Monthly Archives: June 2017

Action Alert: To gauge listener reaction, CKZN Goose Bay goes off air

“Is anybody even listening?”  So said the powers-that- be at CKZN.  To find out, the relay was (temporarily) shut down.

You, too, may have noticed that the CBC Radio 1 relay through CKZN on 6,160 kHz has been off air for several days. I’m traveling in Canada this summer, and noticed that CKZN has been completely silent lately, whereas earlier this month their1 KW signal was actually penetrating the RFI here where I’m staying in Québec.

Many thanks to a number of SWLing Post contributors–including Ed, Matt, Richard Cuff, Ed McCorry, and Dennis Dura–who’ve provided a few details about this development:

Richard Cuff shared the following:

[T]he CBC has apparently switched off the CKZN shortwave transmitter on purpose — to see who notices that it’s missing, it appears — much like Radio Australia did just before shutting down its shortwave service.

I know I would miss them — they frankly have been an enjoyable companion especially when I’m away from home and unable to connect to the Internet via WiFi.

Richard then included email correspondence that Glenn Hauser received from CBC representative Katie Rowe; Glenn published Rowe’s reply on the DX Listening Digest:

“Hi Glenn, They are currently conducting some testing to gauge listenership. I’ve been advised that they will likely be off-air for a couple of more weeks. “

Ed McCorry also received a reply from Katie Rowe when he inquired about CKZN:

I’ve been advised that the system is being tested. I should have some more information soon I can pass along.

Thanks for reaching out.
Katie

Richard and Glenn have hit the nail on the head.  The CBC is taking the same approach the ABC did prior to closing down their shortwave services; they’re gauging listener reactions by turning off the relay…and simply waiting for a response from those in the target region.

The WRTH featured CKZN in their 2017 issue.

Some of you might recall that Hans Johnson, featured an article about CKZN in the 2017 Word Radio TV Handbook, noted that the CBC intended to not only continue the shortwave service directed at Labrador’s most remote areas, but was planning to replace their 1 kW Elcom Bauer transmitter in the coming years.

Why, then, this sudden silence?

I rather suspect the CBC are looking at the cost of this transmitter upgrade and considering simply shutting down the service instead of re-investing in it.  A worrisome––and potentially short-sighted–– development.

Contacting the CBC

If you listen to CKZN––even if you’re not in their target broadcast footprint––consider contacting them to let the know you’re listening…to nothing.

Certainly, if you’re a listener in Labrador, northern Québec, or indeed anywhere in Canada where you might benefit from this service, or in any rural area where radio is sometimes (or often) preferable to inadequate internet service, I’d strongly suggest you make your voice heard. The CBC have been clear about this point.

Why is this important?  Because as most regular readers of this blog already know, losing a shortwave radio relay––a useful service that becomes especially vital in the event of an emergency––is cutting off a vital channel of communication.  It is, metaphorically speaking, putting all one’s eggs in one (digital and/or FM) basket.  Yet the Internet, which has now largely supplanted radio, is certainly not infallible, especially in rural regions; many rural Canadians, even those who don’t regularly listen to this station, may rely upon this very service in the event of a emergency such as a weather event or other crisis, and unquestionably during an interruption of digital service.  However, this sort of event is not likely to take place during this testing period, giving the CBC a narrow view of the radio relay’s actual utility.

One reader provided this link for a host of email addresses for CBC Newfoundland & Labrador:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/contact-us-cbcnl-1.3990861

I also contacted Ms. Rowe this morning for comment, but have not yet received a reply. Her email address:  katie.rowe@cbc.ca

Keep in mind, Saturday is Canada Day, and the country is celebrating their 150th…I wouldn’t expect to hear back until next week.

Happy Canada Day, Canadian friends!

And let’s keep listening…even for inexplicable silence on the radio dial.

Sky and Telescope: “Observe” August’s Eclipse with Your AM Radio

(Source: Sky and Telescope via Sheldon Harvey)

When the Moon’s shadow glides across the U.S. on August 21st, you’ll have have a chance to hear the eclipse as it happens.

Solar eclipses are more than remarkable visual astronomical phenomena; they’re pretty interesting from a radio viewpoint too. Should overcast skies prevail over your location on eclipse day, you can still make some interesting observations using an AM radio.

