Fiji on Shortwave

This article was originally material for a broadcast of “Wavescan” via Adventist World Radio 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 South Pacific DX Resource hosted on radiodx.com for a period of five years from March 1st 2003. Author: Adrian Peterson

Exotic Fiji, with its 333 islands! A tourist haven for those who want to get away from it all.

As the tourist brochure states: Fiji is the place for a truly relaxing tropical get-a-way. The swimmer can swim with the harmless manta ray, the surfer can surf the 20 ft high waves, the hiker can hike in the tropical rain forests, and you can seek accommodation in one of the outer resorts at the Octopus Hotel.

In colonial days, Fiji was listed on the map as the “Cannibal Isles”, and it is reported that many sailing ships avoided these islands during that era. The BBC London reported recently in one of its news bulletins in the World Service on shortwave, that Fiji is now marketing a new food product, called, “Cannibal Chutney”. No, don’t be concerned, this new product is quite harmless. You see, the last cannibal ceremony in Fiji took place more than 100 years ago.

Just as exotic is the shortwave radio scene in Fiji. Back in the year 1930, AWA in Sydney installed a shortwave transmitter in Fiji, rated at considerably less than 1 kW, for use as a communication station. In fact similar units were installed at three other locations in the Fiji Islands for inter-island communication.

The main station in Suva was given the callsign VPD which was in use at the time by a shortwave broadcasting station located at Doveritz near Berlin in Germany. This communication station in Fiji was used at times to broadcast radio programming. For example, in 1933 AWA in Sydney arranged a special worldwide program under the title “South Seas Broadcast”. The AWA unit in Suva, station VPD, transmitted the Fijian segment on shortwave to station VK2ME in Sydney.

Regular broadcasting from VPD2 on shortwave began the following year and a new transmitter was installed in 1936. In fact, it was conjectured that test broadcasts on shortwave from the Sydney factory under the callsign VK2MD were from the new transmitter intended for installation in Fiji. Another new transmitter was installed just prior to the European Conflict.

During the Pacific War, Fiji was noted on air under the callsign VPD4 with a relay of the BBC in French. This service was on the air for about 18 months beginning mid year 1940, using the old transmitter now running at about 400 watts. Around the same time period, this station also carried a shortwave relay to Fiji and the Pacific on behalf of AFRS, the American Forces Radio Service. Early in the year 1942, transmitter VPD was taken over by the army and navy for use as a telegraph transmitter.

When peace was restored to the Pacific, plans were laid for the construction of a new two storey studio building in Suva, and a new transmitter base at Naulu (nah-OO-loo), in a swampy area 25 miles from Suva. These new facilities were officially opened in 1954.

For the new location, the new callsign on shortwave became ZJV, the same as on mediumwave, though a few months later the callsign was changed again, this time to VRH. But alas, in August 1972, the shortwave service in Fiji was dropped in favor of coverage on mediumwave, and subsequently on FM.

Over the years, the radio service in Fiji has issued nine different QSL cards, some of which were also available in the earlier years from the AWA address in Sydney. All of these cards are now considered to be quite exotic, and they form a very valuable overview of the history of radio broadcasting in Fiji.

Radio Broadcasting in Fiji – Shortwave Era

Time Lines

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Station Location Year Event
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SVA Suva 1913 Wireless transmitter established

VPD Doveritz 1931 Callsign in use broadcast station Berlin

VPD1 Suva 1930 Began regular communication traffic
VPD1 Suva 1933 Special “South Seas Broadcast”
VPD1 Suva 1934 Regular broadcasting began Nov .
VPD2 Suva 1936 New transmitter 500 w
VPD3 Suva 1939 New 10 kW transmitter
VPD4 Suva 1940 Jul Relay BBC French news to Noumea 14425
VPD2 Suva 1942 Jan Final relay of French programming 15160 kHz
VPD2 Suva 1942 Taken over by army/navy telegraph transmitter
VPD2 Suva 1942 Dec Relay AFRTS programming to Pacific
VPD2 Suva 1943 Jan New transmitter installed
VPD2 Suva 1944 Dec AFRTS relays concluded
VPD83 Suva 1952 Aug Relay MW ZJV 17680 yacht races

