1920 - The huge RCA Longwave Station in New York

Project Overview
1800s - Land Telegraphy
1874 - Guglielmo Marconi - a Tribute
1895 - Wireless Telegraphy
1901 - Wireless Telegraphy
1902 - Wireless Telegraphy in Australia
1904 - Australian Coastal Radio
1906 - Wireless Telephony
1912 - Melbourne Radio - VIM
1914 - Shortwave Wireless Telephony
1920s - Commercial Shortwave Telephony Development
1920s - Receivers
1920 - The huge RCA Longwave Station in New York
1920 - Wireless broadcasting in Australia
1920s - First shortwave stations in Victoria
1921 - Discovery of Shortwave Propagation
1921 - Koo Wee Rup (Victoria) Experimental Wireless Receiving Station
1923- Longwave Broadcasting in Australia
1923 - Evolution of Australian Domestic Radio
1924 - 3LO - Melbourne's Second Broadcaster
1924 - 3AR - Melbourne's first broadcaster
1924 - The Braybrook (Melbourne) Transmitting Site
1925 - First Shortwave Stations in Western Australia
1926 - First Shortwave Stations in New South Wales
1926 - RAAF Communications - Laverton (Vic)
1927 - Beam Wireless Worldwide
1927 - Beam Wireless from Australia
1928 - ABC Lyndhurst (Victoria)
1930 - AWA Receiving Station at La Perouse (Sydney)
1930 - AWA Radio Centre at Pennant Hills
1933 (to 1969) - Shortwave Radio Clubs in Australia
1936 - Ship Broadcaster - the MS Kanimbla
1939 - Belconnen Communications Station (Canberra)
1940 - RAAF Receiving Station at Werribee (Victoria)
1941 - RAAF Frognall (Melbourne)
1941 - ABC Brisbane
1942 - Army Wireless Chain - west of Melbourne
1942 - Dutch Stations in Australia
1943 - ABC Radio Australia - Shepparton (Victoria)
1943 - Army Shortwave HF Stations in Melbourne
1944 - ABC - Radio Australia - Looking Back
1945 - PMG Receiving Station - Highpark (Victoria)
1945 - Radio Australia - DXers Calling
1946 - Radio Australia - Communications Programs
1946 - VNG Time Signal Station
1948 - Radio Australia QSL Cards
1948 - ABC Sydney
1966 - ABC Cox Peninsula (Darwin)
1970 (to 2012) - Shortwave Radio Clubs in Australia
1975 - ABC Gnangara (Western Australia)
1975 - ABC Carnarvon (Western Australia)
1978 - Omega Navigation Station - Woodside (Victoria)
1985 - ABC Northern Territory
1989 - ABC Brandon (Queensland)
2003 - Private Shortwave Broadcasters
Timeline - Part One - 1839 to 1927
Timeline - Part Two - 1928 to 2012
SPECIAL - Licencing of Shortwave Broadcasters
SPECIAL - Radio Receivers for Shortwave
SPECIAL - Radio Monitoring as a Hobby
Bibliography, References and Resources
Links to the author's personal websites

1921 - Longwave antennas at Rocky Point

RCA Radio Central
Over the years, several wireless and radio stations have laid claim as the largest in the world, and at the time when the statement was made, the claim in many cases was indeed quite accurate. 

The most grandiose claims of largeness were made on behalf of the massive RCA wireless station located at Rocky Point on Long Island, New York, and if the station had been completed in its original intent, those claims would surely have been correct. Even so, it was indeed developed into a very large station, though somewhat different from the original concept.

Long Island is located off the edge of the eastern coast of the United States. It is 180 km long, and 35 km wide at its widest point. The island was inhabited by Indians of the Delaware and other sub tribes at the time when it was first discovered by European explorers.

It was the Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano who was the first European to site the island back in the year 1524. (We might add that he explored much of the east coast of North America during three consecutive voyages, but he did not fare well on his third and final voyage to the Americas. He was killed and eaten by Carib Indians on the island of Guadeloupe.)

The first European settlers came from Holland and England, and it was the Dutch who gave the name to the island, as Lange Eylandt, or Long Island, in their language. Today, much of Greater New York City is located on the western end of Long Island.

The first known mention of Rocky Point is found in official records for the year 1714; and 40 years later, the area was listed as Rocky Poynt Hollow, in the quaint old spelling of that era. In 1872, their first Post office was installed; and two years later, there was a small shop in Rocky Poynt Hollow, and a district school for the children living in the 20 dwellings in the nearby community.

