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Report from Grenada

by Sam Alcorn

This article was originally published in the January 1985 edition of FRENDX, now The Journal of the North American Shortwave Association. It appears here with permission of NASWA.


Here's what I learned in Grenada.

Grenada has no immediate plan to return to shortwave, according to a Radio Grenada official I met in St. George's. However, not all is so bleak. The official said the station would eventually return to the shortwave bands at some future date, adding the island nation has access to a shortwave transmitter when it is ready.

The good news is that Radio Grenada (I was admonished for referring to the station as Radio Free Grenada. "Free" was dropped because af the revolutionary ring and association with the former Bishop government) is alive and getting better on medium wave. The station is currently operating on 535kHz and 990kHz with about 10kW and a limited broadcast day.

The station's hours are 5 a.m. to 8 a.m., 10:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. On Sundays, the last transmission is from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. All times are Eastern Daylight Time.

The station official says Radio Grenada, which IDs as "This is Radio Grenada", is being heard along the eastern seaboard of the United States. The station recently received three reports from New Jersey listeners on the 990kHz frequeney.

As I was leaving the country, Radio Grenada was putting the final touches on the 535kHz transmitter facility with plans to boost the power to 20kW from 10kW and extend the broadcast doy from 5 a.m. to 11 P.M. EDT. The change was expected to happen November 18. but knowing Caribbean time and penchant for delay, that probably won't happen for another few weeks.

Radio Grenada was generally playing American and British pop music with a smattering of calypso and reggae. That was somewhat disappointing because when I go someplace I like to indulge in the local sounds. Hearing Culture club and Tina Turner in an exotic island setting like Grenada isn't exciting.

I came accross the former Radio Free Grenada facility which conveniently enough was located about 300 yards down Mourne Rouge from where I was staying: The facility has a spectacular view of Grand Anse Beach direct1y below and St. George's harbor in the distance.

All that is left is a bombed out white structure. The walls are barely standing. The property is fenced in and padlocked. The Cinnamon Hill Inn is adjacent to the station and the manager spoke with wonder at the surgical bombing of the station. The inn and other adjacent properties were untouched.

The station must have had plenty of ammunition stored there because the locals said for three days after the bombing they heard explosions from the facility.

The Radio Free Grenada antenna is still in place and from what I could sea untouched by the intervention. It's about 30 yards or so from the old station and sadly enough spoils a beautiful view of Grand Anse Beach from the balconies of the Cinnamon Hill Inn. Locals told me the old tower will be dismantled shortly.

The station is also very close to the St. George's Medical School where the U.S. Army Rangers came ashore. Just down the road is where Gen. Hudson Austin planned to kidnap American students on a bus returning to campus, say local residents. The plan was foiled.

Also nearby were Cuban workers. They stayed eight to a room, in shacks lining Mourne Rouge. The Rangers drew fire from several of the shacks as they came ashore. Those buildinga were soon destroyed. After the rescue mission, the Grenadian government decided to tear down the remaining buildings to make way for a park. The ahack area is often used by tourists walking from the inns to the beach and is an eyesore.

While many SWLs will criticize the old Radio Free Grenada slogan chanting and revolutionary tone, I rather enjoyod it all. It gave me a front-row seat for one of the biggest news stories of the decade. The day of the intervention in October 1983 (when everyone was pronouncing Grenada as Gra-nah-da), I felt I had a personal stake in history.

One other Grenada tidbit. Remember how some hobbyists were saying that the Radio Free Grenada obituaries were coded messages to the Cubans? Well, you might appreciate knowing that Radio Grenada continues to broadcast obits each night and they sure sound an awful lot like RFG's.


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DXer of the Year for 1995

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