Monday, March 14, 2016

More Shortwave Stations on Guam

Coast Guard Radio/NRV circa 1960
Due to its isolated location in the western Pacific, the island of Guam was home to several shortwave stations in the era before the Pacific War; and in the postwar era, even more shortwave stations were installed.  In addition to those already mentioned in previous editions of Wavescan, we focus attention today on another cluster of post-war shortwave stations on Guam.
            Soon after the American forces regained the island towards the end of the year 1944, work began on the construction of a communication station for the American Coast Guard.  This new facility, under the callsign NRV, was installed on Cabras Island, a long fingerlike peninsula projecting out from the northern shore of Apra Harbor.
            A Loran navigation station was built at this extended location, and the Coast Guard radio station occupied a small corner in a two storeyed Elephant Quonset Hut.  A 24 hour watch was kept by four radio men, each on duty for a period of six hours.
            Twenty years later, that is in 1965, the NRV Coast Guard communication station was transferred  from Cabras Island into ground level rooms in Building 150 in the Naval Communication Station NPN at Finegayan.  The transmitters in use for station NRV were part of the naval transmitter complex at Barrigada, and generally speaking NRV communicated via one of the 1 kW AN/FRT-70 transmitters.
            Ten years later (1975). Coast Guard NRV moved upstairs in the same Building 150, a location that is still in use to this day.  Soon afterwards, the Coast Guard station in the Philippines began the  remote control of some of the transmissions from NRV Guam.  Then beginning in 1994, Guam was remoted by Coast Guard NMO in Hawaii, and also by NMC Point Reyes in California.  The use of Morse Code was dropped during the next year, on April 1, 1995.
            Over the years, QSL cards and letters have verified reception reports from listeners who have been fortunate enough to tune in to this interesting and historic communication station.  
            During this same era of recovery after the end of the Pacific War, an American forces  mediumwave AFRS station was inaugurated under the callsign WXLI, with 50 watts on 1380 kHz.  This station was launched in October 1944.
            Then three months later, in January of the following year (1945), the power level was augmented to 325 watts on the the same mediumwave channel.  At this stage, AFRS Guam announced that a shortwave outlet for the same programing would soon be introduced.
            On March 18 (1946), more than a year later, shortwave test broadcasts were noted in the United States with a relay of programming from this AFRS mediumwave WXLI in Guam.  These AFRS relays on shortwave were transmitted from the newly revived naval radio station NPN, which was on the air during that era under the tactical callsign KU5Q. 
            The studios for AFRS WXLI mediumwave and U. S. Navy NPN-KU5Q were co-sited on Mt. Aluton, a few miles south west from Agana.  During this era, there were many joint relays of AFRS programming on both mediumwave WXLI and shortwave KU5Q.
            It was at this stage that a mobile broadcasting van was introduced to the radio scene on the island of Guam.  This new radio van was operated by the Army Air Force at Harmon Field, and it operated under its own callsign. KU5Q1.  The usage of a callsign would suggest that the vehicle also contained a mobile transmitter, which in those days would have operated on a shortwave channel just above the mediumwave band.    
            For the past dozen years or more, AFRTS Radio in Guam has been on the air on shortwave again, and via the transmitters of the same NPN at Barrigada, near Agana.  This program relay has been listed on two shortwave channels as shown in the WRTVHB, 5765 kHz and 13362 kHz, at 3 kW on each channel.  A few QSLs for these program relays have been issued, mainly to listeners in Pacific Rim countries, and also to several countries in Europe. 
            Another communication station of interest on the island of Guam was installed by RCA soon after the end of the Pacific War.  Initially, two transmitters at 1 kW each were installed and these were allocated the callsigns KUJ and KUK.  These transmitters were manufactures by RCA in the United States and they were identified as model P.  The antenna beamed on San Francisco was a 730 feet long diamond shaped rhombic. 
            In the 1970s their equipment was upgraded, and they were then using half a dozen transmitters at 20 kW, and three more at a lesser power level.  An additional callsign came into use at this time, KUL.
            RCA on Guam has operated with offices and communication control at San Vitores Road in Tamuning, and at Ada Plaza on the corner of Saylor and Aspinall Streets in Agana.
            For a couple of years (1952 & 1953), RCA Agana was on the air with the relay of programming beamed to China on behalf of a California based organization that was identified as Radio Free Asia.  The Guam relay picked up the programming off air from California and it was rebroadcast on 9490 kHz.
            In 1949, an international radio monitor in the United States noted RCA Guam on 15476 kHz with the transmission of phone calls from American servicemen on the island.
            Over the years, QSL cards have been issued by both RCA Guam and Radio Free Asia Guam, verifying their respective transmissions.
            The second generation Globe Wireless in California also maintained their own maritime communication station on the island of Guam.  The transmitter station was located at Yona, and the receiver station was located at Talofofo. 
            Globe Wireless KHF on Guam was a low power operation that was functioning for maybe a score of years, until Globe closed most of its facilities worldwide and sold off to a satellite provider.  The Globe Wireless KHF email QSL card was indeed a very attractive card in full color.
            More about the radio scene on Guam in coming editions of Wavescan.

 (AWR-Wavescan/NWS 368 via Adrian Peterson)