Early Australian Commercial Shortwave Stations

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

This is the third episode on the story of early shortwave broadcasting in Australia. The two previous episodes told the story of the early AWA and ABC shortwave stations, and on this occasion, we take a look at commercial shortwave broadcasting in Australia.

The first suggestion for shortwave broadcasting on the part of a commercial radio station in Australia was made early in the year 1925. The Trades & Labor Council in Sydney announced that they planned on erecting a mediumwave radio station with the callsign 2LC, which stood for Labor Council.

They stated also that they would install a shortwave transmitter and operate a tandem relay on both mediumwave and shortwave. However, when the new station was launched later in the year 1925, the callsign had changed from 2LC to 2KY, and there was no sign of the projected shortwave unit.

Over the next few years, there were several different attempts at broadcasting on shortwave by the new mediumwave station 3UZ in Melbourne. In 1923, Oliver J. Nilsen was on the air quite frequently with program broadcasting over his amateur station 3ZL. Five years later, Engineer L. G. Glew went on the air from his own amateur station with a relay of programming from mediumwave 3UZ.

Then in June 1930, a new shortwave transmitter was co-sited with the mediumwave transmitter at 3UZ and a tandem relay was heard on air. Just one year later, the same transmitter was re-activated again for another brief period, again with a tandem relay from mediumwave.

Two additional important events stand out in the history of commercial radio station 3UZ. In January 1926, just a few months after the station was launched, they carried a series of remote broadcasts from the annual camp meeting of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. These camp meeting programs are the earliest known radio broadcasts on the part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia.

Back in the year 1930, 3UZ also broadcast a series of television programs, one of the very earliest TV experiments in Australian history.

Another commercial station in Australia that went on the air shortwave was 3DB, also in Melbourne, Victoria. It was on the occasion of the 1934 Centenary Celebrations that a relay of these events from 3DB was heard worldwide each evening for nearly two weeks, beginning on October 28. The shortwave transmitter that carried this program relay was the 3.5 kW unit, VK3ME at Braybrook on the edge of the state capital.

Following the example of American radio stations, a three station hook-up in Queensland experimented with the delivery of a program feed by shortwave radio. Two transmitters were installed, one at 4BK in Kings House Brisbane and the other at 4AK out in the country near the city of Oakey. These two transmitters were on the air simultaneously with an experimental relay of programming to station 4IP at Ipswich, some 50 miles distant.

For a few years beginning in the mid 1930s the Adelaide station 5AD operated its own amateur station under the callsign VK5DI. This station, located in suburban Wayville, was heard spasmodically with a relay of the same programming as was on the air from 5AD and its country regional, 5PI, near Port Pirie. These programs were heard throughout Australia and New Zealand, and occasionally in the United States.

Another interesting case of shortwave broadcasting was exhibited by 6KG, at the goldfields city, Kalgoorlie. In 1949, this station was listed in the American government FIBS radio directory as operating also on shortwave, on 4835 kHz. However, a letter to the manager some 25 years later revealed that these was not true shortwave broadcasts, but rather a radiation of the fourth harmonic from the mediumwave transmitter that was operating slightly off channel.

There is only one known QSL from all of these early Australian commercial shortwave stations, and that is a card from 3UZ in Melbourne, with 150 watts on 32 m. This card was received by Mr C. S. Hallard in Taranaki (TA-ra_NAK-ee), New Zealand and it is dated June 30, 1931.

Early Shortwave Stations in Australia – Commercial

Time Lines

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Station Location Year Date Event
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2LC Sydney 1925 Early SW planned not implemented 2LC projected became 2KY

3ZL Melbourne 1923 Amateur programming from 3ZL Oliver Nilsen’s home

OA3LG Melbourne 1928 Apr 11 3UZ relay of programming from G5SW England

3UZ Melbourne 1930 Jun SW built by engineer L. G. Glew VK3LG co-sited with MW
Jul Improvement in volume and modulation
1931 Jun SW tandem relay revived

3DB Melbourne 1934 Oct 28 Centenary Celebrations via VK3ME Braybrook, till Nov 11

