Friday, December 15, 2017

Free Radio Serice Holland December 17 broadcast

Dear FRS Friends,

On the FRS website you will find info about our  upcoming traditional Seasonal December broadcast.
This Sunday December 17th FRS will take to the air at 08.30 UTC/ 09:30 CET. But...there will also be a possible
repeat on the 24th as well as several streams. For full details watch [ ].
A brand new full size/ color  A5 QSL card is from now on available. But: only if you send a correct & complete reception report.
For all of you: have a good weekend! Hope to 'meet' you next Sunday....

73s  Peter Verbruggen on behalf of the FRS team

From the Isle of Music & Uncle Bill's Melting Pot schedules

From the Isle of Music, December 17-23:
This week, our special guest is Cuban rock artist and producer David Blanco. We will listen to tracks from some of his albums plus an epic 18 minute jam from Anima Mundi, this year's Cubadisco winner in Rock.
Four opportunities to listen on shortwave:
1. For Eastern Europe but audible well beyond the target area in most of the Eastern Hemisphere (including parts of East Asia and Oceania) with 100Kw, Sunday 1500-1600 UTC on SpaceLine, 9400 KHz, from Kostinbrod, Bulgaria (1800-1900 MSK)
2. For the Americas and parts of Europe, Tuesday 0100-0200 UTC on WBCQ, 7490 KHz from Monticello, ME, USA (Monday 8-9PM EST in the US)
3 & 4. For Europe and sometimes beyond, Tuesday 1900-2000 UTC and Saturday 1200-1300 UTC on Channel 292, 6070 KHz from Rohrbach, Germany.

Uncle Bill's Melting Pot, December 17
Brazilian Jazz, Part 1
Episode 41 of Uncle Bill's Melting Pot will be dedicated to some beautiful Brazilian Jazz. We'll revisit this theme a few times over the next year.
Sunday, December 17, 2300-2330 UTC (6:00PM -6:30PM Eastern US) on
WBCQ The Planet 7490 KHz shortwave from the US to the Americas and parts of Europe

William "Bill" Tilford, Owner/Producer
Tilford Productions, LLC

Radio New Zealand frequency update

Effective: 16 December 2017

All times UTC

1259-1650 7390 RAN 050 kW / 035 deg to Pac  English AM mode Daily ex 7430
1651-1758 7390 RAN 050 kW / 035 deg to Pac  English AM mode Sat, ex 7430
or alternative frequency of Radio New Zealand Pacific effective from Dec.16:
1259-1650 7320*RAN 050 kW / 035 deg to Pac  English AM mode Daily ex 7430
1651-1758 7320*RAN 050 kW / 035 deg to Pac  English AM mode Sat, ex 7430
*strong co-ch 7320 ERV 300 kW / 280 deg to WeAs Kurdish BRB Denge Kurdistan!
(SWL DXing)

Shortwave Radiogram programming

Hello friends,
Sorry about the rerun during last weekend’s broadcast Saturday at 1600-1630 UTC broadcast on 9400 kHz. Listeners who did not receive the promised Flamp transmission can decode from audio provided by Roger in Germany and video provided by Scott in Ontario. Another Flamp item will be broadcast this weekend.

Most of this weekend’s Shortwave Radiogram will be in our usual MFSK32, with four images. But we will also include three 8PSK modes: 8PSK-125FL, 8PSK-250FL, and 8PSK-500F. The RSIDs should switch Fldigi to the correct modes. If you must change modes manually, note that the first two are 8PSK-125FL (not -125F) and 8PSK-250FL (not -250F). You can read about the 8PSK modes here. (Sorry, these 8PSK modes are not yet available on TIVAR or AndFlmsg.)

 The 8PSK-500F news item uses Flamp. Download Flamp from here and read the manual here. Under the Flamp Configure menu, select “Auto sync flamp to fldigi mode selector.” This will force Flamp to use whatever mode Fldigi is using. Make sure Flamp is running before the 8PSK-500L transmission begins.

