Category Archives: Broadcasters

Guest Post: A Visit to Radio Tarma


Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Don Moore–author of  Following Ghosts in Northern Peru–for the following guest post:


A Visit To Radio Tarma

By Don Moore

(Note: A more extensive set of photos from Radio Tarma, and other Peruvian radio stations, can be found at Don’s website. The website also contains details of the Peruvian travelogue book he recently wrote and published.)

Radio Tarma building

Shortwave stations in South America are few and far-between these days, but those of us who have been tuning the bands for a few decades remember the days when the tropical bands were filled with Latin American broadcasters from dozens of scattered mountain and jungle towns. One such place was Tarma, a picturesque but chilly city of about 50,000 nestled in a narrow valley in the central Peruvian Andes at 3,000 meters above sea level. Tarma has been an important commercial center since colonial times and archaeological findings indicate that the region was heavily populated long before the Spanish came. Today it sits at the junction of two major trade routes, so it continues to be a bustling place.

View of northern Tarma from the Radio Tarma transmitter site

While wandering around central Peru in April 2018, I made a point of stopping in Tarma so as to visit the town’s namesake broadcaster, Radio Tarma, one of the few Peruvian stations still on shortwave. Radio Tarma’s frequency of 4775 kHz has been a fixture on the sixty meter band for over four decades. What I didn’t know was that this would turn out to be the best of the over one hundred Latin American station visits that I have made in my travels.

Radio Tarma Frequencies

When I first stopped by on Monday afternoon, everyone was busy and no one had time for a visiting gringo. By chance I had arrived on the station’s sixtieth anniversary and they were preparing for a big celebration that night. I was invited to come back in the evening when there would be a huge street party with live music. That evening I got to talk to several members of the station staff and was introduced to owner-manager Mario Monterverde, who invited me to come back for a tour in two days after the celebrations and ceremonies were over.

Radio Tarma’s 60th Anniversary Party

The Radio Tarma Party Band

Radio Tarma Owner/Manager Mario Monteverde

The reason for Radio Tarma’s continued presence on the sixty meter band is Mario Monteverde, Radio Tarma’s energetic owner-manager.

Mario Monteverde in the old record library.

Running radio stations is his passion, and that includes reaching distant listeners on shortwave. Don Mario remembers what shortwave used to be like in Peru and he can rattle off station names and frequencies from past and present as good as any serious DXer. We spend a lot of time talking about stations I used to hear and the ones that I visited in my 1985 trip to Peru. We mostly talk in Spanish, although he speaks English well. He studied in Lima and later in the United States for several months. In the 1980s, he lived in San Francisco for a year while working as a DJ at a Spanish language FM station.

Don Mario thinks that it’s unfortunate that there is so little use of shortwave in Peru today, but other radio station owners think he is crazy to continue to use shortwave. The only listeners to shortwave in Peru are peasants in jungle settlements and remote mountain valleys. That may be a suitable audience for a religious broadcaster, but these listeners have no value to commercial stations, such as Radio Tarma, as they are mostly outside the money economy and of no interest to advertisers. But Don Mario doesn’t care and so Radio Tarma continues to broadcast on shortwave several hours every morning and evening for whoever might happen to tune in.

Studio for Radio Tarma

And, Radio Tarma can afford to broadcast as it sees fit. Don Mario’s Grupo Monteverde is one of the most professionally run and profitable communications companies that I have visited in Peru. In addition to Radio Tarma (on MW, FM, and SW), the company operates two television stations in Tarma, the local cable network, the local FM repeater for Radio Programas del Peru (Peru’s radio news network), and Radio Tropicana, a chain of FM music stations in Tarma and three nearby towns.

(Click here to open video in separate window.)

Founded in 1958 by Mario’s father, Radio Tarma was the first radio station in this city. Using two homemade 500 watt transmitters, the station initially broadcast on both medium wave and 6045 kHz shortwave, but the shortwave went off the air after about a year. Then in 1978, Mario’s father dusted off the old shortwave transmitter and applied for a new license. He was granted 4770 kHz, but that was soon changed to 4775 kHz, where Radio Tarma has been ever since. In the past four decades, Radio Tarma has been logged by thousands of DXers all over the world and, although it’s hard to believe, when I visited Tarma in April 2018 they were still using that original 500 watt transmitter that Mario’s father built sixty years before. However, a new one-thousand watt solid state transmitter was currently in Lima being tested by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. It should be on the air by now.