4BK Brisbane 1936 Aug Experimental relay on SW to 4IP Ipswich

4AK Oakey 1936 Aug Experimental relay on SW to 4IP Ipswich

5AD Wayville 1930s Relayed by 5AD-5PI Radio Club station VK5DI
5AD SW heard in USA

6KG Kalgoorlie 1949 FIBS listing 4835 kHz, 1210 x 4 = 4840 kHz harmonic

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Early Shortwave Stations in Australia – Commercial

References

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Station Location Information & Reference
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2LC Sydney Projected call for 2KY, plans for SW also; Radio magazine
Inaugurated 31-10-25 Trades & Labour Council; TMS Walker 170

3DB Original location Flinders St; Written interview
Relay Centenary Celebrations via VK3ME; LI 79.23 20-10-34 1
3DB evening programs Oct 28 – Nov 11 on 3ME; LI 20-10-34 1

3UZ Melbourne Mediumwave
3UZ began July 1923 400 m 50 w, 1st station in Vic; 79.217B 35
Inaugurated 8-3-25; TMS Walker 170
Relay from Adventist campground 317 m 65 w; LI 79.23 23-1-26 1
3UZ MW heard in California; 79.217B 33 LI 25-1-28
Each stage 500 w MW transmitter in duplicate; LI 79.23 5-7-30 62
3UZ dual SW 120 w 32 m & 319 m M-W-S 7-9; LI 79.23 5-7-30 62
3UZ relay (MW only?) opening Vatican R HVJ; LI 79.23 21-2-31 45

3ZL Melbourne Amateur broadcasts by Oliver J. Nilsen at home; AMP RA 121

3LG Melbourne 3UZ OA3LG relay G5SW 11-4-28; 79.21B LI 18-4-28 14 34

3UZ Melbourne Shortwave
25-5-30 strong 32 m tests Mon Wed Fri 7-9pm; WW 79.1 13-6-30
150 watts built by VK3LG; WW 79.1 13-6-30 19
Continues tests M-W-Fri occasional Sun 32 m; WW 79.1 4-7-30 19
Great improvement volume & modulation; WW 79.1 4-7-30 19
3UZ dual SW 120 w 32 m & 319 m M-W-S 7-9; LI 79.23 5-7-30 62
Built by Mr L. G. Glew 3UZ engineer; LI 79.23 5-7-30 62
New SW unit co-sited with MW transmitter; LI 79.23 5-7-30 62
Heard 3UZ in Taree May 26; WW 79.1 19-6-31 13
3UZ SW back 32 m M&Thur 11-1130 pm, Tue 2 -230; LI 20-6-3152
3UZ 500 w SW heard in Hawkes Bay NZ; LI 79.23 20-6-31 52
3UZ address Bourke St Melbourne; LI 79.23 20-6-31 52
3UZ historical information destroyed in fire; 3UZ letter 84.448

3UZ Melbourne Shortwave – Directory Listings, not loggings
Directory listing VK3UZ 8820 broadcast; RD 1931 RN 8-31 125 74
VK3UZ 8820 (34.01 m); RD 1932 1
Directory listing VK3UZ Melbourne 34 m; OTSWL&CB 1933 29
3UZ historical information destroyed in fire; 3UZ letter 84.448

3UZ Melbourne Television
Transmitted moving pictures with R TV Labs; LI 79.23 5-7-30 62
3UZ historical information destroyed in fire; 3UZ letter 84.448

4AK Oakey Relay to 4IP on either 43 or 48m; LI 22-8-36 53
Country location, QSL card

4BK Brisbane Relay to 4IP on either 43 or 48m; LI 22-8-36 53
Transmitter at King House, Queen St in 1930s; Written interview
4BK QSL card shows towers on top of King House; AMP QSL
Original transmitter was from 4QG; Written interview

6KG Kalgoorlie SW, harmonic FIBS 4835 kHz 1210 x 4 = 4840; 6KG letter 84.448


QSLs
3UZ Melbourne 32 m 1931 Jun 30 2 @ 30 mins SW daily; C. S. Hollard Taranaki
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