Tuesday, December 28, 2010

From War Propaganda to Gospel Outreach: The Story of Trans World Radio Monte Carlo

On this occasion, we are presenting the story of Radio Monte Carlo, and we are also honoring Trans World Radio in Monte Carlo on the occasion of their 50th anniversary. The November issue of the American radio magazine, “NASWA Journal”, reminds us that TWR Monte Carlo celebrated its 50th anniversary a few weeks ago; and some time back, Christian Ghibaudo in France provided us with much of the background information for this feature item.
The small European country of Monaco is located against the Mediterranean coast of France, just ten miles from the border of Italy. This country is listed as the second smallest in the world, with only the Vatican being smaller. Monaco is a little more than two miles long, and at its narrowest point it is only 200 yards wide. The total area is just ¾ square mile, and almost a quarter of this total area has been recovered from the Mediterranean Sea.
The capital city of Monaco is, Monaco; though another well known city in this tiny enclave is Monte Carlo. The total population of all of the country of Monaco is around 33,000. The country obtains much of its revenue from tourism, with 1½ million people flooding into the area each year.
Their national flag shows a plain red banner on the top half and a plain white banner on the bottom half. Surprisingly, the Monaco flag is exactly the same as the flag of both Indonesia & the German state of Hesse, though the dimensions are slightly different.
The country of Monaco is also well known for its Casino; and the Monaco Grand Prix car race; and its Tour de France bicycle race. Monaco issues its own colorful postage stamps, and also its own coinage, now in the Euro series.
It was back in the year 1956, that the American Hollywood actress Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier in a highly publicized wedding ceremony. The reigning Grimaldi family traces their dynasty back to the year 1297, when the first of their clan took over the throne.
This little southern European country was named by Greek seafarers who set up their own colony around the 600s. Another 600 years later, and the area was refounded as an Italian colony dependent upon the city of Genoa. Even though Monaco is an independent country, it is heavily dependent upon neighboring France.
It was back in the year 1923 that initial consideration was given to establishing a radio station in Monaco, though nothing definite came of this matter until some 20 years later. During the year 1942, discussions for the establishment of a new international shortwave station took place between the government of Monaco, and the governments of both Germany & Vichy France. In May, a permit was issued for the construction of a powerful shortwave station that could give wide area coverage to German radio programming.
Work on the new station moved slowly, though two shortwave transmitters, rated at 100 kW each, were ordered through the Indonesian government. A new transmitter building was constructed into the side of Mt Agel, behind Monte Carlo, and located actually in what is officially French territory.
A temporary radio station was inaugurated in an official opening ceremony on July 17, 1943, with the well known French actor, Maurice Chevalier as the Host of Ceremonies. A small shortwave transmitter with just 200 watts was located in Monaco itself, and the mediumwave outlet was the already established transmitter of Radio Mediterranee on 1240 kHz which was located some distance away at Antibes in France. A little over a year later, this new Radio Monte Carlo was closed.
In June 1945, Radio Monte Carlo was re-opened by the French, with a 300 watt shortwave transmitter on 6130 kHz; and a year later, a 10 kW mediumwave transmitter on 410 metres, 730 kHz. Both of these units were heard by international radio monitors in England. One year later again, a 25 kW shortwave transmitter was installed and this was noted on air in the United States, as well as in New Zealand & Australia.
On two different occasions, Adventist radio programming was noted over Radio Monte Carlo. Beginning in 1957 and for a year or two, the French version of the “Voice of Prophecy” was heard on three shortwave channels; and for a few months in 1999, Adventist World Radio took out a relay via the mediumwave transmitter on 702 kHz for coverage into North Africa in both Arabic & French.
In 1958, Trans World Radio signed a contract with Radio Monte Carlo for the establishment of a large shortwave station, and the transmitters would be installed in the disused building constructed into the side of Mt Agel during the German era. Trans World Radio was on the air previously from a site in Tangier, North Africa, but, with the changing political scene in Tangier-Morocco, it became necessary for them to re-locate elsewhere.
The new facility for TWR Monte Carlo was inaugurated on October 16, 1960, with the use of a new 100 kW shortwave transmitter under the official callsign 3AM5. An additional 100 kW shortwave transmitter was installed during the following year, and a 500 kW transmitter in 1982. Their studios and offices occupied three floors in a multi-storeyed building in Monte Carlo.
At the height of their operation in Monte Carlo, TWR was on the air from the three shortwave transmitters and ten curtain antennas, as well as on mediumwave from a high powered facility nearby. The main antenna systems are located in French territory rented to Monte Carlo, though one antenna for coverage into Europe is located on the northern slopes of Mt Agel in what is regular French territory.
These days, with the usage of their own shortwave stations elsewhere, as well as with rental time on additional relay stations, the TWR station in Monte Carlo is in part time use only, just for the morning hours on the two 100 kW transmitters.
QSLs from Radio Monte Carlo are quite evident, and multitudes of QSL cards have been issued over the years by Trans World Radio Monte Carlo.
(AWR Wavescan/ NWS # 96 via Adrian Peterson)

(photo via Teak Publishing Archives)