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“Radio DARC” Program Debuts on Ham-Operated German Shortwave Outlet

The inaugural transmission of the “Radio DARC” Amateur Radio program aired over the March 21-22 weekend via Channel 292 at 6070 kHz. The German-language program was produced in cooperation with Germany’s national Amateur Radio society — the Deutscher Amateur Radio Club (DARC). A group of amateurs in Germany obtained a license to broadcast on the 49 meter shortwave broadcast channel after German national broadcaster the Deutsche Welle closed down a 500 kW shortwave broadcast transmitter near Munich. Using parts scavenged from the Deutsche Welle site, the ham group built up a 10 kW transmitter.

“The response was overwhelming,” said Rainer Englert, DF2NU. “Our dreams were exceeded many times over. The team got over 1500 reception reports from 11 European countries.” These even included S-9 reports from Russia and Iceland. Englert said the station puts in a signal that’s often 60 dB over S-9 within Germany, adding that it will take weeks to answer all QSL requests and comments. The signal has been heard in North America, but it has competition on that channel.

Hosting “Radio DARC” is Conny Ferrin, a former Radio Luxembourg air personality. In the 1970s, Radio Luxembourg deployed a 2 GW medium-wave transmitter on 1440 kHz and a 500 kW shortwave transmitter on 6095 kHz, airing a popular music program in the days before commercial broadcasting licenses were available on the Continent. Replete with jingles and music bumpers, “Radio DARC” includes music that was popular in the 1960s and 1970s, interspersed with news and commentary of interest to radio amateurs and SWLs. As Englert explained in an editorial commentary during the initial broadcast, they want the program to be “at once nostalgic and modern.”

“Radio DARC” airs on Sundays, 0900-1000 UTC, and is rebroadcast on Mondays, 1500-1600 UTC.

Channel 292 also broadcasts the English-language DX magazine program produced by Ed Durrant, DD5LP. It airs Mondays, 1400-1500 UTC — an hour prior to “Radio DARC.” Other ham radio-oriented programs could follow, Englert said.

“The frequency 6070 kHz is likely to become a turntable for many European Amateur Radio clubs from now on,” Englert told ARRL. “Obviously these kinds of radio magazines broadcast on the shortwave broadcast band are really missed by many people.” He said the team would produce 2 hours of programming each week from now on.

According to Englert, the “Radio DARC” project is unique worldwide. “We have not yet heard of an Amateur Radio club operating its own radio station on shortwave,” he said.

Rainer Ebeling, DB8QC, owns the official licensee — Intermedicom GmbH (LLC). He repurposed parts from the driver stages as well as a few transformers from the former Deutsche Welle transmitter for the 10 kW transmitter. “The antenna is a low-hanging, simple dipole with very high radiation angle, optimized for short-range coverage,” Englert explained.

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