"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 N461, December 24, 2017
Christmas with the Voice of America in Hawaii KRHO
Tomorrow is Christmas Day! And on this occasion, we honor another important shortwave station that was officially inaugurated on Christmas Day. This station was KRHO, the Voice of America, on the island of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands; and if it were still on the air today, it would be celebrating its 73rd anniversary. This is the story.
Actually, the callsign KRHO originally identified the wireless station aboard an American ship, the Margaret, way back just on 100 years ago, 1918. There were several American ships with the same name, Margaret, during that era, and it is difficult to know with certainly exactly which one was identified with the wireless callsign KRHO.
However, it is quite probable that the callsign KRHO belonged to the ship known as USS Margaret, No SP527. This ship was built in 1899 at the Roach shipyards in Chester, Pennsylvania as a wealthy owner's venue for entertaining equally wealthy friends and acquaintances. The ship was too narrow, it was top heavy, and it was awkward in the water.
In August 1917, the United States navy bought the 18 year old Margaret and refitted it for anti-submarine patrols. The USS Margaret had so many faults and it encountered so many problems that the whole story has been published in a form of humor as a book, and it was also turned into a movie.
On one occasion when the ship was out in the Atlantic, it was spotted by a German submarine. However, the submarine surfaced and the commanding officer broadcast a radio message in the clear stating that he had sighted the Margaret but had not bothered to attack her because she was not worth the cost of a torpedo.
Anyway, on to the story of the better known KRHO! In February 1942, a series of test transmissions was broadcast from the RCA communication station located at Kahuku on the northern tip of the island of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands. Honolulu, the state capital, is located on the southern side of this same island. These test broadcasts were on the air for a short period of time under the callsign KRCA, an informal call at the time for the RCA station at Kahuku.
Work on the new VOA-Voice of America relay station began in early 1944 at a location on the west coast of the island of Oahu, 1-1/2 miles inland. The United States navy was already operating a huge communication radio station on this property, which is located at Maili, Lualualei.
The largest mobile crane anywhere in the Hawaiian Islands was brought in for the erection of the masts that supported a total of six diamond shaped rhombic antennas. A new General Electric 100 kW shortwave transmitter Model G1008 was installed in a newly built transmitter building.
The official inauguration for the new KRHO was Christmas Day, 1944, 73 years ago. At the same time, a 50 kW mediumwave transmitter aboard the USS Triton Maris, anchored in Pearl Harbor, was also officially inaugurated. The mediumwave station subsequently became KSAI on the island of Saipan.
The signal from the new KRHO was always strong in Asia and the South Pacific, due mainly to the wide open saltwater pathway in every direction from Hawaii across the Pacific. Hawaii's KRHO received its program feed via shortwave from the equally powerful new transmitter in California, KWID at Islais Creek near San Francisco.
In January of the New Year (1945), KRHO emitted a strong harmonic on 12240 kHz (6120 x 2); and in March, KRHO emitted a bad hum on its 16 metre band channel, 17800 kHz.
Initially, VOA operated a production studio for KRHO in Honolulu for the preparation of programming in several Asian languages. As an additional relay of the Honolulu programming into the islands and the mainland of the Far East, the shortwave programming from KRHO was picked up live by RCA at Point Reyes, California and retransmitted towards Asia by transmitter KRCA at Bolinas. Beginning November 1, 1945, local programming for KRHO ended, and the station became a slave relay station for the rebroadcast of programming from California.
An additional 100 kW transmitter, same model General Electric G1008, was installed at VOA Maili and it was taken into service as KRHK in October 1949.
Beginning in September 1950, the twin callsigns KRHO-KRHK were no longer announced on air, and the only identification stated Voice of America Honolulu. However, the official callsigns were then listed as KRHO1 and KRHO2. Then, beginning November 1, 1963, the usage of callsigns was dropped completely and the transmitters were identified simply as Hon1 and Hon2.
However, beginning in May 1967, the usage of VOA Honolulu for programming beamed to Asia and the South Pacific was terminated as redundant, due to the upgrading of VOA stations at Dixon and Delano in California. For a few months, transmitter tests were conducted four days each week to keep the two Honolulu transmitters operational. On occasions, Honolulu filled in for California when operational problems occurred at Dixon or Delano.
The station was dismantled in 1969, and it is reported that the two quarter century old transmitters were returned to the mainland. At that age (25 years), maybe they were sold for scrap.
The three remaining antenna masts at 300 feet were demolished in January 1998. The transmitter building can still be seen on Google Earth, though it does appear to be overgrown with local vegetation. Interestingly, all of the local streets have been given names associated with radio history, such as: Radio Rd., Tower Dr., Marconi St., Morse St., Hertz Loop, Edison St.
While the VOA studio was operational in Honolulu, unique Hawaiian style QSL cards were issued in Honolulu confirming the reception of KRHO. At the same time, Honolulu was verified also with QSL cards issued from the VOA head office in Washington, DC.