BBC Predicts Internet-Only Radio in the Future

BBC-logo(The following is part news / part editorial)

According to a report going to Parliament for the BBC’s broadcast charter proposal, the BBC is preparing for an Internet-only world for broadcasting. This has prompted an investigation of other radio broadcasting services by Radio World magazine to get their take on this perspective. Part of the article “Is Broadcast Radio Doomed”  follows:

 Conventional radio and television broadcasting are doomed, eventually. Or so one might reasonably assume from reading “British, Bold, Creative,” the BBC’s broadcast charter proposal for the next decade of its mandate. The BBC’s 10-year broadcast charter is up for renewal in 2016. The proposal is the Beeb’s funding pitch to Parliament.

To be sure, the BBC didn’t use the word doomed, or put a timetable on it. However, over the next 10 years, “We will be moving to an Internet-fit BBC, to be ready for an Internet-only world whenever it comes,” states the BBC proposal. The only limiting factor will be to “move at the pace of our audiences”; ensuring that older subscribers have access to content on radio and TV as long as they need it.

Subsequent to issuing this proposal, the BBC announced that it is reorganizing its internal divisions along content rather than platform lines. For instance, “Each overarching division would have subsidiary divisions such as BBC Youth, a mooted subdivision of BBC Entertainment, which would include the online channel BBC Three, and pop music station Radio 1,” reported The Telegraph newspaper . . . .

In the current transitional environment, it is impossible to see just where broadcast radio will be in 10 and 20 years’ time. The BBC’s prediction of an inevitable “Internet-only world” notwithstanding, there are still many parts of the Third World where one-way radio broadcasts remain the only economical, effective way to reach mass audiences; no matter what advances are being made in 4G-and-beyond smartphones in the First World. Add broadcast radio’s resiliency in the face of natural and man-made disasters — compared to the frequent overloading and failure of cellular telephone networks during such incidents — and the notion of shutting down broadcast lifelines seems unlikely in these regions.

– See the full article at: http://www.radioworld.com/article/is-broadcast-radio-doomed/278577#sthash.YrBAkCfQ.dpuf

The demise of broadcast radio has been predicted many times in the past 50-60 years and yet it remains. Still there is a growing mindset in what I call  the Western culture’s business mindset that the pervasiveness of the Internet is the dominant factor in future media decisions. This is the same justification for various governments reducing or eliminating SW Broadcast budgets. After all “Everybody has the Internet now!”

This is a mistake, and belies a Western-centric view of the world. I cannot claim to know the real numbers, but I have little doubt the numbers representing Internet availability are inflated, partially because of assumptions and partially for selfish business interests.

In an ever-competitive entertainment market broadcasters (and governments) are naturally worried about such things as market share and the like, but this is only looking at things from one side of the coin. Anyone who uses the Internet outside of the home knows data fees can become enormous, and therefore we watch just how much traffic we pass through our wireless devices. (Yes I admit it – any place I go regularly which has “free Internet” gets loaded into my list of networks so as to keep my data charges down.)

How many people are going to listen to radio streams like they do now to radio broadcast stations? Are you going to drive home with your radio on through the Internet? I doubt it. Similarly how many people listen to the radio in places where there would be no coverage of wireless? I believe the market share would decrease rather significantly in these same western cultures where the Internet is indeed plentiful, but not certainly not free.

Having been involved in the early days of the public Internet back in the 90s, I remember meeting with city planners when they were looking to offer free Wi-Fi within the city so everyone could have access. While the idea sounded good, the logistics of equipment, and more importantly the expense of such an ongoing system, quickly laid such plans to rest for most government budgets.

I hope the pendulum swings back over time and business leaders and government officials recognize the value of both shortwave and OTA radio broadcasts. The Internet is a shiny diversion to be sure, but it is not the answer to all of our media needs. And whether folks like to admit it or not, the Internet is a fragile thing. As the old saying goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. How many times a year does your Internet service go out for no apparent reason, much less because of weather or other disasters?

Broadcast radio needs to be supported for many of the same reasons as shortwave radio – there simply is no more reliable way getting information out to the most number of people over the greatest possible coverage area.

Robert Gulley, AK3Q, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.

A.P. Richards’ 1939 thesis on the Crosley WLW Model Super-Power Radio Receiver

Crosley

In response to our recent post about the Crosley WLW Super-Power receiver, SWLing Post contributor, Larry Hagood, writes:

A photo of Dr Richards from the class of 1927.

A photo of Dr Richards from the class of 1927.

I am an EE student at Oklahoma State (Formerly Oklahoma A&M)–the school where the designer of the WLW [Super Power receiver], Amyle Richards, got his BSEE in 1927.

[Richards] wrote and submitted a masters thesis on the design of this radio, which earned him a PhD!).

I found a picture of him in the Engineering South building and found him in the 1927 yearbook in the library.

Anyway, the archive department located his paper on the WLW and is scanning it for me.

Many thanks to Larry for doing the research and sharing a scanned copy of Dr. Richards’ thesis about this Crosley benchmark receiver!

Click here to download A.P. Richards’ thesis as a PDF.

