Thursday, 7 February 2019

From my archive: Radio in the 2011 Libyan civil war

I wrote the article below in early September 2011, while the Libyan civil war was still in progress and Muammar Gaddafi was still alive. An edited version was published in the 2012 edition of the World Radio TV Handbook under the title Radio and the Arab Spring.

Here is some background that may be useful for the modern reader:

The Tunisian and Egyptian presidents were overthrown in January and February 2011 respectively in events that were part of what would be known as the Arab Spring.

In Libya, after weeks of public unrest, the revolt against Gaddafi began in earnest on 17 February 2011. 

Within days, insurgent forces had captured a number of the Gaddafi regime’s radio stations and were using them to air broadcasts under the name Voice of Free Libya.
NATO forces joined the conflict in March. Tripoli fell to the rebels in August. Gaddafi was eventually captured and killed in October.

Voice of Free Libya aired over three powerful AM transmitters

Libyan rebel radio

"From the slopes of the great Green Mountain, this is the Voice of Free Libya radio!" These words, broadcast over a powerful (500-kilowatt) mediumwave (AM) transmitter captured by rebels in early 2011, seemed to echo dramatic radio announcements from Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968 and various places since. 

In fact, radio had a very limited role in most of the Arab uprisings. Libya was a special case. Within days of the start of the uprising in mid-February, rebels in eastern Libya had seized the government's powerful AM transmitters in El Beida (which aired the announcement above) and Benghazi (on 1125 and 675 kHz respectively), and were using them effectively. The only hiccup came when the radio studios in Benghazi were destroyed in the initial confusion of the uprising and an improvised one had to be set up before broadcasts could start. 

In the west of the country, rebels quickly took over the local radio station in Libya's third city, Misrata, but initially only aired on FM. Use of the 500-kW AM transmitter in Misrata began in March, providing a signal on 1449 kHz that could be heard after dark across much of Europe. Later, the Benghazi and Misrata Voice of Free Libya stations became audible worldwide via live internet streams. 

FM on, but shortwave off

Rebel-controlled FM stations sprang into life in at least six other Libyan towns. 

Benghazi, the de facto rebel capital, became a media hub for the opposition. Outlets launched there included the official Voice of Free Benghazi, youth station Shabab Libya FM, English-language Tribute FM, and Libya FM (relaying a satellite channel set up by musician Hamid El Shaeri). 

Also on Benghazi's FM dial were relays of the audio streams of various TV channels including Qatar-based opposition Libya al-Ahrar and pan-Arab Al-Jazeera, along with a relay of BBC Arabic radio. 

Libya FM was also relayed by rebel-controlled FM stations in other parts of the country.


An announcer at the rebels' Radio Free Nalut (98.2 FM) in western Libya in July 2011
Photo credit: Mohamed Madi

Libya was once both a source and a target for a number of clandestine shortwave broadcasts. An exiled opposition radio, Sawt al-Amal (Voice of Hope), operated until 2006. But with the rebels of 2011 running so many stations inside the country, there was no need for such broadcasts from transmitters abroad. 

After the rebels captured Tripoli, they launched their own Radio Libya on former Gaddafi-controlled transmitters in the city (1053 AM and 96.6 FM). 

Low priority

Earlier, the Gaddafi government's use of radio had been hampered by the rebels' capture of much of its AM and FM transmitter network. It tried to mitigate this by using a single shortwave transmitter to beam its domestic service to rebel-controlled territory, though it's unclear whether this had any audience. 

Radio enthusiasts outside Libya were disappointed with the lacklustre and irregular output of the government's Voice of Africa shortwave station, mostly made up of recorded material unrelated to the news of the day. 

The government invested much more effort in its TV broadcasts and was surprisingly successful in maintaining both programming and transmissions, despite NATO air strikes and pressure on satellite operators to drop them. 

Two pieces of evidence showed the lack of importance the Gaddafi authorities placed on radio: they used some of their remaining radio transmitters simply to relay the audio channel of state TV, and they were happy to drop satellite distribution of most of their radio networks. 

Little jamming of radio, much more of TV

Unlike in Iraq in 1991 and 2003, and Afghanistan in 2001, no special Western radio broadcasts were aimed at Libyan civilians. NATO used shortwave radio for psychological warfare transmissions targeting the military, but although these caught the interest of curious enthusiasts outside Libya, I saw no evidence that they had an impact on their intended audience inside the country. However, they did attract jamming. No Libyan jamming of other foreign radio broadcasts was confirmed during the crisis.

In contrast, Gaddafi's media campaigned vigorously against Al-Jazeera TV, denouncing it as the "Khanzeera" (Arabic for "pig") channel. Jamming of Al-Jazeera's satellite signals in January and February was blamed on Tripoli. Al-Jazeera said the interference had been traced to a building used by the Libyan intelligence service. 

In return, Libyan state TV's satellite signals were intermittently jammed - perpetrator unknown.

Egypt and Tunisia

In neighbouring Egypt, the authorities also sought to halt the unrest by disrupting Al-Jazeera's operations. They also cut off the country from the global internet for more than five days in late January. However, they do not seem to have regarded foreign terrestrial radio broadcasts as a threat as no jamming of them was reported. 

As with its Libyan counterpart, the government's Radio Cairo external service, a disappointment to listeners for years because of the poor technical quality of its shortwave signals, was of little worth for those seeking news from Egypt. 

One of Libya's other Arab neighbours, Tunisia, saw some clandestine radio activity during its revolution, though this was online, rather than over-the-air, broadcasting by stations such as Radio Kalima (Dignity). The key news source in the early days of the Tunisian unrest was Al-Jazeera TV, in particular its dedicated North African evening news programme "Maghreb Harvest".

Conclusions: Radio and the Arab Spring

  • TV and the internet have almost entirely replaced radio as Arab audiences' preferred source of information.
  • But particular circumstances in Libya allowed the rebels there to make good use of radio.
  • Elsewhere, opposition groups used social media and satellite TV to get their message across.
  • Arab governments also fought their media battles online and on TV. They paid little attention to radio, either offensively (their own broadcasts) or defensively (jamming).
  • There was little evidence that shortwave radio had any impact.
  • In a year when a number of major international radio broadcasters announced substantial cuts, none significantly expanded their shortwave operations in response to the crises.
The main conclusion from the historic events in these countries in 2011 is that, 15 years after the launch of Al-Jazeeraradio has been replaced by satellite TV and the internet as the preferred source of information for most Arab audiences.

