NASWA Journal Columns · Shortwave Center, May 1998

Hans Johnson • 206-A South Loop 336 West #231 • Conroe, TX 77304 73042.3644◊

Shortwave Center, May 1998

QSLs at the Billy Graham Center

by Marlin Field

The Billy Graham Center at Wheaton, Illinois, has been in existence since 1980. A division of Wheaton College, it is dedicated to the study and promotion of world evangelism. It has three parts. Books and magazines received by the Center go to the BGC Library while artifacts go the BGC Museum. The Archives, the third part, is a collection of documents about non-denominational Protestant evangelism and foreign mission work based in the United States, especially since about 1900. The Archival Reading Room is on the third floor of the Center. A staff member is always available to help those who come to the Reading Room. It is open daily Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and on Saturday from 10:00 to 2:00, except during college holidays. The Archives include diaries, correspondence, business records, posters, films, slides, scrapbooks, audio tapes, videotapes, phonograph records, maps, photographs, and microfilms. Unlike the library, the material must be used in the Archives. Every year, according to Robert D. Shuster, Director of the Archives, “Hundreds of scholars, pastors, missionaries, authors, and college students use the documents housed there.”

The Archives also now has seven large notebooks of QSL Cards, pennants, correspondence, postcards, and news letters from over 160 Christian shortwave radio stations and programs aired over secular stations. These I donated to the Archives this year. Letters of confirmation that were in Spanish and Portuguese I translated into English. I also included copies of the articles I’ve written for Fine Tuning and NASWA on religious broadcasters since I started DXing in 1960.

My first contact with the Billy Graham Center was in 1981, one year after it opened. Even though Galen Wilson, my initial contact, was especially interested in my collection, I have some reservations about the gift after making my second contact late in 1996. What made me a little concerned was Mr. Shuster’s statement in his letter, “The Archives is a collection of documents about Protestant evangelical and foreign missions work based in the United States,” since many of my QSL’s came from Catholic stations and stations whose home office was not in this country. After assurance form Mr. Shuster that my concerns would not be a problem and if the Archives didn’t want my QSL’s, he’d help me find a place for them, I mailed my collection to him. Needless to say I didn’t have to avail myself of his offer. In reply he wrote, “It is amazing to see all the stations with which you have been in contact. Thanks for the notebooks. They are a fine addition and we are happy to have them.”

Radio Luz y Sonido

by Marlin Field

Radio Luz y Sonido was founded by the bishop of the diocese, Monsenor Hermann Artale. Located in Huanuco, it broadcasts on 3325 khz SW and 1515 khz MW. The city, located 1912 m. above sea level, has 694,824 inhabitants. The objective of Radio Luz y Sonido is to promote the human worth of the campesinos, who are 80 percent of the residents of the diocese. The languages spoken are Spanish and three varieties of Quechua. Tourist attractions abound in the area, according to Orlando Bravo Jesus, who provided me with this information when he confirmed by reception report with the personal letter. He is 26 years of age. His address is Avenida 28 de Agosto 307, Paucarbamba, Huanuco, Peru.

Radio France Asie–The Shortwave Voice Of France In The Far East

By Bob Padula, OAM

All times in UTC.

The 42nd anniversary of the last broadcast of Radio France Asie was recently recalled by some of us. It was on 27 February 1956 that the external shortwave broadcasting service, operated by the French Government from Saigon, located in what was known at the time as South Vietnam, broadcast for the final time, and regretfully said goodbye to its many listeners throughout the world. It had been on the air for some nine years, and had attracted a large following of listeners in many continents.

This, then, is a story about the origins and operations of Radio France Asie, which to some of us will bring back many pleasant memories of a shortwave broadcasting station long since gone. Only the QSLs, schedules, greeting cards and recollections now remain. Though France’s Far Eastern shortwave radio voice is no longer heard, memories of it linger, with shortwave broadcasting in Vietnam taking on a new dimension in the four decades since.


What was to become known generally as French Indo-China was formed in 1887, consisting of the French protectorates of Annam, Tonkin, Cambodia and Laos, together with the French colony of Cochin-China. The French presence endured for over 50 years, until World War 2. By 1940, the Japanese occupied Vietnam for their strategic and economic purposes, even though the French authorities had continued to administer the colony.

By 1941, the Japanese had assumed complete military control over Indo-China, and French sovereignty was not formally displaced until early 1945. The Japanese had amalgamated Annam, Cochin-China and Tongkin to form a new State of Vietnam under the Emperor of Annam, and as soon as the Japanese surrendered at the end of World War 2, the chief of the local Communist party, the Viet Minh, installed himself in the Government palace at Hanoi and proclaimed the Vietnam Republic. This was Ho Chi Minh, a man with long experience in the communist party and also in Europe. The revolutionary movement quickly spread, and it became evident that if the French wished to re-establish themselves it would not be easy. A large French expeditionary force was sent to Indo-China in 1946, and a concession was made in that the French recognised the republic of Vietnam, as an autonomous state within the French Union.

