Thursday, July 22, 2010

More AFRN less JOAK

By 1946 AFRN had largely transitioned from mobile 400 watt stations to a network of stationary AFRN radio stations. The first of these more permanent structures was meant to be symbolic. They annexed and then converted the former facilities of the 50,000 watt Tokyo radio station, JOAK and re-christened it as WVTA.  In addition to their 400-watt mobile stations, they operated a network of at least 14 AFRN stations in Asia. A number of these new AFRN outlets were captured and converted NHK (Nippon Hoso Kyokai) network stations.  I hope to correlate them as I find new information.  The calls and cities are as follows:

WVTQ - Osaka (Japan)
WTVA - Tokyo (Japan)
WVTP - Keijo (Seoul Korea)
WVTO - Omura (Japan)
WVTH - Hachinohe (Japan)
WVTC - Nagoya (Japan)
WLKJ - Gusan-dong (Korea)
WLKD - Sapporo (Japan)
WLKC - Pusan (Korea)
WLKB - Niigata (Japan)
WLKE - Sendai (Japan)
WLKF - Kumamoto (Japan)
WLKI - Fukuoka (Japan)

JOAK began broadcasting in 1925. It was built at the top of Atagoyama Hill in Tokyo. It used a GE a short-wave transmitter modified to broadcast at 800 kHz. this was to make tuning easier to tune in on the crystal-diode receivers most popular in japan at the time.  It first went on air as a 500-watt station then within the year bumped it up to 1,000 watts.  Programming was eclectic. They ran music and soap operas and in the mornings they had a gymnastics program. In WWI  Lady Haw Haw and Tokyo Rose broadcast from JOAK. They built three more in 1926.  Each of these stations was connected with JOAK in Tokyo by land lines. By 1932 the network had grown to include the following:
JOCK (Nagoya) 1925
JOPK (Shizouka) 1931
JODK (Seoul) 1927
JOHK (Sendai)1928
JOGK (Kumamoto) 1928
JOFK (Hisoshima) 1928
JOBK (Osaka) 1925
JOKK (Fukuoka)
JOOG (Obihiro)
JOJK (Okayama)
JOQK (Niigata ) 1931
JOSK (Kokura) 1931
JOIK (Sapporo)1928
JOLK (Kokura) 1931
JONK (Nagano) 1931
JOOK (Kyoto) 1931
JOUK (Akita) 1932
*JBBK (Pyongyang)was not added until the 40s.

In 1942, at the height of WWII rebel officers in the imperial guard made a coup attempt on the Emperor of Japan. This was intended to derail the Emperor's intent to accept the Potsdam declaration. The Emperor made a recording to be later broadcast. They stormed the palace and JOAK. They were unable to find the recording but they did take JOAK .The book Journey to the Missouri briefly refers to the event:
"Other troops also occupied various broadcasting stations, including JOAK, Tokyo radio, in order to suppress the Emperors broadcast.  Having failed to seize the recording of the Emperors address, they now wanted to suppress the broadcast and make their own appeal over the air, exhorting the nation to continue the war."
In 1942 the Americans also began bombing Tokyo. JOAK went off air then returned after the bombing to downplay the chaos and destruction. After the surrender in 1945 the Allies took over NHK and AFRN began taking over NHK facilities as needed. Looking at the cities of operation you can make some educated guesses here.  JOHK became WLKE, JOBK became WVTQ, JOCK became WVTC, JOIK became WLKD, JQQK became WLKB and so on and so forth.  There is one notable station that was not reused after VJ day.  JOFK ceased to exist August 6th 1945 when a nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. More here.