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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 456, September 28, 2003

Radio Broadcasting on the Island of Palau

The Carolines are a scattered cluster of small islands lying half way between Guam and New Guinea.  There are nearly 1,000 small islands in the Carolines, made up of five groups stretching a distance of more than 2,000 miles.  These islands are mainly coral atolls and volcanic peaks of underwater mountains. 

The Carolines were first populated by waves of peoples migrating over from Indonesia.  The first Europeans to visit these islands were from Spain.  Spanish explorers first sited the islands in 1543, and Spain claimed the islands as part of their empire more than 300 years later, in 1885.

However, Spanish sovereignty over the islands was quite brief, and 14 years later they sold the islands to Germany.  The Japanese captured the Carolines during World War I and were granted a mandate from the League of Nations.  American forces invaded Palau in 1944, and
in 1947 the United Nations granted the Carolines to the United States as a trusteeship.

The most westerly group of islands in the Carolines is Palau, which is made up of a group of islands surrounded by a coral reef.  This group is about 100 miles long and 20 miles wide.  The largest island is Babelthuap, or Palau, which is 27 miles by 8.  Most of Palau's 20,000 people live on this island.  The Palau islands were granted independence on October 1, 1994.

Back in the 1920s, the Japanese installed a network of communication stations throughout the Carolines, including station JRW on Palaos Island, the most southerly in Palau.  In 1942, the Japanese installed another radio station on the eastern edge of Palau island itself for the purpose of broadcasting to Australia and other neighboring countries. 

This new facility was rated at 10 kw. and it was noted in Australia and New Zealand with strong signals on two channels, 9565 and 11740 kHz.  Programming was generally an off-air relay from Radio Tokyo.  The 9565 channel is listed by Arthur Cushen with the callsign JRAK.

After the American forces landed in Palau in 1944 they reactivated some of the electronic equipment which they found at the station and went on the air in December with AFRS programming under the callsign WVTW.   This was a 250 watt facility which was heard on several channels in the upper end of the mediumwave band.  It was listed as a member of the Pacific Ocean Network.

Station WVTW was often heard in Australia and New Zealand up until mid-1947.  Only one QSL is known from this station, and it was a letter issued to Merv Branks in New Zealand.

The well known shortwave station on Palau is KHBN, or, more properly these days, T8BZ.  During the time when High Adventure Ministries was performing all of the necessary preliminary work to establish their station on Palau, they were on the air from the AWR station KSDA on the island of Guam.  Initially, High Adventure planned on establishing their station on Guam, but later transferred the entire project to Palau.
        
They procured two older RCA transmitters from HCJB in Quito, Ecuador, and subsequent reports indicate that they obtained a third unit from Harris in the United States.  However, their initial test broadcasts began on Easter Sunday, April 19, 1992, using a backup unit rated at 6 kw.  After the main transmitter was installed, this was burned in at 40 kw. before running with full power at 100 kW.

Station KHBN recently acquired a Thomson transmitter from AWR KSDA on Guam, and this is currently under installation on Palau.  Their familiar long-style QSL card shows a map with the worldwide coverage areas of High Adventure Ministries.  This card has been issued in several different printings for the relay broadcasts from Guam, as well as for the station itself on Palau.
 
There is also a mediumwave station on Palau.  This station began as WSZB with 250 watts on 1500 kHz, and these days it is T8AA with 5 kw. on 1584 kHz.