Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Radio Scene on the Islands of Macau

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge
After the end of the Pacific War, shortwave station CR8AA Radio Club Macau returned to the air and it was first noted in Australia on 7530 kHz with what was described as a good signal in August 1945.  Their first QSL card was a large oversized card with an artistic representation of a beach scene along the Macau coastline.

Two years later (1947), Radio News in the United States reported that the station was on the air daily with regular programming on 9500 kHz with a power output of just 200 watts.  The programming content was in three languages; Portuguese, Chinese and English.  At this stage, it was stated, Radio Macau was planning a power increase up to 1 kW.

Two years later again (1949), Radio Macau was off the air shortwave, though a new mediumwave channel was in use, 1270 kHz with again an output power of only 200 watts.  Apparently the shortwave transmitter had been re-engineered for use on a mediumwave channel.  At this stage, they were promising a power increase on shortwave up to 5 kW. 

After another two years, now 1951, a monitoring observation in the United States indicated that a 1 kW transmitter was on the air from Macau on 9500 kHz though it was not carrying the programming of Radio Macau but rather Radio Vila Verde.  This shortwave relay was heard during the months of April and May only, and the news report stated that this shortwave relay was simply a temporary fill in while they were awaiting a new mediumwave transmitter.  This shortwave transmitter actually belonged to Radio Macau, not Radio Vila Verde, and apparently its normal usage was for international communication.

Would you believe it?  Again, after another two years, this time during the year 1953, it was stated that no shortwave transmitter in Macau was active with the broadcast of radio programming, and that Radio Club Macau may some time soon take into usage its 1 kW communication transmitter for the relay of their own mediumwave programming.  However, that never eventuated either.  At that stage, a 250 watt mediumwave transmitter was in use on 900 kHz.

Back then, the call signs in use by Radio Club Macau were rather unusual; the shortwave call sign was CR8AA and the medium wave callsign was CR9AA.  The international radio prefix CR8 belonged officially to Goa the Portuguese colony in India; and the international radio prefix CR9 belonged officially to Macau, the Portuguese colony in China.

In the 1960s, the 250 watt mediumwave transmitter was retuned to 1200 kHz, and a new 1 kW mediumwave transmitter took over the 900 kHz channel.  Both channels carried the same programming in parallel in both Cantonese and English.

In 1976, the Radio Macau broadcasting service was reorganized under the auspices of the Information and Tourism Center with programming in just two languages, Chinese and Portuguese.

Interestingly in 1983, two European countries, France and Portugal, announced that they planned to install a jointly operated shortwave broadcast station in Macau, though that project was never implemented either.  The usage of medium wave in Macau was dropped in favor of FM during the 1990s.

With the 1999 re-integration of the Portuguese colony Macau into China looming up on the horizon, Radio Macau again announced that they would re-introduce a shortwave service that would continue on air after the high profile political changeover took place.  However, due to the growth of FM radio broadcasting throughout the world as well as in Macau, the usage of both medium wave and shortwave was dropped entirely.  Thus, over nearly half a century, Radio Macau indicated its intention to increase the power of its international shortwave service on five separate occasions, all without fulfillment. 

These days, Radio TV Macau is on the air via two FM transmitters, each rated at 2½ kW, and they are both on the air 24 hours daily.  The FM channel 100.7 MHz carries Cantonese and Mandarin programming, and the other FM channel 98.0 MHz carries Portuguese programming with occasional inserts in Indonesian and Tagalog.

Coming soon here in Wavescan will be the story of the other radio station in Macau, Radio Vila Verde.
(AWR-Wavescan-NWS 520-10 Feb 2019)