Tag Archives: AM

Making broadcast towers safer for birds

(Source: NPR)

It’s likely the only time you really notice one of your neighborhood broadcast and cell towers is at night when they’re lit up with conspicuous bright red lights.

Those lights help pilots see the huge metal structures that can reach 1,000 feet into the air — but they can spell disaster for birds.

In 1976 in Gun Lake, Mich., one tower killed over 2,300 birds in one night, says Caleb Putnam, who works for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. He says for reasons scientists still can’t quite figure out, birds kept flying headlong into towers.

“If that many are dying at one night at one tower and yet there are thousands of towers across the country and as you go across the world, the numbers are staggering,” he says.

Putnam says in North America alone it’s estimated that 7 million birds smash into towers every year. But until recently scientists didn’t know why it was happening.

[…]”We were able reduce the numbers of bird fatalities on communications towers by simply extinguishing those non-flashing lights,” she says. “Those fatalities were reduced by as much as 70 percent.”[…]

Click here to listen/read this full report on NPR.

With switch from AM to FM, some Polynesians now in the dark

(Source: Southgate ARC)

Some inhabitants of French controlled Polynesia are unhappy at the switch over from Medium Wave AM to VHF FM broadcasting

Radio New Zealand reports Radio Polynesie Premiere switched to an all FM service at the beginning of December, leaving pockets of inhabitants in valleys and on remote atolls without any local radio service.

The broadcaster added five FM transmitters to its network of 48 to improve its reach but in an area the size of Europe, the signal fails to reach all communities.

Concern has been expressed that vital weather warnings are no longer heard.

The mayor of Makatea in the Tuamotus Julien Mai said there is a risk to public safety because people have always been advised to have an emergency kit that includes a radio when severe weather strikes.

Source:
http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/321809/loss-of-am-radio-irks-french-polynesia

Fred Lundgren: “What happened to AM radio”

We all read articles about the utility and the demise of AM (mediumwave) broadcasting. In this short article via the Huffington Post, Fred Lundgren (Founder and CEO of KCAA) discusses “What Happened To AM Radio (that’s NOT a question)”:

On Christmas Eve morning, the electricity went off at our house and panic quickly spread among our younger guests.

First, the TV sets went dark. Then, the desktop computers began to die as UPS back up batteries failed. For a while, we were reassured by the sound of familiar alarms, but then suddenly, total silence. Could this be the end times? Is this the onslaught of the apocalypse?

Smart phones were quickly deployed and guests began calling each other from room to room. The panic began to subside when several millennials volunteered communal usage of their wireless data plans. The kingdom would be saved…crisis abated.

[…]As the younger generation huddled around the smart phones with data plans, I began to think of the outage as an opportunity to listen to AM Radio, so I went to my office and dusted off my old RCA SuperRadio III.

I couldn’t remember the last time I replaced the batteries but to my surprise, it came to life with its signature popcorn sound when I pushed its big silver button. “IT’S ALIVE” WOW…the AM band was extraordinarily quiet and responsive.

[…]I scanned across the dial from 610 AM to 1590 AM. All the stations were as clear as a bell. Then, I decided to press my luck. I tuned to KTSA 550 AM in San Antonio and then I moved the dial slightly to the right and heard KLVI 560 AM in Beaumont, Texas. Every station was booming in loud and clear.

I felt like a child with a new toy. I dialed up and down the band, experiencing the clear booming sound of AM Radio without any noise or interference. It was a feast for the senses. It was beautiful.

After a few minutes, one of my daughters walked in and asked about the source of my entertainment. I pointed to my SuperRadio and said joyfully, “listen”. She looked at the big black box and asked “How can you listen with the internet and electricity off?” I responded, “It’s my portable SuperRadio III.” Before I could explain further, she shrugged her shoulders, closed the door and went back upstairs, convinced that her Dad was conducting some sort of high tech experiment.

In a manner of speaking, her assumption was correct. I was listening to AM Radio in a big city without the interference of computers, wireless modems and an overloaded electrical grid. For the first time in my recent memory, the “Senior Radio Band” sounded beautiful. Sadly, my experiment ended with preordained results when the electric power was restored.[…]

Click here to read Lundgren’s full article on The Huffington Post.

Norway becomes first country to go “fully digital”

(Source: RadioInfo via Kris Partridge)

11th January 2017 is a historic day for the medium of radio.

Norway becomes the first country in the world to move towards fully digital radio transmissions. As a result of this, the national FM network will be switched off.

The FM networks will be switched off region by region, starting in Nordland 11th January. The event will take place in Bodø and the final switch-off will be done at 11.11 pm CET.

The heads of NRK radio and commercial radio will be in Bodø to represent the Norwegian radio industry. Also, head of BBC radio, Helen Boaden, and head of radio at EBU, Graham Dixon, will attend.

An international seminar for European broadcasters will be held the day before the historic move to FM switch-off and an international press-conference will be broadcast on radio.no at 2 pm CET.

The final program will be published nearer to the event.

Read more at: https://www.radioinfo.com.au/news/norway-makes-radio-history © Radioinfo.com.au

What radio would you grab in a fire?

Scott-Marine-SLR-M

Lately, fires have been on my mind. No doubt, this is because there are so many wildfires in the greater southern Appalachian region right now, which is in the midst of a record drought. Brush fires start up almost daily, and no rain is in sight.  In the mountains, the air is hazy with smoke, and it’s become a struggle for fire departments to contain these blazes, even with help from outside the region.

Living, as we do, in a forest, we’ve always had to think through contingency plans if a forest fire should threaten our home:  with only a two hour (or so) warning, what items would we grab and load into our truck?

Of course, we’d likely focus on those things that are irreplaceable and thus essentially invaluable: our few family heirlooms, boxes of photos, documents––you know, stuff you can’t buy.

But what about radios?  I hope I’ll never be forced to choose the one thing I should save from my shack, because there are several to which I’m rather sentimentally attached…There’s my Zenith Transoceanic, for example–the first proper shortwave radio I ever owned. There are also a number of vintage radios as well as some SDRs which have become my staple receivers.

Scott-Marine-SLR-M-Dial

In the end, though, there’s no question which radio I’d grab. It would have to be my Scott Marine Radio Model SLR-M, affectionately nicknamed “Scottie.”. True, she’s not even close to portable at a solid 90 pounds, but I’d strap her to the roof of my vehicle, if I had to.

Why?  Well, it’s the most pristine vintage radio I own, and I use it daily. If it’s not tuned to Radio Australia in the morning, it’s tuned to my AMT3000 AM transmitter on 1570 kHz drawing in any of a number of stations I relay from my WiFi radio.

Scott-Marine-Radio-SLR-M

Scottie simply isn’t replaceable. Even though my Elecraft KX3 probably costs more in terms of monetary value, I could eventually scrape together the money to buy another KX3. But I couldn’t buy Scottie again. Not this one.

So, there you go: after we’ve saved those things important to our family, I’d grab a 1945 receiver and haul it to safety.

Post readers: Now I’m curious–if your home was threatened by fire or other disaster, what radio would you save? Please comment!