Monday, June 25, 2018
The History of Radio Veritas Asia
According to the best available information, shortwave Radio Veritas Asia in the Philippines is closing at the end of this month, Saturday June 30. Just in case this information proves to be correct, we would recommend that you tune in to shortwave Radio Veritas Asia some time during this new week, and that you send to them a final reception report. Their QSL card would then become a permanent reminder to you of another important and well known shortwave station that now lies silent.
In this our DX program Wavescan, we plan to tell the story of Radio Veritas in two episodes. This week we plan to focus on the interesting story of their mediumwave facilities, and next week we plan to focus on the equally interesting story of their shortwave facilities.
Let’s go back now to the very beginning, the era immediately after the end of the tragic Pacific War. The Battle of Manila, between the Japanese occupation forces and the incoming American forces, began on February 3, 1945 and it lasted for exactly one month, to the very day.
During that time, the fighting was so intense that almost every major building in Manila was either destroyed or seriously damaged, and the death toll for American service personnel, Japanese service personnel, and Filipino citizens was counted by the thousands. The city was finally successfully claimed by the American army on March 3 (1945).
Soon afterwards, Manila experienced a rapid redevelopment and rebuilding program for a city that had been massively damaged and destroyed in both 1942 and again in 1945. In the middle of the following year, the Philippines were granted independence from the United States, on July 4, 1946.
In the midst of all of these rapidly changing events, movements were under way for the restoration of the radio scene in the Philippine Islands. Old radio broadcasting stations were re-established and new stations were installed; old callsigns were revived and new callsigns began to make a sudden appearance.
One of the very first new stations in Manila to suddenly make an appearance on the mediumwave dial of the radio receiver was inaugurated on May 15, 1947 under a new callsign KZOK. This new KZOK was owned and operated by the Philippine Broadcasting Corporation as it was then, and it was a sister station to the better known KZPI.
Radio station KZOK was on the air with a homemade 1 kW transmitter operating on the mediumwave frequency 860 kHz. Studios were located on the 4th Floor of the Ramon Roces Building in Soler Street in downtown Manila, and the transmitter was located in Quezon City. Soon afterwards, the studios were re-installed on the 5th and 6th floors of the Pilipinas Building at Plaza Moraga.
More changes came on January 1, 1949, including a new callsign under the new callsign sequence for the Philippines, and KZOK became DZAB. A new studio location found the station at Town House on Dewey Boulevard, though the ownership under all of those recent changes was still retained by the Philippine Broadcasting Corporation.
However two years later in 1951, the station was taken over by the Catholic operated Santo Tomas University, where it spoke for the university, and also for the Catholic church. The new callsign at this new location in the Main Building at the university, was DZST, with the D indicating the Philippines, the Z indicating the Luzon area, and the ST indicating Santo Tomas, the name of the university.
In 1958, a high level committee meeting at the university decided in favor of establishing a network of Catholic radio broadcasting stations in the Philippines, and 8 years later (1966) a new organization was born under the title Radio Veritas. (Veritas is a Latin word meaning truth.)
Two years later again, Radio Veritas was inaugurated at the university with new equipment, still at 1 kW and still on 860 kHz, though with a new callsign DZRV, with the RV now indicating Radio Veritas. The auspicious date for the inauguration of this new station was April 11, 1969.
In the meantime, plans were underway for the construction of a 50 kW mediumwave transmitter station in what was a rice field on MacArthur Highway near Malolos, some 20 miles northwest of Manila. At this new location away from Manila itself, another new callsign was granted, not beginning with DZ but rather with DW. The new callsign, DWRV, indicated quite clearly Radio Veritas. However, the program studios still remained in Quezon City, Manila.
During the violent political crisis in the Philippines in the early part of the year 1986, Radio Veritas at Malolos was raided twice. On Sunday and Monday February 23 and 24, insurgents drove into the station and damaged and destroyed the electronic equipment and antenna systems, though none of the station personnel were harmed.
It is reported that all five transmitters were destroyed during that double attack. It is known that there were three shortwave transmitters in the building, and we would suggest that the other two transmitters were the main 50 kW mediumwave unit and also a standby mediumwave unit.
The program stream from the studios in Quezon City was then fed to the Radio Veritas auxiliary transmitter, also in Quezon City, but after just 15 hours on air, this unit malfunctioned. News and information from Radio Veritas was then fed from an undisclosed location to another mediumwave station in Manila, DZRJ with 5 kW on 810 kHz. The damaged 50 kW mediumwave transmitter at Radio Veritas Malolos was soon restored, though the shortwave facility was subsequently rebuilt at another location.
However, due to financial problems, mediumwave Radio Veritas was taken over on May 17, 1991 by the Catholic subsidiary organization, the Global Broadcasting System, as a commercial operation with a new callsign DZNN. In 2008, a new 50 kW mediumwave facility was constructed at a new location, Barangay Taliptip, Malolos, a shared site with another mediumwave station DZXL.
The old transmitter building on MacArthur Highway Malolos then served as an educational facility for a few years, and also as the home for an FM station. However since 2011, this solid old building, still with its bullet holes and faded Radio Veritas sign, has lain abandoned, though current information would suggest that there is a serious attempt to have this historic old building restored and declared as a National Heritage Site.