Awarua Radio 1970-1979

Awarua Radio on the cover of the Katipo, journal of the NZ Post Office Association, in 1970

Awarua Radio on the cover of the Katipo, journal of the NZ Post Office Association, in 1970

1970: Sandra Mathews, first female technician, was employed. An additional farm residence was completed and a bus shelter on Bluff Road provided. Staff establishment increased to 29 10/40. ZLG Haast ceased radiotelegraph working and changed to telephone working.

1971: Milford Sound ZMV landline completed, r/t retained as emergency link. E Ellenden retired in January. Gentex operational 21 May. JF Ryan took over as Superintendent on 24 May. The position was regraded to Class Special 3 on 1 April, and Senior Supervisor Class Special 1.

Charles A Glennie, ZLB Senior Supervisor, 1971

Charles A Glennie, ZLB Senior Supervisor, 1971. Courtesy: Alex Glennie

Awarua Radio operator JK 'Bill' Riley in the 1970s

Awarua Radio operator JK ‘Bill’ Riley at the small ship desk in the early 1970s. The receivers behind him are a Philips BX925A (top) and a Collins 51S-1. Courtesy: Alex Glennie

The three 150ft steel lattice self-supporting towers built in 1941 were condemned due to corrosion. It would be another five years, however, before they were replaced.

Towers at Awarua Radio in the 1970s

Two of the three 150ft self-supporting towers at Awarua Radio, built in 1941 and condemned in 1971

1972: September, the area commercial QSP system ceased, through being unacceptable on defence communications network. Overseas traffic now routed through commercial cable systems.

1973: 16 MHz watch opened 0880-1800 hours NZST. On 16 July ZLW discontinued HF broadcasting of outward traffic. All HF traffic (inward and outward) now centred at ZLB.

Keith Ramsay on 500kHz at Awarua Radio using his Creed telegraph key in the early 1970s

Keith Ramsay on 500kHz at Awarua Radio using his Creed telegraph key in the early 1970s. Photo: Southland Times

1974: In February JF Ryan, Superintendent, transferred to PO HQ. In March HJ Milne (Ex ZLD) was appointed Superintendent. On 1 April designation of Superintendent changed to Manager. In May ZLB opened up a request service on 4 & 6 MHz. In June HJ Milne retired, and was replaced by CA Glennie.

Morse key and sounder used by Charles A Glennie at Awarua Radio

Morse key and sounder used by Charles A Glennie at Awarua Radio

September saw a new Small Ships room added with a new table designed and constructed locally.

Small ships desk at Awarua Radio ZLB. At left, 2 Soundscriber 24-hour tape recorders; centre (2 bays): 2 Collins 51S-1 HF receivers (top), JRC transmitter remote controls, Codan 6081S receivers, transmitter selector panels; at right top AWA auto alarm).

The new small ships desk at Awarua Radio ZLB after September 1974. At left, 2 Soundscriber 24-hour tape recorders; centre (2 bays): 2 Collins 51S-1 HF receivers (top), JRC transmitter remote controls, Codan 6081S receivers, transmitter selector panels; at top right AWA auto alarm. Click to enlarge.

Also in September, RN McVicar of Auckland Radio ZLD was appointed Senior Supervisor at Awarua, but in October he declined. In October the nightly 8 MHz sked with KFS ceased, rendered unnecessary by telex facilities.

ZLB had operating teleprinters to Naval Communications Station – Waiouru ZLO, Wellington Radio ZLW, Gentex, and Telex (installed for Schmitt Ocean Towage, Rotterdam, who were engaged in tug work with Penrod 2 oil drilling rig).

1975: On 28 January a fifth supervisor’s position was approved, and in July a third operating unit for leave relief approved. July 31 VJM Macquarie Island CW meteorological skeds discontinued when Australians installed teleprinters. From 1 May to 30 September 4 MHz HF watch opened 0700-1900 GMT daily and 12 MHz closed at these times.

1975 letter to a short-wave listener from Awarua Radio manager CA Glennie

On 28 October Malin Head Radio (51N – 19W) heard working a distress on 2182 kHz. On 6 November daily sked at 1130 with VJS discontinued. Penrod 2 now drilling in Foveaux Strait, rig working r/t for Met traffic.

