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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 291, July 23, 2000

BFBS Singapore

Back in the year 1971, I was on a motor launch in Bangladesh. There had been a horrendous, devastating cyclone in the Bay of Bengal. It is calculated that one million people lost their lives in this overnight cyclone, thus making it the worst natural disaster on earth since Noah's Flood. At the time, I was on temporary loan to ADRA, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, and we were in the delta areas of Bangladesh carrying relief supplies of food and basic living needs to the homeless survivors.

One afternoon, while the motor launch was travelling from one location to another, I was tuning across the shortwave bands on my Grundig radio when I was very surprised to hear the BBC World Service news in the 60 meter tropical shortwave band. On checking the WRTVH, I discovered that I was listening to BFBS Singapore, the British Forces Broadcasting Service, with 10 kw on 5010 kHz.

On a subsequent visit to Singapore a few years later, I took a taxi one humid rainy day to the British Army base on the outskirts of Singapore City. Even though this was a high security area, I was courteously granted approval to make a visit to BFBS Radio. As I approached the building, I was dismayed to discover that workmen were in the process of dismantling the station. They were removing all of the electronic equipment and refurbishing the building for use as an office.

As I walked through the empty rooms, I visualized what used to be. I saw the old studios and control room, the offices and tape library, of what used to be BFBS Singapore. Obviously, when this station was on the air it was an efficient and modern radio station.

BFBS Singapore was launched in early 1953 with a 10 kw transmitter operating at 7.5 kw. It was on the air on the constant frequency of 5010 kHz in two languages, English and Ghurka. Some 10 years later, a 5 kw FM transmitter was added.

BFBS Singapore had a reputation as an excellent verifier, and the AWR historic collection in Indianapolis contains two QSL cards confirming the reception of both the shortwave and FM transmitters.

In mid-1971, the British Army base was handed over to the Singapore army. The FM transmitter at this location was given to the BBC, which operated it by remote control. The shortwave transmitter was located at Jurong, near the famous bird park, and it was donated to Radio Singapore, which operated it for many years in parallel with their other 60 meter band outlet on 5052 kHz.

As I walked down the stairway and out of the two story building, I cast a backward glance at the sign board which read, "British Forces Broadcasting Service, Singapore."

So "What Happened to them Afterwards?" Well, the studio building became an office for officers in the Singapore Army. Both the shortwave and FM transmitters have long since been removed and junked. All that remains these days are the DX reports in old radio magazines, a cluster of QSL cards in old QSL collections, and the memories in the lives of the staff who were on the air with what was BFBS Singapore.