© 2011 and 2019. Material may be reproduced if attributed to Chris Greenway and the World Radio TV Handbook.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

From my archive: Clandestine radio activity in East Africa hots up in 1988

I wrote the article below in 1988. It was published in the September 1988 edition of  Communication, the journal of the British DX Club (an association of radio enthusiasts and hobbyists).

If you find this article interesting, have a look at two others I wrote at the time: 
Clandestine radio in East Africa in 1987 
Sudanese clandestine radio activity in 1987 

The 1988 article:

There have been several changes to the clandestine radio scene in east Africa since my last articles on this subject appeared in Communication (May and September 1987). The two major developments causing these changes have been an upsurge in the activities of groups opposed to the present government in Ethiopia and an improvement in that country’s relations with Somalia.

Developments in Ethiopia

The Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) is the largest and most active of several organisations which have been fighting against the Ethiopian government since the early 1960s. These groups wish to restore to Eritrea (a region of northern Ethiopia) the autonomy it enjoyed in the period after the Second World War. 

In March 1988 the EPLF launched a massive military offensive in Eritrea. This offensive attracted considerable attention abroad and the EPLF’s radio station, Voice of the Broad Masses of Eritrea (VOBME), played a major role in publicising the Front’s victories which, it was claimed, included the death, injury and capture of tens of thousands of government troops.

In the neighbouring region of Tigray, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) used the preoccupation of government forces with the EPLF to intensify their own campaign of guerrilla warfare. The TPLF and EPLF also took the opportunity of the improvement in their fortunes to re-establish cooperation between themselves, which had broken down a few years ago over ideological differences. 

Following this renewal of relations, both VOBME and the TPLF’s own station, Voice of the Tigray Revolution (VOTR), began to give publicity not only to their own activities but also to each others’ and to those of other rebel groups opposed to the Ethiopian government. VOTR itself has been heard again after a period of inactivity. 

Some years ago both stations shared the same transmitters. Now the VOTR seems to have acquired its own facilities. Both VOBME and VOTR claim to broadcast from “liberated areas” of Eritrea and Tigray respectively and I think those claims are genuine, given that it is known that much of the two regions is in rebel hands.

Somalia and Ethiopia end their radio war...

Meanwhile, other opposition stations continue to broadcast their message from outside Ethiopia or, to be more precise, Sudan. 

In the past Somalia has also acted as a base for anti-Ethiopian radio activities. However, in April 1988 Somalia and Ethiopia reached an agreement providing for the normalisation of diplomatic relations, the exchange of POWs captured in the 1977-78 war between the two countries and the cessation of hostile propaganda activities. 

Within a few days of this agreement two stations had closed down: Radio Halgan (which broadcast from Addis Ababa in support of two Ethiopian-backed Somali opposition groups) and Voice of the Western Somali and Somali Abo Liberation Fronts (which broadcasts from Mogadishu to the ethnic Somali population in the Ogaden desert region of eastern Ethiopia, or “western Somalia” as they referred to it).

... but Sudan and Ethiopia step up their hostilities

Although the Somali-Ethiopian “radio war” has come to an end, that between Ethiopia and Sudan continues, despite peace talks between the two governments. In fact, the propaganda battle has intensified and there are now three clandestine or semi-clandestine stations operating from Sudan, almost certainly from the same site. 

Two are aimed at Ethiopia: Radio Voice of Ethiopian Unity (which supports a US-backed opposition group) and Voice of Oromo Liberation (the Oromos are a large ethnic group who live mainly in southern Ethiopia). 

The third station is National Unity Radio (NUR), which started life in 1986 as a “black” operation designed to counteract the propaganda of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). However, since October 1987 NUR has adopted a more “official” line. Suspicions that all these three stations are using the same transmitting facilities in Sudan were heightened when they all went off the air at the same time when Sudan was hit by the recent disastrous floods.

Meanwhile, Radio SPLA continues to broadcast from Addis Ababa, and in recent programmes has been criticising the Sudanese government’s handling of the disaster.

Schedules (all subject to frequent variation):

Voice of the Broad Masses of Eritrea: 0400-0700, 0900-1100 and 1400-1700 GMT on 14330 and 7485 kHz (both highly variable).

Voice of the Tigray Revolution: 0400-0500, 1500-1630 and 1900-2030 GMT on 9343, 9311 and 7830 kHz.

Radio Voice of Ethiopian Unity: 1800-2000 GMT. Try 11180, 9665, 9660, 9655, 9430, 9425, 7200 and 7100 kHz (no more than two frequencies are used at any one time).

Voice of Oromo Liberation: 1530-1600 GMT on 9550 kHz.

National Unity Radio: 1400-1500 GMT on 11710, 9550, 9435 or 7100 kHz (no more than two frequencies are used at any one time).

Radio SPLA: 1100-1200 and 1300-1400 GMT (including English) on 11710 and 9550 kHz.

Reception of all these stations in theoretically possible in the UK. 

Happy hunting! Chris

© 1988 and 2019. Material may be reproduced if attributed to Chris Greenway and the British DX Club.

From my archive: Sudanese clandestine radio activity in 1987

I wrote the article below in 1987 when I was living in Kenya. It was published in the September 1987 edition of Communication, the journal of the British DX Club (an association of radio enthusiasts and hobbyists).

Some brief explanations may be useful for the modern reader:

The SPLA was the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army.

The clandestine radio stations mentioned in the article were all broadcasting in the shortwave bands, then widely used by listeners across Africa. As the article was written for radio enthusiasts mainly living in the UK it included details of the frequencies  given in kilohertz (kHz)  that the stations might be heard on.

If you find this article interesting, have a look at two others I wrote at the time:
Clandestine radio in East Africa in 1987 

The 1987 article:

In the May [1987] edition of Communication I explained how the poor relations between Sudan and Ethiopia had led to a “radio war” between the two countries, albeit a one-sided one, with the Ethiopians putting facilities at the disposal of the highly-professional Radio SPLA (the station of the rebels fighting in southern Sudan) but with the Sudanese authorities seemingly unwilling or unable to mount an effective reply. 

Although the official Sudanese radio in Omdurman remains a poor match for Radio SPLA, both in propaganda and technical terms (its main MF transmitter on 1296 kHz is frequently off the air for several days at a time), it appears that a clandestine radio organisation (possibly linked to the Sudanese armed forces) is now attempting to hit back at Ethiopia.

