by Shelley Nolan Freesland
AWR Communication Director
AWR Communication Director
The first phase of Adventist World Radio's major upgrade to its shortwave station on Guam has been completed, and the massive new antenna is on the air.
Earlier this year, AWR began work on a $2.9 million project at the 25-year-old station, in order to improve its broadcasts to numerous countries in Asia. Phase one required the relocation of one of the existing towers, to accommodate the replacement of a low-frequency antenna with a higher-frequency one. The average height of the station's towers is 256 feet, while the average size of its curtain antennas is 236 by 260 feet – approximately the size of two football fields. While this work was going on, AWR's broadcasts from this antenna were shifted to a commercial shortwave station in Sri Lanka for several months, so that listeners could receive uninterrupted service.
"Completing this phase is a huge feat and a major milestone," says AWR president Dowell Chow, "as it now enables us to broadcast over frequencies that will better reach our target audiences in countries such as Indonesia, Nepal, Bangladesh, and more. The pressure was on to keep this installation on schedule, as construction is virtually impossible during Guam's rainy season. I wish to commend all of our engineers and other staff on Guam – Brook Powers, Sammy Gregory, Karl Forshee, Victor Shepherd, and Gordon Garner – as well as our frequency engineer, Claudius Dedio, for the exceptional effort and overtime they have put into the upgrade. Along with project chair/board member Loney Duncan, their years of experience have enabled them to develop innovative solutions to the challenges that inevitably arise in a project of this size and complexity."
Chow continues, "As well, we appreciate the working relationship we have had for many years with TCI International Inc., who custom-designed and manufactured our two new antennas, as well as Communications Technology Broadcasting Ltd., who was contracted to manage the installation and sent a team from South Africa."
TCI vice president Ron Wilensky attests that proceeding from the project quote stage to the first on-air transmission from the new antenna in less than a year "is a formidable achievement in the high-power broadcast world and a testament to the AWR/TCI team."
Work will resume early next year, after the current rainy season has passed and it is possible to begin moving soil and pouring concrete. This second phase – which will be even more labor-intensive – will consist of erecting a new tower and adding a new, high-frequency curtain antenna. When that antenna is operational, AWR will be able to transmit simultaneous broadcasts to China and countries such as North Korea, Myanmar, and Vietnam, reaching listeners in multiple countries during each of their respective peak listening times.
Chow says, "The Guam station has served our needs for 25 years in carrying the gospel to the unreached people of Asia in their own languages. From this tiny island, programs can currently be heard in 34 languages, for 287 hours/week. When this upgrade is completed, we expect that our facility will be in a good position to continue broadcasting for the next 25 years."