Home | Back to Wavescan Index

"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 321, February 18, 2001

Early Shortwave Broadcasting in Africa

During this year, the new millenium year 2001, Adventist World Radio is celebrating its 30th anniversary.  It was back on October 1, 1971, almost 30 years ago, that the first broadcast from the fledgling Adventist World Radio went on the air from a 250 kw shortwave transmitter operated by Radio Trans Europe at Sines in Portugal.  Throughout this coming year, AWR is planning many anniversary events, and many of these will be of real interest to the international radio world.

As part of the anniversary sequence, we are planning here in Wavescan to present many features on the historical development of Adventist World Radio, and today's program is another in this series.  In this edition, we investigate the early era of shortwave broadcasts on the part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the vast continent of Africa.
Records from the era indicate that the Seventh-day Adventist Church has been on the air shortwave from a total of 14 different countries in Africa.  Most of these earlier broadcasts were contracted on a mediumwave station, and they were therefore also heard on the shortwave relay as well.

The first Adventist radio broadcast on shortwave in Africa went on the air in March 1950 over station ETHA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  This programming is listed in the World Radio Handbook for 1951 and 1952 as the Adventist Hour.  These broadcasts of the American Voice of Prophecy radio program were heard on Sundays at 2:45 pm on two channels, 9620 kHz with 1 kw and 15062 kHz with 7.5 kw.  Radio station ETHA was the government radio station, and at certain times of the day it carried a commercial service.

Historical records suggest that test broadcasts were placed on the air with the Deutsche Welle relay station in Kigali, Rwanda for a short period of time in mid-1975.  In the spring of the following year, Adventist broadcasts were placed on two shortwave stations, SLBS at Freetown in Sierra Leone, and Swazi Commercial Radio at Sandlane in Swaziland. 

For a period of nearly three years, Adventist programming in English was incorporated into the programming of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation in Colombo, Sri Lanka and beamed to Africa on three shortwave channels.  These 15 minute programs were recorded as special "Test Broadcasts" in the Poona studios of Adventist World Radio and included a shortened version of the old DX program, "Radio Monitors International."

This cluster of shortwave programming all took place before the organization in 1983 of the AWR unit known as AWR-Africa.

Four years later, under the administration of Frenchman Daniel Grizier, a whole slew of new shortwave outlets were added to the schedule of Adventist broadcasting in Africa, some 15 shortwave locations in 10 different countries.  Some of these very exotic shortwave stations were located in the Cape Verde Islands, Madagascar, Cameroons, and on the island of Mauritius.

These days, Adventist World Radio is on the air to Africa from shortwave transmitters located in Slovakia, Germany, Italy and South Africa.  In addition, the commercial service from Radio Africa Number One in Gabon has been carrying the English language Voice of Prophecy for more than 20 years.

Adventist Broadcasts on Shortwave - Africa
1987, RDTVB, Ouagadagou, Burkina Faso
1987, RN, Yaounde, Cameroon
1987, RN, Bertoua, Cameroon
1987, RN, Douala, Cameroon
1987, RN, Baffousam, Cameroon
1987, RN, Praia, Cape Verde Is.
1987, RDTVCAR, Bangui, Central African Rep.
1950, Mar, ETHA, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (American Voice of Prophecy, 3 mos.)
1987, Eq Guinea
1983, Oct 31, Africa No. 1, Moyabi, Gabon (AWR-Africa)
1987, RTVG, Libreville, Gabon
1987, MBC, Curepipe, Mauritius
1987, RM, Antananarivo, Madagascar
1975, July 1, DW, Kigali, Rwanda (Amharic/Swahili tests)
1987, RDR, Kigali, Rwanda
1987, ORTS, Dakar, Senegal (French Voice of Hope)
1987, ORTS, Ziguinchor, Senegal (French Voice of Hope)
1976, Spring, SLBS, Freetown, Sierra Leone
1978, Dec 7, SLBC, Ekala, Sri Lanka (nearly three years)
1976, Spring, SCR, Sandlane, Swaziland   
1867, RDTVT, Lome, Togo