The story began last September [1986] when Radio SPLA started to suffer deliberate interference from a rival station which broadcast anti-SPLA programmes at the same time and on the same frequencies. The usual result was that listeners could hear neither station clearly. 

The new station seemed to be experimental as the exact times for each broadcast changed daily; some days there were no broadcasts, and indeed the programmes were not heard for weeks on end. It seems that, perhaps to support its credentials as an unofficial operation, the anti-SPLA broadcasts deliberately operate for just a month or so at a time, followed by a period of dormancy. This on-off approach has been used by other clandestine broadcasters, such as some of those targeted by the Soviet Union against China.

Fresh tactics

In its latest period of operations the station has changed its original tactics. Instead of jamming Radio SPLA it broadcasts immediately before and after the rebel station, but still on the same frequency. To add to listeners’ confusion, it uses the same signature tune as Radio SPLA. 

Although these tactics display a certain degree of cunning, the anti-SPLA station’s propaganda message is equally as crude as its opponents. Even to the casual listener it is clear that the station is putting forward an official viewpoint. Although it does not use a station name as such, it announces that its programmes are aimed specifically at the Sudanese armed forces. 

Its propaganda is also weakened by only being in Arabic, whilst many of the southern Sudanese who support the SPLA speak English or a tribal language.

Previous Sudanese clandestine radio activity

Up to a few years ago, in fact until the overthrow of President Nimeiry in 1985, Sudan was a centre for clandestine broadcasting in the region. The Nimeiry government was supported by the USA and so not surprisingly two stations active at that time and based in Sudan were aimed at anti-US regimes - Colonel Gaddafi's Libya and the Soviet-allied South Yemen. 

Voice of the Libyan People operated on 15040 and 11640 kHz. In March 1984 Gaddafi even sent the Libyan air force to try and bomb it off the air (the attempt failed). 

Voice of the Free Sons of the Yemeni South (VFSYS) used the unusual frequency of 11180 kHz. Although VFSYS was not heard after Numayri’s downfall, 11180 kHz continued to be used sporadically for a while for relays of the official Sudanese radio.

New station targeting Ethiopia

And now 11180 kHz has reappeared with another operation. In July a new anti-Ethiopian station took to the air. Radio Voice of Ethiopian Unity (RVEU) uncompromisingly attacks the Marxist government in Addis Ababa. This is not surprising as it is run by the main right-wing group of Ethiopian dissidents, the Ethiopian People’s Democratic Alliance, which is based in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and is said to be subsidised by the US Government to the tune of half-a-million dollars a year. 

At first, RVEU used frequencies in the crowded 31 and 41 metre shortwave bands. Now it has shifted to the out-of-band channels of 9430 and our old friend 11180 kHz. Reception here in Nairobi is excellent; so far the Ethiopians do not appear to be jamming RVEU, as they do another opposition station, Voice of the Broad Masses of Eritrea.

The Sudanese government denies supporting RVEU and the station itself claims to be broadcasting from somewhere near the Sudanese-Ethiopian border. My own belief is that RVEU is using the same facilities as the anti-SPLA station, probably located near Khartoum, or its sister city, Omdurman.

© 1987 and 2019. Material may be reproduced if attributed to Chris Greenway and the British DX Club.

From my archive: Clandestine radio in East Africa in 1987

I wrote the article below in 1987 when I was living in Kenya. It was published in the May 1987 edition of Communication, the journal of the British DX Club (an association of radio enthusiasts and hobbyists).

Some brief explanations may be useful for the modern reader:

In 1987, Eritrea was still part of the communist-run state of Ethiopia. The communist government would be defeated by insurgents in 1991, bringing de facto independence to Eritrea, which was formalised in 1993. The Voice of the Broad Masses of Eritrea station described below had been launched in 1979. After independence it became the state broadcaster of the new country of Eritrea.

Also mentioned is the territory of South West Africa. In 1987 this was under the control of South Africa (then still in the apartheid era). South West Africa would become independent as the new country of Namibia in 1990.

The clandestine radio stations mentioned in the article were all broadcasting in the shortwave bands, then widely used by listeners across Africa. As the article was written for radio enthusiasts mainly living in the UK it included details of the frequencies  given in kilohertz (kHz)  that the stations might be heard on.

If you find this article interesting, have a look at two others I wrote at the time: 
Sudanese clandestine radio activity in 1987 
Clandestine radio activity in East Africa hots up in 1988

The 1987 article:

There are five countries bordering Kenya and in four of them guerrillas are in rebellion against the central government, so it is not surprising that this is a fertile region for clandestine broadcasting. Most of this is connected with Ethiopia, either as the originator or target of various stations. 

Ethiopia: Voice of the Broad Masses of Eritrea

Ethiopia contains a number of ethnic groups and some of them are unhappy with the domination of the country by the ruling Amharas. In Eritrea, in the north of the country, the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) and similar groups have been fighting for regional autonomy since the 1960s. They have managed to wrest permanent control of substantial territory from the Addis Ababa government. It is from this “liberated territory” that the EPLF operates its radio station, Voice of the Broad Masses of Eritrea

By its choice of frequencies, all outside normal broadcast bands, it seems likely that VOBME is using modified amateur radio transmitters. 

Programmes in five languages of the area are broadcast in three transmission blocks each day: at 0400-0600, 1430-1630 and 1800-2000 GMT. Several frequencies (all highly variable) are used for each broadcast: 14320 kHz (or thereabouts) seems to have been the most consistent over the years. 

I believe that the station has been heard in the UK, although its low power, variable frequencies and Ethiopian jamming make it a formidable challenge. 

Sudan: Radio SPLA

The Eritreans receive support from a number of countries, including, or so it is widely suspected, neighbouring Sudan. Naturally this displeases the Ethiopian government and so it is partly as a counterweight that Ethiopia gives military and other support to the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) which is fighting an extensive guerrilla war in southern Sudan. 

As part of this aid, the government-controlled Voice of Revolutionary Ethiopia puts its facilities at the disposal of Radio SPLA for two hour-long broadcasts a day in several tribal languages of southern Sudan, as well as English and Arabic. 

Radio SPLA is the most professional clandestine station I have heard. Its programmes are skillfully produced and presented, and in propaganda terms it leaves the dull output of the official radio in Omdurman far behind. The English broadcast is at 1300-1330 on 9550 and 11710 kHz, which should make it possible for it to be heard in the UK during the winter. 

