Ascension : VOICE OF ASCENSION
Submitted by The Islander (Raymond Ellick) 18.01.2007 (Article Archived on 01.02.2007)
A considerable time has passed since the title above has been mentioned or seen in print. Just to refresh memories or inform new residents on the background of it. The Voice of Ascension was the name given to a Radio Broadcast on Ascension.
In May 2005 a group of volunteers met to progress on a vision I had of having an independent Ascension radio station. The aim to have a local radio that would inform on current, local affairs, sea and weather conditions, create an arena for debates on local issues and improve links amongst Ascension residents (benefiting shift work employees too). The population on Ascension is 80% of St Helenian origin, yet direct, formal news was not available, thus an inter-island link with St Helena for exchange of news and current affairs was of importance. Finally and importantly the Radio Station would have served as an alternative emergency Island alert and information system.
To make this viable the V of A volunteers had to prove there was an interest on the Island for such a service. The USAF Base very kindly offered the use of its radio station facilities as a spring board. As a voluntary project the service would have been for a few hours per week with a view to repeating the programmes on the American network.
To promote the service on a more permanent and independent basis a (UK) Good Government Funding Bid was submitted by the then Administrator, Andrew Kettlewell, Ian Coverdale- Chairman May05-July05, and myself. The bid was for equipment to set up a radio station. The Ascension Island Government had offered a building for the station and VT Communications had carried out a Link Path Test to check the viability of broadcasting from GT. Due to factors internationally the funding was not forth coming.
The status at present is: The Voice of Ascension service has one radio programme per week, broadcast by Dr Milenko Gradinski.
VT Communications transmits Saint FM via its equipment to be broadcast on island. Cable and Wireless and VTC provide the services and equipment free of charge to the island.
BFBS 1 and 2, BBC World Service and American Radio are the other available radio stations to residents.
It is assumed that unless there is equipment breakdown the above services will be available, indefinitely. Saint FM will have the lowest priority as it is a gratis service.
It has been understood that there is a need for a more formal system of news exchange from Ascension to St Helena. A system for gathering news and notices needs to be set up and volunteers are sought for this. This would allow an accurate and reliable broadcast of news, initially, with longer programmes in the future.
To conclude, there is interest to continue with the limited service a volunteer group could provide under the title Voice of Ascension on Volcano Radio and rebroadcast on Saint FM. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the loyal band of volunteers who made this vision possible. Thanks, also to USAF Base, Cable and Wireless and VT Communications.
Stedson Stroud – email@example.com
16th January 2007