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Australia Still Has Shortwave Voices

There are a number of private shortwave broadcasters on the air from down under

SYDNEY — Radio Australia shortwave services may be dead, but the medium is alive and well on the continent.

Reach Beyond Australia is on shortwave, but with its Christian programming largely in foreign languages, it really isn’t seen as representing Australia on the shortwaves. But there are other private Australian stations that are broadcasting and more are planned. 

And while these stations are not a replacement for Radio Australia’s international transmissions or the defunct (for the moment) Australian Broadcasting Corp. domestic service, they do have various goals and share certain characteristics.   

Inverted V antenna
The Inverted V is a popular antenna choice for private shortwave broadcasters in Australia.

Their transmitter power is typically around 1,000 W and the inverted V is a popular antenna choice. In addition, these stations are assigned frequencies in the 120-, 90- and 60-meter shortwave broadcasts bands, with their modulation either AM or single sideband, although some have expressed an interest in broadcasting in the Digital Radio Mondiale digital standard. 

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4KZ is a shortwave relay of an Innisfail, Queensland, medium-wave station with the same call sign. It is part of the NQ Radio network. 4KZ plays a variety of music and is heavily involved in the community. The shortwave serves remote areas of north Queensland. “We are planning a 90-or 120-meter service for evenings local time, from station 4AM in Mareeba,” explained Al Kirton, NQ Radio’s general manager.  

Unique Radio amateur radio equipment.
Unique Radio is using amateur radio equipment.

Unique Radio has been on three years and currently broadcasts from Gunnedah in New South Wales. Its owner, Tim Gaylor, has a background in community radio. “We like a station to inform people about alternative subject matters not currently on mainstream media,” he said. Unique Radio also plans to add a night frequency in the 90-meter band.

There are also future stations in the works from New South Wales. Peter Tate’s Radio X Network consists of various internet music streams. He’s adding shortwave from Wee Waa, a town located in the New England region in New South Wales, with transmitters on the 120-, 90- and 60-meter bands. The same program will run on all three frequencies. “You pick the best one for reception,” he said. Tate adds that while he definitely wants to get on shortwave it is “an extremely expensive and slow-going process.” 

Unique Radio’s transmitter
Unique Radio’s transmitter broadcasts in SSB [single sideband] mode.

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AV-Comm is planning a station at Gundary, also in New South Wales. The company’s technical director, Garry Cratt, is also founder of Tecsun Radios Australia. “The shortwave service is still in the planning stage,” Cratt explains. He adds that he is looking for a transmitter.  

In addition, another station is expected in the state of Victoria, where Gary Baker, owner of a solar energy company in Victoria, hopes to begin broadcasting later this year from the town of Numurkah. “The format will be partly Christian-based with some additional programming aimed specifically at outback Australia residents,” he explains.

Government services or not, Australia will continue to have voices on the shortwave bands.

Hans Johnson has worked in the shortwave broadcasting industry for over 20 years in broadcasts sales and frequency management.