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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Busy Season

The dry season on Guam has finally started to look more like a dry season, and with it our staff at KTWR has found itself in the midst of a busy work season. Our IT personnel are currently working on an upgrade for our NETIA system, the database system that feeds programs to the transmitters for broadcasting. This system upgrade will help us make use of certain NETIA features that we have not be using up until this point. One advantage is that it will link together our system on Guam and our system on Sri Lanka. This is an advantage because our staff on Guam manages the broadcasts for our transmitters on Sri Lanka. Now if there is an issue with those broadcasts, we will be able to see those issues and address them more directly from our remote location.

Another task on our staff’s to-do list is replacing the Dummy Load that was installed this time last year. You may recall our reports on this project that began in July 2015. It appears that at some point the output of a transmitter was routed to the Dummy Load instead of to an antenna while the Dummy Load's cooling pump was turned off. This burned up the resistors on the load, which led to the need for a replacement.

Replacement resistors for the Dummy Load

Next, after months of waiting for this shipment to arrive, the solar panels (and their accompanying parts) for the third and final phase of our solar panel project arrived at the site last week! Now we will be able to finish the work on this project that has been three years in the making. We have already benefitted from the first two installments of solar panels, but once this third phase is complete, we will be able to save even more money on energy costs—our greatest ministry expense. The money we save can go toward expanding TWR’s ministry to the Asia/Pacific region.

Unloading the panels from the truck


Posts and other parts for the solar panels

All of these tasks have taken place as we have been gearing up for our bi-annual season change, which took place Sunday, March 26th. Twice a year we must apply for new frequencies for our broadcasts with the FCC and come up with new broadcast schedules for our programs. This requires much collaboration between all of our departments—IT, engineering, content management, etc.—and between all of our ministry partners in the region. Once we know which frequencies we have been given by the FCC for broadcasting, we then have to decide which programs will broadcast on those different frequencies. Schedules are made up, ministry partners load programs into the database, and our program traffic controllers build the program playlists. The transmitters have to be retuned to broadcast on the new frequencies, and we have to continue to communicate with the FCC to acquire approval for certain allocations as we realize the need to tweak certain things. Now that the season change has officially occurred, our staff will follow up with the progress of the broadcasts and fix any issues with the transmitters, computers, and playlists. Please pray for the broadcasts during this new season, that the transition will happen smoothly and that people will hear the good news of Jesus Christ and be encouraged by messages of truth and hope!

Allen, a content manager, working on some recordings for the new season

In this busy season, we have been blessed with some extra help from volunteers. Jerry and Pam Fitzwater arrived on Guam on March 2nd and will be here until the end of April. They are from Indiana where they attend the sending church of the Dills, one of our staff families. Jerry and Pam first learned about TWR through the Dills as they were raising support to move to Guam, and as the Fitzwater’s looked more into the ministry, they came across opportunities to serve short-term. One thing led to another, and pretty soon the Lord had supplied them with the funds and the opportunity to take leave from their jobs in Indiana for two months. Since they have arrived, Jerry has helped with various projects around the site. He will also help with the first stages of the solar panel project. Pam has also been able to help with various tasks around the site, and as a nurse, she has gone through the proper channels to train our staff in CPR so that we may be certified on Guam. This will happen sometime in the next month. We are grateful for Jerry and Pam, for their servants’ hearts and the help they have brought to us during this eventful time.

Jerry, dark blue shirt, helping unload the solar panels

Pam pulling some stubborn weeds in front of the site

Friday, February 24, 2017

KTWR Departures

Paul and Kathy during their
first years at KTWR
In the last six months we’ve had to say goodbye to two of our veteran KTWR families. Paul and Kathy Gregowske arrived with their family on Guam in 1991. Paul helped with various building projects and maintenance around the site. For years he played a very important role in the daily operations of the ministry. One of Kathy’s favorite opportunities while here was responding to listener letters and QSL cards. She had a knack for connecting with listeners through correspondence, and I know there were many whom the Lord blessed through her responses. In 2001 God called Paul and Kathy to Cambodia first to help with the Media Center project and later to work alongside the Cambodian TWR staff in their efforts to reach their people for Christ. This was a special time for the Gregowskes as they got to work face-to-face with listeners of TWR’s broadcasts, an aspect of the ministry that is often missed by those of us on Guam since we are not in the same geographical location as our listeners. In 2008 the Lord moved Paul and Kathy back to Guam where their help was much needed again. They served here faithfully until their retirement at the end of August last year. We are so excited for this new adventure to which God has called them, but we will miss them greatly.

