Shortwave’s Giant: Carlos explores evangelical broadcasting to MENA

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor and political cartoonist, Carlos Latuff, who shares the following guest post:


Catechizing via shortwave.

by Carlos Latuff, special for The SWLing Post

During the Vietnam War (1955-1975), the expression “hearts and minds” became popular and referred to the US government’s strategy to gain allies among the South Vietnamese against the Vietcong guerrillas. Over the years this strategy has been used in different contexts. What I’m going to talk about in this short article is how the radio waves have served Christian evangelical churches, to win hearts and minds, specially in Africa and Middle East (MENA).

Different from what I did with the Ethiopian clandestine broadcasts, when I spent around 3 months monitoring, with evangelical radios it took only two days in January 2022; quite simple, since they’re stations with regular programming. Most of them have good signal reception, there’s no jamming from other countries and, despite transmitting in different languages, little translation was necessary since the content is always the same: religious preaching.

All listenings happened in Rio de Janeiro. The radio sets used in this monitoring were the XHDATA D-808 and an old analog radio Sanyo RP-8351, made in Brazil in the 70’s. A 7-meter long wire antenna was used in all listenings.

I chose 4 stations that broadcast Christian religious preaching for MENA:

  • Adventist World Radio, 11980 kHz (broadcasting in Arabic from Nauen, Germany, 1 hour every day).
  • World Christian Broadcasting (Radio Feda), 13710 kHz
    (broadcasting in Arabic from Magajanga, Madagascar, 1 hour every day).
  • Trans World Radio (TWR Africa), 21630 kHz (broadcasting in Arabic from Ascension Island, 30 minutes, working days only).
  • Radio Akhbar Mufriha HCJB 7300 kHz (broadcasting in Arabic from Woofferton, UK, only 15 minutes every day).

Except Akhbar Mufriha radio, the others belong to evangelical churches based in the United States.

Click here to listen/watch on YouTube.

Stations like Adventist World Radio broadcast in several languages spoken in Africa. Trans World Radio even has programming aimed at the African continent (TWR Africa), however my choice for programs broadcasted in Arabic is that they’re aimed to countries where the predominant religion is Islam. Taking into account that half of the population of Africa is Christian and the other half Muslim, these broadcasts fulfill two goals: directing programming for the Christian community in these regions and trying to convert Muslims to Christianity, the catechesis via radio waves.

Despite having access to the most modern communication equipment money can buy (TV stations, satellites, Internet) large evangelical organizations continue to invest heavily in traditional radio waves in order to convert people in the most remote regions of the African continent, where radio is king.

The strategy of hearts, minds (and souls) have never been so current.

Spread the radio love

4 thoughts on “Shortwave’s Giant: Carlos explores evangelical broadcasting to MENA

  1. David L Fogarty

    Thank you for the interesting but depressing reply to my questions. I would think and hope that there would be more of a role for shortwave in a country with remote, sparsely populated areas.

    Your view of Bolsonaro is the same as my view of Trump. Thank you for all your efforts toward justice in Palestine and the Middle East!

  2. David L Fogarty

    Your articles, accompanied by your drawings, are always of interest. Two topics that interest me:
    1. The market for relatively inexpensive shortwave receivers in Brazil, including the domestically-produced “Moto Bras” radios. They seem to have discontinued their car radios that included the shortwave band, but are still producing portables. How widely available are radios that include the shortwave bands?
    2. The Brazilian domestic stations that are still broadcasting on shortwave. The only one I can hear on the west coast of the U.S. is Radio Nacional da Amazonia but there are other domestic stations that still broadcasting on shortwave. If you could comment on RNA’s DRM test, it would be of interest. Is RNA serious about DRM, as Radio New Zealand has been? Are there any domestic manufacturers of shortwave transmitters?

    1. Carlos Latuff

      Glad you like my illustrated listening reports and articles, David. Let’s check your questions:

      1 – The brand “Motobras” is a current version ( cheap quality) of another brand of radios called “Motoradio”, this one of excellent quality in the past. The owner of Motoradio passed away, the factory was sold, the name changed and the quality dropped a lot.
      I’m not sure if there is another manufacturer of shortwave radios in Brazil, because almost nobody listens to shortwave radios here. And the only AM/FM/SW radios you can find in shops are low quality Chinese models (Lelong, etc).
      The only way to acquire good quality radios, like Tecsun, Degen, Xhadata, is through the Internet.

      2 – There are stations that broadcast on shortwave in Brazil still, in addition to Radio Nacional da Amazonia (governmental), for example, Rede Boa Vontade (religious) and Radio Brasil Central (government broadcaster of the state of Goiás).
      I’m not aware of DRM tests done by Radio Nacional da Amazonia, because I’m sure that most people here don’t even know what DRM is. I am even worried about the fate of Radio Nacional da Amazonia during the disastrous rule of Jair Bolsonaro, which is leaving a trail of destruction across the country.


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