Thursday, February 28, 2008

Last of VOA's Wartime Transmitting Station Goes Dark

How International Broadcasting Found Its Way to Delano

by James E. O'Neal, 3.01.2008
James E. O'Neal is the Technology Editor for TV Technology magazine and a Radio World contributor.

This is the full-length version of an article that appeared in briefer form in the print edition of Radio World.

The Voice of America’s Delano shortwave transmitting station is difficult to ignore. Even though it’s set back nearly two miles from California’s Route 99, the massive metal antenna structures rising from the almond groves and citrus orchards can’t help but command the attention of motorists. The sheer size of the installation makes it appear intriguingly close to the highway, yet few motorists ever stop to investigate. After the sun sets, the station begs attention with the bluish-white pulsing of strobe lights and red beacons, too numerous to even begin counting from a moving car.

If locals in the nearby town of Delano are asked about the steel appurtenances and the lights, most answer that it’s some sort of government facility. Perhaps there’s a little secrecy involved — some kind of a big radio station maybe, or something to do with radar, or a cold war left-over.

Should an extra-curious motorist decide to exit the main highway and meander along the series of right-angled section-line byways leading to 11015 Melcher Road, he or she can’t help but be impressed by the bulk of the buff-colored building and the acres of antennas spreading out around it. Most would-be visitors get no closer than the station’s mail box. The operation is fenced and gated, with special permission needed to enter.
(Continued story at Radio World: