Saturday, November 30, 2013

AWR Wavescan's tribute to WRMI

Tribute to the Old WRMI. The noted shortwave station WRMI in Miami Florida is currently celebrating its 20th birthday.

And as a birthday gift to honor the occasion, the station will be closed down and silenced forever!

It was on November 11, 1993, just 20 years ago, that the first test broadcast was made from a temporary 400 watt transmitter on 9955 kHz. But, the WRMI story goes way back before that.

Back 10 years earlier, that is 30 years ago, the first broadcast of what was called Radio Earth was made over shortwave station Radio Clarin in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic with 50 kW on 11700 kHz on Wednesday June 1, 1983. At the time, Radio Earth was a newly formed agency for program production on shortwave stations, with the young Jeff White as one of its active partners. Radio Earth had syndicated its programming on several shortwave stations in the United States, including WRNO, WHRI, the
previous KCBI near Dallas Texas, and Radio Milano in Italy.

Three years later, some of the Radio Earth partners started Radio Discovery, a small shortwave station in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Radio Discovery gave way in 1989 to Radio Miami International
which was at first also a brokerage service for shortwave programming. However, tentative plans were already under way for their own shortwave station, and this is how it happened.

In 1985, a 5 kW shortwave transmitter was procured for intended installation on the island of Curacao in the Caribbean. This transmitter was made by the Technical Materiel Corporation in Mamaroneck, New York,
and it is similar to the shortwave transmitters that were on the air in earlier times at the chronohertz stations CHU in Ottawa Canada and WWV near Boulder in Colorado. This TMC transmitter was shipped to Iowa for modification.

Later on, Radio Discovery made a series of preliminary test transmissions from Santa Domingo with just 50 watts on 6245 and 15045 kHz, in mid March 1986. A request for the callsign HRVC had been lodged with the licensing authorities in Santo Domingo, but it was never implemented.

When the Curacao project did not work out, the concept was changed to Miami in Florida instead to Radio Miami International. Initial test broadcasts were made from an old military transmitter, model number T368,
similar to one that was in use as a standby unit at WRNO in New Orleans. The WRMI test broadcasts began from their new transmitter building near Miami with 400 watts on their standard frequency, 9955 kHz, on November 11, 1993.

In the meantime, Radio Miami International had procured the 50 kW transmitter from Radio Clarin in the Dominican Republic, which had undergone earlier test transmissions in Santo Domingo. The transmitter was
sold, transferred, refurbished and installed in the new transmitter building in North Miami.

The first test broadcasts from the newly installed 50 kW Wilkinson transmitter went on the air on Friday April 1, 1994. This was an open carrier beamed on South America; and audio tests began a few days later. A schedule of regular programming was inaugurated on 9955 kHz on June 14, 1994 at 0100 UTC.

The antenna system at WRMI is a unique though very reliable corner reflector at 160 degrees, beamed on the Caribbean and South America. The prime frequency has been 9955 kHz, though in earlier times, three
different channels in the 7 MHz band have been in use, as well as 15725 kHz in the 19 m band.

The programming from shortwave WRMI has usually been in English and Spanish, with at times a relay of programming from other shortwave services, including for example, Radio Prague in the Czech Republic and
Radio Desanm in Haiti. When WRMI took a satellite relay from the World Radio Net WRN in England, many different international radio stations have been heard via WRMI, including Radio Australia, NHK Tokyo in Japan, and China Radio International in Beijing.

We might also add, that the AWR DX programs have been on the air via Radio Earth, Radio Discovery and WRMI since way back in 1984. At the time, the program title was "Radio Monitors International" and the broadcasts were recorded in the Poona (Pune) studios of Adventist World Radio.

Beginning in 1993, much of the programming from Miami's WRMI was heard on delayed relay via the 1 kW Radio Copan Internacional in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. When the transmitter was shut down two years later for maintenance and modification, that station never returned to the air on shortwave.

Radio Miami International WRMI has been a very reliable verifier, and the Indianapolis Heritage Collection holds more than 100 cards in many different designs.

And so, after all these many years of splendid service, shortwave station WRMI in Miami is closing for ever at the end of this month, and right around the time of its 20th birthday. The first test broadcast was on
November 11, 1993, and the station is going silent twenty years later, on November 30, 2013.

Ah, but as you know, that is not the end of the story. Beginning on December 1, the new and much larger WRMI takes to the air from Okeechobee in lower central Florida. You will hear more about that here in Wavescan next week.
Adrian Peterson-USA, AWR
(Wavescan via SW TXsite Nov 24)
(WWDXC/Top Nx 1139)