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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 385, May 12, 2002

The Shortwave Scene in Taiwan

The shortwave scene on the island of Taiwan is at the same time both very interesting and very complex, and it stretches back over long eras of time with a multitude of different transmitter locations.  The first known shortwave broadcasts from this large island at the edge of the western Pacific went on the air back at the time when Taiwan was known as Formosa, and the capital city Taipei was known as Taihoku.

As noted in a previous edition of Wavescan, the first shortwave broadcasts in Taiwan were a relay from a mediumwave station, JFAB, apparently using the facilities of a communication station with the callsign JFA.  Back in the pre-war days, there is only one known QSL from Taiwan, the island that locals say is shaped like a tobacco leaf, and that was received by a listener in Sydney, Australia.

Soon after the close of the Pacific war, large numbers of Chinese people migrated very quickly from the mainland to the nearby island of Taiwan.  One of the major results of this shifting political situation was the construction of a large number of shortwave stations, both for local coverage as well as for international coverage. 

It is safe to state that more than 40 shortwave stations have been on the air over the years from Taiwan.  Two thirds of these stations were quite small, low powered operations for local coverage, whereas other stations were established for national and international coverage. 

The first new shortwave station on Taiwan was erected somewhere aound the year 1957.  This was a 50 kw unit, and apparently located at Panchiao on the western edge of Taipei.  Other stations followed in many different locations, though always on the coast or near the coastal areas.

It is reported that most of the large shortwave stations on Taiwan were erected with financial support from the United States.  These large stations have been noted on the air over the years with American programming, and with locally produced programming also.  In fact, at one stage some years ago, both Radio Liberty and the Voice of Free China were issuing QSL cards for the same broadcasts.

The location names of most of the shortwave stations on Taiwan are known, though it is not always clear just which station has been on the air with which programming.  It can be equally difficult to find a particular location on a large map.

When searching for a transmitter location on the island of Taiwan, it is necessary to use a map that transliterates the location names from Chinese into English in the same way as the names are given in radio publications, otherwise it is almost impossible to locate these facilities.

A large number of local shortwave stations have been on the air from locations all around the island and these have been owned by both the Broadcasting Corporation of China as well as by local agencies, such as the police, the army, the air force and the civil defence authorities.  Some units owned their own shortwave facilities, whereas others leased air time over a hearby BCC station.

All of the large shortwave stations in Taiwan that have been on the air with international programming beamed to the Chinese mainland and beyond have been located on the west coast of the island, in an arc stretching from the northern tip of the island down to about 150 km from the southern tip of the island.  Many names have been given over the years as the location name for these large shortwave transmitting stations, and it would seem that in some cases the same location has been known under two or perhaps even three different location names.

Even to this day, it is not known exactly just how many large shortwave stations are on the air, nor where exactly they are all located, though these days not one of the small shortwave stations is now on the air.  They were all closed progressively some years ago as FM coverage was extended to all areas of the entire island.

A little later in this program, you will hear specifically about Radio Liberty and its shortwave stations on Taiwan; and on another occasion, we will tell the story of the many other international shortwave stations that have taken out a relay over the years from stations on Taiwan.

What Happened to Radio Liberty on Taiwan?

These days, the story of Radio Liberty, on the air from shortwave facilities on the island of Taiwan, is almost forgotten.  Better known is Radio Liberty in Europe, with its large transmitter bases located at Lampertheim in Germany and Pals in Spain.

Radio Liberty on Taiwan was on the air for a period approaching 20 years.  The initial broadcasts went on the air shortwave on May 1, 1955, using at first a 1 kw transmitter, supplemented a little later with a 25 kw unit. 

The original transmitter location was at Panchao, which is located just beyond the western edge of their capital city, Taipei.  This was an interim location while a new base was constructed at Pali, on the coast 20 km north of Taipei.

Originally, the international radio station at Pali contained four shortwave transmitters at 50 kw each, three of which were on the air with the international programming of Radio Liberty.  The Broadcasting Corporation of China, BCC, and the Voice of Free China, VOFC, used one transmitter exclusively and the other three when available.

The programming from Radio Liberty Taiwan, it is stated, was beamed to the eastern areas of Russia and Siberia, though it would appear that they were also on the air in Chinese to the nearby mainland.  QSL cards were issued for the Radio Liberty Taiwan broadcasts from the address in Germany, and at one stage, also by the Voice of Free China.

This station, Radio Liberty Taiwan, left the air at the end of the broadcast schedule on the last day of the year 1973, thus closing its almost 20 year history.  The transmitters at Pali were taken into full time usage by BBC and VOFC, though in more recent times they have been replaced by larger units at 100 kw, five of which are listed as in current usage.