Archive for April 3rd, 2020

Friday, April 3, 2020

Flying high and low: Radio Taiwan International’s French and Spanish Services return to Shortwave

The transmission site is important,
but a welcoming set of wires won’t hurt either,
especially if you want to listen to the programs
for Latin America from Europe

Radio Taiwan International (RTI) is putting its French and Spanish services back on the air, after an absence of two years. The French programs are broadcast every night at 19:00 to 19:30 UTC on 6005 kHz via Kostinbrod (Bulgaria), for northern Africa and Europe. There are news bulletins at the beginning of every transmission (except, possibly, on Saturdays and Sundays when those first ten minutes may be used for cultural or other programs).

RTI’s Spanish service will be back on air on April 6, i. e. this coming Monday, with transmissions for South America from 01:00 to 01:30 UTC on 5800 kHz, for Central America and Cuba from 02:00 to 02:30 UTC on 5010 kHz, and for Europe from 22:00 to 23:00 UTC on 7780 kHz. (Time UTC means Sunday night, April 5, local time in Latin America.)

The Spanish test transmissions were apparently all carried out by Radio WRMI (Radio Miami International) in Okeechobee, Florida, so that should be the case with the regular transmissions starting on April 6, too.

The decision to make more use of shortwave again was reportedly taken by a new director general at RTI , a man named Chang Cheng (張正) who has apparently been at the helm of Taiwan’s international broadcaster since some time in summer, 2019.

Chang appears to be enthusiastic about shortwave. This isn’t the first time that he is involved with broadcasting, he wrote in November last year, but while he used to think of broadcasting as a rather simple affair – “you speak, you record it, your voice goes on the air, and that’s that” (在錄音室錄完就大功告成,聲音就出去了), he has since learned that this had been a rather low-key description:

Once the recording is done, there’s post-production, once that is done, your voice has to go on air. How can it be transmitted? At RTI, for example, the recording, made at RTI’s main building in Taipei, has to be transmitted from the iron tower on the Taipei building’s roof on microwave, to the microwave station on the top of Yuanshan mountain, and, flying high and low, across buildings and mountain ranges, exit the Taipei Basin, to reach another microwave station there. Several relays later, it arrives at the targeted substation.*)

錄音結束,還要後製,後製完成,還要把聲音送出去。怎麼送?以央廣為例,在台北總台錄製的節目,必須透過屋頂的發射鐵塔,以微波打向高據圓山山頭的微波站,再居高臨下地越過高樓大廈、越過層層山巒,送到台北盆地之外的微波站。經過幾個微波站的接力,抵達各地分台。

The real task awaits us here: by the substation’s high-performance transmitters and all sorts of rigged antennas, the signal is carried out of Taiwan, on shortwave.

然後才是最難的部份:透過分台的高功率發射機與高聳的各式天線電塔,以短波的形式傳送到台灣境外。

Why the fuss? You say that in the internet age, you just have to put your voice on the internet and that will do? Not necessarily (pointing west without comment). Therefore, this sort of flying-pigeon message, the historic long-distance radio wave, reflected by the ionosphere, comes in handy.

幹嘛這麼費事?你說,網路時代,把聲音放上網路不就成了?這可不一定。你知道的,有些地方網路到不了(伸出食指默默指向西邊)。於是「短波」(Short Wave)這種有如飛鴿傳書、將無線電波藉由電離層反射的古老遠距傳輸技藝,就派上用場了。

Chang acknowledges that China jams such signals, but points out that jamming isn’t as watertight as the “great firewall” is.

That of course doesn’t explain why Africa, Europe, and Latin America have now become target areas for shortwave again. But the French department’s mailbag program, on February 15, quoted the management as saying that RTI needed to use all means of communications available to raise Taiwan’s profile, including shortwave.

____________

Notes

*) substation refers to the actual transmitter sites, such as Tamsui, or, in the past, Tianma substations.
____________

%d bloggers like this: