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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 442, June 22, 2003

Poona on Shortwave

The city of Pune, or Poona as it was known in earlier days, is noted as a university city and a centre of Indian culture.  Poona featured in the independence movement under the revered Mahatma Gandhi, and in the days of the British Raj, Poona was the summer capital for the Bombay Province due to its higher elevation and therefore cooler climate. 

In the international radio world, Poona in India became quite well known as the location of the production studio for Adventist World Radio.  For a period of nearly 13 years beginning in 1976, the broadcasts from the Poona studio were officially identified on air over the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation in Ekala as Adventist World Radio in Asia.

However, it was back in 1922 that the first communication station in Poona was established with the dual callsigns of VVO and VVJ.  This station was owned and operated by the Indian Radio & Cable Communications Company, and it was located at Kirkee, quite close to Spicer College, the large university-level college operated by the Seventh-day Adventist church.

Five years later, two new callsigns were noted on air from Kirkee, Poona, and these were VWZ and VWY.  It would be presumed that this was the same station, though perhaps with new equipment.  Both of these units were noted in many parts of the world in the pre-war era carrying communication traffic between India and England.

In view of the changing political circumstances in Europe, the 10 kw VWY transmitter at Poona was taken into broadcast usage for a French service into Syria.  The first broadcast of the new "Radio Francaise Libre díOrient" was noted on December 13, 1940.

During the two and a half years that these broadcasts were on the air, they were often heard at a good level also in Australia and New Zealand, and also, we would presume, in Europe.  The final broadcast of this unique radio service was heard in May 1943, and it was closed quite abruptly without prior announcement.

The half hour daily program began with the ticking of a metronome as the identification signal.  This was followed by a stirring rendition by a brass band of the March Lorraine, and then the opening announcement in French.  The entire program consisted of French and Middle Eastern music, news and news commentaries.
 
It is suggested that the programming was not produced in India but rather at some external location and then made available on disc for broadcast from VWY in the service back to the Middle East. There is only one known QSL from "Radio Francaise Libre díOrient" and this was a letter received by a radio columnist in Australia. 

For a very brief period of time, there was another shortwave station on the air in Poona, India.  This station was located at the Poona University and it was on the air in 1978 with test broadcasts on 4212 kHz.  These test transmissions were preliminary, for the purpose of broadcasting educational programs as a distance learning project.  However, these broadcasts never proceeded much beyond the testing phase.

We could also mention All India Radio as a broadcast service in Poona, with its origins in 1953 using a 1 kw mediumwave transmitter.   Several additional transmitters with higher power on mediumwave have been installed over the years at AIR Poona, though this station has never operated on shortwave.