Monthly Archives: February 2012

BBC World Service: Celebrating 80th birthday live on air

BBC World Service - Bush House

(Source: BBC World Service)

BBC World Service brings you a special day of programming on 29 February to celebrate 80 years of international radio broadcasting.

We’ll begin the day with a live broadcast of the daily news meeting– which usually takes place behind closed doors – a meeting of all the language service and English news heads who decide the day’s news agenda.

Other highlights include an audience with naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough; writer VS Naipaul will be talking about his time at BBC World Service with the Caribbean service and music producer William Orbit will be guest editing our arts programme, The Strand.

Listen out for topics such as entrepreneurship in Africathe future of international broadcasting, and the amazing abilities of an athlete’s body.

Throughout the day, you’ll be able to watch video clips of guests and staff around our current headquarters, Bush House.

We’ll also be asking you to put questions to guests and BBC World Service staff via clickFacebook, so join us if you can.

clickFor full details of Bush House Inside Out, check out the schedule.

Spread the radio love

CIA: A History of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service

I just stumbled upon this fascinating history of the CIA Foreign Broadcast Information Service and thought SWLing Post readers might enjoy browsing it as well. This  is a history of the early, pre-CIA, years of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service. It was published with a classification of “Confidential” in 1969 and fully released to the public by the CIA’s Historical Declassification Division in 2009.

Click here to go to the CIA website, or download each chapter via links below:

Spread the radio love

Profiles in Amateur Radio

Ken Reitz, Features Editor for Monitoring Times magazine, has published a new eBook called, “Profiles in Amateur Radio.” It features stories and biographies from a lengthy list of radio personalities/figures (including  yours truly!). A common theme in many of these personal radio histories is an interest in amateur radio that was built on a foundation of  shortwave radio listening.


February 3, 2012

Profiles in Amateur Radio

By Ken Reitz KS4ZR

A new Kindle e-book now available at the link below

Profiles in Amateur Radio” is a collection of nineteen articles taken from the First Person Radio series that appeared over the last three years in Monitoring Times, a national monthly magazine about all things radio, now in its 32nd year. It’s a three part look at the inspirational life stories as told in the words of those on whom shortwave and amateur radio has had a lifelong impact. The book is edited by Ken Reitz KS4ZR, a freelance writer since 1988, Features Editor for Monitoring Times, and author of the Communications and Beginner’s Corner columns which appear monthly in the magazine.

Profiles in Amateur Radio Table of Contents

  • The Uncommon Life of Charlie Gyenes W6HIQ — by Ken Reitz KS4ZR
  • In the Right Place at the Right Time — by Bob Heil K9EID
  • Life’s Been Good to WB6ACU — by Ken Reitz KS4ZR
  • How I Survived Self-Electrocution, Fame, Congress and the Publishing Industry — by Bob Grove W8JHD
  • Reading, ‘Riting and Radio — by Carole Perry WB2MGP
  • CQ at 51,000 Feet and Mach .85 — by Rick Dougherty NQ4I
  • If You’re Old Enough to Read, You’re Old Enough to Get Your License — by Mattie Clauson AE7MC
  • A Life of Service in Amateur Radio by Harry Dannals W2HD
  • My Half-Century in Radio — by Ron Walsh VE3GO
  • A Love of Listening — by Thomas Witherspoon K4SWL
  • My Lifelong Fight for Free Speech Radio — by Allan Weiner
  • Obsessed by Time and Shortwave Radio — by Myke Dodge Weiskopf
  • Crystal Set Leads to Lifelong Hobby and Career — by Maury Midlo
  • Shortwave from Both Sides of the Microphone — by Jeff White
  • A Most Unlikely Radio Career — Keith Perron
  • Radio Dreams of a Lifetime — by Jack K. Neal W8AQ
  • Amateur Radio and Education in America — by Ken Reitz KS4ZR
  • The LBJ High School Experience — by Ronny Risinger KC5EES
  • CQ DX from KC7OEK — by Nick Casner K7CAS, Cole Smith KF7FXW and Rayann Brown KF7KEZ
Spread the radio love

All In A Weekend: Bon voyage to David Bronstetter, from an unlikely listener

Dave Bronstetter hosting All In A Weekend at the CBC studio in Montreal. (photo: CBC)

I believe it was in the fall of 2007 that I first tuned to the enlightening CBC Montreal program, All In A Weekend, with host David Bronstetter. Unlike listeners in Montreal, or anywhere in the province of Quebec, for that matter, I didn’t hear the show on FM radio, nor streaming over the internet–it was on a shortwave radio.

You see, each Saturday and Sunday morning at 7:00 EST (12:00 UTC) Radio Canada International turns on a shortwave transmitter at their Sackville, New Brunswick site, and broadcasts CBC Radio One Montreal programming on 9,625 kHz for North Quebec. They’ve done this for years.  That means that many of us south of the Canadian border can catch the “back side” of this broad signal quite easily.

When I first heard All in A Weekend, I was favorably impressed by the program’s host, Dave Bronstetter. When I landed on his voice the first time, he was in the middle of an interview, and even in that brief interval of tuning I could tell that this was an insightful interviewer. Returning to hear the following half-hour segments of the show, I learned that his keen intelligence was manifest not only in intimate, articulate, and adaptive interviews with his guests, but also in an absurd wit.

