Tag Archives: MW

AM radio proposal has Class A broadcasters upset

WHKY-AM-Radio-Tower(Source: Times Union)

When the sun goes down, AM radio signals travel much farther. You can listen to 50,000-watt stations such as WGY hundreds of miles away.

But that could soon change, if the Federal Communications Commission goes through with a plan to let more local stations broadcast through the evening hours and potentially makes changes in the daytime signal of WGY and other powerful stations.

The proposed change in protections to Class A stations such as WGY would ease restrictions on the smaller stations, which are now required to reduce power or change the direction they broadcast their signal so they don’t conflict with the more powerful Class A stations.

WGY has begun an online petition drive to oppose the changes.

Called “Save AM Radio,” the petition opposes reducing WGY’s so-called “protected service area.”

The changes, WGY says, “will make it very difficult for many of our listeners to receive our programming, especially at night and during morning and evening drive times.”

[…]The FCC, meanwhile, says the changes are being considered in an effort “to help revitalize the AM service.”

More local stations would give listeners a wider choice of programming, supporters of the change argue.

[…]WGY’s online petition is at http://www.wgy.com/features/save-am-radio-1919/
The FCC is accepting comments through March 21 and replies through April 18, at www.fcc/ecfs. Click on “submit a filing.” The proceeding number is 13-249.

Read the full article at the Times Union online…

I’m very curious what Post readers think about this proposal from the perspective of both access to regional information, as well as from MW DXing. Will this move crowd the AM broadcast band or give local stations a stronger voice?

Ultralight shortwave radios now tagged in the Shortwave Radio Index (SWRI)

The Tecsun PL-380 is an "ultralight" that has exceptional shortwave sensitivity and selectivity.

I have gone through the SWRI and tagged all portable shortwave radios that are considered “ultralights” by the ultralight “Definitions Committee.” Note that “ultralight dxing” is primarily a Mediumwave hobby, but you will find that many of the best performing ultralights are also capable, if not best-in-class shortwave receivers.

What are the attributes/guidelines for a radio to be considered an “ultralight”? Per the definitions committee:

  1. It is a simple shirt pocket-sized radio of not more than approximately 20 cubic inches.
  2. It is an entertainment-grade radio, as opposed to enthusiast’s radio. As such, it will usually not have AM synchronous detection, SSB clarification or other specialized features.
  3. It is readily available to the hobby in new or used markets at the time of its approval.
  4. It costs no more than $100 retail at the time of approval.
  5. It is primarily a radio. While it may have other features as well (MP3 recorder, etc.), the design and function should have radio reception as its focus.
  6. It is not a “novelty radio” such as Coca Cola Can radio, Mr. Potato Head, etc.
Each radio is individually approved before it is considered an ultralight.

The Tecsun PL-310, PL-380 and C.Crane CCRadio-SWP are three shortwave ultralights that I regularly use and are considered fine examples of ultralights.

Want to know more about ultralight dxing? Check out these resources:

CNN reports on new Voice of Russia studios in DC

Many long-time shortwave listeners may find it ironic that the likes of Voice of Russia now broadcasts from a studio in downtown Washington DC. I just read this news article posted on CNN about VOR’s new presence:

Jordan Hostetter doesn’t know it, but he’s a target. He’s a young professional living in Washington, curious about international events and listens to the radio while driving to work — just the kind of person Voice of Russia radio is trying to reach.

Changing American hearts and minds about Russia has been Voice of Russia’s mission since it first went on the air in 1929, broadcasting from Moscow via short-wave radio. It still does use short wave but with the Internet, Facebook and Twitter, that seems like a blast from the past.

It goes on to mention how, long-time rival, Voice of America has gone totally digital. Not totally true, in fact, but VOA is putting a major effort into moving off of the shortwave bands. As we mentioned previously, in their shortwave sunset plans, the BBG plans to keep shortwave alive in parts of the world where free speech is suppressed and where shortwave is the only option. They will, most likely, rent broadcasting time from other providers and shut down VOA-run facilities.

What was notable in this CNN article was a tidbit about a VOA attempt to do what their Russian counterpart is doing:

VOA says it tried to get a license to […] broadcast on local Russian radio in Russian to Russians. But Elez Biberaj, VOA’s Eurasia division director, says it was prevented from affiliating with Russian radio and television stations “because of threats and because of the pressure that the government brings on license holders.”

So, I guess, VOA will take on this objective with a web presence?

No doubt, our international broadcasting field is changing. I believe we’ll see more broadcasters following VOR and CRI’s local vector. Perhaps, in fact, this is just what our AM band needs.

China Radio International now on your local AM station

As local AM broadcast (a.k.a. mediumwave) stations around the world struggle to find their local niche, a new global angle may be taking shape. Much like the proliferation of political talk shows in the late 80’s which began to give the AM spectrum  its identity (at least here in the USA) could the AM broadcast band now be a local vector for international communities?

I found this article and story from NPR member station, WBUR in Boston. It features WILD-AM who has traditionally served the African American community in Boston. Their newest offering, however, is coming from thousands of miles away–from China:

1090 WILD-AM was the scrappy little engine that could. A small-budget radio station with big ideas with over 40 years on air, it earned a trusted place in the heart and soul of Boston’s inner city community. But now that’s all gone. The station serves a very different audience.

[…]As of June 1, China Radio International is the new sound of WILD. The station is targeting “new Americans.”

[…]One of the reasons WILD is no longer on the air is that the marketplace has changed — the competition is greater. What’s happened to WILD is not surprising to media observers like WBUR media analyst John Carroll.

“I think it’s a reflection of what’s happening in the radio market overall, a movement toward consolidation, a movement toward nationalization or internationalization, a movement away from local community presence on radio stations and more toward major conglomerates, which are much less expensive to operate,” Carroll said. “One of the issues is can anyone make the FCC care about this?”

Read and listen to this full story at WBUR’s website.

Also, consider reading commentary from Boston Radio Watch.