Kathy in Cambodia

Paul in Cambodia


George in the
transmitter hall
Kathy at work in the
office
The second couple that left us left just this month. George and Kathy Ross arrived on Guam in 1990, just one year before the Gregowskes. Both of the Rosses wore a number of hats during their years on Guam. George has done everything from building and antenna maintenance to being the control room and transmitter operator to frequency coordination. He also served as the station manager for a time. Radio is not just a job or a ministry opportunity for George but a passion that is infectious. Kathy has done everything from Bible correspondence to administrative work to hospitality services for those moving to or visiting the island. Her love for Guam has caused many others to fall in love with the island, too. While the Rosses have not retired from TWR and while George will continue his work with frequency coordination as well as his involvement with the future of DRM broadcasts, he is taking on another role where it makes more sense for him to be based out of the States. The Rosses will also be greatly missed at KTWR, but we thank God for the time He has given us with both of these families and for all He has taught us through them.



Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

Psalm 1:1-3

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Power Struggles and the Challenges of a New Year

Over the last several months, it seems as if we have encountered problem after problem with our transmitters. When a transmitter goes down during the evening broadcasts or we receive feedback from listeners indicating glitches in the broadcasts, our engineers and IT personnel labor long hours to pinpoint what went wrong—a daunting task considering there are well over a thousand different parts in each transmitter and not all of them are easy to access or even to see. Because we transmit every night, when a transmitter does fail or has issues, our engineers are on a time crunch to figure out either a temporary solution to get the transmitters through the next night or (and it’s what we always hope happens) to figure out a more permanent solution that will ensure no more issues. At least for a while.

You may ask the reason for these recent technical difficulties. Most of the issues can be attributed to the old age of certain equipment, heat stress (it takes a lot of power to run these transmitters, which produces a lot of heat), and every-day mechanical wear. Sometimes these issues can be attributed to a lack of stable power, though. In the United States, we tend to take for granted stable power, but the reality is that much of the world does not have that luxury. Although Guam is by most standards a well-developed island, there are still struggles to have stable power, especially in the last couple of years. The Guam Power Authority (GPA) has had its own issues due to damage to equipment from typhoons and also mechanical failures. This lack of stable power from our power source (GPA) causes stress on our transmitters. Although we don’t always see the source of the problem right away, we serve a God who sees it all and knows it all, and by His power and grace, He keeps the transmitters running or allows our staff to find the cause of whatever issue the transmitters are meting out in that moment.

We ask as the New Year starts that you praise the Lord with us for the many who were able to listen to the broadcasts from KTWR in 2016 and hear the Good News that God has saved us from our sins through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus on the cross, and praise Him for the many Christians who live in fear and under persecution who were able to be strengthened in their faith by the messages with which we are able to provide them. We also ask you to pray that the Lord would continue to help our engineers and IT personnel to have clear minds and to find the source of individual problems with our equipment and that we would have the means to fix them so that people may continue to hear, and that by hearing they may believe, and that by believing the may call on the Lord who saves (Romans 10:13-15).


In these pictures you will see two of our engineers working to fix one of the problems we encountered in December. This is a good example of the difficulty of pinpointing the source of a transmitter failure. In the pictures they are replacing a transformer, which provides power for the main tube in the transmitter. Because the failures we were facing at the time were intermittent failures, it was hard to find the cause. Once they figured it might be the transformer, they replaced it. However, after replacing this part, the transmitter continued to fail. Later, they found two capacitors (roughly the size of ink cartridges, so they were difficult to see and difficult to reach) that had failed. These capacitors were on the transformer output, which is why it would be easy to think initially that the transformer was the source of the intermittent failures.    



Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Introducing the Titus II Complete SDR Solution Digital Radio


Here is some exciting news directly related to our DRM broadcast capability at KTWR.
On 22 August 2016 the Titus II receiver was unveiled in Miami at the global HFCC Conference before the international group of shortwave broadcasters.  TWR’s President Lauren Libby participated in the unveiling as well.  He states: “We debuted a very special new technical platform. It's a new way of thinking about shortwave and in fact these receivers will soon be available.”


 
There were workshops where we put the Titus II through it’s paces.  Participants were quite astounded with the capabilities this receiver has not only for broadcast reception but for a wide range of media capabilities. We were then even able to receive a DRM special test broadcast being aired by Vatican radio all the way from Italy.

 
The Titus II will be used by TWR as we step into a new era of digital broadcasting.
It not only receives traditional SW, AM, FM,  But also decodes DRM transmissions.  Other digital platforms can easily be added via apps.
 
In terms of file-casting, it can download video and materials so that people can consume them right on the spot from a shortwave frequency.
 
