June 12, 2009


President Dwight D. Eisenhower broadcasts from the Voice of America on its fifteenth anniversary in February 1957. VOA - the official government shortwave service - went on the air during World War Two with programming to Germany and Japan. Today, VOA broadcasts in 46 languages. Its transmitter site in the U.S. is located near Greenville, North Carolina.


Iva Ikuko Toguri D'Aquino, an American, was the woman most identified with the moniker "Tokyo Rose" - the name given to any of a dozen English-speaking female broadcasters of Japanese propaganda during World War II. She was convited of treason in 1949 and pardoned by President Ford in 1977 after evidence emerged a witness had lied at her trial. - Wikipedia


Photo: Doug Garlinger

In 1939, Australia's prime minister, Robert Menzies, inaugurated the shortwave service at the Australian Broadcasting Corp. in an effort to counter Japanese propaganda at the outbreak of World War II. In the 1940s, the station was remaned Radio Australia.


Your editor listened to Radio Moscow on his Lafayette receiver

Moscow calling.

Radio Moscow started beaming its English Service to the U.S. by shortwave in the early 1950's. 

Moscow Mailbag, hosted by Joe Adamov, was a popular feature that answered listeners' questions.

The program continued after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, when Radio Moscow was renamed Voice of Russia.

Adamov presented Moscow Mailbag from 1957 until 2005.

Radio Moscow's interval signal was "My Country's Vast."

Radio broadcasting in the Soviet Union commenced in the Moscow region in 1922.

A second station went on the air in Leningrad in 1924.

By 1939, Radio Moscow was broadcasting in English, French, German, Italian and Arabic via medium wave and short wave.

At its peak, Moscow broadcast in over 70 languages via transmitters in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and Cuba.


Photos: Radio Prague
International shortwave broadcasts from Prague went on the air on Aug. 31, 1936 from the government telegraph office. The Technical Director of Czechoslovak Radio, Eduard Svoboda, hosted the first program in English.

June 11, 2009


Radio RSA - the Voice of South Africa - went on the air in 1966 and signed off at the end of the apartheid era in 1992. ``Radio RSA broadcast news and opinion programming, which was often propaganda aimed at defending the apartheid regime and demonizing its opponents, like the African National Congress,'' according to Wikipedia. Radio RSA was operated by the South African Broadcasting Corp.

June 10, 2009


In May 1920, WWV went on the air from Washington, D.C., transmitting time interval signals. It moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, on Dec. 1, 1966, enabling better reception of its signal throughout the continental U.S. - Wikipedia

