Radio Balikpapan Kalimantan
by Adrian Peterson
Now, in assessing the available information, we would suggest that the Dutch colonial authorities took over both of the radio stations in Balikpapan from the Australian army; that is, the mediumwave station 9AG as mentioned earlier, and also the long established shortwave station that utilized generally just the one channel, 9120 or 9125 kHz. The date for this acquisition was March 1, 1946; and it would also be suggested that they activated both units, mediumwave & shortwave, with their programming in Dutch & English on that date. However, due to propagation conditions, it would appear that the mediumwave unit was not heard in Australia nor New Zealand, though the shortwave unit was heard in both the South Pacific and North America. In fact, both the noted Rex Gillett in Adelaide and the equally well known Miss Sanderson in Victoria received QSL letters from this station during this era.
A news report published in the United States declares that Radio Balikpapan shortwave was off the air for about a month, and we would read this as the time interval during which the station was transferred from Balikpapan on the east coast of Borneo to Pontianak on the west coast. When this station returned to the air at its new location, the on-air identification announcement stated: “Radio Balikpapan Pontianak”. And we note that the two locations, Balikpapan & Pontianak are more than 500 miles apart. Interestingly, at this stage there were three shortwave transmitters on the air in Pontianak, one of which was listed as 125 watts, the exact power rating of the transmitter at the previous location in Balikpapan.
Now, around the same time as the Dutch authorities took over the mediumwave and shortwave stations from the Australians in Balikpapan, a new shortwave station in Balikpapan appeared on the radio dial. This station also identified on air with a Tasmanian callsign, 7ER. This new shortwave station emitted a mere 8 watts and it began operation on 6980 kHz, though this was soon modified to 7205 kHz to avoid interference. Radio station 7ER utilized Australian army equipment, though plans were announced for the installation of a 100 watt shortwave transmitter abandoned by the Japanese. We would guess that the make shift studio for the broadcast of this programming was in reality the camp amplifier system that was on the air earlier with programming under the callsign 7KM.
In summary then, there were three different wireless and radio installations in Balikpapan in the earlier days, which were as follows:-
- Wireless communication station PKF which apparently morphed into YCP which became YCC, and which was in use successively by the Dutch, the Japanese, the Australians, and again the Dutch, and lastly by the Indonesians in two widely different locations as Radio Balikpapan.
- Camp amplifier radio station TBC which probably served as the makeshift studio for the low power shortwave stations 7KM & 7ER.
- Australian army mobile station 9AG which was taken over by the Dutch authorities and became Radio Balikpapan.
Read this column with appendices and additional material from Wavescan Sunday December 30, 2007:
Download “Radio Broadcasting in Borneo – Kalimantan 1, Balikpapan/American Radio Stations in Australia – 4QR Brisbane by Adrian Petersen”NWS8b.pdf – 327.63 KB
Adrian Petersen is a noted radio historian and broadcaster for many years with Indianapolis based Adventist World Radio, a global shortwave, AM, FM and satellite radio network. Originally from South Australia, Adrian has worked in radio across Asia and the Pacific and is well known worldwide for his long running Wavescan radio series. He has published an extensive number of radio heritage articles using his large database of historical information, and personally maintains the AWR heritage collection, one of the world’s largest privately held memorabilia collections.
Views expressed in this column are those of the author and may not necessarily represent those of the Radio Heritage Foundation. Send us your column comments and feedback.