The Radio Rose of Texas by Derek Burroughs, jr.

 

Chapter 7: ”On ”3-5-5” and ”2-2-7”. Technical stuff.

Revised and corrected on April 20th, 2007.

 

The Olga Patricia frequencies.[1]

 

The original frequencies planned for this operation were 650 and 850 kc, and both Don Pierson, Jerry Smithwick and Ron O’Quinn seem to have had a hand in the planning. The latter two seem to have tuned around the dial for free spots. 650 proved to be used by the BBC Third Programme (Daventry, 647 kc, 150kW, editor), so it was thought one should double the frequency and find a quiet spot in that area[2]. But the evidence points to SRE starting on 355 metres, 845 kc on May 3rd, 1966. The station opened that day at approx. 1030am with a test tone followed by Mitch Miller's “Yellow Rose of Texas”.

 

 

 

”She's  the sweetest little rosebud

That Texas ever knew,

Her eyes are bright as diamonds,

They sparkle like the dew.”

(”The Yellow Rose of Texas”, first record played on Radio England on May 3rd, 1966)

 

There were then three music tracks nonstop (The Animals' Don't Bring Me Down being the first record), including 3 Pams #27 “Jet Set” jingles before Ron O’Quinn made the first test announcement: ”Radio England on the air on 3-55 on your meter dial, 355 on your standard broadcast dial, Radio England on the air for broadcast purposes. Another signal with Classical music(?) was noticeable below SRE on the occasion. It might have been a spurious signal? The station was on 845 24 hours with RAI Italy complaining until May 20th at 2300 per Benelux DX Club, while Oyvind Stenberg of Norway’s DXLC says he heard it May 21st. Britain Radio on 1320 continued until May 25th at 1855 also per BDXC. Rolf Mong of DXLC logged Britain first on May 16th, and has both stations still on their original frequencies May 29th with massive daytime signals in South West Norway.

 

 

Norway’s top dxer in the 60s, Rolf Mong had top signals from the Olga Patricia on May 29th, 1966. Rolf notes interestingly enough 850 for SRE on this occasion. How many transmitter crystals were onboard?

 

The editor’s log has them for the first time on May 21st and 22nd. As just mentioned, Italy complained about the Radio England signals on 845, and the closure of the SRE tests on this frequency are confirmed in ”The Times” of June 7th which also mentions the closure of Britain Radio’s 227 transmissions on Friday, June 3rd, due to a transformer failure. It had then already been run on 1/4 power at least nighttime.

 

 

US Pirate Radio station blacked out. The Times of June 7th, 1966. From ©Hans Knot’s archive.

 

”The Daily Telegraph” of May 15th stated that of the twin stations, Radio England on 355 was ”heard more clearly,” and that 3000 reports had been received. Later the frequencies were swapped with Britain Radio taking 355 from June 10th. From Norwegian DX-News, it seems SRE first came back on June 16th, 1966 on 1317[3]. Then, on June 18th, it was on 1322[4].  An official start on that date cannot be confirmed by tapes or reliable information. The note in ”Offshore Radio Files” about SRE having broadcast on 1331(225 metres) does not appear to be right. In July, a SRE Legal ID by Ron O’Quinn announced 1322. 

 

 

DX report about the new stations from Benelux DXClub. Transmissions have been monitored until May 20th (21st?-editor) until 2300 on 845 kc and until May 25th until 1855 on 1320?kc, and then transmissions were resumed on 845 kc with a new call sign on June 10th, and on June 16th on 1320, and June 18th on 1322, according to this source, which also has its theory of why the shift was made. SRE has gone 24 hours and Britain is 0500-2300 GMT with an overnight relay of SRE. From ©Hans Knot’s archive.

 

 

DX report about the new stations from -Medium Wave Circle in UK? Transmissions were resumed on 845 kc with a new call sign on June 10th, and later on 1320, and June 18th on 1322, according to this source, which has another theory of why the shift was made. From ©Hans Knot’s archive.

