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By Dr. Adrian Peterson

The following series was originally published in the Radio News Bulletin, published by the Special Projects section of Adventist World Radio.) The articles appear here with permission of the author.


(The following piece originally appeared in the January 31, 1995 issue - Volume 3 No. 1 - of the Radio News Bulletin.)

Beyond the Mediumwave Band

In the previous presentation of "Down Memory Lane", you read our information about the communication stations in Australia that were operating on the upper edge of the mediumwave band around the end of World War 2. Initially, these stations began to multiply in this area but, as time went by, many of them moved higher up into the shortwave spectrum. In more recent years, a whole slew of these stations has vacated the shortwave bands and migrated into the VHF and UHF area of the spectrum where they can now be heard on multi-channel scanners.

Back at this era a half century ago, I heard many of these utility communication stations in the shortwave spectrum beyond the edge of the mediumwave band. At the time, there was no readily available radio receiver that tuned this segment of the radio spectrum and in fact in Australia, there was a real shortage of any type of electronic equipment. I made my own little receiver which operated with expensive "A" and "B" type batteries. This radio used the old style bulbous Cossor valves from England. I wound my own tuning coils by using the base of an old burnt out valve; by simply breaking the glass off, removing the elements and then drilling, winding, and soldering the three windings; and then I had a brand-new home-made plug-in coil. Even though I tried to follow very closely the formulas of the time, these home-brew coils were never very efficient. Nevertheless, I was able to tune in the longer shortwave bands, and thus, a whole slew of these new communication stations.

Following is a list of these low frequency shortwave utility communication stations of that era from whom I was able to obtain a QSL. Some of these QSLs are reproduced in this issue of "Radio News Bulletin".

VIM - 2100 kHz - 150 watts - Melbourne, Vic - Coastal Radio
VKK - 2130 kHz - 200 watts - Sydney, NSW - Sydney County Council, electricity
VKR - 2175 kHz - 300 watts - Brisbane, Qld - Police
VL3GA - 2850 kHz - 200 watts - Melbourne, Vic - Ambulance service
VL3CD - 3090 kHz - 20 watts - Stawell, Vic - Bush Fire Fighting Service
VUBW - 3090 kHz - 2 watts - Mobile, Vic - Bush Fire Fighting Service
VJC - 4130 kHz - 150 watts - Broken Hill, NSW - Flying Doctor Service
VKC3 - 4815 kHz - 200 watts - Melbourne, Vic - Police - Parallel with VKC 1630
VJJ - 4980 kHz - 200 watts - Charleville, Qld - Flying Doctor Service


(The following piece originally appeared in the March 22, 1995 issue - Volume 3 No. 2 - of the Radio News Bulletin.)

OK, now lets go back to the information on emergency broadcasts from Radio Australia as promised some time back.

On Christmas Day 1974, while resident in Colombo in Sri Lanka, I tuned in to a news broadcast from Radio Australia and was appalled to learn that a horrendous cyclone had ripped through the city of Darwin in the Northern Territory. This destructive wind storm had destroyed about 80% of the city and it also disabled the Radio Australia transmitter base on Cox Peninsula across the bay.

At the time, I had recently moved to Victor Goonetilleke's island homeland after a year in the United States and I had brought with me an FM radio microphone. I hooked this up to the shortwave radio so that I could here the latest developments on another radio as I moved around the house. In this way, I was able to keep up with the live broadcasts from Darwin regarding the aftermath of the tragedy.

The landline between 8DR, the.Darwin studios of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and their mediumwave transmitter base was cut and the transmitter was disabled. The ABC was given the usage of an emergency army radio transmitter inland some miles, but there was no way to get the programs across the intervening distance. As an emergency measure, the live programs from the ABC studios in Darwin were routed across the continent down to Melbourne over 2,000 miles of telephone lines. From there the programming was shunted across to the two shortwave radio bases located at Lyndhurst and Shepparton, both in Victoria. Three transmitters at these two locations were diverted for this emergency service back to Darwin.

At the army radio station near Darwin, a shortwave receiver picked up the programming and plugged it into their mediumwave transmitter so that the people in Darwin could be kept up-to-date. This remarkable radio service was on the air for many weeks.

Interestingly, three years later I was in Australia and happened to monitor another emergency shortwave service from Radio Australia. The VJY communication transmitter located at the Radio Australia receiver station at Darwin was malfunctioning and there was no direct way to get programming from the SDR studios in Darwin to the 500 watt mediumwave relay station located at an Aboriginal settlement near Gove in Arnhem Land. Radio Australia came to the rescue again and the programming was again routed by landline across the continent to Melbourne and onwards to a 10 kW transmitter at Lyndhurst. A local radio receiver picked up the shortwave signal and the programs were again on the air over the local mediumwave station 8GO in isolated Gove.

QSL cards and letters were received from Radio Australia for all of these very interesting emergency broadcasts. By the time we visited Radio Australia at Darwin, the city had been redesigned and rebuilt, and the shortwave transmitters were again on the air, at least with test broadcasts.


(The following piece originally appeared in the December 21, 1994 issue - Volume 2 No. 10 - of the Radio News Bulletin.)

It is true, in the last issue of Radio News Bulletin did indicate that the topic for "Down Memory Lane" in this issue would be on Emergency Broadcasts from Radio Australia". However, in view of the fact that the FCC in the United States has issued the list of stations that are now licensed to transfer into the new extension of the mediumwave band, let me therefore postpone that item on Radio Australia and instead present this item on the extension to the mediumwave band.

Back at the time of World War 2 and soon afterwards, the mediumwave band in America extended up to 1600 kHz, whereas in Australia, it extended only up to 1500 kHz. This left a total of 10 clear channels beyond the end of the Australian mediumwave band. At sunset in South Australia during the spring and autumn, we used to hear many North American stations in that area of the radio spectrum. I can remember on many occasions, long before I began to send out reception reports, hearing such stations as:

1510 kHz WLAC 5 kW Nashville Tennessee & KGA 10 kW Spokane Washington
1520 kHz KOMA 5 kW Oklahoma City Oklahoma
1530 kHz KFBK 10 kW Sacramento California & WCKY 50 kW Cincinnati, Ohio
1540 kHz KXEL 50 kW Waterloo Iowa
1560 kHz KPMC 1 kW Bakersfield California
1570 kHz XERF 100 kW Mexico

After I began to send out reception reports in 1944, QSLs came in from American stations in this area of the spectrum such as:- KFBK, WLAC, KXEL & KOMA.

Around the end of the war, a whole slew of interesting utility stations in Australia began to appear in the same area of the spectrum. These stations were operated by the ambulance services, police, fire brigade, and by staff located in isolated lighthouses. These are the ones that I was able to QSL at the time:

1530 kHz VIA 200 watts Adelaide South Australia Maritime
1600 kHz VL5CR 50 watts Troubridge South Australia Lighthouse
1600 kHz VKG 300 watts Sydney New South Wales Police
1630 kHz VKC 500 watts Melbourne Victoria Police
1665 kHz VKNS 400 watts Melbourne Victoria Fire

As the years went by, all of these stations gradually migrated higher into the utility bands. Maybe I should tell that story too, before going back to Radio Australia's emergency transmissions? In any case, several of the above mentioned QSLs are reproduced in this issue of Radio News Bulletin.

And now, on the American scene, another extension has been granted to the mediumwave band, this time the area extending from 1600-1700 kHz. It will be very interesting to see (hear?) this new extension to the mediumwave band filling up as stations from lower frequencies migrate to this area.


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