"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 N488, July 1, 2018
Radio Veritas Asia on Shortwave
Audio clip 1 - RVA: ID announcement, music, Filipino program.
According to the best available information, the shortwave station Radio Veritas Asia made its final broadcast just yesterday, Saturday, June 30, and the transmitter now lies silent in an isolated and lonely Philippine countryside. In our program here in Wavescan last week, we presented the story of Radio Veritas on mediumwave, and this week we present the story of Radio Veritas Asia on shortwave.
As with the mediumwave story of Radio Veritas last week, so with the shortwave story of Radio Veritas Asia this week; we go back to the beginning, which was just after the end of the tragic Pacific War in the middle of last century. Back during that era, most of the radio stations that began to appear on the radio dial in the Philippines were a dual operation, on both mediumwave and shortwave. The mediumwave transmitter gave mostly reliable local coverage, and the shortwave transmitter served a double purpose; to provide fill in coverage for mediumwave shadow spots, and also for national coverage.
Shortwave station KZOK was inaugurated in Manila at the end of July 1947 with just 250 watts on 9690 kHz. The transmitter was built by Technical Radio in San Francisco, California, and the antenna system was a dipole antenna, oriented north and south for nationwide coverage. Even at such low power, the shortwave station was heard over in England in islandic Europe, as well as you might expect downunder in Australia and New Zealand in the South Pacific.
During that initial era, the station was owned by PBC, the Philippine Broadcasting Corporation, and the programming was produced in their temporary studios on the 5th and 6th floors of the Pilipinas Building at Plaza Moraga in Manila. The two transmitters, mediumwave and shortwave, were both located in Quezon City. Mediumwave and shortwave KZOK was a sister station to the better known KZPI, and their QSL card showed the callsign KZOK in large red letters across the center of the card.
On January 1, 1949, the Philippines implemented a new callsign sequence for radio stations throughout their island archipelago, in line with the then recently promulgated international radio regulations. In addition, these two PBC stations were granted a change in their own callsigns, and thus mediumwave station KZOK became DZAB, and shortwave KZOK became DZH5. Back then, the generic callsign DZH indicated a shortwave broadcasting station in the Manila area, and the number identified a specific shortwave station; in this case DZH5 identified the shortwave station associated with mediumwave DZAB.
Two years later, during the year 1951, station DZAB-DZH5 was taken over by the Catholic-operated Santo Tomas University, and it was installed in the university’s Main Building. At this stage, a new mediumwave callsign was granted, DZST, with the ST standing for the initials of the university, Santo Tomas. They also issued a QSL card to verify listener reception reports.
However, on December 10, 1958, a high level committee that was meeting at the university gave approval for establishing a high powered mediumwave and shortwave station that would provide better coverage throughout the Philippines, and also for international coverage into the highly populated countries of Asia. Soon afterwards, land was procured in a rice field on the edge of MacArthur Highway, at Barangay-Dakila on the southern edge of the large regional city, Malolos, some 20 miles northwest of Manila.
Two 100 kW Siemens transmitters were procured from Germany, and test broadcasts began from the first unit on 21675 kHz on November 10, 1967. This new radio station near Malolos was granted a new sequence in callsigns, and mediumwave DZST became DZVR, with the VR, of course, indicating Veritas Radio. The two shortwave transmitters were identified as DZN7 and DZN8. The second transmitter was taken into service during the following year, 1968.
A new suite of studios was installed in the Catholic Center on United Nations Avenue in Manila, and programming was microwaved to Malolos in a special set of eleven channels, six broadcast and five telephone.
However, the new Radio Veritas Asia was beset with problematic circumstances that took many years to resolve. The two German made transmitters malfunctioned, experienced staffing was not available, studio production in the various languages of Asia was not well established, and lack of adequate funding was always a problem.
For the next six years, from 1967 into 1973, Radio Veritas Asia was on the air with mainly just test broadcasts, made up of usually classical music and test announcements in English. Interestingly back then, Vatican Radio was interested in the development of Radio Veritas Asia, and they also asked for reception reports of Veritas, with the intent of possibly using the Philippine station as a part time relay for Vatican programming.
Ultimately, in August 1973, Radio Veritas Asia went silent, while awaiting parts from Germany, and also while awaiting the modification and upgrading of the two 100 kW transmitters. However, during this interim period, Radio Veritas took over the 50 kW Gates shortwave transmitter from Radio SEARV, which had recently gone silent at Dumaguete in the southern Philippines through lack of funding.
