Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Shortwave Scene in the Indian City with the Longest Name

On the previous occasion when we looked at the radio scene in the city of Trivandrum in South India, we presented the story of their local radio stations, AM mediumwave and FM.  In our program today, we present the story of their shortwave station which is often heard in continents afar, such as Australia, North America and Europe,
            The name of the city, Trivandrum, is an English abbreviation of the very long name in Malayalam, the official language of the Indian state of Kerala.  The Malayalam language is a Dravidian language that was derived from ancient Tamil with an admixture of the ancient classical Sanskrit language.
            The Malayalam language contains 52 letters, consisting of 16 vowels and 36 consonants, which when combined in various pronunciations produce a total of 576 syllabic characters, making a total of more than 900 separate glyphs.  The Malayalam language contains the most written characters of any of the many languages in India.
            In 1981, the writing system in the Malayalam language was officially reduced down to 90 characters, thus simplifying typesetting and the usage of computers.  The name of the southern city in the Malayalam language is Thiruvananthapuram which when translated into English, means the City of the Eternal Lord.
            It was back in the early 1960s that the first attempt was made to establish a shortwave transmitter in conjunction with the already existing mediumwave facility in Trivandrum.  However, due to rising tensions with China which developed into a month long border conflict, the shortwave transmitter intended for Trivandrum was quickly diverted to Kurseong in West Bengal.
            This new 20 kW transmitter was installed out among the tea estates in the high hill countryside out from Kurseong and it was officially inaugurated on June 2, 1962.  At the time, there was no mediumwave station in Kurseong, and programming was produced locally and taken on relay from Delhi and Calcutta.  This station operated on 3355 kHz early morning and evening, and on 6100 kHz during the day.
            Two years later, All India Radio announced that a 250 watt transmitter would be installed in Trivandrum and it would operate on 7280 kHz.  However, this intended plan was never implemented either.
            Then twenty years later again, All India Radio announced that Trivandrum was again under consideration for the installation of a shortwave transmitter, a project that would be implemented under the next Five Year Plan.  However, once again, and for the third time, Trivandrum missed out. 
            However, comes the year 1992, and a 50 W transmitter manufactured by BEL Bangalore Electronics Limited Model HHB144 was actually installed at a coastal location at Muttathura in suburban Trivandrum, some eight miles from the studios of All India Radio mediumwave.  The transmitter site also includes an emergency on air studio.
            The shortwave antenna system is readily visible on Google Earth and the three towers can be seen in close walking distance to the beach, a little south of the sewage farm which itself is a little south of the jetty.  The three self supporting towers are in a straight line, at an angle of approximately 750 and they are supporting two simple curtain antennas.  The main coverage area for AIR Trivandrum shortwave is towards the north from Trivandrum and across to the neighboring island of Sri Lanka. 
            Test transmissions consisting of mainly test tones began in October 1992, and two years later on November 6 (1994), the station was taken into a regular schedule of on air service.  Currently, shortwave AIR Trivandrum is on the air morning and evening on 5010 kHz and during the day on 7290 kHz.  QSL cards for this shortwave station are usually processed at the AIR head office in New Delhi.

            VoH Zambia reception report from Trivandrum
(AWR Wavescan)