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From David's Desk

February 24 2008

Radio SEAC Ceylon

radio history Reunion at the Southampton Yacht Club

June 2007 Reunion at the Southampton Yacht Club.
L-R: Bill Reis, Bernard Blakemore and Eric Hitchcock
© Eric Hitchcock Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation.

We recently received a wonderful publication from Eric Hitchcock of the UK. The background is the intense effort made by Lord Mountbatten to improve the welfare of British and Allied troops in South East Asia, the 'Forgotten Army' as they were sometimes called.

Always interested in radio, Mountbatten realized that having a radio station for his forces would improve morale, and, with an eye to the future, he thought a high powered radio station in Ceylon would be useful after the war.

Eric was one of the team sent to Ceylon to bring the powerful 100kW Marconi transmitter on the air, and he has brought together information from his own experiences, those of friends, and detailed research that includes studiously reading day after day of notes from Mountbatten's own diaries.
radio history 'SEAC Forces' Radio Times' a monthly program guide.

Radio SEAC produced 'SEAC Forces' Radio Times' a monthly program guide.
The rising Phoenix logo was originally drawn by Lord Mountbatten.
© Jack Fox Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation.

Radio SEAC began broadcasts using a smaller 7.5kW transmitter, as well as a low powered 3395kc outlet for the local audience. The new 100kW transmitter carried 'Forces Radio' across SE Asia, India and as far away as China, Japan, and Australia and New Zealand.

We're very grateful to Eric for doing this research on one of the founding stations of the British Forces Broadcasting Service and bringing it all together as a fantastic research resource.

It contains the full story on the behind the scenes battles waged to get the station on air during a time of wartime scarcity, and for a theater of war that was becoming less valuable to the British as they realized that they would no longer be able to keep control of India after the war.
Radio SEAC transmitting site at Ekala

View of the Radio SEAC transmitting site at Ekala from one of the towers. The transmitter hall and powerhouse are in the bottom right.
© Bill Reis in 'Radio SEAC's Transmitters', Radio Heritage Foundation.

Operating a powerful shortwave station in tropical conditions brought about challenges of its own, and Eric puts the whole operation in concise context, liberally illustrated with inside photos by the staff during the construction and operation period.

Radio SEAC was later handed over to Radio Ceylon in 1949 and became the mainstay of their incredibly popular commercial radio program that was heard in households all over newly independent Ceylon, India and Pakistan.

We're incredibly grateful to Eric for putting this story together, and for generously making a copy available to our archives.

A Reception That Was Different

From The N.Z. Radio Record and Electric Home Journal,
May 16, 1930

When His Excellency, the Governor-General, spoke in Wellington Town Hall on the occasion of the reception accorded to him, he was heard far afield in North America. Listeners in the Central States and in the States on the Pacific Coast, heard him.

North Dakota received 2YA's transmission on that occasion particularly well. The furthest inland province in Canada to report having heard the Governor-General is Saskatchewan.
Atwater Kent Ad

Atwater Kent Ad, a typical home radio set
© NZ Radio Record & Electric Home Journal 1930,
Radio Heritage Foundation

 > read more

Australia Radio Dial 1931

Sun & Surf girl, Australian Travel Poster 1931

Sun & Surf girl, Australian Travel Poster 1931
© Josef Lebovic Gallery

Little more than a decade after the end of WWI in 1918, some 6.5m Australians in all states could listen to music, sports commentaries and results and 'educational' talks on a wide variety of subjects from the newly emerging entertainment medium of radio.

In 1931, Australia was still in the grip of a global economic depression with almost 30% unemployment. The Sydney Harbor Bridge was under construction. The first airmail service between Australia and England was in the future, and 'talking' pictures relatively new.  > read more

Long Lost Radio History Image

Sir Edmund Hillary 1YA

Soon after the return home of the successful Everest Expedition in 1953, George Lowe and Edmund Hillary broadcast to New Zealand from the studios of 1YA Auckland...  > read more

Radio Pasifik Nauru Triple 9 FM

Samoa Broadcasting Corporation [SBC] logo

A Staffer at Radio Pasifik Nauru on air

The Pacific's newest radio station promises to assist USP Nauru students and their community with a blend of modern technology and traditional broadcast media.

Radio Pasifik Nauru, Triple 9 FM, began broadcasting on 2 April. It is a sister station to USP's main student and community radio station, Radio Pasifik, Triple 8 FM, located at the Laucala Campus in Suva, Fiji.  > read more

Samoan Radio Sale Threatens Public Radio Future

Samoa Broadcasting Corporation [SBC] logo

Samoa Broadcasting Corporation logo

It's unusual for a public radio and TV broadcaster to be sold, but that's what's happening this year in Samoa.