Radio Veritas Asia was re-opened in May 1975, and the first test broadcasts from the newly installed 50 kW were noted in New Zealand and Australia on 9570 kHz and 11710 kHz. Again, the test broadcasts consisted of music, and announcements in English.
Finally, the two 100 kW Siemens transmitters were re-activated, and they were taken into service in mid-1977. Over a period of time, the test broadcasts were phased into regular programming in more than a dozen languages. By this time, they were utilizing six antennas with various configurations, including log periodic, rhombic and cage.
Audio clip 2 - RVA: Music & ID announcement.
All went well for the next ten years, until violent political disturbances swept across the entire nation. Then, on Sunday and Monday, February 23 and 24, 1986, insurgents stormed into the transmitter station at Malolos and badly damaged all of the transmitters, three shortwave and two mediumwave, and also some of the antenna systems, though fortunately no personnel were harmed.
As a result, a brand new transmitter station was quickly constructed at a new location, with funding from Catholics in Germany, as well as from the German government itself. The new shortwave station was constructed near Palauig, almost at the northern tip of a jungle covered small tidal peninsula known as Luan Island. This Luan Island/tidal peninsula occupies just .1 of a square mile, and it is located 100 air miles northwest from Manila, and 70 miles from its previous location at Malolos.
Over a period of time, three large 250 kW shortwave transmitters were installed at the new Palauig site, each of which was a variation of the Swiss made Model SK53C3. The first was inaugurated in 1986; the second in 1988; and the third in 1992. Eighteen years after it was taken into service, the very first transmitter was dismantled, leaving just the two slightly younger transmitters to carry the full load of programming.
Throughout its more than half a century of on air service, this well-known shortwave radio facility with its many consecutive callsigns, has always been a reliable verifier of listener reception reports. In its latter years, these cards pictured Philippine regional scenes in full color.
Last Saturday (June 30, 2018), shortwave Radio Veritas Asia was closed. So, what is left now of shortwave Radio Veritas Asia?
It is stated that the elaborate studio building in Quezon City will remain in service, preparing programming in Chinese Mandarin for distribution over the internet, and Filipinas programming for distribution over a smart phone.
The original transmitter building on the edge of Malolos was abandoned seven years ago, though efforts are underway to restore it as a historic museum piece.
The shortwave facility of Radio Veritas Asia on Luan Island near Palauig lies silent, and somewhat abandoned. What will happen to it next? Well, we don’t know, but perhaps the future will provide another interesting chapter in this fascinating radio saga in the Philippine Islands.
Audio clip 3 - RVA: Pilipino program; comment from Jeff White.
Radio Veritas Asia: Update (Wavescan N489, July 8, 2018)
As an update to the two recent feature items here in Wavescan on the story of Shortwave Radio Veritas Asia in the Philippines, we confirm that Radio Veritas Asia has indeed closed down its shortwave operations. Three international radio monitors report their monitoring observations on the internet.
June 30, 1130 UTC: Harold Kuhl in Germany states that he heard RVA with their program beamed to Myanmar at 1130 UTC on 15450 kHz with a good signal.
June 30, 1400: Walter Salmaniw at a DXpedition on Haida Island, British Columbia, states that he heard RVA at 1400 UTC with their program on 11880 kHz beamed to Bangladesh in the Bangla language.
June 30, 1500 UTC: Mick Dalmage in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, states that the last program he heard from Radio Veritas Asia was in the Filipino language, running from 1500 to 1600 UTC on 11675 kHz. This then would appear to be their final broadcast, ending at Midnight June 30/July1 in the Philippines.
June 30 2300: No signal from RVA, states Harold Kuhl in Germany.
Ancient DX Report – 1914, Pt. 2
Earlier this year, we presented Part 1 in our Ancient DX Report for the year 1914. On that occasion, we presented the story of how World War 1 began, with the assassination of His Royal Highness the 50 year old Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Heir Presumptive to the throne of the ailing Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife, Her Highness Sophie, the 46 year old Duchess of Hohenberg.