 

But the SRE frequency situation did not calm down as far as we can remember. Signal was OK during daytime, but Radio England was very prone to interference and night-time whistle[5]. 1322 was the channel of the Radio Moscow relay from the GDR[6]. 355 was a much clearer channel on the North East coast of England and in Norway at the time than 227. Britain Radio was much clearer and further away from other stations, and the transmitter reduced power at night, relaying SRE from July 9th 2300-0500. On a Britain Radio tape from July 29th, Graham Gill announces that station now on 24 hours. On February 28th, 1967 at 12.45 a part of the aerial mast on the Olga Patricia broke, and the twin Texas owned stations went off the air. When the SRE transmitter came back on the air in the evening of March 16th, 1967, it was on 1322 kc[7].

 

 

 

Continental Transmitters. Ad from autumn 1965, published in WRTH 1966.

 

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

 

Original downpayment for the Olga transmitters on Abilene National Bank signed by Don Pierson on Feb.17th, 1966. ©Eric Gilder. Used with permission.

 

The Olga Patricia Transmitters.

 

1. Britain Radio/Radio England/Radio Dolfijn/Radio 227: Continental Transmitter model 317-C serial no.9, factory tested in Dallas on 650 kc, operating in the North Sea on 1320 and 1322 kc, sold to Trans World Radio, Swaziland in 1973, operating from Manzini on 1170 kc from 1981.[8]

 

 

 

Continental Transmitter model 317-C serial no.9, factory test in Dallas on 650 kc, April 4th, 1966. Note “Radio England” handwritten after “Station”. Picture: ©Steve Stavropoulos, TWR Swaziland, February, 2007.

 

 

Continental Transmitter model 317-C serial no.9, hourly reading taken in Manzini on 1170 kc, February 14th, 2007. Picture: ©Steve Stavropoulos, TWR Swaziland, February, 2007.

 

 

The Chief Engineer of Trans World Radio Swaziland, Mr. Stephen Stavropoulos has contacted the editor and has the following very interesting information:

 

I believe it was the #9 that ended up at TWR Swaziland. (#9 has been hand written in the manual).  

We think the transmitter was on a ship called “Dolfyn” as this was written on something. 

I looked in the manual and found the factory tests conducted at 650kHz on #9.  Written on the test page is “Radio England”.  Date seems to be around April 1966. 

 

TWR actually purchased two of these transmitters and one was given to Swazi Music Radio I think as part of some agreement as far as I understand.  The transmitters arrived in Swaziland around 1973 or so.

#9 only went on air on 1170Khz in 1981 as we were unable to obtain a MW broadcast license before that time. On MW we do not usually do much in the way of station ID compared to shortwave where we have a signature tune. 1170 covers the peoples of Swaziland, South Africa, Lesotho, Malawi, S.Mozambique and Zimbabwe. 

 

We have always used the transmitter to broadcast after sunset and before sunrise. When we went on the air in 1981 we used a single monopole of 450 ft (5/8 wavelength) on a base insulator to give maximum sky wave distance coverage.  Over the years we replaced some parts of the transmitter.  I remember at least one copper cable was very green with sea corrosion and finally melted/burned. Around 1993 we reduced the tower heights of the two tower array to 200ft each.  That is ¼ wave monopoles, ½ wavelength spacing with a power splitter dividing the power between them and the phase difference giving us our desired pattern.  This was to boost the signal towards Johannesburg and Durban in South Africa. 

 

 

Greetings

Stephen Stavropoulos

Chief Engineer TWR Swaziland.

 

 

The Chief Engineer of TWR Swaziland by the 1170 transmitter in Manzini. Picture: ©Steve Stavropoulos, TWR Swaziland, March, 2007.

 

 

 

Some pictures of Radio England’s Continental #9 317-C transmitter(The original Britain Radio rig) which is alive and well after 40 years on 1170 kc broadcasting as and owned by TWR Swaziland. Pictures: ©Steve Stavropoulos, TWR Swaziland, February/March, 2007.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A moving sight, isn’t it? These pictures show more of what was once the voice of Ron O’Quinn, Larry Dean, Roger Day, Boom Boom Brannigan and Bill Berry. But also of Look Boden, Lex Harding and Dick Weeda. Radio England/Dolfijn/”Double 2-7”’s #9 317-C Continental transmitter, 1322 kcs. Now the 1170 kc transmitter of TWR Swaziland. Pictures: ©Steve Stavropoulos, TWR Swaziland, February/March, 2007.

 

Take a listen to TWR Swaziland ex “SRE on 227 metres”! Here is a typical recording from 1170 kcs via the dxtuners.com receiver in Johannesburg done in the evening of January 23rd, 2007.