This time we will use smaller blocks with Flamp, to improve the chances that the file is received 100%. There will be 25 blocks of 240 bytes each, transmitted four times. If the file is received 100%, click Flamp’s File > Folders > rx, and the file China_internet_conference.txt should be found in the folder for the date of reception.

 If possible, record your reception. You can try to decode the 8PSK items, including the one in Flamp, several times. Experiment with different audio players (Windows versus VLC, etc) and different equalizer settings, compressors, and other audio tricks.

The Slow Show. This weekend, the broadcast Sunday at 2330-2400 UTC, providing poor reception in most parts of the world as we approach the winter solstice, will entirely be in the Olivia 128-2000 mode. This is a very slow mode, only 17 wpm, but it might be able to overcome difficult conditions. Even if you cannot hear the tones or see a trace on your waterfall, you might still be able to decode the text. Make sure that Fldigi’s squelch (SQL) is off. If your reception is bad, this could be interesting. If it is good, this will be as much fun as watching paint dry.

There is no RSID for Olivia 128-2000, so you need to set it manually. Under the Fldigi Op Mod menu, select Olivia > Custom: then dial up a bandwidth of 2000 Hz, with 128 Tones. Again, record your reception if possible. You can then experiment with the integration period in that same menu. If you increase the number of FEC blocks, your decode might improve. It will also increase the delay time between hearing the tones and seeing the text print out, but this is less of a problem in receiving a broadcast than in an amateur radio QSO. Read about Olivia, including the integration period, here. Also try different audio players and settings. (Sorry again: TIVAR and AndFlmsg do not include Olivia 128-2000.)

Here are the lineups for Shortwave Radiogram, programs 26 and 26-S, 16-17 December 2017:

Program 23

  1:29  Program preview

 2:52  Books for international radio listeners*

 9:34  8PSK-125FL: Electronic waste

11:13  8PSK-250FL: Journalist errors

12:46  8PSK-500F (Flamp): China internet conference**

15:46  MFSK32: Radio telescope in Western Australia*

21:46  Most distant supermassive black hole*

25:35  Closing announcements*
* with image

** Flamp should be activated before this story in transmitted

 Program 23-S
23:30:00         Music and voice introduction
23:31:27         60-second tuning signal at 1500 Hz (+/- on your Fldigi)
23:32:28         Olivia 128-2000

 Please send reception reports to
And visit
Twitter: @SWRadiogram
Facebook group:

Shortwave Radiogram Program 26/26S Transmission Schedule
(16-17 December 2017)

1600-1630 UTC
9400 kHz
MFSK32, 8PSK-125FL, 8PSK-250FL, 8PSK-500F (with Flamp)
Space Line, Bulgaria
0600-0630 UTC
7730 kHz
WRMI Florida
2030-2100 UTC
11580 kHz
WRMI Florida
2330-2400 UTC
11580 kHz
Olivia 128-2000
WRMI Florida

 The Mighty KBC transmits to Europe Saturdays at 1500-1600 UTC on 9400 kHz (via Bulgaria), with the minute of MFSK at about 1530 UTC (if you are outside of Europe, listen via ).  And to North America Sundays at 0000-0200 UTC (Saturday 7-9 pm EST) on 5960 kHz, via Germany. The minute of MFSK is at about 0130 UTC.  Reports to Eric: . See also and

 Italian Broadcasting Corporation (IBC)  For the complete IBC transmission schedule visit  Five minutes of MFSK32 is at the end of the 30-minute English-language “Shortwave Panorama,” per the schedule below:

To Europe
2025-2030 UTC
1584 kHz (MW)
0325-0330 UTC
1584 kHz
2125-2130 UTC
1584 kHz
1155-1200 UTC
6070 kHz

To the Americas
0125-0130 UTC
11580 kHz

0225-0230 UTC
9955 kHz
0155-0200 UTC
11580 kHz

0055-0100 UTC
7730 kHz

 Thanks for your reception reports! 
Kim Andrew Elliott, KD9XB
Producer and Presenter
Shortwave Radiogram

Monday, December 11, 2017

German Radio Station in Canada During World War II

During the era of World War II, in the middle of last century, the German armed forces in Europe were at a disadvantage regarding weather patterns coming across the Atlantic into the continent.  The Allied forces had an advantage in that they could readily obtain current weather information from Canada and the United States, as well as from Greenland and Iceland, thus enabling reliable weather forecasting in England.