Broadcasts to/from Somalia: Radio HalganVoice of the Western Somali and Somali Abo Liberation Fronts

In addition to its quarrel with Sudan, Ethiopia has a long-standing border dispute with Somalia in which radio plays a role.

Voice of Revolutionary Ethiopia allows its facilities to be used by two dissident Somali groups - the Somali National Movement and the Democratic Front for the Salvation of Somalia - which operate Radio Halgan (“Struggle Radio”) and use it to broadcast military claims and other propaganda daily in Somali at 1700-1800 GMT on 9590 and 7265 kHz. 

Somalia’s answer to Radio Halgan is Voice of the Western Somali and Somali Abo Liberation Fronts which broadcasts to the Somali community living in eastern Ethiopia (or “western Somalia” as Mogadishu describes the area). This uses Radio Mogadishu’s external service transmitter on 6095 kHz for its daily 0930-1000 GMT broadcast. The chances of hearing this one outside the east African region must be thin as even here in Nairobi the signal is very weak. 

Beaming to southern Africa: Radio Freedom & Voice of Namibia

Neither Radio SPLA nor Radio Halgan admit that they are coming from Ethiopia. However, two stations broadcasting to southern Africa are quite happy to say that they are using the Ethiopian state radio's facilities. 

They are Voice of Namibia, which is operated by the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO), and the African National Congress’s Radio Freedom, both of which broadcast mainly in English daily at 1900-1930 and 1930-2000 GMT respectively on 9595 kHz. 

Both of them, but particularly Radio Freedom, are well run and make use of revolutionary music to enliven the propaganda message. Furthermore, the commentaries are not just long tirades but include carefully chosen and edited recordings of remarks by various leaders of the ANC and SWAPO. 

Radio Freedom and Voice of Namibia also use radio facilities in several other African countries. The broadcasts from Ethiopia have been heard in the UK.

© 1987 and 2019. Material may be reproduced if attributed to Chris Greenway and the British DX Club.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Psychological radio operations in the Yemen war

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog post, reflecting only my views. 

A change for this blog! Rather than radio stations long gone, a look at some that are currently active in the war in Yemen.

Political and media background

Rebels of the Houthi movement seized control of the Yemeni capital Sanaa in 2014. The following year Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf states, with US backing, began a military intervention in Yemen to fight the rebels and support President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and his government. The intervention continues to this day.

At the time the foreign military intervention began in March 2015, President Hadi (who had already fled from Sanaa for the southern port city of Aden) went into exile in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi authorities provided him with satellite television channels to back his cause among audiences back in Yemen and in the region. Satellite TV viewing is very common across the Arab world, and any political faction worth its salt operates at least one such channel.

In contrast, radio is now generally much less important in the region. However, radio may be playing a significant role in the information war that accompanies the Yemeni conflict as it is less vulnerable than television or online media to the damage caused during the fighting to the power, mobile phone and internet infrastructures.

With that in mind, it is notable that alongside various Saudi-backed TV channels, three radio stations supported by the Saudi-led coalition fighting the rebels are beaming into Yemen from abroad.


A regular programme on Radio Al-Azm (see below) is
The Spider's Web, about Saudi Arabia's enemy in the war
Image taken from Radio Al-Azm's Twitter account

In the order in which they came on the air, the three anti-Houthi radio stations are:

Radio Sanaa

This is the station of the exiled government under President Hadi, who continues to spend most of his time in Saudi Arabia. Along with Hadi’s "Yemen TV", which uses the same name and branding as that of the main channel of the state television in the Yemeni capital, Radio Sanaa presents itself as the country’s legitimate state broadcaster. 

Radio Sanaa has been on the air since November 2015, presumably from Saudi Arabia. It is on the air around the clock on shortwave (11860 kHz).

Radio Al-Azm ("Determination")

Radio Al-Azm is run by the state-owned Saudi Broadcasting Authority (known until July 2018 as the Saudi Broadcasting Corporation). 

The station has more than one target audience. It's a morale boosting service for Saudi military personnel fighting the Houthi rebels. But Radio Al-Azm will be aware that it also has significant potential civilian audiences on both sides of the Saudi-Yemen border. It's based in the southern Saudi city of Jizan and has been been on the air since September 2017.

Radio Al-Azm is on the air 24/7 via a number of AM (mediumwave) and FM transmitters in the Saudi regions of Jizan and Najran, bordering Yemen, and on a shortwave frequency, 11745 kHz (note how close that is to Radio Sanaa's shortwave channel of 11860 kHz).

Radio Al-Azm advertises its programmes on its Twitter account.


Headphones and rifles on Radio Al-Azam's logo

Voice of the Republic (Sawt al-Jomhouria)

Voice of the Republic is an information operation of one of the factions within Yemen that is fighting the Houthis. It has a substantial presence on the airwaves, being available via local FM transmitters within Yemen, on satellite and on a powerful AM transmitter in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Affiliation: Voice of the Republic is run by the "National Resistance Forces" (NRF), also known as the "Guards of the Republic", commanded by Brigadier-General Tariq Muhammad Abdullah Saleh. The NRF is based at Mocha (Al-Mukha) on Yemen’s west coast. It is part of the Saudi-backed pro-government coalition.

Launch date: Voice of the Republic reportedly began broadcasting in mid-May 2018. 

The website Sahafah24 reported on 14 May that Brigadier-General Saleh and his "Guards of the Republic" had launched the station in Mocha on 93.1 FM.

Expansion of coverage: Less than a month later (5 June), the website News Yemen reported that transmissions had been expanded from Mocha and now covered Hodeidah (Hudaydah), further north on the coast, on 104.1 FM. 

Then on 28 June, the website Al-Wefaq News reported that the station was also being transmitted on 1170 AM. 

The UAE connection: The signal on 1170 AM is coming from a very powerful (800 kW) transmitter at Al-Dhabbaya in the UAE. Note that the UAE is part of the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.

Before it switched to relaying Voice of the Republic, the transmitter on 1170 AM had carried the UAE government station Radio Abu Dhabi.

Although Voice of the Republic is on the air on FM and satellite around the clock, it is only relayed on the AM transmitter in the UAE during the hours of darkness, when the signal will reach the target area in Yemen by skywave propagation

Also on satellite: In addition to its terrestrial transmissions on AM and FM, Voice of the Republic is also available on satellite. It can be heard on the Eutelsat 7 West A satellite at 7.3 west. The transponder frequency is 12360 MHz, horizontal polarisation. This particular transponder is leased to the UAE company du.