 

 

TWR Swaziland QSL card.

 

2. Radio England/Britain Radio/Radio 355 Continental Transmitter model 317-C serial no.10, factory tested in Dallas on 850 kc, operating in the North Sea on 850 and 845 kc, sold to Trans World Radio, Swaziland in 1973,  ended up at Swazi Radio in Sandlane, operating there on 1376 kc, and later on 1377 kc.

 

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

 

 

”On August 15th, 1983 ”John England” wrote a letter to Bill/(Wayne? –editor) Cookson, Chief Engineer and Station Manager of Swazi Radio at Mbabane, Swaziland. On September 29th, 1983 he received this very helpful reply: ”Dear John,  We are, indeed in possession of the Continental Electronics 317-C, 50 Kw MW AM transmitter, serial no.10, which was at one time utilized by Radio England. The transmitter is, at present, in daily use on 1377 kc. We utilize a skywave and we broadcast with it for 9 hours daily. It had been one of the most trouble free units it’s my pleasure to work with. As to the other one, it is being used by Trans World Radio(also in Swaziland). Enclosed is a picture of our transmitter.”[9]

 

 

The present Liberty Radio 1377 kc transmitter originally operated in the North Sea. Picture from 1983: ©Wayne Cookson via ©John England.

 

Note: Radio Caroline South got Continental 317-C serial no.14 delivered to The Mi Amigo in April 1966. They were due to get number Twelve; but as it was the time of the Rhodesian crisis, the U.K. Government set up BBC Bechuanaland(Botswana)to broadcast into Rhodesia. Therefore the BBC had to get no.12 and 13[10].

But, “The Yellow Rose of Texas” beat both BBC and Caroline[11]!

 

The Olga Patricia Transmitters in South Africa[12]:

History repeats itself, with new format changes.

 

Swazi Music Radio 1376 kc

 

Swazi Music Radio broadcast from Sandlane in Swaziland from about 1970 - 1978. They had two medium wave transmitters and two short wave transmitters. The medium wave transmitters were both second hand and one, a Continental, definitely came from Radio England. I'm not sure where the other one came from. The primary transmitter was either 50kw(but might have been used at less power)and the backup one was low power - something between 5kw and 10kw. Wayne Cookson was an American radio engineer who came to South Africa and recently died there. Transvaalers from the 70s will remember his voice "This is Wayne Cookson, Chief Engineer for Swazi Radio...".

 

Swazi Music Radio (known as SMR) was established by the Kirsch brothers who ran a big South African Media company. It was intended to compete with LM Radio[13] for the youth radio market in South Africa but because of the transmitter site’s physical location the coverage into the main capture area of the Johannesburg area was poor. Signal strength during the day was very marginal and at night fading was heavy because it was located in the skip region. So the SRE story was in many ways repeated. In the mid 70s the Kirsch gave up and introduced some new services which shared the facilities[14][15][16].

 

 

Sounds familiar? World Radio TV Handbook 1974 with the entry for SMR, “your Much More Music station”. Note also the first indication of new use for Britain Radio’s 50 kW rig under TWR’s entry. This was not to materialize before 1981.

 

 

The distance from the Frinton Essex Coast is large, but the distance to Bill Berry’s October 1966 slogan “The sound of the International giant, Radio 227” is small. Wayne Cookson via ©John England.

 

 

World Radio TV Handbook 1978 with the entry for Swaziland Commercial Radio.

 

Swazi Music Radio-format changes

 

Swazi Music Radio now became several services still using the old Radio England transmitter:

 

Radio SR was mixed English Language and Zulu and was aimed at the urban, up and coming black youth. Much of the programming was based on Black American music and local South African music.

 

Radio Paralelo 27 a Portuguese service targetted towards the large Portuguese speaking white population who had fled Mocambique in 1975 when Frelimo took over.

 

Radio Truro an Indian culture service which broadcast in English and Asian languages and was aimed at the Indian ethnic population of Natal. Radio coverage of Natal was excellent. It closed on Feb.1s

1986 as the commercial revenue was not sufficient for such a service.

 

Also “The Jewish Sound” and paid Christian programs in English and Afrikaans used the facilities.

 

The mentioned services used both medium(1377 kc after the implementation of the Geneva Plan in 1978) and short wave(3223, 4980 and 6155 kc) transmitters. Some reports also indicates it used 9750 kc for a while.

