Rothera Research Station, Adelaide Island, Antarctica (Image Source: British Antarctic Survey)
Post readers: I need your help!
SWLing Post reader Andy Webster (G7UHN) is searching for an off-air recording of the BBC Midwinter Broadcast to Antarctica from the year 2009.
Andy has a very personal connection to this particular broadcast because he was the wintering communications engineer at Rothera Research Station in 2009. One of his fondest memories was listening to the BBC Midwinter broadcast while he and his colleagues were huddled around the station’s Skanti TRP 8750 marine transceiver. Andy would like a proper off-air recording of the broadcast to share with his family and friends–so they can hear what the broadcast sounded like over shortwave radio.
If you happen to have an off-air recording of the 2009 Midwinter broadcast, could you please contact me or comment on this post?
On Tuesday, 21 June 2016, the BBC World Service officially transmitted the 2016 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast–an international radio broadcast intended for a small group of scientists, technicians, and support staff who work for the British Antarctic Survey.
This is one of my favorite annual broadcasts, and I endeavor to listen every year. Once again, the SWLing Post called upon readers to make a short recording of the broadcast from their locale.
Below are the entries, roughly organized by continent and country/region, including reader’s photos if provided. I had planned to post these recordings by Sunday, but my travels interfered and I discovered an additional ten recordings in my inbox! (If I’ve somehow missed including your entry, please contact me; I’ll amend this post.)
So, without further ado….
The 2016 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast Recordings
Paul’s Icom IC-7300 tuned to the BBC Midwinter broadcast.
SWL: Paul Philbrook Location: Adelaide, South Australia Notes: Here are a couple of recordings from this mornings broadcast. Just had a quick listen before heading off to work and recorded these two with the IC-7300. Radio: Icom IC-7300 Aerial: Multi-band loaded dipole. 5985 Khz strength 5 readable, 6035 Khz strength 8 good readability, 7360 Khz no copy.
SWL: Bryan Clark Location: Mangawhai, New Zealand Notes: Listening in New Zealand, reception was not as good as last year.
Here are short audio files of the 3 frequencies. I used an EWE antenna aimed southeast, that is across South America, for the best signals. Receiver is a WinRadio Excalibur Pro SDR.
SWL: Christoph Ratzer Location: Salzburg, Austria Notes: Here my complete recording for you. Received at my remote station http://remotedx.wordpress.com in Salzburg, WinRadio G33 Excalibur PRO, Delta loop antenna with Bonito ML052 amplifier.
SWL: Philippe Location: L’Hôpital-Camfrout, France (few km south of Brest) Notes: Very good conditions here, good sound. Equipment: Yaesu FT817ND + V inverted antenna and Yaesu Vx7r + original antenna (little stick on the radio). On both radios, reception: 59 / 59+
SWL: Renato Feuli (IK0OZK) Location: Valentano, Italy Notes: Woofferton at 5.895 Khz AM
Time UTC 21.33
Signal Report R/S R5 S 9+15 Db Very Good signal and audio
RTX JRC 245 and Windom antenna
To Ascension at 7.360 Khz AM
Time UTC 21.33
Signal Report R/S R5 S 9+10 Db Very Good Signal and audio
Receiver JRC NRD 545 Dsp and Long-Wire antenna
SWL: Joseph Location: Ponza island, Italy Notes: I am Joseph in Ponza island, Italy, with pleasure I send you a video of the Antarctic Midwinter 2016 recorded yesterday night with my old smartphone … great about the 5985 and 7360 frequencies, very poor reception on 6035, I used the 3 receivers Yaesu vr5000 connected on a discone antenna “Midland full band”, AOR ar 3030 and Kenwood R1000 on antenna “Mini Whip”.
SWL: Davide Borroni Location: Saronno, Italy Notes: 21 June 2016 at 2130-2200 UTC on 7360 KHZ AM. I listened to the BBC broadcast with SINPO 54444. I listened to beautiful music and talk. Thanks for show ! I used my R&S ESH3 (see above) with my magnetic loop 2 meter diameter antenna.
SWL: Chris Inwood Location: Conrwall, England Notes: [R]ecorded on 5.985 MHz. This frequency was by far the best quality. I was able to copy 7.365 here but there was slight QSB and some interference from an adjacent broadcaster HCJB. 6.035 was not heard at all neither was 9.720 MHz. Very best wishes and thanks, I always look forward to my email.
SWL: Mark Hirst Location: Basingstoke, Hampshire Notes: Thanks for alerting shortwave listeners to the British Antarctic Survey broadcast. It felt very poignant listening to a broadcast aimed at such a small number of people, with the voices of their loved ones being launched around the world.
I was able to record the broadcast from only 100 miles away from the Woofferton transmitter, so needless to say the quality and strength was very good. I imagine hearing that broadcast buried in the noise from far away with those happy birthday songs and best wishes must have been very emotional for its intended audience.
