253, and a 10 kW mediumwave transmitter.

The mediumwave transmitter gave coverage on 790/792 kHz to the capital city and surrounding areas with the usage of a 300 ft. tall mast. Test broadcasts on shortwave began during the summer of the year 1968.

A second shortwave transmitter was installed at Khumaltar four years later in April 1978. This new transmitter was an American made Harris transmitter Model SW100, also with a rated power of 100 kW.

Then 4 years later again, another 100 kW Harris SW100A was imported into Nepal by USAID for an education project, Teacher Training through Radio, and it was also installed at Kumaltar. Unfortunately, the Nepali government failed to issue a license for the usage of this transmitter, and thus it was never used for its originally intended purpose.

Eventually, however, this transmitter was taken into service for the broadcast of Radio Nepal programming. The known usage of the shortwave transmitters in Nepal would indicate that these 3 units at 100 kW were never on the air all together, and it is probable that two units were seldom on the air together, if at all.

In 1995, Nepal's first FM service was inaugurated with programming from the studios in Singha Durbar and a 3 kW transmitter that was installed at Khumaltar. The operating frequency for the Capital City area has always been exactly 100 MHz, though a 10 kW transmitter is now in use at this location.

Sainbu Bhaisepati: Mediumwave & Shortwave Transmitters (1983-20xx)

A new mediumwave transmitter site for coverage of the capital city areas and beyond was constructed at Sainbu Bhaisepati in 1983 and a new 100 kW mediumwave transmitter was installed. This transmitter took over the mediumwave channel 792 kHz previously on the air with 10 kW at Khumaltar. In addition, there is a 10 kW emergency transmitter at this same Sainbu Bhaisepati location. A digital transmitter is now planned for installation at this station.

Before the Jawalakhel transmitter station was finally closed and abandoned, the now composite 5 kW shortwave transmitter was removed and it was re-installed in the Sainbu Bhaisepati mediumwave station for use on shortwave if needed in an emergency situation.

Bardibas: Mediumwave Transmitters (1989-20xx)

Under the lengthy Japanese aid projects to Nepal, another radio station in central Nepal was established in 1989 near the town of Bardibas, some 40 miles south east from Kathmandu. This station was set up with two mediumwave transmitters at 10 kW each on 1143 kHz, though there is no studio facility at this location. Programing for Radio Nepal Bardibas comes directly from the main studios in Singha Durbar, Kathmandu.

This station was established so that listeners in the Kathmandu valley and nearby areas would have an alternative program stream in addition to the national program heard on 972 kHz. However, recent reports indicate that this station is currently off the air.

In our program today, you have heard the story of all of the government operated radio and television broadcasting facilities in the Kathmandu Valley and central Nepal. More from Nepal on coming occasions.