Cape Town Radio/ZSC
(A short History) - Abschrift: Rolf Marschner, DL9CM

Cape Town Radio was established in 1910 at the old lighthouse site at Kommetjie on the western seaboard of the Cape Peninsula. The first call-sign was VNC and the station operated on 400 kHz using Spark transmitters. The operators had to work with the windows of the station wide open to the elements, summer and winter, to release the sulphur odours created by the apparatus. In 1928 the call-sign ZSC was allocated and is still in use today. During World War Two Cape Town Radio played a valuable role intercepting distress messages from allied ships under Axis submarine attack or being shelled by German pocket battleship. It is recorded that on one occasion the station monitored eight distress calls in ten minutes. Towards the middle of the war, the station moved to Wireless Road, in Kommetjie where it shared premises with the Royal Navy until 1960. In September 1965 the station moved to its present location in Koeberg Road, Milnerton, to premises that had recently been vacated by the South African Broadcasting Corp.
The main operations room is in the only sound studio. Nearby is the building in which Marconi established the Wireless and Telegraph Company in 1919. Cape Town Radio established itself on the world maritime map from June 1965 when the Suez Canal was closed by the Arab/Israeli conflict. The station played a vitel role in the controlling communication traffic for the thousands of ships that diverted to the Cape route. Congestion on the airways was chronic at times with as many as 27 ships waiting in turn on the various circuits for service. (QRY) Congestion was just as bad at the ports. Frequently there were more than 100 ships at anchor in Table Bay roadstead seeking bunkers, stores and water. The reputation earned by Cape Town Radio during the eight years that Suez was closed has been maintained to this day. It is common practice for ships passing through the Suez Canal to communicate with Europe via Cape Town Radio. The station is today manned by an operating staff of 41, plus technicans maintaining the transmitters at Klipheuwel 50 km north east of the station.
Klipheuwel has long been the preferred site for radio transmitter. On relatively high ground clear of mountains, it is far enough from the Milnerton operations centre to prevent transmitted signals interfering with reception at Milnerton. Marconi erected 245 metre high radio masts at Klipheuwel in 1923. This was part of a plan to establish long-wave radio links between London and the entire British Empire. These high masts were never used, because in 1924 Marconi introduced short-wave radio which cost 1/20th of the longwave system, used only 1/50th of the power and trebled the transmission capability. 
It‘s been a long walk from those sulphur-laden rooms and the Spark transmitters. Today‘s Cape Town Radio operator sits at his computer console and works morse, telex and radio-telephone from the one position. Marconi would have been very proud indeed.
QSL-Karte von Kapstadt Radio / ZSC (1996)
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Version: 12-Aug-00 / Rev.: 11-Jun-11 / HBu