Tag Archives: BBC

2017 BBC Midwinter Broadcast test transmissions

Rothera Research Station, Adelaide Island, Antarctica (Image Source: British Antarctic Survey)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors, Richard Langley and Mauno Ritola, who shared frequencies and times for the test transmissions in advance of the BBC Midwinter broadcast next week (June 21).

I didn’t get their tips in time to post prior to the transmissions yesterday, however, Mauno believes there may be another test transmission today.

This schedule was originally posted by Martin Goulding on BDXC-UK list–times are GMT:

ASCENSION

2130-2145 7360 kHz

DHABAYYA

2130-2145 – 6035 kHz

WOOFFERTON

2130-2145 7230 kHz
2130-2145 5985 kHz

Please comment if you log a test transmission today (or if you logged one yesterday)

As in years past, I plan to record the actual broadcast next week and share all of your recordings here on the SWLing Post as well.

Click here to browse the Midwinter recordings from last year.

1920s Radio Times magazines now available to public

(Source: BBC Media Centre)

BBC makes 1920s Radio Times magazines available to public

The BBC is making the earliest issues of the complete Radio Times magazines publicly available online for the first time. This release is part of the BBC Genome Project – a digitised searchable database of programme listings – from 1923 to the end of 2009.

BBC programme records have been available to the public via the BBC Genome Project since October 2014. Now, users can access digitised editions of the magazines from 1923-1929. Opening up this archive means researchers will be able to make direct links between the listings in the database and the original published listings.

Early colour front covers, specially commissioned illustrations and letters from the BBC’s first radio audience form part of the content in this fascinating record of early broadcasting.

Radio Times began in 1923, a year after the British Broadcasting Company started regular broadcasts, and thus provides a valuable record of the programmes that have been broadcast over nine decades.

More than five million programme records, scanned from Radio Times magazines, form the backbone of the BBC Genome website. Now, members of the public will be able to view the 1920s listings in facsimile, as well as all the extra material contained in articles and features in the magazine that have previously been unavailable on the site.

Hilary Bishop, Archive Development Editor, says: “We are particularly pleased that it is easy for our users to flick between the listings in the database and the related text in the magazine, as well as to scroll through articles not seen previously on BBC Genome. It is part of our commitment to continually improving BBC Genome and helping to open up the BBC’s archives as much as possible.”

Radio Times in the 1920s featured regular articles by the first Director General of the BBC, Lord Reith, and the BBC’s chief engineer, Peter Eckersley, addressing topics that concerned the BBC audience of the time, such as how to choose the best ‘receiving set’ and how to prevent ‘oscillations’ over the airwaves.

Articles, cartoons and programme listings all provide an insight into the history of broadcasting and the BBC’s first listeners, while adding some context, for a modern audience, to the earliest BBC programme records. The first editions of Radio Times show a nation still enthralled by the technological wonder of the new ‘wireless’ sets.

In each edition for the first few years of publication, cartoons explored the comic possibilities of a public who still didn’t quite understand how radio worked. “Would you kindly remove your hat madam?” asks a man at a ‘wireless village concert’. Yet the performer on stage is a radio set.

As the public wrestled with their new radio antennae, legendary cartoonist W. Heath Robinson illustrated two editions with eccentric designs of aerials.

Other historical snippets include a ‘new experiment’, in 1924, to broadcast a programme from California, to London. The exercise was to be repeated in the opposite direction. “If suitable conditions exist in the atmosphere”, concludes the article, “there is no reason why the experiment should not be successful”.

You can access the digitised 1920s magazines at: http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk

Click here to read this article at the BBC Media Centre.

Click here to browse the Radio Times archive.

Was Morse Code the smoking gun for this spy with no name?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who shares this story from the BBC News via Matthew M. Aid‘s blog:

[…]It was a cold Saturday morning in April 1988 when a van full of detectives arrived outside the North London home of Erwin van Haarlem. The self-employed art dealer, 44, lived alone in sleepy Friern Barnet, a smattering of brick homes beside the grim North Circular ring road.
The Dutchman’s apartment building on Silver Birch Close had become the centre of an investigation led by the British intelligence agency MI5. It suspected that Van Haarlem – whom neighbours described as an “oddball” – was not in the art business at all, but a sinister foreign agent.