Transmissions from Eutelsat 7 West A are often incorrectly referred to in the Middle East as coming from Nilesat, because it is in almost the same orbital location as Nilesat 201 at 7.0 west, and many satellite users say they have a "Nilesat dish" pointing at that position. 

Recording: You can hear the announcer mention the station's name, Sawt al-Jomhouria, and "Nilesat" in this recording.

Further reading

For more about Radio Sanaa and Radio Al-Azm, see an article by veteran radio enthusiast and Arabist Hans Johnson published in Radio World in June 2018.

© 2019. Material may be reproduced if attributed to Chris Greenway and any original source.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

When Britain wooed Arab hearts and minds – the story of Voice of the Coast

The story of Voice of the Coast is little known. I hope this post will serve as a source of reference on the station and that I will be able to update it as more information becomes available. Comments and updates are welcome.

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Lee Richards and Mike Barraclough for pointing me towards this story.


The Trucial States were a quasi British protectorate until independence in 1971
Voice of the Coast was based at Sharjah (marked on the map as Ash Shariqah)

Objectives and techniques

Summary: Voice of the Coast (Sawt al-Sahil) was a British-operated Arabic-language radio station on the air between 1964 and 1970, targeting audiences initially in the British-controlled Trucial States and then in the wider Arab world. [1]

Objective: The aim was to support British influence in the region, drawing listeners away from hostile stations, notably Voice of the Arabs (Sawt al-Arab), the dominant presence on the region's airwaves at that time. Voice of the Arabs was pan-regional Arab nationalist radio station operated from Cairo by Nasser’s Egypt since 1953. Its operations were a major concern to the British government for many years. The British Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) said in 1958 that broadcasts from Cairo had "played a large part in fomenting almost every recent crisis in the Middle East".

Technique: Any planners of British political radio activity in the Middle East in the 1960s would have been only too aware of the shambolic failure of such British operations during the 1956 Suez Crisis.

Accordingly, it seems that Voice of the Coast adopted a light touch, which included playing plenty of music (as did Voice of the Arabs), as well as airing news. 

In the jargon of psychological warfare, it was a relatively "white" operation, not concealing in any way its place of origin (though not being explicit about its anti-Nasser message). The full station identification was: "Voice of the Coast from the Trucial States" (Sawt al-Sahil min al-Imarat al-Mutasaliha  صوت الساحل من الإمارات المتصالحة). And listeners were invited to write to the station, particularly with their music requests, at Post Box 201, Sharjah.

British control

Geopolitical background: Voice of the Coast was based in Sharjah, one of the so-called Trucial States on the Arabian side of the Persian Gulf. Although they were not formally British possessions, all the Trucial States had treaties that gave Britain substantial rights in exchange for military and diplomatic protection.

London's authority on the ground was exercised by the Foreign Office through a British "political residency" in the Gulf, which in turn used a number of "political agents" in various sheikhdoms. Sharjah's affairs were looked after by the British political agent in neighbouring Dubai.

The UK's local military presence in the Trucial States was a paramilitary/gendarmarie force called the Trucial Oman Scouts (TOS). The TOS was headquartered in Sharjah, initially at a site next to RAF Sharjah airbase. [2]

The men in charge

Command and control: Voice of the Coast was a joint political-military operation, involving both the British Foreign Office [3] and Ministry of Defence. Political and military control was exercised by, respectively, the British Political Agent in Dubai and the commander of the TOS.

According to the book Britain's Secret Propaganda War 1948-1977 by Paul Lashmar and James Oliver, the initiative to set up Voice of the Coast came from the Foreign Office's Information Research Department (IRD), in liaison with major oil companies. The IRD was the part of the Foreign Office responsible for countering communist and Nasserite propaganda.

Station management: Voice of the Coast's first commander was Tim Ash (who died in 2012, aged 79), an Arabic-speaking member of the Royal Signals who had volunteered for service in the TOS. Ash later recalled:
The station’s main aim was to provide listeners with Arabic music as well as supplying local news. The world news was taken from the BBC, but it had to go to the [British Political] Agency in Dubai first for checking before being broadcast. The station broadcast about six hours a day and had its own transmitter.
Denys Johnson-Davies (1922-2017), an Arabic-speaking civilian, took over as director of Voice of the Coast in 1969.

Johnson-Davies was offered the chance by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid, to remain as head of the station after independence in 1971, but turned it down"I said, ‘Here you are, an independent Arab country  what do you want an Englishman for?'"

Tim Ash was Voice of the Coast's first manager
Photo (undated): The National, Abu Dhabi

Expansion and closure

Expansion of the station's transmission coverage: Voice of the Coast was launched in 1964, operating from the HQ of the Trucial Oman Scouts in Sharjah. The station initially used a low-powered mediumwave (AM) transmitter that only provided local coverage. 

By August 1966 this had been replaced by a 10-kilowatt shortwave transmitter and a 1-kW AM one, which were giving reception in areas well beyond the Trucial States. The following year it was noted that a 10-kW AM transmitter had been obtained for the station. 

An increase in the strength of the shortwave transmitter (on 6040 kHz) was reported in 1970. This allowed the station to be heard by shortwave radio enthusiasts in Europe. Reception in the UK was also reported that year of the station's AM (737 kHz) signal.

Shortly before independence in 1971, after the station had moved to Dubai, it was operating with a 10-kW AM transmitter (on 1250 kHz) and a 10-kW shortwave transmitter (on 6040 kHz). It was on the air for 11 hours a day at 0700-1100 and 1600-2300 local times. (Source: World Radio TV Handbook, 1972 edition)

Closure of the station: By the end of the 1960s the regional political climate had changed. The UK's interest in running such media operations in the region had waned. Britain had left Aden in 1967 and the following year Prime Minister Harold Wilson announced a general withdrawal of British forces east of Suez. 

The need for Voice of the Coast had also declined as the reputation and influence of Voice of Arabs never recovered from Egypt’s defeat in the 1967 war.

In 1970, Voice of the Coast was transferred from Sharjah to neighbouring Dubai. It was eventually renamed Dubai Radio and handed over to the local authorities, as the Trucial States gained independence the following year. The exact date it stopped using the name Voice of the Coast is not known. It was still using that name immediately before independence in December 1971.

After independence the Trucial States joined together to form the United Arab Emirates, UAE.

