Hong Kong on SW

This article was originally aired over Adventist World Radio’s “Wavescan” program . Copyright to author: Adrian Peterson

A major political change directly affecting the lives of more than five million people took place in Asia in the middle of the year 1997. The small and dependent enclave of Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule after more than one and a half centuries as a British territory.

Actually, Great Britain gained control of Hong Kong in three progressive stages and in the year 1898 a 99 year lease was signed between England & China. This lease expired at the end of June 1997 and England handed back to China all of the Hong Kong territories.

The territory of Hong Kong covers more than 1,000 square miles though only 400 square miles is land area. It is a rugged territory, made up of more than 235 islands plus the mainland peninsulas. At the time of annexation 100 years ago the whole area was no more than a series of small fishing villages. The name, Hong Kong, in the Cantonese language, means, “Fragrant Harbour”.

The usage of wireless communication began in Hong Kong around the end of World War 1 with the establishment of three spark gap transmitters. These stations were BXY on Stonecutters Island and BZV at Port Nolluth, which were both operated by the British navy; and VPS at the familiar location, Cape D’Aguilar, which was operated by the Post Office for international communications.

A series of test broadcasts was made in 1926 with the presentation of live concert programs, and the first broadcasting service commenced on June 30, 1928 with regular scheduling on 475 kHz using a power output of 150 watts. This new station was allocated the callsign 5HK, with the number 5 indicating the territory and the letters HK representing rather obviously Hong Kong.

This station was replaced soon afterwards by two other stations, which identified as GOW on the mediumwave channel 1,000 kHz and VPS3 on the channel 800 kHz. The callsigns of these units were subsequently changed to the more familiar ZBW and ZEK, with programming on one channel in English and the other in Chinese.

A series of experimental broadcasts on shortwave commenced in 1930 over a low powered station in the 49 metre band under the callsign ARI. Regular broadcasting on shortwave began in 1935 with the installation of a 250 watt transmitter, under the exotic callsign ZBW. This low powered unit was replaced in 1938 by the very famous and still active 2.5 kW Marconi SWB transmitter.

Under the Japanese administration of Hong Kong for a period of three and a half years extending from 1941 – 1945, the radio station was on the air under the occupation callsigns, JQHA and JZHA, with apparently one call for mediumwave and the other for shortwave. International radio monitors in Australia, the United States, and New Zealand reported hearing the exotic little shortwave transmitter periodically, usually on the air in the international shortwave bands.

Following the war years, the two program channels were re-established, one in Chinese and the other in English. Commercial broadcasting was introduced into Hong Kong in 1960, and the entire technical facilities were upgraded 8 years later, in 1968.

It was at this stage after 38 years of service that the small and famous shortwave transmitter from 1938, ZBW was retired.

However, many years later, in 1980, it was thought that the old 2.5 kW transmitter was re-activated for weather broadcasts during the South China Sea boat-race from Hong Kong to the Philippines. However QSL cards issued by Hong Kong Telecom indicate that one of their many communication transmitters was in use for the boat race weather broadcasts.

This is the current electronic scene in Hong Kong. There are seven mediumwave transmitters, sixty FM transmitters, a dozen radio networks, and five networks of television. In addition, there is the shortwave communication facility located at Cape D’aguilar which houses all of the shortwave transmitters that are used for communication with aircraft and shipping, as well as for regular Volmet weather bulletins and the occasional boat race broadcasts.

The AWR collection of QSL cards in Indianapolis contains several exotic QSLs from radio stations located in Hong Kong. These historic QSL cards include the BBC East Asian Relay Station, BFBS Hong Kong, Radio TV Hong Kong, several communication channels, as well as two picturesque cards for the unit that was used for the boat race broadcasts.