            In an attempt to obtain reliable weather information from across the Atlantic, the German authorities developed a plan whereby they also could have access to this needed information.  Under the concept of the project Wetter-Funkgerat Land, Weather Radio for Land, WFL, they would plant small radio transmitters at suitable locations in North America and upon suitable islands in the North Atlantic.

            A total of 20 or 30 of these weather reporting portable automatic radio stations were constructed and assembled by the German company Siemens radio manufactory, based upon a design developed by Dr. Ernst Ploetze and Edwin Stoebe.  Each weather radio station contained weather measuring instruments, a telemetry system, and a 150 watt FK type transmitter manufactured by the Lorenz radio company.  All of the equipment for each station was stowed into 10 metal cylinders for easy transportation to desired locations.  

            The clandestine weather radio station destined for installation in Canada was identified as WFL26 which would operated on 3940 kHz and it was estimated that its almost one ton of batteries would provide power for 6 months of operation.  This automatic radio station was configured to broadcast weather information in telemetry codes for 2 minutes, every 3 hours.

            On September 18, 1943, German submarine U537, commanded by Captain Peter Schrewe, left Kiel in Germany on its first combat patrol.  On board was this weather radio station WFL26, the 6th of 21 that were manufactured.  Also on board were two German meteorologists/radiotricians from the Siemens company, Dr. Kurt Sommermeyer and his assistant Walter Hildebrandt.  

            On the voyage across the Atlantic, submarine U537 was damaged when it struck an iceberg during a mid autumn storm.  Because of the damage, the submarine was no longer able to submerge, and it had lost its antiaircraft gun.  Nevertheless, the submarine continued on its dangerous and lonely journey.      

            On October 22 (1943), the submarine arrived at the coast of Northern Labrador, which at the time was part of the separate British territory of Newfoundland, though these days it forms part of the Canadian province of Newfoundland-Labrador.  Two days later, the submarine arrived at Martin Bay right on the northern tip of Labrador, as far away as possible from roving bands of local Inuit hunters. 

            The radio station was assembled and set up on the top of  a 170 ft high hill, some 400 yards inland, and at the same time the damaged submarine was repaired.  Much of this work was performed during the hours of darkness in this northerly location.

            Weather Radio Station WFL26 was identified with the station logo and the name of a non-existent organization, the Canadian Meteor Service.  As a camouflage cover up, a few empty American cigarette packs and matchbooks were thrown around.           

            In just 28 hours, the project was completed, the radio station was actively functioning, the submarine was repaired, and they began their departure from the North American shores of Labrador.  The submarine lay underwater in the Labrador Sea for a while, and they monitored the initial  transmissions from weather radio station WFL26. 

            To begin with, the station was noted on air with a good signal, though the first broadcast was observed to be 3 minutes late.  However, on successive days, the signal began to deteriorate, until the station went completely silent just 3 weeks later.

            Another monitoring report states that there were jamming transmissions on the same shortwave channel, 3940 kHz.  However, it is suggested that this was not deliberate jamming because the station was still unknown to the Allies.  It is probable that the channel was in use at times by other legitimate users who knew nothing about this new clandestine weather station on the north coast of Labrador.             

            On three separate occasions as submarine U537 was departing the western areas of the Atlantic, they successfully repelled and escaped from attacks by single planes from the Royal Canadian Air Force.  The submarine successfully reached the shores of occupied France at Lorient on December 8 (1943), at the end of 70 days at sea.

            The silent weather radio station lay abandoned and exposed near the edge of Martin Bay for many years, and there is no record of any human sightings of this station until the year 1977.  It was then that geologist Peter Johnson with an exploratory team happened to come across the derelict radio station, but, thinking that it was an abandoned Canadian station, they simply left it as it was. 

