AWR Africa – The History

This article was originally broadcast over AWR in their “Wavescan” program and now forms part of the Radio Heritage Collection ©. All rights reserved to Ragusa Media Group, PO Box 14339, Wellington, New Zealand. This material is licenced on a non-exclusive basis to South Pacific DX Resource hosted on for a period of five years from May 1 2002. Author: Adrian Peterson

For almost half a century, radio programming from the Seventh-day Adventist Church has been heard on shortwave in Africa. Back in the early era, these broadcasts were on the air from local shortwave stations located within the African continent, and that was the topic here in Wavescan many months ago.

Subsequently, Adventist programming in several languages has been beamed to Africa from large shortwave stations located in Europe, and in more recent time, from additional large shortwave stations located in Asia and again in Africa itself. We go back now, nearly half a century, to the year 1953.

Back at that time, a newly established radio studio located at the Seventh-day Adventist college in Beirut, Lebanon, began the production of radio programming in two languages, Arabic & Farsi. The first of these new broadcasts in Arabic went on the air from a 35 kW transmitter located near Colombo in Sri Lanka in September of that same year, 1953.

A few months later, similar programming was commenced in the Farsi language. At the time, the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation was on the air daily for an hour and a quarter specifically beamed to Africa and the Middle East. It is understood that this series of programming in two languages was on the air for a year or two, terminating probably some time in the year 1955.

The next event in this sequence occurred in the year 1975. Under the direction of Allen Steele in Lisbon, Portugal, a series of test broadcasts was prepared in the Swahili language and forwarded to the Deutsche Welle relay station located at Kigali in Rwanda.

This new series of AWR programming was scheduled to go on air in mid 1975 and this fact was announced in advance. However, it is difficult to determine if and when these broadcasts actually went on the air.

Three years later again, another series of radio programs went on the air from Sri Lanka, this time in English and under the title “Afica Test Broadcasts”. These fifteen minute programs were produced in the Poona studios of Adventist World Radio.

The final broadcasts to Africa from SLBC Colombo were concluded on September 26, 1981, with four editions of the old DX program, “Radio Monitors International”. Even though these broadcasts were beamed to Afica, using two transmitters at 35 kW and 100 kW, they were nevertheless heard around the world, and many QSL cards were issued to many listeners in many countries.

Next we come to another venture on the part of Allen Steele. The year is 1983 and by this time, Allen & Andrea are located at Andrews University in Michigan, where he was the manager for the 100 kW FM station WAUS.

New programming for Africa was produced in the WAUS studios, using the talents and voices of students from Africa. These programs were forwarded to Gabon and broadcast over a 500 kW transmitter of Africa No !, operating at half power. These programs were on the air for a period of more than 10 years, and they ended with a flourish with specially endorsed QSL cards.

Broadcasts to Africa were then beamed from powerful shortwave stations in Europe; and then in 1988, AWR relays went on the air from two different locations in Africa. One is the very large Sentech station with its two shortwave bases located side by side in South Africa, and the other is the Radio Netherlands relay station located at Talata on the island of Madagascar.

The Madagascar relay station is carrying AWR programming for the island itself, and the Sentech station, located at Meyerton near Johannesburg, is carrying AWR programming for a wide arc of countries in all areas of Africa except the far north and the far south. Nevertheless, the Meyerton station can be heard in every country of the world at some time during the broadcast day.

A total of nine different transmitters located at Meyerton have been used in the relay of AWR programming and these are rated at 100 kW, 250 kW & 500 kW. The AWR programming from Madagascar has been radiated over two different units at the Radio Netherlands relay station; initially a 7.5 kW transmitter, and subsequently a larger unit at 50 kW.

Adventist World Radio in Africa
Time Lines
Country Location Station kW Year Date Information
Sri Lanka Ekala SLBC 35 1953 Sep Arabic, followed by Farsi
35 1955 Probably concluded

Rwanda Kigali DW 250 1975 Jul 11 Test broadcasts due

Sri Lanka Ekala SLBC 35) 1978 Dec 7 Test broadcasts began
100) 1981 Sep 26 Last test broadcast

Gabon Moyabi Africa No 1 250 1983 Oct 31 Produced at WAUS
250 1994 Apr 30 Final broadcast

South Africa Meyerton Sentech Three 1998 Mar 29 100 250 & 500 kW

Madagascar Talata RN 7.5 1998 Mar 29 French Malagasy began
50 1998 May New transmitter

Adventist World Radio in Africa
Location Information & References
Ekala Sri Lanka
Broadcasts in Arabic & Farsi to North Africa & Middle East – 1st series: SAT
Arabic began Sept 1953; VOP News
Farsi began March 1954; VOP News
Arabic & Farsi concluded probably in 1955
1978 plans for radio coverage into Africa, refurbished studio in Beirut; VOPN
War in Lebanon, project transferred to Nairobi Kenya; VOPN
AWR-Asia in Poona fills in with VOP test broadcasts, began Dec 7, 78 1930
147 programs nearly 3 years, ended with 4 DX programs 26-9-81; VOPN

Gabon Moyabi
AWR French Africa produced Allen Steele WAUS Andrews Uni; AWREN 14-1-1
AWR tests Africa No 1 scheduled cearly Oct; DSWCI
AWR on Africa No 1 Franceville Gabon began 31-10-83; AWREN Winter 1983
AWR via Gabon after several delays began 31-10-83; AWREN Winter 1984 1
AWR Africa No 1 French Mon-Sat 9630 250 kW 1700-1800 1984; W Schedule
AWR 1hr French weekdays & 1 hr English Sun days; DXO 2-89 75
AWR French, La Vie Abodante; AR 22-3-84 323-19
AWR French to Africa transferred to Gabon March 1984; QSL letter
AWR Gabon to end 31-8-93 9625 0500 daily 11780 1200 Sun; News release
AWR Gabon finally ended Sat Apr 30 1994, special QSLs; News release
AWR Gabon final schedule 9625 Mon-Fri 0500 11780 Sat Sun 1200; Schedule

Rwanda Kigali
AWR plans test transmissions from DW Kigali before 5-77; EA 79.17 3-77 113
AWR Swahili from Kigail due July 1, may be delay, no funds; Contributor 6-75 1
Tapes were sent to Kigali; Allen Steele interview
AWR via Kigali postponed till decision at Vienna GC session; AWREN
AWR plans for Kigali in Kasai; Contributor 6-75 1

7.5 kW Siemens from SRI Schwarzenberg; Note
7.5 kW 0230 – 0330 & 1530 – 1630 & 1700 – 1730 daily 4960 29-3-98; Schedule
AWR 3215 during WWCR silent period May 3 & 10, 1998; DSWCI DX Window
AWR 50 kW soon afterwards;
50 kW 0300 – 0400 & 1530 – 1600 & 1700 – 1730 daily 3215 25-10-98; Schedule
50 kW 0230-0330 & 1530-1630 28-3-99; Schedule

AWR Meyerton began 29-3-98; Schedule
AWR usage; Kathy Otto e-mail message
100 kW, same two each day
250 kW, any of four
500 kW, any of three

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