"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 462, December 31, 2017
The New Year with the Voice of Asia on Taiwan
The island of Taiwan is located just 100 miles off the coast of China. It is 245 miles long and 90 miles wide with a total population around 24 million. Their capital city is Taipei at the northern edge of the main island. In addition, there are more than a hundred smaller islands, a quarter of which are inhabited, mainly by isolated tribal groups, each with its own sub-language.
It seems that the earliest inhabitants of Taiwan were black tribals who settled on the island way back in its earliest prehistory. Apparently these original inhabitants were followed by the earliest ancestors of the Polynesian peoples, who subsequently spread out into the islands of the Pacific, including New Zealand.
Then came the Chinese from mainland China, and this was all in the era before European exploration in the Far East. Although the official language of Taiwan is Standard Mandarin, yet the most widely spoken Chinese language on the island is Hokkien, the mother tongue of 70% of the island's population.
During the era of European exploration, the Portuguese were the first to site the island (1542) and it is from the Portuguese language that we have the earlier popular name for the island, Formosa, meaning beautiful island. Later Europeans who established colonies on the island were the Dutch and the Spanish.
At the end of the first Japanese war with China, the island of Taiwan was ceded to the Empire of Japan in 1895. Immediately after the end of the Pacific War in 1945, the Americans occupied the island for a period of 7 years. More than half a century of Japanese rule officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of San Francisco in 1952, and once again Taiwan became a Chinese island.
On two separate occasions, the international shortwave service on the island of Taiwan made significant name changes on January 1. The Voice of Asia, for listeners in China and South East Asia was inaugurated on January 1, 1979; and Radio Taipei International for international listeners was established on January 1, almost two decades later, in the year 1998.
Known previously as the International Service of the Voice of Free China, they operated a total of four shortwave transmitter bases for overseas coverage at the time. These transmitters were rated at 10 25 50 100 250 and 300 kW. For a period of many years, the new Voice of Asia and the older Voice of Free China operated separately from different locations, with the Voice of Asia beaming its programming mainly to the China mainland and the Voice of Free China beaming its programming internationally.
Then, on January 1, 1998, the external broadcasting services on shortwave from Taiwan, the Voice of Free China and the Voice of Asia were amalgamated and re-identified as RadioTaipei International, RTI. That's the way it is today, and RTI is on the air shortwave as Radio Taiwan International with programming in 13 languages, including English, German, French, Spanish and Russian for wider area coverage.
On the next occasion when we look at the radio broadcasting scene on the island of Taiwan, we will go back to the year 1925 when the Japanese established their first radio broadcasting station on the island.
Historic Mediumwave Station KQV Leaving the Air
Just a few days ago, the American Radio Relay League website alerted us to the fact that a very historic mediumwave station in the United States will close right at the end of the year, December 31; today in fact. This station KQV was inaugurated almost one hundred years ago; and some of the historic radio events associated with KQV actually predate some of the similar historic events associated with the better known pioneer mediumwave station KDKA. Interestingly, both stations, KQV and KDKA, are located in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.
It was two weeks back on Friday morning, December 15, that owner manager Mr. Robert Dickey Jr announced to his staff, about 20 in number, that the station will go silent at the end of the broadcast day today, Sunday December 31, 2017. He cited operational costs as the main reason for closing his historic station.
Let's go back to the beginning. When the United States entered World War 1 on April 6, 1917, all privately operated wireless/radio stations (amateur) were required to leave the air. Two years later after the war was ended, the United States lifted the ban against amateur style radio operations, on October 1, 1919.
During that same month (October 1919), Francis Potts and Richard Johnstone assembled a spark transmitter with the use of a Model T Ford ignition coil. Their 20 watt transmitter, under the officially allocated land station callsign 8ZAE, was assembled on the ninth floor of the Doubleday-Hill Electric Building at 719-721 Liberty Avenue, at the intersection with Wood Street in Pittsburgh. The single wire aerial was strung to another building across the street.
