NASWA Journal Columns · Shortwave Center, March 1999

Jerry Lineback • 506 S. Lawrence Ave. • Scranton, KS 66537 jalineback◊

Shortwave Center, March 1999

Two Voices from the South: A Bit of History

by Pedro M. C. de Castro, Lorena-SP, Brazil  

The highlands in the northeast of Rio Grande do Sul are one of the few areas with blizzards in Brazil. Near the Peak of Igreja, 6100 feet, the Pelotas-Uruguay River is born. Instead of running east to flow into the ocean only 40 miles away, the river initially flows to the northwest and then to the south, undertaking a long trip across the continent. It flows into the sea only near Buenos Aires, Argentina, more than 1,000 miles from its source. This vast portion of land, surrounded by water, wasn’t part of the original Portuguese domains in South America. Several conflicts involving the Portuguese and the Spanish colonizers turned the area into a no-man’s land for over a century, and led to the division of the territory into two parts in 1828: The Province of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, in the north and the Republic of Uruguay in the south. Conquerors of their territory, but unsatisfied with their lack of autonomy, the people of Rio Grande proclaimed an independent republic in 1836. They supported a war against the Brazilian Monarchy until 1845, when they surrendered. Giuseppe Garibaldi, hero of Italian unification, fought in this war, aside the Republicans, and met his wife Anita.

[ Map of Rio Grande do Sul ]

Fig 1: Map of Rio Grande do Sul

With the same area as the State of Colorado and a present population of 9.7 million, Rio Grande do Sul is a State with a strong identity, a consequence of its past of war and massive European immigration. The most important immigrants were the Germans, established in the valley of the Jacui River, and the Italians, who preferred the highlands of the northeast. But the Spanish, Azorian, British, French, and Polish immigrants are also important. The state economy is diversified: mining, manufacturing, agriculture, livestock, agri-business, and tourism are important. The agricultural industry adopted a partnership system in which the companies provide technical assistance to thousands of small farmers and buy their products, thereby minimizing risks and assuring a good productivity and life quality.

Two Radio Stations

From this salad of cultures, two radio stations are often mentioned in the logging sections of DX bulletins: Radio Guaiba and Radio Gaúcha. Despite their big size and coverage beyond the state frontiers, the stations don’t forget local traditions, starting with their names: Guaiba is the river of Porto Alegre, the state capital, and Gaúcha is the female form of Gaúcho, the inhabitant and knight of Rio Grande.

[ The news studio of Radio Guaiba ]

Fig 2: Radio Guaiba’s news studio. Speaker Milton Jung (top) has worked at the station since it began.

Aiming for an adult and relatively affluent audience, both stations are informative and cultural. Radio Guaiba is also musical, with a sober and traditional style. Radio Guaiba was founded in 1957 and operates together with a newspaper, the Correio do Povo. Its news programs are: Correspondente Renner, 10 minutes live, 4 times per day; Guaiba Noticias, flashes each half hour; and Jornal da Guaiba, from 11-12 PM. Other important programs are Espaco Aberto, consisting of interviews and conversations with local and national political and economic celebrities, and Plantao Esportivo, a sports program. On Sunday mornings, the L’Eco D’Italia, a program for the Italian colony, with talks in Portuguese and Italian (programs in Italian are common on local MW and FM stations in Rio Grande do Sul. The Musica da Guaiba consists of musical intervals when rock and noisy music are forbidden.

Radio Gaúcha was founded in 1927, meaning that it is one of the oldest Brazilian stations. Old but modern. It is part of a group of 4 newspapers (the main one is the Diario do Povo), 103 radio and 16 TV stations linked by satellite, forming the Gaúcha Sat Network. Radio Gaúcha’s 754 ft antenna is the highest in Brazil. They also take part in the Cono Sur Network, with Radio Mitre in Argentina, Ñanduti in Paraguay, Carve in Uruguay, and Cooperativa in Chile. Radio Gaúcha has a large news department, with correspondents all over Brazil and in the main countries of the world. It was the only Brazilian station that sent reporters to the Gulf War. Programs with interviews and talks with politicians, businessmen, artists, sportsmen, and other celebrities are common: Gaúcha Atualidade, Polemica, Gaúcha Entrevista, and others. The news program, Noticias RBS Radio, is aired 12 times per day. On Sunday mornings, Galpao do Nativismo is program with the music and folklore of Rio Grande. Domingo Esporte Show, Bola na Mesa, and Jornadas Esportivas are sport programs. Two soccer clubs in Porto Alegre, the eternally rival Gremio Porto Alegrense and Internacional, are the passion of the Gauchos.

