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Radio User: Bands of Plenty


The winter short wave schedules come to a close on Sunday, March 28th and the A18 season commences; we also move into British Summer Time in the UK.

Fig 1: BBC World service is still connecting with audiences new and old
Fig 2: Feeling on top of the World at Nordkapp, where the BBC booms in on FM BBC World service is still connecting with audiences new and old

As featured April 2018, radiouser
Author: Chrissy Brand

The winter short wave schedules come to a close on Sunday, March 28th and the A18 season commences; we also move into British Summer Time in the UK. The UK's international broadcaster, the BBC World Service, is still very much alive on short wave and FM. However, it operates reduced short wave services in English these days, with many parts of the world having to tune in to local FM relays or online instead (Fig. 1).

Despite that, some new services from the Beeb are being instigated. BBC World Service commenced short wave broadcasts to the Horn of Africa in late January. These are transmitted in the Amharic, Oromo and Tigranya languages. There is a two-hour window, inside which each language is given twenty minutes. This is then repeated an hour later. Between 1730 and 1830 UTC the frequencies of 7595, 11720 and 12065kHz are in use. During the time slot of 1830 to 1930 UTC, the broadcasts are transmitted on 9855 and 15490kHz.

On the Bands
It is nice to hear that the BBC is still active in Europe too. It remains a regular and easy catch on short wave, even if those transmissions are beamed to other parts of the world. Among the many familiar frequencies that Auntie uses are 5875 and 6005kHz via Ascension Island from 0500 UTC; 5875kHz from Woofferton, 11810 and 12095kHz via Ascension Island from 2000 UTC; 3915 and 5890kHz from Singapore plus 5960, 6195 and 7300kHz from Oman at 2200 UTC.

Graham Smith noted that the BBC World Service will broadcast to the Sámi (Sápmi) community in the north of Norway via an FM relay. The BBC signed an agreement with FM station Guovdageainnu Lagasradio

This contract will result in 93 hours of BBC World Service output a week being aired. On this subject, Stephen Titherington, Senior Commissioning Editor, BBC World Service English, stated, “Such international connections are at the core of the BBC World Service – we want to reach different cultures and communities across the globe and reflect their stories in our programmes. We’ve aired major reports on the Sámi people and culture over the last year, and this agreement with Guovdageainnu Lagasradio will, in turn, provide people in the region with access to our trusted international news and documentaries through their own community radio and help link them to what’s going on in the rest of the world.”

When I was travelling in northern Norway last summer, I heard BBC World Service programmes being relayed on Radio Nordkapp 103.9MHz (RadioUser, November 2017: 43) (Fig. 2).

Further to last month's announcement about Brother Ralph Stair (RadioUser, March 2018: 40) it appeared a few stations were still transmitting repeats of some of his Overcomer Ministry programmes, despite the ban on this. One station was WBCQ, at 2300 UTC on 7490kHz and another one was WWCR. 

Stair was released from prison on bail of $750,000 in January and is not allowed to leave the compound of his Walterboro, South Carolina compound. 

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Stair's friend and fellow Christian broadcaster, Allan Weiner, is an owner of Maine-based short wave station WBCQ The Planet. He defended Stair and his religious camp in Walterboro Carolina, on the air. You can hear the 28-minute long broadcast online.

However, WBCQ is not merely a religious radio station. There are some music and feature programmes as well. For example, it airs Fred Flintstone's Music Show is on Saturdays for an hour from 0000 UTC. However, I think this show ended its run in December. It has come and gone in the past.

Another programme is Radio Timtron Worldwide at 0000 UTC on Sundays and Grits Radio at the same time on Mondays. Part of the WBCQ schedule for the B17 season included 2200 to 0500 UTC, on the frequencies of 5130, 9330 and 7490kHz.

The presenter of Radio Timtron Worldwide is Timothy M Smith WA1HLR. He is also a respected radio engineer who started broadcasting this show on pirate radio back in 1973, with an enjoyable blend of rock music and comedy.
WBCQ suffered a fire in December, resulting in damage to its main 50kW transmitter. The station remained on the air, thanks to its backup equipment but it felt the need to launch a crowdfunding appeal for a new transmitter. At the time of writing, only $3,000 of the target $20,000 had been raised.

The South Korean state broadcaster, KBS World, issued a QSL card which featured Soohorang and Bandabi, the two mascots from the 2018 Winter Olympic Games held in Pyeongchang. KBS World's English service currently broadcasts to Europe at 1500 to 1700 UTC on 9515, 9630 and 9640kHz and from 2200 to 2300 UTC on 11810kHz. These times and frequencies will change for the A18 season. KBS World can be contacted by e-mail and reception reports can be submitted via an online form. The station also runs a quarterly quiz.

The US government shutdown in late January also affected some of its radio services. The American Forces Network in Europe broadcast classical music and a repeated announcement, to the effect that AFN services were unavailable.

Continue reading this feature in the latest issue of radiouser magazine. 

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