The royal couple were shot during a state visit to Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia, on Sunday morning June 28, 1914. Exactly one month later, on July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war against Serbia, and Germany invaded France. One week later again, England declared war against Germany. World War 1 had begun, and the major wireless stations of the world were buzzing in Morse Code with the progressive stories of what was taking place as armies clashed against each other in continental Europe.
Germany was operating its own powerful wireless station at Nauen, near Berlin. This station had been established six years earlier as the “first wireless station in the world”, and it was rebuilt with a huge new antenna system just a few months before war was declared in Europe. A major secondary station as a back-up was established at Eilvese, near Hanover.
France operated its own wireless station from the top of the famed Eiffel Tower, and they communicated with their armed forces and distant locations throughout the country in Morse Code from this station. In April (1914), a commercial wireless receiver, the Ondophone, was placed on sale in France. This commercially-made early wireless receiver was developed so that people could receive accurate time signals from station FL on the Eiffel Tower.
Over in Belgium, Robert Goldschmidt established a large wireless station at Laeken for the purpose of communication within the country, and also with their colony in Africa, the Belgian Congo. On March 13, 1914, he conducted a radio broadcast from this station as a test transmission. Two weeks later, on March 28, he began a series of Saturday music concerts over his new wireless station, and that event is claimed in Belgium as the second wireless station in the world, preceded only by the program broadcasts by Charles Herrold in California. Nearly six months later, the large wireless station at Laeken was deliberately destroyed just prior to the German invasion of their country.
Over in the British Isles, the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company constructed a 400 KW wireless transmitting station under the callsign MUU in Caernarvon in Wales in 1914 for transatlantic communication with the United States. This station employed ten masts each 400 feet tall atop the Cefndu Mountain in Snowdonia.
By the year 1914, wireless equipment had been installed on a huge number of ships throughout the world; naval, passenger, and cargo. The Cunard liner Acquitania had installed wireless equipment, even in two of its lifeboats.
In May, a wireless message was heard in Asia stating that the Japanese passenger/cargo ship, the SS Siberia Maru, was aground and sinking off the coast of Formosa (Taiwan). Next day, this ship arrived in Manila in the Philippines, unaware of the fake wireless message.
Also during the month of May, the wireless executive David Sarnoff was aboard the American passenger/cargo ship SS Antilles on its run from New York to New Orleans, and he tuned a radio receiver to hear a music program coming from the Wanamaker Store in New York. In November, Mr. W. C. Handy in Memphis Tennessee broadcast a radio program that featured Victor H. Laughter.
When the British declared war against Germany on August 4, the German wireless stations at Nauen and Eilvese sent out a general message in Morse Code to all German shipping to hasten to the nearest neutral port. Two large German passenger ships, the Kronprinzessin Cecilie and the Koenig Wilhelm 2, entered American harbors in order to avoid capture by the British navy. In addition, the German navy stationed several of its ships in a chain across the Atlantic for the purpose of establishing a cascade relay of messages in Morse Code to German colonies in Africa and Asia.
The United States commissioned a 100 kW spark transmitter at Colon in the Panama Canal Zone; and they also established a wireless circuit between California and the new station at Kahuku on Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands, the “largest wireless station in the world”.
In Australia, two new wireless stations were taken into service during the year 1914, both on the west coast; VIZ was commissioned at Roebourne on January 26, and VIW was commissioned at Wyndham on May 18. The Wyndham station was constructed out of town against a 1500 ft. hill, with the antenna on top.
With the threatened exigencies of war, the Royal Australian Navy suddenly required a wireless communication station. They contracted with AWA in Sydney, and in just four days a brand new 11 kW Morse Code wireless station was installed on Sydney Harbour’s Garden Island, under the callsign VKQ.
The first military action for the Australian army at the beginning of World War 1 in 1914 was the successful capture of German wireless stations that were located in Rabaul on the island of New Britain, on the island of Yap in the Caroline Islands, and on the Pacific island of Nauru. The first military action for the New Zealand army at the beginning of World War 1 was the successful capture of the German wireless station near Apia in Samoa.
Just before the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914, German personnel were finalizing the construction and initial operation of two major wireless stations in New Zealand, VLA at Awanui on the North Island and Awarua on the South Island. These wireless specialists were working with the Telefunken company in Germany and they were under contract with the Australasian Wireless Company for the project in New Zealand. Work on these two wireless stations was sped up so that the German personnel could return to Germany before war broke out.