If you look closely at the south side of the Rabbittown Theatre on Merrymeeting and Linscott Street, you’ll see traces of white on the red brick of the former Seventh Day Adventist Academy. The remnants of an old sign read “Radio VOAR”, the call letters of the radio station once housed there. The building is just one of the many homes of a religious station that has had its share of trials and tribulations.
Local Seventh Day Adventist radio began in Rabbittown in 1929. A Pastor Harold Williams built a small transmitter and began broadcasting as 8BSL—The Bible Study League. The following summer it was renamed 8RA—Radio Atlantic—becoming Newfoundland’s first commercial broadcaster.
The station wasted no time in expanding, soon moving to Water St. and hiring six staff (including Addie Wood, the province’s first female radio announcer). But it failed to make ends meet, and in 1932 was sold to a local businessman.
In 1933, a group of Adventists, disappointed by the loss of their voice, set out to resurrect the spirit of the Bible Study League in the form VOAC—Voice of the Adventist Church—soon to become VOAR.
They ministered out of a Cookstown Rd. church until disaster struck in 1946. A car crashed into their transmission pole, creating a power surge which nearly electrocuted the station engineer through his microphone. In 1948, armed with new equipment, VOAR returned to its first home in Rabbittown where it stayed until 1982, when a freak ice storm destroyed its transmission tower.
Today VOAR continues to share the gospel from the safety of its newest location in Mount Pearl.
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