On a sunny Oct. 17, among the green hills of southwestern England, big celebrations took place to mark 80 years of uninterrupted transmission from the largest shortwave station in the United Kingdom.
The BBC built the Woofferton transmitting station during World War II to house shortwave (HF) broadcasting transmitters. The facility started broadcasting on Oct. 17, 1943, and had six 50 kW RCA transmitters. The site has been modernized numerous times and can now use the DRM standard, providing daily digital radio programs worldwide.
To mark its 80th anniversary, current and former staff of Encompass — the broadcast services company that owns Woofferton, and a DRM member — and high-level officials from the surrounding area in Herefordshire assembled at the site dominated by an impressive array of very high antennas.
Paul Firth, commercial director for radio services at Encompass, said, “The Woofferton transmitting station has a long and varied history, and we at Encompass are excited to recognize this milestone of 80 years of international transmissions from the site. We are proud to continue to sustain Woofferton’s vital work in transmitting on shortwave worldwide while also developing its capabilities to ensure it can keep pace with technological developments in radio and satellite distribution.”
The station still runs an original 250 kW Marconi transmitter (BD272 from 1963) and several RIZ transmitters, one updated with an RFmondial exciter and Fraunhofer IIS content server.
To celebrate Woofferton’s 80th anniversary, the transmitting station ran a special program from 1.30–2.30 p.m. UTC in shortwave analog and DRM aimed at Europe. The program content included the history of the transmitter on various stations, including the BBC, VOA, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty and CBC, as well as up-to-date information on DRM and personal recollections from many former Woofferton staff.
The celebration was also an occasion to display and demonstrate the recently launched low-energy and low-cost DRM receiver module produced by CML Micro in cooperation with Cambridge Consultants in the U.K. The production of this module is scheduled to start in Q1 of 2024, targeted to receiver manufacturers around the globe to produce low-cost state-of-the-art DRM radiosets.