ZJV Naulu 1953 Feb SW test broadcasts began from new location
VRH Naulu 1954 Mid Callsign changed from ZJV to VRH
FBC Naulu 1968 Jan Callsigns no longer in use
FBC Naulu 1972 Aug Shortwave transmitters closed converted MW

VRO6 Suva 1952 Aug PO station, relay MW ZJV 6005 yacht races

VK2MD Sydney 1936 April shortwave transmitter tests

VK6ME Perth 1936 Nov transmitter tests heard in USA

ZJV Suva 1936 Inaugurated March

VRH Suva 1954 New callsign
===============================================================


Radio Broadcasting in Fiji – Shortwave Era

References
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Site Call Information & Reference
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Germany
VPD VPD broadcast 7890 Doveritz Berlin; YB 84.200 RN 8-31 125 74

Sydney Factory Tests
VK2MD Test broadcasts Ashfield just above 31 m; LI 79.23 18-4-36 60
VK2MD Heard last week, reading technical manual; LI 79.23 18-4-36 60
VK2MD 34 m, new VPD2?, instead became VK6ME; LI 79.23 20-2-37 52

Perth Shortwave Broadcasting
VK6ME Applecross, low power tests heard in USA; ISWC 12-36 10
VK6ME Inaugurated Mon March 22 7:00 pm Perth time; RRA 77.5 3-37 69

Suva Communication
SVA YBWT&T 82.7 1913 193; 484 1921, YBWT&T 82.7107 546
VPD 37.5 m; WW 77.1 27-4-28 22 5
VPD Began regular communication traffic 1930; LI 79.23 26-1-35 57
VPD VPD Suva 20.7 & 31.3 m; YB 82.400 RN 6-30 112- 71
VPD Suva 21.00 m; 77.5 10 NZRHA 1931 111
VPD Viti Levu 20.79 14420 phone; YB 84.200 RN 9-35 162 114
VPD New communication transmitters Suva & Lautoka; RN 83.4 9-35 4
VPD 500 watt transmitter; TDP 1998 Fiji 21 58
VPD 14420; YB 84.200 OSWLM 1-36 124
VPD 38 m 7890 kHz phone; YB 84.200 RN 7-36 33 133
VPD1 Suva 1935 Nov 1st AWA SW transmitter, Suva Fiji
VPD2 New transmitter will begin on 19-8-36 9540; LI 79.23 22-8-36 53
VPD2 500 watt AWA transmitter 1936; TDP 1998 Fiji 21 58
VPD2 1936 Aug 19 2nd AWA SW transmitter 500 w
VPD3 1938 3rd AWA SW unit 10 kW inaugurated
VPD Is a telegraph transmitter; RN 7-46 126

Suva Shortwave Broadcasting – PreWar
VPD Shortwave broadcasting station 1932; 77.4 23 19 7
VPD “South Seas Broadcast” relay to VK2ME; LI 79.23 3-6-33 54
VPD Regular programs 13075 since royal wedding 11-34; LI 19-1-35
VPD Began regular broadcasting 11-35 (No, 1934); AWA Paper 79.4 27
VPD Broadcasts 13075 heard Tas & Melbourne; LI 79.23 26-1-35 56
VPD Dec 1934 1st week began broadcasting; LI 79.23 26-1-35 57
VPD Daily exc Sun 3:30 pm – 4:30 PM 22.94 m; Radiola Notes 7-35 5
VP1A Suva 28.66 m 10460 kHz broadcast; YB 84.200 RN 9-35 162 114
VRO Viti Levu 43.77 6850 experimental; YB 84.200 RN 9-35 162 114
VPD New communication transmitters Suva & Lautoka; RN 83.4 9-35 4
VPD 500 watt transmitter; TDP 1998 Fiji 21 58
VPD 13075 kHz 22.94 m broadcast; LI 79.23 5-10-35 42
VPD 13.08 13075 kHz 22.94 experimental not Sun 12:30-1:30 am 127
VPD 6850 experimental; YB 84.200 OSWLM 1-36 122
VPD 22.94 daily ex Sun; LI 79.23 13-6-36 64
VPD Special relay from VPD2 to NBC 7-36; AWA Document 79.4 27
VPD 22.93 m 13075 kHz broadcast; YB 84.200 RN 7-36 33 133
VPD Same; YB 84.200 SW&TV 1-37 550 139
VPD 29.54 m; YB 84.200 SW&TV 1-37 553 142
VPD 13980 21.46 experimental; YB 84.200 RN 8-37 220 148
VPD 8710 kHz 34.40 m broadcast; YB 84.200 RN 8-37 220 148
VPD2 New transmitter will begin on 19-8-36 9540; LI 79.23 22-8-36 53
VPD2 Mon – Sat 10:30 – 12:00 MN 9540 kHz; ARW 77. 8 1-9-36
VPD2 New transmitter 9540; ARW 77.8 1-9-38 56
VPD2 9535 kHx daily exc Sun 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm; ABCW 77.19 1939 6
VPD2 Special relay from VPD2 to NBC 7-36; AWA Document 79.4 27
VPD2 34.41 (8720 kHz); 8:30-10 pm daily not Sun; LI 79.23 13-2-37 50
VPD2 New transmitter 9540; ARW 77.8 1-9-38 56
VPD2 10 kW transmitter 1939; TDP 1998 Fiji 21 58
VPD2 9538 31.46 m 5:30 – 7:00 am not Sun; YB 84.200 RTVN 1939 163
VPD2 9535 kHx daily exc Sun 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm; ABCW 77.19 1939 6
VPD2 New 10 kW transmitter 1939; TDP 1998 Fiji 21 58
VPD2 Equipped for 10 kW but using only 500 w; JB CPRV NASWA 26

