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volume 9
july 2006

An open letter to the Anoraks


  Remembering the Voice of Peace (29)
by Al Muick
  On September 26th, 1990, OEM-reader and broadcast engineer Al Muick wrote a long, open letter to the Anoraks in Europe, addressing especially those with a firm technical background, to tell them about his adventures, while working for the Voice of Peace.
1 Right: Dry dock Ashdod

Hi folks, I have the honour to introduce myself as the new broadcast engineer for the Voice of Peace. I was here for a five day period from the 24th till the 28th of August and began full time work on 2nd September of this year. I left a job working with the Egyptian Air Force in Cairo, attempting (fruitlessly) to teach their officers communication practice and theory. The nail in the coffin was when the Assistant Station Chief and Supply Officer both left within two weeks of each other to bury their respective mothers and were unceremoniously fired as soon as they were airborne. What a chicken scratch company!

Anyway, when I arrived here, the place almost qualified for US Federal Disaster Aid. During the year and without an engineer DJ Kenny Page did a meritorious job of keeping the transmitter on air and the electrical side of things somewhat patched up. I'm not one to speak ill of a fellow engineer, but Mr Dan Smith, from somewhere in Ohio, USA, left a lot to be desired. His most quotable quote "Well, I could take a look and have a look at it if I wanted to."

2 I've pretty much gotten everything patched up and in working order here. The Navtel Ampfet 10 transmitter for MW is back up to 10.5 kW and I've gotten it's modulation and combiner problems straightened out. The FM side of things is another story. During the period with no engineer, Abie had local electronics wizard Noam come out and fix up the old FM with rubber bands and bailing wire when the new FM (Harris FM 20 kW, a real workhorse!) burned up. When I came on board, the old FM 20-K was operating at 80% of its rated output and gradually began to decline until the late afternoon/night of 19th of September, when the old 4cx15000 in the final puked it's jam and went spurious, causing RF problems all over the ship. Apparently, the final had been pulled from the rusted guts of the 50 kW Collins junk that occupies much of my engineering office.
  I had previously repaired the IPA and PA control and screen grid power supplies for the new FM and now began a frantic search for two 4cx250B tubes for the IPA. Miraculously I found them stuffed away in a corner of an engineering shop I hadn't cleaned out yet! I guess my predecessor pigeon-hold them away for a rainy day. I knew they were good (well, I hoped) because the packages were still sealed. After installing them in the new FM transmitter and turning on the filaments, I swapped exciter cables between the two FM transmitters. When I pushed the plate voltage on button, my heart skipped a beat, 20% power! Increasing the IPA screen grid got me to our present power of 52%. The previous arcing problem had weakened the final tube.
  I need new finals. Abie is considering buying used or rebuilt finals or rebuilt finals, but is quite satisfied with the present state of affairs. After all, why have a 20kw FM transmitter if you can't use all the power? Also there is an RFI problem with the one Waukesha generator. I need to put RF bypass capacitors in the voltage regulator. Presently the voltage, and consequently the lights and everything else pulses with the modulation. There have been many more electrical disasters that I've fixed or worked around since then, but I feel I've bored you enough with tales of glory, ha ha ha.
3 A bit about myself: I'm 28, divorced and hail from Allentown, Pennsylvania, yeah the place Billy Joel sang about. I hold a BSEE from Washington University in St. Louis. Some of you remember me from 77-80 when I ran the Free Radio Campaign USA and did American reports over pirate station European Music Radio. I've also been on Weekend Music Radio in Scotland once or twice. I've been a broadcast engineer for about five years now.
  Currently we have Kenny Page, John McDonald, Chris Phelan, Chris Richardson and MacClellan Hackney as deejays on board. Kenny and John are more or less permanent fixtures, Chris Richardson will be returning to Ireland following his three-month stint at the end of October. Chris Phelan will depart for native Ireland in December and says he will be probably be back in January. Mac Hackney just arrived for a three- month period, after getting pissed of at the BBC, and I'm going to be here for a full year.
  We're on a cool and contemporary format right now, which is not too spectacular. We got a chance to do our favourite type of show through Sunday, through Friday at 11:00 a.m. As a matter of fact I do the Hard Rock Café every Thursday night (when it's not pre-empted). PS. I'm currently in the process of building a new 1 kW shortwave transmitter which should be on air by the end of October. No frequency has been chosen yet. I guess that's all for now. LR8 Daze!"
4 Some more info about the last six months in 1990 concerning the programming side of the Voice of Peace as well as life on the radio ship. Early June that year the Voice of Peace introduced a new format for the summer. On Monday June 11th a new programme called "Boker Hadash" was introduced (A new morning). First it was presented by Eli Lindau, who was in those days the mayor of Hertselia. He read the daily newspapers as well discussed politics. So the first time in VOP's history someone else as Abie had the opportunity to go into the depth of politics.
  Saturday June 30th saw Abie mentioning several times in his programme that he had hidden bottles with invitations for dinners in Tanduri or White Hall in them. The bottles were to find at Tel Aviv's beach. It was Chris Richardson, who was on shore leave, who was near to the bottles for people to come out and search for them. A few bottles weren't found and even Chris, who had hidden them, couldn't find them back. Some days later Abie went to the beach again to give away 200 records as well as doing a live link to the ship. July saw maybe the shortest stay on board the Voice of Peace for a deejay. The third Kobi, an Israeli, arrived with the tender and it was John Mc Donald telling to his listeners that the new guy, although the weather was perfect, was constantly sea-sick and was carrying a bucket wherever he went. Just two days later Kobi left the ship again.
5 During the last week of September there was a "Festival of Songs" for a week every day from 8:00 till 18:00. For instance on Sundays only "Beatles," the Mondays only "Twilight Time," Tuesday "Nr 1s" and so on. Like Al Muick already mentioned that he was working on a new Shortwave TX, it was Abie who told in his programme on September 28th that the station would soon be on short-wave too, without going into any detail. October 15th was a special day to remember as Tim Haywood, who arrived as a new recruit a week earlier, played a special song called "Jour de Neige" (Day of Snow). After the song ended he told the listeners that he really was playing with snow on deck on the Peace Ship: winter weather which normally doesn't exist in Israel and only occurs very rare.
  November 21st a Christmas Card Competition was announced for the first time on the VOP. Also rare as Christmas is not celebrated in Israel but maybe it has been done to cheer up the guys on the ship a bit. Just five days later it was Tim Haywood who announced that the VOP also could be heard at 6265 kHz, which was in the 48 metres band. It were test transmissions up till 6:00 in that evening. No reports of reception were made from Western Europe. Some weeks later, December 14th, it was not only John McDonald's birthday — he even played himself a record on the "Late Night Affair" — but also the day that Abie went on the air to talk about the murder of three Jews by Arabs and about a meeting between Arabs and Jews that was planned the next day.
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