The station launches a successful career

Along with Tim Ash and Denys Johnson-Davies, an interesting personality at the station in the early days was a young female presenter, Hessa Al Ossaily. According to a 2014 article in the UAE newspaper The National:
Hessa Al Ossaily was only a teenager when she took the first step towards becoming a broadcasting legend. In 1965, a representative from the newly launched Sawt Al Sahel (The Voice of the Coast), an Arabic broadcast radio station in Sharjah that was operated by the British military, was looking for new talents. Just 15, the Emirati, who had a reputation as a star speaker at her school’s morning assembly, was determined to take up the ­challenge.
“I always had an adventurous kind of soul, where I like to try new things and always try to do them well,” says Al Ossaily, now known as the “mother of UAE ­media”.
With a heavy fringe, fashionable at the time, and a big smile, her voice was heard on the radio waves introducing the latest social affairs, celebrity talk and entertainment. As well as the chance of a lifetime, it was a way to help support her family.
“I would present light segments, depending on the requests of the listeners who would write in, and we would sit and read the letters and see what they would like to hear,” she recalls.
Mostly listeners wanted legendary Arab singers and the latest releases by a new generation of singers, especially from the Gulf.
“It was a very simple time: people just wanted a break from work, to listen to something light and fun, as the time for news and politics was announced by the males and adults at the radio station,” she says. 

Hessa Al Ossaily was a teenage recruit to the staff of Voice of the Coast
Photo (2014): The National, Abu Dhabi
Notes

[1] I've not been able to confirm the exact dates for the start and end of broadcasts. There are conflicting reports on the start date (it may have been in 1965 rather than 1964). The timing of events when the station closed and was moved to Dubai is also unclear.

[2] RAF Sharjah was home to a separate radio station, Forces Radio Sharjah, which served British service personnel. It had a low-power (0.05 kW) AM transmitter on 1480 kHz. Unlike other such stations around the world, it does not seem to have been part of the BFBS (British Forces Broadcasting Service) network. (Source: World Radio TV Handbook, 1968 edition)

[3] In 1968, the Foreign Office became the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) at the end of a series of reorganisations over previous decades which brought together the Foreign Office, the Dominions Office and the Colonial Office in a single department.

© 2018. Material may be reproduced if attributed to Chris Greenway and any original source.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

MOONSHINE – A story of psychological warfare

This is an overview of the story of Radio Atlantico de Sur. It contains links to other posts on this blog that focus in much more detail on specific aspects of the story. An earlier version of this overview was published in August 2017 under the title Radio Atlantico del Sur – Profile and Timeline. My research since then has allowed me to resolve a number of ambiguities and uncertainties in that original post, and correct some errors. I've been able to trim some passages, or remove them altogether, while adding extra information.


RAdS said it was an "additional station" to the one run by Argentina from Stanley
Front and back of a British leaflet aimed at Argentine troops
Image credit: PsyWar.Org


Radio Atlantico del Sur  –  Profile of a psychological operation

Summary: A Spanish-language shortwave radio station operated by the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) in the final four weeks of the April-June 1982 Falklands (Malvinas) War to support the operations of British forces.

Target audience: Argentine military personnel in the Falkland Islands.

Objectives: To persuade Argentine troops to "hesitate before firing on British troops" and to "consider positively the benefits of surrendering". 

These objectives were set out in a now-declassified MoD document known as the “Interim Assessment” first drafted on or shortly before 10 May 1982 (more than a week before Radio Atlantico del Sur went on the air). The Interim Assessment was written by RAdS’s civilian manager, Neil ffrench-Blake, who says in his memoirs that it originally included a third objective: "to discourage enemy troops from mistreating the civilian population".

Psychological techniques: Broadcasts aimed at demoralising the target audience by reinforcing feelings of homesickness and isolation, and unsettling the listener through an implicit but regular reminder of his predicament  he was a long way from home, facing a determined, well-equipped and well-trained enemy, and without hope of reinforcement or relief. (By the time RAdS was launched the islands were under a British air and sea blockade.)

A directive to the station's staff instructed it to increase the audience's sense of isolation "by direct reference to events taking place on the islands known only to the garrison, coupled with information about their own town on the mainland".

Specific themes used in broadcasts included: stressing the lack of training of Argentinian conscripts by comparison with British troops; playing on fears of British specialist units such as the SAS and SBS; and noting the lack of medical facilities available to Argentine forces.

Codename: In the planning stage, the radio station was known as Project MOONSHINE. Once it was on the air the codename was PINOCHIO (sic), though MOONSHINE is the name that is best remembered. See the post No lies are to be told”.  

Logistics of operation: Programmes were produced in London and beamed to the islands by a BBC shortwave transmitter on Ascension Island. 

All broadcasts went out live from a studio of the Services Sound and Vision Corporation (SSVC) in Kings Buildings, Dean Stanley Street, Westminster, normally used by the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS). See the posts The Secret is Revealed: Radio Atlantico del Sur's studio and Pinpointing the location: “on the left at the top of the stairs”.  

The programme was fed from the UK to the transmitter on Ascension Island via BT’s Rugby Radio Station. See the post The Incident at Crowsley Park on the Night of 20-21 May 1982.  

Transmission arrangements: The signal was aired from a 250-kilowatt transmitter at the BBC Atlantic Relay Station on Ascension Island. The frequencies were 9710 kilohertz for the evening broadcast and 9700 kHz for the morning one, both in the 31-metre shortwave band. Both frequencies were close to 9690 kHz, which was used during the war by various stations in Argentina. [1] 

For details of the Ascension transmitter, see the post The Requisitioning of Sender 302

Hours of transmission: Throughout its short life, RAdS transmitted a three-hour evening broadcast each day at 8 p.m. Falklands time (equivalent to 2300 GMT or midnight London time).

From 28 May, an additional one-hour early morning broadcast was aired each day at 5.30 a.m. Falklands’ time (0830 GMT or 0930 London time). [2]

Total number of broadcasts: 47. These were made up of 28 evening broadcasts (19 May to 15 June) and 19 morning broadcasts (28 May to 15 June).

Staffing: Programmes were produced by a group of more than 30 civilian and military personnel using the cover name of the Media Assessment Team (MAT). The MAT included a civilian station manager (Neil ffrench-Blake), nine presenters (all but one being members of the British armed forces), five translators/writers, three Spanish-speaking typists, two civilian journalists, a civilian radio engineer, two RAF technicians, three junior NCOs from the British Army's Intelligence Corps and five administrative staff. 

