Clandestine Radio Wars In the 1980s

English: USAF EC-130J Commando Solo built by L...

English: USAF EC-130J Commando Solo built by Lockheed Martin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 1980’s were an exciting decade for the radio war of the airwaves, with conflicts on the literal battlefield and in the political arena. Clandestine radio broadcasts added real spice to the DX hobby and created an awareness of political issues far outside their target areas.

Right through this decade, the stalwarts Radio Liberty, Radio Free Europe continued. Their broadcasts were too numerous to detail here.

Such is the nature of unofficial radio that usually readily-available information like sponsors, financial backers, transmitter locations, personnel etc etc is hard to obtain so the accuracy of the information below is questionable. Therefore, we apologise for any errors and appreciate any corrections. The information below is gleaned from the pages of the DX Times magazines and various web sites. Wikipedia and the clandestineradio.com site were prime points of reference so many thanks to those that have kept the latter site running and available for research.

There is a wealth of articles available on the internet, for example pages on Radio Free Grenada and Spice Island Radio and The Voice of the Resistance of the Black Cockerell, so if you’re keen to learn more about the stations below, a web-search may produce fascinating reading.

Below is a target-country-by-country look at how clandestines featured in NZ DX, both on-air and in publications. There were many more clandestines active at the time; to list them all would be a major task so the scope is kept within the framework of what was heard and written about them, in New Zealand DX circles.

AFGHANISTAN

On the 15th of January 1984, the Voice of Afghanistan first came to air. The station broadcast material hostile to the government of Afghanistan and to Soviet involvement in that country. Their address was in Peshawar, Pakistan. Initial broadcasts were 11-1200z on frequencies varying between 5800 to 5900 and 3200 to 3300kHz. Later they settled around 4200, 5200, 7200 and 9800kHz with additional broadcasts 0600-0700 & 1945-2045z. They were backed by Paris-based Society for the Protection of Human Dignity and Freedom, itself rumoured to be backed by the CIA.

Using the facilities of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, the US government announced their intention to launch Radio Free Afghanistan. The station was based in Munich, initially broadcasting for 30 minutes a day, seven days a week in Dari/Pushtu. These broadcasts were expected to commence in October/November 1985. Their inaugural broadcast was on 1st October, in Dari, within Radio Liberty’s Turkmen service, initially twice a week on Tuesday and Saturday for 15 minutes a time. In February 1987, it was announced that transmission hours were to be tripled with Pushtu to be added.

On 5th September 1985, the Voice of Unity, also hostile to the establishment and Soviet influence, added 1530-1625z on 15685 in addition to 11630kHz. It also announced broadcasts 0130-0225z. Their address was in Germany and were rumoured to be sponsored by the CIA.

Formerly known as the Voice of the United Muslim Fighters Of Afghanistan, on 20th November 1986 the newly-named Voice of Unity signed-on. Broadcasts were in Pashto and Dari with the transmitters reportedly located in Egypt and sharing facilities with the Voice of the Liberation of Iran. Their mailing address was Hamburg, Germany. They were also reported to be backed by the CIA.

ANGOLA

Radio Cubans In Africa (“Radio Cubanos en Africa”) was the name given to the station targeting Cuban troops serving in Angola. It was first reported in the 1970’s and heard on 6045 between 0500-0600 on May 1987. Rumoured to be backed by the US government and from transmitters in South Africa.

angolaflag

VORGAN Flag. (Credit: Wikipedia)

In August 1987, the Voice of the Resistance of the Black Cockerell (“A Voz Resistencia do Galo Negro or “VORGAN”) was heard from 0330-0530, 1200-1300 and 1730-1930 on 4975kHz in Portuguese, Umbundo & Kwanyama. Rumour had it that after initially broadcasting from South Africa, the station’s military-grade mobile transmitters were supplied covertly by the US government. The station was operated by UNITA (“Uniao Nacional para a Independencia Total para Angola”) under the guidance of Jonas Savimbi and operated for 20 years prior to being ceased by government forces in 1999 .

BURMA

The pro-Chinese, anti-Soviet Voice of the People of Burma, the voice of the Communist Party of Burma, arrived on the airwaves in 1971. Broadcasts were rumoured to be from China until 1979, when they moved over the Burmese borders. Transmissions were in Burmese, Karen, Shan and Jingpaw. The station was reported to be covertly funded by China though this was never admitted. The station resurfaced in September 1987 after a month’s absence with no explanation for the hiatus. Transmissions were on 5110kHz and after 1979 the transmitter was reported to be in the rebel-held Mai Pulong area and at Pangshang near the Chinese border.