Suva Shortwave Broadcasting – Pacific War
VPD2 9540 10 kW; YB 84.200 BYB 1940 162
VPD2 9535 kHz 400 w 2 daily schedules; R&H 77.10 3-40 55
VPD4 14425 test broadcasts; RH 79.10 7-41 57
VPD Tests late 1941 9535 11895 15160 reg 6130; RH 79.14 4-53 84
VPD Plans for 10 kW SW transmitter dropped 1941; RH 79.14 4-53 84
VPD2 Test broadcasts 15160 & 11895 kHz; R&H 79.11 Christmas 41 53
VPD2 French program heard on 15160 kHz, final entry; RH 79.10 2-42 55
VPD2 Taken over by army, FF relays suspended; Letter 13-2-42 79.7 17
VPD2 Transmitter in special usage during war; RN 8-46 134
VPD2 Stripped as telegraph transmitter Navy use WW2; RN 9-46 126
VPD2 AFRTS relay Dec 42-Dec 44; DeLay 79.21 443 447
VPD2 New transmitter 11900 & 6130; RH 79.12 1-44 35
VPD2 Now using 11880 & 6130; RH 79.12 1-44 36

Suva Shortwave Broadcasting – Post War
FBC Fiji Broadcasting Commission began July 1, 1945; NZDXT 18
VPD2 Back on air 6130 kHz weak signal in Australia; RN 7-46 113
VPD2 Not yet back into regular peacetime usage; RN 8-46 134
Suva Shortwave Broadcasting – New Facilities Naulu
VPD2 To be rebuilt for broadcast usage; RN 9-46 126
VPD2 New shortwave transmitter to be built 500 watts; RN 9-51 157
VPD2 Building new 500 w SW & 2 kW MW, ready 1952; RN 10-51 153
New 500 w to be inaugurated this year; RH 79.14 2-52 84
New 500 w transmitter inaugurated next year 1953; RH 79.14 3-52
VPD2 New SW ready in 1953, will operate on 6135 & 9535; RN 7-52 97
VRO6 Suva 6005 relay ZJV yacht races; RN 9-52 147
VPD83 Suva 17680 relay ZJV yacht races; RN 9-52 147
VPD83 Dorothy Sanderson receives ZJV QSL yacht races; RN 10-52 139