My recording location was Basingstoke, Hampshire in the UK – locator IO91LH 20HH
[Note that Mark also recorded the full 30 minute broadcast which you can download by clicking here.]
SWL: Dean Allison Location: Bedlington, Northumberland, England Notes: I have attached an audio file of the BBC transmission to Antarctica. My location is Bedlington, Northumberland, England, about 100 feet above sea level, using a Kenwood R5000 receiver and a 30 feet longwire antenna about 12 feet off the ground. This was the 5985 kHz transmission.
SWL: Jerry Rhys Location: Surrey, England Notes: Attached are two recordings of today’s BBC Antarctic Broadcast made between
2130 and 2150z. The first recording was made using AM mode with 8 kHz bandwidth on 5985 then 7360, followed by 6035. The second recording was made using SAM mode with 10 kHz bandwidth on 7360, 6035, and 5985.
The best signal was on 5985, 7360 was weak but readable, on 6035 I could detect a carrier and occasional modulation – on this frequency there was also interference from a digital transmission on 6037. Nothing heard on 9720.
I was using a RF Space SDR-IQ Receiver, and a Wellbrook ALA1530S Loop
Antenna installed in my loft. Many thanks for the SWLing Post, always an enjoyable read!
SWL: Alan (G4TMV) Location: northern England Notes: Reception of this special broadcast was excellent here in northern England on 5985 kHz. It was an enjoyable broadcast again, but Babcock weren’t wasting any electricity on it, it came on and went off again almost spot on 2130 and 2200!
SWL: Lawrence Beedle Location: Manchester, England Notes: Here is my recording of the mid winter broadcast by the BBC 21st June 2016. Tecsun PL660 telescopic aerial, indoors, sat at kitchen table in a house in Manchester, England, UK. 5985khz good reception. 6035 kHz not as strong, 7360 kHz no reception. Recorded on iPhone next to speaker on radio. 36 seconds.
SWL: David Mappin Location: Filey, England Notes: Just thought I would let you know how I got on with the BBC WS broadcast to Antarctica. I used my Icom IC-R75 receiver and a Wellbrook ALA1530 inside the house. 5985 kHz was very strong with me here on the east coast of the UK (NVIS propagation?). Nothing heard on 6035 or 9720 but a weak signal on 7360. Attached (above) is a photograph of my listening post. This is a link to a YouTube video of the start of the broadcast. My very best regards and thank you for your excellent website.
A screenshot from Cap’s Elad FDM-S1 SDR.
SWL: Cap Location: N.W. Scotland Notes: Here is my attempt last night with SDR screenshot attached, Elad FDM-S1 with homebrew mini Mag Loop (<250mm dia) sitting on my bookcase. No doubt there will be better signals/recordings than mine as the signal was really strong from WOF and considering my setup is 100% indoors, it came out ok. External antennas don’t last here as I am by the sea and regular 100mph+ storms in the winter is too much hassle.
SWL: Richard Langley Location: New Brunswick Notes: Tecsun PL-880 receiver with a Tecsun AN-03L 7-metre wire antenna in AM mode with 5.0 kHz RF filtering at the back of my yard. The photo [of Richard’s outdoor portable listening post] was taken during some other recordings last year.
Click here to listen to Richard’s recording, or simply use the embedded player below:
SWL: Thomas Witherspoon Location: Saint-Anne-de-Beaupré, Québec Notes: I traveled to an RFI quite spot in the parking lot of the Basilica in St.-Anne-de-Beaupré, Québec. Click here to read a full post about my set-up and conditions. Note that I used a Sony ICF-SW55 receiver (above), perched on top of my vehicle and tuned to 7360 kHz.
SWL: Dan Hawkins Location: Davis, California Notes:Here is my YouTube video. I’m using both the Sangean and Hammarlund receivers to hunt down the BBC Midwinter Antarctic Broadcast. Probably a somewhat different result than on most of the videos, but probably typical of West Coast propagation at these frequencies and times.
SWL: Nace Magner Location: Bowling Green, Kentucky Notes: Please find attached a video of my reception of the BBC broadcast. Unfortunately, a thunderstorm passed through about 10 minutes prior to the video and the audio is dominated by lightning-related crashes. However, the BBC signal can be heard periodically. My location was on a university campus in Bowling Green, Kentucky, which is about 50 miles north of Nashville, Tennessee. I received the signal using a Tecsun PL-660 and its whip antenna. I enjoy the SWLing site. Best regards, Nace Magner (KW4LY)
Once again, many thanks to all of you who submitted your recordings of the BBC Midwinter Broadcast! We’ll be sharing this post with both the British Antarctic Survey and the BBC World Service. And to all of you, from the SWLing Post: Happy Midwinter! Happy Summer/Winter Solstice!