[ Radio Guaiba building ]

Fig 3: Radio Guaiba is located in an old but well preserved building in Caldas Junior st., a narrow street in the old downtown.

There are no dialects in Brazil, but some regional differences in intonation are notorious. Most TV and radio stations normally use the “standard” form of Portuguese, but, thanks to the several interviews aired by radios Gaúcha and Guaiba, it’s often possible to hear the unmistakable accent of Rio Grande, probably derived from the Italian influence.

Frequencies are 720, 6000, and 11785 for Radio Guaiba and 600, 6020, and 11915 for Radio Gaúcha. Don’t worry if propagation is bad: both stations are available in Real Audio: Radio Guaiba at <> and Radio Gaúcha at <> Good listening!

Acknowledgments: Mrs. Eliana Prado do Campo, Journalism Chief of Radio Guaiba; Mr. Luciano Klöckner, Journalism Coordinator of Radio Gaúcha; Mr. Célio Romais and Mr. Claudir Ghiggi, DX Clube Paulista South Chapter.

[ Radio Gaúcha building ]

Fig 4: Radio Gaúcha is located in a modern building in Ipiranga Avenue, a short distance from downtown.

[ The monument ]

Fig 5: Monument to the Italian immigrant in Caxias do Sul – cover of the Reader’s Digest Brazilian Edition in September 1955.

[ The museum ]

Fig 6: Museum of the Italian immigrant in the city of Caxias do Sul.

[ Landscape ]

Fig 7: Views of the State highlands near the city of Canela.

DX Target: Voice of Oromo Liberation

Sagalee Bilisumma Oromoo
Clandestine Broadcasting in the Horn of Africa

by Richard A. D’Angelo

In 1973, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a political organization, was established by Oromo nationalists. It is hostile to the government of Ethiopia. The purpose of the OLF is to lead the national liberation struggle of the Oromo people against political oppression. The emergence of the OLF was a culmination of a century of effort for a strong, unified national Oromo organization. Although it took many years to launch, one of its most effective tools has been the establishment of a shortwave radio service to broadcast its message to the Oromo people.

This DX Target will take a brief look at clandestine broadcasting, then it will look at the Oromo people, which are the target audience of the Voice of Oromo Liberation, and finally it will take a look at the Voice of Oromo Liberation, or Sagalee Bilisumma Oromoo (SBO) in the Oromo language, which supports the Oromo Liberation Front and other groups opposed to the Ethiopian government.

Clandestine Broadcasting

Clandestine broadcasting provides a unique look into the politics of a region. Whether operating from an exotic remote location or renting time on a spare high-powered international transmitter, clandestine broadcast stations provide fascinating listening to the DXer. Naturally, clandestine radio stations can be many things. First, the station can be a psychological warfare tool that prepares a nation, its people, and its leadership for political upheaval. Second, they provide news, information, and propaganda to spread a group’s political ideology and/or agenda. Third, clandestine broadcasters can provide misinformation to serve its political purposes. Whether a clandestine is operating from a remote jungle or from a high-powered international transmitter located in another country, they are fascinating and extremely exciting to listen to and follow.

Clandestine broadcast station’s are radio stations and programs operated by guerrilla or political groups, opposition parties, and government intelligence agencies for the purpose of destabilizing political systems or movements. Generally speaking, clandestine radio stations fall into one of three classifications. The first is the “gray” clandestine, which is operated by a political group and funded internally and/or externally through covert foreign aid. Some broadcasts are through local facilities, i.e. low-powered (mobile) transmitters from jungles or remote mountaintops. However, sometimes transmissions are through the facilities of international broadcast organizations in another country. Sometimes these third party facilities are an antagonist of the government fighting the opposition group, however, this foreign involvement is usually never acknowledged. The second type is the “white” clandestine, which is operated by a political group or directly by a foreign government. The use of these facilities is generally openly acknowledged. Finally, the third type of clandestine station is the “black” clandestine, which is operated by a government that is the target of a clandestine station and disguised as that station in order to weaken the ultimate impact on local citizens of the opposition group.

