Sunday, January 02, 2011

The Mystery of Curom Radio

Whatever Happened to Curom Radio on Curacao Island n the Caribbean ?

An interesting exchange of information between well known and highly respected international radio monitors is printed in the November issue of the American radio magazine, NASWA Journal. The question under discussion was: What happened to Curom Radio on the island of Curacao? This exchange of information prompted a spate of research on our part; and in our program today, we present our findings, in this story of shortwave broadcasting on the island of Curacao.
The island of Curacao is located in the Caribbean, just 44 miles north of Venezuela in South America. Curacao is just 44 miles long, and less than ten miles wide. The highest peak is Mt Christophelberg at 1230 ft high, and the island has no rivers and no lakes.
It is understood that Amerindians from South America arrived on the island around 2500 BC as the first inhabitants, though none of these peoples are found on the island today. The first European colony was established by the Spanish around 500 years ago, and the Dutch took over a hundred years later.
During the year 1800, the French attempted unsuccessfully to take over the island of Curacao, and subsequently the British took over twice for a few years, but the island still remains as part of the Dutch kingdom. During World War 2, the American & British forces took over the island temporarily as a protective measure that ended after peace returned to Europe.
As a matter of human interest, the world’s oldest inhabitant, Eugenie Blanchard, died last November at the age of nearly 115. She had served on the island of Curacao as a Catholic nun.
Wireless came to Curacao very early. In the year 1908, the Dutch warship, Jacob van Heemskerck, brought a set of wireless equipment to Curacao and this was established in Fort Rif at the mouth of Willemstad Harbor as a coastal wireless station. The original callsign was CRC, though this was regularized to PJC a few years later.
This callsign, PJC on Curacao, is reminiscent of the more familiar callsign PCJ which was the call of the well known Dutch international shortwave broadcasting station back in the early days of radio broadcasting. In fact, back ¾ of a century ago, radio journals of the era sometimes got the callsigns mixed up, and the Curacao call was sometimes printed incorrectly as PCJ, instead of PJC.
In 1928, for the first time, a radio telegraph service between Curacao & Holland was established by PJC on Curacao. Two years later a similar radio communication service was established between Curacao and New York.
According to a report in the club magazine from the International Shortwave Club in the United States, Curom Radio, as a shortwave broadcasting entity was launched around April 1937. This was the first radio broadcasting station on the island, and it was installed in Rif Fort, as a function of the maritime radio station PJC.
This new radio broadcasting service, under the specific callsign PJC1, emitted just 150 watts on 9091 kHz and occasionally it was heard in the United States. This was officially a government radio broadcasting service operated by the Curacao Radio Club, from which came the abbreviated name, Curom Radio.
In 1941, the ISWC magazine proclaimed that Curom Radio would soon be upgraded to 2 kW; and in 1943, the station was relaying programming on behalf of AFRS, the American Forces Radio Service, on 5930 kHz with a power of 3 kW.
A final listing during this era is found in a publication in New Zealand, which shows Radio Princess Juliana Radio on 7250 kHz in 1946. However, the World Radio Handbook lists PJC2 with 3 kW on either 7250 kHz or 5017 kHz from 1947 through 1953, though the last listing in this reference source shows that the station was inactive.
A report in the NASWA Journal states that Curom Radio was noted on shortwave in the United States during the year 1960 with programming in the 31 metre band.
According to Jerry Berg in his monumental book on Broadcasting on the Shortwaves, Curom Radio was again reactivated for a short period of time in the 1970s when it was heard again in the United States on 17513.5 & 20779 kHz.
According to the WRTVHB, mediumwave radio came to Curacao in 1953 with a power of 3 kW on 722 kHz. Subsequently, other mediumwave stations, all commercially operated, have been inaugurated on the island.
These days, there is no shortwave broadcasting service on the island of Curacao, and just one mediumwave station, though 24 FM stations are listed. The one mediumwave station is PJZ86, the familiar Radio Curom, with 10 kW on 860 kHz.
It should also be noted that a mediumwave station under the callsign KWJG was installed at the Hato airfield on Curacao in the year 1943. This station was a local unit, probably quite low powered, operated for AFRS, the American Forces Radio Service.
In its early years, Curom Radio was branded by the radio magazines of the era as being a poor verifier. However, as time went by, this scene changed and many QSL cards were issued. The highly desired QSL card from Radio Curom shows a stylistic map of Curacao with a tall antenna tower.
It should also be stated that the maritime station on Curacao, with which Curom Radio was associated, also issued QSL cards as verification of listener reports. Two cards are known; one shows
a map of the island, and the more recent card shows the figurative shield of Curacao in color.
So, Curom Radio was indeed on the air shortwave, back many years ago, and apparently during three different eras, beginning in 1937 and ending in the early 1970s.
(AWR Wavescan/ NWS # 97 via Adrian Peterson)