 

Radio Cidade International PO Box 1586, Alberton, South Africa, in English and Portugese. Owned by Sr. Agostinho De Andrade. Ceased transmissions in October 2000. Evidently revitalized.[17].

 

Liberty Radio “Liberty Radio 13.77 AM”. Owned by the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God[18]. See this input from 2006:

 

The former Radio England/Britain Radio transmitter from 845 kc was observed broadcasting on 1377 kc from Sandlane, SWZ, fading in around 1600 UTC 6 January 2006, via the former DX Tuners web receiver sited at Johannesburg, SA, variously identifying as "Liberty Radio" or "Radio Liberty, 1377 k of love". Programming in Portuguese and English, with lots of music - including a show presented in Portuguese called "Cidade Tropical" - spiritual messages and some religious programming. Reception varied from poor to fair[19].

 

Take a listen to some of the different Station IDs of Sandlane, Swaziland’s 1376/1377 kc station ex Britain Radio “Hallmark of Quality” and Radio 355 “Brighter Broadcasting.”[20]:

 

1. Swazi Music Radio 1376 Pams Series #29 jingle 1973 1376.

2. Swaziland Commercial Radio morning sign-on 1376 @1977.

3. Radio Cidade Internacional November 23rd, 1999 1377.(Recorded at the South African/Zimbabwe border.)

4. Liberty Radio 1377 2006 Jan.6th, 2006 1377. (Recording via the former dxtuners.com receiver in Johannesburg.)

 

Cut 1. is published here solely for historical purposes with the generous permission of Jonathan Wolfert of Jam Creative Productions Inc. of Dallas

 

http://www.jingles.com/

 

protected under copyright by Pams Productions Inc. of Dallas

 

http://www.pams.com/

 

All rights preserved.

 

 

Cuts 2.-4. have kindly been supplied by Dave Kernick. Please take a look and a listening-in to his wonderful www.intervalsignals.net site.

 

Still there!

 

The two transmitters still exist and are on the air in Africa, and were heard by the editor on November 8th, 2006 via the former dxtuners.com Johannesburg receiver:

1170 kc TWR Swaziland. 50 kW Continental transmitter #9 ex Britain R/SRE/R Dolfijn/R 227.

Local strength w Christian Contemporary Music track, great local ID, local bible reading from TWR Swaziland.

1377 kc Liberty Radio. 50 kW Continental transmitter #10 ex SRE/Britain R/R 355 w fading-in and out non-stop Portugese "Praise" music with Portugese sermon.

 

The transmitter that started its life in Dallas, was installed on Dodge Island in Miami in the spring of 1966, and then for just over a year sat on a pirate radio ship off the Essex coast briefly broadcasting “Boss Radio”, then Britain Radio, and Radio 355, went back to Miami in the autumn of 1967, and then to Swaziland in the early 70s has the later years-in addition to local and regional coverage- been heard all over the world on DXPeditions in Finland, Newfoundland, Australia and New Zealand.

 

So, stations and formats have passed, but the old Continental slogan: “World’s Most Powerful” seems just right after-almost 40 years!

 

 

 

Continental Electronics poster from the NAB Radio Show at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas in September 2006.

 

 

To find out more about the great product of Continental Electronics today go here.

 



[1] Continental Transmitters(later CEMCO, Inc.) were given 650 and 850 to research and(to)get as close to(these)as possible. But the follow-up from this party lacked somewhat. (©John England: “Much More Music! The story of Don Pierson a broadcasting pioneer.” ©OFFSHORE ECHOS #82, August 1990.)

[2] See “The Jerry Smithwick program” and ”The Texan Pirates” Daily Mail Friday, April 7th, 1967, both elsewhere in this essay. The Larry Dean interview in OFFSHORE ECHOS #126 also seem to support this. Here is Ron O’Quinn’s account(1999) of this subject: ”I spent many evenings at the London Hilton listening (to Radio Luxembourg) and trying to decide what frequency to put Swinging Radio England on…” http://www.offringa.nl/radioluxembourg.htm

[3] 1320? Information may stem from insufficient selectivity on receiver, but initial recordings of Britain Radio using the channel seem to support 1320 WAS partly used.

