Spectres of Shortwave: near completion

SackvilleCurtainAntennas

I took this photo of the RCI Sackville curtain antennas in June, 2012. (Photo: Thomas)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who shares this CBC New Brunswick article about Amanda Dawn Christie’s film, Spectres of Shortwave:

(Source: CBC)

Amanda Dawn Christie launching documentary about demise of RCI towers

Documentary ‘Spectres of Shortwave’ to be finished in time for possible premiere at Toronto’s Hot Docs

Moncton artist Amanda Dawn Christie says after six years, her documentary Spectres of Shortwave, about the demise of the Radio-Canada International towers in Sackville, is nearly complete.

“A project like this is very hard,” Christie said in an interview on Information Morning Moncton. “When I went into this project they weren’t supposed to be tearing the towers down.”

After budget cuts in 2012, CBC announced the shortwave service would end after 67 years of broadcasting around the world.

Christie calls that decision a loss for the international community.

“Shortwave communication is something that will always get through. Even though technology advances and people rely on the internet — not everyone can afford a computer or digital receiver … Canada was known for more objective, non-biased broadcasting.”

Continue reading on the CBC New Brunswick website…

1989 RCI Christmas Special: a studio recording

UK-DXer-RCI-QSLMany thanks to Colin Newell who writes:

Over on the DXer.ca homepage I have a 32kbps MP3 recording on a CBC RCI broadcast that has not been heard since December 1989! A 1 hour program from the Reel-Reel master that Ian McFarland owns.

Head on over – download for free –

And Merry Christmas!

What a great early Christmas gift for those of us who miss the Ian McFarland days of RCI.  Thank you, Colin!

Click here to visit DXer.ca.

Tom’s 1981 off-air recording of RCI’s Shortwave Listener’s Digest hosted by Ian McFarland

I snapped a photo of this propagation poster in RCI's Sackville, NB transmitter site only months befor ethe site was closed.

A propagation poster in the foyer of RCI’s Sackville, NB, transmitter site only months before the site was closed. (Photo: Thomas Witherspoon) 

Tom Laskowski, has been generously contributing a number of off-air shortwave radio recordings to the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive (SRAA).

Recently, he shared a series I’m sure many of you remember. Tom writes:

My first contribution of many recordings I have of Radio Canada International’s Shortwave Listener’s Digest hosted by Ian McFarland.”

“The first 12 1/2 minutes is Bonsoir Africa. The recording was made using a cheap GE portable. The audio quality isn’t great but it’s still very nostalgic listening to a program I recorded 34 years ago.”

This brings back many memories of one of my favorite shortwave programs–thank you, Tom!

The audio quality actually reminds me of one of my first analog portables, Tom! Nostalgia at its best.

Check out all Tom’s SRAA contributions by clicking here. While you’re at it, bookmark the SRAA!

Shortwave Radio Recordings: RCI, BBC, VOA circa 1979 & 1981

HalliDial

Many thanks to SRAA contributor, Tom Laskowski, who shares the following recording and notes:

A few snippets from my old shortwave tapes that were too short to upload individually. These were made using a GE portable multi band that had poor selectivity, hence the annoying ute during the BBC clip.

Times of individual clips are:

  • 00:00 – 01:59: 1979, July 19 – RCI, frequency announcements in English and french.
  • 01:59 – 09:51: 1979, July 20 – BBC, newscast, bothered by an annoying utility station.
  • 09:51 – 11:38: 1981, August 28 – VOA, science news item about Voyager 2
  • 11:38 – 14:52: 1981, August 29 – VOA, science news item about Voyager 2

Click here to download the recording as an MP3, or simply listen via the embedded player below:

Radio Cook Islands: Guy’s 1993 recordings

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Guy Atkins, for the following guest post:


Radio Cook Islands

by Guy Atkins

(Photo: Guy Atkins)

A view from the driveway entrance to the Radio Cook Islands studio in 1993. Insulators on an antenna (T2FD or multiband dipole) can be seen as dark spots against the cloudy sky. A feedline is also seen rising above the left side of the building. (Photo: Guy Atkins)

(Photo: Universal Radio)

(Photo: Universal Radio)

In 1993 I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Rarotonga with my wife, courtesy of a nice award through my company which afforded me an all-expenses-paid trip anywhere we’d like to go.

I chose the South Pacific island of Rarotonga, partly because I wanted to visit Radio Cook Islands after listening to their “island music” on 11760 and 15170 kHz through my teenage years.

During our visit to the island I recorded 90+ minutes of RCI on 630 kHz with a local quality signal using a Grundig Satellit 500 and a Marantz PMD-221 recorder.

Recordings

The programming of Radio Cook Islands is bilingual, and announcers are fluent in both English and Cook Islands Maori. Music selections on RCI encompass all styles, to appeal to many age groups. These recordings was scheduled to include as much local music as possible.

RCI programming includes all the hallmarks of a small, non-professional station: stuck records & tape carts, dead air, poor modulation, and other miscues.

However, that’s part of the flavor of local radio, and these errors are heard throughout this recording. Particularly noticeable is the bassy, over-modulation of the studio announcer during sign-on announcements.

Recording 1

Notes: National anthem & hymn; sign-on announcements & music.
Music; weather; sign-off announcements & national anthem.
Local & regional news; weather; ads; music.

