Wednesday, February 04, 2015

WJNT Vs. Cuba!

This is the tale of how AM radio interference from Cuba helped propel the allocation of FM translators to AM stations in the U.S. Let start with this little tidbit on a document posted on the State Department website. It's referred to in other documents as the Federal Communications Commission's Observation of TV Marti.

Cuba withdrew from NARBA (North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement) decades ago, and the US has separate agreements with Canada and Mexico rendering the document only binding for a few island nations. It's effectively moot. But still we manage to fight with Cuba. In 1982 we began bombarding Cuba with Radio Marti on 1180 and it's VOA programming. This was actually a replacement of a prior propaganda station operating on 535 kHz and 1605 kHz. [SOURCE] Cuba was understandably irritated by this and began jamming 1180 with a loud humming noise. The problem was so foreseeable that the Broadcasting Board of Governors, under the Regan administration, set out in the following paragraph that they were allowed to lease time on other stations should Radio Marti be successfully jammed. More here.

But Radio Marti was not successfully jammed. But at least three other U.S. stations were: 1180 WJNT-AM in Jacksonville, MS; 1180 KGOL-AM in Humble, TX; and strangely 1160 WCRT-AM in Nashville, TN. Today you wont' find an AM station on 1180 AM within 700 miles of Miami. And the nearest one is WLTT-AM, a daytimer near Wilmington, NC. Radio Marti is why. It's not just the Cuban jamming, the two stations in tandem effect all reception near that frequency.  More here.

The stations caught in the cross fire all won themselves consolation prizes. WJNT now operates at night on WJNT-FM1 at 103.3, a 500 watt Nighttime-only FM booster. It's been operating under an STA since1999. WCRT-AM got WCRT-FM1 operating on 98.7 at 75 watts. But KGOL didn't fare so well. The station was not allocated an FM translator. Back in 1982 NAB threw a fit and claimed that Cuba was jamming signals on 570, 670, 1040, 1160, 1380 and had the ability to "cripple more than 200 stations in 34 states." A pretty dubious claims since they couldn't even successfully jam Radio Marti. Even in 1987 the New York times wrote "The noise is annoying, but it does not block the programs." However, the events did broach the engineering topic of FM translators for AM stations a coverage tactic which continues today. Thank you Mr. Regan.