Wednesday, August 29, 2018

TWR with Superpower on Bonaire

The government administration on Curacao Island had been very gracious and very generous to TWR, and the same courteous attitude was again demonstrated towards TWR by the government administration on the nearby island of Bonaire.  In fact, a total of one square mile of island territory was made available for TWR usage.

            The studio and office building were erected near the west coast, a little north of the main town of
Kralendijk, directly opposite the tourist hotel, Hotel Bonaire.  The transmitter building was erected likewise near the west coast of the island, half way between Kralendijk and the southern tip of the island, right against the tidal salt flats with their Pink Flamingos.
            The first transmitter on the air at TWR Bonaire was the Continental 500 kW on 800 kHz.   This massive transmitter was inaugurated at 1:00 am on Thursday August 13, 1964, as the highest powered mediumwave transmitter in the Western Hemisphere.
            Electrical power came from their own generators, two 16 cylinder diesels with Westinghouse generators each one weighing 45 tons, providing at a total power output of 3.2 megawatts.  The programming came from the studio site via an FM program link, and over a period of time, programming in generally five languages was broadcast; English, Spanish, Portuguese, French and German. 
            One important daily program on mediumwave was a local marine weather forecast, at 20 minutes past each hour.  Then too, Radio Netherlands from Hilversum in Holland took out a regular program relay over TWR superpower mediumwave during the years 1965 to 1977, a total of twelve and a half years.   
            Six months after the TWR mediumwave and shortwave complex was taken into regular service, an official opening ceremony was conducted at the Studio & Office Building complex on  February 25, 1965.  Her Royal Highness, Crown Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands was the official guest, and she honored TWR during the occasion of this, her official visit to the Netherlands Antilles.
            In June 1972, a new antenna system was installed on the 24 acre transmitter site, with a main tower surrounded by four smaller towers in a parasitic arrangement.  The well known Arthur Cushen in Invercargill New Zealand reported a nicely enhanced signal from the superpower mediumwave station on 800 kHz in the Caribbean.
            In 1987, after a total of nearly twenty three years of on air service, the original 500 kW Continental transmitter was removed and replaced by another unit of similar power.  However this newly installed unit was a used transmitter, manufactured by BBC in Switzerland and previously on air with Capital Radio in the Transkei republic in southern Africa for just a few years.  Still superpower at 500 kW though and still on 800 kHz.
            Shortwave transmissions on TWR Bonaire ended six years later on June 30, 1993, though the super power mediumwave unit continued in regular service.  Then four years later again (1997), a 50 kW Omnitronix from North Wales in Pennsylvania was installed.  As an economy move, the new 50 kW was in use during the day and the 500 kW was on the air at night.
            Then a further two years later (1999), a 100 kW Nautel from Nova Scotia in Canada was installed as an economy replacement for the 500 kW BBC unit that had previously been on the air in southern Africa.  We are informed that the BBC unit was shipped overseas, but where to?  That’s an interesting question.  However, that was the end of superpower on Bonaire, at least temporarily.
            According to James O’Neal, writing in the May 9 (2018) issue of Radio World in the United States, TWR on Bonaire procured a new 440 kW mediumwave transmitter, again from Nautel in Nova Scotia, Canada; and Kintronic in New York modified the existing antenna system.  The electronic equipment was shipped to Bonaire in eight crates at a total weight of two tons.
            This brand new highly efficient superpower mediumwave transmitter at a total cost of $4 million was dedicated in a special ceremony on January 30 earlier this year (2018).  Yes, TWR is back again, as the superpower mediumwave giant in the Western Hemisphere, with 440 kW on 800 kHz.
TWR website sound English TWR 800 kHz 800 AM Dutch Spanish