Solomon Islands and Vanuatu On Shortwave

Paul Walker's listening post in Galena, Alaska.

Paul Walker’s listening post in Galena, Alaska.

by Paul Walker

I tried logging the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu shortwave broadcast stations for years, however, owing to my location and poor antenna along with technical problems with the stations, I was never able to log them.

Well, I recently moved to Alaska and was able to take the stations off my “Most Wanted List.”

SIBC has two frequencies–5020 kHz and 9545 kHz–both with 10,000 watts.  They use 9545 kHz during their local workday time frame and the 5020 kHz frequency is their late night and early morning frequency.

A few times, I have caught 9545 kHz not signing off at 0500UTC for the switchover to 5020 kHz like it should of. When 9545 kHz is on late, the signal is usually pretty darn good.

In fact, on April 25th, I caught 9545 kHz on about 2 1/2 hours past the scheduled switchover and the signal was AMAZING!  It was near perfect with a rock solid signal, fading so slightly it’s barely noticeable, no interference and pretty good audio!!

For whatever reason, when 9545 kHz is on late, It seems to have a better signal most times then 5020 kHz would if it was on at that time. SIBC has one transmitter so two frequencies can’t be on at once. Both times I’ve caught 9545 on late, it signs off abruptly and minutes later, 5020 kHz is on, as it should be.

As for 5020 kHz, this recording on May 22 at 1148 UTC  this was about the best I’ve ever heard it.

Listen closely when SIBC goes to dead air before shutting off the transmitter, I clearly hear two people talking.

As for Radio Vanuatu, their signals seem to be chronically/habitually under modulated and combine that with the large amount of speech programming they ran…and they are hard to catch. Good luck hearing them on 3945 kHz. Even with Radio Nikkei off, the best I’ve ever gotten from 3945 kHz was a signal so poor all I could make out was the speech on 3945 kHz and 7260 kHz matched.

On May 14th at 0923 UTC, I got about the best signal out of Radio Vanuatu on 7260 that I’ve ever had. Conditions must have been good and that combined with the fact they were running music made them a bit easier to hear.

For those that don’t know me, I am living in Galena, Alaska a village of 500 people in rural central Alaska, halfway between Nome & Fairbanks. I work here as the Program Director for a small network of community radio signals along the Yukon river. I DX from the river bank 500 feet from my apartment with a Tecsun PL-880 and 80 foot or 225 foot long wire, soon to be a Wellbrook ALA1530LNP.

Paul Walker is located in Galena, Alaska and is a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Be sure to check out Paul’s YouTube channel and SoundCloud channel where everything he logs is recorded and posted. Click here to read his other contributions on the SWLing Post.

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6 thoughts on “Solomon Islands and Vanuatu On Shortwave

  1. DanH

    Thanks for the tips, Paul. I’m retired now, so I can be a weekday night owl once in a while. Local sunset here is at 0330 UTC and local midnight is 0700 UTC. Vanuatu and Norcal should both be under darkness beginning at 0600 UTC, Solomon Islands and Norcal less than an hour later. But, I hear you. Later is better in this case. I get WRMI and Rebelde very well at night but there is room in-between to avoid trouble. Propagation forecast is so-so but I’ll probably give it a shot anyway. There are a couple of other stations I’m looking for during the wee hours.

    Reply
  2. DanH

    Great catches! With your detailed information maybe I’ll hit one of these soon. I am certainly trying. The Hammarlund SP-600 is opening up new possibilities for me.

    Right now about the best tip I can pass around is that the BBC Singapore relay is providing a strong signal to Northern California when I tune in from 1200-1345 UTC on 9740 kHz. This morning the 1300 UTC top of the hour ID included a time check for “nine A.M. on the US east coast.” The hours for this transmission are listed as 10:00-1345 UTC. This supplements my daily reception of BBC on 7445 kHz from 0500-0600 UTC.

    Reply
    1. Paul Walker

      Dan, your best bet is to try after 12midnight local time. They are non exsistant here on 5020khz from 0500 utc sign on and for at least an hour or two.. tthe later the better, but most people arent going to stay up till 1200utc to hearr 5020khz..so I’ve found the best time to try for 5020 is around 0800-0900UTC (i am utc+8, fyi)

      9545 is going to be pretty hard because when they sign off at 0500utc, it is still light both here in Alaska (and california too, maybe?) and light in the Solomon Islands. I’ve had 9545 right before sign off, but it’s been a pretty crudtastical signal

      Reply
  3. Tudor Vedeanu

    Here in Romania SIBC on 5020 kHz can be heard almost daily between 1900 and 2000 UT. The signal is usually weak. I’ve been trying to catch Vanuatu for a long time but no luck so far.

    Reply
    1. Paul Walker

      5020 is here nightly, sometimes weak and having WRMI 5015 one side and the super wide splattery Radio Rebelde on 5025 doesn’t help… so if conditions are cruddy and/or the stations are extra splattery on either side of SIBC 5020, it’s got a poor signal. But if conditions are good and the other stations aren’t too splattery, reception can be good.

      Reply

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