The issue of separate status for Cochin-China (later to become South Vietnam) had been raised in Paris, with no agreement being reached. At the end of 1946, Hanoi was relieved by French troops and Ho Chi Minh fled, following ongoing internal conflict and uprisings. The late 1940s was a period of intense and bitter internal struggle between communist desires for a nationalistic aim of a united country, while the French attempted to retain a reduced Vietnam, which was to have remained inside the French Union with the other Indo-Chinese states. By 1948, the French had recognised Cambodia and Laos as “associate states” and had agreed that Cochin-China was part of Vietnam.

In 1949, the Chinese were supplying arms to the communist guerilla forces in South Vietnam, and in that same year Tonkin, Annam and Cochin-China officially formed the republic of Vietnam. Laos had become an independent sovereign state within the French Union in 1949. In 1953, Communist Vietminh forces from Vietnam, aided by Pathet Lao rebels, invaded Laos, but in 1954, French Union and Vietminh troops withdrew from the country.

Cambodia was established in 1863 as a French protectorate and joined the French Union after the end of World War 2. It declared complete independence in 1953.

In 1954 following a conflict which was a disastrous loss to the French, at a place called Dien Bien Phu, a Geneva conference proposed that Vietnam be divided between the French and the Viet Minh, pending elections which it would hope would reunite the country. The elections never took place. What happed was that there opened up a period of many years of fierce conflict, ultimately resulting in the Vietnam War. The Geneva Agreement of 21 July 1954 partitioned Vietnam roughly along the 17th parallel, into North Vietnam, under Communist control, and South Vietnam, an arrangement which was sustained until reunification in 1975. In the same year, 1954, South Vietnam left the French Union and attained full sovereignity.


The Franco-Vietnamese convention of 1949 had permitted the French government to broadcast on Vietnam territory and Radio France Asie was established, known as “The Voice of France in the Far East”. However, in 1956, the incoming South Vietnamese Government had decided to establish a monopoly on State broadcasting operated by the French, forcing the closure of Radio France Asie.

Radio France Asie operated from a Saigon via a single high-powered shortwave transmitter on 15430 in the 19 metre band. It was on the air every night broadcasting in English specifically to the target audience in Australia and New Zealand, from 0745-1000. That’s 5.45pm to 8.00pm, Eastern Australian Standard Time. Occasionally, transmissions were extended to 1100. It had the mailing address of BP 412, Saigon, and its studios were located at 86, Rue du Marechal De Lattre de Tassigny. Its director was M. Jean Varnoux.

My first reception of the station was on 23 February 1954, from my home in suburban Auburn, a Melbourne suburb, in the state of Victoria, using a 5-valve dual-wave superhet receiver. It was in fact only the fifth SW station I had ever heard! My first log-book says that reception was very good, noted as QSA4. News was given each night from 0900-0915. There was a Listeners’ Letterbox ever Friday night at 0830-0930 in which listeners’ reports were acknowledged. The remainder of the program consisted of musical items, and a program schedule of the time asked us to listen each evening to a variety of musical forms, including cinema organ, gipsy music, accordion, rhapsodies, ballet pieces, chamber music, opera, symphony concerts, and Jazz. Other features included “Letter from Paris” and “Indo-China Letter”.

Radio France Asie also broadcast to Europe from 1400-1515 on 9775 from the same transmitter.

From 1955 onwards, external broadcasts from the newly created North Vietnam originated from Hanoi, known as the Voice of Vietnam (as it is today!) and frequencies used were 9925 or 9940 with English from 1000-1100, at the same time as Radio France Asie’s English broadcasts!

Radio France Asie put in a very strong and reliable signal across Australia each evening, and was well heard. Its Letterbox Program was very popular, and each year the station would send a very attractive colored greeting card showing a hand painted Vietnamese scene.

The broadcast on 15430 was also heard quite well in Europe via short-path for midday reception there.

After Partitioning?

What happened to the SW transmitter after 1956? The technical facilities were taken over by the incoming administration, known as “Radio Vietnam – VTVN”, (“La Voix de la Republique de VietNam”), “The Radio Broadcasting System of Vietnam”, (also known as the National Broadcasting System of Vietnam) and the former Radio France Asie external service was never replaced.

For some 20 years after 1956, VTVN operated a shortwave network for regional, provincial and external broadcasts, using such frequencies as 4810, 4877, 6116, 6165, 7265, 9620, 9670, 9720, 9755, and 11950. Powers ranged from 10 kW to 200 kW, with four networks, but only three networks were available on short-wave. The Forces Program Network was also heard on short-wave, using 7245, with 20 kW, which operated from 2200-1600 UTC. The third network was the Overseas Service, using 9755 with programs in English, French, Thai, and Cambodian. The English segment was aired daily from 2330-0000 and 1230-1300. Cantonese and Standard Chinese were broadcast on 7245, sharing this channel with the Forces’ Broadcasts. Vietnamese programming in the Overseas Service was available from 2200-1600 on 9620, 6165, and 4877 and all of these outlets were well heard here in Australia. This External Service contined until about 1975. In the 1960’s, on medium-wave, the Voice of America operated a 50 kW transmitte

Effects of Reunification

In 1975, it appears that all shortwave facilities in South Vietnam were either closed down or destroyed, as I am not aware of the survival of any beyond that date. My last QSL from South Vietnam was for 7175, for reception in October 1973. From 1975, “Radio Liberation” programming originating from Hanoi was heard over what remained of the medium-wave facilities from the Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) area. As of now, little reliable information is available on the extent of shortwave broadcasting from what was formerly South Vietnam, and it seems that there is no official shortwave broadcasting structure in place in the region, whose populace relies almost entirely on medium-wave transmissions, or short-wave broadcasts from Hanoi.

