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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 N410, January 1, 2017

New Year Radio: The Voice of Nigeria

The Voice of Nigeria is one of the very few international radio organizations that date their official beginning on January 1, New Year's Day. It was back in the year 1962 that the External Service of NBC, the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation, was officially commissioned as VON, the Voice of Nigeria.

A little over a year earlier, on October 1, 1960, Nigeria, sometimes referred to as the "Giant of Africa" due to its huge population and economy, had gained its independence from Great Britain. Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, and the seventh most populous in the world.

Thus it was that the first Prime Minister of independent Nigeria, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, officially commissioned the new Voice of Nigeria, exactly 54 years ago, on New Year's Day, January 1, 1962. At that time, there was a total of eight low powered regional shortwave stations on the air throughout Nigeria, and collectively they provided virtually nationwide coverage of their country.

It should also be mentioned that there was a preliminary Foreign Service on the air shortwave from Nigeria a decade earlier. At that time, three daily sessions in English and three African languages were broadcast from the studios in Lagos via a 7.5 kW at nearby Sogunle on 6100 kHz.

In order to provide wide area coverage for the re-introduction of the international broadcast service as the Voice of Nigeria, two new shortwave transmitters were installed at a transmitter base near the coastal city of Lagos, which is listed as the largest city in all of Africa. At the time, it was declared that these two new shortwave transmitters were rated at a power output of 100 kW each, though historic research indicates that in actual reality, these two units were rated at a much lower power level, just 10 kW each.

However, during the following year (1963), plans were developing for the installation of five additional shortwave transmitters, each at 50 kW. As time went by, this number was ultimately increased to eleven, and they were installed at five different locations for both national and international coverage. These transmitters were manufactured by Harris (Model SW50) in the United States, and by NEC, the National Electric Company (Model HFB215) in Japan. All of these units were installed during a 16 year period running from 1963 to 1979.

Overlapping the installation of the eleven American and Japanese transmitters at 50 kW each, was the installation of sixteen more high powered transmitters at 100 kW, 250 kW, 300 kW and 500 kW, installed at three major locations, over a period of three decades running from 1977 to 1996. These huge transmitter units with a massive combined power of nearly 5 megawatts were as follows:

Ikorodu Marconi 1 300 kW B6124 1977
BBC 5 500 kW SK55F3 1977-1982
Thomcast 5 250 kW SK53C3 & SK53P5 1995–1996
Kaduna Marconi 1 250 kW B6122 1973
Harris 2 100 kW SW100 1980
Katabu-Jaji Thomson 2 100 kW TRE2311 1981

With the looming power increase from the bevy of transmitters during the early 1980s, the Voice of Nigeria introduced three separate foreign services in three African languages, as well as in English, French and German. This huge programming outreach was beamed to all areas of Africa, and beyond.

However, with the turn of political events in Nigeria and the accompanying turmoil, the Voice of Nigeria reduced its External Services in 1985 to just West and Central Africa. But, give five more years (1990), and the Voice of Nigeria was resuscitated with the broadcast of increased programming in four African languages, as well as in English and French to a much wider area within Africa.

So what happened to all those high powered shortwave transmitters with its gigantic outreach on an almost worldwide basis? These days, a total of six shortwave transmitters at 250 kW at two locations is listed in the current WRTVHB.

However, recent monitoring reports would indicate that only three shortwave channels are currently on the air, 7255 kHz, 9690 kHz and 15120 kHz, and all three are listed at just the one shortwave site, Abuja, the newly planned city as the national capital in the center of Nigeria.

Over the years, the Voice of Nigeria has issued two different types of QSL cards; one with a change of colors in wide bands on the text side, and the other with various color photos showing life as it is lived throughout their country.