“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.
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:
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.
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, 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.
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.”
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!
Halley VI: The British Antarctic Survey’s new base (Source: British Antarctic Survey)
On Wednesday, 21 June 2017, the BBC World Service officially transmitted the 2017 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast–an international radio broadcast intended for a small group of scientists, technicians, and support staff who work for the British Antarctic Survey.
This is one of my favorite annual broadcasts, and I endeavor to listen every year. Once again, the SWLing Post called upon readers to make a short recording of the broadcast from their locale.
Below are the entries, roughly organized by continent and country/region, including reader’s photos if provided. If I’ve somehow missed including your entry, please contact me; I’ll amend this post.
So, without further ado….
The 2017 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast Recordings
SWL: Willy, OZ4ZT Location: Copenhagen, Denmark Notes: Here is a short recording of BBC AMB on 5985kHz. It was recorded using the IC 7300’s internal record function. Antenna used was a dipole for 7MHz.
SWL: Klaus Boecker Location: JN49AC in Germany Notes: Attached please find the link to my reception Video of the 2017 Midwinter broadcast. and a photo. Just failed the first seconds, because I’ve muted my headphones and was wondering why I couldn’t hear anything. Hihi.
For the reception, I used my good, old Kenwood R1000 and my homebrewed mag-loop.
Recorded via soundcard and processed with Audacity. The Video later on is done with the NCH VideoPad Software.
SWL: Tony Roper Location: Ruhpolding, Germany Notes: 2017 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast being received on my Tecsun PL-660 whilst in Ruhpolding, Germany. Antenna was just the supplied wire hanging vertically from the window. Wasn’t expecting much due to the surrounding hills but was pleased to pick up the Ascension transmitter.
SWL: Giuseppe Morlè iz0gzw Location: Formia, Italy Notes: I used the Tecsun PL-660 with its telescopic antenna and only on Dhabbayya frequency 6035 I had a bit of difficulty. I’m on my home balcony in Formia, Center Italy, Tyrrenian sea.
SWL: Andrea Coloru (IW3IAB) Location: Italy (locator JN55XI) Notes: I used an AOR 1500 with a long wire antenna (about 40 meters). My QTH locator is JN55XI and best frequency was 5985 kHz. There was light overlap by an RTTY station but reception was loud and clear. Other frequencies were bad, too much fading or unreadable.
SWL: Davide Borroni Location: Saronno, Italy Notes: I listened BBC Midwinter with SINPO 34333 on 6035 kHz AM Thanks for show !
I use my Hallicrafters receiver R45 ARR7 and Siemens E401 , magnetic loop antenna:
Davide with his Siemens E401 magnetic loop antenna.
I was curious to listen this transmission and Wednesday I tried to receive it with a little Tecsun PL-300wt and its antenna. My QTH is impossible for electric noise (I live in a flat on a bank with alarm, neon, and so on) but I listened the transmission on 6035 khz SINPO 24131 (quite inaudible), on 7360 kHz SINPO 34232 so I’ve listen on 5985 kHz SINPO 44333 (in record attached with ID), I’ve listen transmission from 21:30 to 21:50.
SWL: Cap Tux Location: Scotland Notes: BBC World Service Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast 2017. Cerys Matthews (Catatonia) presents music requests and special messages to the staff at the British Antarctic Survey, broadcasting in English, June 21 2017, 2130-2200 GMT on 5985 kHz (transmitter power of 300kW, transmitter location: Woofferton, UK).
Recorded with an SDRPlay RSP2 using SDRuno and a homebrew passive Mag Loop.
SWL: Ayrshire, Scotland Location: Scotland Notes:
Tonight I rushed home from work in time to hear the broadcast. Signals were good at my QTH in Scotland, even though we had thunder storms to the East of Scotland.
I made several (shaky) videos on my smart phone. As you will see from the videos, my receivers are more of the classic/old type, but reception was good with my home made antennas.
Details of my receivers, antennas and location are on the youtube videos.
I have posted one of reception from Wooferton on 5985 kHz Am, and one of
reception from Ascension on 7360 kHz AM.
I also heard Dhabayya with a good readable signal, but the first two were the best signals best with me.
SWL: Mark Hirst Location: Basingstoke, England Notes: Please find enclosed a short extract from yesterday’s broadcast, plus a picture of the radio used just before the programme started. Again it was so interesting to hear a broadcast aimed to such a small audience with heartfelt messages from their friends and family.