Aluminum foil: Larry’s simple AN200 antenna modification

TecsunAN200

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Larry Caracciolo, who comments:

I bought the AN-200 in the spring of 2015 off of eBay. I was favorably impressed with the product. Comparing it to my old 9′ diameter tuned/shielded loop from 1992, there are some similarities and differences.

The Hallicrafters SX-96 (Image: Universal Radio)

The Hallicrafters SX-96 (Image: Universal Radio)

I live in an apartment complex so plenty of radiated electromagnetic noise is present. I use a modified [Hallicrafters] SX-96 (AVC ckt was modified for improved modulation acceptance). The AN-200 does null out local static sources, somewhat, but not well enough to dig out weak stations. The tuning range for the loop is just at the bottom of the AM band (about 535 khz) to just over 1700 kcs.

On a whim, I wrapped aluminum foil around the loop and grounded it to the SX-96 chassis – in wistful hope of achieving some shielding from the RF has. As soon as I connected the aluminum foil ground clip to the rx chassis, all RF noise ceased and signals appeared from the mud. However, the tuning range is attenuated above 1200 kcs.

My favorite frequency on the AM band is 590 kcs. During the night, as many as seven different stations rose from the noise and provided station IDs at just the right moment. My best catch here in Everett, WA is KCSJ, a 1KW station in Colorado Springs.

From time to time, stations on the low portion of the AM band are accompanied with echoes – what I took for two stations and a small time delay between the same broadcast was actually multi-path to the degree that nearly 1/2 second separated the arriving signals. Short-delayed echoes, anyone? I’ve not observed this on frequencies above 1000 kcs.

Other sources of RF noise can come from the laptop, the cable modem, and even CFBs in other rooms. For truly noise-free listening environment, I place the laptop in sleep mode and unplug the cable modem. I’m quite happy with the AN-200 loop. Affordable, easy to use, easy to tune.

Thanks so much for sharing your experience with the AN200 loop antenna, Larry!

As anyone who grew up in the era of TV rabbit ears knows, aluminum foil can simply work magic in a pinch! There is no easier material to work with either!

As I pointed out in previous posts, the AN200 loop antenna is quite affordable.  I just did a quick price search:

Jay Allen reviews the AN200 loop antenna

TecsunAN200Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ron, who shares a link to this review of the AN-200 mediumwave loop antenna by Jay Allen:

Tecsun/Grundig/Kaito AN-100/AN-200 Loop Antenna

I’ve had the Grundig (version) AN-200 for many years and can certainly endorse it as a cost-effective antenna for the casual mediumwave DXer.

Thanks for the tip, Ron!

iHeartMedia may collapse under debt

iHeartMedia(Source: MediaFire)

At first glance, iHeartMedia looks like the model 21st century media conglomerate, truly a colossus with interests across media: owner of 858 radio stations; Clear Channel Outdoor, one of the world’s largest outdoor companies; Premier Networks, the top U.S. radio network; and iHeartRadio, among the nation’s top digital music services.

The radio giant has a dynamic leader, Bob Pittman, the man who created MTV and widely regarded as one of the most charismatic men in media.

And it has glam, lots of glam. Look no further than the iHeartRadio Music Festival and other live events that draw thousands upon thousands of celebrants and endless media excitement.

But for all that glam, iHeart is a deeply troubled company. In fact, iHeartMedia is teetering on collapse. It’s not a question of whether it collapses but when, and it’s likely to come sooner rather than later. It could be within months.

What’s going to sink iHeart is its huge debt, some $21 billion. That’s more than the entire radio industry generates in ad dollars in a given year, and it’s a debt iHeart appears to have zero prospects of paying off.[…]

iHeart’s ills could not come at a worse time for radio.

Cumulus, the No. 2 radio company, is struggling to work through its own debt problems and could itself slide into bankruptcy. And CBS Radio was just put on the block in what’s seen as a major vote of no confidence in radio’s future by CBS Chairman Les Moonves.

One could well imagine a scenario in which all three companies are broken up and their stations all put on the market at one time, in what would prove a major disruption for the industry.[…]

Continue reading…

Radio Belarus to shut down shortwave, mediumwave and longwave?

SX-99-Dial-Nar

Many thanks to several SWLing Post readers who have shared this news from the Radio Belarus website.

Since I rely on a machine translation of the news page via Google Translate, I’m not totally clear about the details, but it appears Radio Belarus is shutting down their longwave, mediumwave and shortwave broadcasts on April 1, 2016.

Any SWLing Post readers out there who can read and translate the details on this page? If so, please comment and I’ll post the translation here!  Thanks!

