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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 N394, September 11, 2016

Anniversary for RRI Radio Republic Indonesia (plus Song of the Cocoanut Islands)

Introduction about the Song of the Cocoanut Islands

It was on September 11, 1945 that Radio Republik Indonesia was officially formed in Jakarta from the left over remnants of half a dozen local radio stations that were operated by the Japanese in Indonesia during World War 2. In our program today, we honor the 71st anniversary of the formation of RRI Radio Republik Indonesia.

The opening music you heard a few moments ago was composed by Ismail Marzuki in 1944, and it has become an international favorite for shortwave listeners around the world. Ismail Marzuki was born in 1914, and his mother died at the time of his birth. During his short lifetime of just 44 years, he wrote the words and the melodies for more than 200 songs, many of which express his love for his country, in nostalgic patriotism.

The melody you heard is known as Rayuan Pulau Kelapa in the Malay language, and in English we would call it: The Song of the Coconut Islands. It is often heard as the sign off melody when RRI ends a shortwave transmission.

Anniversary for RRI Radio Republik Indonesia

As our anniversary feature honoring Radio Republik Indonesia, we present the story of their major shortwave station that was installed near their national capital Jakarta way back nearly half a century ago. The first new shortwave transmitter that was installed in 1967 at this new shortwave site, Cimanggis, was a 100 kW Telefunken unit, Model SST338, made in Germany.

Cimanggis is located about a dozen miles south of downtown Jakarta and it replaced the earlier shortwave site at Kebayoran, a few miles closer to Jakarta. Back then, the usage of callsigns was still in vogue, and this new unit was allocated the call YDF.

Unfortunately, the story of shortwave broadcasting from Cimanggis is the saga of an almost constant supply of new transmitters which replaced earlier ailing transmitters; brought about by the harsh tropical climate with its high temperatures and monsoonal rains, and worsened by financial shortages and insufficient trained staff. There were times also when the delivery of electricity from the national grid was insufficient to empower the high powered transmitters.

In his monumental compilation of shortwave transmitter histories, Transmitter Documentation Project 1998, Ludo Maes in Belgium presents this following trail of shortwave transmitters that have been installed over the years at RRI Cimanggis:

1967 1 Telefunken Germany 100 kW SST338
1970 4 Philips Holland 50 kW & 120 kW 8FZ514 & 8FZ515
1974 2 Funkwerk Germany 100 kW
1982 3 Harris USA 100 kW SW100
1983 1 Thomson France 250 kW TRE2320
1992 4 Marconi England 250 kW B6131
1995 3 Marconi England 250 kW B6131

On May 21, 1984, the completed installation at Cimanggis with four new transmitters (3 Harris at 100 kW and 1 Thomson at 250 kW) was taken into service, and President Suharto presided at an official commissioning ceremony. This cluster of four transmitters was intended to provide RRI Home Service programming on a nationwide basis as a national unifying factor. The three 100 kW transmitters relayed the RRI programming to the westward islands, and the 250 kW transmitter beamed the same programming eastward.

In 1992, RRI ordered a total of 9 shortwave transmitters at 250 kW together with 20 curtain antennas for installation at both Cimanggis and at another site on distant Sulawesi Island. This new double facility was officially inaugurated on September 14, 1996.

In September 2005, international radio monitors in Australia were surprised to hear Radio Australia programming on relay over RRI shortwave in Indonesia. This program relay in the Bahasa Indonesian language was educational in nature and it was presented under the title Kang Guru.

Despite their best efforts, recent international monitoring reports indicate that only one transmitter is currently on the air at Cimanggis, and it is noted on 9525 kHz. A Google Earth search shows the shortwave transmitter base at Cimanggis, though the view is obscured due to a hazy cloudy sky.

Over the years many international radio monitors around the globe have been successful in logging RRI Cimanggis and their reception reports have netted an invaluable QSL card. During the past 71 years, they have issued a variety of QSL cards, usually in color; some as artistic renderings of Indonesian symbols, and some showing their cities and their country.