Monday, May 9, 2016

Wherefore Art Thou, RTM SabahFM?

 Kudat, location of MW station - SabahFM
In the past month or so I have turned my attention to the medium-wave band. It seems to be the most interesting spot of the dial where one can do a fair bit of DXing. I have been especially fixated on the frequency of 801 kHz, and not without good reason.

Asiawaves, a website dedicated to MW stations in Asia and created by Alan G. Davies, lists RTM SabahFM as the sole active MW station in Malaysia, or more accurately Kudat, Sabah, East Malaysia. Curiosity piqued, I thought I would tune in and listen for the station. After all, I live in West Malaysia and this should be an easy catch.

Well, not exactly. It turns out there are at least three stations in South East Asia received on this frequency. One is in Taiwan. Another is in Thailand. And the most prominent is Radio Republik Indonesia Semarang in central Java. Taiwan and Thailand are best received between 17.05 till 21.25, the period when RRI Semarang is off air. Of course, in different regions of the world co-frequency stations will vary and make reception difficult, if not impossible.

As for RTM SabahFM, the station is reportedly down for transmitter maintenance. I learned this after contacting Cyril Simon, RTM Assistant Director (Engineering Radio) in Sabah. He had this this to say: With reference to your recent email pertaining to the above matter, SabahFm program was broadcast on MW frequency of 801 kHz. For your information, the transmitter is currently down until further notice for maintenance. However, in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, the SabahFm program is always active and can be heard daily via FM frequency of 89.9 Mhz (Lawa Mandau Transmitting Station) and 104.5Mhz (Layang-layang Transmitting Station). Unfortunately if you live in West Malaysia, I'm afraid you won’t be able to receive the transmission (beyond coverage area of the FM transmitter).
One can only hope RTM SabahFm will be back in operation soon. Sadly and regrettably, I ignored listening to this and a number of MW stations in East Malaysia in years past. I would dearly love to hear them again. To quote singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, "Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got till it's gone.” Let's hope not.

Incidentally, live streaming of SabahFM can be heard at this LINK.

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