Home | Back to Wavescan Index

"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 N458, December 3, 2017

Abandoned Radio Stations - 2

On a previous occasion here in Wavescan, some three weeks back, we presented the story about abandoned radio stations in the United States, of which there seems to be quite many. In this our topic for today, Abandoned Radio Stations in other countries, we take the countries in alphabetic order. Hence, Australia seems to be at the top of the list.

In the city of Melbourne, there are two radio facilities that were previously in use by the well-known mediumwave station 3AW. In March 2010, station 3AW moved its studios from a downtown building into a new facility at suburban Docklands.

It was originally intended that the downtown building housing the previous studios of 3AW (and other radio broadcasting stations also) would be soon be demolished to make way for a new high rise building. Instead, the building lay abandoned for several years, and it became a haunt for the homeless, though some of the studio and office areas of the previous 3AW have been spared graffiti and vandalism.

On an earlier occasion, 3AW moved its transmitter from one location to another, and the tower at the old location remained standing for some years. It too stood abandoned, until it was demolished more recently.

The small settlement at Cook, on the Trans Australia railway line running 2500 miles from Sydney to Perth, is located in South Australia rather close to the border with Western Australia. Over this area, the railway line runs absolutely straight for just on 300 miles.

There was a time when the railway siding at Cook was quite a large town with a population of some 200 residents, with its own hospital, a school, an airstrip, a swimming pool and a grassless golf course. These days, though, the resident population is less than half a dozen.

Back then during the time of its prosperity, the town of Cook had its own radio broadcasting station under the callsign 5CAS. The callsign 5CAS would be correct for South Australia, and it looks like a regular three letter callsign for an FM station.

However, nothing more is known about this station, and it is not shown in any official lists of radio stations in Australia. The callsign 5CAS is shown in a photo of a glass door in a building at Cook, obviously leading into what was once their local radio station. We would suggest that 5CAS was a local, probably unlicensed community FM radio station; the 5 suggests South Australia, and the three letters CAS could stand for Cook Amateur Station.

Bermuda is a group of low forming volcanoes some 700 miles off the continental coast of North America. They are a British possession, with a total of 181 islands, 8 of which are inhabited.

In 1955, the US navy opened a radio receiving station at the beachside on Tudor Hill, Bermuda. This top secret station was established for the purpose of listening to Russian submarines on their way to the Americas and Cuba during the Cold War.

This American facility was abandoned in 1995, the roof has collapsed, and trees and shrubs are now growing inside. However, the building itself seems to be quite sturdy, and it seems that it could easily be converted into a beachside tourist resort.

At Clear Creek near Toronto in Canada is an old abandoned radio station that supported air flights inbound and out during World War 2. A lot of the vandalized electrical and electronic equipment is still in place.

Also, a NATO communication station lies abandoned near Ottawa, the capital city of Canada. This very solid building, constructed in steel and concrete, is totally intact, though vandalized. Electrical connections are still evident, as is also a small corner reflector antenna on top of the building that was used for microwave reception. This station, in the middle of a wide, green cultivated field, was abandoned in 1985.

Inside a major tourist shopping plaza in Dubai, a very modern radio station, together with its offices and studios, sits open to the public view, but it is simply not in use, just abandoned. It seems that this planned radio station fell victim to a downturn in the local economy.

Over in England, there are two major historic shortwave stations, parts of which simply lie abandoned. These long term magnificent stations were located at Borough Hill near Daventry, and at Rugby in the central midlands.

The first test broadcasts from the two new 10 kW STC transmitters at the BBC Daventry shortwave station began on October 25, 1932 under the callsign G5SW, even though the actual G5SW transmitter was not located at Daventry; it was still on the air from the Marconi facility at Chelmsford, some 80 miles distant.

The final broadcast from the BBC Daventry was heard on 15070 kHz via Sender 204, and it closed at 1130 UTC on Sunday, March 29, 1992. Thus ended 60 years of illustrious international shortwave broadcasting from one of the world's most famous shortwave stations.

Some of the BBC buildings at Borough Hill were taken over for other radio related and non-radio related activities and events, and all of the radio towers were ultimately demolished. Much of the area where the antenna towers stood is now a pleasant park where locals like to run their dogs; yet there are still some reminders of this once mighty shortwave station. Half a dozen of the concrete blocks that supported the antenna towers for the 5XX longwave and mediumwave transmitter are still in place, abandoned as they were when the towers themselves were felled.

Not faring so well was the huge radio station operated by the GPO, General Post Office, near Rugby in Warwickshire in England. This station was opened on January 1, 1926 with just one transmitter, though verily a massive unit at 350 kW, and it operated on longwave as the key station in the Imperial Wireless Chain under the callsign GBR. At one stage, with all of its 57 shortwave and longwave transmitters, Rugby Radio was acknowledged as the world's largest radio communication station.

Rugby Radio was finally closed in April 2000 after nearly a quarter century of illustrious service. The facility was simply abandoned and junked. However, we should add, to their credit, that the entire estate is currently under development as a large housing addition.

Another huge communication station was located at Kahuku on the northern tip of the island of Oahu in Hawaii. RCA Kahuku began its life as a Marconi wireless station with just one transmitter, a 230 kW rotary spark unit under the callsign KIE. The Marconi wireless station at Kahuku was officially opened on September 24, 1914, way before Hawaii became a U.S. state in 1951. There were just on 200 official visitors in attendance, most of whom travelled by narrow gauge sugarcane train and then walked the final distance.

Sixty four years later, in 1978, this same Kahuku communication station was closed due to the availability of international communication by satellite, and all of its unnumbered shortwave transmitters were silenced. These days, RCA Kahuku is just totally abandoned, even though some of its strongly built and partly roofless buildings are listed as historic Heritage Sites.

Back in the days of its prosperity, the RCA shortwave station at Kahuku was noted throughout the world for the relay of the very special program, Hawaii Calls. This program was produced live, usually in the courtyard of the Moana Hotel at Waikiki Beach, Honolulu.

The first broadcast of Hawaii Calls transpired on July 3, 1935, and the weekly series ended forty years later in 1975. For many years, RCA Kahuku relayed the program on shortwave for rebroadcast on the mediumwave networks in the continental United States. At the height of its popularity, Hawaii Calls was heard via 750 radio stations throughout the world. Here's an intro from one of those shows.