On The Air In Tokyo Bay

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

Tokyo Bay is a huge and wide bay that is landlocked and protected by several islands, large and small. Surrounding the bay are many well known cities such as Chiba, Kawasaki and Yokohama, and of course, Tokyo itself.

Originally Tokyo was known as Edo, the name of a ruling family in the Middle Ages. The name of the city was changed in 1868 to “Tokyo”, a name that means “Eastern Capital”.

At the end of events associated with the Pacific War, His Majesty Hirohito, the Showa Emperor of Japan, announced on radio on August 15 1945 that the war was over. The Peace Ceremony was signed on board the navy vessel “Missouri” nearly three weeks later, on September 2. The role that radio played in these events forms an important and interesting chapter in international radio history.

At the time of the signing ceremony on the aircraft carrier “Missouri”, there were 260 Allied navy vessels at anchor in Tokyo Bay. The “Missouri” itself lay at anchor eighteen miles out in the bay and six miles off the coast of Yokohama. An armada of 1900 planes, airforce and navy, flew overhead.

The USS “Missouri” was launched in January 1944, the fourth navy vessel to bear this title. It was noted on the air in that era by shortwave listeners in the United States, New Zealand and Australia with the callsign, NCBL.

Another navy vessel, the USS “Iowa”, also played a major role in the relay of radio signals at the time of the historic events in Tokyo Bay. This ship, the “Iowa”, was launched in August 1942, and it was often noted on air under the callsign KU1M calling KU5Q on the island of Guam.

At the time of the signing ceremony, many radio circuits were activated to ensure reliable worldwide coverage. The originating point was the main ship transmitters, NCBL, on the “Missouri”. Nearby was the “Iowa” which acted as the network control for these broadcasts with its shortwave transmitters under the callsign KU1M.

The four shortwave transmitters of Radio Tokyo at Nazaki in Japan carried a relay of the broadcast for long distance coverage, which was picked up in Guam, the Philippines and Hawaii for onward relay to the receiving stations in California and elsewhere. And from there of course, the relay became a worldwide radio broadcast phenomenon.

It was on September 2, 1945, at 9:02 am local time that General Douglas MacArthur stepped before the microphone that was set up on the landing deck of the “Missouri” for this historic worldwide broadcast. His wife Jean, was still in the Philippines at the time, living in the German embassy on the edge of Manila. She heard her husband’s radio broadcast on a shortwave radio.

There is only one known QSL from these ships in this era. A QSL letter was received by Ray Simpson, the shortwave columnist for the Australian magazine, “Radio & Hobbies”. This letter, verifying the reception of KU1M on the “Iowa” in March 1947, was received from the radio section at navy headquarters in California. At the time, the “Iowa” was on navy manoeuvres off the coast of California and it was noted on 9670 k
“Iowa” & “Missouri” on air from Tokyo Bay


Ship Information & Reference
Missouri Worldwide broadcast Tokyo Bay Sep 1, 1945; Dunlap 158
One hour delay on all circuits; Apache Book 144
NCBL 15593 making arrangement Navy Day broadcast Oct; RN 1-46 110
NCBL heard on 9970 14770 15593 3 kW; RN 1-46 110

Iowa KU1M called by KU5Q Guam on 13390 kHz; R&H 79.13 9-45 36
KU1M Japan 17650 “historic interest” calling KU5Q; R&H 79.13 10-45 36
One hour delay on all circuits; Apache Book 144
KU1M 10640 13775 17680, Missouri Ceremony?; RN 1-46 110 KU5Q
KU1M USS Iowa 10590 frequently calling KU5Q, Gillett; RN 2-46 143
KU1M USS Iowa 17650 calling KU5Q for news relay; RN 3-46 115
KU1M 17760 relay to ABC San Francisco; RN 6-46 111
KU1M 10585 relay to ABC Los Angeles; RN 6-46 111
KU1M 10585 & 17760 relay to ABC in California; RN 7-46 116
Broadcast to CBS 9670, interview navy commander; R&H 79.13 4-47 73
Manoeuvres off California 9670 Mar 1947; R&H 79.13 3-48 56

QSL Iowa KU1M 9670 letter QSL Mar 1947 Ray simpson; R&H 79.13 3-48 56

Books The Years of MacArhur by James Clayton
American Caesar by William Manchester
Old Soldiers Never Die by Geoffrey Parret


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