On 24th Sept 1982, it was reported in a Bangkok newspaper that the Karen National Liberation Army would be opening a station with the help of Japanese technicians. The 10kW station was to be installed at Kadanigti, Tak province, Thailand. It would operate under the leadership of the KNLA president of Kawthulay State. Four years previously the KNLA operated the “Voice of Kawthulay”. This station was called Radio Kawthulay and operated from March 1983 until it was destroyed in January 1984 by Burmese government forces.

The Burma Nationalities Broadcasting Station was first heard on 18th April 1989 on a frequency previously used by the Voice of the People of Burma, i.e. 5110. Languages used were Wa, Chinese, Jingpaw, Shan & Burmese.

CAMBODIA (see KAMPUCHEA)

 CHAD

In February 1987, Radio Bardai, the Voice of the Liberation of Chad was heard in French, Arabic, Sarah and Korah on 6009kHz. The station ceased broadcasting some time in 1988 and became Radio Chad. They were sponsored by the Transitional Government of National Unity, under the leadership of former Chadian president, Goukouini Queddi.

On May 7th 1989, a station identifying itself as the Voice of the Chadian Popular Revolution (a.k.a. “the Voice of Unity”) was heard on 6009kHz from 1645 till approx 1800z. They used the same frequency as Radio Bardai had used previously. The station was critical of the government of Hisseim Habre.

CHINA

In late 1982, Japanese DXer Hideharu Torii determined that transmissions from Radio Sparks, targeting the Chinese regime, were originating from a ship in the East China Sea. Radio Sparks had been operating since the cultural revolution and also called itself the “Voice of the Liberation Army” or “Proletarian Battle Division”. It was on the air sporadically with transmissions lasting around 10 minutes. It was believed the station was run by the Taiwanese government and/or the CIA.

Hideharu also determined that Radio 8-1 (“Radio Ba Yi”), i.e. Radio August First) was located in the eastern coastal region of the Soviet Union, probably in Vladivostok. It began transmissions in March 1979 during the Sino-Viet war and transmitted irregularly with broadcasts lasting about 5 minutes. The operation was believed to be a Soviet black propaganda operation.

In July 1987, reception was reported of October Storm in Chinese on 7185kHz. Hideharu Torii believes this operation originated from the same backers and facilities as Radio Sparks.

In August 1989, the Voice of the PLA (“the Voice of the People’s Liberation Army”) was heard broadcasting material hostile to the Chinese government. They had three 10-minute broadcasts on 7185kHz and thought to be an operation of Radio Sparks.

COLOMBIA

A station of the FARC (“Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionario de Colombia”) Voz de Resistencia was heard with programmes hostile to the Colombian government on 13th of March 1988 on 6835, 10257, 7215 and 7422kHz, all in USB.

CUBA

English: Jose Marti.

English: Jose Marti. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The December 1981 issue of the DX Times carried the news that Radio Marti would be Uncle Sam’s answer to increased transmitter power and more MW stations targeting the USA from Cuba. President Reagan ordered construction of a station in Southern Florida, expected on 1040kHz to commence in January 1982. Once on air, American authorities were expected to crack down on the many anti-Castro stations broadcasting from Miami and other areas of Southern Florida. Reports were also circulating that Cuba would build 500kW MW relay stations of Radio Moscow, carrying programming in English. In early 1982, the FCC also responded by permitting existing MW stations with anti-Cuban slants (e.g. WQBA) to increase power. WQBA’s manager Herb Levin, said the station was planning a SW operation called Radio Miami with 50kW.

In January 1982, Radio Antorcha Martiana (“Radio Torch of Marti”) was reported using frequencies in the 41 meter band, namely 7069 and 7080kHz. They were supported by the Movimiento Insurrecion Marti and their address was given as Box 44-0491, Miami.

Radio Mambi appeared around early 1982 until closed down by the FCC in 1984. Hostile to the Cuban government and using a mobile transmitter in Florida, they were heard daily between 1200 and 0100, with the frequency varying between 7070 and 7080kHz. Their address was given as Box 68045, Caracas, Venezuela. They were the mouthpiece of the Junta Patriotica Cubana and later went on to be known as Pueblo Libre before taking their organization’s name in the 1990’s.

