A key factor to playing an active role in urban-rural dialogue is the capacity to broadcast to a majority of the Liberian population. STAR radio made this a priority over the last year.
Firstly, the radio successfully upgraded its technical facilities in July 2009, by installing a 3-KW FM Broadcast Transmitter, which replaced the 1-KW FM Broadcast Transmitter, in order to improve signal coverage. STAR Radio’s signal coverage has since been extended: the signal is now among the clearest and most reliable of the Monrovia based stations, reaching some 100 kilometres out of the capital city. The Station is monitored in Rivercess, Buchanan, Foya, Kolahun, and Ganta.
The need for this equipment became paramount due to interference and suppression of the 1-Kilowatt Transmitter signal in several areas by the 10-Kilowatt FM Transmitter installed at the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) by the People’s Republic of China. The situation brought serious and constant loss of listenership to STAR radio and needed to be corrected. Humanity United (HU) provided financial assistance to STAR radio in the amount of US$75,000.00 to procure the much-needed FM Transmitter and assist with operations.
After that, STAR Radio restored broadcasting on short-wave 8 hours a day from the 10th of June 2010, Mondays through Fridays. The Station once operated this service using an external provider, but it was discontinued since January 5, 2009 due to its inability to cover the associated high cost. The service was very well appreciated by the general audience, particularly rural residents. So with funding from Swiss Foundation Pro Victimis, a 2.5 KW short-wave transmitter was installed in Monrovia and is directly operated by STAR staff.
Following positive results from days of test transmission, Management launched the SW Service on June 10. A formal event was held at the FM offices and STAR Board Chair performed the launching ceremony. Programs marking the occasion were simulcast on both the FM and the SW services.
Reports being received say the Station has once again captured national coverage as signals are received throughout the Country. Other reports say signals are being received in Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast. The frequency is 4.025 MHz in the 75 meter band.
These developments are important to the future of STAR radio. Not only do they allow STAR to fulfill its aim to offer independent information to all of Liberia, but they also offer opportunities of increasing self-support. The wider coverage should attract more interest in purchase of commercial airspace and the short-wave transmitter may interest other media outside of STAR's hours of use, thus ensuring income via rental of this service.
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