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 409, October 27, 2002

The Mystery of Irish Radio History - Early Shortwave Era

Yes, it is true; there was indeed a shortwave service on the air in Ireland in pre-war days.  It was just a small unit and it was on the air spasmodically for a period of around three years.  This is the story.

In last weekís program, we mentioned the fact that a high powered mediumwave station was erected in 1932 near Athlone in the centre of the Emerald Isle.  This station was on the air without callsign, and it identified as ìRadio Eireannî.

In June 1938, the American radio magazine, ìRadio News,î announced that a 2 kw station was under construction near Moydrum in Ireland.  In March of the following year, the same magazine announced that the station was now on the air and testing on five different channels with a power output ranging from 2 to 5 kw.

The transmitter was constructed and installed by the Marconi Company of England and it was co-sited with the larger mediumwave unit at Moydrum, a small village near Athlone.  Programming was generally a parallel relay with the mediumwave unit.

ìRadio Eireannî on shortwave was heard in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, as well as throughout the British Isles and in continental Europe.  Several QSLs, probably in the form of a typed letter, were received in the United States and Australia.

In mid 1939, the scheduling from ìRaido Eireannî was described as irregular, and apparently the station went silent just before the beginning of the 1939 emergency in continental Europe.  However, a year later the same shortwave transmitter was noted on the air again with the same style of programming in English as noted previously. 

At this stage it was announced that the programming was directed towards the United States, though it was heard just as well in the South Pacific.  The final monitoring report of ìRadio Eireannî with 2 kw on shortwave appeared in the Australian magazine ìRadio & Hobbies,î in December 1941. 

That then was the end of the first era of shortwave broadcasting in Ireland, an era that lasted a little under three years.

New AWR Transmitter on the Air [Guam]

At the end of our program last week, we invited you to tune in again this week for the full story of the new AWR transmitter that is now on the air. Here are the details:

It was back in the month of March in the year 1987 that the first transmitter at the new AWR shortwave station on the island of Guam was commissioned. Later in the same year the second transmitter was installed and placed into regular service. Seven years later again, transmitter number 3 was installed, and the fourth in the following year, 1995.

The two original transmitters, KSDA1 and KSDA2, are now sixteen years old, and the second pair of transmitters, KSDA3 and KSDA4, are now seven years old. All four transmitters are rated at 100 kW; the first pair was constructed by Thomson CSF in France, and the second pair by Continental in the United States.

Last year, AWR embarked on a modernisation program at our flagship station KSDA on the island of Guam. This project includes the replacement of all four transmitters, the installation of a matrix switching system so that any transmitter can be connected to any antenna, and the re-siting of the diesel generator system. The two Continentals have been sold, and one has already been removed from the site. The sale of the two original Thomson transmitters at station KSDA is pending.

During all of these radio events on Guam, there was another shortwave station under construction in South Africa. This station was located at Langefontein, on the west coast of South Africa, one hour from Cape Town. This transmitter base was planned for a full capacity of nine shortwave transmitters at 100 kW, though only eight were installed.

At the same time, another shortwave station was also planned for installation elsewhere in South Africa with a full complement of four transmitters at 100 kW. The transmitters were purchased but the project was never implemented.

This large shortwave station at Langefontein was set up by the military in the previous era of government to cover South Africa, and when South Africa became a democracy in 1994, the Defense Force no longer had need for this site and it was mothballed. Construction of the Langefontein station began in 1989, and the project was completed in 1992.

All of the eight transmitters were installed at Langefontein, and they were tested into a dummy load. These transmitters were commissioned and they were run periodically into this dummy load, though they were never put on air through the regular antenna system. Consequently, the filament hours on all of these transmitters was very low.

Recently, the government of South Africa contracted with Sentech (Pty) Ltd to dismantle the shortwave station at Langefontein. Sentech is the common carrier for broadcasting in South Africa, and cares for all transmission facilities and the delivery of programming to each transmitter site.

Arrangements were made for AWR to procure four of the installed transmitters from Langefontein. AWR also purchased one of the yet-unused transmitters which was intended for installation at Sentech's shortwave station at Meyerton, near Johannesburg. It was still contained in its original crates. All five of these transmitters are ABB-Thomcast units from Switzerland, and each is rated at 100 kW.

The first of these new transmitters from Sentech in South Africa is now on the air at Adventist World Radio on Guam. Originally this unit was designated as Langefontein No. 2 and it is now on the air as KSDA3. It was placed into regular service at 1000 UTC on September 26.

The next ABB transmitter from Langefontein to be placed into service at AWR Guam has already been installed, and it will replace transmitter KSDA4. It is currently being tested and commissioned, and the changeover date is expected to be around mid-December.

The entire modernization project is expected to be completed later next year. Four new transmitters will be on the air in regular service, and the fifth will be a hot-standby replacement for use through the antenna switching matrix if a problem occurs in any of the other units.

Reception reports on the new KSDA3 are welcome, and you can ask for a special endorsement on your QSL card confirming the usage of this new transmitter.