From the National Institute of Standards and Technology

WWV has a long and storied history that dates back to the very beginning of radio broadcasting. The call letters WWV were assigned to NIST (then called the National Bureau of Standards) in October 1919. Although the call letters WWV are now synonymous with the broadcasting of time signals, it is unknown why those particular call letters were chosen or assigned. Testing of the station began from Washington, D.C. in May 1920, with the broadcast of Friday evening music concerts that lasted from 8:30 to 11 p.m. The 50 W transmissions used a wavelength of 500 m (about 600 kHz, or near the low end of today’s commercial AM broadcast band), and could be heard out to about 40 kilometers. A news release dated May 28, 1920 hinted at the significance of this event:
This means that music can be performed at any place, radiated into the air by means of an ordinary radio set, and received at any other place even though hundreds of miles away. The music received can be made as loud as desired by suitable operation of the receiving apparatus. Such concerts are sometimes sent out by the radio laboratory of the Bureau of Standards in connection with trials of experimental apparatus. This music can be heard by anyone in the states near the District of Columbia having a simple amateur receiving outfit. The pleasant evenings which have been experienced by persons at a number of such receiving stations suggest interesting possibilities of the future.
Interesting possibilities, indeed! Keep in mind that KDKA of Pittsburgh, generally acknowledged as the first commercial broadcast station, did not go on the air until November 2, 1920.
On December 15, 1920 the station began assisting the Department of Agriculture in the distribution of market news to farm bureaus and agricultural organizations. A 2 kW spark transmitter was used to broadcast 500 word reports, called the Daily Market Marketgram, on 750 kHz. The operating radius was about 300 kilometers out of Washington. These broadcasts continued until April 15, 1921.
By December 1922, it was decided that the station’s purpose would be the transmission of standard frequency signals. The first tests were conducted on January 29th and 30th of 1923, and included the broadcast of frequencies from 200 to 545 kHz. By May of 1923, WWV was broadcasting frequencies from 75 to 2000 kHz on a weekly schedule. The accuracy of the transmitted frequency was quoted as being “better than three-tenths of one per cent.” The output power of the station was 1 kW.
There were numerous changes in both the broadcast schedule, format, and frequency of WWV throughout the 1920’s. In January 1931, the station was moved from Washington to the nearby city of College Park, Maryland. A 150 W transmitter operating at 5 MHz was initially used, but the power was increased back to 1 kW by the following year. A new device, the quartz oscillator, made it possible to dramatically improve the output frequency of WWV. Quartz oscillators were first used at WWV in 1927, and by 1932 allowed the transmitted frequency to be controlled to less than 2 parts in 107.
The station moved again in December 1932, this time to a 10 hectare (25 acre) Department of Agriculture site near Beltsville, Maryland. By April of 1933, the station was broadcasting 30 kW on 5 MHz, and 10 and 15 MHz broadcasts (20 kW output power) were added in 1935. The 5 MHz frequency was chosen for several reasons, including “its wide coverage, its relative freedom from previously assigned stations, and its convenient integral relation with most frequency standards." The 10 and 15 MHz frequencies were chosen as harmonics, or multiples of 5 MHz. WWV continues to use all of these frequencies today, as well as another harmonic (20 MHz), and a sub-harmonic (2.5 MHz).
The Beltsville area was the home of WWV until December 1966 (although the location name for the broadcast was changed to Greenbelt, Maryland in 1961). During the years in Beltsville, many interesting developments took place. A fire destroyed the station in November 1940, but the standard frequency equipment was salvaged and the station returned to the air just 5 days later using an adjacent building. An act of Congress in July 1941 provided $230,000 for the construction of a new station, which was built 5 kilometers south of the former site and went on the air in January 1943. The 2.5 MHz broadcasts began in February 1944, and are still used as a convenient way to reach the population nearest the radio station. Transmission on 20, 25, 30, and 35 MHz began in December 1946. The 30 and 35 MHz broadcasts were discontinued in January 1953 and the 25 MHz broadcast was stopped in 1977. With the exception of an almost 2-year interruption (1977-78), the 20 MHz broadcasts have continued to this day.
Much of the current broadcast format also took shape during the Beltsville years. The 440 Hz tone (A above middle C) was added to the broadcast in August 1936, at the request of several music organizations. The second pulses were added in June 1937, and the geophysical alert messages began in July 1957. And as quartz oscillator technology improved, so did the frequency control of the broadcast. The transmitted frequency was routinely kept within 2 parts in 1010 of the national standard by 1958.
WWV’s most well known feature, the announcement of time, also began during the Beltsville years. A standard time announcement in telegraphic code was added in October 1945, and voice announcements of time began on January 1, 1950. The original voice announcements were at 5-minute intervals. It is interesting to note that WWV continued to broadcast local time at the transmitter site until 1967.
In 1966, the decision was made to move WWV to its current location, near Fort Collins, Colorado. The LF station WWVB went on the air in July 1963 near Fort Collins, and it was decided that WWV would share the same 158 hectare (390 acre) site. The new site was about 80 kilometers from the Boulder laboratories where the national standards of time and frequency were kept. The proximity to Boulder and the use of atomic oscillators at the transmitter site would make it possible to control the transmitted frequency to within 2 parts in 1011, a factor of ten improvement. Today, the station’s frequency is controlled to within 1 part in 1013.

At 0000 UTC on December 1, 1966 the Greenbelt, Maryland broadcast was turned off and the new transmitter at Fort Collins was turned on. In April 1967 the station began broadcasting Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) instead of local time, and began its current format of using Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) in December 1968. The time announcements were made every minute, instead of every 5 minutes, beginning in July 1971.