Dramatic changes can take place in radio reception when day changes into night and vice versa. Perhaps you’ve had the experience of driving in your car at night, listening to some program on the AM dial, when the announcer will identify the station as WBBM in Chicago. This might seem odd if you are listening from Albany, New York, more than 700 miles (1,100 km) from the Windy City. Yet, cases like this happen every night.

A total solar eclipse produces a broad, round area of darkness and greatly reduced sunlight that travels across Earth’s surface in a relatively narrow path during the daytime. Its effect on sunlight’s local intensity is remarkably similar to what happens at sunrise and sunset. Distant radio stations along and near to the path of totality might briefly experience enhanced propagation, thus making long-distance reception possible during a solar eclipse unlike any other time.

Continue reading at Sky and Telescope…

I’ll be volunteering at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI) for the eclipse–they are in the path of totality. I also plan to do a spectrum recording of both the mediumwave and 31 meter band during the event.

Do any other SWLing Post readers have eclipse plans?

From the Isle of Music & Uncle Bill’s Melting Pot, July 2-8

From the Isle of Music, July 2-8
This week, our special guest is bandleader and drummer Yissy García, whose Jazz/Fusion group Bandancha received two Cubadisco awards this year -Opera Prima (best new artist) and Diseño (design) for their exciting album Última Noticia. We’ll listen to some of that and some selections from the Música Urbana category of this year’s Cubadisco as well.
Four opportunities to listen on shortwave:
1. For Eastern Europe but audible well beyond the target area in all directions with 100Kw, Sunday 1500-1600 UTC on SpaceLine, 9400 KHz, from Kostinbrod, Bulgaria (1800-1900 MSK)
2. For the Americas and parts of Europe, Tuesday 0000-0100 UTC on WBCQ, 7490 KHz from Monticello, ME, USA (Monday 8-9PM EDT in the US)
3 & 4. For Europe and sometimes beyond, Tuesday 1900-2000 UTC and Saturday 1200-1300 on Channel 292, 6070 KHz from Rohrbach, Germany.
From the Isle of Music is not available for listening on demand but some broadcasts can be heard online during the time of the broadcast using Web SDRs or the WBCQ website (during their broadcast) if you are not receiving the radio signal.

Uncle Bill’s Melting Pot, July 6
Episode 19 of Uncle Bill’s Melting Pot, a musical variety program that features everything from everywhere EXCEPT music that you are probably familiar with, will air on WBCQ the Planet, 7490 KHz, Thursday, July 6 from 2300-2330 UTC (7:00pm-7:30pm EDT in the Americas). This coming right after July 4, we’ll have some music from the good old USA but also from France just because.

 

Radio Hats of Yore

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ed, who writes:

Hey Thomas, if you haven’t already covered this in the SWLing Post, this might be worth mentioning:

http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/radio-hat-1931-1949-man-from-mars

TURNS OUT, LISTENING TO PODCASTS on your morning commute is nothing new. In 1931, the British cinemagazine Pathetone Weekly—which documented odd fashion trends during its run from 1930 to 1941—premiered a new invention: the Radio Hat.

In it, a man waiting for the bus decides to listen to the radio—via his straw hat, from which two large antennas poke out.

As a Pathetone Weekly title card read: “They say there’s nothing new under the sun—this little French idea to while away the bus waits, must surely be!”

According to an August 1930 issue of Modern Mechanix, a Berlin engineer invented the hat, which allowed its wearer to “listen to the Sunday sermon while motoring or playing golf, get the stock market returns at the ball game, or get the benefit of the daily dozen while on the way to work by merely tuning in.”

[Continue reading…]

The video link in the article to a 1930’s British cinemagazine Pathetone Weekly­-which documented odd fashion trends during its run from 1930 to 1941­-shows a fascinating demonstration of the Radio Hat, which was way ahead of its time!

Click here to view on YouTube.

Very cool! Thank you for sharing, Ed. I love how the radio hat is so conspicuous–hey, I’d wear it!

Woot Deal: Two pack of Eton/Grundig Executive Travelers for $94.99


Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ken McKenzie, who shares the following deal via Woot: a two pack of Eton Executive Travelers for $94.99 US:

Click here to view on Woot.

Woot has a great reputation–I’ve purchased from them several times. You can buy with confidence.

Note the following, however:

  • You must use the Woot smart phone app to snag this particular deal (links to iOS and Android).
  • Woot deals are one day only (i.e. today) and while supplies last.

And a two pack? Buy one for you and one as a gift, I say! The Traveler is a great radio–In fact, I gave mine as a gift to someone.

Spread the radio love! 🙂