It was in this year that RCA, the Radio Corporation of America, was formed as an amalgamation of half a dozen interested radio companies. As their first big venture, they set out to establish a new super sized international wireless station, and they procured a suitable property on the northern edge of Long Island for this purpose.

July 1920
work began on Radio Central, the huge new wireless station at Rocky Point. The property measured 2000 hectares of slightly undulating territory. The original plans called for an ornate two storied central building to house the offices and the transmitters - the huge Alexanderson alternators.

A total of 12 antenna systems was planned and these would be arranged in a spoke pattern around the central building. The steel antenna towers were 140 m. high, and separated at 400 m, and each antenna would be 4 km long. Each antenna required 40 km of high strung wire, and each antenna also required 400 km of buried copper wire as the counterpoise earthing system. Initially just two of these massive antenna systems were erected.

October 1921
The first test broadcasts were radiated from the new RCA Rocky point with 200 kW on longwave 18.3 kHz under the callsign WQK. At the time, the station was described as the world's largest and most powerful wireless station.

November 5 1921
The station was officially inaugurated when President Warren Harding pressed a button during a special opening ceremony at the White House. Electricity was applied to the new transmission system on Long Island, the alternators began turning, and the first official message was tapped out in Morse Code. It was a message of goodwill to the world from the 29th President of the United States.

Soon afterwards, a second longwave transmitter was activated, a similar unit to the afore-mentioned WQK, and this unit operated on 17.15 kHz under the sister callsign WQL.

However, by this time, smaller electronic transmitters for use on shortwave were becoming available, and they were more efficient with a more reliable propagation coverage than the heavy longwave electrical transmitters. In addition, the new shortwave transmitters required less power to operate.

In this year, RCA lodged a formal document with the Federal Radio Commission requesting approval to establish a total of 65 different shortwave communication stations across the United States. Many of these stations were eventually installed, though not all.

However, plans to install the additional 10 longwave transmitters at Rocky Point were abandoned, and instead, a multitude of shortwave transmitters rated at 10 and 20 kW were installed, together with a bevy of rhombic antennas directed towards Europe and South America. It is stated that RCA installed several dozen shortwave transmitters at Rocky Point during the 1930s, and in 1934, a total of 80 registered callsigns were in use. In November 1935, they activated a 200 kW shortwave transmitter.

RCA Rocky Point was often noted on air with the broadcast of radio programming. Sometimes, it was a point to point relay for rebroadcast in another country in Europe or South America, and sometimes these broadcasts were an experimental relay for direct reception by shortwave listeners.

The direct broadcast of radio programming was usually made under the callsign W2XBJ, which could be allocated to any channel in use for this purpose. A lesser known experimental broadcast callsign that was in use at times was W2XCU.

June 1932
The first known radio program broadcast from Radio Central took place under the callsign WAJ when a music program was relayed for rebroadcast in Germany. During the following year, a special broadcast was arranged from an Italian blimp flying over the United States and this program was relayed for rebroadcast in Italy.

At the time of the 1933 Century of Progress Exhibition in Chicago, Marconi himself arranged for Rocky Point to relay special programming from Chicago for rebroadcast in Italy. There were also many special broadcasts beamed to various other countries in Europe and also to South America during this same era.

Early 1940s
Radio Central received and transmitted special broadcasts to and from Europe and North Africa, and on occasions, with South America. Some of these special relays were on behalf of the Voice of America, usually the transmission of special voice reports, though occasionally for local rebroadcast elsewhere.

The RCA main receiving station was located 25 km distant, at Riverhead, also on Long Island, and a back up receiving station was located at Belfast in Maine.

During the 1950s, some of the tall towers were brought down. During the mid 1960s, the station was finally closed. In 1972, a large slice of the property was given to the New York state authorities and it was developed as the Pine Barrens Wildlife Area. In 1978, the remainder of the Rocky Point transmitter property, as well as the Riverhead receiver property, were sold to the state for $1.

Thus, after some 45 years of on air usage, RCA Radio Central at Rocky Point, the magnificent huge radio station on Long Island, quietly disappeared, for ever. It was in use for international communication, and the transfer of radio programming for rebroadcast elsewhere, and at times for the relay of programming on behalf of the Voice of America.

1922 - longwave transmitters at Rocky Point

1921 - huge alternators at Rocky Point

1921 - giant tuning coil at Rocky Point antennas

1921 - RCA receiving station at Riverhead

1921 - RCA receiving station at Belfast, Maine


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