THE STORY OF AWR IN THE EXOTIC PACIFIC
(By Dr Adrian Peterson,
AWR, IN, USA <COPYRIGHT RAGUSA MEDIA GROUP>, and reproduced
with permission This story may not be further reproduced or quoted
without the specific consent of the author)
In our continuing saga about the development of Adventist World Radio over the years, we come now to the story of the AWR station located at Agat on the island of Guam. On this occasion, we take our information from the book written by Dr Allen Steele who was the station manager at the time of construction. Additional information comes from a multitudinous variety of AWR publications and documents.
Allen Steele states that most people begin their Guam story by talking about the weather, which is warm and humid year round. However, he states that he prefers to start his Guam story by telling about the people who are warm and friendly, and he refers to the happy welcome that he and his wife Andrea received when they first landed at the international airport at Agana.
Their first view of the un-developed AWR property on the edge of the blue Pacific near the village of Agat seemed so un-inviting. The site is on the extended slopes of Mt Lamlam, the highest mountain on Guam; scant vegetation covered the property, and eroded areas looked like a mini Grand Canyon. They had not yet thought about typhoons that would blow in from the Pacific nor of earthquakes that would rumble up from the deep underground.
The first office for the new radio station was established in Agana at the headquarters building of the Seventh-day Adventist church for Guam and Micronesia. Later the office function was transferred to a dwelling in Agat, and finally into the new AWR building.
In these changing circumstances, Allen & Andrea administered the construction and installation of the large new shortwave radio station which would soon become Adventist World Radio. During their tenure, the facility would contain four shortwave transmitters at 100 kW and four large curtain antennas directing Gospel programming into the countries of Asia.
After a period of unexpected delays due to heavy rain storms, the first transmitter was activated at 2:35 pm local time on Thursday March 5, 1987. The frequency on this first new unit was 11720 kHz. At 7:00 pm the following evening transmitter KSDA1 began regular programming, and in those days, all programming was assembled and presented at the station itself.
Six months later, another 100 kW transmitter was activated as KSDA2 and it became fully operational just before the Christmas season, 1987. Seven years later again another 100 kW transmitter was installed and activated as KSDA3. The fourth and final unit was activated as KSDA4 with a regular schedule early in the New Year 1996.
The first two transmitters were manufactured by Thomson in Europe and the second set of two transmitters were manufactured by Continental in the United States.. However, at the present time, AWR is replacing each of the four current transmitters with four newer ABB units procured from Africa. A 5th transmitter will be constantly hot ready for emergency usage.
The antenna system consists of four TCI curtains with passive reflectors. These antennas are strung from 6 towers in two clusters, three towers on each side of the main building.
On several occasions, major events at the station have been celebrated with public ceremonies. On the first auspicious occasion back in 1987 at the opening of the station, the Governor of Guam was an invited guest, and the "Voice of Prophecy" choir from Korea flew in to provide special music.
The AWR station on Guam has seen its share of typhoons and earthquakes, but on each of these occasions it has survived with very little major damage though at times it may be off the air for a few days until needed repairs are quickly completed. The AWR property at Facpi Point is no longer an abandoned wilderness; instead it is now a showcase on Guam that has won several awards and commendations for beautification and conservation.
The signal from the four transmitters at the AWR station on Guam can be heard far and wide, depending on the time of day, the season, and the frequency in use. In the Far East, the signal is loud and clear. In other countries of Asia, it can be heard on a daily basis. In the United States for example, all four transmitters can be heard around sunrise and sunset. Likewise in Europe, a multitude of listeners have reported nice reception from this station.
A large number of QSL cards have been issued for broadcasts from AWR Guam, and these are processed these days mainly from the AWR office in England.