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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 484, April 11, 2004

The Radio Scene in Haiti - Part II:  The Right Station with the Wrong Callsign

In our program last week we presented the early origins of shortwave radio broadcasting in the independent Caribbean nation of Haiti.  This week we visit Haiti again, and this time with the story of the most famous of them all, Radio 4VEH.  This then is the story of "The Right Station with the Wrong Callsign."

We should mention also that our own Adventist radio station in Haiti, together with the Adventist university and the Adventist hospital, have all found it necessary to modify their activities due to the social unrest in their country.  The Adventist radio station, 4VVE, has been on the air with 10 kw. on 1560 kHz mediumwave since 1988, and the FM outlet in parallel on 89.5 MHz has been on the air since the year 2001.

Situated in a politically difficult climate is this small and exotic radio station which began its days as a shortwave station and is today heard only on mediumwave and FM.  This station began its shortwave career with one callsign which it still retains for identification, though it is registered these days for on-air usage with another call.

It was on the northern coast of Haiti, at Cap Haitien, that Haiti's best known shortwave station was established more than half a century ago.  This station, 4VEH, with the slogan "The Evangelical Voice of Haiti" was founded in 1950 specifically as a shortwave station by Rev G. T. Bustin.  This unique station made its first broadcast on June 2, 1950 and at the time it was a small unit radiating just 400 watts on the unusual channel 9884 kHz. 

The studios and transmitter for this new station were located at first in the back rooms of the church building in the "East and West Indies Bible Mission" at Vaudreuil in northern Haiti.  At the time, there were several other shortwave stations located in Haiti, the western section of Hispaniola, though they were located mainly in the capital city area, Port au Prince.

Subsequent to its inauguration, and with the evidence of success for this bold new venture, new studios were established and a new transmitter building was constructed for 4VEH.  The transmitter base was located seven miles away in the salt flats at Petite Anse, across the bay from Cap Haitien.  The 10 watt FM link between the studios in Vaudreuil and the transmitter at Petite Anse came into service in 1965.

To celebrate their 5th anniversary and to honor the 25th anniversary of the International Shortwave Club in London, 4VEH made a series of special DX broadcasts on May 21 and 22, 1955.  Three different channels in the 31 metre band were used, and attempts were made also to use two other shortwave transmitters for the occasion.

In 1958, just eight years after its inauguration, station 4VEH was taken over by the missionary organization OMS International, with its world headquarters on the edge of Indianapolis.  This station, originally established to broadcast the Gospel to the Caribbean, continued under its new ownership with regular programming in French, Spanish and English to Haiti and neighboring islands.

At its greatest potential, 4VEH was on the air with a total of eight transmitters radiating on allocated frequencies in the shortwave, mediumwave and FM bands.  These were generally lower powered units, though for many years they operated two 10 kw. units simultaneously.  During its era as a shortwave broadcaster, reception reports were received from all areas in the United States, as well as from many other countries in Europe, the Americas and the Pacific.  Two shortwave antennas were in use: a simple dipole, and a two element delta beamed towards Florida.

Currently, the American headquarters for radio station 4VEH are located in Florida and the station is on the air in Haiti with the usage of just two transmitters under the callsign 4VEF.  They are heard with 10 kw. on 840 kHz and on FM at 94.7 Mhz.  Interestingly, radio station 4VEH is no longer on the air from a transmitter under that original designation.  4VEH is now in reality 4VEF.  Thus they have become, as we said, "The Rght Station with the Wrong Callsign."

The Gospel station 4VEH was the last station in Haiti to leave the air shortwave.  This station was indeed an exotic shortwave station in an exotic tropical location.  In bygone years it was much sought after by distant international radio monitors who wanted a picturesque QSL card from this fascinating island nation in the blue Caribbean.