South Sudan: Eye Radio reaches new audience via shortwave

EyeRadio

You might recall a post from Robert Gulley earlier this week about Eye Radio. Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Andrea Borgnino who shares a link to the following article from the BBC about Eye Radio’s broadcasts over shortwave:

(Source: BBC)

A radio station in South Sudan is using older, but tried and tested technology to reach new audiences.

Radio is a crucial medium in South Sudan, where illiteracy is high and many areas lack an electricity supply.

But many people living in remote villages are out of range of existing FM and mediumwave (AM) broadcasts.

Huge distances

To reach these potential listeners, Eye Radio, which is based in the capital Juba and can be heard in regional capitals, has just started broadcasting on shortwave.

The new service covers “the whole of South Sudan, including remote areas in which communities are not able to access FM radio”, says Eye Media head Stephen Omiri.

[…]The station is thought to be renting airtime on a transmitter based outside South Sudan.

Funding for the shortwave service comes from USAID, the international development arm of the US government.

[…]Eye Radio broadcasts in English, standard Arabic, and local languages Dinka, Nuer, Juba Arabic, Bari, Shilluk, Zande and Moro.

The shortwave broadcasts are on the air from 7-8 a.m. local time on 11730 kHz, and 7-8 p.m. on 17730 kHz.

Another station using shortwave to reach South Sudan is Radio Tamazuj, which is based in the Netherlands.

Click here to read the full article at the BBC Monitoring website.

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.

Radio 4 Doc: Learning to Listen

Atwater-Kent-DialLooking back through my notes this morning, I re-discovered this excellent documentary on the early days of radio listening; how radio changed the way we interacted with music and how we interacted with our radios.

(Source: BBC Radio 4)

As broadcasting took the world by storm in the 1920s, the radio quickly became the hub of many households. Entire families would huddle around their receiver, each person individually connected with their own headset.

But for this first generation of radio listeners, the flexible styles of listening that we habitually employ today were by no means innate – many sat silent and fully attentive, listening just as they would in a concert hall.

Historian Dominic Sandbrook charts how a new, more informal style of listening gradually evolved through the 1920s and 30s, by delving into the diaries of the Austrian musician Heinrich Schenker.

Schenker began to record what he heard on the radio within days of the inaugural broadcast from Austria’s first official station, Radio Wien. This rare and fascinating record, which spans just over a decade, offers tangible evidence of how new approaches to listening emerged over these formative years. We’ll follow Schenker’s journey as the radio shifts from being something that demanded his rapt attention, to eventually becoming an integrated part of his domestic life.

Click here to listen to the full documentary on Radio 4.

BBC: Raspberry Pi-powered transmitters broadcast Syrian radio

BBC-FM-Transmitter-SyriaMany thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who shares the following:

Latest item, which provides more information, on this previously mentioned news story:

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-35690688

Here’s an excerpt:

Raspberry Pi computers are being used to power “micro” radio transmitters in Syria.
The Pocket FMs, as they are called, were designed by a German organisation as a way of providing Syrians with independent radio.

The devices have a range of between 4 to 6km (2.5 to 3.75 miles), which is enough to cover an entire town.

At the heart of each is a Raspberry Pi, the credit card-sized single-board computers.
About two dozen have been built, and the designer says they are intended to be as easy to set up as a piece of flat-pack furniture.

“We lost one device in Kobane”, Philipp Hochleichter told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme.

“But due to the bombing – not due to a malfunction.”[…]

Continue reading on the BBC website…

The Raspberry Pi is an amazing little computer; capable of so much at such a low cost. I just purchased a Raspberry Pi 3 yesterday; hoping I can think of a clever way to use it for a little radio fun..

Paul receives report confirmation from BBC test transmission

SX-99-Dial-Nar

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Paul Walker, who writes:

Remember the “transmission tests” from Babcock and Wooferton last summer? I finally got an email QSL…

My original email is first along with an audio sample of what I heard….

Original message sent on Tuesday, August 11, 2015:

I wanted to send you a reception report after hearing your broadcast.

