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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.