The Story of Family Radio

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

At the present time, Family Radio WYFR on shortwave in Florida is broadcasting a lengthy series of special programs in honor of their 30th anniversary. It was on October 20, 1973 that Family Radio took over the large and historic shortwave station situated at Scituate (SIT-you-ate) in Massachusetts and began to feed it with their Gospel programming.

The story of their station goes back a long way, almost to the very beginning of shortwave broadcasting. The early origins of this station can be traced back to New York City in 1927 when Walter Lemmon obtained a shortwave licence for a station with the callsign W2XAL. At the time, this shortwave station took a tandem relay from the mediumwave station WRNY.

In the following year, the shortwave outlet was sold to a commercial company, Aviation Radio. However, three years later, Walter Lemmon was again granted the license for this station and he transferred it to Boston where the callsign was changed from W2XAL to W1XAL.

Five years later, in the year 1936, Walter Lemmon purchased a large property at Hatherly Beach, near Scituate, for the purpose of installing a large international shortwave station. His first transmitter at this new location was a 20 kW unit under the same callsign, W1XAL. A second unit, W1XAR was added shortly afterwards.

In 1939 the callsigns at Hatherly Beach were regularized, first to WSLA & WSLR, and then to WRUL & WRUW. Soon after a spate of government service with VOA programming for Europe, Africa & Latin America, the station was sold a couple of times, with one callsign change, and finally Family Radio took over on October 20, 1973 with the callsign WYFR.

Over the years several additional transmitters were installed at WRUL, including WDJM from Miami and WBOS from Hull. After a disastrous fire in 1967, the station was rebuilt with five new transmitters.

Four years after Family Radio procured the station, they began to transfer the transmitters from Hatherly Beach to their new property near Lake Okeechobee in Florida. The first transmitter at the new location was activated on November 23, 1977; and subsequently a total of 14 transmitters were installed at this very large facility. The final broadcast from WYFR at the Scituate location ended at 2052 UTC on November 16, 1979.

These days, Family Radio is on the air worldwide with 24 hours of programming in eleven languages from their fourteen transmitters in Florida as well as from a series of relay transmitters in Europe, the Middle East and Taiwan. They also operate a home service network of FM and AM stations across the United States totalling somewhere around one hundred stations.

On this occasion here in Wavescan, we honor Family Radio on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of their shortwave broadcasting which began in 1973 from a now historic radio site on the eastern shore of the North American continent.

The Long & Interesting Story of Family Radio Shortwave

Time Lines & References

—————————————————————————————————-
Location Year Date Call Events Reference
—————————————————————————————————-
Pittsburgh 1920 Nov 2 8XK Back up relay for KDKA SWdoc
Garage 1921 Winter 8XK SW experiments from Conrad’s home SWdoc

Pittsburgh 1922 Aug 8XS New 1 kW SW transmitter at factory SWdoc
Factory

Forest Hills 1924 Jul 8XK Moved to Forest Hills SWdoc
1928 W8XK New international prefix required SWdoc

Saxonburg 1931 Feb W8XK Moved to Saxonburg SWdoc
1939 Sep 1 WPIT New callsign SWdoc

Hull 1939 WPIT Moved to Hull SWdoc
1940 Late WBOS Moved to Hull incorporated in WPIT SWdoc
1941 Jan WBOS WPIT call dropped SWdoc
1942 Feb 24 WBOS Taken into VOA service SWdoc
1953 Jul 1 WBOS Released from VOA service SWdoc
1953 WBOS Sold to WRUL moved to Scituate SWdoc

Springfield 1930 Jan W1XAZ Home made transmitter relay WBZ SWdoc

Millis 1931 Feb W1XAZ New 1 kW transmitter SWdoc
1936 W1XK New callsign SWdoc 1939 Sep 1 WBOS Callsign change SWdoc
1940 Late WBOS Moved to Hull incorporated in WPIT SWdoc

Miami Beach 1932 Oct W4XB Test broadcasts began, relay WIOD SWdoc

Miami 1938 W4XB Moved to Miami SWdoc
1939 Sep 1 WDJM Callsign changed, W4XB to WDJM SWdoc
1940 Jan WDJM Sold to WRUL, became WRUX SWdoc

New York 1927 May 25 W2XAL SW licence issued began relay WRNY SWdoc
1928 Apr 15 W2XAL Bought by Aviation Radio SWdoc
1931 Jun 25 W2XAL Licence transfer back to W Lemmon SWdoc
1931 Oct 26 W1XAL Transmitter transferred to Boston SWdoc

Boston 1931 Oct 26 W1XAL W2XAL moved to Brookline Ave SWdoc
1939 Jul W1XAR Tests from new 20 kW transmitter SWdoc

Scituate 1936 Property purchased WS267
W1XAL New 20 kW transmitter installed WS267
1939 Sep 1 WSLA Call changed from W1XAL to WSLA WS267
1939 Sep 1 WSLR Call changed from W1XAR to WSLR WS267
1939 Sep WRUL Call changed from WSLA to WRUL WS267
1939 Sep WRUW Call changed from WSLR to WRUW WS267
1939 WRUL WDJM incorporated, became WRUX SWdoc
1942 VOA Full time usage for VOA programming WS267
1948 VOA-WWF Part time usage by VOA WS267
1948 VOA VOA usage terminated WS267
1960 WRUL Station sold to Metro Media WS267
1962 WRUL Sold to Latter Day Saints, SLC WS267
1966 WNYW Call changed from WRUL to WNYW WS267
1973 Oct 20 WYFR Sold to Family Radio, call change WS267
1977 WYFR 1st transmitter removed to Florida WS267
1979 Nov 16 WYFR Last transmitter switched off 2052 UTC WS267
Florida 1977 Nov 23 WYFR 1st Scituate transmitter activated SWdoc
1984 Nov WYFR 10th transmitter installed SWdoc
WYFR 14th transmitter installed
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