Studio for Radio Tropicana’s Tarma station

Don Mario starts by giving me a tour of the station building and its well-equipped offices and studios. He shows me the closet where the transmitter for the studio-to-transmitter-site link is and then takes me  upstairs to the record library. Radio Tarma has one of the largest and oldest collections of vinyl records in the Peruvian Andes and includes numerous rare recordings. Many of the disks are EPs, or extended-play, which was once a very common format in the Andes. These records are the size of a 45 but recorded at 33 rpm so that there are two songs on each side. Don Mario keeps the records for their value but they aren’t used on the air anymore as Radio Tarma and its sister stations are all fully computerized. When there’s time they work on digitizing the better historical recordings from their collection.

Radio Tarma mountaintop transmitter site

After seeing the studio, we get in Don Mario’s four-wheel drive SUV for the trip up a steep and winding dirt road that leads to the mountaintop transmitter site. For most of the station’s history, Radio Tarma broadcast from a field on the north side of town.

Radio Tarma’s pre-2012 transmitter site was in the large field in the center of this photograph.

Then in 2010 Don Mario decided to modernize by buying a modern 3000 watt solid-state transmitter for the medium wave frequency and by building a modern transmitter facility on a ridge overlooking town. The new site, which was inaugurated in 2012, is at 3,600 meters elevation (over 600 meters higher than Tarma) and located about 1.5 kilometers south of the old site. (If you’ve logged Radio Tarma both before and after 2012, I think it’s fair to count these as two different transmitter sites.)

Radio Tarma’s mountaintop transmitter plant.

Another view of Radio Tarma’s mountaintop transmitter plant.

Radio Tarma MW and FM masts

The transmitters and antennas for all the Grupo Monteverde stations in Tarma (MW, FM, SW, and TV) are housed in the gray fortress-like cement building covered with a jungle of antennas and satellite dishes, for both receiving and transmitting. All of Peru’s main cellular services have towers nearby, as do several other FM and TV stations in Tarma, but Radio Tarma has the best location, right at the end of the ridge overlooking all of the town. For shortwave, Radio Tarma uses a dipole antenna strung between two masts.

Radio Tarma’s shortwave dipole

The transmitters and other technical equipment are all housed in a large room that takes up most of the first floor of the building. Upstairs there is a small apartment, complete with a living room and kitchen, for the technician who lives here plus another small apartment where Don Mario comes to stay when he feels like escaping to the quiet mountaintop for a night or two.

Radio Tarma SW and three MW transmitters

Radio Tarma transmitter room

Don Mario takes pride in showing me the original 500 watt medium wave and shortwave transmitters that his father made. Normally the shortwave service is shut down for several hours in midday when the frequency won’t propagate, but he turns on the transmitter so that I can see the tubes come to life. The three medium wave transmitters – the original 500 watt one, its 1978 1000 watt replacement, and the new 300 watt solid-state one – are lined up against the wall adjacent to the shortwave transmitter.

Mario Monteverde and Radio Tarma’s original 500 watt shortwave transmitter

Alfonso, transmitter operator at Radio Tarma

Don Mario tells me that the two older medium wave transmitters are regularly maintained so that they could be used at a moment’s notice if needed. He then proceeds to show me that he means just what he says, and shuts down the solid-state transmitter. Once that’s down, he powers up the original Radio Tarma MW transmitter that his father made, and we watch the old tubes light up. Then when it’s operating fully, he turns his father’s transmitter off and switches on the 1978 transmitter for a few minutes before finally returning the signal to full power on the new transmitter. One wonders just what his listeners thought was happening with all this on-and-off transmitting on a beautiful sunny day barely a cloud in the sky!

View of southern Tarma from the transmitter site

Radio Tarma and the Grupo Monteverde are a model operation for radio in smaller cities in the Peruvian Andes. Getting to know both the city and the station was one of the highlights of a seven-month journey through the northern Andes in South America.

Don Mario’s father built the foundation and Don Mario turned Radio Tarma and its sister stations into the small but professional media group that they are. He’s now in his mid-sixties and plans to run the radio operations for several more years. But he is beginning to think of the future. He never married and has no children, his siblings live in Spain and Lima, and all his nieces and nephews are in the United States. It’s not likely that anyone in the family would return to Tarma to run a radio station. He is investigating options of how to set up the corporation so that Radio Tarma and its sister stations would continue as locally-owned and operated radio broadcasters. Whatever he works out, let’s hope it includes a commitment to continue broadcasting on shortwave for many years to come!

If shortwave conditions aren’t the best, you can always listen to Radio Tarma on the web.


Wow–Don, this was amazing. Thank you for taking us on a tour of the amazing Radio Tarma! What a special station to encounter during your travels!

Post Readers: If you like the photos Don included in this guest post, you’ll enjoy browsing even more on Don’s Radio Tarma page

Check out other radio travel photos’ on Don’s Peru DX Photos Page.

