BBG Watch: Apology issued for digital media outages

BBG-LogoSome of you may have noticed that the Voice of America has been having problems with their online and internal digital content the past few days.

The BBG Watch–a watchdog for US government broadcasting–took a very critical look at the recent failures and connects them to a much bigger picture of dysfunction.

Click here to read the BBG Watch story.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor (and former VOA White House Correspondent) Dan Robinson, for the tip.

Castro wants an end to US broadcasts directed at Cuba

Havana, Cuba (Photo: Wikimedia)

Havana, Cuba (Photo: Wikimedia)

(Source: VOA News)

Cuban President Raul Castro is urging the U.S. government to stop radio and television broadcasts that Cuba considers harmful, while also saying that his government is willing to keep improving relations with the United States.

In a speech broadcast on state television Friday, Castro said that his government will “continue insisting that to reach normalized relations, it is imperative that the United States government eliminate all of these policies from the past.”

He noted that the U.S. government continues to broadcast to Cuba, including transmissions of Radio Marti and TV Marti, despite Cuba’s objections. Radio Marti and TV Marti are overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which is also the parent organization of the Voice of America.

Castro also criticized U.S. immigration policy that allows Cuban migrants to live in the United States if they reach U.S. territory.

“A preferential migration policy continues to be applied to Cuban citizens, which is evidenced by the enforcement of the wet foot/dry foot policy, the Medical Professional Parole Program and the Cuban Adjustment Act, which encourage an illegal, unsafe, disorderly and irregular migration, foment human smuggling and other related crimes, and create problems to other countries,” Castro said.

Continue reading on VOA News online…

Historic Ocean Gate antenna field may be removed

GoodLuckPointMany thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ulis K3LU, for sharing the following story from newsworks.org:

Pole removal project planned for Good Luck Point tidal marshlands

The iconic poles emerging from the tidal marshes in Bayville’s Good Luck Point may soon disappear if a federal plan clears a historic preservation hurdle.

A plan funded by the federal Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 calls for the removal of hundreds of poles along with cables, wires, metal towers, and concrete blocks that sit within Barnegat Bay marshlands at the foot of the Toms River.

“The goal of this action is to enhance coastal marsh habitats by increasing marsh resiliency from impacts of large storm events and other ecosystem stressors,” according to a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service release.

The poles are a component of inactive shortwave antenna fields associated with AT&T’s ship-to-shore shortwave communications system, which was in operation at the sites from the early 1930s until 1999, according to the release.

The area also includes a shortwave transmitter building and antenna field. Under the call sign “WOO,” the station helped broadcast Voice of America around the globe after 1944 and enabled communication with ships at sea throughout the twentieth century.

Click here to continue reading…

The article also noted this excellent video–an aerial view of Good Luck Point:

For more information about the Good Luck Point site and its history, check out this website and this article from Wavescan.

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:

Shortwave Radio Recordings: VOA on the 10th anniversary of Apollo 11 moon landing

Apollo_11_lunar_module-001

Many thanks to SWLing Post and SRAA contributor, Tom Laskowski, who shares this recording of the Voice of America; recorded on July 20, 1979 at 0500 UTC on the 31 meter band. Tom notes:

“The first 4:30 is from a VOA newscast that aired before the main part of the program. The main recording was presented on the 10th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. I enjoy listening to this every year on the landing anniversary.”

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

Note that Tom has been sharing a number of shortwave recordings from the late 1970s. All of his recordings are being published on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive. Tom: thanks so much for being a part of the shortwave archive community.

If you have recordings you would like to share with the world as well, please contact me.

The UNT Willis Conover Archive is now online

Willis Conover, The Voice of America (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Regular SWLing Post readers know that I’m a huge fan of the late Willis Conover. I just learned, via the Arts Journal blog, about an amazing collection of Conover audio archives that are now being shared online:

“The music program at the University of North Texas has graduated hundreds of jazz artists who went on to successful careers as professionals.[…]

Under Maristella Feustle of the university’s library, there is an archive devoted to the late Willis Conover of the Voice of America[…]. Conover’s VOA programs sent jazz around the world. For a quarter of a century he was one of the nation’s most valuable cultural diplomats. As of today, parts of the Conover archive are online and open to the public, thanks to a grant from the Grammy Foundation.[…]”

Click here to read the full Arts Journal article.

Many thanks, Maristella, for championing and finding funds for the Willis Conover archive!

Click here to browse the list of recordings and listen to the tapes via the UNT Digital Library.

The WSJ features Willis Conover

Willis Conover, The Voice of America (Source: Wikimedia Commons)(Source: Wall Street Journal via Any Sennitt)

The Radio Broadcaster Who Fought the Cold War Abroad but Remained Unheard at Home

By DOUG RAMSEY

During the Cold War, listeners in captive nations behind the Iron Curtain huddled around radios in basements and attics listening to the imposing bass-baritone voice of the man who sent them American music. His greeting—“Good evening, Willis Conover in Washington, D.C., with Music U.S.A.”—was familiar to millions around the world. At home, relatively few people knew him or his work. A proposal for a postage stamp honoring Conover may give hope to those who want the late Voice of America broadcaster to be awarded a larger mark of distinction.

For 40 years, until shortly before his death in 1996, Conover’s shortwave broadcasts on the Voice of America constituted one of his country’s most effective instruments of cultural diplomacy. Never a government employee, to maintain his independence he worked as a freelance contractor. With knowledge, taste, dignity and no tinge of politics, he introduced his listeners to jazz and American popular music. He interviewed virtually every prominent jazz figure of the second half of the 20th century. His use of the VOA’s “special English”—simple vocabulary and structures spoken at a slow tempo—made him, in effect, a teacher of the language to his listeners.

Countless musicians from former Iron Curtain countries have credited Conover with attracting them to jazz, among them the Czech bassists George Mraz and Miroslav Vitous, the Cuban saxophonist and clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera and the Russian trumpeter Valery Ponomarev. On the Conover Facebook page established in 2010, Ponomarev wrote that Conover had done as much for jazz “as Art Blakey, Duke Ellington, Horace Silver, Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie.” Conover’s New York Times obituary said, “In the long struggle between the forces of Communism and democracy, Mr. Conover, who went on the air in 1955 . . . proved more effective than a fleet of B-29’s.” In his publication Gene Lees Jazzletter, the influential critic wrote, “Willis Conover did more to crumble the Berlin Wall and bring about the collapse of the Soviet Empire than all the Cold War presidents put together.”[…]

Continue reading at the Wall Street Journal…

Regular SWLing Post readers know that I’m a huge fan of Willis Conover. Much like VOA’s Leo Sarkisian, Conover represented some of the best diplomacy this country has had to offer. [I’ve actually had the honor of meeting and interviewing Leo Sarkisian at his home in Maryland, a few years ago–one of the highlights of my career.]

Are there any SWLing Post readers out there who listened to Willis Conover from behind the “Iron Curtain?” Please comment!