Posted by: calloftheandes | February 17, 2012

Shortwave Listeners Seize Opportunity to Voice Appreciation to HCJB Global

Wayne Huhta (standing) with another ham radio operator, Dan Caesar, at W9H station in Indiana.

The cookie in the envelope had already crumbled upon reaching Elkhart, Ind., via regular mail. The crumbs, however, represented the shortwave radio listener’s appreciation for decades of broadcasts.

From Stockholm, Sweden, he had listened to the Swedish-language programs from Radio Station HCJB in Quito, Ecuador, ever since 1956. He later had the opportunity to meet Swedish radio program producer Sonja Persson in Stockholm and again in Dalarna during one of her home ministry assignments in Sweden.

Archive photo shows Sonja Persson with Ellen de Campana in an HCJB studio.

He was the proud recipient of more than 50 “Voice of the Andes” QSL (listener confirmation) cards for the reception reports he’d faithfully mailed to the station. To that treasured collection, he recently added one more QSL card for participating in a special ham radio event held in December. The event united briefly again those who had tuned in regularly to program hosts who declared to listeners, “We’re more than a voice; we’re friends who care.”

Staff from the HCJB Global Technology Center in Elkhart staged the Dec. 10-17 event with help from area amateur radio operators. “I remember HCJB as the ‘Voice of the Andes,’” commented one of the ham radio operators who called in. Another said, “HCJB was involved in my starting in radio. It always had the strongest signal on the band.”

Ham radio operators and shortwave listeners alike made contact with the station with the specially assigned call sign, W9H. Numerous respondents recalled the days of yesteryear when the station’s signals carried programs in multiple languages.

“HCJB has a long history of proclaiming the gospel,” one caller said. “It’s the first shortwave station I heard.”

Radio Station HCJB Global’s Latin America Region ended broadcasts from the shortwave transmission facility in Pifo, Ecuador, in November 2009 after 58 years. The mission’s German World Office, however, continues to oversee some shortwave broadcasts from South America in collaboration with the Ecuador-based partner ministry Vozandes Media.

Meanwhile, the mission’s Australian World Office has been using shortwave since 2002 to broadcast from Kununurra, primarily in Asian languages, but it’s also licensed to broadcast to the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand.

“HCJB broadcasts the news the world really needs,” said one caller. “Listening to HCJB sparked my love for shortwave radio 42 years ago.”

Another longtime fan called in and said, “I’m 69 years old—listened 60 years ago to the Caribbean Call program.”

QSL card from HCJB "The Voice of the Andes"

Some DXers (long-distance listeners who make a hobby of hearing faraway shortwave stations) tuned in for an exotic “catch” while others cared more about the program content. One wrote, “I was a regular listener to the DX Party Line program. I have a QSL card from February 1976 signed by Sam Rowley.”

Another said, “I remember well the story of Clarence Moore and the cubical quad antenna.”

One person shared the story of listening as a young lad to the program, Morning in the
Mountains, with his mother each day. His mother had a serious illness at the time, and the program brought great comfort, encouragement and blessing to her and the family.

“HCJB was my old friend,” said yet another caller who took part in the event which looked both at the past and the future. It was conceived to celebrate the Technology Center’s founding 25 years ago and the 80th anniversary of the mission agency’s first broadcasts from Radio Station HCJB in Quito, Ecuador, on Christmas Day, 1931.

The purpose of the event in Elkhart was to help the mission reconnect with listeners and get acquainted with others less familiar with the ministry. In addition to getting the special QSL card, callers received a brochure about HCJB Global’s present ministries.

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