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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.

Historic DX Report - 1933

In our series of historic DX reports we advance another ten years and we come to the year 1933.

ENGLAND: It is announced that the power of the National longwave transmitter at Daventry, station 5XX, will be increased from 30 kW to 100 kW. This station carries the national program of the BBC for wide area coverage of all the British Isles, and it is heard on longwave 193 kHz.

USA: The new shortwave station W4XB in Miami has been heard in Berlin, London, Bangkok and Manila with test broadcasts. This station is quite low powered, and it is on the air with these special test broadcasts in the 19 metre band in the American morning.

NEW ZEALAND: The most powerful station in New Zealand is 2YA in Wellington, with its two tall towers on a hill overlooking the capital city. Station 2YA can be heard all across New Zealand, and well into Australia at night time, with its powerful 5 kW signal on 720 kHz. It is rumored that one day this station will be increased to 60 kW on a lower frequency, probably 570 kHz. Station 2YA is noted in Sydney closing at 10:00 pm local time, 1200 UTC, with a closing announcement and the rendition of a piece of music that they call their "goodnight melody".

Just recently, an auxiliary transmitter was co-sited on the hill overlooking Wellington, and this unit was given the callsign 2YC. This new low powered 200 watt station on 1010 kHz sometimes takes the main program from 2YA when 2YA is carrying special programming.

ENGLAND: The new Empire Station that was opened at the end of last year is heard with good signals on shortwave in Europe, North America and the South Pacific. The main callsign is GSE, though they allocate a new callsign for each new shortwave channel. The experimental transmitter G5SW at Chelmsford was recently closed and transferred to Daventry, where it is currently under installation for use in the BBC Empire Service.

SIAM: The Melbourne-based radio magazine "Listener In" carried a full-length feature article in its July 8 issue on the radio scene in Siam. Back three years ago, states this article, the Prince of Siam visited Australia and saw the mediumwave and shortwave stations in Victoria, 3LO and VK3ME. After his return to Bangkok, the Prince had a similar facility constructed in his own city. The introductory low-powered shortwave outlet, HSP1, was subsequently upgraded to 2.5 kW and it is now heard quite widely in Asia the Pacific, and occasionally in the United States.

GERMANY: The powerful station DJA at Zeesen is noted with a good signal for four hours daily on 9560 kHz. Programming is in both German and English.

AUSTRALIA: The AWA shortwave station VK2ME located at Pennant Hills on the edge of Sydney is currently on the air three times each Sunday. This 12 kW station is heard opening at 0500 GMT on 9590 kHz with the call of the Kookaburra. This station verifies with a very attractive card showing the laughing Kookaburra superimposed over a map of Australia.

The lower powered VK3ME at Braybrook near Melbourne is heard opening at 1000 GMT on Wednesdays on 9510 kHz. Likewise, this AWA station also issues an attractive QSL card showing a radio antenna superimposed on a map of Australia.

During the summer cricket season in Australia, both VK3LR and VK3ME carry a relay of the cricket commentary from mediumwave 3AR.

PACIFIC: A special program called, the "South Seas Broadcast" was on the air from a worldwide network of shortwave stations in May. The broadcast was coordinated by AWA, and programming from many stations in the Pacific Islands was spliced into the main program. This broadcast was also on the air from the BBC in London and from station CJA in Drummondville, Canada.

BULGARIA: Plans are in hand to upgrade the mediumwave station at Sofia in Bulgaria. Currently this station is on the air with 500 watts on 940 kHz, and the new transmitter power will be increased to 15 kW.

ALASKA: For those who have a good antenna hooked up to a good receiver, you will be interested to know that there are now two mediumwave stations on the air in Alaska. These are:

USA: All of the American shortwave stations are currently heard throughout North America, Europe and the South Pacific. The schedule for some of these stations is as follows:

The Ship that Never Sailed!

Our opening feature in this edition of Wavescan was the long and interesting information about radio broadcasting on the islands of Palau. It is worthy of note that preliminary plans for the shortwave station KHBN called for a broadcast facility to be installed in a ship.

The original intent was to operate an international radio broadcasting station on board a ship and to station it at suitable locations for the broadcast of Christian Gospel programming. After giving serious consideration to this matter, High Adventure announced in 1989 that they were abandoning the concept of a ship radio station as too expensive, too expensive to construct and too expensive to operate.

Following this decision, investigations were made regarding the possibility of establishing their projected station at a suitable location somewhere in Asia; for example, in the Philippines, or Singapore, or Guam. Initially, approval was granted for them to erect their station at Piti, in the center of the west coast of Guam.

However, environmental concerns came up, and they abandoned Guam in favor of Palau. Their station is located on the western edge of the main island of Palau on a low hill about 500 feet from the waterfront.

Thus the High Adventure radio ship never sailed, and in fact, it never got any further than the initial planning stages.