Command and control: The MAT was under the overall control of Lieutenant-Colonel B and Squadron-Leader G, both posted from the Psychological Operations Section, Joint Warfare Wing of the National Defence College at Latimer, Buckinghamshire. They in turn reported to Colonel S, head of the MoD’s Special Projects Group (SPG), which had been formed just over a week after the Argentine invasion. [3]

Presenters: All the on-air staff used pseudonyms. This included the sole female announcer. See the post Mariana Flores, Britain’s psychological weapon against the Argentine forces.  

Postal address: Listeners were invited to write to Post Office Box 408, London. Letters addressed to the station c/o the MoD were also answered.

Cost: After the war, the total cost of the project was said to have been about £40,000 (equivalent to around £140,000 in 2018 prices). Before broadcasts started, costs had been estimated at up to £20,000 per week.

Argentine counter-measures: These included:
  • RAdS's signal was jammed (though this might have been ineffective in the target area)
  • The Argentine military chaplain in the Falklands warned troops that listening to RAdS was a mortal sin (thus possibly increasingly its allure by giving it forbidden-fruit status)
  • Radio sets were confiscated from Falkland Islanders, reportedly to prevent them from being used by Argentine conscripts to listen to RAdS
  • A privately-owned Buenos Aires-based news agency, Noticias Argentinas, was closed by the authorities for 72 hours in early June. The MoD said this was because the news agency had cited the list of Argentine POWs that was broadcast nightly by RAdS, though other reasons for the closure have been suggested – see the post General Galtieri’s mystery decree 


In later life, Neil ffrench-Blake (1940-2016) used this photo on his Twitter account
Appropriately, his face - like much of his clandestine professional life - is partly obscured


Timeline of Project MOONSHINE

Events in April-June 1982:


Before MOONSHINE

Morning of 2 April: Argentine forces invade the Falklands (Operation ROSARIO). They take control of the local radio station, the Falkland Islands Broadcasting Service (FIBS), rename it LRA60 Radio Nacional Islas Malvinas and introduce Spanish news bulletins alongside the English ones. 

5 April: British Task Force sails from Portsmouth for the South Atlantic.

6 April: A War Cabinet is formed in Britain, known formally as OD(SA) – Overseas and Defence Committee (South Atlantic). 

Also on 6 April, the BBC begins broadcasting its formerly Sundays-only Calling the Falklands programme three times a week. See the post "London Calling the Falkland Islands" – the BBC's lifeline service. 

7 April: The BBC’s nightly four-hour service in Spanish to Latin America is extended to five hours (2015-0115 Argentine time).

11 April: A Special Projects Group (SPG) is formed at the MoD to support Operation CORPORATE (the codename for the British operation to recover the Falklands).

The SPG is headed by a Colonel S and is tasked by the Chiefs of Staff with the “collection, collation and development of ideas for deception, psychological operations and the development of plans from those ideas”. 

The SPG’s initial work includes devising proposals to spread a rumour in the insurance markets about British intentions to mine Argentine waters and to plant misleading information in the press about British anti-submarine torpedoes. 

21 April (or perhaps a day or two earlier): Argentina launches its English-language radio station Liberty, targeting members of the British Task Force and an audience in the UK. See the post Argentine Annie and Radio Atlantico del Sur – A Comparative Study. 

(The timing is interesting, but there is no evidence that RAdS was proposed as a response to Liberty.)

22 April: By this date the SPG still does not appear to be spending much time thinking about broadcasting. In a four-page memo written that day, summarising the SPG’s current activity, Colonel S only mentions possible radio operations in a single sentence: “Although broadcasting to the islands will be feasible once we have surface ships within 200 miles, to do so will advertise the exact position of the ships involved.” Colonel S’s memo makes no mention of the idea of transmitting from Ascension Island rather than from ships at sea.

Also on 22 April, Argentine President Leopoldo Galtieri pays a brief visit to the islands.

26 April: The BBC increases its Calling the Falklands programme to daily broadcasts.

The same day, the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) launches a morale-boosting programme for UK forces in the South Atlantic. See the post BFBS Calling the United Kingdom Task Force”.


MOONSHINE is proposed, opposed and approved

28 April: The past week has seen the SPG devoting much more attention to radio plans. On this date it submits a case (known as SPG 020) to set up Radio Atlantico del Sur, under the codeword MOONSHINE, using a transmitter on Ascension.

SPG 020 provokes immediate opposition from the Foreign Office (FCO).

End of April and start of May: The war takes on a new tempo with Britain enforcing a Total Exclusion Zone (TEZ) around the islands (30 April), the RAF bombing of Stanley airport (1 May), the sinking of the Argentine cruiser ARA General Belgrano (2 May) and the Exocet strike on HMS Sheffield (4 May). 

After the bombing of the airport, the occupying forces end the shortwave and mediumwave (AM) transmissions of Radio Nacional Islas Malvinas and restrict its dissemination to a cable service, meaning that Argentine forces on the islands must turn to stations outside the islands to hear over-the-air broadcasts. (See entry for 11 June.)

First week of May: Argentina begins jamming BBC broadcasts in Spanish to Latin America and the BBC’s daily Calling the Falklands programme. In response, the BBC adds additional shortwave frequencies to the transmission of the Spanish service’s evening broadcast and (on 7 May) starts a daily broadcast in the morning (0800-0830 Argentine time).

3 May: The MoD revises its 28 April proposal on Radio Atlantico del Sur in a bid to meet FCO objections. For the text of the revised proposal, known as SPG Paper No 6, see the post "The codeword for this operation is MOONSHINE".

Despite the revisions, the FCO maintains its opposition to the project. Wangling between the MoD and the FCO over the plans for RAdS continues during the first two weeks of May.

Nevertheless, the SPG begins planning RAdS’s programmes and starts recruiting personnel to operate the station, disguising the recruitment under a cover name, the Media Assessment Team (MAT). One of the civilian members of the MAT has described how he was recruited.

As a result, Radio Atlantico del Sur is ready to go on the air from around 10 May.

10 May: The prime minister’s press secretary, Bernard Ingham, writes a letter – circulated around Whitehall and described by one MoD official as "emotive" and "ill-informed" – denouncing Project MOONSHINE.

With the arguments in Whitehall unresolved, it is clear that the dispute over MOONSHINE will only be ended by taking the matter to the War Cabinet for a final decision. The arguments are described in the post The War Cabinet is invited to agree”.