            Then it was that a retired Siemens engineer in Germany named Franz Selinger began research for the writing of a history of his radio company.  He came across a reference to weather radio station WFL26.  He contacted Canadian Department of Defence historian Mr. W. A. E. Douglas, who then organized a team to visit the area in northern Labrador in 1981. 

            This exploration party travelled to Martin Bay on board a Canadian Coastguard ship, and the Siemens historian Franz Selinger was also with them.  They found the station that was still there 38 years after it was first installed, though some of the canisters had been broken open and the internal components had been strewn around.

            The remaining equipment was salvaged and retrieved, and it is now on display in the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.
(AWR-Wavescan/NWS 459)

Weekly Propagation Forecast Bulletins

Product: Weekly Highlights and Forecasts
:Issued: 2017 Dec 11 0147 UTC
# Prepared by the US Dept. of Commerce, NOAA, Space Weather Prediction Center
# Product description and SWPC web contact
#                Weekly Highlights and Forecasts
Highlights of Solar and Geomagnetic Activity 04 - 10 December 2017 Solar activity was at very low levels. Regions 2690 (N07, L=332, class/area Bxo/010 on 06 Dec) and 2691 (S03, L=221, class/area
Axx/010 on 10 dec) were both relatively quiet and stable throughout the period. No Earth-directed CMEs were observed. 

No proton events were observed at geosynchronous orbit. The greater than 2 MeV electron flux at geosynchronous orbit was at moderate levels on 04-05 Dec and increased to high levels on 06-10
Dec following CH HSS influence.  Geomagnetic field activity was at quiet to active levels on 04-06
Dec with G1 (Minor) storm conditions observed on 05 Dec due to influence from a positive polarity CH HSS. Quiet to unsettled conditions were observed on 07 Dec as CH HSS effects waned. Quiet
conditions prevailed for the remainder of the period.

Forecast of Solar and Geomagnetic Activity 11 December - 06 January 2018
Solar activity is expected to be at very low levels throughout the period. No proton events are expected at geosynchronous orbit. The greater than 2 MeV electron flux at geosynchronous orbit is expected to reach high levels on 11 Dec, 13-17 Dec, 19-21 Dec and 02-06 Jan following recurrent CH HSS events. Normal to moderate levels are expected at all other times during the period.

Geomagnetic field activity is expected to be at quiet to active levels on 11-13 Dec, decreasing to quiet to unsettled levels on 14 Dec due to positive polarity CH HSS effects. Quiet conditions are
expected on 15-16 Dec. Unsettled to active conditions are expected on 17-21 Dec, with G1 (Minor) storm levels on 18 Dec due to recurrent positive polarity CH HSS influence. Quiet conditions are
anticipated from 22-26 Dec, followed by unsettled to active levels on 27-28 Dec due to negative polarity CH HSS effects. A return to quiet conditions is expected on 29-30 Dec. Predominately unsettled to active conditions are expected on 31 Dec-03 Jan, with G1 (Minor) levels likely on 01 Jan, due to effects from a recurrent positive polarity CH HSS. Quiet conditions are expected for the remainder of the period.

Product: 27-day Space Weather Outlook Table 27DO.txt
:Issued: 2017 Dec 11 0147 UTC
# Prepared by the US Dept. of Commerce, NOAA, Space Weather Prediction Center
# Product description and SWPC web contact
#      27-day Space Weather Outlook Table
#                Issued 2017-12-11
#   UTC      Radio Flux   Planetary   Largest
#  Date       10.7 cm      A Index    Kp Index
2017 Dec 11      72          14          4
2017 Dec 12      72          16          4
2017 Dec 13      74          14          4
2017 Dec 14      74           8          3
2017 Dec 15      74           5          2
2017 Dec 16      74           5          2
2017 Dec 17      74           8          3
2017 Dec 18      74          25          5
2017 Dec 19      74          10          3
2017 Dec 20      74           8          3
2017 Dec 21      74           8          3
2017 Dec 22      74           5          2
2017 Dec 23      74           5          2
2017 Dec 24      72           5          2
2017 Dec 25      72           5          2
2017 Dec 26      72           5          2
2017 Dec 27      70          12          4
2017 Dec 28      70           8          3
2017 Dec 29      70           5          2
2017 Dec 30      70           5          2
2017 Dec 31      70          10          3
2018 Jan 01      70          26          5
2018 Jan 02      70          14          4
2018 Jan 03      70          10          3
2018 Jan 04      70           5          2
2018 Jan 05      70           5          2
2018 Jan 06      72           5          2