The old 2AP, more recently known as the SBC, is up for sale in its 60th anniversary year. Two local companies [Radio Polynesia and Samoa Quality Broadcasters] have been in the running to take control of SBC1 on AM and FM, SBC2 on AM and SBC-TV.  > read more

California Radio Dial 1928

California Winter Outings

California Winter Outings, 1927-28 Season.
© Jim Heimann Collection in 'California Here I Come' by Taschen

by David Ricquish

It's hard to imagine that within living memory, California once had only a little over 50 radio stations on the air. There was no FM radio and TV was also in the future. Hollywood had just introduced 'The Talkies', movies with sound. That's California in 1928, when the population of the San Francisco-Bay area was about 1.5m and that of greater Los Angeles only 2m.

The radio dial stopped at 1500 AM, there were no radio stations broadcasting north of San Francisco and only one station was on the air in the state capitol  > read more

Shanghai Radio Dial 1941


XMHA listener card issued in 1933.
© Eric Shackle Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation

In July 1940, TIME magazine featured a story about Carroll Duard Alcott, an American who broadcast from Shanghai radio station XMHA. The story captures the intrigue then swirling around Shanghai, a series of international zones surrounded by civil war torn China, in turn enmeshed with Japanese occupation and with Europe at war.  > read more

Column: Wavescan

Radio Broadcasting in Independent Borneo Brunei

Radio Brunei QSL 1947

Radio Brunei listener card 1967.
© G Kock Collection,

The history of the independent enclave on the northwestern edge of the island of Borneo, Brunei, goes way back more than two and a half centuries to the time in the 700s BC when migrant tribes from Vietnam left their ancestral homes and wandered across ocean and island until they came to the island that we know now as Borneo. More than a thousand years later...  > read more

Column: Wavescan

American Radio Stations in Australia VLC Shepparton

VLC QSL 1947

VLC Listener Confirmation Card 1947
© Cleve Costello Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation

...almost one dozen American radio stations have been established in Australia over the past half century. The first of this slew of interesting and sometimes unusual stations was installed in a country area in Victoria mid-century. It was a shortwave unit and it carried specific programming on relay from the United States beamed to the Philippines... > read more

New Radio Heritage Partner


PC Wiz 2U logo

We choose to use Wellington [NZ] based PC Wiz 2U for our computer hardware, software consultancy and trouble shooting. Chief Wiz [Gordon Shailer] and his team do Home Calls for Computers to deliver on their promise 'We come to your Home or Office and take care of all your Computer Problems'.

Look for a local PC Wiz coming to your location. Call 0800 PC WIZ 2U [0800 729 492] in New Zealand. > read more

Silver Memories

From: UQ News Online

Professor Bartlett, University of Queensland

Professor Bartlett, University of Queensland.
© University of Queensland

University of Queensland researchers from the Australasian Centre on Ageing and 4MBS Classic FM are collaborating to develop a new radio service specifically for older Australians.

Funded by a grant from the Wicking Trust, administered by ANZ Trustees, the new service will address the needs of older socially and emotionally isolated Australians including those living in Residential Care facilities.  > read more

Column by Adrian Peterson

CBS on the Air Shortwave from Philadelphia

image of WCAU Tower 1944

WCAU Tower 1944.
© Popular Science Mechanical Encyclopedia March 1944 via

During the radio era before World War 2, there was quite a movement here in the United States, and in other countries throughout the world also, to establish shortwave relay stations in an endeavor to give wider broadcast coverage. At the time, television was a concept and not a reality, and FM radio was still a distant dream. The mediumwave band was not overcrowded though the mediumwave signal generally gave only local coverage. However, shortwave transmissions could give wide area coverage within the country, and even international coverage on a much wider scale. > read more

Kiwi Radio Campaign

Our new Kiwi Radio Campaign is heading your way!

In the coming weeks, we'll be telling you how you can get involved with a new nationwide campaign that will soon start rolling out across New Zealand.

First up, there's a personal invitation to you to get involved, and you can also sign up to support the campaign today! Read 'How to Get Involved' for some easy and fun things you can do right now!

To help jog your memories, we've added the NZ Radio Dial 1978 - a baby boomer creates Generation X flashback and a look at what the baby boomers grandparents were listening to along the NZ Radio Dial 1931. Amongst other things, prompts for those Short Term Kiwi Radio Memories from the 1970's and 80's as Generation X moved out of play school and into their world of radio.

Stay tuned for more!

Long Lost Radio History Image

WVTW Peleliu is 'ON THE AIR'

Donald B Dunwoody of San Francsico, CA at the piano as the 'GIverines' go live on air in the studios of Armed Forces Radio Station WVTW on Peleliu in the Palau District, Caroline Islands in 1945...  > read more


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