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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 483, April 4, 2004

The Radio Scene in Haiti - Part I

The small independent nation of Haiti in the Caribbean has featured in major news events in recent time; and so, on this occasion here in Wavescan, we present the first of a two part story on "The Radio Scene in Haiti."

Actually, the country of Haiti occupies the western third of the island of Hispaniola which is located in the central Caribbean between Cuba and Puerto Rico.  Haiti is French, and the Dominican Republic, on the eastern end of the island, is Spanish. 

The total area of Haiti is a little over 10,000 square miles, and the greatest distance in their country is less than 200 miles.  The total population is around 6 million, and the capital city is Port-au-Prince, with around half a million people.

The radio scene in Haiti began a little over 80 years ago when the American navy established a wireless communication station in Port-au-Prince with the callsign NSC.  Subsequent communication stations were erected by the Haitian government and these were given the callisgns HHM, HHW and HHZ.

The first radio broadcasting station in Haiti appeared on the radio dail in 1927 with the callsign HHK, and this station was also located in the capital city.  Station HHK was a government facility, and it was licensed with 1 kw. on 830 kHz.

Shortwave broadcasting began in Haiti eight years later when the Haitian Automobile Association established a station that was given three different callsigns, one for each of the three licensed channels.  This station was heard in North America and Europe under the callsigns HH2R, HH2S and HH2T.  However, the first Haitian shortwave station that was heard in the South Pacific was HH3W, which was noted five years later, in the year 1940.

In the year 1946, ambitious plans were announced by a commercial organization in France for the establishment of a powerful station that would give radio coverage to almost the entire planet.  This station, with a commercial world service, was planned with three transmitters at 50 kw. each.  However, that august announcement was the last that was ever heard of this project.

Over the years, a large number of small shortwave stations were established in Haiti, and these have been on the air with programming in mainly three different languages, French, Spanish and English.  Each of these small stations was usually a shortwave relay from a regular mediumwave station, though on occasions a truly international service was heard from a few stations.  The target areas for an international service were usually other island nations in the Caribbean basin.

The power output of the shortwave stations in Haiti was usually in the range of just 1 kw. or less, though a couple of stations were on the air at times with 10 kw.  Some of these stations also issued QSL cards which these days are quite rare.

It was at the beginning of the year 1950 that the callsigns of all radio stations in Haiti were changed from the original prefix HH to the new prefix 4V.  Thus, for example, the station mentioned earlier, HH2S, became 4V2S.

Over the years, more than 60 different callsigns have been noted on shortwave in Haiti, and the station with the longest tenure was the gospel station 4VEH, with a close runner-up 4VWA.  This station was on the air for more than half a century as Radio Citadelle.  The era with the greatest number of shortwave stations was in the 1960s and 1970s, with more than 20 on the air.

The last two surviving shortwave stations in Haiti were Radio Citadelle 4VWA and the gospel station 4VEH.  The gospel station left the international shortwave bands in 1982, and both stations left the tropical shortwave bands in 1992.  Station 4VEH was the most famous of them all, and that will be the story for next week here in Wavescan, and we will present this story under the title, "The Right Station with the Wrong Callsign."