Vatican Radio - call sign HVJ - began broadcasting on Feb. 12, 1931, with the pontificial message "Omni creaturae" of Pope Pius XI. Guglielmo Marconi built the station.


Radio Station TI4NRH - operated by Amando Céspedes Marín from San Jose, Costa Rica - went on the air on March 4, 1928. Céspedes' station was heard throughout North America. He is considered the father of Amateur Radio in Costa Rica.


Alistair Cooke (right) was one of the BBC's most enduring voices, starting in the 1930s. Cooke's ``Letter from America'' - his weekly essay on culture and politics - began in 1946.

Photos: BBC
Philosopher Bertrand Russell, who won the 1960 Nobel Prize for literature, was a regular guest on the BBC home and foreign services during the 1940s and 1950s.

June 9, 2009


Once Adolf Hitler assumed power in Germany in 1933, shortwave, under the Rundfunk Ausland, was regarded as a vital element of Nazi propaganda. Shortwave hours were increased from two hours a day to 18 per day, and eventually twelve languages were broadcast on a 24-hour basis. A 100 kilowatt transmitter and antenna complex was built at Zeesen, near Berlin. - Wikipedia


From HCJB web site

In 1930, Clarence Jones met four Christian & Missionary Alliance missionary couples working in Ecuador, South America, who would help in the founding of Radio Station HCJB: Reuben & Grace Larson, Stuart (D.S) & Irma Clark, John (J.D.) & Ruth Clark and Paul & Bernice Young. Jones also recruited Eric & Anne Williams as the engineer and technical staff to build and operate the station’s first radio transmitter and studio.

The station’s call letters “HCJB” were chosen by the founders to reflect its ultimate purpose of “Heralding Christ Jesus’ Blessings.

HCJB “The Voice of the Andes” aired its first program from Quito, Ecuador on Dec 25th, 1931. Radio Station HCJB was the first missionary radio station in the world, as well as the first radio station in Ecuador with daily programs. The radio ministry had a rather humble beginning since there were perhaps as few as 13 radios capable of receiving its first broadcasts.

With the addition of a 10,000 watt transmitter in 1940, designed and built by Clarence Moore, HCJB’s transmitter power was able to send the station’s English and Spanish programs far beyond Latin America. Soon HCJB was receiving letters from listeners all around the world.

HCJB quickly began adding programs in other major international languages. The first to be added in 1941 was Swedish programs by Ellen de Campaña. Shortly after that, HCJB added Russian programs produced by Peter Deyneka Sr. and the Slavic Gospel Association. That same year, HCJB added programs in Quichua, a language spoken by indigenous groups living throughout the highlands of Ecuador and nearby countries.

HCJB quickly began adding programs in other major international languages. The first to be added in 1941 was Swedish programs by Ellen de Campaña. Shortly after that, HCJB added Russian programs produced by Peter Deyneka Sr. and the Slavic Gospel Association. That same year, HCJB added programs in Quichua, a language spoken by indigenous groups living throughout the highlands of Ecuador and nearby countries.

By 1944, Radio Station HCJB had added broadcasts in Arabic, Czech, Dutch, French, German and Yiddish. In later years, other major languages would be added such as Portuguese and Japanese. While a few language programs were recorded elsewhere, the vast majority of HCJB’s local and international programming was produced and aired live from the station’s studios in Quito.


ELWA - ``In 1952, the Government of Liberia granted a permit for broadcasting. A frequency was assigned and the call letters “ELWA” (Eternal Love Winning Africa) were designated for what was soon to be Africa’s first Christian radio station. Committed to the challenge, on January 18, 1954, Radio ELWA aired its first program with the hope that millions would be blessed spiritually.'' - ELWA web site

TGNA - ``Radio TGNA was founded in August of 1950 by Mr. Harold Van Broekhaven of the Central American Mission located in Dallas, Texas. The station was founded for the purpose of reaching the people of Central America and the Caribbean with the Gospel through radio.'' - Journal of the North American Shortwave Association, May 1979

