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AWR completed a major expansion of the station
October 29, 2013

Adventist World Radio welcomed international and local guests to a rededication ceremony at its Guam shortwave station on September 3, 2013, to mark the completion of a major expansion of the station. The increased capacity of approximately 25 percent is comparable to adding a whole new station to AWR’s operation.

This upgrade enables AWR to improve its broadcasts to numerous countries in Asia in several ways:

• by transmitting over frequencies that better reach its target audiences;

• by scheduling simultaneous broadcasts to multiple countries, in order to reach listeners during their respective peak listening times;

• by having more options to shift scheduling.

The theme of the event was “From this tiny island ... to the world.” During the ceremony, the Honorable Eddie Baza Calvo, Governor of Guam, picked up on the theme, saying, “There’s something I learned when I was in the retail business. You had three reasons for success: location, location, location. As I look at where Guam is ... and then I look forward, and I see that map of Adventist World Radio and where it reaches, you’re looking at nearly 3 billion people. Then you look at the contact with 3 billion people, and what is that contact all about? It is about spreading the good news. What greater mission can any human being or any enterprise have than to spread the good news?”

“There are a lot of things happening all over the world. ... We are in very complicated times. Why I’m so blessed to be here, and why I’m here to congratulate you all, and to give thanks for all you’re doing, is because in the midst of a contemporary world that is filled with a lack of spiritual direction, and meaning to what life is all about, there’s this: there’s ... Adventist World Radio. There’s a voice, and a message for eternity, and it is about bringing life to all of us, an eternal life.”

The ceremony was held directly on the antenna field, at the base of the newest tower, which enabled attendees to experience close up the massive size of the broadcast equipment. They came away with a greater appreciation of the enormous effort that was required to complete the two-year project.

Phase one of the expansion, which took place last year, involved the relocation of one of the station’s existing towers, to accommodate the replacement of a low-frequency antenna with a higher-frequency one. The second and final phase, consisted of erecting a new tower, and adding a new, high-frequency curtain antenna. This phase was even more labor-intensive, as it required staff to move countless tons of soil, fill in a steep ravine, bury 4-foot-diameter run-off culverts for erosion prevention, and pour 822 tons of concrete, before the 229-foot tower could be erected. The average size of the station’s curtain antennas is 236 by 260 feet – approximately the size of two football fields. During the construction, some broadcasts were shifted to commercial shortwave stations in Sri Lanka, and Europe for several months, so that listeners could receive uninterrupted service.

AWR Board Member, Don Martin said, “In 30 years of my practice as a communications attorney working with the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) licensing, this is about the most exotic project I’ve had the pleasure of being associated with. We worked under a lot of very tight schedules – we had suppliers, we had companies coming and going, we had the weather to deal with, we had the rainy season.”

Dowell Chow, AWR President, said, “This project was completed in record time: only two years. On average, it usually takes five years to install a project of this scope. Enormous appreciation goes to our staff on Guam, as well as our board members Loney Duncan, and Don Martin, who were heavily involved in the entire process. All of them put in countless hours and tremendous effort to ensure that we could meet the ambitious deadlines, and resume operations.”

The weather was a huge factor, as all construction had to be completed during Guam’s six-month-long dry season, and the core AWR staff team was very small. But, as AWR Guam Chief Engineer Brook Powers said, “This construction happened essentially with five guys – Gordon Garner, Ben Stern, Donaldo Storey, David Hendrick, and myself – an incredible amount of equipment, and a whole lot of blessing by God. All through the process, I [saw] the hand of God leading in this project.”

Elder Ted Wilson, President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, also paid tribute to God’s leading. “What really powers this station is the Holy Spirit. It is technologically-driven, it is information-oriented, but AWR Guam, and AWR itself are not necessarily in the information business, we are in the inspiration business….  God wants us to ask for miracles, He wants us to ask for something extraordinary. As we stand here today underneath all of the infrastructure ... we can truly say that this is an answer to prayer, and we thank God in an absolutely marvelous way.”

From AWR’s shortwave station on the tiny island of Guam, listeners in countries such as China, North Korea, Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia, Nepal, and more can hear the Adventist message of hope in their own languages. Currently, the station is broadcasting programs in 34 languages, for 287 hours/week. It is the only station AWR owns; in other parts of the world, AWR leases broadcast time on commercial shortwave stations. 

 “The funding for this $3 million upgrade came from two major sources,” Chow says. “We were fortunate to have reserves that could be used, but the bigger portion came from our many generous donors. We thank them many times over for the passion, and commitment they continue to show for AWR’s ministry, and for carrying the voice of hope to the hardest-to-reach people of the world. ”

Worldwide, AWR broadcasts programs in nearly 100 languages, through shortwave, and AM/FM radio, on demand, and podcasts. The advantage of shortwave radio is that the signals can travel for thousands of miles, reaching listeners in areas that are geographically-remote or closed to local Christian broadcasts, and this continues to be a key component of AWR’s service.