La Voz de Alpha 66 was the name given to this early 1982 anti-Castro station broadcasting from Florida. After broadcasting on 7040kHz with power in excess of 250W, they were tracked down and closed by the FCC in 1983. The writer of their material was 49-year old physician Mr Medena. Cuban listeners were urged to set fire to sugar cane fields, tobacco, curing houses and anything else that would damage the Cuban economy. The station was fined US$2250. However, in November 1987, Richard d’Angelo in Pennsylvania reported the station on 6667kHz at 0159 announcing as La Voz de Alpha 66. They continued until closed down by the FCC again around 1990 only to re-surface legally via WHRI World Harvest Radio International and WRMI Radio Miami International, in the 90s.

In the April-May 1983 issue of the DX Times, Paul Edwards in Wellington  reported that he had received a verification from La Voz del C.I.D (CID – Cuba Independiente y Democratica) from an address in Costa Rica. It confirmed reception on 5105kHz. The station was one of the stronger signals from the region with transmitters located variously in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, USA & Venezuela and variously heard on 6305, 7353, 7400, 9940,10040, 11635 and 11700kHz – the latter via the facilities of Radio Clarin in Sant Domingo. The station also used the IDs “Radio Camilo Cienfuegos”, “Radio Antonio Maceo” and “Radio Maximo Gomez”, all Cuban revolutionary heroes. They were reported to be run by a Miami-based exile group headed by Huber Matos, with CIA backing.

On 23rd January 1986, Radio Caiman was first observed on 7470 from 0058-0236z. They carried a news bulletin called “Radiorama” and were critical of the Soviet Union and allied communist/socialist states. The station targeted Cuban youths and was run by the Comite Pro Libertad de Cuba, reportedly backed by the CIA.

EL SALVADOR

 

English: A reconstruction of Radio Venceremos,...

English: A reconstruction of Radio Venceremos, at the Museo de la Palabra y Imagen, San Salvador (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Radio Venceremos supported the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, hostile to the El Salvadorean government. They appeared in early 1980 and claimed to be located in the Morazon department of El Salvador. Transmissions of one hour were at 0000, 0230, 1200, 1400 and 2000z between 6905 and 6911 although in 1984 they were heard on 6555 and 6560kHz. Also in 1984, they had added 98.5MHz FM. The address for reports was in Mexico City.

In August 1983, Radio Farabundo Marti, the mouthpiece of the Frente Popular de Revolucion, was heard at 0036z on four frequencies in the 41 meter band, by John Durham in Hamilton. Some of the transmissions were the target of jamming. The transmitters were believed to be in the Chalatenango province. On special occasions, they linked with Radio Venceremos.

ERITREA

On air since the 1970’s, the Voice of the Broad Masses of Eritrea was first observed on 11th August 1980. It supported the Ertirean People’s Liberation Front and had an extensive broadcasting schedule in Tigrigna, Tigre, Arabic, Amharic, Kunama and Afar Mon. When Ethiopia granted Eritrea independence in 1993, VoBME became the official voice of the new country.

 ETHIOPIA

On the 14th of August 1987, Radio Voice of Ethiopian Unity was heard 1900-2000 daily in Amharic, Tigrigna and Oromo on variously 9430, 9660, 7200 and 11180kHz. The station was operated by the Ethiopian People’s Democratic Alliance and reputedly received covert US aid. The transmitter was reported to be in Sudan.Transmitter facilities were shared with the Voice of Oromo Liberation. Following the coup in Sudan on 30th June, the station ceased broadcasting and the frequency was occupied by Radio Omdurman’s general programme.

On 6th of July 1988, the Voice of Oromo Liberation was heard in the Oromo language on 9550khz from 1530-1605 and announcing itself to be the voice of the Oromo Liberation Front and seeking secession of Oromo State. Believed to be backed by the Sudanese government and broadcasting from the Sudan via Radio Omdurman’s facilities, in the 1990s they began hiring time on commercial radio stations.

FALKLAND ISLANDS

 

English: land operations during the falklands war

English: land operations during the falklands war (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On April 2nd 1982, Argentina invaded the Falklands. The Falkland Islands Broadcasting Station was taken over by the invading forces and renamed “Radio Nacional, Islas Malvinas”. Argentine increased it’s output on shortwave relaying Radio Rivadavia and and Radio Del Plata. Additionally, the Argentine government opened Radio Liberty, broadcasting in English to the British fleet (RAE later denied knowing anything about the station!). In response, the British Forces Broadcasting Service started special transmissions for the British forces from Ascension Island.

