New Shortwave Station in South Sudan

Radio-TamazujThere’s a new shortwave station in South Sudan!
Kudos to Eye Media for their Shortwave Radio efforts in South Sudan to complement and extend their reach beyond local FM radio. And I must add, kudos to the United States for their part in helping to fund the venture. While I am quick to criticize my country for their cutbacks in SW funding, I have to be fair and say “well done” when something like this comes along. Here is the news report as posted April 26 (yesterday) on Radio Tamazuj and which was reported by Alokesh Gupta New Delhi on the Cumbre-DX  Yahoo Group:

Eye Media, the parent organization of Eye Radio, has announced that it has launched a new shortwave broadcast service to complement its existing FM broadcasts in South Sudan.

The broadcasts starting today will bring listeners news and information in Arabic, as well as Dinka, Nuer, Shilluk, Bari, Zande and Lutoho.

According to a press release today from Eye Media, “the Eye Radio Shortwave will cover the whole of South Sudan including remote areas in which communities are not able to access FM radio stations.”

Eye Radio is one of the fastest expanding media houses in South Sudan after launching FM repeaters in several state capitals last year, expanding the station’s reach beyond Juba where it is based.

In its press release, the station noted that the funding for this initiative came from USAID, the international development agency of the US government.

Shortwave radio is used for long distance communication by means of reflecting or refracting radio waves back to Earth from the ionosphere, allowing communication around the curve of the Earth. It was a popular means of long-distance news sharing before the advent of the Worldwide Web, and it is still used for reaching remote areas.

Only two other media houses broadcast on shortwave with content specifically for South Sudan: Radio Tamazuj, which operates two hours daily on the shortwave, and Voice of America, which produces the 30 minute program South Sudan in Focus.

Radio Tamazuj broadcasts from 6:30 to 7:30 each morning on 11650 kHz on the 25 meter band and 9600 kHz on the 31 meter band, and 15150 kHz and 15550 kHz on the 19 meter band each evening from 17:30 to 18:30.

Eye Radio’s new broadcasts will run from 7:00 to 8:00 each morning on 11730 kHz on the 25 meter band and 17730 kHz on the 17 meter band from 19:00 to 20:00.


Robert Gulley, AK3Q, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.

Video: Demolition company’s view of VOA Site A towers falling

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While it’s fascinating to watch the video footage of the VOA Site A towers falling, it’s also a little heartbreaking.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I spent time last week at the VOA Site A’s twin site: VOA Site B (now the Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station).

While it’s a little tough for me to watch, imagine how difficult it is for the engineers who lovingly cared for these giant antennas for so many decades. Still, VOA Site A’s antennas needed to be demolished–they hadn’t been in operation since 2006 and would have soon become a hazard to anyone on the site.

It’s just tough to see these powerhouse curtain antennas collapse:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Post Readers: I’m hoping to have time this weekend to put together the photos I took last week and responses to your questions.

VOA Site A antennas and towers demolished

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Helicopter view of the curtain antenna array falling.

On Friday, I spent the afternoon at the Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station (a.k.a. VOA Site B) in Greenville, NC.

While there, I was told that the VOA Site A towers, which have long been abandoned, were slated to be demolished this morning. Here’s the report from local NBC TV station WITN:

(Source: WITN)

BEAUFORT COUNTY, NC (WITN) – A series of implosions is all it took to bring down 48 radio towers that have been a part of U.S. history for over 50 years.

It happened Monday morning at the old Voice of America Site A in Beaufort County.

Not used since 2006, the VOA site was sold to Beaufort County as surplus U.S. property.

Environmental Holdings Group of Morrisville teamed up with Controlled Demolition Incorporated to implode and haul off the 48 towers.

It took less than a minute for it all to come down.

Voice of America still broadcasts from Site B to Latin America, Cuba, the Caribbean, and Africa.

Click here to read the full article and watch the video at WITN.

Any requests? Heading to the Edward R. Murrow transmitting station…

VOA-Greenville-Curtain-Antennas

I’m planning to visit the Edward R. Murrow transmitter station for a few hours on Friday (tomorrow). This will be my third trip to the station and I’ll be hanging out with the chief engineer, Macon Dail. I plan to take more photos–especially of some recent transmitter upgrades.

Any questions/requests?

