I started this series several months ago with pictures of Ecos del Torbes and other stations in San Cristóbal, Venezuela. This time I want to take you to the other places I visited on that trip to Andean Venezuela in January 1995.
When I started DXing in the early 1970s, Venezuelans were the most commonly heard Latin American shortwave stations. The 90- and 60-meter bands were full of them and there were more than a few to be heard in the 49- and even 31-meter bands. But the Venezuelans began abandoning shortwave before other countries in the region and by the late 1970s their numbers had been considerably thinned. Only a handful remained in the early 1990s.
This radio dial [click to enlarge] goes back to a time when Latin American stations were found all over the radio bands.
One of the last Venezuelan stations to leave shortwave in the 1990s was Radio Valera in the busy commercial city of Valera.
For decades, Radio Valera was one of the best heard and most consistent Venezuelan stations on 60 meters. Roque Torres Aguilar, waving on the left side, was station manager at the time of my visit.
I’ve found listings in DX publications for their 4840 kHz frequency as far back as 1946.
I was given this 59th anniversary key chain when I visited Radio Valera in January 1995. So the station must have begun around 1935.
Station studio in 1995.
A second shortwave station in the state of Trujillo was Radio Trujillo in the nearby town of the same name. Broadcasting on 3295 kHz, they were one of the easier catches in the 90-meter band in the early 1970s but were gone by the late 1970s. Continue reading →
A collection of over 150 “QSL cards”, QSL? chronicles a moment in time before the Internet age, when global communication was thriving via amateur, or “ham”, radio operators.
Discovered by designer Roger Bova, the distinctly designed cards follow the international correspondence of one ham, station W2RP, who turned out to be the longest-standing licensed operator in The United States.
TAIPEI, Taiwan — On Tuesday nights, BX2AN sits near the Xindian River, motionless but for his thumb and middle finger, rhythmically tapping against two small metal paddles. They emit a sound each time his hand makes contact — from the right, a dit, or dot; from the left, a dah, or dash, the building blocks of the Morse code alphabet.
“Is anyone there?” he taps.
The replies come back in fits and starts: from Japan, then Greece, then Bulgaria. Each time, BX2AN, as he is known on the radio waves, jots down a series of numbers and letters: call signs, names, dates, locations. Then he adjusts a black round knob on his transceiver box, its screens glowing yellow in the dark.
There can be no doubt that this is his setup. That unique call sign is stamped across the front of his black radio set, scrawled in faded Sharpie on his travel mug and engraved in a plaque on his car dashboard. On the edge of his notepad, he’s absent-mindedly doodled it again, BX2AN.
In the corporeal world he is Lee Jiann-shing, a 71-year-old retired bakery owner, husband, father of five, grandfather of eight and a ham radio enthusiast for 30 years. Every week, he is the first to arrive at this regular meeting for Taipei’s amateur radio hobbyists.
[…]The self-governing island, about 100 miles east of China, is weighing wartime scenarios in the face of growing military aggression from its vastly more powerful neighbor. If cell towers are down and internet cables have been cut, the ability of shortwave radio frequencies to transmit long-distance messages could become crucial for civilians and officials alike. [Continue reading…]
CARACAS, Oct 26 (Reuters) – In July officials from Venezuela’s telecommunications regulator entered the Moda 105.1 FM radio station, in the northwestern state of Cojedes, accompanied by members of the national guard and demanding to see all the station’s licensing.
Hours later they stopped it broadcasting – making Moda one of at least 50 stations in Venezuela’s interior which have been closed so far this year by the Conatel regulator because it says they lack valid licenses.
The accelerated closures are a new step in efforts by the government of President Nicolas Maduro to control information and give state media hegemony over communications, journalist guilds and non-governmental organizations say, continuing a policy begun under his predecessor Hugo Chavez. [Continue reading…]
We have arrived at a milestone. The 100th edition of The ARRL Handbook for Radio Communications is here: Handbook 100. How do you celebrate the most widely used one-stop reference and guide to radio technology principles and practices? By continuing to fill the pages of another edition with the progress and achievement of radio amateurs. Handbook 100 is written for everyone with a desire to advance the pursuit of wireless technology. Here is your guide to radio experimentation, discovery, and innovation.
