Home | Back to Wavescan Index

"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 380, April 7, 2002

The Mystery of the Disappearing Islands [Montserrat]

In our program last week, we told the story of an exotic little radio station out there on a lonely little island in the Pacific under the title, "The Mystery of the Disappearing Island". That was the story of Radio Tuvalu at Funafuti in the Tuvalu Islands and the fact that their islands are slowly disappearing under the waves of the rolling Pacific Ocean due to global warming and rising sea waters.

This week, we continue in this mini-series with another story about a disappearing island, though with a difference. This story is about the island of Montserrat in the Caribbean.

There was a time when Montserrat was a prosperous little island with a growing population and a thriving tourist trade. However, in recent years, this situation has dramatically and tragically changed.

Volcanic activity on the island of Montserrat has devastated the island and its main city, Plymouth, with an overflow of hot lava. Most of the people have moved away to other nearby islands in the Caribbean or to distant countries overseas, leaving only a small population still resident on the island.

In earlier times there was a 50 kW Deutsche Welle relay station on Montserrat, broadcasting to the wide areas of the Caribbean on shortwave. There was also a prosperous little commercial station broadcasting to the residents on the island with local news and information.

However, due to the volcanic disturbances, the Deutsche Welle relay station was closed some years ago, though the AWR collection in Indianapolis does hold a couple of generic QSL cards from this station. The little commercial station is now an even smaller FM facility, run as a volunteer effort.

If these volcanic circumstances continue, maybe that little FM station also will finally close.

More on Disappearing Islands next time.

World War II Memorabilia - German Army Radio

The central European nation of Germany was the first country in the world to produce special radio programming specifically for its armed forces. Germany also traces the beginning of its radio history back to this event, which marks the first occasion of regular wireless broadcasting in their country.

The credit for this new radio initiative goes to Hans Bredov, who transmitted music and information to troops in the German army who were stationed on the Western Front during World War I. This historic endeavor took place in May 1917, and it ranks as one of the world's first regular broadcasting services.

Around mid-year 1941, German personnel on duty in Yugoslavia re-activated the radio stations in the capital city, Belgrade, as Sender Belgrade. This station had been on the air previously as Radio Belgrade, with studios in the city and two transmitters out in the country.

The mediumwave transmitter was rated at 2.5 kW, and it was on the air without callsign on 666 kHz. The 10 kW shortwave transmitter, with its two-mast antenna system, was installed in a new building in an isolated area outside the city. This facility was inaugurated early in the year 1939, and it was on the air under the callsign YUA.

It was from Sender Belgrade that German service personnel first heard the nostalgic presentation of the very popular song, Lili Marlene. Because of the low power of the mediumwave transmitter, German forces in North Africa must have been tuned in to the shortwave unit. Subsequently, several other radio stations in the European and Mediterranean arena also began to play this recording of Lili Marlene, including some of the mobile stations in North Africa.

Interestingly, the first radio station operated by BFBS, the British Forces Broadcasting Service, played this rendition of Lili Marlene as part of the sign-on routine for each broadcast day. This station was inaugurated on New Year's Day 1944, and it was located in Algiers in North Africa. The German transmitter was previously on the air in Tunisia.

After the war was over an Australian soldier who saw service in North Africa brought back home a copy of the recording of Lili Marlene on an old 78 disc. Unfortunately, this record was broken. However, the two parts were carefully glued together, and this music was first broadcast in Australia over station 5DN in Adelaide.

In 1942, a mobile radio station, housed in seven railway vans was taken to Rovianemi in Finland, where it was placed on air from the German army barracks 10 km. out of town. This army entertainment station was on the air for nearly three years.

The daily schedule from Laplandsender consisted of variety programming, news bulletins, and Finnish language lessons. The final broadcast from this unit was in November 1944.

When German forces withdrew from Finland to Norway, they took their mobile radio station with them. However, after a further withdrawal, the station was abandoned, and it is now on display in the Radio Museum in Bergen, Norway.

For this story on German Army Radio, we acknowledge with appreciation the following sources: