Playa de Pals transmitter site history and documentary

Photo courtesy: http://www.radioliberty.org

Photo courtesy: http://www.radioliberty.org

In response to Listening to WWV at the source, SWLing Post reader, David (EA4998URE SWL) comments:

What a “coincidence”. Hopefully, before the summer holidays officially end, I will be off to another shortwave transmitter site. Well, to the remains of it. I will be visiting the former RFE/RL (and VOA in the last years of operation) site in Playa de Pals, near the Catalan city of Girona and also very close to my main QTH in Barcelona. The Pals RFE/RL site was from where a 1MW signal was transmitted by feeding the same audio signal to 4 Continental transmitters.

Their output signals where put in phase, then the big Group D dipole curtain was divided into two “halves” by switching the feed lines in the appropriate way. Each half of the curtain received 500KW from two transmitters. So the total was 1000KW, or 1MW. If we add the antenna gain, the ERP was in the order of several megawatts. This was a signal directed to Eastern Europe, and more specifically to Moscow, via single-hop propagation. I suppose receivers in Moscow released plenty of smoke and had to be replaced every time they were tuned to a RFE/RL signal from Pals. Hahaha!

The curtains were demolished in 2006 and because the place is abandoned now and has been repeatedly sacked, the station buildings are in a very poor situation, specially in the inside. Almost no radio hardware survives, but what is still there is quite interesting. [...]

There is an excellent website (www.radioliberty.org) which is a virtual museum of all things related to the Pals station. It was created and is maintained by a former worker of the station. The language in the English version of the website is a bit “macaronic” in some parts of the site, but I think this is a minor issue given the excellent amount of information kept there.

There is also a YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/PalsRadioStation) which keeps videos for the above website. Some of them are really long and very complete.

Finally, although not part of the Pals station virtual museum website, there was even a documentary made, after the demolition of the antennas, as a tribute to the station. It can be watched in the following link although parts of it have not been translated to English: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJnxsSL3bbY

Many thanks, David!

After you visit the Playa de Pals site, later this year, please share your experience with us!

Posted in Broadcasters, International Broadcasting, News, Nostalgia, Shortwave Radio | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Radio Exterior de España: new management and possible change

RadioExteriorDeEspana

SWLing Post reader, David, writes from Barcelona:

I would like to let you know that changes are coming to my country’s SW broadcast station, Radio Exterior de España.

As they say in the latest “Listeners Club” program in the English Language broadcast, new bosses have come, the situation is chaotic now, and everything now is “up in the air”.

They may simply undergo a simple schedule change, but there’s a strong possibility as well, that REE went completely off the air. I think it is news worth spreading.

Here is a link to the latest “Listeners Club”, which includes comments on the issue: http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/audios/emision-en-ingles/english-broadcast-listeners-club/2735360/

Many thanks, David. Please keep us informed if you hear any news.

Posted in Broadcasters, International Broadcasting, News, Shortwave Radio | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

How Tudor enjoys Radio Australia

Romania_Countryside

In response to my recent Radio Australia post, SWLing Post reader, Tudor Vedeanu comments:

“I’ve also enjoyed listening to music on Radio Australia lately. “Saturday Night Country” is currently my favorite show on SW. Here is a recording I made during the weekend:
http://youtu.be/CHv1hu2OVH8

“And indeed Triple J is very good too. I discovered some nice music from talented people I’ve never heard about in my part of the world.”

Tudor, it appears you (and your pup!) live in a very beautiful part of the world. The Romanian countryside certainly makes for a scenic radio listening backdrop. I, too, am a big fan of Saturday Night Country–great stuff!

Many thanks for sharing!

Posted in Broadcasters, International Broadcasting, News, Portable Radio, SWLers, Videos, What's On Shortwave | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

BBC World Service Director, Peter Horrocks, to resign

BBC World Service Director, Peter Horrocks (Source: BBC)

BBC World Service Director, Peter Horrocks (Source: BBC)

Another hat tip to Jonathan Marks for this press release from the BBC:

(Source: BBC Media Centre)

Peter Horrocks, Director of the BBC World Service Group, today announced that he will be leaving the BBC in the new year.