Suva Shortwave Broadcasting – Mediumwave Callsign Naulu
ZJV Tests began Feb 6005 5995 6130 1 week each; RH 79.14 4-53 84
Test broadcasts relay mediumwave ZJV; RH 79.14 4-53 84
ZJV New 500 w SW tests 6 Mhz, 7185 island coverage; RTVN 5-53 133
Radio Fiji on 5995 & Fiji PO on 6100 parallel; RH 79.14 6-53 90
New shortwave 3980, new cream ZJV QSL; RH 79.14 7-53 90
ZJV Recent tests on 6100 // regular 5995; also 3980 ; RTVN 8-53 68
ZJV Will stay on 3980 500 w; RTVN 9-53 150
ZJV3 ZJV3 on 3980; PO on 4880 last November; RH 79.14 1-54 98
ZJV3 Now on 4880 kHz 500 w; RTVN 83.1 2-54 101
ZJV New studio building officially opened; Fri Jul 1 1954: FBC 84.118
ZJV3 Relay mediumwave Jul 1, 1954; FBC 84.118 cover

Suva Shortwave Broadcasting – New Callsign Naulu
VRH4 QSL letter from K. G. Collins, manager; RH 79.14 9-54 98
VRH4 New QSL card being printed; RH 79.14 9-54 98
VRH New studio building, NZBS personnel; RH 79.14 9-54 98
VRH Expanded shortwave schedule; RH 79.14 10-54 98
VRH New call for ZJV 930 kHz 2kW; RTVN 10-54 125
VRH4 New call for ZJV 3890 kHz 500 w; RTVN 10-54 125
VRH4 500 w heard in Sweden; FBC 84.118 10
VRH5 250 w tests now on air 5980, dipole, then incidence; RH 6-60 117
VRH5 250 w experimental transmitter tests for new 10 kW; 77.5 AWA 370
VRH5 Transmitter on loan from P&T; RH 79.15 10-60 117
VRH6 250 w tests 6005 began April 1; R&H 79.15 6-60 117
VRH6 250 w experimental transmitter tests for new 10 kW; 77.5 AWA 370
VRH5 Transmitter on loan from P&T; RH 79.15 10-60 117
VRH4 Operating with 500 w on 3980 kHz; R&H 77.14 1-60 99
New 10 kW 4760 tests, good sigsnal NZ; RH 79.15 1-62 89
VRH 2 new SW 10 kW new site 8 miles from Suva; R&H 77.14 5-62 103
VRH4 New 10 kW now on air 4785 ; R&H 77.14 5-62 103
VRH4 New 10 kW 16 element vertical incidence array; R&H 5-62 103
VRH New 10 kW inaugurated Nov 1961; R&H 77.14 5-62 103
VRH New 10 kW centre fed dipole, soon incidence; R&H 5-62 103
VRH New test broadcasts 10 kW; R&H 79.15; RH 79.15 12-62 117
VRH6 New channel 3980; RH 79.15 5-63 101
VRH10 New channel for Pacific Games; RH 79.15 11-63 135
VRH New channels, full schedule; RH 77.14 11-65 149
VRH4 10 4756
VRH5 10 4785
VRH6 .5 5980
VRH7 6005
VRH8 10 3230
VRH9 10 3284
VRH12 3935
VRH13 3980
VRH6 New 500 w on 5980, soon change to 5955; R&H 77.14 6-66 165
VRH7 New 500 w on 6005; R&H 77.14 6-66 165
VRH6 Has changed to 5955; EA 79.16 9-66

Suva Shortwave Broadcasting – No callsigns Naulu
RF 500 w now on 4756 relay 840; RH 79.16 1-68 129
RF 6 mediumwave & 2 shortwave transmitters; RH 79.16 3-68 145
RF VRH8 3230 9 3284 4 4756 6 5955 7 6005; RH 79.16; 11-69 191
RF FM introduced low power 90.6 & 94.5, 250 w planned; EA 6-71 139
RF Irregular on 7195; RH 77.14 5-70 172
RF 11895 on for South Pacific Commission; RH 79.17 11-70 72
RF Reports about closing SW denied; RH 79.17 4-72 118
RF 3230 & 3284 only; RH 79.17 7-72 119
RF Two @ 10 kW SW off air to be converted to MW; EA 9-72 119

University Broadcasts
Fiji 5350 9070 9100 12140 lecture broadcasts; ODXA 9-88 60
9070 & 12140 also Tonga & Vanuatu; ODXA 9-88 67

Fiji Weather Stations
Suva Weather station 200 w 6170 QSL letter; 77.10 10-46 71
Suva Weather station 6170 strong signal; RH 77.14 4-47 76
Nadi Weather station 6170 heard at night; RH 77.14 4-47 76

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