"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 464, November 23, 2003
The Voice of America in the Philippines
These days it is not so well known that the Voice of America has operated a total of four different shortwave radio facilities located in the Philippines. To commemorate this long and interesting history, we take a look at each of these four VOA facilities in the Philippines in turn.
MANILA: Towards the end of the Pacific war, when American forces returned to the Philippines, the Voice of America began the relay of its programming over two radio transmitters that were on the air previously as a commercial enterprise. This was station KZFM, with two transmitters at 5 kw. each, one on mediumwave and the other on shortwave. This relay of VOA programming was simply an interim usage awaiting the construction of a new VOA facility at Malolos.
The two transmitters that were in use as VOA-KZFM were located on the edge of Manila city, and they were on the air as a VOA relay station for a period of four years, stretching from 1945 to 1948. This facility was returned to its previous owners for use as a commercial enterprise.
MALOLOS: This second VOA location in the Philippines was situated on the northen edge of Manila Bay. It was here that the Voice of America constructed its own facility with a total of four transmitters--one on mediumwave at 50 kW. and three on shortwave at 50 kW. and 7.5 kw.
This new facility at Malolos began test broadcasts under the same callsign KZFM, though when the station was taken into regular service it identified on air as VOA Northern Luzon. This station replaced the interim facility that operated on air as VOA Manila. In those days, the 50 kw. mediumwave unit located at Malolos and operating on 920 kHz was heard widely at night, while most other mediumwave stations in Asia, Australia and the Pacific were off the air.
VOA Malolos was in use for a period of 22 years, from 1948 to 1969. It was gifted to the Philippine government, who then operated it as DZRP, the "Voice of the Philippines."
PORO: Actually, the third VOA facility in the Philippines was made up of two separate units, one a permanent facility and the other a transportable unit. These were both co-sited in the Wallace Air Force Base at Point Poro, near San Fernando, 150 miles north of Manila.
The first unit on the air at this location was the one megawatt, that is 1,000 kw., mediumwave transmitter which was heard widely on 1140 kHz. This unit went on the air in June 1953, and at one stage this massive super-powered mediumwave transmitter was licensed by the Philippine authorities with the callsign DWVA.
The installation of six shortwave transmitters at 100 kw., 35 kw. and 15 kw. followed soon after the mediumwave station became airbourne. In VOA scheduling, this fixed VOA station at Poro was designated with the abbreviation PHP, followed by the actual number of the transmitter.
A transportable unit containing three shortwave transmitters at 50 kw. and known as Transportable 1 was transferred from VOA Liberia and installed at Poro in 1964. These transportable transmitters were designated in VOA scheduling as PHPX.
A few years ago, a nearby volcano, Mount Pinatubo, erupted, producing a massive devastation which closed VOA Poro for some weeks. At the end of September 1999, the VOA shortwave station at Poro was closed down, though the mediumwave unit still remains in service with 1 megawatt on 1143 kHz.
TINANG: The fourth VOA unit in the Philippines is located at Tinang, about 50 miles north of Manila, and rather close to the original facility at Malolos. This large radio base is also made up of two separate units, the permanent facility and a transportable unit.
The first unit to go on the air at Tinang was Transportable 2, which was manufactured in the United States specifically for installation at Tinang. This unit, with three transmitters at 50 kw., became operational in May 1968.
A total of ten transmitters at 250 kw. each were installed at Tinang, and these came into service progressively beginning in May 1969. Two additional transmitters at 250 kw. were installed in an adjoining facility at Tinang in 1982.
In VOA schedules, the main transmitters at Tinang are designated as PHT and the transportable transmitters are designated as PHX. This fourth VOA shortwave station in the Philippines is now the only remaining VOA facility in that country.
In the earlier days, VOA QSL cards were issued over the years for all four VOA units in the Philippines, from both Manila and from Washington. These days only VOA Washington issues QSL cards for the Philippine relay station, and the Philippine cards are now quite rare.