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MONTROSE – A team of engineers from the Montrose recently spent time in Bolivia installing equipment donated by WPEL listeners for a new FM radio station in San Julian.
WPEL chief engineer Bob Brigham, Larry Hodge of Binghamton and Chuck and Martha Scott of Montrose traveled to Santa Cruz, Bolivia, on May 31 with the equipment for the new station, which will broadcast Bible teaching programs and Christian music in an area of Bolivia where there is no Christian radio today.
The new station, which will broadcast programs in Spanish and in the language of the Quechua people who live in that area, will be operated by the Bolivian affiliate of Trans World Radio, Radio Trans Mundial-Bolivia.
The vision for the new station originated in a church in San Julian, which attempted to erect a tower and allocated studio space in its small building. The project became a community effort when the church realized it did not have the resources to complete the station and maintain its operation. People in the community subsequently erected a new 400-foot tower and constructed a suitable building for the station. Listeners to WPEL contributed $21,000 to purchase the equipment.
FM radio is just developing in the rural areas of Bolivia.
The Quechua are descendants of the Inca tribes who controlled most of South America in the 1500s. Many once worked in the mines of the Andes Mountains to the west, but as that industry declined the Bolivian government relocated many of them to the valleys and plains of the central and northern portions of the country where they now work as farmers, shepherds and weavers. With the average income for most at $2.00 per day, Bolivia is South America's poorest country.
Brigham has been WPEL's chief engineer since 1965. Hodge, a former WPEL staff member, recently worked as an engineer for stations in the Binghamton area. Scott was an engineer in the telephone industry before he moved to Montrose. He is a member of WPEL's board of directors. Mrs. Scott agreed to go after the Bolivians invited the wives of the engineers to come.
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