Photos: Pat Dyer
4VEH - ``The Evangelistic Voice of Haiti (La Voix Evangélique d'Haiti) has been on the air from Cap-Haitien, Haiti since 1950, when it was founded by Rev. G. T. Bustin of the East and West Indies Bible Mission. In 1958, ownership of the station passed to OMS International (formerly The Oriental Missionary Society). Languages have included English, Spanish, French and Creole on AM, FM and Short Wave. Today, Radio 4VEH offers its programs in Creole and French, concentrating on reaching its Haitian listeners.'' - Mission Radio

June 8, 2009


Photos: BBC
Coat of arms, 1927, and Arthur Burrows, 1922.

The original British Broadcasting Company was founded in 1922 to broadcast experimental radio services.

The first transmission came on Nov. 14, 1922 from station "2LO'' at Marconi House, London, according to Wikipedia.

The initial staff consisted of four people.

``The task of reading those first bulletins on 14 November, at six o'clock and nine o'clock, fell to the director of programmes, Arthur Burrows,'' according to the BBC. ''He read each bulletin twice - once quickly and once slowly - and asked listeners to say what they preferred.''

In 1927, the company was renamed the British Broadcasting Corporation when it was granted a Royal Charter. To represent its purpose and values, the BBC adopted a coat of arms with the motto "Nation shall speak peace unto Nation".

In 1932, the BBC introduced the Empire Service - its first venture in overseas broadcasting via shortwave. Programs were aimed principally at English speakers, or as King George V put it in the first-ever Royal Christmas Message, the "men and women, so cut off by the snow, the desert, or the sea, that only voices out of the air can reach them."

In the opening broadcast, the Director General of the BBC, Lord Reith said, "Don't expect too much in the early days; for some time we shall transmit comparatively simple programmes, to give the best chance of intelligible reception and provide evidence as to the type of material most suitable for the service in each zone. The programmes will neither be very interesting nor very good."

On Jan. 3, 1938, the first foreign language service, Arabic, was launched.

The Empire Service was renamed the BBC Overseas Service in November 1939, and a dedicated BBC European Service was added in 1941. German programming commenced shortly before the start of World War II, and by the end of 1942, broadcasts were being made in all major European languages.


Canada Speaks to the World
By Andrew K. Finnie
For Radio Canada International (1996)

On February 25, 1945, a new international broadcast service made its debut on the world scene. It was a time of war between nations but with the promise of peace in sight. In those dark but hopeful times the voice of Prime Minister W. L. Mackenzie King welcomed the world to a new shortwave service dedicated to projecting a Canadian view of life and events. Thus was born the CBC International Service, now known as Radio Canada International.

The idea for creating an international radio voice for Canada was first proposed as far back as the 1930's. Several studies commissioned by the CBC Board of Governors had come to the conclusion that Canada needed a radio service to broadcast a Canadian point of view to the world. By the early 1940's, this need was also recognized by a series of Parliamentary Broadcasting Committees. Finally, in 1942, Prime Minister King announced that Canada would begin a shortwave radio service that would keep members of the Canadian Armed Forces in touch with news and entertainment from home. The CBC International Service became a reality with the signing of an Order-in-Council on September 18, 1942.

Over the next two and a half years, a great deal of work went into building the new service. One of the first issues faced by the new staff was where to locate the studios and transmitting facilities. It was decided to place the studios in the Radio-Canada building in downtown Montréal while the transmitters would be installed at Sackville, New Brunswick. Montréal was an ideal studio location since the CBC had extensive production facilities and plenty of English and French broadcasters available to host programs. Sackville was chosen after a careful study had been made of radio transmissions between Canada and Europe. During 1943, two 50 kW transmitters and a network of antennas were built.

By the end of 1944, both the production facilities and the transmitting plant were ready for test broadcasts. These tests, which began on December 25, 1944, were broadcast to Canadian troops in Europe in both English and French. Although these programs were only transmitter tests, a small regular audience of Canadian troops and Europeans developed. The tests continued for two months before the transmitters and studio links were declared sound. In early 1945, it was announced that the CBC International Service was ready and would go on the air for real on February 25th.