If you like, I would be happy to ask Macon any technical/engineering questions you may have about the site and post his replies here on the SWLing Post next week.

Additionally, if you have something specific you’d like me to photograph, please ask and I’ll attempt to do so. The only areas I’m not allowed to photograph are those dealing with site security.

Please comment with your questions and requests no later than tomorrow morning!

In case you’re not familiar, the Edward R. Murrow transmitter site is the last BBG shortwave broadcasting site on US soil. Click here for a photo tour I posted a few ago.

BBG’s Fiscal Year 2016 Congressional Budget Request

BBG-Budget-Request

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who shares a link to the Broadcasting Board of Governor’s Fiscal Year 2016 Congressional Budget Request.

Click here to download as a PDF.

I’ve read key portions of the request.

Regarding shortwave, the BBG are asking for budget reductions in almost all of the BBG shortwave broadcasting arms, with a few exceptions.   They acknowledge, in each case, that shortwave broadcasting is not as cost-effective as other means of distribution (including FM, Internet and satellite). The do acknowledge that shortwave broadcasting is still needed in some strategic markets. Here is, perhaps, the most telling quote I found:

“To serve audiences in less developed areas of the world, BBG must continue to broadcast via traditional technologies such as shortwave and maintain capability on these platforms by replacing antiquated equipment. But to stay relevant in competitive news markets and serve current and future audiences, BBG must invest in new cutting-edge technology. In areas where ownership and usage of shortwave radio has declined significantly, the Agency has evolved away from broadcasting in shortwave.”

A few specific highlights from the request:

Page 19

4) ENHANCE HIGH FREQUENCY TRANSMISSION CAPABILITY ($2.8M)
BBG will continue the shortwave realignment project that began in FY 2014, which increases shortwave transmission capability at its Kuwait Transmitting Station. This enhancement provides improved coverage to underserved areas of the world and
reduces operating costs by decreasing reliance on external leases. All aspects of
this proposal focus on improving transmission capability, while continuing
to reach audiences in Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Tibet and
Western China. The added capacity will support broadcasts for RFE/RL, RFA and
VOA.

At $2.00 per broadcast hour, Kuwait provides the highest return on investment in the BBG transmitting station portfolio. Thus, BBG began expansion of the facility in FY 2014 with
the construction of a new high frequency antenna and design of the transmitter building expansion. The proposed investment, extending through FY 2018, will bring the Kuwait
Transmitting Station up to the maximum capability allowed by the country agreement and will enable the Agency to decrease overall operating costs for the foreseeable future. When the realignment project is completed, the Kuwait station will have ten shortwave transmitters with associated antennas.[…]

Page 22:

Reduce Shortwave Costs [-$2.90M] The Office of Technology, Services, and Innovation (TSI) will eliminate less effective transmission frequencies and realign transmissions to end high cost leases. TSI will realize additional reductions to antiquated technologies by reducing transmissions to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burma, and Kurdish-speaking regions and eliminating shortwave to Russia, the Caucasus, Belarus, Laos, Cambodia, Rwanda, and Burundi. Audiences in these countries access news and information on more efficient,[…]

Page 69

STRATEGY BASED ON AUDIENCE
MEDIA HABITS
Using research on audience media habits, TSI will continue to move away from less effective legacy shortwave and medium wave transmissions toward other technologies, where appropriate, to reach larger and younger audiences. Where shortwave remains important, TSI is building a more cost-effective transmission infrastructure to support broadcast requirements. Of particular note are efforts at the Kuwait Transmitting Station. Because of the station’s strategic importance and low operating costs, TSI is installing a new shortwave antenna that is expected to be operational in FY 2015 and will expand the station’s transmitter building in FY 2016 to accommodate future transmitter build-outs.[…]

Page 109

To serve audiences in less developed areas of the world, BBG must continue to broadcast via traditional technologies such as shortwave and maintain capability on these platforms by replacing antiquated equipment. But to stay relevant in competitive news markets and serve current and future audiences, BBG must invest in new cutting-edge technology. In areas where ownership and usage of shortwave radio has declined significantly, the Agency has evolved away from broadcasting in shortwave.
BBG has closed transmission stations, repurposed equipment and invested these savings in platforms that the audience has shifted to, primarily in digital media technology and other high-priority programming.

Click here to download the full request as a PDF.

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…