By Vijaya Cherian
When a radio station in Iraq, commisioned by the US Marines, suffered a setback, BE's RF customer service manager volunteered to go to the war-torn land to fix the problem.
Broadcast Electronics’ Stuart Peters dodged mortar and mayhem recently to reestablish an AM station in war-torn Iraq. Leaving the safety of BE’s headquarters in Illinois and donning a bulletproof vest and military helmet at times, Peters journeyed to an AM transmitter site in Ramadi, located about 30 miles west of Fallujah in Iraq.
The station, operating on 864kHz, was commissioned by the US Marines to counter what they called ‘insurgent propaganda’ with Arabic broadcasts of local government news and updates. A BE AM 10A 10kW transmitter had been sent ahead and partially installed before local engineers abandoned the transmitter site under threat of the insurgency.
The power grid and transmitter grounding were among the items left unfinished, resulting in an imbalance in the generator that caused excessively high voltage surges. “The station had been down for months; we were seeing unheard-of voltage spikes,” says David Nagy, media officer with the Second Marine Division. “Peters helped to resolve it.”
Peters, BE’s RF customer service manager, volunteered to go to Iraq to re-establish the US military AM station, although aware that some other contractors who had arrived before him had been held captive. “That did bother me a bit, but one of the things that made me feel secure was knowing that I’d be on a military base the entire time and pretty much guarded by the Navy and the Marines,” says Peters.
Peters flew from Kuwait to the Blue Diamond US military base earlier this year, during the peak of the American offensive taking place along the Syrian border. To his good fortune, incoming fire abated for the five days he was in the country but resumed the day after he left.
Since his visit, however, the station has been broadcasting to the greater Al Anbar province of Iraq and can be heard as far as Al Asad, 70 miles northwest. The AM is the first in a network of stations expected to broadcast on 864kHz throughout Iraq.