Hong Kong on the Air – Local Radio

References

———————————————————————————————————-
Year Date Event Reference
———————————————————————————————————
Administrations
1923 Hong Kong Radio Society formed WBN 3-79 12
1928 Jun Operated by committee of Hong Kong citizensCBA 84.135 81 106
1928 Jun 2nd wireless service in colonies, after Kenya CBA 84.135 81 106
1928 Jun 30 Regular broadcasting service launched WBN 3-79 12
1939 Jan 1 Station taken over by PMG Dept CBA 84.135 81 106
1942 Japanese took over the station CBA 84.135 81 106
1945 Station taken over again by PMG Dept CBA 84.135 81 106
1951 Station taken over by PR office, Information Services CBA 81 106
1954 Station taken over by Controller of Broadcasting CBA 81 106
1961 Name change ot Radio Hong Kong CBA 84,135 81 106
1976 Mar 31 Name change to Radio TV Hong Kong CBA 84.135 81 106


Studios
1926 Test broadcasts with concert programming WBN 3-79 12
1928 New studios and transmitters installed WBN 3-79 12
1928 New studios installed in GPO WBN 3-79 12
1928 Jun New radio service ZBW English ZEK Chinese CBA 84.135 81 106
1928 Jun 30 Regular broadcasting service launched WBN 3-79 12
1929 New studios inaugurated WBN 3-79 12
1929 New studios insatlled in Gloucester Hotel CBA 84.135 81 106
1950 Studios moved to Electra (Mercury) House CBA 84.135 81 106
1968 Broadcasting House under construction R&H 79.16 9-68 163
1969 New studios completed WBN 3-79 12
1969 Mar New studio building completed CBA 84.135 81 106
1970 Large new facility under construction R&H 79.17 1-70 152

Transmitters
1925 Projected 4 stations, 10 50 100 1500 w HRD 1925 FRBS 121
1926 Only station now projected 1500 w government HRD FRBS 1926
1926 Test broadcasts with concert programming WBN 3-79 12
1927 5HK Hong Kong radio Society Victoria 475 kHz 150 w FBS 6-27
1928 New studios and transmitters installed WBN 3-79 12
1928 Jun 30 Regular broadcasting service launched WBN 3-79 12
1928 VPS3 Victoria 800 kHz 1500 w government HRD 1928 Keller 51
1928 Engineering services under GPO CBA 84.135 81 106
1929 VPS3 EE 600 1500, GOW CC 300 1500 HRD RN 10-29 336
1929 Callsign ZBW adopted WBN 3-79 12
1933 ZBW Victoria Peak 845 kHz 1.5 kW HRD RN 4-33
1933 ZBW Victoria 355 m 1.5 kW HRD 1933 Key 267
1924 ZBW Victoria 845 kHz 12 kW HRD 1924 FBS
1939 ZBW 350 w 857 kHz & GOW 300 w 1000 kHz YB 84.200 1930 67
Engineering services transferred to C&W CBA 84.135 81 106
1960 FM services introduced CBA 84.135 81 106
1969 New transmitters completed WBN 3-79 12
1969 New EE 1170 CC 1150 also 850 all 10 kW R&H 79.16 11-69 193
1972 Television services launched CBA 84.135 81 106
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Hong Kong Radio on the Air Shortwave

References

——————————————————————————————————–
Year Date Information Reference
——————————————————————————————————–
Communication Era
1919 BXY spark wireless postcard PC 12-89 20
1919 BXY BZV Hong Kong WIA 84.447 1919
1921 VPS PO station Cape D’Anguilar YBWT&T 82.7 1921 494 & 557
1921 BXY British navy Stonecutter’s Island YBWT&T 1921 494 & 557

Pre-War Era
1933 SW ZBW ZCE ZCF ZCG ZCH ZCU ZCJ OSWL&CB 1933 30
1935 New shortwave transmitter installed as ZBW WBN 3-379 12
1936 ZBW transmitter Marconi SWB8 2.5 kW 1936 QSL card
1936 ZCK experimental broadcast 250 w, 8749 kHz FF RDF 1936
1936 Experimental broadcasts 5 channels SW FF RDF 1936
1936 ZEK broadcasts 34.29 m HRD LI 13-6-36 64
1936 ZCK 8750 kHz 34.29 m relay ZBW HRD SWC 6-36 93
1936 Oct 29 ZBW change 19.75 to 31.48 m, strong signal LI 79.23 7-11-36 62
1937 ZEK 34.29 & ZBW3 31.49, both 7pm -1am LI 79.23 13-2-37 50
1937 ZBW2 3 4 5, 4 SW channels HRD RN 10-37 148
1939 ZBW3 9525 heard regularly in Australia R&H 79.11 4-39 49
1939 ZBW3 9525 & 17775 parallel R&H 79.11 8-39 58
1940 ZBW3 9525 good signal poor modulation R&H 79.11 12-40 56
1941 ZBW3 9525 regular signal, heard since 1936 R&H 79.11 11-41 56
1941 ZBW3 9525 kHz R&H 77.10 & 79.11Christmas 41 55
1942 Listed as ZBW3 YB 84.200 1942 194