Friday, December 08, 2017

From the Isle of Music & Unce Bill's Melting Pot schedules

From the Isle of Music,  week of December 10-16

Rebroadcast due to poor propagation during original broadcast
For the week of November 26-December 2, we will feature some interpretations of part of Schubert's Trout Quintet lead by Cuban pianist Frank Fernandez along with an part of an intriguing album from the 1980s, Leningrado, featuring moments by several of Cuba's Jazz elite from the time.
Four opportunities to listen on shortwave:
1. For Eastern Europe but audible well beyond the target area in most of the Eastern Hemisphere (including parts of East Asia and Oceania) with 100Kw, Sunday 1500-1600 UTC on SpaceLine, 9400 KHz, from Kostinbrod, Bulgaria (1800-1900 MSK)
2. For the Americas and parts of Europe, Tuesday 0100-0200 UTC on WBCQ, 7490 KHz from Monticello, ME, USA (Monday 8-9PM EST in the US) NOTE THAT UTC CHANGES BUT EASTERN US TIME IS STILL THE SAME.
3 & 4. For Europe and sometimes beyond, Tuesday 1900-2000 UTC and Saturday 1200-1300 UTC on Channel 292, 6070 KHz from Rohrbach, Germany.

Uncle Bill's Melting Pot, December 10
Boricua Classics
Episode 40 takes us to Puerto Rico for some of our favorite
bands of the isla del encanto in the 60s and 70s.
Sunday, December 10
2300-2330 UTC (6:00PM -6:30PM Eastern US) on 
WBCQ The Planet 7490 KHz shortwave from the US to the Americas and parts of Europe

William "Bill" Tilford, Owner/Producer
Tilford Productions, LLC

Abandoned Radio Stations

On a previous occasion here in Wavescan, some three weeks back, we presented the story about abandoned radio stations in the United States, of which there seems to be quite many.  In this our topic for today,  Abandoned Radio Stations in other countries, we take the countries in alphabetic order.  Hence, Australia seems to be at the top of the list.

            In the city of Melbourne, there are two radio facilities that were previously in use by the well known mediumwave station 3AW.  In March 2010, station 3AW moved its studios from a downtown building into a new facility at suburban Docklands. 

            It was originally intended that the downtown building housing the previous studios of 3AW (and other radio broadcasting stations also) would be soon be demolished to make way for a new high rise building.  Instead, the building lay abandoned for several years, and it became a haunt for the homeless, though some of the studio and office areas of the previous 3AW have been spared graffiti and vandalism.

            On an earlier occasion, 3AW moved its transmitter from one location to another, and the tower at the old location remained standing for some years.  It too stood abandoned, until it was demolished more recently.

            The small settlement at Cook, on the Trans Australia railway line running 2500 miles from Sydney to Perth, is located in South Australia rather close to the border with Western Australia.  Over this area, the railway line runs absolutely straight for just on 300 miles.

            There was a time when the railway siding at Cook was quite a large town with a population of some 200 residents, with its own hospital, a school, an airstrip, a swimming pool and a grassless golf course.  These days though the resident population is less than half a dozen.

            Back then during the time of its prosperity, the town of Cook had its own radio broadcasting station under the callsign 5CAS.  The callsign 5CAS would be correct for South Australia, and it looks like a regular three letter callsign for an FM station. 

            However, nothing more is known about this station, and it is not shown in any official lists of radio stations in Australia.  The callsign 5CAS is shown in a photo of a glass door in a building at Cook, obviously leading into what was once their local radio station.  We would suggest that 5CAS was a local, probably unlicensed community FM radio station; the 5 suggests South Australia, and the three letters CAS could stand for Cook Amateur Station.

