a previous occasion here in Wavescan, we presented the story of the short term
VOA medium wave relay station that was established on Garden Island in the
cluster of keys known as the Dry Tortugas, in the chain of small islands known
as the Florida Keys. This station was
subsequently reinstalled on Sugarloaf Key.The 50 kW transmitter for this station came from the medium wave
broadcast station WBAL in Baltimore Maryland, and it operated in the Florida
Keys under VOA on 1040 kHz from 1962 to 1966.
Over a period of time, there were
two other radio transmitters in the Dry Tortugas Islands and these were
installed on Garden Island and Loggerhead Key.The seven keys and associated islets and rocks in the Dry Tortugas are
these days clustered together into a United States National Park at the western
end of the Florida Keys.
Wireless station RF was installed in
Fort Jefferson on Garden Island in 1902, and it was in use for just seven
years.The reason for its closure was
the difficulty in providing logistical support for personnel serving on the
isolated Garden Key, and also the cost of providing all of this necessary
There was another radio station in
the Dry Tortugas, and this was installed in the Radio Room at the base of the
Dry Tortugas Lighthouse on Loggerhead Key, three miles west of Fort
Jefferson.The Dry Tortugas Lighthouse
on Loggerhead Key stood 150 ft tall and its light could be seen 35 miles
first radio beacon in Florida, as a
wireless guide for passing shipping, was established on Loggerhead Key on
December 21, 1927.A small communication
transmitter was installed in the Radio Room at the lighthouse and this was on
the air on 3410 kHz under the callsign WST.
VOA medium wave relay station was installed on Sister’s Creek Island in Marathon Key and it
was taken into regular service on November 12, 1962.This VOA station was made up of three
transportable vans with a three tower antenna array, and the normal operating
frequency of its 50 kW transmitter was 1180 kHz.However, during the Cuban Missile Crisis in
the previous month of October, this station was temporarily on the air on 1040
kHz, the same channel as the other VOA station on Garden Island.
the year 1982, the United States navy constructed another 50 kW medium radio
stationwith four antenna towers at its
communication center on Saddlebunch Key.Seven years later, during a massive rebuilding of the VOA station on
Island-Marathon Key, the Saddlebunch station took over the regular VOA-Radio
Marti programming that was beamed to Cuba..
the Cuban crisis, which was precipitated by the collapse of the Soviet Union
two years later in 1991, approval was granted for the usage of the full power
output of 100 kW from VOA Marathon.The
output from the twin 50 kW Continental transmitters was combined to provide the
power level of 100 kW.
new transmitter complement at 100 kW was installed in 2008, and during the following
year new antenna towers were erected.
our two part series on the medium wave VOA relay stations in the Florida Keys,
we have presented the story of four different stations.These have been:-