In short, I was hooked.

From that day forward, I joined thousands of Quebec listeners, right here from my home in the southern US, as we tuned in All In A Weekend. Dave and his Montreal crew became my weekend morning coffee companions.

Dave chats with host Sonali Karnick, Elias Abboud, and Nancy Wood. (source: CBC Radio One)

In my many years of listening to radio, I’ve heard hundreds of hosts from around the world, but this guy stood apart. Dave Bronstetter’s hosting was fueled by a quick wit, which he wove into his interviews with an eloquence that would make any comic green with envy.  Moreover, this fun, catch-’em off-guard approach resulted in better interviews with his diverse guests, all excellent listening, such as with famous jazz photographer Herman Leonard, singer Emilie-Claire Barlow (and many other Canadian artists like her, whom I’ve since learned to appreciate), and a stand-out interview with a Palestinian that I haven’t forgotten, nor am likely to.

And more than once, while reporting weather, in the midst of listing all the towns and cities across the vast province of Quebec, Dave slyly inserted the tiny town where I then lived.  This always made me start, and brought a chuckle. Of course, I couldn’t help thinking that this caught the attention of many other listeners, too, but leaving them scratching their noggins–Sylva, Quebec? Where on earth’s that–?

Radio Canada International's Sackville, New Brunswick shortwave transmitter site. (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

How could Dave have known about Sylva? Well, he interacted with his listeners, and I was no exception. It didn’t matter if listeners were sending him a compliment or complaining about the fact that he was reading off the wind speed in Baie-Comeau and Kuujjuaq, he paid attention. I would dash off an email to request songs, play along with his contests, or brag about our lovely Southern-states weather when Montreal was having a brutally chilly day. Many of my emails were sarcastic, and Dave’s rebuttals, two-fold.

Once, Dave actually made a call to my home in Sylva and interviewed me on the air.  A couple of days prior to the interview, he called to ask my permission and to, well, just chat. We probably talked for an hour–even in that casual conversation, I noted his interviewing talent: I felt like I was talking with an old friend, one who understood me and appreciated my offbeat sense of humor.

Many times while listening to All in a Weekend, I reflected, this is what I love about radio. The footprint is vast–it jumps national borders with ease, and offers an instant level of interaction that’s hard to replicate even in our internet-driven age.

To my dismay, Dave recently announced that he was retiring after 33 years with the CBC. Last Saturday’s show was his last.

At least, so he says.

Regardless, I can tell you this:  I will miss my buddy, Dave Bronstetter, on the air. I know of no replacement, and I can only imagine how difficult it may be for the charming Sonali Karnick to follow his tough act. I hope it will be by carving her own unique personality into the show. That’s what gave the unassuming All In A Weekend its moxie in the first place, and drew me in regularly to listen.

My hat’s off to you, Dave; may you enjoy whatever you do going forward. You are unquestionably one of a kind. And please–keep in touch!

Want to hear what the send-off broadcast All In A Weekend sounded like on shortwave radio? Try this:

Spread the radio love

Can you identify this radio?

Can you ID the radio in this photo? Click to enlarge. (photo: ABC News)

SWLing Post reader, Kim, wondered if anyone could identify the make and model of the radio (pictured right) which had been modified to contain a bomb. Terrorists used these devices recently in Thailand.  ABC News featured an article and video about the attacks, but I’ve seen little about the make/model of radio that had been used.

Update: See JW’s comment below–this is an EPE model FP-103U.

Spread the radio love

C.Crane “orphan” shortwave radios on sale

The CCRadio-SW is one of our favorite portables for excellent audio fidelity and ease of use.

I received notification that C. Crane is selling some of their “orphan” radios at excellent discounts while supplies last.

Out of their shortwave selection, they are selling the CCRadio-SW (a radio we love) for $99.95 and the ultra-portable CCRadio-SWP (review here) for $34.95.

Click here to see all of the orphan deals.

What are C.Crane orphan radios? Orphan radios are simply customer returns or demo units that have been tested and cleaned.  Orphan items come with a 60-day money back guarantee and are limited to stock on hand. Prices on these are good through 02/28/12.

NOTE: C. Crane is an excellent radio retailer and I would not hesitate to order an “orphan” product from them!

Spread the radio love

Google Doodle honors Heinrich Hertz’s 155th birthday

If you visit Google’s home page today, you’ll notice that their typical logo has been replaced with an animation of an undulating, multi-colored wave.

If you click on the wave, you’ll be taken to sites telling the story of Heinrich Rudolf Hertz.

We should all take a moment today to thank Hertz for his contribution to the radio spectrum. Indeed, it was Hertz who showed that electricity could be transmitted via electromagnetic waves. This laid the groundwork for developing wireless telegraph and radio. In the 1930’s the International Electrotechnical Commission decided that Hertz’s name would become the unit of frequency for our electromagnetic spectrum–the hertz (Hz)–about four decades after the his death.

To read the story of Hertz, I would suggest browsing his Wikipedia entry.

If you missed seeing the Google Doodle animation, check out the video below:

This isn’t the first time Google has honored an influential innovator in our radio world, a few years ago we posted their Google Doodle tribute to Samuel Morse.

Spread the radio love