Recording 2

Notes: “Party Time” music request show; weather; local ads; more music.

Two engineers from Radio Cook Islands, photographed during my visit in April, 1993. (Photo: Guy Atkins)

Two engineers from Radio Cook Islands, photographed during my visit in April, 1993. (Photo: Guy Atkins)

Sadly, RCI will likely never be on shortwave again; a fire in the local tele-comm building a few months before my 1993 visit destroyed RCI’s transmitter. I had an amusing exchange with the secretary when I visited; she insisted that their station was still on shortwave. Of COURSE we’re on the air she said, because “the frequencies are published right here in the newspaper!” The engineer and announcer confirmed, though, that the silence on their former frequencies was for real. They indicated they were covering the outer islands just fine with FM translators and had no intention of restarting shortwave.

Radio Cook Islands 630 kHz antenna on the school ground of Takitumu Primary School.

Radio Cook Islands 630 kHz antenna on the school ground of Takitumu Primary School.

RCI’s headquarters is in downtown Avarua, and their 5 kw transmitter (reported at half power, 2.5 kw in Dec. 2012) and modern quarter-wavelength vertical antenna is located in the town of Matavera (northeast side of Rarotonga).

Bing.com maps view of Radio Cook Islands antenna, 630 kHz at Takitumu Primary School, Matavera.

Bing.com maps view of Radio Cook Islands antenna, 630 kHz at Takitumu Primary School, Matavera.

The antenna is in the yard of Takitumu primary school; see photos from Bing Maps and Panaromio [above].

It sure brings back a flood of good memories when I listen to these MP3s! I’d love to visit the Cooks again sometime.


Many thanks for this wonderful stroll down memory lane, Guy–radio nostalgia at its best!

I, too, would love to visit the Cook Islands someday–it is on my bucket list. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy your recordings. Again, many thanks for your guest post!

Richard’s CBC Radio-Canada QSL and interview with RCI

radio_canada1

Many thanks to SWLing Post and SRAA contributor, Richard Langley, who writes:

“[C]oncerning the RCI anniversary, attached are scans of a QSL card from the CBC International Service for reception on 20 April 1964 when I was in high school. That was on the Knight-Kit Span Master regenerative receiver I had built the previous Christmas.”

radio_canada2 (1)

“About 50 years later (in 2012, actually), I did an interview with RCI’s Victor Nerenberg on GPS and the ionosphere, which appeared on the RCI program “The Link.”

It’s still on their website:
http://www.rcinet.ca/english/archives/program/the-link/home/date/27-01-2012/
(about 15 minutes in)
and
http://www.rcinet.ca/english/archives/program/the-link/archives/episode/09-10_2012-01-30-the-link-friday-january-27-2012/

The RCI site also is featuring some information related to the 70th anniversary:
www.rcinet.ca/rci70-en/

And, lastly, there’s also some interesting stuff in the CBC’s Digital Archives under
http://www.cbc.ca/archives/categories/arts-entertainment/media/radio-canada-international-canadas-voice-to-the-world/broadcasting-to-the-world.html
There was also an episode of the CBC Rewind archives program on RCI:
http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/Rewind/2011/ID/2167995222/

Many thanks, Richard! I wish I understood the ionosphere as well as you do–that was a fascinating interview. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Gorgeous QSL card, by the way!

Remembering Radio Canada International’s final shortwave broadcast

The transmitter building of Radio Canada International, Sackville, NB.

The transmitter building of Radio Canada International, Sackville, NB.

I spent the summer of 2012 in an off-grid cabin on the eastern coast of Prince Edward Island, Canada. That summer, I listened as two of my favorite shortwave broadcasters left the air within weeks of each other: Radio Netherlands Worldwide and Radio Canada International.

I was able to not only listen to the final broadcasts of Radio Netherlands, but also record them. I wrote a post about that memorable experience.

Ironically, though I was only a geographic stone’s-throw from the RCI Sackville transmitter site, I struggled to hear any Sackville signals as my location was too close for skywave propagation and a little too far for ground wave. Though I paid a visit to the transmitter site only two days prior, I was unable to hear or record RCI’s final broadcast.

Unlike RNW’s final broadcasts, RCI’s ended without fanfare and quite abruptly. This week, I heard a recording of that final RCI broadcast for the first time. My friend, Rajdeep Das, recorded it on June 24, 2012 in Kolkata, India. Rajdeep has kindly shared his recording with the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive and here on the SWLing Post.

This is a short 10 minute recording, beginning at 1550 UTC, June 24, 2012 on 11,675 kHz. Listeners will note that the broadcast ends abruptly during the mailbag program–obviously the Sackville transmitters were turned off prematurely.

Click here to download the recording as an MP3, or simply listen via the embedded player below:

While we’re talking about RCI, I would also like to thank @LeedsRadio, @UKDXer and Al Holt for sharing the following brilliant QSLs and pennant:

UK-DXer-RCI-QSL

Source: @UKDXer via Twitter

LeedsRadio-RCI-NorthQuebecService-QSL

Source: @LeedsRadio via Twitter

Al-Holt-RCI-QSL

Source: @grovekid2 (Al Holt) via Twitter

 

Thanks for the stroll down memory lane!

SWLing Post readers should note that Rajdeep Das has a DX blog you should visit. I’ve added Rajdeep’s site to our blog roll. Thanks again, Rajdeep!