Each chapter is filled with the most up-to-date knowledge representative of the wide and ever-expanding range of interests among radio amateurs. There are practical, hands-on projects for all skill levels — from simple accessories and small power supplies to legal-limit amplifiers and high-gain antennas.
Radio electronics theory and principles
Circuit design and equipment
Signal transmission and propagation
Digital modulation and protocols
Antennas and transmission lines
Updated with new projects and content, including:
An all-new chapter on radio propagation covering a wide range of bands and modes
New and updated sections on electronic circuit simulation
New cavity filter and high-power HF filter projects
New coverage on digital protocols and modes
New material on RFI from low-voltage lighting and other sources
Revised sections covering new RF exposure limits
New content on portable station equipment, antennas, power, and assembly
New material on ferrite uses and types
New section on how to use portable SDR to locate sources of RFI …and more.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Don Moore–noted author, traveler, and DXer–for the following guest post series:
Don Moore’s Photo Album
by Don Moore
When I discovered DXing over fifty years ago I also discovered the world. Through my ears I traveled to other countries and explored other cultures. But DXing has also literally taken me places. My early interest in Latin American DXing developed into a broader interest in Latin America. That led to me joining the Peace Corps after college and working three years in Honduras. That experience furthered my interest in Latin America and I have continued to travel in the region whenever possible. For me DXing and travel were always intertwined. I’m one of a handful of hobbyists who took DXing beyond just listening and went knocking on broadcasters’ doors to visit the distant stations I heard. My ex-wife dubbed this ‘door-to-door DXing.’
To date I’ve visited over 150 radio stations in thirteen countries. A few were medium-wave or FM only, but I was always most interested in visiting broadcasters that used shortwave, either at the time of my visit or a few years before. As my station visits were primarily made in the 1980s and 1990s, almost all of the stations are long-gone from the shortwave bands. However, many are still around on medium wave and FM and often also via streaming on the Internet. As much as I miss the magic of shortwave I know that these stations reach more listeners today via streaming than they ever did with their low-powered shortwave transmitters. Honestly, I sometimes enjoy tuning them in without the fading and static of shortwave. But the memories of what shortwave once was are still there.
Photos also bring back memories. I took dozens of pictures on my station visits and enjoy scrolling through them now and then. You may have seen some of them. Many of my photos were printed with articles I wrote for various DX publications and I’ve done a few slide-shows at DX get-togethers over the years.
In this series of columns I want to share my old photos once again. If you’ve been DXing as long as I have maybe they’ll bring back memories of what you once heard. And if you haven’t been around that long you will have a better understanding of the good old days we oldtimers talk about.
Ecos Del Torbes
There is no better place to start this journey than with Ecos del Torbes. Using ten kilowatts on 4980 kHz, this Venezuelan broadcaster was possibly the most consistent station in the sixty-meter band throughout the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. If you were DXing the tropical bands during those years you surely logged them a few times. If you were lucky you may even have heard their one kilowatt signal on 9640 kHz. They were a very good verifier and for many DXers Ecos del Torbes was among the first Latin American stations QSLed.
Just after Christmas in 1994, my then-wife, four-year-old daughter, and I flew to Mérida in western Venezuela for a family vacation. For ten days we had a great time in this Andean city and then Theresa and Rebecca returned to Iowa while I stayed another week to visit radio stations. I was also getting paid by the Voice of America to research and write a study on the media scene in Andean Venezuela. The now very-out-of-date report can be read at my Patepluma Radio website (which hasn’t been changed in over twenty years and is in need of a facelift).
In that week I visited fifteen radio stations in six towns and cities and Ecos del Torbes was the highlight. I arrived at their doorstep unannounced but was immediately treated as an important guest. I was given a great tour and even got to sit in on a live newscast to see the famous Venezuelan doorbell being used live. I was there about ninety minutes and then walked a block up the street to sister station Radio Táchira. Their facilities were smaller but that’s where the technical offices were and Chief Engineer Ivan Escobar had been told to expect me. Ivan gave me a tour and invited me to visit the Ecos del Torbes transmitter site with him in the afternoon. On the way we stopped by his house where his wife had lunch waiting for us. Visiting Ecos del Torbes was not just the highlight of this trip but ranks as one of my all-time favorite station visits. These pictures bring back many good memories.
