Palau restores AM radio service

After erecting a new tower, Palau’s state broadcaster restored its AM radio service.

The previous AM tower was destroyed during Typhoon Bopha in 2012.

New AM transmitter in Palau
Photo: RNZ Pacific

Rondy Ronny, head of programming, said the new AM tower and radio service will benefit all 16 states of Palau.

“A lot of outlying states are not able to connect to the internet and just don’t have that capability or don’t have very high tech phones like we do here in Koror. People don’t expect not that people from Angaur, from Babeldaob are on their phones all the time.”

Ronny said the new tower will be crucial for Palauans during natural disasters.

“But at least in an emergency, when the power goes out, the radio still works and the car stereos still work. And so they want to be able to access AM.”

The project was funded by Japan through UNDP Pacific.

The head of programming at EPFM Ngerel Belau 87.9 FM, Rondy Ronny

The head of programming at EPFM Ngerel Belau 87.9 FM, Rondy Ronny
Photo: RNZ Pacific

Japanese Ambassador to Palau Akira Karasawa said the project has many components, including disaster management, disaster prevention and disaster preparedness.

“This particular AM tower is critical in getting disaster information out to everyone, in all the states of Palau, it’s a critical part of this project.”

He added that the pandemic has delayed the project.

(LR) Minister Charles Obichang, Palau Ambassador to the UN Ilana Seid, Japanese Ambassador Akira Karasawa, UN Representative Levan Boudze, Minister of State Gustav Aitaro

(LR) Minister Charles Obichang, Palau Ambassador to the UN Ilana Seid, Japanese Ambassador Akira Karasawa, UN Representative Levan Boudze, Minister of State Gustav Aitaro

Photo: RNZ Pacific

“Well, I understand that it’s been almost two or three years since the start of this project, but we’re glad we were able to provide all the elements,” Karasawa said.

UNDP’s Levan Bouadze said it will be an important communication tool.

“We know in the Pacific that most of our nations are scattered across the ocean and connectivity between these islands is limited, so we understand that by installing an AM we have better communication, especially in the part southwest of Palau.”

The top of the new AM mast in Palau

The top of the new AM mast in Palau
Photo: RNZ Pacific

He said it would help maintain communications across Palau, especially in the event of a disaster.

“And disasters as we know from climate change have been more often, they are much more severe than they were in the past. So it is extremely important for disaster response from the point of view … of have these outer island populations under an answer domain.”

Japanese funding enabled some of the outlying states to be equipped with two-way VHF radio communications.

RNZ Pacific manager Moera Tuilaepa-Taylor was in Palau for the Our Ocean conference. His trip was made possible by the US State Department.