Greetings from Malin Head. I read with great interest a note in the events during Awarua Radio ZLB and the following: “On October 28 Malinhead Radio (51N – 19W) heard working a distress on 2182 kHz.”

I made a point of checking the distress records for our radio station for that date and can confirm that Malin Head Radio did indeed work distress traffic. I noted that the position given was 53 North and 19 West. This is an amazing bit of watchkeeping and must be the furthest distance for our transmitters, of the time. At that time we were using Pye transmitters, with a 5CX1500B valve in the final, running compatible AM with 500 watts carrier. We later changed to USB in the following years and ran 1 KW from SPT gear, replaced by German transmitters about 5 years ago.

The antenna was, and still is, 150 foot masts, one for 2182 kHz and the other usually used on our working frequency of 1677 kHz. The original 500 kHz Tee antenna strung between the two towers is used on Navtex on 518 kHz and 490 kHz these days.

Personally, I retired just over two years ago, having completed 34 years at EJM, and a further seven years before that at sea as a Radio Officer.

Really enjoyed your website. I am particularly interested in 500 kHz, stories of such, and recordings also of 600m/500 kHz.

Very best regards,
Finbar O’Connor EI0CF and ex EJM (GMH)

1976: Suspicion and alarm generated in coast stations at proposal by Director of Radio Services that coast stations transfer control to CPMs. JT Dudley appointed Manager in September. Takeover bid by CPM fails and proposal dropped in October. PJ Collett appointed Senior Supervisor in November.

On 30 October, two of the three 150ft steel lattice towers from 1941 were demolished due to poor condition.

On 15 November, two 120ft guyed towers were erected for the 500 kHz aerial.

1977: Managers seminar held in Wellington in March. On 1 June spot frequency calling began on HF, but due to lack of proper equipment, only common channels guarded. In November ceiling was lowered, carpet laid and new filtered fluorescent lighting added. On 11 November HF DF facility was withdrawn and Adcock DF sent to museum. In December the old iron horse autokeyer was sent to museum and replaced with new Model 750 teleprinter/morse converter autokeyer, all electronic.

The last surviving of the three 150ft towers built in 1941 was to be demolished in 1977. No other information available at this time.

Awarua Radio operator WO 'Bill' Eales in the 1970s

Awarua Radio operator WO ‘Bill’ Eales in the 1970s

1978: On 1 January, speaker watch commenced on 4125 kHz. Codan fixed-tune receivers located in the back room for 2162, 2182, 2196, 4125, 4143.6, and 4414 kHz. In March a telephone service was introduced to Dog Island, and weather reports now passed by this medium. Female toilets were added to the retiring room.

Paul Burke on 500kHz watch at Awarua Radio ZLB in the late 1970s

Paul Burke on 500kHz watch at Awarua Radio ZLB 1977-1982

1979: Post Office gentex network changed from tape machines to page printers. In February, Centre Island was linked to the mainland by telephone. Direct circuit to Wellington was no longer necessary, traffic passed via the gentex network. Direct circuit now to Kelburn Weather Office. Later in the year Eddystone digital receivers (the Marconi Pacific X receivers made by Eddystone? -Ed) replaced the Philips, in use since 1956. JK (Bill) Riley retired 24th December.

Road to the receiving station at Awarua Radio, date unknown.

Road to the receiving station at Awarua Radio, date unknown. Maurie Hayman collection, courtesy Alex Glennie

Receiving station at Awarua Radio, date unknown

Receiving station at Awarua Radio, date unknown. Maurie Hayman collection, courtesy Alex Glennie

Maurie Hayman on 500kHz morse at Awarua Radio ZLB

Maurie Hayman, seen here on 500kHz morse, was an operator at Awarua Radio from 1974 until the station closed in 1991. Photo courtesy Alex Glennie

Maurie Hayman on small ships radiotelephone at awarua Radio ZLB

Maurie Hayman, seen here on small ships radiotelephone, was an operator at Awarua Radio from 1974 until the station closed in 1991. Photo courtesy Alex Glennie

» 1980-1991

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