Peter Horrocks has been Director of the World Service since 2009 and has worked at the BBC for 33 years.

Under Peter’s leadership weekly audiences for the BBC’s global news services – BBC World Service, BBC World News and BBC.com – have reached a record 265m.

Peter has led the World Service through some of its most challenging times, responding to funding cuts by modernising the World Service for the digital age.

He successfully oversaw one of the biggest changes in the history of the World Service as it moved from Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) funding into the licence fee, leaving its historic headquarters of Bush House for the BBC’s New Broadcasting House.

BBC World News has undergone a creative renewal that is being appreciated by audiences around the world and bbc.com/news now regularly achieves one billion page views a month. BBC News is the most retweeted news source in the world.

Peter Horrocks said: “It has been a privilege to be Director of the BBC World Service, which is loved and trusted by hundreds of millions of people around the world.

“I am hugely proud of the dedication, the creativity and the reinvention shown by my team. The World Service now has its largest ever audience, an expanding number of languages, and is modernised and transformed for a digital age.

“Having overseen this recovery and taken the World Service into the new era of licence fee funding, it is time for me to move on to my next challenge. I will miss the BBC but am confident that the BBC’s global news services are in strong shape for the future.”

Director-General of the BBC, Tony Hall, said: “Peter’s remarkable career at the BBC has spanned more than three decades. Starting as a News trainee, he established himself as the youthful editor of Public Eye before going on to lead teams that produced some of the BBC’s most important news programmes, including Newsnight and Panorama. He also edited general election programmes before running several News departments, latterly the World Service Group.

“Those who have worked with him know of his energy, drive, his passion for journalism and his innovation but they have also come to appreciate his editorial integrity and his deeply rooted sense of BBC values. He leaves us as one of our most respected leaders. He is a force of nature and we will miss him.”

Director of BBC News and Current Affairs, James Harding, said: “Peter Horrocks has been a defining figure in the modern history of the BBC World Service and global news. He has demanded the highest standards of its journalism, he has driven innovation in the ways we tell stories and deliver the news, he has opened the BBC to new voices and fresh ideas and he has presided over the extraordinary growth of the BBC’s worldwide audience.

“His sharp intellect, open-mindedness and good judgment have shaped BBC News and Current Affairs for three decades. He has recruited and inspired hundreds of people here in the UK and around the world. And, like few others, he has set his stamp on both the programmes and the personality of the BBC.

“Since I joined the BBC last year, Peter has been a constant source of good advice, organisational wisdom and personal support. Of course, I respect Peter’s decision to move on, but, both personally and as an organisation, we will miss him.”

The BBC will advertise for Peter’s successor as Director, World Service Group.

About Peter Horrocks:

Peter Horrocks has worked in a wide variety of roles across BBC News since 1981. He has been editor of Newsnight and Panorama and produced TV election results programmes in 1992 and 1997. He has been Head of Current Affairs, Head of TV News and he created the BBC’s multimedia newsroom department in 2007.

As Director of the World Service Group Peter Horrocks has responsibility for World Service English radio, multimedia services in 28 languages, BBC World News TV, BBC.com/news and BBC Monitoring. He also chairs the BBC’s international media charity BBC Media Action.

Posted in Broadcasters, International Broadcasting, News, Shortwave Radio | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) to end shortwave broadcasts

DVBHat tip to SWLing Post reader, Jonathan Marks, for sharing this news item:

(Source: Burma News International)

At the end of October, the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) will stop producing its ethnic language radio program after 21 years of broadcasting, a decision revealed yesterday during a meeting of staff members from DVB’s Ethnic Groups’ Program.

“Because there are more and more magazines and journals [being distributed] in the country, the audience [listening through] short-wave radio has become smaller. We broadcast the news at six in the morning and nine in the evening, but at those times the audience has demonstrated a preference for newspapers and journals instead of waiting for us,” said DVB editor U Khin Maung Soe.

According to a US-based group which collects data on short-wave radio audiences in Burma, the DVB’s short-wave radio programs only attract 2% of the Burmese exile radio station audience, the smallest percentage among the four exile stations.