Since reunification, the Voice of Vietnam has continued to put out its External Service in some 15 languages, including English, from Hanoi, and it uses relay facilities in Russia.

I can recall quite easily the closing announcement of Radio France Asie way back on February 19 1956 at the end of its final English program. I look back with sentimentality and nostalgia at the period, and as a schoolboy I was not to know that I had been listening to what was to become one of the most saddest periods in the history of Indo-China in the years which followed.

The Present Era

Nowadays, broadcasting from France to the Indo-China Peninsula is supported by direct one-hour shortwave daily transmissions from Paris in Vietnamese, Lao, and Khmere (Cambodian), Mandarin (two hours), English (two hours) and French (3.5 hours). Extensive use is made of relay facilities in Japan, the Russian Far East, and China.

On medium-wave, French language evening relays from Paris are carried by the 1000 kW transmitter at Kunming (China)on 1296 from 1600-1700, for Northern Vietnam and Laos, and on 684 khz, 1300-1400, directed to Southern Vietnam. The evening service in Vietnamese is also broadcast from 1500-1600 on 1296 via Kunming, a repeat of the shortwave broadcast from 1400-1500 on 6120 from the relay at Yamata (Japan).

I still have my Radio France Asie program schedules, Christmas Cards, QSLs and the final official letter advising of the imminent closure of the station, which are some of my most valued and treasured mementos of many years international broadcast listening.

Radio France Asie–long gone, but not forgotten!

Bits and Pieces

by Hans Johnson

Let’s get High

The sun is awake from its long slumber and the higher bands have really started to open up. 12085 is quite the hot frequency these days. At 1210 you can hear the Voice of Mongolia in English. Several listeners in North America are reporting best reception ever of this one, so now is the time. Don’t touch that dial, though, because at 2000, Radio Damascus uses 12085 for its English service. Reception of this one has also been good. Finally, retune your radio a bit to 11620. There you will find All India Radio which has been putting out excellent signals between 0000 and 0200.

Real Audio Site of the Month

Radio Singapore International can be heard in North America, but it is more akin to a DX catch rather than a program listeners station. You can hear their English program quite easily on the web. The URL is <>. There you will find short feature programs (about 20 minutes each) on the arts, technology, and science. Each program has a title as well as a short description of what is on that week’s show. A link at the bottom will take you to the previous week’s programs.

West Fest?

A recent World of Radio item mentioned that there is talk of holding a Fest-type gathering out west later this year. A tentative site is Wichita, Kansas, with a date around Labor Day. Drop me a note if you are interested.

Cumbre DX Book Project

Cumbre DX Book Project is an on-going project sponsored by Cumbre DX. The aim of the project is to match up people who cannot afford a World Radio TV Handbook or a Passport to World Band Radio with a person who wishes to give away last year’s edition. The project has been a great success with over 150 books given away. Try and imagine listening to shortwave without one of these books and you will realize how much we can help out our fellow listeners. Drop me a line if you are interested in donating book to the project.

ANARC Net Lifts Itself Up From The Mat

A victim of declining participation and the Internet, the ANARC Net has been struggling as of late. There hasn’t even been a net some weeks. The main culprit seems to be IRC, a chat channel where DXers type their latest catches to each other. On April 19th, ANARC picked itself up from the mat. The savior was none other than NASWA’s own Al Quaqlieri. Rather than another Sunday morning of dead air, Al broke out the smelling salts and rallied the net. The result was an hour-long net reminiscent of the early 90’s.

But in this age of the Internet, how can the ANARC net continue over the long term? Dave Kirby is doing a fantastic job in making the net available via Real Audio, but greater participation could be achieved if the net was also “broadcast live” over the Internet. How about a 1-800-ANRCNET number takes messages of logs and news at any time for later reading over the net? The times are a’changing and the dead air of last month indicates that the ANARC net must change with them if it is to survive.

Fine Tuning Saga Chapter Two

Fine Tuning has left a number of folks frustrated and disappointed. Most of this stems from any lack of response to numerous queries to Fine Tuning. People have also sent in money for subscriptions that they have never received. While I do not speak for Fine Tuning, let me offer the following. If you are looking for a refund or a return of your uncashed check, then go to the person at Fine Tuning that you sent the money to. Other folks at Fine Tuning are in no position to help you, any more than I could help you if you had a problem with your Journal subscription. As they say, follow the money.

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