Don’s new book, Following Ghosts in Northern Peru: In the Footsteps of 19th Century Travelers on the old Moyobamba Route is available in Kindle and print formats via Amazon.

Purchasing through this Amazon link supports both the author and the SWLing Post. 

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WRTH 2019 B18 Updates & Questionnaire

(Source: WRTH)

Dear WRTH reader,

We have uploaded a pdf of updates to the B18 schedules in the International section of WRTH 2019. Visit Updates and click the “International Updates” link to download the file from the WRTH store.

If you haven’t yet got your copy of WRTH 2019 you can buy one NOW using this link.

Readers in North America can also order copies from Universal Radio or Amazon.com.

Please take a few minutes to give us your thoughts about WRTH on the 2019 Questionnaire.

I hope you find the update useful.

Best wishes,

Nicholas Hardyman

Publisher

Purchase your copy of WRTH 2019 directly from WRTH’s publishers, or from a distributor like Universal Radio (US), Amazon.com (US), Radio HF (Canada), or check BookDepository.com (International).

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United Nations: Radio still a powerful worldwide tool for ‘dialogue, tolerance and peace’

Post-earthquake, Ears To Our World radios continue to be a vital link for those in need in Haiti. Here, Erlande, who suffered a stroke in her early 30s and can barely walk, listens to one of our self-powered Etón radios. (Photo: ETOW)

(Source: United Nations News via Mike Hansgen)

“Even in today’s world of digital communications, radio reaches more people than any other media platform” explained the UN chief, adding that it “conveys vital information and raises awareness on important issues”.

“And it is a personal, interactive platform where people can air their views, concerns, and grievances” he added, noting that radio “can create a community”.

UN Radio was established on 13 February 1946, and since 2013, the day has been commemorated to recognize radio as a powerful communication tool and a low-cost medium.

“For the United Nations, especially our peacekeeping operations, radio is a vital way of informing, reuniting and empowering people affected by war”, said Mr. Guterres.

Despite the rise of the internet, many parts of the world, especially remote and vulnerable communities, have no access, making radio broadcasting via transmitters, a vital lifeline. Joining a community of local listeners, also provides a platform for public discussion, irrespective of education levels.

Moreover, it has a strong and specific role in emergency communication and disaster relief.

“On this World Radio Day, let us recognize the power of radio to promote dialogue, tolerance and peace”, concluded the Secretary-General.

Radio still sparking ‘new conversations’

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) underscored “the unique, far-reaching power of radio to broaden our horizons and build more harmonious societies”.

“Radio stations from major international networks to community broadcasters today remember the importance of radio in stimulating public debate, increasing civic engagement and inspiring mutual understanding”, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said in her message.

Since its invention as the first wireless communication medium well over a hundred years ago, “radio has sparked new conversations and broadcast new ideas into people’s homes, villages, universities, hospitals and workplaces,” she continued. “To this day, dialogue across the airwaves can offer an antidote to the negativity that sometimes seem to predominate online, which is why UNESCO works across the world to improve the plurality and diversity of radio stations”.

The UNESCO chief pointed out that radio has adapted to 21st century changes and offers new ways to participate in conversations that matter, retaining its role as “one of the most reactive, engaging media there is”, especially for the most disadvantaged.

For example, she flagged that rural women constitute one of the most under-represented groups in the media and are twice as likely as men to be illiterate, “so radio can be a critical lifeline to express themselves and access information”.

Ms. Azoulay made clear that “UNESCO provides support to radio stations in sub-Saharan Africa that enable women to participate in public debate, including on often-neglected issues such as forced marriage, girls’ education or childcare”.

Linguistic diversity, and people’s right to express themselves on-air in their own languages, is also crucial – especially true in 2019 which has been designated by the International Year of Indigenous Languages by the UN.“In former conflict zones, radio can dispel fear and present the human face of former foes”, she elaborated, citing North-West Colombia where community radios are healing old wounds “by highlighting the good deeds of demobilized combatants, such as clearing polluted waterways”.

Around the world, the “inclusion of diverse populations makes societies more resilient, more open and more peaceful”, Ms. Azoulay spelled out.

“The challenges we face – whether they be climate change, conflict or the rise in divisive views – increasingly depend on our ability to speak to each other and find common solutions”, she concluded.

Click here to read this article at the UN News website.

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“How one tiny Ontario station keeps listeners tuning in”

(Source: TVO.org)

At Amherst Island’s CJAI 92.1 FM, volunteers host shows, work the mixing board, and woo advertisers — it’s just one of many small local radio stations across the province trying to do more with less

AMHERST ISLAND — Radio host Brian Little takes a quick break from playing hit songs from 1975 on his weekly Friday Morning Show to throw to Keith Miller and the CJAI traffic chopper.

“Thanks, Brian!” Miller yells over the sound of swooshing blades. “Your traffic update for Amherst Island: There are four cars in the ferry lineup. A few cars stopped at Concession Road 2 taking pictures of the snowy owls. This concludes your traffic update!”

Miller, an 78-year-old former dairy farmer, gives Little a satisfied grin as he pulls away from the microphone and puts down an oscillating fan with “CJAI Chopper” written on it in black Sharpie. It’s clearly one of Miller’s favourite gags.

CJAI 92.1 FM, a community radio station on Amherst Island, about 30 kilometres west of Kingston, in Lake Ontario, was created in 2006 by a group of residents — including veteran broadcaster Peter Trueman, who had retired to the island — to promote local content and community events. It now reaches roughly 10,000 listeners from Picton to the western edge of Kingston and airs more than 40 hours a week of live shows: Jazz Jim’s Vault (jazz classics and history), Saturday Night Barn Burner (lesser-known artists with a focus on rock), Sally’s Books (readings from selected books), and Birding (birding), to name just a few.

Like most of Ontario’s 54 campus and community radio stations, it relies on a team of dedicated volunteers to keep it running and is fighting to survive in a rapidly changing media landscape. And CJAI’s fight for survival has only gotten tougher since it learned that it may lose Dayle Gowan’s milk house — the building that’s been its home since the station’s inception.

“When they first started, they basically had no money, and this old milk house just had some junk, so I said, ‘Do you want to use it?’” says Gowan.[…]

Click here to read the full article.

Listen to CJAI live via TuneIn Radio:

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Guest Post: Bolivian Miners’ Radio Station Documentaries

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Tracy Wood (K7UO), who shares the following guest post:


Bolivian Miners’ Radio Station Documentaries

Bolivian mine workers’ radio stations have long held an affinity among these Altiplano communities. Many were stations were targeted for shootings, bombings, etc. by forces loyal to earlier dictatorships. Today, few stations remain as the mining sector has declined in importance and newer generations migrate to the larger cities and lowland farming regions.

Radio Nacional de Huanuni and the Catholic church’s Radio Pio XII are two of the remaining miners’ stations with some long-standing shortwave presence; others like Chocaya’s Radio Ánimas permanently signed off with the mining center’s closing.

Two documentaries have been made about this earlier Bolivian miners’ broadcasting movement. The first one is a 30-minute 1983 UNESCO documentary entitled “La Voz del Minero” (“The Voice of the Miner”). This grainy 16-mm Spanish-language documentary fortunately has been ported to YouTube. The film features audio and video clips from several stations including Radio Nacional de Huanuni, Radio Pio XII, Radio Ánimas and Radio Vanguardia. Sharp eyes will notice at the 26-minute point a console-mounted Hammarlund HQ receiver in Radio Pio XII’s studios.

The second documentary is from 2017 but remains in limited release. It includes many interviews/images. The film is called “Las Voces del Socavón” (“Voices of the Tunnels) by Argentine filmmakers Magalí Vela Vázquez and Julia Delfini.

“La Voz del Minero”:

Click here to view on YouTube.

“Las Voces del Socavón” (trailer)

Click here to view on YouTube.

(interview on ATB TV)

Click here to view on YouTube.

Here are some mining station URLs:
http://www.radiofedecomin.com/
http://www.radionacionaldehuanuni.com/
http://radiopio12.com.bo/

Listening to the Huanuni station you will hear 1970’s-era taped IDs listing the shortwave channel. Evenings and Sundays are the best times for those flashback moments.

For further backgrounder Don Moore published a 2004 Monitoring Times piece which can be found here: http://www.pateplumaradio.com/south/bolivia/miners.html

A larger complex topic read is the 2004 book by Alan O’Connor titled “Community Radio in Bolivia: The Miners’ Radio Station.” (Edwin Mellen Press Ltd, ISBN-13 978-0773463929).

As an aside, perhaps the most esoteric cinematic reference to shortwave can be found in Kiro Russo’s 2016 Bolivian mining-themed movie “Viejo Calavera” (Dark Skull). In one nighttime scene, Radio Pio XII (Siglo XX) plays in the background with announcer mentioning Pio XII is broadcasting their shortwave call-in show and getting DX reports from Sweden. (Sorry, this cool background banter is not subtitled to English.)

Finally, both documentaries feature the haunting song “El Minero” by Savia Andina sung in Spanish and Quechua. The best YouTube video of the song with Quechua-to-Spanish translation is found here:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Musica.com has the lyrics.

Celebrating UNESCO’s International Year of indigenous Languages with shortwave radio!

– Tracy Wood (K7UO)

Thank you so much, Tracy, for sharing these fascinating documentaries!


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