Japanese Era
1941 Dec 8 Japanese invasion of Hong Kong WS331
1942 Jan ZBW3 off the air as observed in Australia R&H 79.12 2-42 52
1942 Feb ZBW3 back on air as observed in Australia R&H 79.12 3-42 52
1942 What is the new call for ZBW3 R&H 79.12 5-42 56
1942 May Heard as JTHK in Australia, JZHA in USA 9525 kHz ARW 6-42 24
1942 Listed as ZTHK (mis-print) R&H 79.12 6-42 50
1942 Heard in Australia as JTHK, new call R&H 79.12 7-42 48
1942 Given as JQHA R&H 77.10 8-42 48
1942 Noted by ATC as JZHA ATC TLG 61
1942 New callsign JQHA new frequency 9470 ARW 77.8 9-42
1942 JQHA 9470 R&H 79.12 1& 3-43 54


Post-War Era
1946 ZBW & ZBC LI 79.24 2-11-46
1968 Shortwave now off air R&H 79.16 10-68 150
1968 Now off shortwave R&H 79.16 12-68 163

South China Sea Boat Race Era
1980 Weather broadcasts for South China Sea boat race ADXN 4-82 8

1982 Apr 3 Apr 3-8 & 14-15 2325-2345 & 1055-1115 3940 ADXN 4-82 8
1982 Heard by several in NZ NZDXT 5-82 10

1988 Apr 1 Apr 1-9 3940 heard in Canada DXO 5-88 46
1988 Apr 4 Heard in Canada 3940 kHz DXO 5-88 51
1988 Apr 4 Heard in Austarlia 3940 kHz ADXN 4-88 3
1988 Weather broadcasts for South China Sea boat race DXO 3-92 30
1988 Weather broadcasts on 3940 old 2 kW transmitter ADXN 8-88 12

1990 Apr Weather broadcasts soon for boat race? DXO 3-90 57 & 4-90 50
1990 Not sure if boat race conducted this year DXO 3-92 30

1992 Apr 17 Weather broadcasts planned for 2 weeks, 2 kW 3940 DXO 3-92 30
1992 Apr Weather scheudel for 3940 kHz 2 kW ADXN 4-92 10
1992 Apr 17 Supposed to be on air not heard Canada nor PNG DXO 6-92 26
1992 Apr 17 Heard in Australia, not heard in NZ nor Canada DXO 7-92 25
1992 Apr 17 Station says broadcasts Apr 17-23 3940 1015-1030 DXO 7-92 25
1992 Apr 24 Station says weather on Apr 24-29 3940 1015-1030 DXO 7-92 25
On the air on 3940.1 or .2 with weather broadcasts WS 132
1992 Apr 17 Heard with relay Radio 3 ADXN 5-92 2

2004 Apr 9 Heard in USA Canada 8749 USB Email

South East Asia Service
1983 May Test broadcasts on 3965 2 kW possible SE Asia Service NASWA
Vietnamese Boat People Era
1988 Test broadcasts old 2 kW (?) 9685 assess SW ADXN 8-88 12
1988 Aug 5 Test broadcasts low power 9685 heard Australia ADXN 8-88 4
1988 Oct 1 Vietnamese broadcasts begun to discourage boat people ADXN
Schedule 7290 kHz 1000-1300 & 2300-0100 UTC ADXN 10-88 12
30 kW ISB LP 9 db 228 degrees ADXN 10-88 12
1989 Broadcast for Vietnamese boat people 7290 DXO 3-90 57

New Millenium Relay
1999 Dec 31 Eight Chinese stations NY Eve from HK studios Email Bulletin