Listening to the 2016 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast in the parking lot of the Saint-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica in Québec, Canada.
Only a couple of hours ago, I packed up the Sony ICF-SW55 and CC Skywave portables in search of a quite spot to listen to the BBC World Service Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast. I’m currently traveling in Canada and staying in a condo–the RFI in this building couldn’t be much worse. There was no way I’d hear the broadcast through the noise.
In search of an outdoor listening spot, I stopped at a couple open/green areas but in both cases, there was radio interference nearby. Finally, I found a quiet spot in the rather large parking area next to the gorgeous Saint-Anne-de-Beapré Basilica.
At this point, I only had three minutes to put a fresh set of batteries in the Zoom H2N recorder, connect it to the ICF-SW55 and hope that somehow I’d hear the 7,360 kHz broadcast from Ascension Island which, in fact, was directed toward Antarctica–not Canada!
I had my fingers crossed as the time hit 17:30 local (21:30 UTC).
Fortunately, I was rewarded with a signal! Not exactly armchair listening, but let me tell you I’m as pleased as punch!
After tinkering with the position of the receiver, antenna and recorder, I discovered that I achieved the best reception by placing the Sony on top of my car.
I ran the line-out audio (orange cord) to my Zoom H2N recorder inside the van and monitored the broadcast with my earphones hooked to the recorder.
About halfway through the broadcast, I remembered I had the CC Skywave in my bag as well, so I turned it on and walked around the van. It, too, could receive the BBC Ascension Island signal with some strength, but the SW55 had an edge on it in terms of AGC stability.
Still, very impressive reception for such a small portable with such a modest antenna.
It’s always a treat to enjoy the BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast live, knowing that the BAS crew, wintering over in Antarctica, are enjoying it at the same time!
That, in a nutshell, is the magic of shortwave radio.
Please share your recordings!
I’ve already received almost a dozen recordings from SWLing Post readers! Thank you so much!
If you have a recording of the 2016 Midwinter Broadcast that you’d like to submit, please do so by Friday. Sometime this weekend, I plan to publish a post with all of the recordings and your photos.
Every year, the BBC broadcasts a special program to the scientists and support staff in the British Antarctic Survey Team. The BBC plays music requests and sends special messages to the small team of 40+ located at various Antarctic research stations. Each year, the thirty minute show is guaranteed to be quirky, nostalgic, and certainly a DX-worthy catch!
After the successful listener event last year, I’m calling on all SWLing Post readers and shortwave radio listeners to make a short recording (say, 30-60 seconds) of the BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast today and share it here at the Post (frequencies and time below).
The recording can be audio-only, or even a video taken from any recording device or smart phone. It would be helpful to have a description and/or photo of your listening environment and location, if possible.
If you submit your recording to me, I will post it here on the SWLing Post–and insure that the British Antarctic Survey receives the post, too. The recordings will be arranged by geographic location.
The broadcast will take place from 2130-2200 UTC today on the following frequencies (thanks to Alokesh Gupta for the tip):
5,985 kHz WOF 300 kW / 184 deg to Antarctica English
6,035 kHz DHA 250 kW / 203 deg to Antarctica English
7,360 kHz ASC 250 kW / 207 deg to Antarctica English
UPDATE: 9,720 kHz WOF 300 kW (Thanks to Richard Langley who notes that, per Glenn Hauser’s DXLG group, this frequency is not confirmed.)
Halley VI: The British Antarctic Survey’s new base (Source: British Antarctic Survey)
I’m sure there will be live reports in the SWLing Post chat room during the broadcast. Please sign in and share your report as well!
I’m uncertain if I’ll be able to receive the broadcast this year–I’m traveling at the moment in Québec, but will have my trusty Sony ICF-SW55 and C.Crane CC Skywave in tow.
I’ll plan to seek out a quiet park away from man-made noise and give listening a go!
The Midwinter broadcast is one of my favorite programs of the year. I suppose, in part, this is because it happens on June 21–the Summer/Winter solstice–which also happens to be my birthday!
Babcock has tests today, June 14, at 2130-2145, to Antarctica on 5985 (Woofferton), 6035 (Dhabayya), 7360 (Ascension), and 9720 (Woofferton).
I think we can assume three of these frequencies will be used for the annual mid-winter transmission to Antarctica on June 21 at 2130-2200.
I will attempt to receive the tests broadcasts today here in Québec; it will give me an indication if I stand a chance of reception next week.
I would appreciate any recordings of the test broadcast to add to the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.
As Dan mentions above, next week, Tuesday, June 21, the BBC Antarctic Midwinter broadcast will take place once again. This is one of my favorite shortwave events of the year. Like last year, I hope we receive recordings of the on air event from across the globe!