"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 N467, February 4, 2018
Abandoned Radio Stations - 4
On three previous occasions here in Wavescan, we have presented the story of abandoned radio stations; and so in our program today, we take another look at the story associated with some more abandoned radio stations; this time four shortwave stations located in the United States and in Africa. We begin with the long time silent shortwave station located near Upton in Kentucky.
It was back in March 1986 that an application for a new shortwave station was lodged with the FCC on behalf of FM station WJCR which is located in a country area some 65 miles south of Louisville in Kentucky. The radio station property, with its 200 acres of land, is situated adjacent to the Molin River a little west of the small town of Millerstown, some 9 miles west of Upton.
Six years later, on March 15, 1992, the first test broadcasts went on the air from the new shortwave WJCR on 7490 kHz at a temporarily reduced power. This was a gala occasion for station owner Don Powell with more than a hundred supporters coming in for the event.
Two years later (1994), WJCR shortwave was on the air with three used 50 kW RCA transmitters, each converted from mediumwave by the Armstrong Transmitter Corporation in Marcellus, New York. There were just two shortwave antenna systems in use, both rhombics, for coverage of the Americas, Africa and Europe; thus only two transmitters were on the air at any one time. A fourth RCA 50 kW mediumwave transmitter was also installed in the transmitter building, though conversion to shortwave was never completed.
Four years later (1998), WJCR bought two 100 kW Continental transmitters from the recently silent VOA shortwave station at Bethany, Ohio and these 20 year old units replaced all four of the converted RCA units.
The shortwave station was sold to Bob Rogers at FM station WJIE in Louisville in April 2002, and they began programming the shortwave transmitters by subcarrier at 9:00 am on April 28. However, the WJIE usage of the shortwave station was intermittent and irregular, and even a year later, it was stated that the paper work for the change of shortwave callsign from WJCR to WJIE had not been completed. Just a few of the previous WJCR QSL cards were issued to verify the programming relay from WJIE.
Three years later (2005), shortwave WJCR-(WJIE?) was declared silent, and ownership was transferred to new owners with a new callsign, WPBN. However, with the aged transmitters deteriorating, it was probable that they were never activated under this new callsign.
At the time of the last known visit to shortwave station WJCR-WJIE-WPBN by an international radio monitor some years ago, the silent electronic equipment was still in place, though it was no longer considered to be of any use in international radio broadcasting.
Let's cross over to Africa now and we pick up the story of three shortwave stations that were at one stage in active usage, though they were subsequently abandoned. These three stations were located on the west coast of Africa in Liberia and Sao Tome.
In 1952, work began on a jungle property 11 miles south of the national capital, Monrovia, for the installation of a new shortwave station that would be operated under the aegis of SIM, the Sudan Interior Mission. The new radio station, ELWA (EL for Liberia and WA for West Africa, though subsequently and informally Eternal Love for West Africa), was inaugurated in a special ceremony on January 18, 1954, though their first transmitter was a 1 kW mediumwave unit on 710 kHz, not shortwave.
One year later (1955), the first shortwave transmitter was taken into regular service, a 10 kW Gates unit, Model HF10A. Then during the next dozen years, an additional three shortwave transmitters were installed, 1 at 10 kW and 2 at 50 kW.
In the meantime, the American government took out a lease for a VOA relay station on 1300 acres of land near Careysburg, some 10 miles distant from both the city of Monrovia and from the now already established ELWA. While the station was under construction, a transportable station with 3 shortwave transmitters at 50 kW each was flown in from the United States and taken into service in 1959.
At its full level of operation, VOA Monrovia contained 2 Gates transmitters at 50 kW and 6 GE transmitters at 250 kW. Once the main station was operational, the transportable station was removed and reinstalled at the large VOA station at Point Poro in the Philippines.
In August 1990, during the civil war insurrection, both ELWA Monrovia and VOA Careysburg were attacked and destroyed. Foreign staff had already been evacuated.
Some 4,000 Africans fled onto the VOA compound, hoping for protection from the murderous onslaughts. The most massive destruction at the VOA station occurred on September 17 (1990), when the station was attacked and looted, and in reality, just totally destroyed.
Meanwhile, over at the ELWA compound, many Africans there also fled onto the property as refugees seeking protection. However, insurgent militia took over the station and forced the remaining local staff to broadcast a (false) message stating that the government had been overthrown. As a result, government forces attacked the station with artillery shells.
Even though ELWA was virtually totally destroyed in the 1990 insurgency, yet the station was partially rebuilt three years later with a 10 kW Collins transmitter that had been rebuilt by Armstrong Electronics in New York and that was on air at only 5 kW. Subsequently, a more than 44 year old 50 kW from the original KGEI in San Francisco was also installed at ELWA.
However, give one more year (1996), and insurgents again attacked the station, once more totally destroying it.
Now in the meantime, the Voice of America sought a new and safe location for the installation of another new shortwave station, and a location on a peninsula just 3 miles south of the coastal city Sao Tome, on the island of Sao Tome, was offered to them. Interestingly, this location was itself at the time an abandoned shortwave station which had previously been in use by Radio Nacional for a period of some sixty years.
At the time of the initial VOA inspection in 1992, the 10 kW shortwave transmitter (4807.5 kHz) was still in location, though it was obviously no longer usable. Radio broadcasts from this new VOA station on Sao Tome Island began in May 1993.
Now what about the two damaged and destroyed shortwave stations located near Monrovia in Liberia? The ex-VOA station is now in use as an American military base for the training of local army personnel in Liberia. The main highway to the military encampment, Camp Sandee S. Ware, is no more than a sloppy mud track through an undeveloped country area.
The ELWA station was twice destroyed (1990 and 1996) and twice somewhat temporarily abandoned. However, to their credit, the station has again been rebuilt and it is now on the air shortwave with a 1 kW transmitter on 6050 kHz, together with a modern hospital facility and a village of modern staff housing.