Monday, December 04, 2017

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)