Tag Archives: Clandestine

Radio Erena “provides a voice for the voiceless”

(Source: Open Democracy)

Eritrean radio station Radio Erena provides a voice for the voiceless

Broadcasting from Paris, Fathi Osman’s Radio Erena challenges the government’s monopoly on truth and champions those who gave their lives for freedom of expression.

Last night turned out to mark a double-celebration for Eritrean journalist Fathi Osman. While the father-of-four nearly let his 51st birthday slip by unnoticed, he certainly couldn’t play down his radio station’s spectacular win at One World Media Awards in London’s BAFTA building.

Radio Erena (‘Our Eritrea’) broadcasts from Paris, where Fathi now lives with his wife and children, having fled the dictatorship five years ago. The station was founded in 2009 by the well-known exiled Eritrean journalist Biniam Simon, with support from Reporters Without Borders. The goal? To offer a lifeline of independent news, information and entertainment for Eritreans both in their homeland and worldwide.

As Fathi held out his hand to shake mine, he noticed his fingers were stained inky blue. “Ah, you can tell I’m a writer,” he observed with a smile. Currently Radio Erena’s Assistant Project Manager, in the past Fathi worked variously as a journalist and diplomat before he left the Eritrean embassy in Riyadh to seek safety in France. “I had developed ideas that the government did not accept,” he explained, “and you know, with these kinds of conflicts, in the end you will meet trouble.”

Fathi’s family was among more than 4,000 Eritreans who flee each month. And is it any wonder, given the UN June 2016 report that the regime has been responsible for crimes against humanity since 1991? Known globally as a predator of press freedom, President Isaias Afewerki has led Eritrea to be ranked consistently as the very lowest of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, though in 2017 the regime came second-last as North Korea deteriorated even further.

Afewerki’s purges in September 2001 ended Eritrea’s free press – by now, seven of the 11 journalists arrested at that point have died in detention. This year at least 15 journalists are believed to be detained without charge or trial. Dawit Isaak, a Swedish-Eritrean citizen who had returned to Eritrea to open Setit – the first independent newspaper there, has not once talked to a lawyer in 16 years of imprisonment. His fate is unclear.

Far from having deterred the four journalists based in Radio Erena’s newsroom (as well as their 25 or so correspondents worldwide), these appalling abuses have driven them to pour every effort into remedying the crackdown. The station broadcasts in Tigrinya and Arabic by satellite and short wave – and is available online or via a mobile phone app.

“Within the whole of Eritrea there’s only one radio station, one newspaper,” Fathi explained. “That means the ‘truth’ is dominated by the government. Radio Erena is working to counter that. We do everything, from exposing news that the government doesn’t want people to know, to hosting shows for singers and writers – and raising awareness of human rights is very important to us.”[…]

Continue reading the full article on Open Democracy’s website. 

Note: Radio Erena can be heard on 11,965 kHz between 1700-1800 UTC. They broadcast from Kostinbrod in Sofia, Bulgaria with 50 KW.

Radio South Atlantic: recording of a short-lived clandestine radio station

Crosley-Dial-BlackAndWhite

In reply to our recent post about Radio Atlantico del Sur, SWLing Post contributor, Jonathan Marks, adds:

Radio South Atlantic was a short-lived clandestine radio station started by the UK Ministry of Defence with programmes aimed at Argentine troops on the Falkland islands. This programme was broadcast from a transmitter on Ascension Island which was temporarily taken away from BBC World Service.

The Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas), also known as the Falklands Conflict, Falklands Crisis and the Guerra del Atlántico Sur (Spanish for “South Atlantic War”), was a ten-week war between Argentina and the United Kingdom over two British overseas territories in the South Atlantic: the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. It began on Friday 2 April 1982 when Argentina invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands (and, the following day, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands) in an attempt to establish the sovereignty it had long claimed over them.

On 5 April, the British government dispatched a naval task force to engage the Argentine Navy and Air Force before making an amphibious assault on the islands. The conflict lasted 74 days and ended with the Argentine surrender on 14 June 1982, returning the islands to British control. In total, 649 Argentine military personnel, 255 British military personnel and three Falkland Islanders died during the hostilities.

This is a studio copy of Radio South Atlantic. In May 1982, the British government decided to set up a Spanish language radio station targeting Argentine troops. This was probably in response to an Argentine radio station (nicknamed Argentine Annie by the UK press) which appeared on shortwave some weeks earlier using the Beatles theme “Yesterday” as a signature tune.

I was editing the Media Network programme at the time. We could hear Radio South Atlantic in Hilversum – but the signal was very weak. So I rang the British embassy in the Hague and asked if it would be possible to get a studio copy of the programme to use in a documentary feature we were making. A few days later, a courier riding a large motorbike arrived at RN’s reception and asked for me. I went down to the front-desk to sign for the tape. “But you can’t keep this tape. You can only listen to it” was the message from guy in the helmet. “I have to take it back to the Hague in about half an hour”. I said I’d look for an empty studio, gave the guy a large coffee and wandered casually round the corner. Then I made a mad dash to the fast copy-room used to make tape copies of RNW transcription programmes for other radio stations. It had a machine that could copy tapes at around 8 times faster than normal. Luckily, Jos, the guy in charge, saw my challenge, set up the machine immediately and 15 minutes later I was back in reception to return the tape to the messanger. And I had a copy.

