Monday, January 10, 2011

Pakistan on Shortwave: The Rawalpindi Story

In our program today, we return to the shortwave radio scene in Pakistan; and in particular, to the city of Rawalpindi in the far north of the country. Actually Rawalpindi, together with its twin city Islamabad, make up the 3rd largest city complex in Pakistan, behind Karachi & Lahore. At one stage, Rawalpindi was the temporary interim capital city of Pakistan during the transitional era between the transfer from Karachi in the south up to the newly built Islamabad in the north.
Three thousand years ago, Buddhist culture flourished in the area during the Vedic era, and the locality was known at various times under several different names, including the short name Rawal. It was Jhandar Khan who augmented the name to Rawalpindi in 1493. The British came in 1849, and they ultimately established Rawalpindi as their largest army camp anywhere in colonial India.
The first radio station in Rawalpindi was an army station under the callsign VVX. This was a shortwave facility rated at around 1 kW and it was the northern Punjab unit in the British army network of communication stations that were on the air during the 1930s with three letter callsigns beginning with VV.
Pakistan exerted its independence from British India at the time of partition at midnight on August 14-15 1947 and radio became an important priority in the new country. The first new radio station in the new Pakistan was established at Rawalpindi, and this was a small shortwave unit with an output of just 500 watts.
This new and rather temporary broadcasting station was inaugurated on April 16 of the following year 1948, and it operated under the callsign APR. There are no known loggings of this quite low powered shortwave station though it must have been heard, at least locally and into nearby countries.
The international range of callsigns allocated to the new Pakistan included the series beginning with the two letters AP, with A indicating Asia & P indicating Pakistan. The third letter in Pakistani callsigns indicated the city of location; and for Rawalpindi, this was of course the letter R.
Mediumwave came to Rawalpindi with just 100 watts a year later, and during the following year, this facility was upgraded to a 1 kW unit on 1260 kHz with the callsign APR1. In the meantime, a much larger facility was under construction just beyond the edge of suburban Rawalpindi on the south side of the Grand Trunk Road running west towards Peshawar. This radio station is located near the more recently established Riphah International University near Naseerabad just out of Rawalpindi.
On September 1, 1950 the mediumwave transmitter at this new location was inaugurated as Rawalpindi 1 with 10 kW on 1260 kHz, though the channel was moved to 1150 kHz four years later. This transmitter was de-activated in 2001 at the time when a new 100 kW mediumwave transmitter at an unstated location took over the programming from Rawalpindi 1. Due to the fact that the area around the original transmitter base near Naseerabad is now overcrowded with housing, it is probable that the 100 kW mediumwave transmitter was installed at a new and somewhat isolated location.
Ten years after the mediumwave unit was inaugurated at this Rawalpindi radio station, a 10 kW shortwave transmitter was activated at this same location on the tropical shortwave bands for local and regional coverage. The inauguration date was October 15, 1960. This shortwave transmitter was on the air regularly for around a quarter century carrying the regional programming as Rawalpindi 2 and subsequently as Rawalpindi 3.
However in 1973, the regional programming listed as Rawalpindi 3 was then transferred to a 100 kW transmitter located at Rawat, 25 miles east of Rawalpindi. This transmitter site is officially identified as Islamabad, and the specific 100 kW transmitter was listed as API8.
However, the 10 kW shortwave transmitter located on the western edge of Rawalpindi was apparently renovated, and it was re-activated again somewhere around the year 2001 on its same familiar channel 4790 kHz. The programming relay was split between Azad Kashmir Radio and Rawalpindi 3, though it should be remembered that the 100 kW transmitter located at Islamabad-Rawat was also operating at certain times of the day on this same channel, 4790 kHz, and with similar programming.
The production and on air studios for Radio Pakistan were transferred from Karachi to an in town location in Rawalpindi in 1967; then they were moved again within Rawalpindi seven years later, and then finally to a new headquarters building in Islamabad in 1977.
Thus it is that the radio station known as Rawalpindi has been on the air from several different locations over the years as follows:-
Rawalpindi & Naseerabad, and perhaps one new and as yet unstated location
Rawalpindi & Naseerabad, and also Rawat-Islamabad
Three consecutive locations in Rawalpindi & then Islamabad

Over the years, many QSL cards have been issued for the broadcasts of Radio Pakistan Rawalpindi, though the earliest of which we are aware is dated in the year 1955. Currently, QSL cards are still available for this station from their national head office in Islamabad.
(AWR Wavescan/NWS # 98 via Adiran Peterson)