Brady Murray, Operations Manager of WWCR in Nashville, Tennessee, was elected President of the National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters at the NASB 2013 Annual Meeting in Birmingham, Alabama May 15-17. He replaces former President Glen Tapley of WEWN, whose term ended after two years as the Association's president. Murray had previously been Vice President of the NASB, and Charles Caudill, President of World Christian Broadcasting -- also based in the Nashville area -- was elected the new NASB Vice President. Jeff White and Thais White of WRMI in Miami were re-elected Secretary-Treasurer and Assistant Secretary-Treasurer, respectively.
Two NASB Board of Directors terms ended this year -- those of Glen Tapley of WEWN and Dr. Adrian Peterson of Adventist World Radio (AWR). Two new directors were elected: Terry Borders of WEWN and Dr. Dowell Chow, President of AWR. Borders is the manager of the WEWN transmitter site in Vandiver, Alabama. Dr. Chow is based at AWR headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, but spends much of his time travelling around the world.
The meeting was hosted by NASB member Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), which operates shortwave station WEWN. A welcome reception took place on the evening of May 15, followed by a barbecue dinner sponsored by EWTN at a renowned Birmingham restaurant called Dreamland Bar-B-Q.
On May 16, the meeting took place at EWTN headquarters in Irondale, a Birmingham suburb. Attendees toured the large state-of-the-art EWTN Television studios, watching part of a live broadcast and observing how a Catholic mass in Latin is translated and close-captioned. They saw the television and radio control rooms and the studios where EWTN Radio and WEWN shortwave programs are produced.
After the tour, there were a series of talks and presentations about shortwave-related subjects for the rest of the day. Dowell Chow of Adventist World Radio gave an overview of AWR's worldwide operations. He said that AWR operates with only 30 employees, but with the help of many more people who work at AWR studios around the world, producing programs in over 80 languages.
The NASB was pleased to welcome back an old member station, KVOH in Simi Valley, California, which has been off the air for some time but has recently been transferred to the Strategic Communications Group headed by Rev. John Tayloe. Tayloe's father-in-law was George Otis, who originally founded the station as part of the Voice of Hope network which included stations in the Middle East. The new owners are refurbishing the station's shortwave transmitter and they hope to have it back on the air within the next 90 days or so with programs in English and Spanish. The antenna is beamed from southern California toward Mexico and Cuba.
NASB meeting delegates had a chance to meet the new Vice President of Continental Electronics, who has recently taken over from Adil Mina -- a regular fixture at NASB meetings for many years. Mina has recently "semi-retired" to spend more time with his family, and more time at his home in Greece. His successor, Mike Rosso, gave a presentation in Birmingham about Continental Electronics and about Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) -- its status and its plans for the near future. He was followed by Mark Allen of the Rohn Tower Company, NASB's newest associate member, who talked about "Considerations for Aging Broadcast Tower Structures." Allen gave a sobering report, complete with photos, of the disasters that can occur when antenna towers are not properly maintained. He explained how faulty lighting, ice, wind and construction errors can easily cause accidents that result in extensive property damage, serious injuries and even death. In these days of financial cutbacks, Allen explained that tower maintenance is not an area that broadcasters should cut back on.
Charles Caudill, President and CEO of NASB member World Christian Broadcasting, gave an update on his organization's struggle to get a new shortwave station on the air from the island of Madagascar, off the southeast coast of Africa. Madagascar World Voice has had its transmitter site ready with antennas erected for a few years now, but is waiting on approval from the Madagascar communications minister to import its transmitters and put the station on the air. The Continental 100-kilowatt transmitters are sitting in crates in Houston waiting for shipment to Madagascar as soon as approval is granted. Caudill explained that elections will be held on the African island in July of this year, after which the government ministers will probably change, and this may give the station a better opportunity to get on the air in the coming months.
Monday's talks continued with Brady Murray of WWCR on the use of shortwave radio as an educational broadcasting tool. A discussion afterwards also dealt with subjects such as the potential for DRM and domestic shortwave broadcasting. Jerome Hirigoyen of NASB associate member Telediffusion de France (TDF) gave a presentation about his company's large shortwave transmission facility in Issoudun, France. Seventeen 500-kilowatt transmitters and dozens of antennas -- including a rotatable version -- provide strong coverage of Africa, the Middle East, parts of the Americas and other regions of the world. Their main client used to be Radio France International, but TDF now sells airtime to a variety of public and private broadcasters from many countries. Finally, Dr, Jerry Plummer, WWCR's Frequency Manager, spoke about the transition of international broadcasting to the for-profit sector. Plummer explained that while many European public broadcasters have been reducing or eliminating their shortwave transmissions in recent years, many of their facilities are now owned or being used by privately-owned and often commercial enterprises. As Plummer proclaimed, "shortwave is definitely not dying."
On May 17, the NASB annual meeting took place at the transmitter site of WEWN on a rural mountaintop about 40 minutes' drive from Irondale. Once delegates reached the top of the mountain, they were treated to some spectacular views of the surrounding Alabama mountains and the nine large antennas that WEWN uses to reach the Americas, Europe, Africa and other parts of the world. Inside the transmitter building are four 500-kilowatt Continental transmitters which beam 24 hours per day of programming in English and Spanish.
WEWN originally broadcast programs in 22 languages, and when it first went on the air, some of its super-power transmissions -- particularly on the higher frequencies -- made their way into the homes of local residents. As Glen Tapley explained, "We had calls from people who were hearing voices in Chinese coming from their knives and forks!" Station personnel visited peoples' homes to install filters, and some of the highest frequencies were avoided in an attempt to cause less local interference.
About 11 employees operate the WEWN transmitter site, managed by Terry Borders. On this occasion, some of them were performing double duty as they prepared an excellent barbecue of hamburgers and hot dogs for the NASB attendees. After lunch, Jerry Plummer of WWCR explained why it is still difficult to find in-band HF frequencies, even with some of the large European broadcasters leaving long-used channels.
At the NASB business and Board meetings, the new board members and officers were elected. The members also agreed to assist NASB associate member Galcom International in its efforts to obtain some special concessions that could permit the company to produce simple, ultra-low-cost DRM receivers in the $20 range that could finally make DRM affordable for listeners in large parts of the world and viable for international broadcasters.
The date and place of the NASB 2014 Annual Meeting was announced. It will be held at the Voice of America/International Broadcasting Bureau relay station in Greenville, North Carolina. Initial information is already available on the NASB website, www.shortwave.org. Click on "Annual Meeting."
A selection of photos from the 2013 meeting in Birmingham will be available within the next few days on the NASB Facebook page, www.facebook.com/nasbshortwave.
For more information, contact:
Jeff White, NASB Secretary-Treasurer
c/o WRMI Radio Miami International
175 Fontainebleau Blvd., Suite 1N4
Miami, Florida 33172 USA
E-mail: radiomiami9 at cs.com
(NASB News Release - May 22, 2013)