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The mothballed Shepparton shortwave broadcast station could be coming back online.
South Australian senator Nick Xenophon will introduce legislation to parliament this week to force the ABC to bring back domestic and international shortwave broadcasts.
The broadcasts were shut down last week, after decades of the shortwave signals being listened to by people from across the pacific region and around the world.
A spokesperson for Mr Xenophon said a bill would be introduced sometime this week to bring back the domestic shortwave broadcasts in the Northern Territory, as well as the international Radio Australia broadcasts, which were beamed to the world from Shepparton.[…]
This morning, I woke up, tuned to 9,580 kHz and all I heard was static.
Other than when the Shepparton transmitting station has been silenced for maintenance in the past, 9,580 kHz is one of the most reliable frequencies I’ve ever know on shortwave. Radio Australia has met me there every morning I’ve listened since I was eight years old.
I feel like I’ve lost a dear friend and certainly a staple source of news on shortwave radio. I know I’m not alone–a number of readers have shared similar sentiments this morning.
Archiving Radio Australia’s final days on the air
Listening to Radio Australia on 12,065 kHz with the Titan SDR Pro.
Since the beginning of the year, a few of us have been making a concerted effort to thoroughly archive Radio Australia’s final days on the air. Mark Fahey, London Shortwave, Richard Langley, Rob Wagner and I (to name a few) have been making both audio and/or spectrum recordings.
At 0100 UTC on January 31, 2017, we heard the “Waltzing Matilda” interval signal for one last time. As I understand it, the crew at the Shepparton site left the transmitter on a few extra seconds extra so their famous interval signal would be, in essence, the final sign-off.
Due to propagation and the time of day when the shut down happened, I was unable to make a recording, so I’m pleased others could.
Mark compares shortwave and satellite feeds
Mark Fahey’s Wellbrook Mag Loop antenna.
I’m grateful to friend and contributor, Mark Fahey, who lives near Sydney, Australia, and was also able to record the final moments of Radio Australia as well. Mark recorded the shortwave service and RA satellite feed simultaneously.
Mark shares the following recordings and notes:
This is RA’s final few minutes on shortwave – it was recorded on 17840kHz.
The file picks up the regular program ending, then into a Promo for RA “Pacific Beat” (a Pacific current affairs program), then the classic RA Interval Signal then the transmitter clicks off and the void is heard.
The file starts at exactly the same time as the first file, but in this example we are monitoring the Network Feed from Intelsat 18 at 180.0 degrees east (above the equator right on the international date line). This satellite feed is the way Radio Australia gets to the network of FM Transmitters they have scatted around the Pacific Region (which is why they feel they don’t need shortwave anymore for – most populated areas of Radio Australia’s target area now is covered by a network of Radio Australia FM transmitters).
Some differences to the first file – Radio Australia is produced in FM quality stereo, though of course DXers only ever heard it in shortwave quality mono. So this network feed is in stereo and has a wider dynamic range that what DXer’s are familiar with from Radio Australia. At the end of the Pacific Beat Promo, Radio Australia goes straight into News, the closing of the shortwave service was not an event that would have been noticed for the typical listeners of RA who now listen via FM in Pacific capitals and major towns.
Thank you Mark for your comparison–I’ve never heard RA so clearly. Only you would’ve thought to simultaneously record the satellite feed! It gives the moment that much more context.
A number of SWLing Post contributors have been sharing recordings this morning. I will plan to collect these and put them on the Shortwave Archive in the near future.
Today I listened to Radio Australia for the very last time. 15240 kHz and 15415 kHz were plagued with local noise and not especially strong signals. So 17840 kHz was the best option for my final moments with this grand old shortwave broadcaster. Mount Evelyn is about 200 km south of the Shepparton transmitter site – not far enough for proper F layer reflection and off the side of the beam, so the signal was a bit scratchy. But I was there for the end and that’s the important thing!
Thank you to all the SWLing readers who have been so kind in their comments about our national broadcaster. I know RA meant much to so many people around the globe. But I’ll have more to say on this in the near future. Thanks to Thomas for helping to promote the Save Radio Australia cause. The fight is not over yet!
Here are the last two minutes of the broadcast today, including the audible switch-off click and a few parting comments from me.
Listening to Radio Australia on 12,065 kHz with the TitanSDR Pro.
As I write this post, I’m listening to Radio Australia on 9,580 and 12,065 kHz. Other than the sports reports and weather, world news is chock-full of stories–many of which are quite sad.
This will likely be the last morning I listen to Radio Australia on shortwave.
SWLing Post contributor, Phill Brennan–who has done a fine job keeping us up-to-date with RA developments–shares the following message:
On the local ABC news tonight it was mentioned that the NT transmitters were going to be shut down at midday local time or 0230 UTC on 31 January. I cannot confirm this, but it may be useful to alert listeners who wish to hear the end of the broadcast. I have no information on RA’s shutdown but it may be the same.
Apparently there will be a gathering at the Katherine transmitter by local listeners tomorrow to mark the end of the broadcasts.
Political pressure continues. A South Australian Senator (Xenophon) is going to introduce a private members bill into the Australian Parliament which will mandate that the ABC must provide a SW service to the NT. I don’t think I would back this in succeeding, but it’s worth a try.
The whole exercise has been a public relations disaster for the ABC as it has been a major news story nationally for weeks now. Not enough damage to change the ABC management’s mind on the matter though.
Thank you for the update, Phil, and for following this story as it developed.
Again, if I understand correctly, for those of us in North America, today is the final day we’ll hear Radio Australia on shortwave (9,580, 12,065 and 12,085 kHz).
I feel I should mention that I did receive a tip that the shut for some of the Radio Australia shortwave services might be as early as 11:00AM Tuesday local time Shepparton (00:00 UTC).