The original intent for this very primitive spark wireless station was ultimately to communicate with another similar station in the Doubleday-Hill building in Washington DC. The Washington station developed into broadcasting station WMU which was on the air for three or four years until it went silent and closed in 1925.
Beginning in November 1919, the Pittsburgh station, now with an improved Lee de Forest transmitter, was taken into occasional operation for casual broadcasting as a demonstration radio station for the sale of radio receivers. Two months later on January 27 (1920), an evening music concert was broadcast with the use of 15 phonograph records. During the next month, a somewhat regular schedule began with recorded concerts for three hours on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
By the time of the famous inaugural transmission from 8ZZ-KDKA on November 2 (1920), the fledgling 8ZAE-KQV in the same Pittsburgh city had already been on the air with (sometimes spasmodic) music broadcasts for only a few days less than a whole year.
The official license for 8ZAE as a program broadcasting station was granted by FRC the Federal Radio Commission in October of the following year 1921, and the station was granted a consecutively issued callsign which happened to be KQV. At the time, the FRC was issuing callsigns made up of three letters for ship radio stations, and some land stations were granted similar callsigns. Back then, K callsigns were issued for ships registered along the Atlantic coastline, and W callsigns for ships registered along the Pacific coastline.
On January 9, 1922, an amended license (No 452) was issued for KQV as a commercial broadcasting station with approval to broadcast on 360 m (833 kHz). They began to sell advertising over their station three years later in 1925, around the time when they moved to 1090 kHz. Three years later again (1928), they moved their position on the radio dial to 1380 kHz.
In 1932, the station was sold to Mr. H. J. Brennan who was also the owner of another mediumwave station WJAS. The combined transmitter location for both WJAS and KQV was just north of the city itself.
There was a major frequency change for most radio broadcasting stations in the United States on March 29, 1941, including the proviso that all stations on 1380 kHz were required to move to 1410 kHz, including KQV, and that has been KQVs operating frequency ever since.
In 1944, station KQV took out a new transmitter site that straddles a hill in Ross township, 8 miles to the north north west of Pittsburgh. A total of 5 (in)famous Blaw Knox towers standing at 355 feet tall were erected providing a directional pattern, 3 for use during the day and all 5 for use at night.
The initial frequency at Ross was their long standing 1410 kHz, with a new 5 kW Western Electric transmitter, which was itself replaced by an ITA5 wth a Collins logo some fifteen years later (1958). Give thirteen more years (1971), and a Bauer 5000J was installed; and that transmitter became their backup unit in 1999 when a Harris Gates also at 5 kW was installed.
In terms of ownership, in 1945, the station was sold to Allegheny Broadcasting; and twelve years later (1957) it was sold to ABC Paramount; and seventeen years later again (1974) it was sold to Taft Broadcasting. Then finally in 1982, it was sold to the Dickey family with Calvary Broadcasting.
The studios were transferred into the Chamber of Commerce Building 14th floor on the corner of Smithfield and Seventh Street back in 1932. A quarter of a century later (1958), the station moved down to a ground floor location in the same building, and it was here that the announcers frequently identified their studios as being: On the corner of walk and don't walk.
When the building was sold, it became necessary for KQV to move again, and this time they took out a new location just across the street in the Center City Tower at 650 Smithfield Street, though this time on the sixth floor. That's where they are today.
Comes the year 2017, and for the historic KQV, this will be the end of its illustrious and historic 97 year long history. Over the years, many QSLs have been issued, by letter and by card. The Indianapolis Heritage Collection holds two QSLs from KQV; a letter in 1959 addressed to Edward Osbourne of Wanganui and a card two years later addressed to Des Frampton of Invercargill, both in New Zealand.
Perhaps it is still possible to obtain a QSL from KQV before it turns silent. We would recommend that you provide a self addressed and stamped return envelope, and a prepared QSL card in full detail. You could ask them also for one of their QSL cards; and a few dollars in notes enclosed with your reception report might be helpful. Tell them you are sorry that they are leaving the air.