When Norway began closing the door on FM radio a couple of years ago, it unwittingly opened several doors for TWR broadcast partners in Latin America and the Caribbean.
So, how did Norway’s technological evolution come to have an impact on Christian broadcasters thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean? The catalyst was one of TWR’s national partners in Norway – P7 Kristen Riksradio (Christian National Radio).
After Norway in 2017 became the first country in the world to shut down national FM broadcasts in a move to digital audio broadcasting, or DAB, 10 no-longer-needed FM transmitters were offered to P7. They are first-rate transmitters made by Germany’s Rohde & Schwarz electronics company and are in excellent condition.
P7 wanted to know if the transmitters could be put to use for media ministry somewhere in the world, and TWR’s vice president for Latin American and the Caribbean jumped at the opportunity. Steve Shantz knew that several national partners in his region needed help obtaining FM transmitters to expand their ministries, so P7’s generous provision was literally a godsend.
“While DAB is an excellent broadcast format, Latin America is not quite ready for such a conversion,” Shantz said from his home in Canada. “FM will be around for the foreseeable future there.”
TWR national partners in Bolivia, Peru and Haiti have already requested transmitters. In Peru alone, three are needed to start a new outreach in the Andes Mountains and a fourth will boost the power and potential audience of Radio Integridad’s (in English, Radio Integrity) popular station in Trujillo.
Some modification required
Despite having the high-tech equipment provided practically on a silver platter, there was still a significant hurdle to clear. Shantz, formerly TWR’s chief technical officer, learned that the transmitters would have to be fitted with a ventilator assembly to be able to function properly in their new locations.
He turned to SonSet Solutions, which serves the technical needs of more than 100 ministries. The Elkhart, Indiana, company has provided support for TWR’s shortwave transmitters, and TWR technical specialists have been assigned to serve at the SonSet facility. In fact, Elkhart-based TWR engineers Rich West and Larry McGuire are working on the transmitters, and Texas-based Dave Pedersen is the leader of the project.
The transmitters were shipped from Norway to Elkhart, where they were unpacked and soon will be modified with the ventilators before being repacked and shipped to their ultimate destinations.
“They are like brand new,” McGuire reported. “There isn’t even any dust inside the units!”
Having facilitated the extraordinary transmitter transfer and even paid for shipping and customs duties, P7’s generosity still hasn’t run its course. The Norwegian broadcaster has also agreed to try to raise the $1,600 cost of each of the ventilators, which have been ordered from Germany. For P7 CEO Kenneth Hjortland, the importance of Christian broadcasting is undeniable.
“I have stood in the pulpits,” said the former pastor, “and I have shouted out to the unreached people that they have to learn to know Jesus. But my message stopped at the door. It never reached outside of the church.”
Help us by praying
Much remains to be done before the transmitters can be installed and broadcasting gospel messages to listeners in Latin America and the Caribbean. Shantz called on TWR supporters and staff around the world to pray for the project and outlined several specific needs.
- First, praise God for the availability of this high-quality equipment, the valuable partnership of P7 and SonSet Solutions, and the progress already made.
- Pray that funds will be raised to cover the cost of the ventilators.
- Pray that the technical work (at SonSet and later on-site), shipping and customs arrangements will proceed smoothly, enabling the new outreach to get underway soon.
- Finally, pray that many people will hear the signal and their hearts touched by the programming.
Photo: Engineers at SonSet Solutions in Elkhart, Indiana, carefully unload one of the FM transmitters.