MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A massive shortwave radio antenna sits in a cow pasture north of Lake Okeechobee in Central Florida.
“We have 14, 100,000-watt transmitters and 23 antennas beaming to all parts of the world,” said Jeff White, the general manager of Miami-based WRMI.
The multi-signal station is said to be one of the largest shortwave radio operations in the world.
WRMI stands for Radio Miami International and worldwide coverage means it can easily send signals into Ukraine and Russia.
Shortwave is old school technology, think of World War II or the Cold War, as American-produced news beamed behind the iron curtain. Now, during the invasion of Ukraine, Russia has shut down journalism as we know it.
Kate Neiswender, one of the guiding lights behind funding news programming for Russian audiences, said, “they were going to pass a law making journalism essentially illegal, facing a 15-year criminal penalty.”
Neiswender and fellow former journalists formed a fundraiser to beam news into Russia, where state-controlled media, at best, does not tell the true story of the invasion and many Russian citizens have no clue about the severity of the invasion.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Walker, who shares the following news from WRMI:
WRMI Resumes Broadcasts of Radio Ukraine International
Due to the increased interest in the current situation in Ukraine, WRMI has resumed its relays of the daily English language broadcast of Radio Ukraine International, the official overseas service of Ukrainian Radio. RUI can be heard daily, except Friday, at 1200-1230 UTC on 5010 kHz.
Located off Hatherly Road, the Scituate Proving Grounds was used as an ammunition dump and a testing facility for artillery during World War I. During World War II, it served a different purpose, beaming radio broadcasts to occupied Europe as the transmitter site for shortwave station WRUL. The station’s signal also had strong coverage in Africa, South America and at sea.
LAST WE HEARD
The station traces its origin back to the first shortwave radio license granted in the United States in 1926. In 1936, the station built its transmitters and antennas on the Scituate site, broadcasting university lectures, cultural and news programs from studios on Boston’s Commonwealth Avenue. The call letters stood for World Radio University Listeners.
At the start of World War II, its broadcasts were credited with keeping more than 900 Norwegian ships from being captured by Nazi Germany. The station was used by the U.S. Government during the war, and broadcast the Voice of America service from 1947 to 1953. The station went through some ownership changes and in 1960 its studios moved to New York. The call letters were changed to WNYW in 1966, and the station was knocked off the air by a fire at the Scituate facility in 1967.
When it returned to the air, it was bought by Family Radio in 1973 and was one of only a handful of privately-owned shortwave stations in the United States. Family Radio gradually moved the transmitter site to Okeechobee, Florida. The Scituate transmitters were turned off in 1979.
WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW?
After being vacant for many years, the Hatherly Road property became the site of the Seaside at Scituate Condominiums. As for the station, WYFR went off the air in 2013. Its facilities were taken over by WRMI “Radio Miami,” which is still on the air.
This coming Saturday, December 1, marks the fifth anniversary of WRMI’s transmissions from Okeechobee, Florida. Every year at this time, we have an Open House, which doubles as a Christmas party, for station staff, clients and local friends. WRMI listeners are also very welcome to attend this Open House. You can stop by anytime between 11 am and 6 pm local time to meet station employees, take a tour of the facility and enjoy some food and drink. Our address is: 10400 NW 240th Street, Okeechobee, Florida 34972. And our telephone is (305) 559-9764. We hope to see some of you here on December 1st.
December 1, 2017 will mark the 4th anniversary of WRMI’s broadcasts from the Okeechobee, Florida transmission site. We broadcast from a site in Hialeah, Florida for 20 years prior to that.
To celebrate our 4th anniversary in Okeechobee, we cordially invite you to join us for an Open House/Christmas/Anniversary Party on Friday, December 1 from 10:30 am till 6:00 pm. Stop in anytime for a tour of the plant, where you can see our 14 transmitters (most of them 100,000 watts each) and 23 antennas beaming religious, political and cultural programs in many languages 200 hours a day, seven days a week to virtually all parts of the world. WRMI is the largest shortwave radio station in the Western Hemisphere. You can meet members of our staff and clients who broadcast programs on the station. And there will be plenty of food and drink, so please arrive hungry!
WRMI is very pleased to have been part of the Okeechobee community for four years now, and we look forward to being here for many years to come. Our address is below, and your GPS should be able to find it with no problem. We’re located 15 miles north of the city of Okeechobee via Highway 441, and then seven miles west on NW 240th Street. You can’t miss the 68 antenna towers on the south side of the road. If you get lost or have any questions, feel free to call or e-mail us. I hope to see you on December 1st.
Jeff White, General Manager
WRMI Radio Miami International, 10400 NW 240th Street, Okeechobee, Florida 34972 USA
Tel +1-305-559-9764 Fax +1-863-467-0185 E-mail: [email protected]
Queridos amigos y colegas:
El 1 de diciembre de 2017 será el cuarto aniversario de las transmisiones de WRMI desde el sitio de transmisión de Okeechobee, Florida. Anteriormente, transmitimos desde un sitio en Hialeah, Florida durante 20 años.
