NPR: European Pirate Radio Network Broadcasts Alternative To Syria’s State Media

Pocket-FM-Diagram-Berlin-Syria-Syrnet

(Source: NPR)

A non-profit organization in Berlin has invented a small portable transmitter that can download satellite signals and rebroadcast them on FM for Syrians to listen to on their car or household radios.

If this story sounds familiar, it’s because we posted something about the organization a few weeks ago.

Shortwave Radio Recordings: Radio Biafra

RadioBiafraLast week, I received a tip from SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson: Radio Biafra, a new clandestine station, was audible on 15,560 kHz via the Universite Twente Web SDR.

Despite miserable propagation conditions, I tuned my receiver to 15,560 kHz and was surprised to hear a weak signal from Radio Biafra, here in North Carolina. I recorded a few minutes before conditions changed and Biafra’s signal began to fade.

This was the first time I had logged Radio Biafra, so I was amazed to have copy clear enough to understand.

Wikipedia has a short entry for Radio Biafra:

Radio Biafra also known as Voice of Biafra, is a radio station that was originally founded by the government of the Republic of Biafra but is currently operated by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. Believed to have had its first transmission before the Nigeria-Biafra war, the radio station was instrumental in the broadcast of speeches and propaganda by Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu to the people of the Republic of Biafra.

[…]Radio Biafra currently transmits via the internet and shortwave broadcast targeted majorly around Eastern Nigeria. Radio Biafra claims to be broadcasting the ideology of Biafra –”Freedom of the Biafra people”.

[…]Radio Biafra has been met with mixed reactions. While some critics have criticized the station for “inciting war” through its programmes and “preaching hate messages” against Nigeria which it refers to as a “zoo”, an editor for Sahara Reporters wrote in defence of the radio station after he compared Radio Biafra with the British Broadcasting Corporation Hausa service.

On 14 July 2015, it was reported in the media that the radio station had been jammed because it did not have a broadcast license from the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission. However, the radio station in a swift reaction labelled such claims as “lies” and went on to release its new frequency details to the public.

To put this in perspective, the Wikipedia entry for Radio Biafra is rather new, having only been created in August, 2015.

The following recording was made using my WinRadio Excalibur hooked up to a large skyloop antenna:

This two hour recording, by Dan Robinson, was made via the Universite Twente Web SDR in the Netherlands:

Post Readers: Have you logged Radio Biafra in your part of the world?

Sean’s A15 Season International Broadcasting Statistics

VOA-Greenville-Curtain-Antennas

Many thanks to Sean Gilbert, International Editor at the World Radio TV Handbook, who is kindly sharing some international broadcasting statistics with us again. These statistics were originally posted on the WRTH Facebook group:

Seasonal Language Output Comparison

[F]or the top 19 languages used in international (and Domestic SW) broadcasting. There are 10 seasons worth of data to compare. In those 10 seasons, we have seen an overall drop of 33%, the biggest casualties being Farsi, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, English & Indonesian. Tibetan is usually fairly stable with it’s output being pretty constant over the past 9 seasons – this season, however sees a huge increase in output (+69%), mainly due to the USA hiking output of the language this season. In sheer numbers of data lines (which is how this table has always been generated), English is the biggest casualty, dropping 104 transmission periods per week.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

A transmission period is based on the following data structure:
Shown below are 2 “transmission periods” for WWCR and 1 for WWRB. 2 in English and 1 in Spanish. These transmission periods cover a weeks worth of output on that frequency at that time for that broadcaster.

WWCR 1630-2100 English wcr 100 NAm,Eu,NAf daily 15825
WWCR 2100-2200 Spanish wcr 100 NAm,Eu,NAf daily 15825
WWRB 0100-0400 English wrb 100 NAm daily 3195

So a transmission period could, in reality, be from 5 minutes on a single day to 24 hours, daily, depending on the broadcaster. There are nearly 5000 of these entries in our database for this season (When I started at WRTH back in 2000, there were over 10000 entries). Of these 5000 entries, over 3600 are taken up by just 19 languages. The other 1400 entries share somewhere in the region of 200 languages/dialects and combinations! Although this doesn’t show how many hours a particular language has decreased by, it does show the ongoing trend in International broadcasting by radio.

WRTH2015A15 International Broadcasting Season Facts

There are 191 schedules listed in the International Radio and COTB (Clandestine & Other Targeted Broadcasts) section of the WRTH A15 schedules file.

Who uses the most frequencies? CRI, with a whopping 279 frequencies in use. The next largest station, by frequency use is (probably quite surprising to many of you) Voice of the Iranian Republic of Iran (VOIRI) with 140 (that is half the amount of CRI!). Next is VOA with 126; then RFA at 112; BBC at 110 then Sound of Hope Radio International with 84 and All India Radio at 67.

