A million-watt transmitter erected Wednesday on a little-known Simi Valley hilltop soon will beam religious programming as far south as the southern tip of South America.
The radio broadcast, which will be heard over Mexican, Central American and South American shortwave bands, beginning Christmas, is the project of a Chatsworth-based religious group called High Adventure Ministry.
High Adventure's founder, George Otis, also built a religious radio station in Beirut that was bombed this year. He has planned the South American broadcasting station for two years, ministry officials said.
The transmitter, on Chatsworth Peak above Box Canyon Road, resembles a giant erector set. On Wednesday, workers raised two 145-foot steel towers on the hilltop and placed a 150-foot antenna across them.
Programming will be broadcast six hours a day, said Paul Hunter, High Adventure's chief engineer. Most programs will be in English at first, although some will be in Spanish, he said. High Adventure officials said they have no idea how large an audience their programs will attract.
Because the shortwave antenna points southeast, San Fernando Valley residents will get only faint reception if they try to tune in the station, Hunter said. The station's call letters are KVOH, which stands for Voice of Hope.
Project Cost $750,000
Ministry officials estimate that the project has cost about $750,000 to build and will require $360,000 in annual operating expenses. Hunter said the money will come from donations made by church groups.
The non-sectarian ministry plans to broadcast contemporary gospel music, secular and religious news and religious lectures, Hunter said.
High Adventure hopes to program its own religious shows, plus those of middle-of-the-road evangelists.
High Adventure decided to broadcast to the Southern Hemisphere because, Hunter said, "Wherever the most trouble is, we need to go in with a message of peace, love and hope to counteract the hatred. South and Central America are very seething areas."
High Adventure is among eight groups, most of them religious in nature, that have been authorized by the Federal Communications Commission to run international broadcast stations, said Charles Breig, an FCC electronics engineer.
Shortwave is favored by groups like High Adventure because it can reach millions of people, Hunter said. A signal from Chatsworth Peak will reflect off the ionosphere and will be directed down to Mexico. From Mexico, it will bounce back into the sky and continue skipping back to earth in successively fainter signals, all the way to Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America.