Tag Archives: Richard Cuff

ABC International to increase investment in services for Chinese, Indonesian and Pacific audiences

ABC Australia

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Cuff, who shares this press release from ABC International:

ABC International focuses investment in region

ABC International will increase its investment in media services for Chinese, Indonesian and Pacific audiences to offer more comprehensive coverage for regional audiences. These new initiatives, the result of a strategic review, mean ABC International will be better positioned to deliver a greater range of content in these areas.

The changes mean ABC International will create eight new positions to lead content areas and improve editorial and workflow priorities. However, ABC International has also made the decision to end foreign language services in French, Khmer, Vietnamese and Burmese, which are currently single-person operations.

The recommendations from the strategic review and the decision to close some services will fund this reinvestment across the network. ABC International will build on key relationships with China, Indonesia and the Pacific with increased investment in services including:

  • For Chinese audiences: an additional Mandarin language site allowing ABC International to deliver a full Chinese news service, for Chinese audiences across the region and Australia, complementing the AustraliaPlus .cn cultural exchange portal.
  • For Bahasa Indonesian audiences: two new roles will be created, a new Content Maker and a Senior Producer, to improve ABC International’s capacity to extend Indonesian language content.
  • For Pacific audiences: the creation of a new Senior Producer Pacific position focussed on enhancing content for Pacific audiences. This new role will also manage and schedule the Radio Australia Services and the Pacific and Tok-Pisin service that has a distinct value in reaching PNG audiences.

Two other new Content Maker roles will be created, one with a focus on telling Pacific stories to audiences in that region and a second position to tailor English content on Australian life for all platforms.

ABC International Chief Executive Officer Lynley Marshall said the changes to these services would benefit the wider audience base in the region.

“These changes are the result of careful consideration and commitment to our services in the region as we approach 2020,” she said.

“The ABC has a long history with the Pacific nations while Indonesian and Chinese audiences comprise a growing audience base, both across our region and here in Australia.

“ABC International is determined to uphold the highest standards in international media services including our expanding digital and social media services. These changes represent ABC International’s commitment to delivering compelling content to key audiences.”

The closure of the Vietnamese, Khmer and Burmese language services will become effective on 2 December 2016, while the French service will continue until arrangements with France Television end in February 2017. The closures will affect six positions and a staff consultation process will begin shortly.

For more information

Nick Leys
Media Manager, Corporate Affairs
03 9626 1417
leys.nick@abc.net.au

Radio connection: English city named after Maine relay station

RCA-Dial

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Cuff, who writes:

“Thought the blog might enjoy this…it’s actually longwave related more than SW, but I know you often include historical items in blog posts.”

Indeed I do, Richard! Thanks for sharing. Here’s an excerpt from the Bangor Daily News:

Former radio relay station in Houlton may lead to new connection to England

HOULTON, Maine — Rugby Radio Station, a radio transmission site in the United Kingdom that once had ties to this Aroostook County community as part of a transoceanic communications network in the 1930s, is being re-imagined as a new city in England that will be aptly named: Houlton.

Rugby Radio Station was a radio transmission facility near the town of Rugby, Warwickshire in England. From 1927 to 1957, Houlton served as a relay station for long-wave transoceanic transmissions between New York and London.

Located on the County Road, the Houlton site was decommissioned on Oct. 1, 1957. That property is home to Roger and Carol Hand.

James Scott, who is the director of planning and communication for Urban and Civic, a property development and investment company based in London, was in Houlton on April 29 to meet with town officials and local historians to get a better feel for the American community that will bear the namesake of the new development.

[…]The Rugby site, which will be renamed Houlton, is 1,100 acres and over the next 20 years it will be developed into 6,000 homes, three primary schools, one secondary school and 1 million square feet of commercial floor space.

“The radio station [in England] was in operation from 1926 until 2005,” Scott said. “The site is really interesting in that it is mainly open fields, with some very large buildings and 12 800-foot masts. It was a very emotive site for a lot of people, but it was not very well developed.”

The masts have all been torn down, but some of the buildings were preserved for historical purposes.

[…]In the early days of transoceanic transmissions, a crew of five individuals worked at the Houlton station from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., according to a November 1957 article in Long Lines, a company magazine produced by employees of American Telephone and Telegraph. As demand for service increased, coverage was extended from 4 a.m. to midnight.

Houlton was chosen as the relay station because the signal could not reach all the way from England to New York directly. The local site did not have massive antennae reaching upward such as the location in England. Instead, the transmission lines here were placed horizontally and stretched for many miles.

By the mid-1930s, long-wave transmissions declined because of technological improvements in short-wave radios. The Houlton site was also used in the 1940s as a ship-to-shore service.

Read the full article, at the Bangor Daily News site.