The British also opened their own Spanish-language answer to Radio Liberty in Radio Atlantico del Sur, first reported in late May 1982 with reports requested to the British Ministry of Defense, Whitehall, London.

In October 1982, John Durham of Hamilton, was rewarded with a rare verification from Radio Nacional Islas Malvinas 2370kHz. The reply included the usual RAE card with a map of Las Malvinas stamped on the back and a tourist brochure. Three weeks later, a second envelope arrived with a tourist brochure of the Southern lakes and a Spanish booklet “La Politica Britanica y Nuestras Islas Australes” with a prepared card stamped and signed by Julio Lagos, Coordinador General RAE. It also included a cassette recording of the piece of music John heard when he logged the station.

GRENADA

When the US invaded Grenada on the 25th of October 1983, the government’s Radio Free Grenada was destroyed, having commenced broadcasts in 1979 following the coup instigated by Maurice Bishop and his followers. Reports varied as to the fate of the station with some saying the transmitters were destroyed, others that they were intact. The US forces were understood to have broadcast from a mobile station, Radio Spice Island near St.George Harbour though other reports say it was from a Hercules C130 aircraft “Commander Solo”. It was broadcasting on 1580kHz and there was a tentative reception of it by Mark Nicholls DXing from Tiwai Point.

IRAN (and KURDISTAN)

Radio Homeland (“Radio Vatan”) broadcast material hostile to the Iranian government and was heard in late 1981, broadcasting between 0330-0500 and 1705-1800z on 15555 & 9027kHz. The address used for the report was in Germany. The station was said to be a gift from Anwar Sadat to the Shah and on the latter’s passing was managed by his sister, Ashraf. Transmissions are believed to have originated in Egypt. Noel Perry of Invercargill reported a QSL for 15555kHz in January 1983.

On air since 29th May 1980, the Free Voice of Iran announced that two new transmitters became active on the 21st January 1982. Broadcasts were thought to be from Iraq and heard at 1500z on 9580v, 7180 and 3367kHz. There is some contention as to the backers. On one hand, an organization called the Liberation Forces of Iran headed by a commander of the deposed Shah  (later believed to be assassinated by Iranian agents in Paris) or Iraqi intelligence on the other.

Radio Iran supporting the Iranian ex-premier Bakhtiar and announcing an address in Germany, was heard on 9585v and 3367kHz closing at 1330z. In the August 1984 DX Times, Arthur Cushen reported confirmation from a Paris address of 9584kHz. They gave their slogan as “the voice of the national resistance movement”. Broadcasts were scheduled at 0200, 0400, 1300, and 1830 on 3360, 7170, 9400, 9584, 11640, 11750 & 15650kHz.

The odd existence of two stations both calling themselves the Voice of Iran was reported in July 1982. One supported Bakhtiar and the other was pro-monarchist and had been on air since March 1981. The pro-Bakhtiar station was heard 0330-0400 on 15315 and 1805-1900 on 9785, while the other was heard 1930-2000 on 11640kHz.

Radio Salvation of Iran (“Radio Nejat-e Iran”) was first observed on the 23rd of June 1983, on 9032kHz between 0305-0400, also heard on 11660 from 1830-1925 giving and address in Copenhagen. They were run by the Front for the Liberation of Iran, run by former Prime Minister Dr. Ali Amini and allegedly heavily financed by the CIA. Also reported as “the Voice of the Liberation of Iran, they were heard signing on with announcements in Farsi, English & French at 1630z on 11630kHz with a slightly distorted signal. Jack Searle in Haumoana heard them on 15555kHz at 0430z through to close at 0520z in November 1985. They gave the occasional English identification with an address in London. In 1986 they added transmissions on 7080 & 9027kHz. It was reported that their transmitters were located in Egypt.

The Voice of the Communist Party of Iran, operated by the Kurdish Organization of the Communist Party of Iran, was first heard on 26th of August 1984 with various addresses announced in Sweden West Germany, Italy and the UK.

English: Army of the Guardians of the Islamic ...

