Commentary

** U S A. VOA and Radio Martí have started a ``co-production``, one-hour Spanish broadcast at 0100-0200 UT weeknights.

The two former rivals are now coöperating! There were reports recently that VOA would start to have access to RM`s produxion facilities in Miami. This could also be the beginning of the end for Radio Martí, starting by merging it back into VOA, as there is considerable congressional pressure just to kill RM.

Without any advance publicity that I know of, I first found this in progress at 0114 UT February 2 on 11625: a station in Spanish talking about Chávez, in the hour after VOA Spanish normally closes on different frequencies, 5890 and 9885. At 0100, I was tuned to 9885; it was still on and announcement seemed to be starting another hour, but cut off before 0101. This made me wonder if programming was continuing on some other frequency, so started bandscanning from 5745 upwards.

At 0118 an ID on 11625 gave the full frequency list for this, 11625, 9415 and 7340. I quickly found the lower two were much stronger here and continued to listen on 7340. They were all in synch, and no doubt Greenville B, which is doomed to extinction at the end of FY 2010, 30 September as just came out today. Gee, what will BBG/IBB/VOA do if they need to start another ``surge`` broadcast after then?

There was too much jamming on regular R. Martí frequencies to tell if they were //, i.e. 6030, 7365, 9825, but suspect not since only the new frequencies were announced --- and with no jamming at all on the new ones --- yet! Usual DCJC noise jamming was audible also on 9810 at 0111 against República, and at 0113 on 9715 --- another stray, against nothing?

Since this is a brand-new, previously unknown service, I monitored it attentively during the remainder of the hour. At 0118 they were quoting El Nuevo Herald, Miami and some European papers about Cuban/Venezuelan relations.

0123 ID as ``A Punto (?) en La Voz de América y Radio Martí; 0126 with schedule as 8-9 pm [EST] M-F, i.e. 01-02 UT Tue-Sat, again with the three frequencies, ``una co-producción de La Voz de América y Radio Martí``. And ``El Mundo del Espectáculo`` segment about the Grammy Awards last night. 0130 co-hosts in Washington and Miami briefly discussed their respective weathers, rather divergent.

Rest of hour called in correspondents from several Latin American countries for a few minutes each, starting with Bolivia, concern with contentious Morales.

0137 news from Venezuela about protests in various cities against the banning of RCTV even from cable. 0139 about the political campaign in Costa Rica. 0141 about the IMF from Buenos Aires. 0143 corresponsal Federico in Bogotá, Colombia. 0148 interviewing a UCR professor about the situation in Honduras. 0153 Nicaragua, on the sale of Canal 8 TV to Ortega/Chávez, leaving only one independent TV station, Canal 2.

The program seems to concentrate on what`s going on in hostile Latin American countries, and will likely be labeled ``propaganda`` by them, but it seemed to me the analysis was balanced. A bigger question arises: will Radio Martí gain credibility or will VOA lose credibility with this joint venture??

Name of the program was mentioned every few minutes. To me, sometimes it sounded like ``A Fondo``, meaning in depth or background; sometimes ``Apunte`` which means abstract or notes.

Looking around the VOA Spanish and Martinoticias websites, I see nothing yet about this service. I suppose they wanted to slip in under the radar, or the usual bureaucratic delays. Nor is there any press release about it yet at the VOA site, the latest one being from Jan 27 about Creole.

I recorded some excerpts, and was all set to get the sign-off before 0200, but 7340 just cut off at 0159:30 while show was still in progress. Then tuned to 9415 and heard it for a few seconds longer, I think a sign-off. Then tuned to 11625 and heard only a very weak signal, but that proved to be in English after 0200, sounded like VOA. Nothing scheduled then either, and may have been something else, and not necessarily Greenville.

I was also bandscanning on another receiver during this hour, to check out among other things, Lavwadlamerik`s Kreyòl service, which had also been at 01-02 – and discovered two very interesting things. Besides 5960, it was also // on new 5835 first noted at 0105. Another frequency VOA refuses to publish on its A-Z language schedule. Are there too many frequencies now during this hour for all of them to come from Greenville? We remember that 5835 was once a World Harvest Radio frequency, but that`s no proof it`s the site now.

The other //, 7465, is now clashing with WWCR, which has just extended its broadcast on that frequency until 0200, ex-3240! At the beginning of the hour, WWCR was atop, but before long by 0110 it was losing out to LVA, and by the end of the hour I could not be certain WWCR was still there underneath, but probably as it was still missing from 3240.

LVA`s additional Creole hour at 01-02 had been on 7465 since shortly after the quake, as we have been reporting, but apparently WWCR did not notice. Since it fades out anyway, WWCR should not have extended 7465 another three hours past previous close at 2300, tho one or possibly two hours would have worked. This collision has to be resolved ASAP. Altho we lose WWCR here, the situation may be quite different in Haiti and elsewhere.

At 0200 LVA had left 5835 as well as 5960 which it must due to NHK/Sackville, but continued on 7465; still no 7590 had come on by 0205, so apparently that has been dropped during the final hour, at least.

During this hour I also checked MW 1180, but as usual could not pull anything out of Marathon. And MW 1030 where Commando Solo is making it into Florida from Haiti. Dominating the frequency at 0124 was some not // talk in Spanish, looping roughly east/west, so most likely WGSF Memphis, per NRC AM Log listings (Glenn Hauser, OK, DX LISTENING DIGEST)

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