Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Highest Powered MW Station in the Western Hemisphere - TWR Bonaire Projected Locations

On previous occasions here in Wavescan, we have presented the story of three medium wave stations that have been at some stage, the highest powered medium wave station in the Southern Hemisphere.  
These three stations were 2CO Corowa and 5CK Crystal Brook both in Australia, and 2YA in Wellington New Zealand.

            In our program today, we take a look at Part 1 in the story of another high powered mediumwave station, not this time in the Southern Hemisphere, but rather in the Western Hemisphere.  This interesting station is located on the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean, and it is operated by TWR, Trans World Radio.
            It is true that there were several attempts at implementing super power on mediumwave in North America back during the 1930s.  The most famous cases in the United States were KDKA in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania with 400 kW, WGY Schenectady New York with 500 kW, and the big daddy of them all WLW Cincinnati Ohio with even up to 1,000 kW, one megawatt.  Several mediumwave stations in Mexico also shared in the superpower race on mediumwave back during that same era. 
            However these days, the highest power on mediumwave in Canada and the United States is 50 kW, though in Mexico and South America there is a handful of mediumwave stations on the the air with a power of 100 kW and 250 kW.  Above that power level, TWR Bonaire stands out with prominence.  This is their story.
            Let’s go back to the beginning!  It was back in the year 1954 that the Freed family embarked on a new venture installing and operating a Christian shortwave station in Tangier, North Africa.  Six years later (1960) the project was transferred to a larger facility in Monte Carlo on the Mediterranean coast of continental Europe.  Soon afterwards, their attention was drawn to establishing a similar station for coverage in Latin America.
            In fact at that stage, TWR purchased at a very good price an old shortwave transmitter that had previously been on the air with the Voice of America near Cincinnati in Ohio.  This transmitter had been obtained by TWR apparently for installation somewhere in the Middle Americas.
            A comparison with known dates for VOA in the Cincinnati area reveals that this transmitter that TWR procured was either WLWK, a 50 kW composite unit installed in 1940, or WLWO a 75 kW Crosley unit installed in 1941, and probably the latter.  These two transmitters were installed at what became the VOA relay station at Mason (not Bethany) Ohio in the Crosley transmitter building on the north side of Tylersville Road.  These two transmitters radiated through two re-entrant rhombic antennas located on Everybody’s Farm on the south side of Tylersville Road, almost opposite the Crosley mediumwave station WLW.
            However, the WLW shortwave transmitter that TWR procured was never taken into service, and instead it was sold off and the funding was then used for the purchase of more modern equipment.  It is not known who the new buyer was for this historic shortwave transmitter, nor if it was ever placed on the air again at another location.
            In 1962, TWR filed an application with the FCC for a 250 kW shortwave station near Vega Baja in the middle of the north coast of the American island of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean.  Nothing else is known about this projected TWR radio station, though it is referred to in at least two historic references; one of Jerome Berg’s shortwave history books and also in the Australian monthly magazine, Radio and Hobbies.
            In Book 2 of his quadrilogy on shortwave radio history, the noted radio historian Jerome Berg of suburban Boston refers to the projected TWR shortwave station in Puerto Rico.  Then also in the same paragraph, he also states that TWR gave consideration to establishing an international radio broadcasting station on Curacao, a Dutch island in the Caribbean.
            A promotional  brochure from Trans World Radio states that work had already begun on the construction of a radio building on Curacao and that the delivery of all of the electronic equipment from Continental in Dallas Texas was expected in October (1963).  A similar statement is made by Arthur Cushen in New Zealand in his monthly radio column in the June (1963) issue of the Australian magazine Radio & Hobbies.
            However, this reported information may have been more aspirational than practical, because an analysis of subsequent historic information reveals the fact that very little work on the TWR station on Curacao Island had actually been implemented.  Due to the proximity of the international airport to the projected location for the new shortwave and mediumwave station, the TWR project on Curacao was cancelled and transferred instead onto another of the islands in the Netherlands Antilles, Bonaire Island.  
            That’s our story next week: TWR Superpower on Bonaire