English: Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution & Islamic Republic of Iran Army used many zu-23 in Iran-iraq war. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In July 1985, Dene Lynneberg, DXing from Pauanui reported the Voice of Fedai’i in Farsi at 1725z on 3941kHz. Backed by Organization of Iranian People’s Fedai’i Guerillas, they supported the establishment of a People’s democratic republic, they were heard till close at 1750z, with a weaker jammer underneath. Their address was in Fontenay-sous-Bois, France. They had been on air since 28th January 1985.

Radio Iran Toilers, voice of the Iranian Tudeh Party, was first observed on the 23rd of May 1984, apparently using the same transmitters as Radio Afghanistan’s domestic and external service. It gave an address in Sweden and was on the air daily.

In January 1987, the Voice of the Crusader, (“the Voice of the Mojahed” or “the Voice of the Mojahedin-e-Khalq”), was observed with broadcasts hostile to the Iranian government in Persian and Kurdish. Reportedly backed by Saddam Hussein’s intelligence services and was a survivor of the Iran-Iraq war of the early 80’s.

Flag of Freedom Radio was observed on the 1st of May 1987 in Persian. The station was earlier known as Radio Nejat-e-Iran and later became the Voice of Human Rights and Freedom for Iran. It was reportedly supported by the CIA and pro-parliamentary democracy. Transmissions were thought to have originated in Egypt.

On March 3rd 1987, Voice of the Worker was heard in Persian 0300-0430 on 4152-4167vf. The station was sponsored by the pro-Soviet Organization of Revolutionary Workers of Iran and was linked to the Voice of the Feda’i. It was believed the transmissions originated from Iraq.

On March 7th 1987, the Voice of the Iranian Revolution was observed in Kurdish and Persian on 3870 and 4450vf. This station was one of the mouthpieces of the Iranian Communist Party along with the Voice of the Iranian Communist Party and had an address in Sweden.

 IRAQ

In June 1987, the Voice of the Iraqi People was heard from 1330-1430 on 6955vf. This station was the mouthpiece of the Iraqi Communist Party and appeared to be linked with with Voice of Iraqi Kurdistan, and Voice of the Communist Party of Iraqi Kurdistan with transmitters thought to be in Iraqi Kurdistan.

ISRAEL

The Voice of Peace broadcasting off the coast of Israel on 1539kHz announced that after almost a decade it was closing down. Owner, Abie Nathan was concerned the ship (“Peace”) would not last another winter at sea and that lives could be lost. The Voice of Peace used 50kW and targeted Israel, Egypt, Lebanon and Cyprus. New Zealander, Keith “the good egg” Ashton worked as a DJ at the station.

The-voice-of-peace-new-logo

Credit: Wikipedia

However, the VOP did return to the airwaves in August 1983 when it was heard testing a SW transmitter on 6240kHz. Stuart Vint, Station Engineer confirmed Arthur Cushen’s reception and explained they were using a home-brewed 4kW transmitter, with plans to increase output to 10kW.

In October 1989, the Washington post reported that Abie Nathan (62) was ordered to jail for 6 months for meeting Yassir Arafat, a violation of anti-terrorism laws. After remonstrating with the judge, he was handed another 12 months suspended sentence.

KAMPUCHEA

The Khmer Rouge’s Voice of Democratic Kampuchea which had been broadcasting since since January 1979, was widely reported in February 1984, broadcasting on 15115kHz opening at 0900z for an hour. The transmitter location was reported to be in China and allied to the ousted and disgraced dictator, Pol Pot.

Additionally the Khmer Rouge commenced broadcasting the Voice of the National Army of Democratic Kampuchea in February 1983. The station was believed to be locate at Khmer Rouge camp near the Thai-Kampuchean border.

In early 1984, the non-communist factions of the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front, planned the Voice of the Khmer People (a.k.a Voice of the Khmer) with programs supportive of Prince Sihanouk. The station was led by former premier Son Sann, rallied against Vietnamese and Chinese influence. Broadcasts were on MW from a mobile transmitter. At 1140z on the 24th of October 1985, the Voice of the Khmer was first observed on 6325kHz.

KOREA (NORTH)

The easiest Korean clandestine to hear in New Zealand was the Echo of Hope, sponsored by Koreans Living Abroad (Agency For National Security Planning) and always with it’s very effective attendant jammer making it difficult to hear anything said. Regularly heard in New Zealand on 3985 and 6348kHz, from transmitters believed to be located in South Korea.

A station calling itself the Echo of the Masses was heard in October 1985 at 1045z on 5885kHz. Very little is known about this operation.