It seems the British dropped leaflets over the Falklands to try and spread the word that this shortwave radio station existed. And we later analysed the programme. It was classic Sefton Delmer (Black Propaganda), although rather poorly presented. Bit like calling up Vera Lynne if the British had a dispute with France.

But this is one of the few surviving recordings of Radio South Atlantic. You be the judge of how effective it all was. http://jonathanmarks.libsyn.com/radio-south-atlantic-may-1992

Click here to read Jonathan’s full post about Radio South Atlantic and listen to the recording on his website.

This is an amazing recording, Jonathan.  I’ll admit that I had never heard of Radio South Atlantic before and never knew a UK-supported clandestine station was on the air during The Falklands War/Guerra de las Malvinas.

Thanks for the excellent history lesson and your own (clandestine) recording!

Update: Cold War Clandestine Radio from Greece

HalliDial

Saturday, I published a post referencing Cold War Clandestine Radio from Greece with links to Richard Cummings’ excellent website Cold War Radio Vignettes.

My post was written some time earlier and scheduled to publish Saturday while I was traveling. Unfortunately, the Cold War Radio Vignettes articles I had linked to were removed prior to Saturday.

I contacted Richard Cummings who has kindly assembled a small PDF booklet with the text from all of the posts I had referenced and is allowing me to share it here on the SWLing Post.

Richard asks that if any Post readers have information about these clandestine broadcasts and is willing to share it with him, he would me most thankful. His contact information is on the front page of the PDF.

Click here to download the PDF booklet.

Again, many thanks to Richard Cummings for making this free PDF booklet available to us!

Cold War Clandestine Radio from Greece

HalliDial

UPDATE: The links to Cold War Radio Radio Vignettes below became inactive just prior to publication. Richard Cummings has kindly assembled the texts I referenced and made a PDF booklet available for SWLing Post readers. Click here to download.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor Kim Elliott who (some time ago) shared a link to a series of posts by Richard Cummings from his website, Cold War Radio Vignettes.

Cold-War-RadioCummings is the author of Cold War Radio: The Dangerous History of American Broadcasting in Europe, 1950-1989 and Radio Free Europe’s “Crusade for Freedom” Rallying Americans Behind Cold War Broadcasting, 1950-1960.

Cumming’s blog is updated frequently and features many fascinating historical “vignettes” regarding Cold War radio broadcasting.

Kim specifically mentioned a series of posts with a focus on Cold War American broadcasting from Greece, suggesting SWLing Post readers might enjoy this bit of Cold War history. I completely agree!

Below, I’ve linked to a total of six posts Cummings published on the topic. Enjoy:

Cold War American Clandestine Radio Broadcasting over the Iron Curtain from Greece

Cold War American Clandestine Radio Broadcasting over the Iron Curtain from Greece, to Ukraine

Cold War American Clandestine Radio Broadcasting over the Iron Curtain from Greece: “Future of Romania — Voice of National Resistance”

Cold War American Clandestine Radio Broadcasting over the Iron Curtain from Greece: Nasha Rossiya (Our Russia)

Want more?

If you enjoy Cold War radio history, I strongly recommend that you bookmark Cold War Radio Vignettes. I’m placing a permanent link in our sidebar.

Thanks again for the tip, Kim!

UPDATE: It appears the posts have been removed from the Cold War Radio Vignettes site.  I will contact the owner and see if they can be re-posted.

Shortwave Radio Recordings: Radio Biafra

RadioBiafraLast week, I received a tip from SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson: Radio Biafra, a new clandestine station, was audible on 15,560 kHz via the Universite Twente Web SDR.

Despite miserable propagation conditions, I tuned my receiver to 15,560 kHz and was surprised to hear a weak signal from Radio Biafra, here in North Carolina. I recorded a few minutes before conditions changed and Biafra’s signal began to fade.

This was the first time I had logged Radio Biafra, so I was amazed to have copy clear enough to understand.

Wikipedia has a short entry for Radio Biafra:

Radio Biafra also known as Voice of Biafra, is a radio station that was originally founded by the government of the Republic of Biafra but is currently operated by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. Believed to have had its first transmission before the Nigeria-Biafra war, the radio station was instrumental in the broadcast of speeches and propaganda by Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu to the people of the Republic of Biafra.

[…]Radio Biafra currently transmits via the internet and shortwave broadcast targeted majorly around Eastern Nigeria. Radio Biafra claims to be broadcasting the ideology of Biafra –”Freedom of the Biafra people”.

[…]Radio Biafra has been met with mixed reactions. While some critics have criticized the station for “inciting war” through its programmes and “preaching hate messages” against Nigeria which it refers to as a “zoo”, an editor for Sahara Reporters wrote in defence of the radio station after he compared Radio Biafra with the British Broadcasting Corporation Hausa service.

On 14 July 2015, it was reported in the media that the radio station had been jammed because it did not have a broadcast license from the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission. However, the radio station in a swift reaction labelled such claims as “lies” and went on to release its new frequency details to the public.

To put this in perspective, the Wikipedia entry for Radio Biafra is rather new, having only been created in August, 2015.

The following recording was made using my WinRadio Excalibur hooked up to a large skyloop antenna:

This two hour recording, by Dan Robinson, was made via the Universite Twente Web SDR in the Netherlands:

Post Readers: Have you logged Radio Biafra in your part of the world?