The Society of Broadcast Engineers urges FCC to Improve Mediumwave RFI

WHKY-AM-Radio-Tower(Source: ARRL via Eric McFadden, WD8RIF)

The Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) has told the FCC that the regulatory agency needs to take another tack in its efforts to tackle AM revitalization. If the FCC takes the SBE’s advice, the result could be less noise in the MF and HF Amateur Radio bands. In comments the SBE filed in response to an FCC Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry (MB 13-249) proposing ways to enhance the viability of the AM broadcast service, the SBE said the Commission must “commit to a regulatory plan which, over time, will reduce the levels of man-made noise in the MF bands, and more broadly in the bands below 30 MHz.” In comments it filed earlier in the proceeding, the SBE pointed out that “AM radio in particular is susceptible to interference from electronic devices of all types,” and that ambient noise on the AM band is only bound to get worse with further proliferation of noise-generating electronic devices, including certain lighting devices regulated under FCC Part 15 and Part 18 rules.[…]

Continue reading at the ARRL website…

Paul Litwinovich on “The Life, Decline and Possible Rebirth of AM”

Zenith-Shuttle-DialMany thanks to the SWLing Post reader who noted this latest post by Paul Litwinovich at WSHU (Paul is frequently referenced here on the Post).

A short excerpt:

“AM occurs elsewhere in nature. A lightning strike or manmade electrical discharge will produce a burst of electrical noise that varies in amplitude. Since AM radios are designed to detect variations in amplitude, this is why they are prone to interference from such things. AM held sway as the primary method of modulating a radio wave up to WWII, not only for broadcasting, but for all types of radio communications.

Every vintage consumer radio, be it standard broadcast or shortwave, up to WWII, received amplitude modulated signals. Nowadays, AM broadcast stations are associated with lower quality audio, but such was not always the case. Receiver design really came of age in the 1930s with the superheterodyne circuit and advancements in loudspeaker design. The grand floor consoles of the late 1930s leading up to WWII were capable of producing audio that was very good, even by today’s standards, the only exception being that they were monaural, as stereo technology was still a ways off.”[…]

Litwinovich’s article is a must-read as he gives a concise overview of amplitude modulation, AM vs. FM, and even covers current proposed uses of the broadcast band (something we’ve also recently mentioned).

Click here to read The Life, Decline and Possible Rebirth of AM.

CBS considering the sale of its radio division

When Charlie Chaplin finally allowed the world to hear his voice after 20 years of mime, he chose CBS's airwaves to do it on. (Source: Wikipedia)

When Charlie Chaplin allowed the world to hear his voice after twenty years of silent performance, he chose CBS for the broadcast.

(Source: LA Times)

CBS Corp. is poised to exit the radio business that it helped create.

Eighty-eight years ago, the company’s founder, William S. Paley, bought the nascent Columbia Broadcasting System, and those radio stations became the nucleus of a budding broadcast empire.

But on Tuesday, CBS Chairman and Chief Executive Leslie Moonves said the company was exploring strategic options, including a sale or spinoff, of its entire radio division.

“The aim here is to unlock value for our shareholders,” said Moonves, who made the announcement during an investor day in New York.

The decision marks the end of an era and highlights the waning influence of commercial radio, which is no longer considered a growth industry. Young adults spend more time listening to digital music files, podcasts and subscription Internet radio services such as Spotify and Pandora. The shift has prompted major advertisers, including car dealerships, wireless phone companies and financial services firms, to steer more of their marketing dollars to digital platforms.

Continue reading at the LA Times’ website…

James adds an LM386 amplifier kit to his Heathkit GR-150

Heathkit Explorer Jr. Completed w. screwdriverMany thanks to SWLing Post contributor, James Surprenant (AB1DQ), who shares this update to his review of the Heathkit Explorer Jr. TRF AM radio receiver kit:


With regard to the Heathkit TRF AM receiver kit, I did indeed build my LM386 amplifier.

I was planning on home-brewing it from scratch as the chip is pretty much all you need and there are various proven schematics for the circuit, but in the end I went with a small kit from Nightfire Electronics for $10 plus $5 shipping that I found on Amazon.com.

It was a bit cheaper to buy it in kit form, of course, and then there was the convenience of having all the parts in one place.

Here is a photo of the kit as advertised on Amazon

kit

And here is my build with the Heathkit…

Heathkit + LM 386

I modified the kit to add a 3.5mm input jack, replacing the RCA jack that came with the kit, to make it easier to plug into the Heathkit radio.

I deliberated whether to install the audio amp into the Heathkit cabinet drilling out a couple of holes for the pot shafts. It all would have fit and I could have easily mounted the 3″ 8 ohm speaker to the back panel of the Heathkit radio. In the end, I decided to keep the radio original and mounted the amplifier board on a small piece of wood I found at a hobby store and decided to leave it all exposed. It works well, all things considered.