First observed on 28th December 1987, the Voice of the People claimed to be broadcasting from Pyongyang but believed to have been located in the South. They are thought to have been on since June 1985 and used 3912 and 6600kHz for four daily one-hour broadcasts. They said they were run by the Korean Worker’s Union but a more likely host was the Korean Armed Forces.

KOREA (SOUTH)

Operating since 1970 as the Voice of the Revolutionary Party for Reunification, on August 15th 1985, it was re-branded the Voice of National Salvation, still favoring the reunification of Korea from the North Korean perspective. The transmitters were believed to be located in North Korea and run by the latter’s intelligence agency. Broadcasts were on 3480, 3560, 4120, 4400, 4457, 6010, 6250, 9665kHz in Korean and English. This station was always heavily jammed.

KURDISTAN

The pro-Kurdish independence station, Voice of Iranian Kurdistan which broadcasts in support of the Iranian Kurdish Democratic Party was heard on the 14th of September 1987 from 1330-1507 on 4200kHz. The transmitter was reported to be located either in Iranian Kurdistan.

In August 1989, the Voice of the Struggle of Iranian Kurdistan was observed broadcasting in Kurdish and were critical of the Iranian regime. The used 4185 & 5080kHz for 4 daily broadcasts. Very little else is known about this station.

In October 1989, the Voice of the People of Kurdistan, mouthpiece of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, was heard on 4080vf & 15050 from 1600-1720z. Programmes in Kurdish and Arabic were aired from a transmitter reported to be in Iraq.

LEBANON

A station called the Voice of the Mountain had been on air since 1975. Controlled by the Progressive Socialist Party under the Druze leader, Walid Junblatt, it was heard on 1080 and 6052kHz. The transmitter was believed to be in the Shuf Mountains overlooking Beirut. In 1989 they added 108.0MHz and dropped SW.

LIBYA

The Voice of the Libyan People, an anti-Gaddafi station was first reported in 13th September 1982 with six one-hour programs. The station described itself as the Voice of the National Front for the Salvation of Libya. The transmissions were believed to originate from either Ethiopia or Iraq.

 MALAYSIA

The Voice of Malayan Democracy hostile to the Malayan government and to Soviet/Vietnamese influence in South East Asia and pro-Peking, was reported on-air 1st July 1981. Programs were in Malay and Standard Chinese. The station was formerly known as the Voice of the Malayan Revolution and supports the Malayan Communist Party. In February 1982, they were reported on 5600, 8998, 6700 and 6770kHz. This station replaced the Voice of the Malayan Revolution which ceased transmissions on 30th June 1980.

It was announced on the 1st of May 1987 that the Voice of the People of Malaysia, would cease transmissions on the 27th of April. The station, the mouthpiece of a Marxist-Leninist faction of the Malayan Communist Party, had been broadcasting in Chinese, Malay and Tamil since around 1976. It was rumoured to transmit from a mobile facility in the South of Thailand.

MOROCCO

Musée RASD Polisario

Museum RASD Polisario (Credit: Wikipedia)

In November 1982, the Voice of Free Sahara, a Polisario Front station with an anti-Morrocan government stance commenced broadcasting. Transmissions were believed to be from Algeria. In February 1989, they continued to aired via the facilities of Radio Algiers’ external service. They were heard from 22-2300 on 15215 & 9640.

MOZAMBIQUE

The Voice of the Mozambique National Resistance Movement (“Voz de RENAMO”) was observed in September 1983 with daily broadcasts from 0400-0500 and 1700-1800 on 4764kHz, giving an address in Portugal. It is believed to have transmitted from Rhodesia and South Africa.

NAMIBIA

Using the facilities of the Voice of Revolutionary Ethiopia, the Voice of Nambia carried pro-SWAPO (South West African People’s Organization) programmes commencing in 1981. They used 9595kHz for 30 minutes from 1900z and gave addresses in Addis Ababa (where the transmitter is believed to have been) and Luanda, Angola. On the 9th of July 1989, the station announced it would close as a precursor to Namibia attaining independence.

NICARAGUA

The first report in NZ of SW activity from Nicaragua was Bryan Clark’s 16th September 1982 report of the La Voz de Sandino heard on 6227kHz at 0423z with Spanish political talk till sign-off at 0443z. Steven Greenyer in Invercargill heard them in English at 1100z on 6220vf. In May, the governmental La Voz de Nicaragua and opposition La Voz de Sandino were chasing each other around the bands, the former was heard on 6015 and the latter on 6017.4kHz! The station was run by ARDE, the Alianza Revolucionario Democratica, a non-communist pro-Sandanista group.

