Monday, October 22, 2012

Pitcairn on the Air !

Back three years ago, we presented a series of topics here in Wavescan on the story of wireless and radio on lonely Pitcairn Island, way out there in the wide areas of the South Pacific.  That series of topics covered the entire spectrum of wireless and radio events on the island, beginning with the first attempt at the usage of wireless in 1921, and ending with the dismantling of the government wireless station in 1994.

            Interestingly, seven years later, that is during the year 2005, the government made an assessment study of the needs on Pitcairn and they recommended that a radio station should be installed on the island.  And that is exactly what has happened.  In fact, these days, the small population of residents on Pitcairn, numbering around fifty, can tune in to three broadcasting stations, two radio & one TV.

            Just one year after the government recommended that a radio station should be installed on the island, the first new radio broadcasting station was inaugurated.  In August 2006, this new, and we should say, very small radio broadcasting station was launched, with just a ½ watt power output on 100.4 MHz FM. 

            Programming for the new Pitcairn Radio consisted mainly of Country & Western, recorded music, with Christian music during the hours of Saturday. The station was on the air full time, 24 hours a day.

            However, on Pitcairn, they quickly realized that many of their FM receivers automatically defaulted and retuned to 87.5 MHz when the power went off.  Consequently, the transmission frequency of their new radio station was adjusted accordingly to 87.5 MHz, so that when power came on again, the radio receivers would already be adjusted to that FM channel.

            The power of the transmitter has been increased to 2½ watts, and the station is now on the air only when the island power generator is running, that is for about 10 hours daily.  This neat little radio station is operated by local resident, Paul Warren.

            Five years after the first little FM station was inaugurated, two more broadcasting stations were installed; one TV and another FM.

            On August 1 last year, Pitcairn TV took to the air, with 3½ watts on the UHF channel 29.  Programming for this broadcast outlet is provided via satellite from the Hope TV building, which is adjacent to the world headquarters of the Adventist church on the edge of suburban Washington DC.  The TV signal from the Hope Channel is provided by the satellite NSS9, and the downlink relay in English via Pitcairn TV is on the air daily from 8:30 am till 10:00 pm.

            The programming source, Hope TV from Silver Spring Maryland is on the air worldwide with a dozen different program channels in many European & Asian languages.

            At the same time as the new TV station was inaugurated last year, an additional FM station was launched also.  This new relay station carries the programming from Life Talk Radio in California and it is down linked from the same satellite that delivers the TV programming.  Life Talk Radio on Pitcairn is found at 107.0 MHz FM, and the transmitter power is just 1 watt.

            Life Talk Radio, from its studios in Simi Valley California, is on the air via more than 100 downlink relay stations throughout the United States and the Caribbean, as well as in several countries of the Pacific & in England.  Life Talk programming is made up of educational & health topics, as well as easy listening Christian music and Gospel messages.

We are indebted to David Ricquish, with Radio Heritage in Wellington New Zealand for all of the information on the 3 new radio & TV stations on Pitcairn Island.  As David stated in the information he provided to Wavescan, the man who was responsible for establishing these 3 fascinating little radio & TV stations on Pitcairn Island was fellow New Zealander, Pastor Ray Codling.  For a period of 6 years, Pastor Codling served as a missionary to the small population on Pitcairn Island, though his term of service ended quite recently.
            Now, as far as QSLs from the new radio & TV stations on Pitcairn are concerned, we would suggest that you would need to hear the stations first.  Now, the only place you would be able to hear the stations is either on the island itself, or else on a ship that is passing nearby.  If you have a few thousand dollars of spare money, that would help to get you into the area! 
            However, it would be so nice if the programming from one or all of these 3 stations was relayed on shortwave as a special event by one of the already established amateur stations on the island.  Way back half a century ago, that really did happen when amateur station VR6AC ran a few programs on shortwave.  That took place way back in 1966, but these days it would be necessary to obtain a special license for a special event radio broadcasting station on Pitcairn.        
(AWR Wavescan /NWS 191 via Adrian Peterson)