Marshall Islands On The Air

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 May 1st 2003. Author: Adrian Peterson

The Marshall Islands are a small group of islands that form a part of Micronesia in the central Pacific, about half way between Hawaii and Australia. The Marshalls are made up of 34 coral atolls with a total area of just 70 square miles and a total coastline of just 75 miles.

These islands run in two parallel chains about 130 miles apart and they extend for 650 miles. The capital island is Majuro and the total population is around 75,000.

The Marshall Islands were first populated by Micronesians who migrated into the area approximately 3,000 years ago. The first Europeans to sight the islands were from Spain, the islands were named by the British, and Germany bought them from Spain in 1885.

The Japanese were granted a mandate over the islands from the League of Nations in 1920, and the Americans were granted a mandate from the United Nations in 1946. The Marshall Islands gained independence in 1986.

Three island atolls in the Marshalls have achieved world wide fame. Kwajelein & Eniwetok were the location of two fierce battles during the Pacific War, and Bikini & Eniwetok were the locations for the American atomic tests in the Pacific a few years later.

Radiowise, the first transmitter in the Marshall Islands was established under the Japanese mandate on the southern island of Jaluit (ja-LOO-it) somewhere around the mid-1920’s. This was a communication station under the callsign JRX.

In 1944, American forces established two stations in the Marshall Islands; WXLG with 1 kW on Kwajelein and WXLE with just 50 watts on Eniwetok. Two years later, radio played another important role during the American atomic tests on Bikini and Eniwetok. The radio transmitters on several ships relayed a live broadcast from a nearby location, giving a running commentary of the events associated with the atomic explosions.

The mediumwave station WSZO began with just 200 watts on 1500 kHz somewhere around the year 1960. This station was established by the local government and it was supplementary to the two AFRS stations on the air in this island group in the central Pacific.

In 1980, on March 4 to be exact, a new 1 kW transmitter at station WSZO made its first appearance on the shortwave bands. Two channels were in use, 6070 kHz & 4940 kHz, though the tropical band channel gave the widest coverage.

A few months later, the station stated that they were swamped with reception reports from all over the world, though mainly from Australia, New Zealand and North America. The transmitter was a Japanese NEC 10 kW unit and the antenna was beamed north west.

Two years after its inauguration, the shortwave service came to an abrupt end when the antenna balun (BAL-un) failed. This service for the outer islands was never revived and gone was the possibility for distant listeners to hear this exotic radio station in the central Pacific.

However, there is good news. Several recent news reports state that the Kentucky shortwave station WJIE, with its offices in Louisville and transmitters at Upton, indicate that they have bought the three shortwave transmitters from FEBA Seychelles. They are apparently planning to install one in Liberia, another in the United States, and the third in the Marshall Islands.

The government radio station in the Marshall Islands began its on air service under the callsign WSZO and this was changed to V7AD after independence. What will be the callsign for this new Gospel shortwave station in the Marshall Islands?

The Marshall Islands on Shortwave

Time Lines

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Station Year Date Event
——————————————————————————————————————
WSZO 1960 WSZO mediumwave inaugurated
1987 Mar 4 Shortwave service inaugurated
1989 Off air shortwave antenna balun needed

New Shortwave Station
2004 Return to shortwave?
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The Marshall Islands on Shortwave

References
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Station Year Event & Reference
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Early Wireless Station Jaluit
1928 JRX on air under Japanese mandate on southern island; AWARG 79.1 41

AFRS Kwajelein
1944 WXLG 1440 kHz 1 kW began Jul 4 1st FRS mid Pacific; AFRS 79.21 453

AFRS Eniwetok
1944 WXLE 1320 kHz 50w began Jul 15; AFTRS 79.21 453
1945 Closed in May and transferred to Philippines; RIRPW 4

Bikini Atomic Tests
1946 July VOA relay by ships in Operation Crossroads

WSZO Mediumwave
1960 WSZO gov station1st list WRTVHB 1500 kHz 200 w; WRTVHB 1960 134
1970 Power increase for WSZO to 10 kW 1440 kHz; R&H 79.17 5-70 177
19xx Began Dec 24 (Year?); AMP QSL letter 18-4-88
1995 WSZO 1098 kHz 5 kW; WRTVHB 1995 246
1996 No call lsited, 1098 kHz 5 kW; WRTVHB 1996 293
1997 V7AD 1098 kHz 5 kW; WRTVHB 1997 235

WSZO Shortwave
1987 QSL says began Mar 4, 1987, heard by Craig Seager; ADXN 4-87 10
1987 QSL says began Mar 4, 1987; AMP QSL letter 18-4-88
1987 DX tip 1987 10 kW 4940 6070 heard Australia Canada; DXO 4-87 62
1987 10 kW NEC transmitter, LPA antenna 290 NW 4940 6070; ADXN 4-87 10
1987 Relay MW WSZO 1098 Majuro Marshalese & English; ADXN 4-87 10
1987 WSZO 4940 heard in Canada; CIDX 10-87, DXO 11-87 52
1988 Swamped with reception reports nundreds per month; DXO 6-88
1989 Off air SW antenna balun needed appeal by ATC; DXO 5-89 61
1991 Gordon Darling visit earlier this year, no sign SW antenna; DXO 7-91 60
1991 Has used 4840 & 6070 kHz; DXO 7-91 60
1992 Long wire antenna from small concrete building, was SW; DXO 7-92 26

New Shortwave Station
2003 WJIE plan with V7AD for ex FEBA 100 kW in Marshalls; PC 4-03 60
2003 Similar statement in NZDXT 3-03 38
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