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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 430, March 30, 2003

Fiji on Shortwave

Exotic Fiji, with its 333 islands!  A tourist haven for those who want to get away from it all. 

As the tourist brochure states:  Fiji is the place for a truly relaxing tropical get-a-way.  The swimmer can swim with the harmless manta ray, the surfer can surf the 20 foot high waves, the hiker can hike in the tropical rain forests, and you can seek accommodation in one of the outer resorts at the Octopus Hotel. 

In colonial days, Fiji was listed on the map as the "Cannibal Isles," and it is reported that many sailing ships avoided these islands during that era.  The BBC London reported recently in one of its news bulletins in the World Service on shortwave that Fiji is now marketing a new food product called "Cannibal Chutney." No, don't be concerned, this new product is quite harmless.  You see, the last cannibal ceremony in Fiji took place more than 100 years ago.

Just as exotic is the shortwave radio scene in Fiji.  Back in the year 1930, AWA in Sydney installed a shortwave transmitter in Fiji, rated at considerably less than 1 kw., for use as a communication station.  In fact, similar units were installed at three other locations in the Fiji Islands for inter-island communication.

The main station in Suva was given the callsign VPD which was in use at the time by a shortwave broadcasting station located at Doveritz near Berlin in Germany.  This communication station in Fiji was used at times to broadcast radio programming.  For example, in 1933 AWA in Sydney arranged a special worldwide program under the title "South Seas Broadcast." The AWA unit in Suva, station VPD, transmitted the Fijian segment on shortwave to station VK2ME in Sydney.

Regular broadcasting from VPD2 on shortwave began the following year, and a new transmitter was installed in 1936.  In fact, it was conjectured that test broadcasts on shortwave from the Sydney factory under the callsign VK2MD were from the new transmitter intended for installation in Fiji.  Another new transmitter was installed just prior to the European Conflict.

During the Pacific War, Fiji was noted on air under the callsign VPD4 with a relay of the BBC in French.  This service was on the air for about 18 months beginning mid-year 1940, using the old transmitter now running at about 400 watts.  Around the same time period, this station also carried a shortwave relay to Fiji and the Pacific on behalf of AFRS, the American Forces Radio Service.  Early in the year 1942, transmitter VPD was taken over by the army and navy for use as a telegraph transmitter.

When peace was restored to the Pacific, plans were laid for the construction of a new two story studio building in Suva, and a new transmitter base at Naulu, in a swampy area 25 miles from Suva.  These new facilities were officially opened in 1954.

For the new location, the new callsign on shortwave became ZJV, the same as on mediumwave, though a few months later the callsign was changed again, this time to VRH.  But alas, in August 1972, the shortwave service in Fiji was dropped in favor of coverage on mediumwave, and subsequently on FM.

Over the years, the radio service in Fiji has issued nine different QSL cards, some of which were also available in the earlier years from the AWA address in Sydney.  All of these cards are now considered to be quite exotic, and they form a very valuable overview of the history of radio broadcasting in Fiji.

AWR Relays on Mediumwave - Asia and the Middle East

It was back on October 1, 1971 that the first broadcast was heard from the new international broadcasting unit, Adventist World Radio. At the time, this programming was entirely on shortwave for the purpose of speaking to international listeners located in distant countries where it was not possible to reach them on local mediumwave or FM.

Just five years later, AWR made its first venture into the field of international broadcasting on mediumwave. In the spring of 1976, even before the AWR shortwave station KSDA was constructed on the island of Guam, a series of broadcasts in Chinese was launched from the Portuguese enclave, Macau.

The station was the commercial facility Radio Macau, the frequency was 738 kHz, and the power was 10 kW. The intended coverage area was mainland China, inland from Macau. These broadcasts began in the Spring of 1976 and they were on the air for nearly eight years, ending in 1984.

A similar project was enacted from Hong Kong three years later for similar coverage of mainland China inland from Hong Kong. In 1979, AWR programming in Chinese was placed on the commercial stations of Radio TV Hong Kong, with 10 kW on two different channels, 675 and 864 kHz. This series of broadcasts was likewise phased out in 1984.

Meanwhile, over in Southern Asia, the broadcasts of the Adventist health program, "Your Radio Doctor" with Dr. Clifford Anderson, had been on the air shortwave and mediumwave, for more than twenty years. When the Poona office of AWR-Asia was officially organised in 1976, this programming was taken over by the new AWR unit. It was during this time period that the old DX program, "Radio Monitors International", was also on the air mediumwave in Sri Lanka.

A total of five different mediumwave stations in Sri Lanka carried AWR programming in English for a period of 13 years, culminating at the end of the year 1988. These stations were:

Diyagama 920 kHz 25 kW
Jaffna 864 kHz 20
Amparai 693 kHz 20
Senkadagala 666 kHz 1
Welikada   1 kW on several different channels over a period of time

For a short period of a few months in 1978, AWR programming in the Garo language was on the air from Bangladesh Betar in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The government radio station in Bangladesh asked for this programming to meet a special need up in the northern frontier areas. The huge mediumwave transmitter was rated at 1,000 kW on 693 kHz.

Over in the Middle East, Radio Yerevan in Armenia carried AWR programming in Arabic and Farsi for a couple of years beginning in October 1996. The massive transmitter at Kamo in Armenia was rated at 1,000 kW on 1341 kHz, and the equally massive antenna system was a series of curtain antennas almost one mile long.