An Island Called Radio Island

This article was originally aired over Adventist World Radio’s “Wavescan” program and now forms part of the Radio Heritage Collection ©. All rights reserved to Ragusa Media Group, PO Box 14339, Wellington, New Zealand. This material is licenced on a non-exclusive basis to the South Pacific DX Resource hosted on www.radiodx.com for a period of 5 years from December 1 2003. Author: Adrian Peterson

PART ONE

There are four different usages of the two word title, “Radio Island”. Two of these “Radio Islands” are actual geographic islands, one in Canada and the other in the United States. There was a short movie film produced in 1997 with the title, “Radio Island”, and there has been a CBC radio program on the air nationwide in Canada called “Radio Island”, or more correctly, “Radio Island Morning”. In this edition of Wavescan, we take a look at the Radio Island that is a Canadian territory.

One of the small islands that is located at the beginning of the Hudson Bay Passageway in the far north of eastern Canada is known as Resolution Island. Just off the edge of Resolution Island to the south is a smaller island, called Radio Island. This area is these days now a part of the new Canadian province, Nunavut (NOON-a-VOOT).

This Canadian Radio Island is a small hilly and almost barren island that is connected to another island by a tidal isthmus. There is an underground source of natural gas on this island.

It was back in 1929 that the Canadian government established a radio station on Radio Island. The purpose for this station was to serve as a navigational aid for aircraft and shipping in the area and also as a weather station. The callsign of this station was probably VBY.

During the cold war era in the 1950s, this station on Radio Island was augmented with American forces and equipment as part of the Early Warning System. This network of radio stations and radio facilities was known by the Americans as the Dewline and by the Canadians as the Pinetree Line.

In addition to the electronic facilities of the Early Warning System, there was also a small entertainment radio station on Radio Island with the unusual callsign, WORM. This station was little more than an amplifier kit, though on occasions it was hooked up to a 500 watt transmitter, just for the fun of it. On several occasions, flight personnel on passing passenger planes tuned in to this novel radio station and phoned through asking for music requests to be played on air.

On important local occasions, station WORM also took a relay from another local entertainment station, located at Frobischer Bay. This AFRS station identified on air with the callsign SKIMO and it was just an amplifier station with a 10 watt transmitter on 1010 kHz.

And so, that’s the story of the Radio Island that its located in Canada.

PART TWO

Last week here in Wavescan, we presented the story of a radio island called Radio Island. That one was up there in northern Canada. This week, we present the story of another radio island called Radio Island, and this one is located in the United States, on the Atlantic coast of North Carolina, actually.

The central coastal area of North Carolina, where this Radio Island is located, is quite famous for many other significant events also. Quite close to Radio Island is Kitty Hawk which gained its fame when the Wright brothers made their first adventurous flight in an airplane just 100 years ago. The notorious English pirate known as Blackbeard terrorized shipping that entered the area back 300 years ago. The mysterious Lost Colony of Roanoke was established on an island in this area more than 400 years ago.

Radio Island in North Carolina is an artificial island about four or five acres in size that was formed during a dredging operation in the estuary of the Pamlico River back in the 1920s & 1930s. The island is these days a tourist resort with fishing facilities, new condominiums, private and holiday homes, and a marina. This island is also used for the storage of oil in huge holding tanks, and it is well known by wildlife lovers as a refuge for the La Conte’s Sparrow.

According to the historian working in the library of the County Historical Society, this artificial island was named Radio Island because a radio station was installed on it back in the 1920s or 1930s. The callsign of this station, he said, was WMBM, which was interpreted to mean, “Where Moorhead & Beaufort Meet”. Moorhead and Beaufort are two nearby regional cities, one on each side of the estuary.

This mediumwave station, WMBM, must have been quite a small operation with just low power and it must have been on the air for only a brief period of time. There is no listing for this station is any of the records and listings that we hold. In fact, the only station that we could find with the callsign WMBM during that era was a small radio station operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Memphis, Tennessee back around the same era.

This radio station, WMBM on Radio Island in North Carolina, served the small cities and communities on both sides of the Pamlico Estuary. I asked the county historian what happened to this station, and he replied that it has long since gone

Radio Island – Canada

References

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Location Information & Reference
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Radio Island
Description & photos of island & radio station; www. pinetreeline.org
Station WORM; www. pinetreeline.org
Station WORM not listed in DeLay; DeLay AFRS history
Port Burwell station (VBF) closed and Radio Island opened; pinetreeline
Callsign, either VBY, VCJ or VFL; OSWL&CB 1933 29

Frobischer Bay
Station SKIMO relay to WORM; www.dewline

Resolution Island
Identification for station, but not the location; www.pinetreeline.org

Port Burwell
Established by Hudson Strait Expedition 1927; www.pinetreeline.org
Callsign VBF; YBWT&T 82.7 1932 478

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