English: A.R.D.E. Frente Sur Commandos El Serr...

English: A.R.D.E. Frente Sur Commandos El Serrano Nicaragua 1987 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even though Radio Quince de Septiembre had be on air since the 9th of April 1981, it wasn’t heard in NZ until August 1983, Owen Cullen in Hikurangi reported them on 6900kHz at 0505z. The station, run by the 15th of September Legion, an arm of the Nicaraguan Revolutionary Democratic Alliance (ADREN), was subsequently reported on various frequencies, e.g. 5555, 6833 and 6575kHz. The transmitter was believed to have been in Honduras and used English, Moskito, Spanish and Suma languages.

Radio Miskut reappeared on 19th October 1986 after several months absence. Programs were mostly in Miskut with some Spanish, using one frequency, 5565kHz. The were run by Misurata, a coalition of Miskito, Sumo and Rama Indians within the Fuerza Democratica Nicaragua, from a transmitter in Nicaragua.

La Voz del la UNO “The Voice of the United Nicaraguan Opposition” i.e. the umbrella group of the US-supported “contras”, was first observed on the 13th of March 1987, 0200-0300z on 5889v. At times they relayed Radio Quince de Septiembre. The transmitters were believed to also be in Honduras.

PACIFIC OCEAN

On March 13th 1983, Bryan Clark in Auckland heard Radio Tropical on 7295kHz at 0824z with a slogan “the voice of the nuclear-free Pacific”. They also identified as “Seven Degrees North Radio” and were apparently broadcasting from Majuro in the Marshall Islands. Very little else is known about this operation.

PALESTINE

In October 1982 it was reported that the Iraqi government had given the go-ahead for a new Voice of Palestine to replace the transmitter in Lebanon which was earlier captured by the Israelis. The VOP director and programme makers had left Jordan for Iraq to set up the new broadcasts.

 

English: Yasser Arafat's mausoleum within the ...

Yassir Arafat Memorial (Credit: Wikipedia)

The station of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command, headed by Ahmad Jibril, Al Quds Radio, was first heard with test broadcasts in Arabic, Hebrew and English on the 1st of January 1988. The transmitter was believed to be located in Syria and the station announced addresses in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Libya.The station was anti-Yassir Arafat and any Palestine-Israeli peace accord.

 SOMALIA

On 27th May 1989, Radio SNM, the voice of the Somali National Movement was observed 1500-1700 daily on 6460-6516vf. The station would eventually become Radio Hargeisa.

SOUTH AFRICA

On the 20th of May 1985, Zimbabwe’s Information Minister told the Commonwealth Secretariat conference in London that within 12 months they planned to broadcast towards South Africa and carry programs prepared by liberation movements. This came to eventuate as Radio Freedom, with transmitters reported variously in Angola, Ethiopa, Gabon, Madagaskar, Tanzania and Zambia, using the facilities of the host country’s established services.

SRI LANKA

Observed on 28th of September 1985, the Voice of Tamil Eelam broadcast in Tamil, English & Sinhala several times a week on 7000vf. Their address was in Madras, India. In 1986, a black operation supposedly transmitting from the SLBC facilities with the same name, served to discredit this unofficial broadcaster.

SUDAN

Radio SPLA, which is the mouth-piece of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army, was heard with programmes in Arabic & English from 1300-1400z on 9705kHz. The SPLA was a Marxist-Christian group rallying against the Muslim government of Sudan.

A "stamp" issued by a Tamil militant...

Unoffical Tamil Eelam stamp (Credit: Wikipedia)

 SURINAM

Radio Free Surinam made the headlines in May 1985. Reportedly using the facilities of La Voz del CID, they were hostile to the government of Surinam. Transmissions in Dutch were heard 1930-1945 on 9940 & 11680kHz. They announced an address in Rotterdam and in March 1987 announced plans to add Spanish.

TURKEY

One of the oldest clandestine stations is the Turkish Communist Party’s Bizim Radio (“our radio”) having commenced broadcasting in 1958. In July 1989, newspapers in Turkey reported that Bizim Radio were to close after more than 30 years operation. The move was considered necessary to encourage the Turkish government to legalise communist parties.