13 May: A proposal to launch MOONSHINE is submitted to the War Cabinet. The text of the proposal is contained in the post The Foreign Office's last stand. 

Morning of 18 May: The War Cabinet approves Project MOONSHINE.


MOONSHINE on the air 

Morning of 19 May: MoD issues press statement on the launch of Radio Atlantico del Sur, and announces that, using its powers under Article 19 of the BBC's Licence and Agreement, the government is requisitioning the use of one of the four shortwave transmitters at the BBC's Ascension Island relay station. 

Evening of 19 May: Radio Atlantico del Sur makes its first broadcast at 2000 Falklands time, starting with its two signature tunes.

The lead story in its news bulletins that evening is that efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Falklands conflict are on the verge of breaking down and that opinion in the UK is that an all-out British attack on the islands is imminent. 

The station also gives prominence to the SAS raid on Pebble Island on 15 May. 

Morning of 20 May: The coverage of the SAS raid in the previous night’s broadcast causes concern within the MoD. See the post Did the MoD broadcast military secrets to Argentina?

Evening of 20 May: Radio Atlantico del Sur’s military commentator, who uses the on-air name Jaime Montero, looks at the effectiveness of Britain’s Harrier aircraft, quoting from Latin American press sources.

21 May: Ground campaign begins with landing of British forces at San Carlos (Operation SUTTON).

26 May: In a bid to counteract Argentine jamming, the BBC increases from two to four the number of frequencies carrying its daily Calling the Falklands programme.

28 May: Radio Atlantico del Sur starts an additional daily broadcasts in the early morning.

28-29 May: Battle of Goose Green (see entry for 2 June).

1 June: 5th Infantry Brigade begins disembarking at San Carlos. The Brigade had made part of its journey to the Falklands on the QE2. 

That evening, Radio Atlantico del Sur broadcasts news of the use of the QE2 to transport reinforcements, in contravention of MoD policy. (The MoD imposed a blackout on reporting the movement of 5th Infantry Brigade until 6 June.)

2 June: The Noticias Argentinas news agency publishes the names of some of the Argentine troops captured at Goose Green, as broadcast by Radio Atlantico del Sur the previous evening.

5-7 June: Noticias Argentinas is ordered by the authorities to close for 72 hours. See the post General Galtieri’s mystery decree.

11 June: Radio Nacional Islas Malvinas returns to the air briefly to broadcast the Mass delivered by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Argentina.

The battle for Stanley begins.

That evening, and on following days, Radio Atlantico del Sur broadcasts features stressing the behaviour that Argentine forces must observe under the Geneva Convention regarding the treatment of civilians. 

14 June: Radio Atlantico del Sur begins its evening broadcast by reporting that white flags are flying in Stanley.

Later that evening, General Mario Menendez surrenders all his forces in the islands. 

15 June: The two final broadcasts of Radio Atlantico del Sur.

Also on 15 June, Argentina ends its jamming of the BBC.

16 June: The requisitioned Ascension Island transmitter returns to full BBC use.


RAdS used offices on the first floor of Kings Buildings, Westminster
It broadcast from a BFBS studio in the basement
Photo 
© Chris Greenway

Aftermath

The story of Radio Atlantico del Sur largely fell into obscurity after the war. (In the English-speaking world, that is. There’s a separate story to be told about what’s been said on the subject by Spanish speakers.)

The station closed the day after the surrender and the broadcasting team dispersed, its members sworn to secrecy to protect the identity of those colleagues with family connections with Argentina.

A few articles about Radio Atlantico del Sur appeared shortly after the war in specialist radio publications, based on press reporting during the conflict (much of which was critical of RAdS and none of which was detailed) along with observations from enthusiasts who had heard the broadcasts. But there was very little interest among a wider public. Two popular British books about the war, published shortly after the conflict, made no mention of the station. [4] 

Neil ffrench-Blake’s identity as RAdS’s civilian manager was “blown” in the late 1980s, though without attracting any attention beyond that of specialist radio historians and enthusiasts. ffrench-Blake himself kept a public silence about his role for more than three decades. All the other members of RAdS’s staff have retained their anonymity to this day.

In 2005, some of the policy discussions about RAdS within government during the war were described in The Official History of the Falklands Campaign (Volume 2) by Sir Lawrence Freedman. But Freedman does not appear to have spoken to any of the station’s staff, relying entirely on official documents to tell its story, and saying almost nothing about its output. The Official History does, however, appear to be the first occasion the station’s codename, MOONSHINE, was disclosed.

Only with the publication in 2015 of ffrench-Blake’s memoirs, and the subsequent release to the National Archives of various MoD and FCO files (possibly triggered by the appearance of the memoirs) could others make their own assessments of the story behind RAdS. [5]

The passage of more than 30 years following the war before authoritative documentation on RAdS’s activities became public allowed myths, misunderstandings and inaccuracies about the station to go unanswered. See the post Ten myths about Radio Atlantico del Sur. 

Notes

[1] BBC Monitoring reported in late April that 9690 kHz was being used to relay Radio Rivadavia, a privately-owned station in Buenos Aires, at 0000-1000 GMT, and to air state radio's external service RAE (Radiodifusion Argentina al Exterior) at other times of the day. By late May, BBC Monitoring reported that 9690 kHz was on the air more or less around the clock, with relays at various times of RAE and the domestic services Radio Nacional and Radio Noticias Argentinas.

[2] The proposed time of the morning transmission went through several changes during the planning stage. The MoD announced to the press on 19 May that the morning broadcast would be a 90-minute one at 0815 GMT. But when the morning programme was eventually launched on 28 May, its duration had been shortened to 60 minutes and the start time amended slightly to 0830 GMT.

[3] The full names of these officers, and of other members of the SPG, are given in declassified MoD files, but I have chosen not to name in this blog anyone intimately associated with RAdS unless their identity is already published or they have confirmed to me that they are happy to be named.

[4] The Falklands War: The Full Story (1982) by the Sunday Times and The Battle for the Falklands (1983) by Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins.

[5] The memoirs (which appeared under the title The Pol Pot Conspiracy) are largely concerned with ffrench-Blake’s clandestine activities on behalf of the CIA in Southeast Asia in the 1980s and 90s, for which he found his work on Radio Atlantico del Sur a useful preparation.

Disclaimer: I was employed by the BBC at the time of the 1982 war, and continue to be so. However, this is an entirely personal blog post, reflecting only my views.

© 2017-2018. Material may be reproduced if attributed to Chris Greenway and any original source.