(Click here to view video on Facebook.)

It worked well and per my original review on SWLing Post, I feel Heathkit should have included such a little amp in the kit – it makes a big difference.


Many thanks for the update, James! That little LM386 amp kit seems like an affordable addition for any receiver lacking an amplifier or adequate audio amplification.

AM radio proposal has Class A broadcasters upset

WHKY-AM-Radio-Tower(Source: Times Union)

When the sun goes down, AM radio signals travel much farther. You can listen to 50,000-watt stations such as WGY hundreds of miles away.

But that could soon change, if the Federal Communications Commission goes through with a plan to let more local stations broadcast through the evening hours and potentially makes changes in the daytime signal of WGY and other powerful stations.

The proposed change in protections to Class A stations such as WGY would ease restrictions on the smaller stations, which are now required to reduce power or change the direction they broadcast their signal so they don’t conflict with the more powerful Class A stations.

WGY has begun an online petition drive to oppose the changes.

Called “Save AM Radio,” the petition opposes reducing WGY’s so-called “protected service area.”

The changes, WGY says, “will make it very difficult for many of our listeners to receive our programming, especially at night and during morning and evening drive times.”

[…]The FCC, meanwhile, says the changes are being considered in an effort “to help revitalize the AM service.”

More local stations would give listeners a wider choice of programming, supporters of the change argue.

[…]WGY’s online petition is at http://www.wgy.com/features/save-am-radio-1919/
The FCC is accepting comments through March 21 and replies through April 18, at www.fcc/ecfs. Click on “submit a filing.” The proceeding number is 13-249.

Read the full article at the Times Union online…

I’m very curious what Post readers think about this proposal from the perspective of both access to regional information, as well as from MW DXing. Will this move crowd the AM broadcast band or give local stations a stronger voice?

Your favorite radio stations that stream online?

The Grace Digital Mondo WiFi radio

The Grace Digital Mondo WiFi radio

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time with WiFi radios.

You see, I’ve been preparing a three part series about WiFi radios for The Spectrum Monitor magazine (Part 1 will appear in the April 2016 issue). Not only have I been evaluating and reviewing several radios, but also station aggregators: the curated databases of radio stations to which WiFi radios link.

Internet radio = Local radio discovery

Internet (or Web/WiFi) radio is a fantastic platform for discovering small, even semi-isolated, community radio stations that, until the Internet, had never broadcast signals beyond their local communities. With Internet radio, we can enjoy these stations as if we, too, are locals. Local becomes international.

WHKY-AM-Radio-Tower

As I travel, I try to note the callsigns of AM/FM radio stations I enjoy.

Sadly, not all of my favorite local radio stations stream online as it’s a major expense for a small broadcaster and yields very little in the way of ad revenue. After all, who in South Africa is going to buy auto parts from a store in Homer Alaska? It’s a conundrum for sure, and one shared by private shortwave broadcasters.

Still, there are a number of stations that do manage to have a reliable streams online.

In no particular order, here’s a short list–a handful–of some of my favorite stations that stream (click on the callsign to listen to the station live):

  • WTZQ Everything from Glenn Miller to Steve Miller (Hendersonville, NC)
  • WXRC Classic Rock (Charlotte, NC)
  • WDRV Classic Rock (Chicago, IL)
  • WHGM Classic Hits (Havre de Grace, MD)
  • WFED Federal News Radio (Washington, DC)
  • CBAL French language music from (Moncton, NB, Canada)
  • CKUT McGill University radio, (Montreal, Canada)
  • CIAO World Music and Talk Radio (Brampton, ON, Canada)
  • 6WF ABC local talk and music (Perth, Australia)
  • Fréquence 2 (Ivory Coast, Africa)
  • CFZM Nostalgia (Toronto, Canada)
  • Saint-Pierre & Miquelon 1ère French music/talk (St. Pierre and Miquelon)
  • WNMB 1950’s music (North Myrtle Beach, SC)
  • KBON Cajun/Zydeco/Blues and variety (Louisiana, USA)

What are your favorite stations?

Please comment and share some of your favorite streaming AM/FM radio stations! I’m all ears!

eBay Find: BANG & OLUFSEN BEOMASTER 900-K

beomaster900-closeWhile quite out of my price range, this is a beautiful piece of radio art nevertheless. (I recommend viewing the close-ups on the listing to really see it.) The receiver/amplifier has Broadcast, Long Wave, Short Wave plus FM, and the ability to reproduce beautiful stereo for its time, according to user reports.These were produced during the mid-sixties until 1970. I miss the artwork involved in many older radios as compared to today’s utilitarian radios. We may have better components and features, but we do not have the beauty or style in many cases.

I’ll be watching with interest to see how this auction ends!

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