Para celebrar nuestro 4to. Aniversario en Okeechobee, lo invitamos cordialmente a que se una a nosotros para una Fiesta de Casa Abierta / Navidad / Aniversario el viernes 1 de diciembre de 10:30 a.m. a 6:00 p.m. Puede visitar en cualquier momento para un recorrido por la planta, donde se pueden ver nuestros 14 transmisores (la mayoría de ellos 100.000 vatios cada uno) y 23 antenas radiando programas religiosos, políticos y culturales en varios idiomas 200 horas al día, siete días a la semana para prácticamente todas partes del mundo. WRMI es la emisora de onda corta mas grande del Hemisferio Occidental. También puede conocer a miembros de nuestro personal y clientes que transmiten programas en la estación. Y habrá mucha comida y bebida, así que ¡por favor llegue con hambre!
WRMI está muy contento de haber sido parte de la comunidad de Okeechobee durante cuatro años, y esperamos estar aquí por muchos años más. Nuestra dirección está arriba, y su GPS debería poder encontrarla sin problema. Estamos ubicados a 15 millas al norte de la ciudad de Okeechobee a través de la autopista 441, y luego a siete millas al oeste en la calle 240 del noroeste. No se pueden perder las 68 torres de antena en el lado sur de la carretera. Si se pierde o tiene alguna pregunta, no dude en llamarnos o enviarnos un correo electrónico.
Espero verle el 1 de diciembre.
Jeff White, Gerente General, WRMI Radio Miami International
Hurricane Irma has done extensive damage at WRMI in Okeechobee, Florida.
Two antenna towers are down and many poles holding transmission lines are also down.
Power went out at around 2030 UTC Sunday, and it may not be restored for days.
Meanwhile, all transmitters are off the air. Our Internet service is also down, which means that our live stream is down as well. All of our staff are OK. We’ll try to provide more information later today here on Facebook. Thanks for all of your messages of support.
I am writing this at 0400 UTC Sunday, September 10. Here in Okeechobee the winds are starting to pick up as Hurricane Irma heads to Florida.
The exact path of the hurricane continues to change somewhat, but it appears that the eye of Hurricane Irma will be passing a bit to the west of us, but we will still receive tropical storm force winds which are to the east-northeast of the storm. We will remain on the air with all of our transmitters as long as possible. However, once the winds get to a certain strength, our transmission lines will start flapping around and arching, which could cause serious damage to the transmitters and components. If that occurs, we will probably shut the transmitters down in order to avoid equipment damage until after the storm passes.
Our transmitter building itself is quite strong, and several members of our staff will be staying inside the building. But the hurricane could of course do damage to our antennas. We will hope for the best.
After the hurricane passes and winds die down, we would hope to be able to resume transmissions if we have electricity. However, realistically, we know that power outages generally occur in these situations, and they may last from hours to days or even weeks. We have a generator at our transmitter site, but it is designed to maintain our control room, lights and computers operational; it is not large enough to maintain our high-power transmitters on the air. So if the commercial power goes out, we will be off the air. We may be able to maintain one transmitter on the air at low power; this will likely be 9455 kHz, and this may not be possible until after the storm passes and the winds die down. If our Internet service remains functional, we should be able to maintain our live stream operational. This is the programming that is on 9955 kHz shortwave. You can hear it on our webpage, www.wrmi.net. Click on the audio player on the lower right side of our home page. You can also hear this stream on services such as TuneIn, Streema, Radio Garden, etc. (Just search for WRMI.)
Thank you to everyone who has been contacting us with your thoughts and prayers. We look forward to being able to resume normal operations as soon as possible.
WRMI Radio Miami International
10400 NW 240th Street
Okeechobee, Florida 34972 USA
Many thanks to Jeff White for publishing this update.
I’m curious if anyone has been monitoring Radio Havana Cuba this morning. Rob Wagner posted the following update on Facebook yesterday morning as Cuba was getting battered by the full force of Irma:
Monitoring Cuba at 1110 UTC on Sept 9:
5025 CUBA. R. Rebelde – Bauta. At the height of Hurricane Irma, with a fat carrier and no audio from tune in at about 1000 UT till 1043 when suddenly audio came on. So perhaps power at the txer but not in the studio during that time. Appears to be all live crosses. The audio off again after 1105 till 1109. CNN says that Irma is right over Havana (north side of the island) right about now. So they are right in the thick of it.
If you have an update, please comment.
We’re wishing our many Florida, Georgia and SE US readers the very best as this particularly destructive storm passes over land. We hope our readers who have already been in the path of Irma have made it through safely.
Here at the SWLing Post HQ, in the mountains of western North Carolina, we’re expecting high winds and heavy rains even though the storm path has shifted further west. Much of this is due to our altitude which is relatively high for the region–near the ridge line. Sustained winds may be around 40 mph with gusts in excess based on the current forecast. These are wind speeds we can easily handle. Strong sustained winds and rain may persist until Thursday, however, which may mean power outages due to fallen trees. All in all, we feel very lucky.
Please feel free to share your hurricane report in the comments section.
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