The Oromo People

Located in the Horn of Africa region in what is today Ethiopia, the Oromos are the third largest nationality in Africa and the single largest in East Africa. The land of the Oromo people covers an area of over 600,000 square kilometers. It harbors two of the three mineral belts and most of the agricultural and livestock land in Ethiopia. It is the richest portion of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa in terms of natural resources.

The Oromo people are the single largest indigenous ethnic group of Africa. They live in east Africa in several countries, but mostly in Oromia, which is now included in Ethiopia. They constitute the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, about 30 million people out of a total population of 60 million. During the twentieth century they have suffered loss of sovereignty to the government of Ethiopia and persistent political and social oppression.

During the harsh rule of Ethiopian King Haile Selassie, the Oromo language was banned while the government tried to impose the Amhara culture on all of Ethiopia. A grass roots resistance movement helped Mengistu overthrow Selassie in 1974, but the new communist government resumed the oppression of the Oromo nationalists. In 1991, a coalition of Oromo, Tigre, and Eritrean Liberation Fronts ousted Mengistu. However, the new government continued to deny Oromos political freedom, although the Oromos are now allowed to speak their own language. Hunger, unemployment, loss of land, and on-going armed conflicts are still present. Thus, the struggle continues.

Today, there are more than 250,000 Oromo refugees throughout Africa. The Ethiopian government fears the Oromo people because there are so many of them. They are not as well educated as the Amhara and have been downtrodden for centuries. However, their location in one of the richest natural resource regions in the Horn of Africa makes political independence a difficult proposition at best.

About the Station

Sagalee Bilisumma Oromoo is a radio program in Afaan Oromoo, the Oromo language. SBO started broadcasting in June, 1988, with a daily half-hour transmission via the Sudan. Gradually, this was raised to 2 hours of Afaan Oromoo and 45 minutes of Amharic language programs by 1990. Unfortunately, the program terminated in June, 1992, because of the turmoil in the region. The transmissions resumed in the beginning of 1995 via the facilities of WWCR and WHRI in the US, but were discontinued shortly thereafter due to poor reception in the target area. They commenced once again in June, 1995, via transmitters in the Ukraine and Germany and they are currently being well received by a majority of the Oromo people in Ethiopia and neighboring countries via the transmitter facilities of the Deutsche Telekom AG (DTK) in Jülich, Germany. SBO broadcasts its programs three hours a week to North Africa with a special focus on the Horn of Africa. Broadcasting time will be expanded if funds become available. SBO aims to draw attention to the rich traditional knowledge and cultural heritage of the Oromo. It provides information to its listeners in the form of regional and international news, democracy and human rights issues, culture and language, the economy and environment, and health education.

Although the station can be somewhat elusive, the Voice of Oromo Liberation currently broadcasts in Oromo and Amharic to East Africa and the Middle East on 11725 kHz in the 25 meter band from 1700 to 1759 UTC on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The station’s letter indicated a schedule on 9490 kHz at 1600 to 1700 UTC on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. The aim of the Voice of Oromo Liberation is to reach the millions of Oromos living in rural areas cut off from the rest of the world by poverty, illiteracy, and oppression.

The station confirms listener reception reports with a frequency only letter from Taye Teferra, SBO Committee Europe. Letters can be sent to the following address:

Sagalee Bilisummaa Oromoo
Voice of Oromo Liberation
P. O. Box 510610
13366 Berlin

I would like to thank the station for sending a wealth of interesting and valuable information about their formation and purpose. Also, I would like to thank Nick Grace’s Clandestine Radio Intel Web <> for valuable background information and Numero Uno for background material and the latest broadcast times and frequencies. Remember to send loggings of the Voice of Oromo Liberation to Wallace Treibel for the Log Report and verifications to Sam Barto for inclusion in the QSL Report. Good luck with this DX target!

Read more Shortwave Center columns.

Comments are closed.

Quick Information

Solar Conditions

At 2020 Sep 25, 2100 UTC

  • Solar Flux: 73
  • A-index: 17
  • K-index: 3

Full Report from NOAA