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"Wavescan" is a weekly program for long distance radio hobbyists produced by Dr. Adrian M. Peterson, Coordinator of International Relations for Adventist World Radio. AWR carries the program over many of its stations (including shortwave). Adrian Peterson is a highly regarded DXer and radio historian, and often includes features on radio history in his program. We are reproducing those features below, with Dr. Peterson's permission and assistance.

Wavescan, September 29, 2013

Radio Broadcasting on the Island of Cyprus-5: The International Radio Scene

In times past here in Wavescan, we have presented the story of several radio broadcasting organizations that have been involved in international broadcasting on mediumwave and shortwave from the island of Cyprus, including:

Sharq al Adna & the BBC at Zygi & Lady's Mile
Cyprus Broadcasting Service via the BBC Zygi
BFBS Lakatamia
Radio Bayrak Lefkose
Radio ITU & Lincolnshire Poacher Akrotiri

In this edition of Wavescan, we examine the interesting story of the remaining international broadcasting stations on the island of Cyprus; and in particular, the story of the Voice of America and the two powerful mediumwave stations located at the tip of the Cape Greco peninsula. Let's go first, to the Voice of America.

It was back in the year 1949, that Reuters Newsagency carried a news item stating that the United States government had received approval from the Cyprus government to erect a relay station on their island. At this time, details regarding the projected new station were not given.

However, two years later, the Voice of America announced details for this huge new international broadcasting station that was identified under the name, Project East. It was intended that VOA Cyprus would contain three transmitters; one mediumwave unit with a power of 1 megawatt, and two shortwave transmitters at 35-50 kW.

However, on November 7, 1952, the entire project for VOA Cyprus was deleted, due to confused political issues and the anticipated cost at $6.1 million.

Interestingly though, during the following year, VOA was noted with a brief program relay from the already established shortwave station, Sharq al Adna. This 1/4 hour daily program segment in the Greek language was noted in the United States on 6790 kHz. During that era, Sharq al Adna was on the air shortwave with four transmitters at 7.5 kW each.

Let's now look at the two huge mediumwave stations located at Cape Greco in Cyprus. Actually, Cape Greco is a small peninsula located about half way along the coast on the underside of the island. This peninsula could be described as a narrow causeway connecting the mainland to a flat "island."

In the eras of prehistory, there was an ancient settlement on the peninsula known as Tigani; and nearby was a temple in honor of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. It is stated that Aphrodite was the Greek version of the Egyptian Hathor, and the Roman version of Venus. An old Cypriot story tells that Aphrodite was born on the island of Cyprus.

In the year 1812, a lighthouse was constructed right at the tip of the Cape Greco peninsula. When the light was active, it emitted a dash every fifteen seconds, like the letter T in Morse Code.

These days, the Cape Greco area is a tourist destination, designated as a protected National Forest Park. The "island" area upon which the two radio stations are located is held by the Somera Radio Station, Radio France International/Radio Monte Carlo.

In March 1971, an agreement was signed by Radio Monte Carlo and the Cyprus government giving approval to establish a high powered mediumwave relay station on the Cape Greco peninsula, though the British government lodged an objection due to possible interference with a nearby British radar station. The radio broadcasting station facility is owned by Radio France International.

The initial test broadcasts from Radio Monte Carlo Cyprus began in June 1971, with 20 kW on 1232 kHz. These preliminary broadcasts consisted of music and announcements in Arabic and French, and they were heard in far off New Zealand. QSL cards were issued from Radio Monte Carlo in Monaco, mainland Europe.

Three years later, that is in 1974, test broadcasts from an additional new transmitter rated at 600 kW were noted far and wide on the same channel 1232 kHz. It was at this stage, that Radio Monte Carlo Cyprus began the broadcast of programming as a relay from Trans World Radio-TWR, Monte Carlo (May 1, 1974).

The slight adjustment of frequency from 1232 kHz to 1233 kHz is noted in the 1979 edition of the WRTVHB. This channel change was due to an almost worldwide change so that mediumwave stations could operate at 9 kHz separation and thus reduce mutual interference.

This mighty radio broadcasting station has also included the relay of other international broadcasting stations in its scheduling, including Radio France International-RFI itself (1988), and Radio Canada International-RCI (1992).

These days, Radio Monte Carlo Cyprus is still on the air, with two solid state transmitters model S7HP, rated at 600 kW each. This station can be seen on Cape Greco, with its four tall towers in a row.

We go back now to the Voice of America story. A preliminary analysis for VOA Cyprus was completed in June 2001, and on June 15 of the following year, this new station began test broadcasts on 981 kHz. The radio frequency signal from the 600 kW Thales transmitter, carrying the same model number as nearby RMC/RFI (S7HP) is fed into three tall towers which are located near the lighthouse at the very tip of the peninsula. In fact all seven towers for both stations stand at the same height, 340 ft tall.

On February 28, 2003, VOA Cyprus changed channel from 981 kHz to the nearby 990 kHz channel. This station is still on the air to this day, carrying the programming from VOA/Radio Sawa.

We should also mention that a shortwave relay of the programming parallel to Radio Monte Carlo Cyprus was noted on 9795 kHz in March 1986. This program relay was at first thought to be from Cyprus itself, though subsequent information identified the location as Nador in Morocco.

Then, during the brief Gulf War in 2003, it was speculated that broadcasts on shortwave of the programming from the British Forces Broadcasting Service, BFBS in London, was on relay via a shortwave station in Cyprus. However, again subsequent information ruled out the possibility of Cyprus as being one of the BFBS relay locations.

That brings us to the end of our series of topics regarding the history of radio broadcasting on the island of Cyprus. As a follow on series sometime soon, we plan to present the story of radio broadcasting on the island of Malta. Quite a story!