Monthly Archives: March 2013

Allen’s thoughts as BBC Cyprus relay station closes today

bbc_arabicSWLing Post reader, Allen, writes:

BBC’s Cyprus relay station is being closed down today after more than 50 years of service. The BBC currently uses the station to broadcast its Arabic radio service to the Arab world on short wave. The BBC will still incur the cost of making its Arabic radio service in London, but it will only be available to listeners if Arab governments permit it, as the radio channel will only be available online or where governments have permitted the BBC to have an FM licence.

So – Saturday (today) is the last day that the ten million Arabic radio audience will be able to listen on short wave.

If all Arab regimes were really democratic enough to have a permanently free media and allow the BBC on, what is the point of the BBC Arabic anyway? But do we really believe that all the Arab world is free and democratic??

It is also another blow to the English World Service. World Service listeners lost their medium wave service to Europe on 648 two years ago. The closure of Cyprus means that the continuous World Service English medium wave service to Israel and surrounding countries on 1323 kHz also ends today.

For the time being, the Arabic medium wave to small parts of the East mediterranean will continue from another part of Cyprus. This will carry English for just two hours of daytime and two hours in the middle of the night on 720kHz.

The Cyprus relay station was taken over by the BBC as a result of the Suez Crisis.

It is part of the WS strategy to move from short wave and radio into television forced through against the views of World Service traditionalists by Peter Horrocks (head of Global news) and a contender to replace Helen Boaden as head of BBC news.

Peter Horrocks has no radio background, as former editor of Newsnight.

Peter Horrocks has diverted much of the 200 million pound annual World Service budget into making television programmes given free to local stations in Africa, and India. The flaw in that is that the BBC has no guarantee that the programmes will get through local consorship.

This is also the last Saturday that rural areas in Africa will get the Saturday afternoon Premier league live soccer commentary and other sports coverage from World Service. English short wave is being cut by 60 per cent from this weekend, with only 6 hours a day left – and no live sport on Saturday. It will be available if you are in a big city with an FM BBC relay, but most listeners still rely on short wave in Africa.

The only upside is that – at least this six hours a day in English seems to be guaranteed for another 10 years, as that’s the length of the BBC contract with the transmitting firm, Babcock.

VOA Radiogram this weekend

VOARadioGramHere are the details for the VOA Radiogram this weekend:

(Source: Kim Elliott)

VOA Radiogram on 30 and 31 March 2013 will feature the MFSK (multiple frequency shift keying) modes. This “menu” for the program shows the mode, center audio frequency, and duration of transmission in minutes:seconds…

MFSK4 1500Hz 0:40*
MFSK16 1500Hz 1:00
MFSK32 1000Hz 1:00
MFSK32 2500Hz 1:00
PSKR125 2500Hz 1:00
PSKR250 2500Hz 1:00
MFSK64 2500Hz 1:00
MFSK64 2500Hz 3:07 Flmsg format
PSKR500 2000Hz 0:58
MFSK128 2000Hz 0:57**
MFSK32 2000Hz 1:40 Image
MFSK32 1500Hz 0:58 Image

* No RSID. You must tune the audio frequency very carefully. (Don’t worry if it does not work!)

**The RSID might not work, so manually select MFSK128 (needs new version of Fldigi) and the 2000 Hz center audio frequency.

Transmission schedule:

(all days and times UTC):

  • Sat 1600-1630 17860 kHz
  • Sun 0230-0300 5745 kHz
  • Sun 1300-1330 6095 kHz
  • Sun 1930-2000 15670 kHz

All via the Edward R. Murrow transmitting station in North Carolina.

Please send reports, audio samples, screenshots, etc to voaradiogram@voanews.com.

If you are unable to listen to the program because of Easter weekend, this MFSK show will be repeated later this year.

1939 RCA Broadcast Equipment Catalog

RCA-AR-60Now that I’ve read this scanned 1939 RCA Broadcast Equipment Catalog, I realize that I really do need an RCA AR-60 Communications Receiver. It would make a lovely addition to my antique radio collection!

Click here to download your copy of the 1939 RCA Broadcast Equipment Catalog.

RCACatalog

Thanks to David for spotting this!

VOA reducing shortwave radio broadcasts

VOAFollowing the BBC World Service’s lead, the VOA will reduce broadcasts to Iran, Albania, Georgia and Latin America, along with English language broadcasts to the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Full details below:

(Source: Inside VOA)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Voice of America is reducing some of its radio transmissions this weekend and ending shortwave broadcasts to regions where audiences have alternative ways of receiving VOA news and information programs.

The transmission reductions allow VOA to comply with budget cuts required by sequestration and to avoid furloughs of staff members.

When the new broadcast schedule goes into effect on March 31st, cross-border shortwave and medium wave broadcasts to Albania, Georgia, Iran and Latin America will be curtailed, along with English language broadcasts to the Middle East and Afghanistan.

VOA will continue to provide audiences in these regions with up-to-date news and information through a host of other platforms, including radio and TV affiliate stations, direct-to-home satellite, web streaming, mobile sites and social media.

The new broadcast schedule calls for reductions in some  shortwave and medium wave radio broadcasts in Cantonese, Dari/Pashto, English to Africa, Khmer, Kurdish, Mandarin, Portuguese, Urdu and Vietnamese. Direct radio broadcasts to all of these regions will continue.

The transmission reductions are expected to have minimal impact on audience numbers since primary modes of delivery will remain.  Shortwave and medium wave broadcasts will continue to regions where they draw substantial audiences, and to countries where other signal delivery is difficult or impossible.

For more information contact Kyle King at the VOA Public Relations office in Washington at (202) 203-4959, or write kking@voanews.com.  For more information about VOA visit our Public Relations website atwww.insidevoa.com, or the main VOA news site at www.voanews.com.

Shortwave Radio Recordings: Radio New Zealand International

The New Zealand Bellbird (Anthornis melanura) provides the interval signal for RNZI (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The New Zealand Bellbird (Anthornis melanura) provides the interval signal for RNZI (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

One of my favorite shortwave radio broadcasters is Radio New Zealand International. RNZI has authoritative news–with a focus on NZ and the Pacific islands–music, sports and their own unique character, though they operate on a very modest budget by international broadcasting standards.

The RNZI interval signal is charming and unmistakable: the call of the New Zealand Bellbird.

Fortunately, in the 3 hour recording of RNZI below, I caught not only the interval signal as the broadcast began, but also as it went off the air. This recording was made on March 14th 2013 starting around 8:00 UTC on 9,765 kHz. (You’ll note news of the Pope.)

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

Note to SWLing Post reader, Mike:
I hope you enjoy these sounds from home!