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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 N465, January 21, 2018

All India Radio Jammu Celebrates 70 Years

Just a few weeks ago, All India Radio at Jammu, on the edge of the high Himalayas in India, celebrated its 70th anniversary. It was seventy years ago, on December 1, 1947, that the first radio station in Jammu was inaugurated by His Excellency Maharajah Sir Hari Singh, the last hereditary ruler of independent Jammu & Kashmir.

Jammu is the name of a city, a princedom, a state division, and a part of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The area was first populated by settlers from the ancient Indus Valley Harappan civilization who migrated along the Indus River up into the five rivers of the Punjab and into the Jammu and Kashmir region.

As a city, Jammu was established by Rajah Jambu Lochan around the year 1400 BC. As time went by, the city grew into a territory, which in turn became a princedom. Some two thousand years later, the area was ruled from Afghanistan.

Then in 1846, the Jammu Prince Gulab Singh extended his rule over all of the Kashmir vale, and the entire territory became a princedom, Jammu & Kashmir. When the British stepped in, they retained Jammu & Kashmir as a combined princely state. At the time of partition between India and Pakistan in 1947, Jammu & Kashmir became a state of contention between the two powers. Since then, there have been two wars and many skirmishes over the Jammu and Kashmir issue.

The city of Jammu is 370 miles north of Delhi; it has a population of half a million; and it is the winter capital for the state of Jammu and Kashmir, due to the heavy snows further north in Srinagar, the summer capital. Tourism is a major industry in Jammu, due mainly to the multitudes of pilgrims who surge into the region from other areas of India.

It was on December 1, 1947, three and a half months after partition between India and Pakistan, that a rather elementary radio station was inaugurated in Jammu city. The 1 kW mediumwave station was housed in three classrooms at the government operated Ranbir High School, and for the benefit of local listeners, community receivers were installed at 56 public locations throughout the city, suburbs and nearby villages.

Two years later (1949), Radio Jammu was listed with two outlets on shortwave, in the 4 MHz and 6 MHz bands, apparently at a subsequent location. Then five years later, in December 1954, Radio Jammu (along with Radio Kashmir in Srinagar) was handed over to the Indian government and it joined the government radio network AIR, All India Radio.

The World Radio TV Handbook lists AIR Radio Jammu with 250 watts on 990 kHz, beginning in their 1954 issue. The power output on mediumwave was subsequently increased to 5 kW, and in the early 1970s a 50 kW mediumwave transmitter was installed.

A 2 kW shortwave station is first listed in the WRTVHB in 1962, and depending on propagation conditions, any of four shortwave channels were in use: 3345, 4950, 5960, and 7160 kHz. It appears that an additional 1 kW shortwave transmitter was installed some ten years later, and apparently there were times when both of the low powered shortwave units were on the air in parallel.

In the early 1990s, the low powered shortwave outlets were dropped due to equipment deterioration. However, soon afterwards, All India Radio announced plans for the installation of a 50 kW shortwave station in Jammu.

Installation of the new 50 kW BEL shortwave transmitter began in mid-2000, though the unit was not taken into regular service for another two and a half years. The official date for the inauguration of this new 50 kW unit for AIR Radio Jammu was December 11, 2002. Just two shortwave channels have been in use, 4830 kHz and 5965 kHz.

However, transmitter problems began half a dozen years later, and shortwave usage became quite irregular. Beginning three years ago, the WRTVHB no longer listed Jammu on shortwave.

Current listings for All India Radio Jammu show:

DRM 300 kW 999 kHz
FM 3 kW Jammu A on 100.3 MHZ
FM 10 kW Jammu B on 104.5 MHz

AIR Radio Jammu, along with so many other areas in India, is now moving rapidly towards complete national radio coverage in the digital DRM mode.

The Usage of Radio Callsigns

The origin of callsigns as an identification for radio stations goes right back into the era when distant communication was achieved via connected telegraph wires. Instead of spelling out a specific location in Morse Code, it was easier and quicker to identify a specific location with just one or two or perhaps three letters and numbers.

Thus, when distant communication was achieved by wireless, then the same system fell into use. Initially, any wireless station could choose any short combination of letters and numbers as a callsign and this would make identification quick and easy. Simple as this may seem, yet the usage of radio callsigns has in itself become quite a cumbersome issue.

