Tag Archives: CRI

Radio World: The evolution of shortwave radio


Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who shares the following article by James Careless in Radio World Magazine.

The article includes interviews with Andy Sennitt, Kim Andrew Elliott, Nigel Fry,  and even yours truly. The following is a short excerpt taken from the introduction of the article:

(Source: Radio World)

OTTAWA, Ontario — With the advent of radio in the 20th century, the shortwave band (1710–30,000 kHz) soon became a hotbed of long-distance radio broadcasting. Used primarily by state-run international broadcasters, plus ham radio operators and ship-to-shore radio communications, the shortwave band was prized due to its astoundingly broad reach.

That reach was — and is still — made possible by the tendency of ground-based shortwave radio transmissions to bounce off the ionosphere and back to earth; allowing shortwave broadcasts to “hop” repeatedly, increasing a broadcast’s range while minimizing its decay.

[…]At the height of the Cold War, the shortwave bands were packed with content as the Voice of America and West Germany’s Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany) traded ideological punches with Radio Moscow and East Germany’s Radio Berlin International. This is because analog shortwave radio broadcasting was the only way for both sides to make their political cases cross international borders: There was no satellite TV, let alone any internet.

Read the full, in-depth article on the Radio World website…

This article is well worth reading and one of the more in-depth pieces I’ve seen in a trade publication or news site recently.

I should add that I completely agree with James Careless’ conclusion:

“[T]he research that went into this article suggests that the shortwave band is sufficiently alive to be still evolving.”

The fact is, the shortwave landscape is not what used to be in the Cold War. Many of those big voices have left the scene and, in the process, left the door open to others.

The shortwaves are a dynamic communications space that continues to evolve.

That’s why I keep listening.

Want to read more about the future of shortwave radio? Click here to read Does Shortwave Radio Have a Future?

Bad Signals: Transmitters in need of care

China Radio International via Radio Havana Cuba

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Each morning, I enjoy listening to Radio Australia on 9,580 kHz, but I’m forced to tune elsewhere due to interference when China Radio International starts broadcasting on 9,570 kHz, via Radio Havana Cuba’s relay.

Hypothetically I should be able to mitigate any adjacent interference from CRI by listening to Radio Australia’s upper sideband. But unfortunately, RHC’s transmitters spew spurious emissions a full 20 kHz on either side of their carrier. It’s most annoying.

Here’s what RHC/CRI’s 9570 kHz signal sounds like on 9560 kHz:

Here’s what my waterfall looked like when CRI signed off:

CRI-Spectrum-2Notice how clear the 35 kHz waterfall window became (that’s Radio Australia centered on 9850 kHz):CRI-SignOff

The reason for this is clear: obviously, some of RHC’s transmitters are in need of care–and they’re not the only ones.

Radio Cairo

I’ve received a number of requests from Radio Cairo to post notices about their English language broadcasts. Normally, I’m quite happy to post press releases, but in each case I’ve mentioned that their English broadcasts are almost impossible to understand. For years, RC has had a problem with AM modulation (I assume) and, to my knowledge, have never addressed it.

I’ve sent RC feedback on a number of occasions; in response, I’ve received only the inconclusive reply that they’re “looking into the situation.”

To underscore the point, on Sunday Andrea Borgnino shared the following video/audio of Radio Cairo via Twitter.

There are other broadcasters that emit messy signals, but Radio Havana Cuba and Radio Cairo are the most noticeable in my listening area. And, it seems, neither broadcaster is in any hurry to address their ongoing problems.

In Radio Cairo’s case, especially, the broadcaster is simply wasting money by attempting to broadcast a signal that can neither be received nor interpreted. It’s rather sad. Ultimately, one has to wonder why they bother to broadcast at all…

Radio Havana Cuba, China Radio International,  and Radio Cairo (among others) take note: a little care of your radio transmitters will go a long way toward increasing your listenership. 

What you can do:  Consider contacting broadcasters when when you become aware of transmitter problems. Despite RC’s notable exception, oftentimes a broadcaster may not be fully aware of the issue––thus your feedback is necessary to help correct the problem.

China Radio International’s overwhelming AM bandwidth via Havana


This morning, I listened to Radio Australia on 9,580 kHz with my WWII era Scott Marine Radio SLR-M (above).

Radio Australia provides a reliable, strong signal into North America every morning and it’s where I typically tune for the morning news at the top of the hour.

China Radio International also fires up on the adjacent frequency of 9570 kHz around 1200 UTC–their signal is also incredibly strong here as it’s relayed from Radio Havana Cuba at 250 kW. CRI’s bandwidth is almost always wider than 10 kHz–indeed, it’s often 20 kHz–which means that it completely wipes out any average adjacent signal.