Inside, Van Haarlem was hunched over a radio in his kitchen. He was still wearing his pyjamas, but his hair was parted neatly to one side. He was tuned in, as he was every morning, to a mysterious “number station”. In his earpiece, a female voice recited numbers in Czech, followed by the blip-bleep of Morse code.

At 09:15 detectives from Special Branch, the anti-terror unit of London’s Metropolitan Police, crashed into his apartment. Van Haarlem tried to lower his radio’s antenna. It jammed. When he pulled open a drawer and grabbed a kitchen knife, an officer tackled him, and yelled: “Enough! It is over! It is over!”

Hidden among his easels and paintings, detectives discovered tiny codebooks concealed in a bar of soap, strange chemicals, and car magazines later found to contain messages written in invisible ink. Investigators suspected Van Haarlem was not really from the Netherlands, but was a spy for the UK’s Cold War adversary, the Soviet Union.

[…]Mrs Saint, 61, who co-ordinated the local Neighbourhood Watch Scheme, said she telephoned the police in November 1987 to report strange noises and a “Morse code” interference which affected her television reception every night at 21:20.[…]

Click here to read this fascinating in0depth story on the BBC Magazine website.

“The Threat to the BBC Monitoring Service”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jonathan Marks, who shares his latest post from Medium.com:

Open Source Stupidity: The Threat to the BBC Monitoring Service

Media Network, the weekly communications magazine formerly on Radio Netherlands, is set to return as an independent podcast in 2017, resuming its analysis of international broadcasting.

The first time we visited BBC Monitoring was in August 1989. That broadcast is sitting in the Media Network Vintage Vault. During the previous lifetime of the programme (1980–2000), we worked closely with colleagues from World Broadcasting Information at BBC Monitoring. Search for contributions from Richard Measham and Chris Greenway in the vintage vault of around 450 half-hour programmes.

By way of a prequel to the new series, we asked John Fertaud, who has worked at BBC Monitoring in the past, to analyse and comment on a new UK government report about the future of the service. Here is his analysis.

Click here to read Jonathan’s full post and to listen to his Vintage Vault audio.

Will Green Bank soon become a little less radio quiet?

GreenBankTelescope(Source: BBC News via Richard Langley)

Disturbing the peace: Can America’s quietest town be saved?

There’s a town in West Virginia where there are tight restrictions on mobile signal, wifi and other parts of what most of us know as simply: modern life. It means Green Bank is a place unlike anywhere else in the world. But that could be set to change.

“Do you ever sit awake at night and wonder, what if?” I asked.

Mike Holstine’s eyes twinkled like the stars he had spent his life’s work observing.

“The universe is so huge,” he began.

“On the off chance we do get that hugely lucky signal, when we look in the right place, at the right frequency. When we get that… can you imagine what that’s going to do to humankind?”

Holstine is business manager at the Green Bank Observatory, the centrepiece of which is the colossal Green Bank Telescope. On a foggy Tuesday morning, I’m standing in the middle of it, looking up, feeling small.

Though the GBT has many research tasks, the one everyone talks about is the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence. The GBT listens out for signs of communication or activity by species that are not from Earth.

[…]Green Bank sits at the heart of the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000 square mile (33,669 sq km) area where certain types of transmissions are restricted so as not to create interference to the variety of instruments set up in the hills – as well as the Green Bank Observatory, there is also Sugar Grove, a US intelligence agency outpost.

For those in the immediate vicinity of the GBT, the rules are more strict. Your mobile phone is useless here, you will not get a TV signal and you can’t have strong wi-fi? -?though they admit this is a losing battle. Modern life is winning, gradually. And newer wi-fi standards do not interfere with the same frequencies as before.[…]

Read the full article on the BBC News website.

Additionally, if you have access to the BBC iPlayer, click here to watch the Click episode featuring Green Bank.