Friday, July 29, 2016

Return to the Shortwave Scene on Guam - Trans World Radio KTWR

KTWR QSL (Gayle Van Horn Collection)
The Australian monthly magazine Radio & Hobbies for October 1975 gives us the first notification that Trans World Radio TWR was planning to establish a twin broadcasting facility on the island of Guam.  The highly honored international radio monitor in New Zealand, the late Arthur Cushen, stated in his monthly column, Listening Around the World, that TWR had already received a license for this new station which would operate with 10 kW on 770 kHz mediumwave and with two shortwave transmitters at 100 kW for coverage into Asia. 

            At the time, Trans World Radio was in an era of expansive growth, and Arthur Cushen went on to state that this new Guam station would be their fifth radio broadcasting facility, after Monte Carlo in Europe, Bonaire in the Caribbean, Cyprus in the Mediterranean, and Swaziland in Africa.  At this stage, TWR had already established an office facility in Agana and they planned that their first unit in Guam would be their new mediumwave station.   

            Their new shortwave station was constructed near the town of Merizo right towards the southern end of the island of Guam.  The actual location is just a little inland from Bile Bay on the west coast, a                       Two years later, in June 1977, the new KTWR shortwave station was ready to go on the air with test transmissions, and at this stage the programming consisted entirely of test tones and test announcements.  Trans World Radio issued a special QSL card acknowledging these initial transmitter tests.

            Regular program broadcasting began three months later on September 4 (1977), and by then, two 100 kW Harris transmitters Model SW100 were in use, with two TCI wide band curtain antennas.  Transmitter KTWR1 was hard wired to Antenna 1 at 285˚, and KTWR2 was hard wired to Antenna 2 at 315˚.

            Three years later (1980), Trans World Radio received FCC approval for the installation of two more shortwave transmitters at 100 kW, the same Model Harris SW100.  At the same time, the transmitter building was enlarged to accommodate the two additional units, and three new curtain antennas were also installed.  Test broadcasts from the two new transmitters and antennas took place during the following year (1981).

            In April 1999, a fifth transmitter and a sixth curtain antenna were installed; however, the 100 kW transmitter on this occasion was manufactured by the HCJB facility located at Elkhart in Indiana.   Then give two more years (2001) and the two early curtain antennas were replaced by two similar units with reflectors.

            However at this stage, two of the early 100 kW transmitters were removed and replaced by two higher powered units rated at 250 kW each with digital DRM capability.  During the installation of the new high powered transmitters, there was a rearrangement of transmitter locations within the building, and the earlier KTWR3 was removed for sale.   

            Friday November 11, 2011 was an auspicious day for Trans World Radio KTWR down near the town of Merizo on the island of Guam.  On that date, a special dedication ceremony honored the installation of the ultra-modern new equipment, and a special quarter hour program in the digital DRM mode marked the occasion. 

            This special shortwave broadcast in the digital mode was broadcast at 0900 UTC on 17640 kHz.  The entire dedication ceremony was broadcast live from KTWR, and in addition, this special event programming was relayed throughout the United States via the several hundred FM and mediumwave stations in the nationwide Moody Bible Radio Network.    

            In recent time KTWR has been involved in two interesting and significant radio experiments, in addition to the transmission of shortwave programming in the digital mode.  During the past three years, Trans World Radio has been installing three huge solar arrays for the generation of electricity at the rate of 60 kW hours per day from each array.  When totally completed, this cost saving equipment will save the station around $50,000 for electricity each year.  Then, just last month by special arrangement, one of the 250 kW transmitters at shortwave KTWR beamed an experimental digital internet signal to Thailand that allowed the download of a complete Bible on a smart phone.

            Trans World Radio KTWR on Guam has always been a reliable verifier of listener reception reports from their office in Agana, and more recently directly from the station at its Merizo address.  Over the past nearly forty years, KTWR has issued a host of colorful QSL cards, in English and at times also in Japanese.  These QSL cards often depict delightful island scenes in full color.
(AWR-Wavescan/NWS 387)