Monday, June 06, 2016

Regional Radio in Turkey

A Radio Tour in Modern Turkey

In our program today, we begin a radio tour around the entire country of Turkey.  This very ancient country, Turkey, is at the same time, a vibrant and very modern country.  It is the only country in the world that straddles into two continents, Asia and Europe; and it is a country full of interest as well as majestic beauty for the intrepid traveller.  This country of photogenic landscapes and colorful seascapes together with high snow covered mountains, wide verdant plains but no rugged barren deserts, is 1,000 miles long and 500 miles.
            As we begin this circular journey around Turkey, we discover that there were seven lower powered shortwave stations on the air from regional locations during a 30 year period in the 1950s, 1960s and into the 1970s.  We discover also that these days there are now six high powered mediumwave stations on the air in Turkey.  Just two locations have hosted both an earlier low powered shortwave station, and a subsequent high powered mediumwave station, and these are the cities of Diyarbakir and Izmir.
            As an overview before we begin our circular radio tour around Turkey, we note that the first radio transmitter was installed in Istanbul in 1927, a 7 kW longwave station on 166 kHz under the callsign TAC.  The first shortwave transmitters, two RCA units at 20 kW each under the callsigns TAP & TAQ, were installed in Ankara in 1938; and the first mediumwave transmitter TAW with 150 kW on 704 kHz was installed in Istanbul in 1950.
            We begin our radio tour in the city of Ankara, the national capital of Turkey with its five million population, which is located almost in the center of the country.  The city was named for its Angora Rabbits, Angora Cats, and Angora Goats, each of which provides a very fine white wool which is woven into colorful and expensive fabrics.  One of the main ancient languages in Turkey was Galatian, a historic forerunner to the subsequent Celtic languages, such as Gaelic, Welsh, Cornish, Breton, Scottish and Irish. 
            A little over 2,000 years ago, Roman armies overran the territories of Turkey, and soon afterwards, Christianity was introduced.  Islam came to Ankara 1,000 years ago; and in 1923, this city became the capital for the newly established Republic of Turkey.
            The first major radio station installed in suburban Ankara was located at Etimesgut, a little north of the outer airport.  In 1928, two RCA shortwave transmitters at 20 kW, TAP & TAQ, were inaugurated at this new radio transmitter base for national and international coverage. 
            The only mediumwave station for the capital city area was installed in more recent times, a 2 kW facility on 1063 kHz.  In 1970 the shortwave broadcasting services at Etimesgut came to an end; and around 1990, their high powered longwave station on 198 kHz was also closed.  This entire radio facility was then taken over for use as a military airport communication station.    
            Let’s travel now to the top northwest corner of the country with its huge bustling city, Istanbul, which is listed as the largest city in Europe with its 14 million inhabitants.  Istanbul, or Constantinople or Byzantium as it has been known over the centuries, was the crossover point between Asia and Europe for trade along what was known as the Silk Road.
            The first radio station in Istanbul was the aforementioned TAC with 7 kW on longwave 166 kHz.  A high powered mediumwave station was installed in 1949, station TAW with 150 kW on 701 kHz.  These days this station is operating with 600 kW on the adjusted 9 kHz spacing channel 702 kHz.
            We move now to the Black Sea north coast of Turkey, to the city of Trabzon on the coast towards the eastern area.  The ancient Silk Road running across Asia from China to Europe also traversed through Trabzon, and interestingly, the famous Italian traveller Marco Polo came to this city on his homeward bound journey, where he took a boat ride for the final leg of his quarter century travels from China back to Italy. 
            Currently, there is a high powered mediumwave station located at Trabzon, with 300 kW on 954 kHz.   
            The city of Erzurum, inland and over towards the eastern mountain ranges, is the highest large city in Turkey with an altitude of 6,000 feet, a little more than a mile high.  This city was featured in international newspaper reports back in May 1894, when an American cyclist, Frank Lenz, disappeared mysteriously.
            At the time, Frank Lenz was on the return journey to the United States at the end of a bicycle ride around the world.  Subsequent information would suggest that he was murdered by local village brigands.
            Back half a century ago, there was a low powered shortwave station located at Erzurum, with 1 kW on 7650 kHz.
            Another notable city in the eastern mountainous areas is the city of Van, on the eastern side of the picturesque Lake Van.  This city, Van, is home to half a million people, and its claim to fame is twofold; one being the unique Van Cat.  The Van Cat is a small white cat with pink skin and colored eyes, and it is reputed to be a capable swimmer in Lake Van, a characteristic that is unusual for most members of the feline animal kingdom. 
            The other claim to fame for the city of Van is that it is the staging point for expeditioners planning to climb Mt. Ararat.  The Van airport is the fly-in destination for Mt. Ararat climbers, and there are several local organizations that specialize in providing tourist facilities and tour guides. 
            Many climbers visiting Turkey enjoy the climb to the top of Mt. Ararat, in the same way that other well known mountains attract climbers, such as Mt. Everest in Asia and Mt. McKinley in Alaska.  However, many Ararat climbers are also on a pilgrimage, to visit the mountain where the Ark of the Patriarch Noah came to rest after the worldwide Great Flood of prehistoric times.
            A dozen writers and historians who chronicled early events on Planet Earth state that in their day, the remains of Noah’s Ark were still evident on Mt. Ararat.  The Chaldean historian Berosus wrote in 257 BC that part of the ship that grounded in Armenia still remained.  The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus referred to Noah’s Ark three times in his writings and he stated that relics of the Ark were visible in his day, 90 AD.  Writing in the year 1633, Adam Olearius stated that pieces of the Ark were still available on Mt. Ararat, and that they had become petrified due to age and weather conditions. 
            A small shortwave transmitter, rated at just 400 watts, was installed in Van in the early 1960s and it was in use on 6025 kHz for less than half a dozen years.  Their high powered longwave transmitter, with 600 kW on 225 kHz and a guyed antenna mast 820 feet tall was inaugurated in 1990, though it is no longer on the air these days.
            That’s as far as we can go today in our circular radio tour in Turkey.  Keep listening to Wavescan each week and you will hear a further episode in this fascinating radio story some time soon.

 (AWR-Wavescan/NWS 378)