            Bermuda is a group of low forming volcanoes some 700 miles off the continental coast of North America.  They are a British possession with a total of 181 islands, 8 of which are inhabited.  

            In 1955, the US navy opened a radio receiving station at the beachside on Tudor Hill, Bermuda.   This top secret station was established for the purpose of listening to Russian submarines on their way to the Americas and Cuba during the Cold War. 

            This American facility was abandoned in 1995, the roof has collapsed, and trees and shrubs are now growing inside.  However, the building itself seems to be quite sturdy, and it seems that it could easily be converted into a beachside tourist resort.

            At Clear Creek near Toronto in Canada is an old abandoned radio station that supported air flights inbound and out during World War 2.  A lot of the vandalized electrical and electronic equipment is still in place.

            Also a NATO communication station lies abandoned near Ottawa, the capital city of Canada.  This very solid building, constructed in steel and concrete, is totally intact, though vandalized.  Electrical connections are still evident, as is also a small corner reflector antenna on top of the building that was used for microwave reception.  This station, in the middle of a wide green cultivated field, was abandoned in 1985.

            Inside a major tourist shopping plaza in Dubai, a very modern radio station, together with its offices and studios, sits open to the public view, but it is simply not in use, just abandoned.  It seems that this planned radio station fell victim to a downturn in the local economy. 

            Over in England, there are two major historic shortwave stations parts of which simply lie abandoned.  These long term magnificent stations were located at Borough Hill near Daventry, and at Rugby in the central midlands.

            The first test broadcasts from the two new 10 kW STC transmitters at the BBC Daventry shortwave station began on October 25, 1932 under the callsign G5SW, even though the actual G5SW transmitter was not located at Daventry; it was still on the air from the Marconi facility at Chelmsford, some 80 miles distant.

            The final broadcast from the BBC Daventry was heard on 15070 kHz via Sender 204 and it      closed at 1130 UTC on Sunday March 29, 1992.  Thus ended 60 years of illustrious international shortwave broadcasting from one of the world’s most famous shortwave stations. 

            Some of the BBC buildings at Borough Hill were taken over for other radio related and non radio related activities and events, and all of the radio towers were ultimately demolished.   Much of the area where the antenna towers stood is now a pleasant park where locals like to run their dogs, yet there are still some reminders of this once mighty shortwave station.  Half a dozen of the concrete blocks that supported the antenna towers for the 5XX longwave and mediumwave transmitter are still in place, abandoned as they were when the towers themselves were felled. 

            Not faring so well was the huge radio station operated by the GPO, General Post Office, near Rugby in Warwickshire in England.  This station was opened on January 1, 1926 with just one transmitter, though verily a massive unit at 350 kW, and it operated on longwave as the key station in the Imperial Wireless Chain under the callsign GBR.  At one stage, with all of its 57 shortwave and longwave transmitters, Rugby Radio was acknowledged as the world’s largest radio communication station.

            Rugby Radio was finally closed in April 2000 after nearly ¾ century of illustrious service.  The facility was simply abandoned and junked.  However we should add, to their credit, that the entire estate is currently under development as a large housing addition. 

            Another huge communication station was located at Kahuku on the northern tip of the island of Oahu in Hawaii.  RCA Kahuku began its life as a Marconi wireless station with just one transmitter, a 230 kW rotary spark unit under the callsign KIE.  The Marconi wireless station at Kahuku was officially opened on September 24, 1914 way before Hawaii became a U.S. state in 1951.  There were just on 200 official visitors in attendacne, most of whom travelled by narrow gauge sugarcane train and then walked the final distance. 

            Sixty four years later in 1978, this same Kahuku communication station was closed due to the availability of international communication by satellite, and all of its unnumbered shortwave transmitters were silenced.  These days, RCA Kahuku is just totally abandoned, even though some of its strongly built and partly roofless buildings are listed as historic Heritage Sites.