BBC World Service as a lifeline and making radio as “a symbol of resistance”

BurundiMany thanks toSWLing Post contributor,  Richard Cuff, for sharing this article from the NewStatesman:

In the week when Apple’s Beats 1 radio station was launched – “Worldwide. Always on . . . It broadcasts 24/7 to over 100 countries from our studios in Los Angeles, New York and London” – there was also discussion of the BBC’s latest global audience measurement figures. The most striking thing in the report, which tracked listening habits and how they had changed over the past year, was how short-wave radio – in rural and poorer areas where there is no FM, no cable and no electricity, it’s still the only way of tuning in – is under increasing threat from something as basic as jamming.

Apple’s idea of radio as digital and impermeable never felt more breezily First World. Listeners to the English-language programmes on the BBC World Service, for example – in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, in particular – have almost halved in number because of deliberate disruption on the short-wave signal, apparently from China, forcing stations to rotate frequencies on the same band to at least attempt a slot.

“Tune around . . . You’ll find us. We will be there,” advised a technician on Over to You (4 July, 5.50pm). It conjured that most antiquated and urgent of images: a person clutching their temples, coaxing a dial, trying and trying to find a signal.

“I grew up with short-wave radio,” insisted a caller to the show, “and I got to understand the world, got to understand life. If you don’t know short-wave radio, you don’t know life.” Only moments later, there was talk of the closure of all the non-state-run radio stations in Burundi (one of the poorest and least connected countries in the world). Before the recent coup attempt, independent radio stations played a huge role in holding the government to account but many radio journalists are now forced to report using what social media is available.

“The exercise of making radio matters,” said a caller. “It’s a symbol of resistance.” And another, with some disdain, said: “Doing it on the internet is just a way of keeping it on record.” The more than century-long act of turning a dial and finding a signal, with a human voice hitching a ride on electromagnetic energy through space, is something it seems our species now feels in the bones. But worldwide? Always on? Only for some.

Read the full article at the NewStatesman.

A recap of the 2015 Winter SWL Fest

The following article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of The Spectrum Monitor magazine.


DavidGoren-ShortwaveShindig

David Goren prepares musicians and voice talent as the Shortwave Shindig goes live on WRMI

Every year, I attend two great radio conventions: the Dayton Hamvention and the Winter SWL Fest. While the Dayton Hamvention draws a massive crowd of ham radio operators, vendors, and makers from across the planet–and it’s truly a fun and fantastic event–the smaller Winter SWL Fest is actually my fave of the two.

Any why is this? A re-cap of the 2015 Winter SWL Fest might provide some clues.

The Winter SWL Fest is organized and sponsored by the North American Shortwave Association (NASWA) and each year draws well over 100 radio enthusiasts to Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. While it is a shortwave radio festival––with its roots firmly in the shortwave medium––it’s certainly not limited to the HF bands only; in fact, here’s a list of some of the forums from 2015, and their subject breadth is remarkable:

  • Radio on the Road 3. Janice Laws shared radio recordings and videos from her various travels across the planet, showcasing the local flavor found on the FM and AM dials.
  • The Year in Pirate Radio. George Zeller once again hosted the shortwave pirate radio forum, covering the year in pirate radio, and announcing inductees into the PIrate Radio Hall of Fame.
  • Time Travel, Teleportation, and Spectrum Hoarding for the Contemporary DXer. My good friend Mark Fahey and I co-hosted this forum. In this forum we discussed our obsession with collecting and sharing spectrum recordings, highlighting the added context spectrum playback provides that traditional broadcast recordings cannot. We brought along several terabytes of spectrum recordings from my home in North Carolina and from Mark’s home near Sydney, Australia, to share with this forum’s attendees.
  • Coast to Coast: Geographically Enhanced Mediumwave Reception. Bill Whitacre shared what he has learned from mediumwave DXpeditions to Grayland, WA, and Lubec, ME, over the past 5 years. Bill focused on the advantages of carefully-selected geographic locations for the best DX opportunities.
  • Ultralight Mediumwave DXing. Gary Donnelly hosted a forum which touted the virtues of the most simple radios and receivers and the immense fun that can be had from them. Gary discussed some amazing reception records obtained with these pocket-sized “ultralight” (and ultra cheap!) receivers.
  • Crisis Radio. Michael Pool (a.k.a., “The Radio Professor”) focused on radio as it sounds locally during crises. He shared recordings and airchecks he had captured during natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and moments of civil unrest. Through these recordings, and with the advantage of some emotional distance, attendees could form their own opinions as to how the media handled each event.
  • Radio and Today’s Teenagers. Anthony Messina (age 18) focused his forum on the way teens view radio today, taking into account the medium’s ongoing evolution. Anthony also discussed how he got interested in shortwave radio and DX’ing in the age of internet and smartphones––a remarkably fascinating (and familiar) journey.
  • Kickin’ It Old School: A Return to Regenerative Receivers. In this forum, Skip Arey proposed that a radio design, at the very roots of RF Technology, is experiencing a resurgence: regenerative receivers. He discussed the classic regen circuit and how to use it to bring a new dimension to shortwave listening.
  • The View from Europe. Finn DXer Risto Vahakainu, who travels to the Winter SWL Fest with a contingent of Finnish DXers, reported on the state of the radio hobby in Europe and specifically in Finland. He focused upon the impact of SDRs and also described remote DX sites one can rent for one’s own DXpedition in northern Finland.
  • “UFOs, Gliders and Planes, Oh My!” Tom Swisher––noted member of the SWL Fest so-called “scanner scum”––covered the wide array of frequencies that can be monitored with “your trusty old scanner” after local law enforcement goes digital.
  • Monitoring Dusty War Zones and Tropical Paradises: On Being a Broadcast Anthropologist. Mark Fahey––who travelled from Australia to attend the Winter SWL Fest for the second year in a row––presented a tour of his monitoring station (i.e., his house). We saw how Mark combines several satellite, internet, and SDR feeds from across the globe to create a custom video and audio listening post with feeds. Mark, who is also an avid traveler, shared some of his highly original, out-of-the-box ways of collecting rare radio DX.
  • The Keeping of Time. In this forum, Mark Phillips discussed the importance of accurate time-keeping as our hobby moves toward the digital realm. Mark explained the difference between time sources, why they are different, and why accurate time is so important.
  • Recognizing Digital HF Signals: Eyes and Ears. TSM contributor Michael Chace-Ortiz taught that simply with one’s eyes and ears, it’s possible to identify a number of the digital modes and anomalies on our HF bands. Mike gave an interactive audio-visual tour of numerous modem signals, Over-The-Horizon RADARs, ionospheric sounders, ocean sensing systems, and various other digital oddities that can be heard today.

In short: what a dynamic––and diverse––forum line-up!

Of course, for the second year in a row, David Goren’s annual Shortwave Shindig was broadcast live from the Fest via WRMI. It was great fun receiving live reports from listeners across the globe.

I’m sure some twenty-eight years ago when the first SWL Fest was held, forum topics all centered around the shortwave radio hobby fairly exclusively. But today, how we define radio has changed, and the shortwave radio is no longer the only way to glean accessible content from across the globe. Most of the SWL Fest attendees and hosts, however, maintain and cultivate the spirit of DXing: finding innumerable paths into an ocean of diverse broadcasting. I was happy to be a part of the shortwave radio-related forums that centered on the use of software-defined radios, no doubt a revolutionary game-changer in our listening hobby, and a technology I actively explore (see my review of the TitanSDR next month).

While the 2015 line-up was diverse and drew on the expertise of some of the most noted enthusiasts in our field, this experience is actually what I’ve come to expect from the SWL Fest. So many amazing projects, including a Sundance award-winning film (!), have played a part in making the Fest what it is today.

I encourage you to keep tabs on the Winter SWL Fest and make plans to attend in 2016. Details will be posted on the Winter SWL Fest website: http://swling.com/blog. One thing is for sure: if the crazy winter weather conditions this year didn’t stop me from driving several hundred miles through snow and ice to the Fest, nothing is going to stop me next year! Hope to see you there.

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A parting note

Martin-Peck-2

Martin Peck with the New Westchester Symphony Orchestra (Photo credit: Stephy Kollarackal)

As you may imagine, since the SWL Fest has been ongoing for many years, strong bonds have formed among Fest attendees––indeed, the group has become like an extended family. This year, we learned during the annual Saturday night banquet that we had just lost one of our Fest family, one Martin Peck, following a battle with esophageal cancer. Marty, as we all knew him, was an incredibly kind fellow, well-loved and warmly regarded at the Fest. He was not only an avid SWL, but a talented musician, and a member of the New Westchester Symphony Orchestra. Marty could play some of the most obscure interval signals on demand with practically any wind instrument. He found a welcome home at David Goren’s Shortwave Shindig.

Marty, pal, we’re going to miss you.

Richard voices his opinion about BBC World Service commercialization

BBC-OverToYouRichard Cuff–noted SWL and festmeister for the Winter SWL Fest–sent a message to the BBC World Service listener feedback program Over To You deploring the BBC’s decision to incorporate limited advertising on the World Service as of April 2014.

Over To You contacted Richard and invited him to an interview where he discussed these changes with Mark Bunting, head of BBC WS Strategy.

The program aired earlier this week. Richard noted that the discussion was “chopped quite a bit” to fit a nine minute time slot.

Click here to listen to Richard’s interview on Over To You: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01sbmkt