The International Broadcasting Bureau hopes to save about $1.8 million a year by closing its big VOA Delano shortwave facility, which occupies 800 California acres and has 23 antennas.
As Radio World first reported in July, the Delano facility will close at the end of October.
The organization doesn’t know yet how many of the seven people working there will lose their jobs. “We are working very closely with staff to minimize the impact of closing the station through retirements and reassignments and hope the fewest number of people possible will be let go,” a spokeswoman told RW.
There are seven staff at present, including riggers, electronic technicians, a station manager, administrative officer and secretary.
The facility has two major buildings, 23 shortwave antennas, seven 250 kW and two 50 kW shortwave transmitters; it provides shortwave transmissions to Cuba, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific Ocean.
A study by the State Department and BBG inspector general in 2004/05 identified several challenges for Delano including fulfilling its mission with fewer employees; managing the transition of the staff to newer, less-experienced employees; maintaining dated equipment for shortwave broadcasting; working within a budget that “can be battered by the vagaries of California’s electrical power supply and pricing situation”; and working under the regulatory restrictions of having endangered species on site and conforming to California’s environmental rules for the use of pesticides and hazardous materials.
Another indication of the challenges at the site is given by the report, which found that in 2003, Delano, then with a staff of about 20, had lost seven individuals to retirement or attrition, “representing a combined loss of 127 years of experience. Three technical positions remain vacant and, over the next three years, three employees (with over 105 years of combined experience) will be eligible to retire.”