For example, a radio callsign can be used to identify a specific transmitter. As an example, the callsign KWID identified a 100 kW transmitter located at Islais Creek near San Francisco in California during the era of World War 2. When this transmitter was on the air, it was always identified as KWID, regardless of the frequency in use.

However, back during that same era, the BBC in London issued a separate callsign for each different shortwave frequency, regardless of the actual transmitter or location. Thus callsign GRC identified a 50 kW transmitter on the frequency 2880 kHz, and GRB identified a 50 kW transmitter on 6010 kHz.

However during that same era, Radio Australia followed a slightly different pattern again. Each basic three letter callsign identified a specific transmitter, such as VLC at Shepparton in Victoria, and a suffix number indicated a specific frequency. For example, VLC2 identified the 50 kW RCA transmitter at Shepparton on the frequency 9680 kHz, and VLC3 identified the same transmitter on another frequency, 11870 kHz.

However, due to many changes in frequency over a period of many years, this system became somewhat cumbersome, and so they subsequently adjusted the numeric suffix to identify a particular MHz band. For example, VLA9 would identify a 100 kW transmitter VLA at Shepparton on any frequency in the 9 MHz band (31 metre), and likewise VLA15 would identify the same 100 kW transmitter on any frequency in the 15 MHz band (19 metres).

Another usage of a callsign became evident in the United States during the war in the middle of last century. A specific communication transmitter that was licensed under its own callsign was granted another callsign for a particular program service.

The large communication station operated by PWI, Press Wireless International, at Hicksville on Long Island New York operated many shortwave transmitters, and even some of the staff who worked there did not know how many. These transmitters ranged in power from 10 kW up to 40 kW and 100 kW. Beginning in April 1942, PWI Hicksville began the relay of VOA, Voice of America, programming beamed to Africa and Europe.

However, one year later, beginning in March 1943, PWI Hicksville began to identify their on air programming with four letter callsigns, such as WKRD, WKRX and WKLJ, for which some QSLs were issued. These callsigns did not identify a specific transmitter nor a specific shortwave channel, but rather a particular program service.

Over a period of nearly two years, a total of at least a dozen four letter callsigns were applied to the program relays over these PWI communication transmitters, a procedure that ended in February 1945. The PWI usage of the four letter broadcast callsigns still defies interpretation and understanding even to this day.

Mediumwave radio callsigns in the United States seem to indicate, one call, one station, regardless of the number of actual transmitters they may operate. However, in earlier years the one transmitter could be licensed with more than one callsign. For example, back in the year 1934, the university radio station in West Lafayette, Indiana operated a facility with three different callsigns. For program broadcasting, the callsign was WBAA; for experimental radio transmissions, the callsign was W9XG; and for amateur communications, the callsign was W9YB.

At one stage the ABC shortwave station located at Lyndhurst in Victoria, Australia operated a total of ten shortwave transmitters, each rated at 10 kW. All of these transmitters were used in consecutive rotation for all of the broadcasts of all of the program services.

The callsign VLH was originally a single transmitter callsign, and it usually carried a relay of programming from 3AR Melbourne. However as time went by, the call VLH became in reality a program service from the ABC studios in Melbourne.

In 1987, for example, there was a daily overlapping period of 3/4 hour in which there were two transmitters on the air under the one callsign VLH: 0830-0915 UTC, VLH9 9680 kHz and VLH15 15230 kHz.

In a different setting, sometimes callsigns were varied according to the location to which the transmissions were beamed. For example, back in the mid-1930s, transmitters VLK, VLM and VK2ME at the AWA station at Pennant Hills near Sydney in Australia were used at times for international radio communication. When beamed to England, the callsign was VLK; when beamed to Indonesia, the callsign was VLJ (Java); and when beamed to New Zealand, the callsign was VLZ. However for program broadcasting at the beginning of World War 2 in 1939, the callsign was VLQ.

So how then should we understand the usage and application of international radio callsigns? There is only one answer. We should understand and interpret the usage of radio station callsigns according to the actual usage by the station itself whose story we are studying.