Below is a list of the ‘Top 20’ broadcasters in terms of frequency usage. If you were to do a study of actual transmitted time, the list would look rather different. I will shortly post a table showing the top languages, by use, and what has changed over the past 10 broadcasting seasons.

  • CHINA RADIO INTERNATIONAL (CRI): 279 frequencies
  • VOICE OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN (VOIRI): 140 frequencies
  • BBG – VOICE OF AMERICA (VOA): 126 frequencies
  • BBG – RADIO FREE ASIA (RFA): 112 frequencies
  • BBC WORLD SERVICE: 110 frequencies
  • SOUND OF HOPE RADIO INTERNATIONAL: 84 frequencies
  • ALL INDIA RADIO (AIR): 67 frequencies
  • RADIO ROMANIA INTERNATIONAL (RRI): 56 frequencies
  • AWR ASIA/PACIFIC: 52 frequencies
  • RADIO JAPAN (NHK WORLD): 49 frequencies
  • VOICE OF TURKEY (VOT): 43 frequencies
  • RADIO TAIWAN INTERNATIONAL (RTI): 41 frequencies
  • BBG – RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY (RFE/RL): 33 frequencies
  • KBS WORLD RADIO: 32 frequencies
  • SAUDI INTERNATIONAL RADIO: 32 frequencies
  • AWR AFRICA/EUROPE: 30 frequencies
  • VATICAN RADIO: 29 frequencies
  • RADIO CAIRO 29: frequencies
  • VOICE OF KOREA (VOK): 27 frequencies
  • FEBC PHILIPPINES: 26 frequencies

63 broadcasters, or so, use just a single frequency.

Sudan: a “failure to block Radio Dabanga”

RadioDabanga(Source: Radio Dabanga via Andy Sennitt)

The Sudanese Minister of Information has admitted that attempts by the Sudanese government to prevent broadcasts by Radio Dabanga have failed.

Minister Ahmed Bilal was speaking in the Council of States on Tuesday. He pointed out the need “to create a number of radio stations to attract listeners and compete with Radio Dabanga, which incites the people”.

The Minister was facing harsh criticism of the State media from Members including Abdul Jabbar Abdul Karim. Karim accused the state media of not highlighting the facts and lacking integrity and credibility, acknowledging that Radio Dabanga and the Alrakubh website are the most popular news sources for citizens.

[…]Radio Dabanga broadcasts to Sudan from neighbouring countries via shortwave. The Sudanese censors have tried repeatedly to jam the signal, to little avail.

In May, a report to the Sudanese parliament acknowledged that that the majority of the people in Darfur and Kordofan prefer Radio Dabanga to any national broadcasting station.

MP Abdallah Ali Masar, former Media Minister, and currently chairman of the Transport Committee, commented by saying that his wife listens to Radio Dabanga “day and night. Every day, when I come home, I find her listening to Radio Dabanga.”

Read the full article on Radio Dabanga’s website.

[Bravo, Radio Dabanga!]

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.

SW Radio Africa lost donor support

SWRadioAfricaAccording to Radio VOP, SW Radio Africa’s closure is due to a loss of donor support. Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Richard Cuff, for the tip:

(Source: Radio VOP)

“London-based SW Radio Africa has been forced to cease broadcasting after losing donor support.

SW Radio Africa, a non-profit station which broadcasts daily into Zimbabwe on shortwave, is winding up it operations on August 10.

Gerry Jackson, SW Radio Africa founder and editor, confirmed the impeding closure of the radio station which used to air daily between 6 and 9pm Zimbabwean time.

[…]The radio station was set up by a group of Zimbabwean journalists and started airing on December 19, 2001. The North London-based independent radio station had gathered a growing number of listeners, with its existence infuriating the Zimbabwean government.

[…]Staff at the radio station said they were disappointed that donor withdrawal had led to the downfall of the radio station.”

Read the full news item at Radio VOP.

SW Radio Africa to close down August 10

SWRadioAfricaOnly a few weeks ago we mentioned that the clandestine station, SW Radio Africa, stopped broadcasting via shortwave. It appears now that SWRA will completely close down:

(Source: Shortwave Radio Africa via Richard Cuff)

“It is with regret that SW Radio Africa announces that it is closing down. We recently stopped our shortwave transmissions but have continued to provide broadcasts via our website and other formats, but these too will cease.

We’d like to thank the organisations and individuals who have supported us for the past 13 years and the contributors to our programs who have given so willingly of their time and expertise.

In particular we’d like to thank our listeners, who have shared their lives, hopes and dreams and helped us to tell the story of Zimbabwe’s sad decline to the world.

We hope that one day Zimbabwe finally has a government who understands that its sole responsibility is to ensure a safe, healthy, prosperous life for every man, woman and child in the country.

Our first broadcast was on 19th December 2001.
Our last broadcast will be on 10th August 2014.

It’s been a privilege.

Gerry Jackson
Founder/Editor
4th August 2014”