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A Quick Look at Venezuela

By Don Moore

A slightly edited version of this article was originally published in the November, 1990 issue of The Journal of the North American Shortwave Association in the Latin Destinations column.


Hola amigos! Welcome to another edition of Latin Destinations.


With the winter DX season now underway, I thought this month we would make this a true beginners' column and focus on one of the easiest LAm targets, Venezuela. Experienced LAm DX aficionados should still read on, however, as there is a bit of info below that may help your station counts.

Venezuela has always been a favorite LAm DX target of mine because when I started LAm DXing in 1972, the sixty meter band was chock-full of Venezuelans - almost one every ten kilohertz. There were also several stations on 90 and 49 meters, but I cut my LAm DX teeth going after the YVs on 60 meters. In fact, my first tropical band LAm station logged and station QSLed was now-inactive Radio Barquisimeto on 4990 kHz. Unfortunately, Venezuelan activity on SW gradually declined through the 70s and into the mid-80s. In some other LAm countries, similar declines have been partially abated by new stations coming on the air, particularly from more remote regions. This hasn't been the case in Venezuela; only one new station powered up during the 80s (although there have been rumors of at least two more for several years).

Currently there are about a half-dozen "regular" stations, and another eight or ten stations that are heard with varying degrees of irregularity. However, Venezuelans are not that difficult to hear (assuming they are on the air). First, Venezuela is the closest South American country to North America. Secondly, Venezuelan stations tend to be larger, commercially more successful, and more powerful than their Andean counterparts to the South. Lastly, technical standards in Venezuela seem to be much higher than in most of the rest of Latin America.

Most Venezuelan SW stations are on the air from 1000-0400 UTC (6am to midnight, local time). They are much more likely to sign-on early than stay on late; several have 0900 sign-ons. That schedule gives North American DXers two chances at Venezuelan DX, the first from around your local sunset until 0400 signoff, and the second from 1000 until Venezuelan sunrise (which usually precedes sunrise in most of North America). On a good mid-winter day on the East Coast, it is occasionally possible to hear the 60MB Venezuelans as early as 2000, if there isn't too much interference from the Africans.


All of the "best bets" for Venezuela are in the 60 meterband. My two favorites, Ecos del Torbes on 4980 and Radio Tachira on 4830, are both in the city of San Cristobal on the Colombian border. Ecos del Torbes is so well heard that several years ago Radio Earth investigated buying transmitter time from them. The anti-Castro clandestine network La Voz del CID, took that a step further and actually did buy an hour a day for a while.

The most important station in Venezuela is Radio Rumbos, which operates two 100 Kw AM stations on 570 and 670 kHz, each from a different transmitter site. Rumbos is also the anchor station of Venezuela's largest radio network, and their newscasts, with a doorbell-like chime between each item, can occasionally be heard on other Venezuelan stations. Radio Rumbos also operates two 10 Kw SW transmitters on 4970 and 9660 kHz. The latter one is usually best heard in the mornings when the European QRM is gone. Few DXers, however, know that the two SW frequencies, like the MW ones, come from different transmitter sites, and thus may be counted as two seperate stations. 4970, and 570 MW, come from the site in Villa de Cura, Aragua state, about 50 miles outside Caracas. 9660, and 670 MW, broadcast from the main site in the Distrito Federal. These transmitter sites are listed in the WRTH (although not PWBR) and have been confirmed by Venezuelan DXers who visited Radio Rumbos.

Elsewhere in Venezuela, Radio Continental on 4940 has usually been active and easy to hear since it began SW broadcasts about two years ago, although as I write this it has been off the air for a few weeks. Radio Valera on 4840 is much weaker, but can be heard with a little trying. Radio Los Andes, also called Radio Mil Cuarenta (1040) after its AM frequency, can sometimes be heard on 6011 variable, especially in the morning, but QRM can be a problem. Venezuela's all-Spanish international service can sometimes be heard on 9540 kHz, as long as the more powerful intenational broadcasters make room for it. Of course, we shouldn't forget the Venezuelan version of WWV, YVTO on 5000 kHz. In the East, YVTO can be heard in the early evening before WWV fades in on 5 MHz. Otherwise you may have to do a little careful listening to get this underneath WWV. Finally, there are a lot of inactive Venezuelans that occasionally turn on their SW transmitters for a few days, a few weeks, or even a few months. Some that have done that recently are Radio Libertador, 3245; La Voz del Tigre (Radio 980), 3255; Radio Mara, 3275; and Radio Maracaibo, 4860.

Venezuelan stations on the whole don't seem to be much better than the rest of Latin America when it comes to QSLing, but the more easily heard stations are generally good verifiers. Ecos del Torbes, Radio Rumbos, Radio Continental, YVTO, and Radio Valera all have their own QSL cards. Radio Tachira and Radio Los Andes are good letter verifiers. As usual, write a good, polite Spanish report, and include a few local souvenirs. Return postage doesn't appear to be quite as important with Venezuelans, as the stations are better off financially than many stations elsewhere in Latin America. Still, you could enclose some mint stamps or a dollar bill for extra insurance. As usual with small LAm stations, don't bother with difficult-to-exchange IRCs, though!

1996 Addendum:Ecos del Torbes on 4980 and Radio Tachira on 4830 continue to be the best ways to log Venezuela. Radio Rumbos hasn't been on 4970 for a few years, but is still on 9660. There are no other Venezuelan stations regularly on shortwave. In North America, these stations can be heard in the evenings from around sunset or just after until signoff at 0400 UTC (midnight Venezuelan time). They can be heard again in the morning from sign-on (usually 0900 UTC or 5 a.m. Venezuelan time) until they fade out with the dawn. As reception on these frequencies is dependent on a darkness path, obviously winter is the best time to listen since there is a longer 'window' of reception.


This website is maintained by Don Moore,
Association of North American Radio Clubs
DXer of the Year for 1995

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