Friday, March 01, 2019

The final chapter of Radio Scene on the Islands of Macau

Hon Kong Zhuhai-Macau Bridge
Our opening topic here in Wavescan today is the Radio Scene on the Islands of Macau Part 4, and this is the final topic in this mini-series on Macau, the one time Portuguese colony in coastal China.  On this occasion, we pick up the story of Radio Vila Verde, the second radio broadcasting station in Macau. 

According to the American radio journal Radio News, commercial Radio Vila Verde in Macau was inaugurated in 1951, and they were on the air temporarily in March and April on shortwave 9500 kHz.  This new radio broadcasting service had borrowed the use of a 1 kW shortwave transmitter from Radio Club Macau while they were awaiting the arrival of a new mediumwave transmitter from overseas.

The new Radio Vila Verde was initially located in the private dwelling of Pedro Jose Lobo in Macau and when they finally inaugurated their anticipated medium wave facility, two transmitters were in use.  These two units were noted with separate programming and they were allotted separate callsigns, both of which looked like amateur radio call signs, though they were indeed two legitimate radio program broadcasting services.  Station CR9XM with ¼ kW on 1200 kHz carried Home Service programming, and station CR9XL with 3 kW on 1005 kHz carried their Foreign Service.

Seven years later in September 1958, Radio Vila Verde again experimented with radio program broadcasting on shortwave with what they called a new Foreign Service.  On this occasion, Arthur Cushen in Invercargill in South New Zealand, stated that the transmitter was rated at just 300 watts, and the frequency was 17785 kHz. 

The WR(TV)HB for 1959 states that the callsign in use for this experimental Foreign Service was CR9XM, with programming in Portuguese, parallel with medium wave 1250 kHz.  This second exploratory venture into shortwave broadcasting by Radio Vila Verde turned out to be their last.

Three years later (1962), Radio Vila Verde installed a 10 kW medium wave transmitter on 735 kHz, and the previously active low power transmitter continued in service on 1005 kHz.  The new triangular tower for the 10 kW transmitter stood at 250 feet and it provided excellent coverage over a very wide area.  However, at this stage, the usage of callsigns was dropped; and in addition, Radio Vila Verde introduced a new broadcasting service on FM, with just 5 watts on 89.0 MHz.

In 1968, the use of the low power transmitter on 1005 kHz was terminated; and in 1981 an additional new medium wave channel was activated on 858 kHz, though this also was terminated just five years later.  Then in 1994, Radio Vila Verde suspended all operations due to insufficient financial income.  Three years later in January 1997, Anker Petersen of Denmark visited the station and he described it as basically inactive, and so did Nolan Stephany of New York in April.

However, in 2002, Radio Vila Verde was re-inaugurated, by the Tourism Department, though now entirely on FM, on 99.5 MHz.  The studios and transmitters are located in the Hipodromo da Taipa, the Macau Jockey Club, on Taipa Island. 

However, the latest edition of the WRTVHB informs us, that once again, Radio Vila Verde lies inactive and silent.  Thus, the only radio station on the air in Macau these days is the now privately operated Radio TV Macau on FM with Portuguese on 98.0 MHz and Chinese on 100.7 MHz.  However, it should be remembered that there are now five different TV services on the air in Macau, with five main transmitters and two additional repeaters.

Both Radio Club Macau and Radio Vila Verde issued QSL cards during their earlier years while they were still operating on mediumwave and shortwave.  Any international radio monitor who still owns  a Macau QSL card does indeed hold a historically valuable piece of real radio history.
(AWR-Wavescan/NWS 522/24 Feb. 2019)