According to a message posted from WYFR Station Manager Dan Elyea, “We regretfully inform you that the final day of operation for WYFR will be June 30, 2013.” No reason was given for the station closure, but Family Radio has made a number of cost-cutting moves in the past year. Founded by Harold Camping, Family Radio gained mainstream attention when it blanketed the media with Camping’s predictions about both Judgment Day (May 21, 2011) the end of the world (October 21, 2011) two years ago.
In addition to hosting a talk show for more than 50 years out of his California headquarters, Camping has also been a savvy radio station owner, expanding his network of stations not only across the country, but all over the world through shortwave radio.
Family Radio has owned WYFR (which originated in 1927 as an experimental shortwave station out of Boston) since October, 1973. In an account of the history of the station, Jim Cumbie said that station was moved to Florida in 1976 and broadcasts to Europe and South America were made from the new location beginning in 1977. Cumbie wrote, “In 1977, WYFR received 13,000 letters in one year from Latin America alone. The owners knew at that point, that their ministry was expanding. Cuba was then added to the listening range; and by 1978, Family Radio was the strongest signal heard in that Communist country.”
Although an archived Family Radio web page from 2011 lists shortwave broadcasts into Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Africa, China, Korea, Myanmar, Russia, Brazil, Vietnam, and Central America in a huge array of languages, current listings on the Family Radio website indicate a smaller line-up of international broadcasts in English, Chinese, Portugese, Russian, Spanish, and Southeast Asian languages (Tagalog, Burmese, Indonesian, and Vietnamese).
An article, “The World’s Shift from Shortwave to DTH – Direct to Home TV” in the Family Radio newsletter, Open Line (PDF) seems to indicate that the network is moving much of its international broadcasts to satellite services. The article states,
“Family Radio continues to broadcast programming via shortwave to Asia, and Central and South America. However, over the course of the last 36 years, the world has been shifting from its use of shortwave to DTH – Direct To Home – TV. To better serve countries where DTH use dominates the airwaves, and where access to the Internet is beyond the means of a typical overseas resident, Family Radio is pursuing DTH as a means to reach the people of these countries…
This growth of the DTH industries presents a readily available way to transmit the Gospel to a lot of the world without requiring the use of radios or radio stations…Family Radio has been in the DTH industry for many years…Family Radio is available on satellite television at no cost to the DTH user in Europe and North Africa. Family Radio now broadcasts three separate, 24-hours-a-day, channels for our satellite outreach…”
The article makes no mention of the future of shortwave for Family Radio. Here’s a clip of a Spanish language broadcast from shortwave station WYFR.