Radio 9AC Torokina
|This article first appeared in the January 19, 1946 issue of ‘Listener in Melbourne’. Copyright to the publisher. Supplied from the collection of Dr Adrian Peterson. It now forms part of the Radio Heritage Collection (c). 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 July 1 2001.|
Radio 9AC Torokina, Bougainville, New Guinea in WWII
Maurice Callard and 9AC Torokina
Radio Station 9AC was one of 21 stations established for the Australian Army Amenities Service and which broadcast in New Guinea, the Dutch East Indies, British Straits Settlements on Borneo and in occupied Japan.
Interesting sidelights on the working of Station 9AC Torokina, one of the Army Amenities stations, which as W/O Maurice Callard (formerly of 3DB) as Chief Announcer, are supplied by Sgt. Eric (Len) Evans, who until recently was attached to the station. Sgt. Evans was recently invalided home and is now in Heidelberg Hospital.
In addition to Maurice Callard and Evans, the announcing staff at 9AC included W/O Eric Spence (formerly with 3AK), and Brian Carlton (at one time with 3XY).
Stars in Uniform Popular Show
Station features which are highly popular with the servicemen are ‘Stars in Uniform’ conducted by Maurice Callard along the lines of the Amateur Hour; a general knowledge quiz conducted by Eric Spence, with prizes which jackpot when questions remain unanswered; a Hit Parade compered by Brian Carlton, and a Hospital Request Hour, which was conducted by Sgt. Evans.
The last-named feature was given the personal touch by Sgt. Evans, who paid daily visits to the hospital to get request numbers at first hand from the patients.
Bing Crosby #1
Sgt. Evans said that Bing Crosby was first favourite among the male artists, with john Charles Thomas and Josef Schmidt, tenor, next in demand. Vera Lynn was first favourite among the women, followed by Deanna Durbin and Gracie Fields.
The recording most in demand was the Chic Henderson version of ‘Begin the Beguine’, Gracie Fields in Gounods ‘Ave Maria’ was in consistent demand, also ‘The Nuns Chorus’ and all Strauss recordings.
Christmas 1945 ‘Hit Parade’
When he left the station, the Hit Parade list comprised: 1. ‘I’ll be Home for Christmas’; 2. This is the Story’; 3. ‘The Three Caballeros’; 4. ‘A Little on the Lonely Side’; 5. Put, Put, Put’; 6. ‘Rum and Coco Cola’; 7. ‘Don’t Fence Me In’ and 8. ‘Accentuate the Positive’.
When the station opened, the records library consisted of 2500 recordings, but this has now grown to about 4000. The station was fortunate that when it was taken over from the Americans, they left behind a large number of the most successful transcriptions of sessions featuring American stars.
Shortwave Racing Results a Winner
The sporting relays on short wave were a popular Sunday feature. These took in the racing results from all the states. Thousands of letters expressing appreciation of the well balanced programmes provided by the station are now on its files.
Sgt. Evans, who hopes when he gets his discharge from the Army, to embark on a career as radio announcer, is a brother-in-law of Denbigh Salter, the Movie Roundsman.
Bougainville Radio Notes
Torokina is located on the island of Bougainville, in the western Solomon Islands, but within what was then the Australian League of Nations mandate of New Guinea following its capture from the Germans in 1914 when it had been a German Pacific Colony.
Radio 9AC began broadcasts on March 15, 1945 using a 200 watt transmitter on 1280 AM. According to our sources, the station was apparently closed down very late in 1945. However, as the Hit Parade includes ‘I’ll be Home for Christmas’ and the January 1946 article talks of the station in the present tense, the exact closure date needs further investigation. Apparently, the transmitter was then moved to Lae.
The AFRS station from which 9AC inherited its large music library, was Jungle Network station WVTI.
Jungle Network WVTI
WVTI originally began broadcasting from the location of Kieta on Bougainville in March 1944, using the frequency of 670 AM. According to some DX reports in New Zealand radio magazines, WVTI was still broadcasting in March 1945.
There are also reports of WVTI using the frequency of 680 AM, and of another AFRS callsign in the area, WSSO operating on 690 AM.
Began as AES and WSSO
We believe the original station was first called AES or American Entertainment Service using a locally built transmitter, as only the second AFRS linked station in the Jungle Network zone.
This was then given the WSSO callsign (possibly based on WeStern SOlomons) locally, much as other early AFRS stations in the area derived local callsigns. Within a short time, the WVT callsign series was introduced for stations in the New Guinea area initially, and the station became WVTI.
The 4 photos of 9AC are from the Photographs Collection of the Australian War Memorial.
Permission to access a limited number of photographs has been granted in writing to the Radio Heritage Collection © and licencing fees of A$200 each have been waived.
Australian War Memorial material is copyright. GPO Box 345, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia. www.awm.gov.au