"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 506, September 12, 2004
All India Radio Delhi - Three Shortwave Locations and Two Mystery Transmitters
The history of radio broadcasting in India is an intensely interesting multi-faceted story that extends over a period of nearly 80 years. With a huge population of around one billion people, it would be expected that the extent of radio coverage would be developed on a massive scale throughout India over the years. This is indeed true, and in this edition of Wavescan we take a look at just one segment of the Indian radio scene, the shortwave events in the capital city area.
We go back to the very earliest era and discover that the first wireless station in the Delhi area was established as a Morse Code facility back in the 1920s, and it was on the air in spark gap Morse under the communication callsign VWD.
Mediumwave broadcasting was introduced to Delhi on January 1, 1936 when a 10 kw. transmitter was inaugurated under the callsign VUD. The original studios were located in a bungalow on Alipur Road and the transmitter was located on Mall Road.
Since this small beginning, numerous mediumwave transmitters have been placed on the air for coverage in the Delhi area, using low power, medium power and high power at four different locations. The three major locations have been Mall Road, Kingsway and Nangli. In addition, an emergency 1 kw. transmitter at the government Research Laboratory was on the air for a short while in September 1978 during a period of heavy flooding in the area.
On the shortwave scene, the first transmitter was co-sited with the mediumwave unit in the Mall Road facility. This 10 kw. unit was inaugurated on September 1, 1937 as VUD2 and it was taken into regular service with a relay of the mediumwave programming more than three months later, on December 16. Two additional shortwave transmitters were installed into the Mall Road facility, a 5 kw. in 1938 and another 10 kw. in 1939.
When the first shortwave transmitter came on the air in 1937, an additional temporary studio was installed into an existing building on Underhill Road. All studio production was transferred to the new AIR building in Parliament Street in 1943, and they are still there to this day.
A new shortwave station was constructed at Kingsway, near the British military cantonment, in 1944. Since that time, more than a dozen shortwave transmitters ranging in power from 7.5 kw. to 100 kw. have been installed at Kingsway. A total of nine of these transmitters are still listed as being in use today for regional and international coverage.
Massive and unexpected flooding in Delhi in September 1978 caught the staff at the Kingsway station off guard and unprepared. They switched the station off, but were unable to get out. Food supplies were dropped from planes and helicopters. A high powered mediumwave transmitter was also co-sited at Kingsway during this era, and during this flood emergency a 1 kw. transmitter at the government Research Department provided a fill-in service.
An additional large shortwave station was constructed near the village of Khampur for national and international coverage in 1958. Over the years, this station has contained a total of 14 transmitters ranging in power from 20 kw. to 250 kw. Three of these units at 250 kw. are in use today.
Now for the "Mystery Transmitters." It is established that a 10 kw. transmitter in Madras was off the air for almost a year beginning in September 1941. It is reported that this transmitter was hurriedly transferred to Delhi and installed to carry a new service in the Tamil language to South East Asia.
It is known that a transmitter in Delhi carrying a new Indian language service suddenly appeared on the shortwave radio dial in January 1941. This station was on the air under the unusual Indian callsign VUE and it was listed as a standby unit with 250 watts.
However, monitoring reports in Australia consistently listed this station on 6085 kHz with strong signals. We would suggest then that this transmitter was a communication facility that was diverted part time for program broadcasting to South East Asia.
And what about the 10 kw. transmitter from Madras? Well, that one is a little harder to answer. It is not known where it was installed, though we could guess that it was at the original shortwave site on Mall Road. Apparently this unit was dismantled and returned back to Madras where it was re-activated in July 1942.