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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 448, August 3, 2003

Early Shortwave Stations in Australia - Commercial

This is the third episode on the story of early shortwave broadcasting in Australia.  The two previous episodes told the story of the early AWA and ABC shortwave stations, and on this occasion we take a look at commercial shortwave broadcasting in Australia.

The first suggestion for shortwave broadcasting on the part of a commercial radio station in Australia was made early in the year 1925.  The Trades and Labor Council in Sydney announced that they planned on erecting a mediumwave radio station with the callsign 2LC, which stood for Labor Council. 

They stated also that they would install a shortwave transmitter and operate a tandem relay on both mediumwave and shortwave.  However, when the new station was launched later in the year 1925, the callsign had changed from 2LC to 2KY, and there was no sign of the projected shortwave unit. 

Over the next few years, there were several different attempts at broadcasting on shortwave by the new mediumwave station 3UZ in Melbourne.   In 1923, Oliver J. Nilsen was on the air quite frequently with program broadcasting over his amateur station 3ZL.  Five years later, Engineer L. G. Glew went on the air from his own amateur station with a relay of programming from mediumwave 3UZ.

Then in June 1930, a new shortwave transmitter was co-sited with the mediumwave transmitter at 3UZ and a tandem relay was heard on air.  Just one year later, the same transmitter was reactivated again for another brief period, again with a tandem relay from mediumwave.

Two additional important events stand out in the history of commercial radio station 3UZ.  In January 1926, just a few months after the station was launched, they carried a series of remote broadcasts from the annual camp meeting of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  These camp meeting programs are the earliest known radio broadcasts on the part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia.

Back in the year 1930, 3UZ also broadcast a series of television programs, one of the very earliest TV experiments in Australian history.

Another commercial station in Australia that went on the air shortwave was 3DB, also in Melbourne, Victoria.  It was on the occasion of the 1934 Centenary Celebrations that a relay of these events from 3DB was heard worldwide each evening for nearly two weeks, beginning on October 28.  The shortwave transmitter that carried this program relay was the 3.5 kw unit, VK3ME, at Braybrook on the edge of the state capital.

Following the example of American radio stations, a three station hook-up in Queensland experimented with the delivery of a program feed by shortwave radio.  Two transmitters were installed, one at 4BK in Kings House, Brisbane and the other at 4AK out in the country near the city of Oakey.  These two transmitters were on the air simultaneously with an experimental relay of programming to station 4IP at Ipswich, some 50 miles distant.

For a few years beginning in the mid 1930s the Adelaide station 5AD operated its own amateur station under the callsign VK5DI.  This station, located in suburban Wayville, was heard spasmodically with a relay of the same programming as was on the air from 5AD and its country regional, 5PI, near Port Pirie.  These programs were heard throughout Australia and New Zealand, and occasionally in the United States.     
Another interesting case of shortwave broadcasting was exhibited by 6KG, at the goldfields city, Kalgoorlie.  In 1949, this station was listed in the American government FIBS radio directory as operating also on shortwave, on 4835 kHz.  However, a letter to the manager some 25 years later revealed that these were not true shortwave broadcasts, but rather a radiation of the fourth harmonic from the mediumwave transmitter that was operating slightly off channel.

There is only one known QSL from all of these early Australian commercial shortwave stations, and that is a card from 3UZ in Melbourne, with 150 watts on 32 m.  This card was received by Mr. C. S. Hallard in Taranaki, New Zealand and it is dated June 30, 1931.

Seventy Years with BBC TV - or actually 71 to be exact!

These days, we simply take it for granted. Television, that is. We can sit in front of a TV screen and we can see colorful images conveying to our wondering eyes and ears current news and events taking place in distant countries around our globe. But, as you are aware, it wasn't always like that.

The history of television is just a little younger than the history of radio, due to the fact that it was the development of radio technology that spawned the development of television technology. After all, television is simply radio with pictures.

As early as 1884, Paul Nipkow in Germany invented a mechanical scanning device that sent pictures a short distance over a connective wire system. In 1922, Philo Farnsworth in the United States developed an electronic scanning device that could send moving pictures by radio. In 1929, the Russian born Vladimir Zworykin demonstrated in the United States the first completely electronic television system, with both transmission and reception.

At the same time as these experiments were taking place in the United States, similar developments were also occurring in England. In the United States, it was NBC that took the initiative, and in England it was the BBC.

It was in August 1932, just 71 years ago, that the BBC in London began the world's first regularly scheduled TV programs. The venue for production and transmission was the Crystal Palace, and it should also be remembered that there were very few TV receivers available in those days.

What did the picture look like in those days? Well, to start off with, the picture was quite small compared to the large and brilliant TV screens that are available these days. A small TV tube was built into a wooden cabinet that contained the receiving equipment. The picture was dull and only in the one monotone color, and it could be seen only when the room had been darkened a little.

The inventor of this system of television was John Logue Baird, a Scotsman who was not related to another man with the same family name, Baird, who was also involved in the development of television in the United States at the same time. The picture was also quite coarse due to the fact that it was based on a 30-line scanning system.

The word "television" is a universal word these days with but slight variation in most languages worldwide. The name comes from two words in two ancient languages, languages in countries that, at the time, would never have understood even the concept of sending moving pictures through space from one part of the world to another. In Greek "tele" means "far", and in Latin "video" means "I see".

Among the popular programs of the day were Baird's own presentation of the ventriloquist act, "Stookie Bill", and music by the contralto singer, Betty Bolton. Even with the lack of support facilities and the simplicity of the system, it is considered that the BBC TV broadcasts back in the 1930s were professionally produced and presented.