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Steve Shantz visited Cuba to monitor the signal from Bonaire

In April 2019, Steve Shantz, TWR Vice President for Latin America & the  Caribbean traveled to Cuba with 4 receivers to measure the radio signal coming from TWR-Bonaire.

How strong is the radio signal from Bonaire now that we have completed the Power Up project? We replaced our 100,000-watt transmitter with one beaming 450,000 watts to put a stronger signal into Cuba a year ago.  We’ve been receiving word from people across Cuba that we sound “better” but from an engineering perspective, how do the programs sound? 

I’ve been asking myself that question for over a year, so I decided to travel to Cuba to visit our ministry director Alberto Gonzales and to monitor our transmissions from Bonaire for myself. 

How is the reception?
The day after I arrived in Havana, Alberto and I traveled to the city of Santa Clara, 80km west of Havana. There, we met with a group of listeners who have been listening to TWR for many years. One gentleman pulled out a promotional banner he received 10 years ago when Bonaire celebrated their 45th anniversary. “Yes, we all listen to the programs,” he said and then began to name off the speakers – Louis Palau, Charles Stanley, J. Vernon McGee and Dan Warne.  “How is the reception?” I asked. “Before the power up, it was very difficult and some nights we could hear nothing at all, but now, reception is good!” he replied.  The other listeners in the group nodded in agreement.  “Yes, but how good?” I wondered. I would have to wait until 8pm local time when the antenna pattern on Bonaire is switched to the north and the transmitter power increased to its maximum.

Visiting a house church
That evening, we met in the ground floor apartment of another faithful TWR listener who hosts a small church in her home. House churches are quite common in Cuba and many worship in this way. The small apartment was full as people from the community came to worship. Alberto Gonzales preached and as soon as the service ended, I switched on the radio and tuned it to 800Khz.  I really couldn’t believe my ears. The signal was strong and clear with no interference.  It sounded like a local radio station.

Radio on the Pulpit
I put the radio on the pulpit and turned up the volume. People stayed in their seats and together we listened to the Thru the Bible broadcast in Spanish.  Many were familiar with the broadcasts and expressed their joy now that the signal is stronger.

Can we be heard in Havana?
I was also curious to know if we could be heard in the city center of Havana.  During the next few days, I monitored the signals at various points in the city.  Some nights were better than others, but in general, the reception was excellent.