“This Is A Test Transmission” on 15745khz heard at 1655UTC/11:55am Central today (08/10/2015) in Beaumont, Texas (far southeast corner of the state). This is 4 1/2 minutes, recorded until abrupt sign off in mid song.

I used a Sangean ATS909X with a PK’s Loop 6-18mhz tuneable Shortwave loop. The loop can be tuned to a certain frequency with a dial and can be rotated.

Tuning the loop to your exact frequency and orienting it in your general direction resulted in a pretty decent signal with good audio. The signal was about a 5 out of 10 with some fading, but generally pretty steady.

A link to the 4 1/2 minute audio clip is here:

Do you offer QSL’s? I would very much appreciate a QSL card or letter via regular mail if that is possible.

Warmest Regards,
Paul Walker

Fast forward to yesterday (Wednesday, January 27, 2016):

Thank you for your report and I confirm the details are correct. These transmissions were to fault-find on a 300 kW sender at the UK HF transmitter station at Woofferton.

The engineers needed a long test time as the fault was of an intermittent nature.

Babcock, Woofferton is the only remaining UK HF sender broadcast station and also is the only one with this transmission test audio and email address.

The audio is contained in a file playout system and incorporates non-copyright music and voice announcements from one of the employees at the transmitter site.

Thanks for your interest.

73

Dave G4OYX,

(Retired) Senior Transmitter Engineer Woofferton 1982-2012.

Very cool, Paul! And many thanks to Dave Porter for supplying Paul’s confirmation!

If you haven’t already, I would highly recommend Dave Porter’s video presentation of Woofferton on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/user/wooffertonuk) and this history of WOF (http://www.bbceng.info/Technical%20Reviews/technical_reviews.htm).

Download the 1923 “first Wireless Christmas” edition of The Radio Times

RadioTimes1923

(Source: BBC Genome Blog via Mike Barraclough)

The much-loved Christmas edition of the Radio Times made its first appearance in 1923. 

It was all very different to today’s multi-channel, on-demand world. There was only radio, and London station 2LO had a meagre five-and-a-half hours of programmes on Christmas Day.

But to some extent, the first Christmas issue set many traditions which have prevailed for decades in various guises. The cover was a warm splash of colour and very festive in tone, while the publication’s austere masthead was festooned with snow and holly.

John Reith, who went on to become the BBC’s first director general, was given the first page to deliver a message to listeners, in which he deliberated the meaning of Christmas and then inevitably talked about the joy of broadcasting and the “first Wireless Christmas”.

“The loud speaker is such a convenient entertainer,” he wrote. “He doesn’t feel hurt if a cracker is pulled in the middle of a song, or offended if the fun grows riotous during his performance”.

While Reith was keen to talk up the virtues of broadcasting, the magazine was packed with adverts for radio sets and cartoons about the joys of consuming radio programmes.

But Christmas is all about giving, and we’d like to offer you the chance to download the first Christmas issue. It’s a fascinating document and we hope you will enjoy it. Happy Christmas fromBBC Genome!

Download a PDF version of the 1923 Christmas Radio Times by clicking on this link

BBC World Service receives funding increase

BBC-AT-WAR(Source: BBC Media Centre via Jonathan Marks)

Statement on newly announced Government funding of the World Service

Tony Hall, the Director-General of the BBC, said:
“I warmly welcome today’s announcement. It’s fantastic news.

“This new funding is the single biggest increase in the World Service budget ever committed by any government.

“The millions announced today will help the BBC deliver on our commitment to uphold global democracy through accurate, impartial and independent news reporting.

“The World Service is one of the UK’s most important cultural exports and one of our best sources of global influence. We can now further build on that. The funding will also help speed us on to our target of reaching half a billion people globally.”

  • Enhanced TV services for Africa
  • New radio services for audiences in North Korea; radio and digital services for Ethiopia and Eritrea
  • Additional language offers via digital and TV in India and Nigeria
  • More regionalised content to better serve audiences to the BBC Arabic Service
  • Dedicated TV output for Somalia and a fully digital service for Thailand
  • Enhanced digital and TV services for Russian speakers, both in Russia and surrounding communities
  • A video-led digital transformation of Languages services
  • To expand the impact and future-proof World Service English