SWL: Rawad Hamwi Location: Turaif – Northern Borders Province – Saudi Arabia Notes:
[Wednesday] I tried listening to the BBC Antarctica Midwinter Broadcast (for the first time) from northern Saudi Arabia and really I enjoy it so much! All the 3 frequencies were loud and clear but the most audible one was 5985 kHz
I filmed the entire 30 min broadcast and the video is uploaded on YouTube
Here are some details I included in the video description
Date/Time: 21/6/2017@21:30 UTC | 22/6/2017@00:30 Arabia Standard Time (UTC+3)
Frequencies: 7360 kHz – 6035 kHz – 5985 kHz
Receiver: Sony ICF 7600GR
Antenna: 30 LM Longwire Antenna
Location: Turaif – Northern Borders Province – Saudi Arabia
SWL: Richard Langley Location: New Brunswick Notes:
I had good luck with recording the BAS broadcast both here and using the U. Twente receiver. Attached are two two-minute clips, one from the start of each recording. Also attached [above] is a photo of the “listening post” at the back of my yard.
The Elecraft KX2 which I hooked up to a NASA PA 30 multi-band compact wire antenna that I suspended in a tree.
None of the frequencies used for the Midwinter broadcast were ideal for my location and time of day (after all, these broadcasts target Antarctica!) but last year I did successfully receive the 41 meter band broadcast.
The KX2/NASA PA 30 provided the best reception results, but sadly the recording turned out quite poor due to an incorrect setting on my Zoom H2N digital recorder.
Fortunately, I did make the following video of my Sony ICF-SW100 in action:
SWL: Nace Magner Location: Bowling Green, Kentucky Notes: I listened to the signal on 7360 kHz from the back porch of my home in Bowling Green, KY. I used a 35′ end-fed external antenna located about 20′ up in a tree. I received a similar quality signal using the external antenna with a Kaito 1103 radio. I also received the signal on the Kaito using only its whip, although the signal was substantially weaker.
Thank you for your excellent work on the SWLing Post.
SWL: Jon Pott Location: Michigan Notes: My first attempt at catching the Midwinter broadcast; I wasn’t expecting to pick up anything at all, but the Ascension Island location came through well enough that I could positively identify it when I compared to BBC’s recorded broadcast.
Recording of my reception (the beginning of the recording corresponds approximately to the 4:00 mark in the BBC recording below).
Location was western Michigan in the U.S.
Elevation: Approx. 212m ASL
SWL: David Iurescia (LW4DAF) Location: Argentina Notes: I’m sending you the first seconds of the BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast, using a Yaesu FT 840 and a half wave dipole, 30 Km south from Buenos Aires. It is on 7360 Khz. It had good signal, but too much noise here.
From Propaganda to Journalism: How Radio Free Europe Pierced the Iron Curtain
The end of the Second World War signaled the beginning of an information war in Europe. As the military alliance between the Soviet Union and its main western allies — the United States and Britain — came to an end, the USSR backed small communist parties that asserted ever-tighter control over much of Eastern Europe.
Speaking in Fulton, Missouri in March 1946, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill warned of an “Iron Curtain” of totalitarian control sealing off half the continent. His speech heralded the beginning of an ideological “cold war” that would last for more than 40 years, a struggle in which citizens of the eastern camp were only meant to hear one side of the argument.
“We talk about the Iron Curtain as a physical barrier, but it was also an information curtain,” says A. Ross Johnson, a former director of Radio Free Europe and author of a history of RFE and its companion station, Radio Liberty, which broadcast into the Soviet Union. “All the communist regimes saw control of information as a key to their rule.”
An SWLing Post contributor also recently shared the following PDF article by A. Ross Johnson for the Wilson Center. Here’s the summary:
To Monitor and be Monitored– Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty during the Cold War
Monitoring of Soviet bloc radios was an important input to Radio Free and Radio Liberty broadcasts during the Cold War. RFE and RL also monitored the official print media and interviewed refugees and travelers. Soviet bloc officials in turn monitored RFE, RL, and other Western broadcasts (while jamming their transmissions) to inform themselves and to counter what they viewed as “ideological subversion.” On both sides, monitoring informed media policy.
RFE and RL monitored their radio audiences through listener letters and extensive travel
surveys, while the Communist authorities monitored those audiences through secret police
informants and secret internal polling. Both approaches were second-best efforts at survey
research but in retrospect provided reasonably accurate indicators of the audience for RFE, RL, and other Western broadcasters.
If you’re interested in Cold War broadcasting, I would also encourage you to check out Richard Cummings’ blog, Cold War Radio Vignettes.
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