"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 451, August 24, 2003
Police Radio in the Early Days
Just a while back, we received a communication from Bob Pittman in the New South Wales Police Department, asking for information in two areas. This double request came to us via the Pacific Radio Heritage in New Zealand. One request was about the origin of the callsigns in use by Australian radio stations, and the other was about the history of police radio in Australia.
In answer to Officer Pittmanís two requests, we should mention that the origin of Australian radio callsigns will be the main topic in Wavescan edition 454 on Sunday, September 19, and in todayís edition we take up the story of Police Radio in Australia, and elsewhere as well.
The earliest record of Police Radio in Australia that we can find goes back to the late 1920s. At that time, a radio transmitter was installed at the AWA radio base at Pennant Hills on the edge of Sydney for use by the Police Department in Sydney.
This police transmitter was on the air longwave on 410 kHz in Morse Code and voice with 3 kw under the callsign VKD. The transmitter was remotely operated from police headquarters in Philip Street, Sydney, and this service was also monitored at police headquarters in Melbourne, Victoria. In subsequent years, when the transmitter location was moved out of the AWA facility at Pennant Hills, the callsign was changed to VKG.
The transmission tower for the radio station operated by the police in Melbourne was located on top of their tall downtown building. This station was inaugurated in 1922 with the callsign VKC. Additional similar units at country locations also took the same callsign; and, for example, VKC3 with 200 watts on 4490 kHz was located at Seymour, 64 miles from Melbourne.
Brisbane Police were on the air in the mid-1940s with a similar communication service on 2175 kHz under the callsign VKR.
Interestingly, all three of these police radio stations in Australia verified reports from listeners in Australia and New Zealand with very informative QSL letters. Across the Tasman, veteran DXer Jack Fox also received letters of verification from two of the police radio stations in New Zealand, ZLKQ in Auckland and ZLKP.
Over in the United States around the same era, there was a multitude of police radio stations on the air, and these were often noted at great distance with entertainment programming as well as police despatch notices. Again, Jack Fox in New Zealand has QSLed several of these in earlier days, including station KGPA in Seattle with 500 watts on 2414 kHz and WCK in Detroit with 1 kw on the same channel, 2414 kHz.
There is a very interesting example of police radio over in the country of Turkey. This station began with 1 kw on shortwave many years ago, though the actual date of commencement is not known to the international radio world. A little over ten years ago, two transmitters at 10 kw were installed and the broadcast channel was changed to 7370 kHz.
This station has often been noted in Europe and North America with Turkish music and brief quick police announcements in the Turkish language. In earlier times, Turkish Police Radio issued a plain but highly prized QSL card with English text. However, these days they are no longer issuing any QSLs at all. The schedule for this station is shown in the World Radio TV Handbook as 0550-1700 UTC on the same channel, 7370 kHz.