[4] June 11th,(?)at 0857 Ron O’ Quinn on Britain Radio: "For those of you listening to Radio England…Radio England will be back on 227 metres in the MW band in a week’s time. 227-Radio England.” Johnnie Walker: “Our Top 40 music station Swinging Radio England is due to resume broadcasting next week on 227 metres.”

[5] DX-NEWS 8/66 reports SRE as on 1317 kc.

[6] All the same, on the Steve England Radio England story there is a fine recording of Bill Berry’s Legal ID with evidently good modulation and the East German audible, but well below SRE.

[7] DX-News 4/67: Britain Radio and Radio Doifijn returned on March 15th following repairs of the antenna mast on board "Laissez Faire". During the first day Britain changed to R355 and Dolfijn to R227. Dave MacKay(Interview on the Steve England Radio England story)describes a hectic night of converting R Dolfijn to R227 by initative of the new programme director Tony Windsor, including editing the Swinging Radio England jingles. The new format. MacKay said, was “basically the old SRE one..but in Dutch.”

[8] The transmitter engineers when the change was made to 355/227 were Bob Gittis and Ted Walters(formerly Caroline) according to Dave MacKay, in an interview on the Steve England Radio England story.

[9]  ©John England: “Much More Music! The story of Don Pierson a broadcasting pioneer.” First published in OFFSHORE ECHOS #82, August 1990.

[10] “Carl Thomson story” in Monitor Magazine 20 year(1984) Radio Caroline anniversary issue.

[11] See more on Continental transmitters here:

http://www.rossrevenge.co.uk/tx/continental.htm

[12] By ©Chris Turner, 2005

[13] http://www.lmradio.org

[14]Leon Furie's late night show on Swazi Radio was a rare beacon of rock music in a sea of pop.” Nick Shears, http://www.sarockdigest.com

[15] Listen to a Pams Series #29 jingle “Swazi Music Radio-Good morning!” in a collection called “60s jingle sampler” at

http://www.pams.com/audio/pams/sampler2.mp3

[16] More on 70s and 80s Commercial Radio in South Africa By Chris Turner

Radio 702

In 1980 the Kirsch brothers of the Swazi Radio enterprise then set up Radio 702, the first independent commercial radio station which broadcast on medium waves from the nominally independent homeland of Boputatswana a few kilometres north of Pretoria. 702 had excellent medium wave coverage into the Johannesburg capture area and employed many of the former LM Radio announcers who had also worked on Swazi Music Radio in the early 70s.

Capital Radio Transkei

Another commercial independent radio station which broadcast to South Africa was Capital Radio Transkei which ran two medium wave transmitters on 604kc and 557 kc and 2 or 3 short wave transmitters aimed towards South Africa from the independent homeland of Transkei on the East Coast of South Africa between Cape Province (East London) and Natal. Capital also had technical problems and their high power medium wave transmitter below up in the first week of broadcasting as did their main short wave transmitter. Capital also employed many of the same announcers as SMR but then went on to recruit heavily in the UK. People like Dave Guiselli, Dave Simons and others who had worked in pirate radio in the UK. Capital did not get the listenership that they had hoped, advertising revenues dropped and they cut back their broadcast coverage to a single transmitter on 603kc beamed towards Durban with studios based on the Durban beachfront. The main transmitter site was dismantled. However coverage in Durban was not all that good and they could not compete with the FM broadcasters and eventually shut down during the mid 1990s. Many of the announcers moved to work on 702, and other regional commercial stations in South Africa. You may wish to visit

http://www.capital604.com/

[17] Here are some loggings of the station from the Newfoundland DX-Pedition at Cappahayden, NF from 2004:

SWAZILAND R. Cidade, Sandlane, NOV 8 2212 – Talk show in Portuguese; SINPO 22432.   NOV 10 2006 – Portuguese talk behind Tanzania; SINPO 22432-1.  NOV 11 2111 –English and Portuguese pop tunes back-to-back, occasional jingles, religious program at 2204, ID’s: SINPO 24232. NOV 11 2156 – mostly music heard here, with occasional Portuguese announcements.  “Cidade” ID finally heard at 2156, then again at 2230.

www.nrcdxas.org/articles/2004_NF_Team_Report_0225.pdf

[18] http://www.uckg.org.za/

[19] http://www.worldofradio.com/dxld6006.txt

[20] Initially also used by Radio England in May, and early June, 1966.