Wednesday, October 11, 2017

* Hurricane Damage to a Mediumwave Station in the Caribbean

At the end of our program last week, we announced the topics that would be included in Wavescan today.  However, due to the recent onslaught of several hurricanes in the Caribbean, we present instead the story of what happened to a well known medium wave station on a small island in the middle of a chain of islands in the Caribbean.  Much of this information is found on the internet.  

            People throughout the world have been appalled as they have viewed on their television screens the massive widespread devastation that several recent hurricanes have wrought upon so many of the islands in the Caribbean.  Wind gusts as high as 225 miles an hour, and sustained wind speeds at 185 miles per hour, together with massive rainfalls measured in feet, not inches, have produced a devastation that is hard to believe, even when seen. 

            The news media are stating that the large island of Puerto Rico is totally devastated, with virtually no electricity, no drinking water, very little food, very little gasoline, and almost total island wide damage and destruction to all private housing on the island.  Other smaller islands are equally devastated, and some islands such as Barbuda, have been completely abandoned by their entire population; only temporarily we would hope.

            Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, Katia, Lee and Maria have progressively stormed across the Caribbean islands and other nearby territories, wreaking apocalyptic damage during a period of some six weeks.  This devastating row of hurricanes is now gone; they are no more than names now that multitudes of islanders would prefer to forget.  But they have left behind them a scene of devastation that the islanders will never forget.

            So massive has been the destruction throughout much of the Caribbean that most of the local news media, television, radio, newspaper, have been no longer able to operate.  But, some stories are beginning to come through.

            Back a month ago, we presented two stories here in Wavescan about radio stations on the two small islands off to the east of Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra.  In our program today, we present the story of another important radio station in the same area, a station that was a thriving and popular station, though it is now badly damaged and silent.  It is the story of medium wave station WIVV, the West Indies Voice of Victory, with its tall medium wave tower on the island of Vieques. 

            It was back in the year 1952 that Don and Ruth Luttrell arrived on Vieques Island.  Don Luttrell was born at Oakland City, Indiana in 1924 and he became involved in Christian ministry and service in various areas of Latin America. 

            Four years after their arrival on Vieques Island, they launched a new Christian radio station, WIVV with 250 watts on 1370 kHz.  The ultimate coverage areas for the new WIVV included not only Vieques Island itself and eastern Puerto Rico, but also the West Indies, the U. S. and British Virgin Islands and much of the Lesser Antilles.  Their new radio station was one of the very early Christian radio stations in the Caribbean, preceded by just one other, 4VEH in Cap Haitien in Haiti six years earlier in 1950.    

            In 2008, radio station WIVV was rebuilt, with a new studio building, a new transmitter, and a new transmission tower.  The former studio building was converted into a storage garage. 

            Up until the recent massive hurricane, station WIVV was on the air with 5 kW day and 1 kW at night on 1370 kHz.  Radio WIVV is now part of the Rock Radio Network and most of their programming was in Spanish on relay from the network parent station WBMJ in San Juan Puerto Rico.  There were however, local programming inserts from their own new studio on Vieques Island, as well as some programming in the English language mostly for the island audiences east of Puerto Rico.

            Two weeks ago, under the onslaught of Hurricane Maria, station WIVV was badly damaged.  Their medium wave tower was broken in three places, their microwave relay dish and tower were destroyed, and photographs show that there is apparently some damage to their new studio building.

            Station WIVV is now off the air, along with the other two stations in their network on nearby Puerto Rico; WBMJ in San Juan and WCGB in Juana Diaz.  The network is hoping to rebuild their facility in Vieques, and also their two other stations on Puerto Rico, with financial aid from interested parties in the United States. 

            Unfortunately, the WIVV story is not an isolated story; there are so many other radio stations in the Caribbean that could tell a similar story of damage and destruction from the onslaught of the recent slew of hurricanes in that part of the world.