Ecos del Torbes was located in the second floor of this building in downtown San Cristóbal. The entrance was the door on the side.
The small plaque next to the door was easy to miss. I walked right by the first time.
Edgar Fabala of the news department showed me around. Here he demonstrates the mini-xylophones that Venezuelan stations used to make the distinctive ‘doorbell’ sound that separated items in the news reports.
Announcer in the studio preparing to read the news.
The adjoining control room.
Ecos del Torbes had one of the largest record libraries in Venezuela. The LPs were color-coded by type.
Julio Achila was a control room operator who had worked at the station since it opened in 1947.
This pennant was considerably larger than the ones sent to DXers.
Sister station Radio Táchira was located a block up the street on the fourth floor of this building.
The Ecos del Torbes transmitter building.
The 50 kilowatt medium wave transmitter on 780 kHz.
Chief Engineer Ivan Escobar and Don Moore next to the 31 meter transmitter. The larger transmitter was for the well-heard 4980 kHz frequency.
The antenna array used for 4980 kHz. The medium wave tower is in the background.
Dipole antenna used for 9640 kHz.
San Cristóbal once had a third broadcaster on shortwave. Radio San Sebastian used 6070 kHz in the early 1970s. (They were not affiliated with Ecos del Torbes).
That was nearly three decades ago and a lot has changed. Ecos del Torbes and Radio Táchira have been gone from shortwave for over twenty years.
In 1995 Ecos del Torbes was at the corner of Calle 9 and Carrera 8, the same address as when I first QSLed them in 1972. Sometime since my visit they moved an outer neighborhood about two kilometers to the east. To find the new offices locate San Cristóbal on Google maps and then search for “Grupo Radial Gonzalez Lovera”. The transmitter site is still where I visited it and can be seen by plugging the coordinates “7.7885, -72.2725” into Google maps and switching to satellite view. (Ignore the picture that pops up to the side. That’s not it.) Zooming in, the medium wave tower is clearly visible but there are no signs of the old shortwave antennas. I suspect they were sold for scrap years ago. I never have found out where the Radio Táchira transmitter site was.
I’d love to go back to Venezuela someday and see some of the other cities that I used to listen to, such as Barquisimeto, Valencia, El Tigre, and Sucre. Unfortunately the political and economic situation there doesn’t look good and it doesn’t look as if it will improve any time soon. But when it does, I’ll be back.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who shares the following recordings and writes:
With the news over the past few years, and especially over the last few weeks, of the rapid decline of Venezuela, it’s interesting to recall that there was a day when that country was a powerhouse on the shortwave band, with numerous private radio stations that SWL’s around the world could hear in the 90, 60, 49, 31, and 19 meter bands.
There was also a brief attempt to put Venezuela on the map as an international broadcaster, with Radio Nacional de Venezuela which was audible at good signal levels.
Our thanks to Dan for this 45 minute recording, found in Dan’s archives of recordings, from 2004 when Radio Nacional de Venezuela was on the air in October 2004:
Dan, thank you so much for sharing these excellent off-air recordings! I will also add these to the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive. We look forward to any other recordings you might turn up in your archives.
Hi there, I thought I would share a few recent medium wave DX catches from South America. In the past month or so, I’ve managed to record signals from Colombia, Peru, Venezuela and one that I’m particularly happy about – Ecuador, which is rarely reported in Europe. All catches were obtained with my usual indoor home set-up – the brilliant little Elad FDM DUO coupled to the equally brilliant Wellbrook ALA1530 active loop antenna. I have started to take the Elad on DXpeditions now, having constructed a battery pack for it, but the results I’m yielding outdoors are so far mainly with shortwave reception, where the improvement in SNR is quite obvious in the size of the carriers I’m observing and much improved modulation/ audio clarity on the Tropical Band. Hopefully in time, similar results will yield on medium wave. In the meantime, Im very happy with the indoor performance and these catches demonstrate that. There are many more reception videos on my YouTube channel Oxford Shortwave Log, including a large number of signals recorded from North America on medium wave. Direct links follow below and further down, embedded reception videos. Thanks very much for watching, listening and I will you all excellent DX.
Clint Gouveia is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Clint actively publishes videos of his shortwave radio excursions on his YouTube channel: Oxford Shortwave Log. Clint is based in Oxfordshire, England.
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