It operates in the frequency range from 100kHz to 2 GHz!  Check out the home page -
There will be more exciting news to come on this front.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Filecasting: Waves of the Future

On December 24th, 1906, the first known wireless radio broadcast in the world’s history was made by Reginald Aubrey Fessenden and was heard by the crew members of several ships out in the Atlantic Ocean. Accustomed to hearing only the dots and dashes of Morse code, radio operators on these ships were astonished to hear a human voice speaking to them through their headsets that Christmas Eve. This was the broadcast schedule of that evening in Fessenden’s own words: "The program on Christmas Eve was as follows: first a short speech by me saying what we were going to do, then some phonograph music.--The music on the phonograph being Handel's 'Largo'. Then came a violin solo by me, being a composition of Gounod called 'O, Holy Night', and ending up with the words 'Adore and be still' of which I sang one verse, in addition to playing on the violin, though the singing of course was not very good. Then came the Bible text, 'Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will', and finally we wound up by wishing them a Merry Christmas and then saying that we proposed to broadcast again New Year's Eve."

FCBH representatives coordinating with their
colleagues in Chang Mai over the phone
On June 8th, 2016, nearly 110 years to date after this first wireless audio broadcast, the gospel was once again used to make history in the world of radio. Through a partnership with Faith Comes By Hearing (FCBH), we had the enormous privilege here at KTWR on Guam to take part in this historic moment when representatives from FCBH used one of TWR’s antennas to send a digital data file 3,000 miles to their colleagues in Thailand. This type of transmission is known as filecasting, and by God’s grace and through the genius of several men and women, this technology will be used to reach many with the gospel.

Filecasting is possible because of DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) technology.  In 2010, the delivery of the two Thomson transmitters to our site on Guam was so exciting because these transmitters possess DRM capabilities. This technology allows us to broadcast material through shortwave frequencies but with digital sound quality. To hear the difference between the sound quality of analogue versus digital broadcasts, visit the official DRM webpage. Additionally, DRM transmissions are cost-effective because they require the use of less power. And now the fact that we have DRM transmitters is even more exciting because it allows us to partner with FCBH to get digital copies of Scripture into the hands of people who would not have had access to it otherwise.

A DRM radio picking up the Bible.is app
filecasting signal
During the filecasting tests that were conducted on Guam the week of June 8th this year, one of TWR’s antennas was basically turned into a giant Wi-Fi router. The antenna was then used to send a data file through the atmosphere, without the use of wires or satellites, to Chang Mai, Thailand. This type of transmission will make it possible in the near future for those who do not have access to the Internet to receive and download to their devices the FCBH Bible.is app, which contains the dramatized audio Bible, the JESUS film and more. The Bible.is app is part of their Global Bible Network initiative. Watch the FCBH video describing this initiative here. Please pray with us that God would bless this initiative and would use this technology to reach many for His kingdom and glory.

TWR staff members, Mike and George, monitoring the transmitter
performance during the filecasting tests
TWR's antennas from a distance, one of which was essentially turned
into a giant Wi-Fi router for the filecasting tests

To read TWR’s announcement regarding the success of these tests, click here.

To read more about the details of these tests and the hope for the use of this technology, click here.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Interns on Guam

On June 4th, three college students from the States stepped off a plane and walked out of the airport into the humid Guam air to begin two-month long engineering internships with TWR. Drew, Eric, and Michael are gaining invaluable practical experience for potential engineering jobs in the future, but they aren’t the only ones who have something to gain during these two months. According to Dale Philyaw, one of KTWR’s engineers and the staff member overseeing the interns, these young men have proven themselves to be willing helpers during a very busy season for our staff on Guam. Here’s a look at what brought each of them here this summer and the tasks they’re helping to accomplish:

Drew Swearingen is a senior at Purdue University majoring in Mechanical Engineering Technology. Last summer, Drew spent time in Africa doing mission work through his church, but before leaving, he had learned about TWR and its internship opportunities. He decided to apply for one of those opportunities this year in order to experience what it’s like to use his technical skills for missions. Drew desires to be open to serving the Lord in ministry someday with his degree if that’s where the Lord leads him.

Drew helping to run a fiber optic line from the solar panels outside to the control room inside
Eric Rowe is a senior at Dordt College majoring in Mechanical Engineering. Eric was interested in exploring how missions and engineering could be integrated, and after doing a Google search for missions engineering internships, he found TWR’s webpage and decided to apply. Not only does he believe the work to be beneficial, but he also sees the opportunity to live in a different geographical and cultural setting as a valuable experience.

Eric weed eating around the radio towers
Michael (Mike) Pasti is a senior at Messiah College majoring in Electrical Engineering. Mike found out about TWR internship opportunities through a job fair at his college. After college Mike plans to get a job and gain more work experience and save money. He desires to make and keep connections on the field for potential full-time ministry prospects in the future. He also hopes to take home some local Chamorro recipes to share with others back at home.

Mike helping to create a test for one of the transmitter parts to determine where there's a fault in the part
All three of these young men could have gotten jobs during their last summer breaks of college or found internships that paid, but the Lord led each of them here, and they were obedient to His calling in their lives. We are so grateful for their willingness to work hard and to serve our staff and our listeners.


From left to right: Drew, Eric, and Mike