Station Profile BP EDXP25 4
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Hong Kong Radio on the Air Shortwave

QSLs

————————————————————————————————————-
Year Date Call kHz kW Description Holder Reference
————————————————————————————————————-
1936 Sep 14 ZBW B&W 3 photo card ARDXC
1927 Oct 27 ZBW 9525 2 B&W 3 photo card Weyrich Copy
1939 9525 2
1941 Oct 13 ZBW3 9525 B&W 3 photo card Simpson R&H 79.11 6-41 54
1965 ZBW3 3940 Text card ADXN ADXN 3-79 5
1981 Jun 21 HKT 13334 2 Letter JJ Copy
1982 Jul 28 RTVHK 91 Form AWR Copy
1986 RTVHK3940 2 JB Email
1987 May 22 Volmet 8828 5 Form letter AMP
1988 Aug 18 C&W 17096 3 Form letter AMP
1988 Nov 10 RTVHK Form letter non QSL AMP
1989 Aug 28 HKT 7290 10 Form letter AMP
1990 Feb 11 C&W 8539 5 Form letter AMP
1991 Aug 9 Volmet 13282 5 Form letter AMP
1991 Aug 12 Volmet 8828 5 Form letter AMP
1996 HKT 3940 7.5 JB Email
1996 Apr 19 HKT 3940 7.5 4 panel folder card – 1 AMP
1996 Apr 19 HKT 3940 7.5 4 panel folder card – 2 AMP
1996 Apr 19 RTVHK3940 2 Photo antenna card – 1 AMP
1996 Apr 19 RTVHK3940 2 Photo antenna card – 2 AMP
1996 Jun 27 VRX60 13020 5 4 panel folder card AMP
1996 Jun 27 VRX69 8559 5 4 panel folder card AMP

1980 May 10 AWR 91.7 AWR card AMP

1980 May 8 BFBS 99.5 Text card AMP
1989 May 8 BFBS 99.5 Tourist card AMP

1996 Jul 31 BBC 15280 250 Hong Kong tourist card AMP
1996 Nov 13 BBC 9580 250 Hong Kong tourst card AMP
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Hong Kong Radio on the Air Shortwave

WRHB Entries

————————————————————————————————————-
Year Page Call kHz kW Programming Relay
————————————————————————————————————-
1947 56 ZBW3 9525 2 English & Chinese ZBW ZEK BBC
1948 56 ZBW3 9525 1 EE CC FF PP ZBW ZEK BBC
1949 55 ZBW3 9525 2.5 EE CC BBC
1950 62 ZBW3 9525 2.5 EE CC BBC
1951 64 ZBW3 9525 2 EE CC ZBW ZEK BBC
1952 66 ZBW3 9525 2.5 EE CC ZBW ZEK
1953 71 ZBW3 9525 2.5 EE CC ZBW ZEK
1954 71 ZBW3 9525 2.5 EE CC FF PP ZBW ZEK
1955 86 ZBW3 9525 2.5 EE CC FF PP ZBW ZEK BBC
1956 94 ZBW3 3940 2.5 EE CC ZBW ZEK
1957 95 ZBW3 3940 2.5 EE CC FF PP ZBW ZEK BBC
1958 99 ZBW3 3940 2.5 EE CC FF PP ZBW ZEK BBC
1959 107 ZBW3 3940 2.5 EE CC FF PP ZBW ZEK BBC
1960 119 ZBW3 3940 2.5 EE CC FF PP ZBW ZEK BBC
1961 130 ZBW 3940 2.5 EE CC FF PP ZBW ZEK BBC
1962 127 ZBW 3940 2.5 EE CC FF PP ZBW ZEK BBC
1963 136 ZBW3 3940 25 EE CC ZBW ZEK BBC
1964 152 RHK 3940 25 EE CC EE CC BBC
1965 169 RHK 3940 2.5 EE CC EE CC BBC
1966 170 RHK 3940 2.5 EE CC EE CC BBC
1967 160 RHK 3940 2.5 EE CC EE CC BBC
1968 172 RHK 3940 2.5 EE CC EE CC BBC
1969 157 RHK SW not listed
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