            Back in the days of its prosperity, the RCA shortwave station at Kahuku was noted throughout the world for the relay of the very special program Hawaii Calls.  This program was produced live, usually in the courtyard of the Moana Hotel at Waikiki Beach, Honolulu.

             The first broadcast of Hawaii Calls transpired on July 3, 1935, and the weekly series ended forty years later in 1975.  For many years, RCA Kahuku relayed the program on shortwave for rebroadcast on the mediumwave networks in the continental United States.  At the height of its popularity, Hawaii Calls was heard via 750 radio stations throughout the world

Radio New Zealand International frequency update

New Zealand
Effective: 06 Dec 2017

All times UTC

1259-1650 daily 7430 RAN 050 kW / 035 deg to All Pacific English, ex 7355 
1651-1758 Saturday 7430 RAN 050 kW / 035 deg to All Pacific English, ex 7355  
(Teak Pub)

Monday, December 04, 2017

VOBME observed on single frequency

7181.555 kHz, Voice of the Broad Masses 2 - Dimtsi Hafash relay Voice of Oromo Liberation
from Asmara, Eritrea, noted at 0500 UTC and at 0622 UTC, on December 4 in various SDR's here in central Europe, power of S=7 to 9 in peaks.

Probably Amharic/Afar/Oromo/Arabic - says Aoki Nagoya Japan list.
VOBME 1st program is NOT ON AIR  on 7140.2v kHz channel.
No Ethiopian jamming on this hour today in 40 meter Ham Radio band though.
(W Bueschel, Germany/HCDX)

The Current Radio Scene in Zimbabwe

QSL via Gayle Van Horn Collection
           As you’ve probably heard, Zimbabwe’s long-time ruler Robert Mugabe resigned this past week as president of Zimbabwe.  This was after the country’s military forces put Mugabe under house arrest several days earlier.  One of the first acts of the military, as often happens during a coup, was to take over the state broadcaster, in this case ZBC, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.  It consists of four radio networks and a TV station.  The main radio station is Radio Zimbabwe, also known as Radio Zim.

It has been many years since ZBC broadcast on shortwave.  However, there is a shortwave broadcast going INTO Zimbabwe from a major international broadcaster.  That’s the Voice of America, with its special Zimbabwe Service.

The VOA’s program Studio 7 has been broadcasting to Zimbabwe since 2003, and it has become an important alternative source of news for many Zimbabweans.  The program covers politics, civil society, the economy, health, sports, music, the arts and other aspects of life in Zimbabwe.  The program is multilingual; in English, Shona and Ndebele.

            The VOA Zimbabwe Service appears to be on the air at 1700-2000 UTC daily, with possibly some variations on the weekend.  On the air, they are announcing the frequencies of 909 kHz mediumwave plus 4930, 6080, 13860, 15460 and 15580 kHz shortwave.  These frequencies may be on at different times.  

            We looked at frequency registrations, and 4930 kHz is registered to broadcast to the Zimbabwe area at 0300-0600 and 1400-2100 UTC daily.  That frequency comes from the VOA Botswana relay. The two shortwave channels 13860 and 15460 kHz are registered to be on from 1700-1900 UTC from the VOA site on Sao Tome island.  6080 is registered for 1700-1800 UTC from Sao Tome.  15580 kHz is registered from the VOA Kuwait site from 0300-0500, and from Botswana from 0500-0700 and 1400-2100 UTC.  Some of those transmissions are probably carrying other VOA programs besides VOA Zimbabwe.

The VOA Zimbabwe website, which is, says listeners in the area of Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, may experience jamming on 909 kHz AM.  That may have changed now.  The programming can also be heard on satellite and Internet.  We have noted that the times and frequencies on their website do not correspond exactly to the latest HFCC listings and to what they are announcing on air, so there may be some changes due to the recent dramatic events in the country.
(AWR-Waescan/NWS 457)

The Radio Scene in the World’s Smallest Kingdom

Tavolara Island

The small island named Tavolara is located off the north east coast of the larger nearby island of   Sardinia in the Tyrrhenian Sea, the west Italian section of the wider Mediterranean Ocean.  The island is 3 miles long and ½ mile wide, with a high jagged limestone massif in the center, and fingerlike coastal beaches at each end.    

