Hawaiian Radio Centenary

This article was originally material for a broadcast of “Wavescan” via Adventist World Radio in August 2001, 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 August 1 2001. Author: Adrian Peterson

One hundred years of radio history! This is a very important anniversary. And yet the radio world seems to have passed over this event with nary a whisper. Yes, it is just 100 years ago that the first wireless stations were erected in the Hawaiian Islands for inter-island communication. This is the story . . .

Now, it should be remembered that the first wireless station in the world was erected by Marconi at the South Foreland Lighthouse on the Island of Wight off the south coast of England in the year 1899. This new though quite primitive Morse Code station was established for the purpose of maintaining communication with France.

Just two years later, we transfer our attention to the exotic Hawaiian Islands out in the central Pacific.

Early in the year 1901, the Marconi company in the United States erected five wireless stations on five different islands in the Hawaiian group for the purpose of establishing inter-island communication. This network of spark gap Morse Code stations was officially inaugurated on March 1, 1901 and at that time they were operated by the Mutual Telephone company.

These five wireless stations on five different islands were the first network of wireless stations anywhere in the world, a real “world first” for the Hawaiian Islands. This remarkable achievement is recognized in several publications, such as the “World Book of Firsts”.

The five islands in the Hawaiian group that were inter-connected with this network of wireless stations were:-
Oahu, Maui, Kaui. Hawaii & Molokai

When international callsigns were regularized by the Berlin Treaty, these stations were allocated a progressive sequence of callsigns:-

More than a dozen years later, another spark wireless station was constructed on the island of Oahu, at Kahuku on the north coast, for communication with the American mainland. This Honolulu station was allocated the callsign KIE.

The official inauguration ceremonies for this large new station were held on September 24, 1914, in both Honolulu and in Bolinas, north of San Francisco in California. The Hawaiian station was officially opened by the governor of Hawaii when he pressed a silver key at the ceremonial table in Honolulu.

Messages were exchanged with the dignitaries on both sides of the ocean and the first message sent from California to Hawaii was from President Woodrow Wilson in Washington, DC. The wireless pioneer himself, Marconi, sent a telegram with a message of good will over this new wireless system.

The technical description of this new international wireless station In Hawaii states that it was the largest wireless station in the world, with a tall antenna system stretching for more than a mile. This station operated on longwave channels.

Since that time, wireless has become radio, longwave has been changed into shortwave, the Marconi company of America has become RCA, the Radio Corporation of America, and Hawaii has featured prominently in shortwave broadcasting.

The RCA station at Kahuku was in use before the Pacific War for the broadcast of radio programming back to the American mainland, and also for coverage in the Pacific. The Voice of America operated a two transmitter facility for quarter of a century on the island of Oahu for coverage to the Pacific under the callsign KRHO. World Harvest Radio established their own Gospel shortwave station, KWHR, on the island of Hawaii for coverage into Asia.

We here at AWR salute the Hawaiian Islands on the occasion of the significant 100th anniversary of the introduction of wireless into their exotic Pacific islands.

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