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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 N495, August 19, 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 mediumwave stations that have been at some stage, the highest powered mediumwave 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

Tribute to Oldrich Cip

HFCC Announces the Passing of its Founder Oldrich Cip

Oldrich Cip, founder and Vice Chairman of the High Frequency Coordination Conference, known as the HFCC, passed away on 27 July 2018 following a sudden illness.

Oldrich was involved in radio since he was a child; first as an amateur radio hobbyist and later as a staff member of Czechoslovak and then Czech Radio in the international broadcasting departments. A college graduate in the field of Humanities, he spent most of his working life as a frequency manager and schedule planner. For a number of years he hosted a DX program on Radio Prague under the pen name Peter Skala.

After the end of the Cold War, he believed that broadcasters from both sides of the conflict should come together and develop a new system of planning and coordination for shortwave broadcasting. This led to the establishment of the HFCC in 1991. Oldrich was Chairman of the HFCC until 2015. Since then, he was a Vice Chairman of the group.

Oldrich lived in Prague, although he frequently spent time in his country house, where he enjoyed woodworking, guitar and country music, vintage graphics, photography and time with his family. His son Vladislav said he spent his last day there: "He enjoyed a quiet evening in the country house, with our families, all four grandchildren around, no symptoms of anything bad coming. All of a sudden, he suffered probably a heart attack or stroke. An ambulance arrived immediately but he died a few hours later."

Oldrich was married with two adult sons, Oldrich Jr. and Vladislav. Vladislav is the HFCC Secretary who manages the day-to-day operations of the organization.

From 1953 until 1997, Oldrich was an employee of Czechoslovak and later Czech Radio in Prague. He worked as a technical consultant for Czech Radio from 1998 to 2010. He specialized in planning schedules and frequencies, international coordination and distribution of shortwave radio programs for foreign countries.

Beginning in 1959 and for more than 25 years, Oldrich produced a weekly English-language program, “Radio Prague Calling All Radio Hobbyists," using the nom de plume Peter Skala. In the program, he answered questions from shortwave listeners in many countries and covered a variety of scientific and other topics from the radio industry.

During the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968, Oldrich used his technical expertise to aid the “free Czechoslovak Radio," putting himself in danger in an effort to provide factual news and information about the events taking place. Thanks to the large number of smaller facilities of Czechoslovak Radio scattered all over Prague and the complicated infrastructure that connected them, they were able to continue broadcasting for quite some time.

In the period of reforms around the year 1968, he established secret contacts with his colleagues from Western radio stations. He re-established the contacts after the fall of communism and started an initiative to eliminate interference on shortwave. He became the Chairman of the HFCC, which has continued to meet twice each year in different parts of the world for shortwave stations to coordinate their frequency schedules for the coming broadcast season, thus eliminating interference before each season begins. The principles of international coordination were incorporated into the ITU's International Radio Regulations during the 1997 World Radio Conference.

Oldrich was also an adviser to the Government of the Czechoslovak Republic in the preparation of the first Radio and Television Broadcasting Act after 1990, as well as a member of several EBU and ITU radiocommunication working groups. At the HFCC, he spearheaded the International Radio for Disaster Relief project whereby shortwave stations have allocated specific frequencies in each band for the transmission of emergency information in the event of natural disasters around the world.

Jeff White, Oldrich's successor as HFCC Chairman, said: “The shortwave broadcasting and listening communities have lost one of our most important proponents. The contributions of Oldrich over the years are simply unequalled. He was a humble man, but people in this industry realized the importance of his work. And he has left us a lasting legacy -- an organization which has largely eliminated interference on the shortwave bands, and it has enabled stations to use less power to reach their target areas with a good signal. For that, he will always be remembered."