            The island of Tavolara was known to the ancient Romans as Hermea, and to the Arabs of the same era as Tolar, though in those days the island was uninhabited.  Pope St Pontian, history tells us,  was exiled to Sardinia after he abdicated the pontificate in the year 235, and according to some accounts, he died and was buried on Tavolara, though subsequently his body was removed and reburied in the catacombs of Rome.        

            In a historic document dated in the year 1767, it is claimed that the island of Tavolara was not incorporated into the Kingdom of (nearby) Sardinia, but rather it retained its own separate independence.  This island was noted in these earlier years for its unique goat population; these goats had golden colored teeth due to the chemicals in the seaweed and lichen that the goats were eating.

            A settlement on the island began in the year 1807 when an Italian shepherd from Genoa migrated to the island, together with his two sister-wives and their children, in order to escape the charge of bigamy in Italy itself.  Thus it was that Giuseppe Bertoleoni became the first king on the island of Tavolara.

            Nearly 30 years later, King Charles Albert from nearby Sardinia visited Tavolara and he was impressed with the knowledge and education of Giuseppe Bertoleoni.  King Charles of Sardinia gave a Royal Charter to King Giuseppe of Tavolara, recognizing him as king, and recognizing his small island as a separate sovereign state.   

            Over the subsequent years generally speaking, each time the king father died, the eldest son took over with the prerogatives of royalty as king, though at one stage a queen, Mariangela, carried on as the royal ruler after her husband pre-deceased her.

            After the unification of the nearby separate Italian states into the Kingdom of Italy during the 1800s, King Victor Emmanuel 1 granted approval for Tavolara to retain its separate status as an independent state.  Soon afterwards, the Kingdom of Italy bought land on the island of Tavolara for the construction of a lighthouse, for which full payment was made.

            During the year 1900, Queen Victoria of England gave direction that the royal navy vessel HMS Vulcan should visit Tavolara and have an official photographer take a portrait photo of the island’s royal family.  The gold framed photo was hung in Buckingham Palace in London in the gallery of royal portraits from other countries around the world.  A copy of this portrait is hung also in the Da Tonino Restaurant on Tavolara. 

            According to the BBC TV Travel Channel, Tavolara is the world’s smallest kingdom, with these days just 11 part time residents.  The current king is the 84 year old Antonin, and his kingdom is a tourist resort that is famous for its nature reserve, beaches and scuba diving.  If ever you have the opportunity to visit this micro-nation, the Kingdom of Tavolara, you can buy some of their souvenirs, such as a cinderella postage stamp, a mint coin at $200, and a fridge magnetic portraying their national flag.  

            It was during the year 1962 that the United States, under the auspices of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, constructed a huge radio station on small Tavolara Island.  The few remaining residents on the island, and the golden teethed goats, were removed and resettled across the water on nearby Sardinia. 

            The main buildings for the new radio station were constructed on the fingerlike cove and beach area at Spalmatore di Fuori, at the northeast end of the island.  The massive antenna system was attached to a tall 440 feet self standing tower at ground level, and to four spread out towers on top of Mount Cannone, the giant 1855 ft limestone massif in the enter of the island.

            Two quite different functions were activated in this unique radio station.  One purpose for the station was to communicate with submerged submarines in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean; and the other purpose was for navigation with planes and ships in the European arenas. 

            This NATO radio communication station was licensed with an Italian callsign, ICV; and its high powered longwave transmitter radiated on the very low frequencies of 20.27 kHz and 20.76 kHz.  The radio-goniometric direction finding station operated under the American Bullseye system, and this was back in the era before GPS navigation became available by satellite.

            As time went by, this NATO communication station on Tavolara Island was no longer needed due to advancement in electronic communication via satellite, and so the station was decommissioned and handed over to the Italian government.  The Italians are still operating this original radio station on this small island, though at a considerably lower level than when it was originally constructed more than half a century ago.
(AWR Waescan/NWS 457)
photo via YouTube