The Prime Minister’s Birthday

This article was first broadcast on 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 January 1 2003. Author: Adrian Peterson

Now, it just so happened that the Prime Minister of Australia during the wartime era, Sir Robert Menzies, was born on a date near Christmas, December 20, 1894 to be exact. In 1939, the new war in Europe caught Australia unready and feverish attempts were made to launch a new international radio broadcasting service.

Just three shortwave transmitters were ready for the occasion and these were already on the air with other programming services. Two 10 kW transmitters at Pennant Hills, an outer suburb of Sydney, carried the familiar voice of experimental programming from AWA Sydney, and a 2 kW unit at Lyndhurst in Victoria was on the air with regional programming from the ABC.

The two transmitters at Pennant Hills were on the air with program broadcasting as VK2ME, and with international communication traffic as VLK & VLM. For the inauguration of the new shortwave service, “Australia Calling”, VLK & VLM were re-designated as VLQ & VLQ2. The ABC station was on the air as VLR and for the new international service, the same callsign VLR was retained.

The date for the inauguration of Australia Calling just happened to be December 20, 1939, the Prime Minister’s 45th birthday. But that’s not all. Another transmitter base for Radio Australia was also inaugurated on this same date, though in a subsequent year.

After the devastasting Cyclone Tracy swept through Darwin on Christmas Eve in 1974, it was no longer possible for Radio Australia to transmit its programming to Asia from the large shortwave relay station on Cox’s Peninsula. Another series of rapid events occurred and a new station was installed in an empty satellite tracking facility near Carnarvon (c’n-AR-von) in Western Australia.

On that same auspicious date, December 20, in the year 1975, a new 250 kW transmitter, designated as VLM, was taken into regular service at Carnarvon with programming from the Radio Australia studios in Melbourne. The two additional transmitters, VLK & VLL, were inaugurated consecutively some months later.

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