The Voice of the Turkish Communist Party had been on the air since 1971. The transmitter was believed to be in East Germany and had close links with Bizim Radio with whom it shared a transmitter. Their address was given as Stockholm, Sweden. They operated from transmitters in East Germany and Romania and also shared facilities with the Voice of Truth targeting Greece.

VANUATU

Radio Vemerana was reported by New Zealand DXers on 3522kHz at 0900z in early July 1980. Programming was in Bislama, French & English. They gave their location as the island of Santos (Espiritu Santo) in the “New Hebridies”. Programming consisted on anti-government messages and playing Western pops. Transmissions stopped on the 23rd of July when British and French forces reoccupied the secessionist island. They were back on the air mid-August on 3577kHz briefly, before returning to 3522kHz. A verification was received by Ray Crawford & Arthur Cushen, the signer was Robert J. Schnell of Everard Park, South Australia, a former announcer at the station.

Proposed flag of the Republic of Vemerana (1980)

Proposed flag of the Republic of Vemerana (1980) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mr. Schnell also provided an 8-page article covering in some detail the history of the islands and the politics of independence. It contained little reference to the station itself and Mr. Schnell said it could not be paraphrased. Additionally it was considered the material was politically contentious so a decision was made not to publish it in the DX Times. The station was the mouthpiece of the Nagriamel Federation, under the guidance of Jimmy Moli Stevens. The Nagriamel Federation has since been an accepted political party and has members in the Vanuatu government.

In the same month, Radio Tanafo, also from Espiritu Santo, was heard by Peter Jones in Hamilton with a full identification in English at the 1826z sign-off. The station had been silent since last heard in 1976. Transmissions ceased on 23rd July. See above. Verifications were received by several NZ DXers, the power given was 60 Watts and they were signed by Jimmy Moli Stevens himself.

 VIETNAM

In January 1984, John Durham in Hamilton heard the Voice of the Patriotic Army from Kampuchea, broadcasting on 5200kHz at 1430z. Little is known of this operation.

On 22nd of February 1984, Vietnamese Resistance Radio was first observed. It claimed to broadcast from Base Camp 15 of the National Unified Front for the Liberation of Vietnam. All transmissions were on 7320kHz.  Run by the National United Front for the Liberation of Vietnam, (NUFLV), an anti-communist movement of Viet exiles in California. News reports indicated that the group was funded by Thailand and that it often infiltrated Vietnam to conduct anti-communist operations.

YEMEN

Voice of the Free Sons of the Yemeni South was first heard in April 1982 at 1415z on 11180kHz, broadcasting material hostile to the government in Aden. This operation was thought to be CIA-financed and broadcast from transmitters in the Sudan.

ZIMBABWE

Radio Truth, hostile to the governing regime, broadcast in English from 0430-0500 daily and in Shona/Ndebele 1700-1730, on 4902kHz. The station was run by a breakaway faction of the Zimbabwe African National Union which opposed the rule of Robert Mugabe and was rumoured to be financed by the  South African government.

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Corrections and additions are very welcome. Please use the Comments box at the foot of the article.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 responses to “Clandestine Radio Wars In the 1980s

  1. Hi Paul – I am reading From Third World to First by Lee Kuan Yew and published in 2000. He writes: “With help from Britain, we employed British technicians and journalists to teach 14 Cambodians from the KPNLF to broadcast on shortwave from Singapore, and later to run a medium-wave station near the Thai border. They learned how to operate 25 kW mobile Japanese transmitters. ”
    Lee’s comments seem to be referring to Voice of the Khmer People that you reference above. I do not recall seeing this information before or that Singapore broadcast clandestine radio broadcasts.

    • Thanks Hans. Their is a rich history of clandestine radio but very little known about the back story, like Singapore’s involvement. Vy 73, Paul

  2. A correction … Radio Free Grenada was not a clandestine radio station. It was the name of the govt. operated radio station in Grenada. The left-wing govt used the word ‘free’ for political purposes. But there was nothing clandestine about the station. It was just the pre-1979 Radio Grenada with a new name.

  3. Sme great memories there Paul! Thanks for putting it together. Would love to solve that Radio Tropical mystery – maybe a forerunner of today’s hobby pirate stations. I think I have that unpublished Radio Venarama article somewhere in my archives.

  4. Fascinating stuff.
    The USAF Commando Solo guys were active in Afghanistan when I worked there.

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