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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 337, June 10, 2001

The Radio Scene in Shanghai

During the era under review in this edition of Wavescan, the city of Shanghai in China was an important international city. These days it is listed as the world's largest city, with a population in excess of 10 million people. However, the beginnings of Shanghai go back more than a thousand years when it was just a small trading center. 

After the Opium War in 1842, England was granted trading rights in Shanghai. Soon afterwards, other European powers were also granted the same trading privileges in Shanghai, and each country was given its own territory, a "concession," in an area to the north of the city. In this way, Shanghai truly became an international city, with separate residential areas for England, France, Germany, Italy, America and Japan.

When radio stations were established in the city of Shanghai, each of the foreign concessions established its own station, though mostly with Chinese callsigns. Many of these stations were heard throughout the world on shortwave.

A few struggling experimental stations with irregular callsigns were launched on mediumwave by commercial enterprises in the Chinese area of Shanghai in the mid 1920s, but most of them failed soon afterwards. More substantial mediumwave stations began to appear on the radio dial in the early 1930s, and these were all licensed with callsigns in the X series.

The first shortwave station in Shanghai was launched in 1931 on the channel 5000 kHz exactly and given the regular callsign XCTE. This station also disappeared soon afterwards. 

Japanese forces occupied Shanghai in 1937, but each of the foreign concessions was permitted to retain its area of influence and to continue in its regular activities, at least for a while. In early 1938, the Japanese occupation forces took over a mediumwave station previously owned by a Japanese merchant in Shanghai. This was station XQHA, with 250 watts on 580 kHz.

During the Pacific War, there were five different and important international shortwave stations located in Shanghai, all owned and operated by different nations.

Early in the year 1939, station XMHA was installed in the American concession in Shanghai with its identification announcement as "The Call of the Orient." Early in the year 1942, this station was taken over by the Japanese, still with the same identification announcements, XMHA and "The Call of the Orient." This station was monitored frequently by Arthur Cushen in New Zealand for news and information of interest to the South Pacific. 

Early in the year 1940, station XGRS was installed in the German concession in Shanghai. It could be presumed that the callisgn XGRS stood for "German Radio Station." Programming from this station was violently anti-British, and it carried significant news and information from both Germany and Japan. 

When peace was declared in Europe, Japan took over this station, giving it the callsign XGOO. Three months after peace was declared in the Pacific, the Chinese took over the station, giving it a new callsign, XORA. This 5 kw. crystal controlled transmitter was the only shortwave station that remained on the air in Shanghai after the war.

The Italians also erected a station in their concession in Shanghai with the callsign XIRS; and likewise, it could be presumed that XIRS stood for "Italian Radio Station."

The French erected a mediumwave station in their concession some years before the hostilities began in Europe, though this station identified with the French callsign FFZ rather than a Chinese callsign. Early in the year 1940, a 400 watt shortwave unit was installed, and after the German occupation of France this station became the Asian voice for the Vichy government.

For a period of a year or so, a shortwave station in Shanghai purported to be located "somewhere in India." This station announced on air as "The Voice of Free India" and "The Voice of Indian Independence," and it was first noted in New Zealand in March 1942. This station was heard frequently with two channels in parallel. Towards the end of the same year, programming was revamped and the station identified as "The Voice of the Indian Independence League."

Thus for half a dozen decisive years around the middle of the last century, many of the major powers in conflct in Europe and Asia were represented on the shortwave scene in Shanghai.