Radio Waves: First Microprocessors, Ocean FM, SWL Interviews, and NPR’s take on All-Digital AM

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’sRadio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Marty, Martin Butera, and the Radio Survivor for the following tips:

The Surprising Story of the First Microprocessors (IEEE Spectrum)

Transistors, the electronic amplifiers and switches found at the heart of everything from pocket radios to warehouse-size supercomputers, were invented in 1947. Early devices were of a type called bipolar transistors, which are still in use. By the 1960s, engineers had figured out how to combine multiple bipolar transistors into single integrated circuits. But because of the complex structure of these transistors, an integrated circuit could contain only a small number of them. So although a minicomputer built from bipolar integrated circuits was much smaller than earlier computers, it still required multiple boards with hundreds of chips.[]

Ocean FM Was Fire: How Local Radio Done Right Can Heat A Cabin | Radio Schmaltz (Part-Time Audiofile)

[…]The cabin on a rocky peninsula in Northwest Ireland might not have had all the letters for its Scrabble set or a microwave, but it did have another marvel of 20th century technology. It was a little CB/AM/FM radio crouching behind a box of matches on top of a kitchen cabinet.

I decided to put the switch on FM and started swirling the dial. As soon as I heard a lilting woman’s voice underneath a sheet of static, I began carrying it around the tiny room while adjusting the rabbit ears.

Now the signal was as clear as the peat-rich water was brown, a farmer was being interviewed about the economic downturn. It was a quick piece — just some brogue-ish assurances that one doesn’t choose agriculture for an easy life. Then came a trio playing an Irish ballad, and then came North West Hospice Bingo: a bingo game that allows listeners from across the broadcast range of Ocean FM’s two regional frequencies to play bingo, including the residents of the hospice.

I’d bundle up for walks outside where the wind was loud, blustery, and sacred. The ocean crashed against the rocks in a way I never conceived as being real outside of movies. But when I was inside, the radio might as well have been a Soviet relic with only a volume control and no tuner because I simply couldn’t touch that dial. I learned the schedule quickly, timing walks and firewood runs so that I’d be back in time for Country Jamboree, a boy-girl-boy-girl style line-up of Irish and American country tunes.

As I’d stand by the wood-stove, taking off my cold wet socks to put on the toasted, at time singed socks that I’d been roasting, I felt the fulfillment of the promise of radio. I could hear Fessenden making history with the first radio broadcast of music, Oh Holy Night transmitted on a rocky coast on Christmas Eve of 1906 and heard by ships at sea.[]

Coffee and Radio Listen

Coffee and Radio Listen is an investigation of Brazilian radio listener, by Martin Butera.

How they began listening to radio, the local or international stations that influenced them, the interests they have when tuning to a station, the languages they like to listen to, if they send listeners reports and collect QSLs, their antennas and receivers, and all aspects related to the radio listen both in shortwave and in other bands and modes.

Each month they will have in this blog, an exclusive interview with a Brazilian radio listen. At the end of this project, a free downloadable e-book will be available, which contains all the interviews and statistical references.

Every month there will be a new interview, this month of March launch month we start with 2 interviews

Martin is Argentinian, born in the city of Buenos Aires capital. He currently lives in Brasília DF, capital of Brazil. He is also a journalist, documentary maker and founding member of Radio Atomika 106.1 MHz (Buenos Aires, Argentina).

To know more about CREW 15.61 Radio Listeners’, please visit the following link.

Guest Post: Brazil’s newly-formed “15.61 Crew”

Collaborate on this project by Martín, our friend Rob Wagner (VK3BVW), Mount Evelyn DX Report (adapting the recordings).

Click here her to check out the Coffee And Radio Listen website.

NPR Supports All-Digital on AM, With Caveats (Radio World)

National Public Radio “generally supports” allowing stations to transition, if they wish, to all-digital AM transmission using HD Radio in the United States. But it believes the commission needs to go further on how it would handle interference complaints from neighboring analog stations in the band.

About 80 AM public radio stations are affiliated with NPR or receive operational funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, including WNYC(AM) in New York City.

NPR says it has significant interest in any measures to help AM broadcasters better serve the public by improving the listening experience.

“Facilitating the expansion of HD Radio and its additional functionality for program and public safety information and services would serve the public interest, provided the transition to all-digital HD Radio operation does not cause harmful interference,” NPR wrote in comments filed with the FCC this week.

“As it has in the past, NPR supports the expansion of HD Radio, but not at the expense of current analog AM service.”[…]

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5 thoughts on “Radio Waves: First Microprocessors, Ocean FM, SWL Interviews, and NPR’s take on All-Digital AM

  1. Mangosman

    The total number of channels is unchanged, the number of broadcasters is unchanged unless they go broke, so what is required is more spectrum. This is why I am suggesting repurposing the old TV channels 2 – 6 and use a much more efficient digital radio system. Each channel is half the width of an analog FM channel and a quarter of the HD VHF channel.
    There is more than the total number of AM and FM channels available in those old TV channels.

  2. mangosman

    All digital HD.
    There are 4616 AM stations and only 240 authorised to transmit HD in that band in the USA. In AM stations are allocated 20 kHz bandwidth where the intensity of high frequency sounds is less than those below 5 kHz. This has allowed channels to overlap by 5 kHz on each side of the channel. Add all digital HD the intensity of the signals across the channel is not related to pitch of the sound.
    The only way to overcome this is to drop the maximum data rate from 40kbit/s to 20 kbit/s which will half the bandwidth to 10 kHz. Such a low data rate doesn’t produce good sound and there is no data available for other functions.
    Even in the FM band all digital HD requires two FM channels again promoting interference between 14,000 stations and 10, 000 translators on different frequencies to their parents.
    A far better option is to use the virtually vacant old analog TV channels 2 – 6 and use DRM+ which will allow all broadcasters to share the same band without overlapping and interfering channels. In addition each broadcaster can have up to 186 kbit/s to use as they like for example 3 programs with higher bit rates, slideshows, Journaline indexed text service, electronic program guide, much higher capacity transmissions of traffic data to vehicle GPS to route around blockages and an Emergency Warning System containing maps and specific instructions in multiple languages

    1. Tom Servo

      There are various modes that stations can use with the IBOC scheme, and they don’t necessarily have to spill over into adjacent channels. The one AM currently testing all-digital on AM does not have the “sidebands” that hybrid digital broadcasts use and doesn’t interfere with adjacent channels.

      FM can operate the same way, although a higher bitrate is available if it can take up more than one analog channel slot.

  3. Len

    For anybody interested in more microprocessor history (in particular the Datapoint/Intel/TI 8008 story), “Datapoint: The Lost Story of the Texans Who Invented the Personal Computer Revolution”, by Lamont Wood, is an excellent read.

  4. John Figliozzi

    While disruptive, one idea would be to reconfigure the AM band reserving one section for digital and the other for analog.


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