Due to such small audience numbers, DVB donors have suggested that the organization stop broadcasting radio programs and produce TV media programs instead. However, changing from radio to TV broadcasting may pose challenges and difficulties for those in charge of the DVB’s Ethnic Groups’ Program.

[...]The DVB’s current ethnic language radio program is broadcast in Kachin, Karenni, Karen, Chin, Mon, Rakhine, and Shan languages.

The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) launched the DVB Burmese Program in Oslo, Norway and also broadcasts from Oslo. For its part, the DVB Ethnic Language Program was founded by ethnic armed groups on July 19, 1993 at the Karen Nation Union’s former Marnepalaw headquarters.

Posted in Broadcasters, Clandestine, News, Shortwave Radio | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Radio Australia: SWLing in the Colorado Rockies

Sony-ICF-SW7600GR-RA-CO I’m in Keystone, Colorado at about 9,300′ (2,835 M) above sea level; mornings are crisp and chilly (38F/3C), but that doesn’t stop me from putting on a jacket, heading to the balcony and listening to Radio Australia on 9,580 kHz. Despite flaky solar conditions (flaky, frankly, is an understatement) I managed to snag RA Wednesday morning (13:58 UTC) on my Sony ICF-SW7600GR. There was a little fading, and a little local noise, but overall signal quality was quite good.

gnav_logoThis recording starts a couple of minutes before the top of the hour; you’ll hear the TOTH news brief and then triple ja brilliant show dedicated to new Australian music.

Click here to download the recording as an MP3, or simply listen via the embedded player below:

Posted in Broadcasters, Music, News, Recordings, Travel, What's On Shortwave | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Listening to WWV at the source: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

MysterySW-site-LTIf you haven’t already guessed it: yes, the mystery broadcast site I posted on Thursday was WWV/WWVB in Fort Collins, Colorado. Well done, responders!  Specifically, the photo shows the southern antennas of WWVB as I departed the site on Thursday, August 28, 2014; for those of you who got that detail, extra credit–!

I’d like to thank the staff at WWV/WWVB for allowing me to visit the site for the better part of the day. WWV is not officially open to tours, so this was a particular honor for me. And this was an especially fun pilgrimage, as WWV was most likely the first shortwave broadcast I ever heard:  as I’ve previously noted, when I was a kid my father used to set his watch to WWV every Sunday morning.  Now I’ve seen firsthand where that famous tock, tock (and accompanying characteristic tones) originate.

When I return home from my extended travels, I’ll sort through the photos I took at WWV and WWVB, and post them here on the SWLing Post.

Recording WWV

In the meantime, I have a few recordings to share with those who are interested in this mecca of chronology.  Before leaving WWV, I pulled out my Tecsun PL-380 and my Zoom H2N digital recorder, and recorded all the WWV broadcast frequencies. I captured their 2.5, 5, 10, 15, 20 and even their recently reactivated 25 MHz signals.

I made these recordings in the conference room at WWVB broadcast house. As you can imagine, it was simply not at all necessary to extend the telescopic antenna. In fact, the signal was so strong, you’ll hear a slight amount of distortion in the voice audio.

TecsunPL380WWVB

Below, you can listen to the recordings of each frequency via the embedded player (click on the title to download the audio). Enjoy!

WWV on 2.5 MHz

WWV on 5 MHz

WWV on 10 MHz

WWV on 15 MHz (includes top of the hour station ID)

WWV on 20 MHz

Up to this point, I used the Tecsun PL-380, but quickly realized that the ’380 wouldn’t tune to 25 MHz. A quick look at the back of the radio revealed that the ’380 only tunes up to 21.950 MHz (!). Believe it or not, I’d never noticed this limitation of the PL-380, likely since I rarely tune above 21 MHz for broadcast listening.  Learn something new every day…But I couldn’t fail to complete my recordings.

SangeanATS505WWVB

 

So what did I do? I turned to Matthew Deutch, Chief Engineer at WWV and WWVB, who kindly allowed me to use their Sangean ATS-505 to make the final recording:

WWV on 25 MHz (includes Atlantic and Pacific weather)

Posted in Broadcasters, News, Recordings, Specials, What's On Shortwave | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments