Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The radio scene from Reunion Island

Radio Scene on a French Island in the Indian Ocean - Part 2

In our program today, we conclude the story of radio broadcasting on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean.  On the previous occasion three weeks back, we covered the era of wireless transmissions beginning nearly 100 years ago, followed by the era of radio broadcasting on shortwave and mediumwave, up to the present time.  Today, we look at QSL cards from Reunion, and also the brief story of a projected large shortwave station for the island.
            According to the entries for Reunion in the World Radio TV Handbook, the government radio station on the island has always responded to reception reports from listeners, though usually this has been by letter.  However, beginning in 1980, these entries show that a QSL card was available from RFO Reunion, right up until the early years in this century. 
            We must admit though that as far as we can remember, we have never seen one of these QSL cards from RFO, the government radio broadcasting station on Reunion Island.           However, Dan Robinson in Maryland in the United States, reports that he did receive a colorful QSL card from ORF Reunion for a reception report dated back in the year 1973.
            Reproductions of QSL cards from amateur radio stations and also CB stations on Reunion are readily shown on the internet, including one from station FR8VX in 1936.  This amateur station was operated by Prince Vinh San who was exiled from French Indo China (Vietnam) to Reunion by the French colonial government back in the years before World War 2.
            The Marine Communication Station FUX at St Marie on the northern coast of the island has been a ready verifier of reception reports, and these are sometimes reproduced in various radio magazines.  The FUX QSL card appears like a very large rubber stamp, with an outline map of the  island together with the QSL text. 
            The FUX card in the Indianapolis Heritage Collection is dated for reception on March 26, 1987 at 5 kW on 8475 kHz.  A more recent card dated in 2011 shows an aerial photo of the station in color.
            Back around 1984, Radio France International gave consideration to establishing several shortwave relay stations in Africa, Asia and the South Pacific.  One of the locations under consideration was the island of Reunion for coverage of Africa, the Middle East and Asia. 
            It is reported that the station for Reunion would contain four transmitters, rated at 100 kW each,  we would presume.  Five years later, RFI announced that the location for this station had been transferred from Reunion to Djibouti in Africa.  However, the Djibouti station was never erected either.
            Reunion was on the air with low power shortwave at St Denis from 1935 to 1975; and a temporary low power shortwave station was on the air at St Andre in 1975.  Currently, Reunion is on the air with just two stations on mediumwave, St Denis at 20 kW on 666 kHz, and St Andre at 5 kW on 1215 kHz, as well as an additional 100 FM outlets scattered throughout the island.

            Before we leave the radio scene on Reunion Island, we should greet the two radio brothers, Bernard and Rene Grondin.  Their monitoring endeavors in the international radio broadcasting scene are a real credit to their homeland, Reunion Island.
(AWR Wavescan.NWS 348)