It’s important to realize that shortwave is so powerful it covers a much larger region than just our primary target area. Think of AM Radio in the United States: (Shortwave is an AM signal as well). At night in the United States you can hear a lot of the “Clear Channel AM Stations” after sunset. Many of these giants cover more than 30 states at night. The most powerful AM station in the US is 50,000 (thousand) watts. But our most powerful shortwave in South Carolina — Angel #1 and Angel #2 — puts out 60,000,000 (million) watts of power. That’s enough to send the signal around the globe.
But like AM Radio, the farther you get from your target the more scattered the signal becomes.
So when we target Africa, the Middle East and India at 1800 Universal Time Clock (UTC) on Angel #1 we have a good clean signal throughout most of that region. But that signal continues on to Australia and New Zealand as well at 2 or 3 a.m. on Sunday morning. Most people are sleeping and the signal is more hit and miss, so it’s not in our “target area.” The signal will actually travel completely around the globe and back to where it originated. So we may find that someone in South America actually heard the broadcast on the Africa Antenna. It can and it does happen so don’t be surprised if someone tells you that they listened to the broadcast and it doesn’t match up with your time schedules for that region of the world. That’s the power of shortwave.
There are only a handful of shortwave broadcasters in the United States. Building a shortwave station requires the signature of a sitting President. They built their first two stations when Ronald Reagan was in office. The majority of what they broadcast is ministry-related, but they also carry other broadcasts for US- and German-based companies.
For instance, ABC contracts them to carry the Indianapolis 500 on Shortwave. They carry other sports-related broadcasts and global news feeds as well. It’s a lot like Middle East TV (METV), which is carrying the NCAA Road to the Final Four for CBS. They actually carry those games live primarily for Americans that are living in the region, and for our military who are serving across the Middle East.
Keep in mind the UTC times are standard in areas like Europe, Africa and the Middle East. If our time is 1800 UTC then it’s truly 6 p.m. across Central Africa, making it two hours earlier in Spain and two hours later in the Middle East. But keep in mind that the Universal Time Clock (UTC) is in Greenwich, England, so the times will be much different in the Far East and in Latin America. 0300 UTC (3 a.m.) sounds very early for a Sunday morning broadcast, but in the Far East 3 a.m. is actually 9 a.m. in the primary target area.