UPDATE: SWLing Post contributor, Igor, comments with the following translation which was also confirmed by Ed:

Due to the fact that National Government Broadcasting Company of Belarus Republic refused services of the Belarus Radio and TV Transmitting Center, since April, 01 transmission of radio programs of “1 National Channel of Belarus Radio” and “Radiostation Belarus” on LW, MW and SW bands will stop:

– by transmitting center in Kolodishci:
– “1 National Channel of Belarus Radio” on 7255 KHz, 250 KW
– “Radiostation Belarus” on 11930 KHz, 250 KW
– “Radiostation Belarus” on 11730 KHz, 150 KW
– “1 National Channel of Belarus Radio” on 6080 KHz, 150 KW
– by Osipovich transmitting center in Sosnovy:
– “1 National Channel of Belarus Radio” on 279 KHz, 500 KW
– “Radiostation Belarus” on 1170 KHz, 800 KW

Guest Post: Jerry’s Mediumwave DXing Powerhouse Mini FSL Antenna

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jerry Popiel, for the following guest post:


PowerhouseFSLAntenna-1

A MW DXing Powerhouse Mini FSL Antenna

by Jerry Popiel

In late February 2016 I completed construction of a modified version of Gary DeBock’s excellent 3 inch Mini FSL design (click here to view).

This new antenna is nothing short of a AM DXing powerhouse with unbelievable sensitivity for receiving stations across the entire AM Bandwidth both day and night. The tuning of stations is razor sharp and it has stunning nulling qualities. Consultation assistance was provided from DXing experts Steve Ratzlaff and Gary DeBock on the project.

Construction Details:

The Antenna was constructed using 9 – 100 mm Ferrite Bars wound on a 2.75 inch diameter x 4 inch styrofoam cake dummy form custom made by in Vancouver, B.C. Canada – (stacy@scoop-n-save.com) for $3.50 plus shipping.

The Coil wire consisted of 38 turns of high gain 660/46 Litz Wire. (Note: As can be seen 38 turns of the thicker Litz Wire left only 5/8” of room on each side of the Styrofoam Form to wire wrap the coil to the ruler frame. A longer Form ie 5” long would work much better for this build).

The insulation spacer used was 2 layers of 1/8 inch Aerotape self adhesive tape which also helped hold the 100 mm Ferrite Bars onto the Styrofoam Coil Form. Inductance measured 356 uH using a DM 4070 Meter which is well within the requirement of over 300 uH for AM Band Reception.

Side View Of 9-Bar FSL Antenna with 2.75” Diameter Styrofoam Cake Dummy.

Side View Of 9-Bar FSL Antenna with 2.75” Diameter Styrofoam Cake Dummy.

Because of the extra thickness of high gain 660/46 Litz Wire which is a bit too big to solder to the inside terminals of the Tecsun PL-380 Radio, a 2 Position Terminal Block was superglued to the outside of the Ruler Frame to act as an interface connection point.

Position Terminal Block Superglued To Back Of Antenna Frame

2 Position Terminal Block Superglued To Back Of Antenna Frame

Testing Results:

Both daytime and evening AM station captures have been spectacular. Stations as far away as KKOB / 770 kHz Alberquerque, New Mexico 1130 Miles from here in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada have been received. Country music station WSM / 650 kHz in Nashville, Tennessee 1082 miles distant is a daily evening pickup.

Station KKOB / 770 kHz Alberquerque, New Mexico 1130 Miles distance.

Station KKOB / 770 kHz Alberquerque, New Mexico 1130 Miles distance.

Station WSM / 650 kHz in Nashville, Tennessee 1082 miles distance.

Station WSM / 650 kHz in Nashville, Tennessee 1082 miles distance.

Two Stations Received At 600 kHz 90 Degrees apart at the same time:

The amazing Nulling and Razor Sharp Tuning quality of this FSL was demonstrated when 2 stations at 600 kHz were received at the same time by rotating the Radio with attached FSL 90 degrees. In the North / South direction Station KSJB / Jamestown, North Dakota (219 miles distant) was received with a strong signal strength of 50 / 23. Then by rotating the Radio 90 degrees to the East / West direction Saskatoon, Saskatchewan station CJWW (442 miles distance) was captured with a similar strong signal strength of 44 / 24.

600 kHz Station KSJB / Jamestown, North Dakota.

600 kHz Station KSJB / Jamestown, North Dakota.

600 kHz Station CJWW / Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

600 kHz Station CJWW / Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Daytime Reception of 600 Watt Station 137 Miles Distant:

A major daily AM reception capture during the afternoon illustrating the amazing sensitivity of this antenna is 600 Watt station KKXL Sports Radio 1440 kHz (137 miles).

PowerhouseFSLAntenna-8

All Indoor Reception – For Now!

Due to winter conditions here in Winnipeg, all of the amazing station reception captures in this report were done inside the House facing towards the South window. Fortunately the red ruler platform sides can he used as handles when pointing the radio in the direction of best reception. Exciting times are ahead to see how well this mini 3” FSL will perform outdoors for likely even better AM DXing.

Summarizing:

The design of this new FSL Antenna attached to the Tecsun PL-380 Ultralite radio by Gary DeBock is a major breakthrough in AM DXing since the Radio is attached to the FSL. This new FSL Antenna needs to be constructed to be really appreciated. The application described here requires a bit more skill to construct and is also heavier than the original construction – but at least it is portable. For beginners Gary’s original 3” FSL Heathkit Design is highly recommended and can be reviewed in his You Tube Video posted at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VY9u8MReGjk

Thanks,
Jerry Popiel
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


Thank you, Jerry! It’s amazing what performance you and Gary DeBock have gotten out of these homebrew FSL antennas! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your construction details and performance notes!