Indeed, when I’m testing selectivity on portable shortwave radios, I’ll often tune to Radio Australia and wait for CRI to fire up on 9570 kHz. If the portable radio can still lock onto Radio Australia after CRI is on the air–or, better yet, if an upper side band sync lock can eliminate all traces of CRI–I know the receiver has decent selectivity.

This morning, when CRI began transmitting at 1200 UTC, their signal completely wiped out every trace of Radio Australia. Though the SLR-M’s narrow AM filter is still quite wide, it can typically cope with the adjacent CRI carrier.

I fired up the TitanSDR to see what CRI’s signal looked like on a spectrum display–here’s what I found:


CRI’s AM bandwidth was 30+ kHz wide! 

In my book, that was an abusive use of the band.

This was, by no means, an isolated event. It was just particularly annoying for me this morning as I was enjoying a good cup of coffee and the morning ABC news.

I’ll send a message to CRI and RHC about this, but I have my doubts anyone will take action.

Okay–sorry about the rant!

Reuters: FCC and Justice Department investigate Chinese radio network


Wow–seems the FCC and Justice Department took notice of Reuters’ CRI investigation reported earlier:

(Source: Reuters via Mike Terry)

The Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department are investigating a California firm whose U.S. radio broadcasts are backed by a subsidiary of the Chinese government, officials said.

Both investigations come in response to a Reuters report published on Monday that revealed the existence of the covert radio network, which broadcasts in more than a dozen American cities, including Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, Houston and San Francisco. (reut.rs/1Wrflt4)

“Based on reports, the FCC will initiate an inquiry into the facts surrounding the foreign ownership issues raised in the stories, including whether the Commission’s statutory foreign ownership rules have been violated,” FCC spokesman Neil Grace said.

The California firm is owned by James Su, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Shanghai. Reuters reported Monday that Su’s company, G&E Studio Inc, is 60 percent owned by a subsidiary of Chinese state-run radio broadcaster China Radio International (CRI).

The FCC doesn’t restrict content on U.S. radio stations, except for rules covering indecency, political advertising and children’s programming.

But under U.S. law, the FCC prohibits foreign governments or their representatives from holding a radio license for a U.S. broadcast station. Foreign individuals, governments and corporations are permitted to hold up to 20 percent ownership directly in a station and up to 25 percent in the U.S. parent corporation of a station.

G&E does not own any U.S. stations, but it leases two 50,000-watt stations: WCRW in Washington for more than $720,000 a year, and WNWR in Philadelphia for more than $600,000 a year.

Through a different set of limited liability companies, Su owns, co-owns or leases virtually all the air time on at least a dozen other U.S. stations. Those stations carry G&E content, which is produced largely by his West Covina, California studios or by state-run CRI in Beijing….

Read the full article at Reuters…

Reuters: How China exerts soft power through a global radio network


Many thanks to several SWLing Post readers for sharing a link to the following investigative story from Reuters. I’ve included an excerpt below–you can read the full article, and watch a video at Reuters online.

(Source: Reuters)

In August, foreign ministers from 10 nations blasted China for building artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea. As media around the world covered the diplomatic clash, a radio station that serves the most powerful city in America had a distinctive take on the news.

Located outside Washington, D.C., WCRW radio made no mention of China’s provocative island project. Instead, an analyst explained that tensions in the region were due to unnamed “external forces” trying “to insert themselves into this part of the world using false claims.”

Behind WCRW’s coverage is a fact that’s never broadcast: The Chinese government controls much of what airs on the station, which can be heard on Capitol Hill and at the White House.

[…]A typical hour on most stations begins with a short newscast that can toggle between China news and stories about violent crimes in the United States. Besides the overtly political coverage, topics range from global currency fluctuations and Chinese trade missions to celebrity wardrobe analysis and modern parenting challenges.

[G&E president and CEO James Su] declined to describe how he makes money when most of the U.S. stations air virtually no commercials. He also declined to say how he got the money to finance his radio leases and acquisitions.

His stations, Su said, offer the American public an alternative viewpoint on Chinese culture and politics. He has “no way to control” what CRI broadcasts on the stations, he said, nor is he part of any plan to spread Chinese propaganda.

“We are only telling the unfiltered real news to our audience,” he said.

On Oct. 29, WCRW carried a program called “The Hourly News.” Among the top stories: Senior Chinese and U.S. naval commanders planned to speak by video after a U.S. Navy ship passed close by China’s new artificial islands in the South China Sea.

Washington and its allies see the island-building program as a ploy to grab control of strategic sea lanes, and the Navy sail-by was meant to counter China’s territorial claims.

WCRW omitted that side of the story.

The admirals are holding the talks, the announcer said, “amid the tension the U.S. created this week.”

Read the full article at Reuters online…