"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.
The Story of the American Shortwave Station WINB
This is now the second week that Wavescan is on the air from station WINB in Red Lion Pennsylvania, and, as promised, here is our Station Profile on their station. This is the interesting story of the long-time shortwave station WINB.
It was back more than half a century ago that Rev. John Norris Sr. inaugurated his mediumwave station, WGCB, in a rolling country area 2.5 miles east of the small town Red Lion in Pennsylvania. Ten years later he inaugurated an FM station with the same callsign, and he was also granted a Construction Permit for a shortwave station with the callsign WINB. At the time, the letters WINB stood for "World in Need of the Bible," though these days their QSL card shows that the letters stand for "World Inter National Broadcasters."
It took two years to put this new shortwave station on the air and it was inaugurated in October 1962. The original transmitter is a Continental 50 kw. unit, the antenna is a three wire rhombic beamed towards Europe, and the facility was installed into a unique old building that was previously in use on a chicken farm. Contemporary radio magazines at the time indicate that the new station was quite quickly heard in Europe, Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as, of course, in the United States itself.
Ten years later, another 50 kw. transmitter was procured, a used General Electric unit from mediumwave station WGY in Schenectady, New York. It was originally intended that this additional transmitter would be converted for shortwave usage, though this project has never been implemented. However, around the same time, an additional rhombic antenna was installed for coverage into Latin America.
In 1995, the original transmitter malfunctioned and the station was off the air while this unit was rebuilt. The station again became fully functional in January 1997. Radio station WINB in Red Lion, Pennsylvania is now the oldest commercial shortwave station on the air in the United States, with its more than 40 years of service.
At the time when this station was inaugurated, the shortwave scene in the United States was very different. For example, the Voice of America was on the air from seven different locations, only one of which is still on the air today. These old VOA stations were: KCBR and KNBH in California; WGEO and WDSI in New York; WBOU and WDSI in New Jersey; and WLWO in Ohio.
The modern counterpart of station KCBR in Delano, California is the only VOA station still on the air today.
At that time, there were just two other commercial stations on the air in the United States, and these were KGEI in San Francisco California, and WRUL in Scituate, Massachusetts. Both of these stations were subsequently closed, though the Family Radio station WYFR in Okeechobee Florida is a direct descendant of the original WRUL.
Over the years, station WINB has proven to be a reliable verifier and they have used at least four different QSL cards. These could be described as follows: black and white card with text only, color card showing antenna and microphone, color card with text only, and the current large card showing the American flag.
Old Transmitter on the Air for 90 Minutes [WLW Mediumwave 1939]
Some time back here in Wavescan we told the story about the official opening of the massive 500 kW mediumwave transmitter near Cincinnati in Ohio when the president's wife pressed the Golden Morse Key in the White House. On this occasion, we return to station WLW for this fascinating excerpt from radio history.
Do you remember the worldwide fuss about the strange expectations of what might happen when the old century turned into our new century, and it was thought that there might be a computer meltdown throughout the whole world? The anticipated event was known as Y2K.
Engineer Jim Hawkins at station WLW decided that he would re-live a bit of old radio history for the event. This large broadcasting station at Mason, Ohio maintains a total of five different mediumwave transmitters at 50 kW, and all five are operational on air.
For the occasion of Y2K, Engineer Hawkins fired up the oldest of these units, a 1927 version of the Western Electric 7A. This was the original high-powered unit put into operation at WLW three quarters of a century ago.
Thus it was that at 10:45 pm on December 31, 1999, this oldest unit was switched into service for a period of just 90 minutes. While the world was looking into the future and wondering about the possible disasters associated with Y2K, radio station WLW was giving its listeners a taste of the past.
While we are still with this station! It is quite well known that the tall antenna mast at station WLW is a unique double-diamond shaped tower, with a total stress load of 450 tons. Engineer Jim Hawkins, in his website, states that this tower, standing 835 ft. tall, was struck by an airplane back in 1935. The plane hit the tower at the 600 foot level, but the tower was left undamaged.