Radio Waves: Shedding Light on the Hindenburg, Chip Shortages, NPR at 50, and July 4th SAQ Grimeton Transmission

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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’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Ron, Rich Cuff, and the Southgate ARC  for the following tips:


Radio Amateur’s Vintage Home Movie Film Sheds Light on Hindenburg Disaster (ARRL News)

Vintage home movie film provided by New Jersey radio amateur Bob Schenck, N2OO, was the highlight of a PBS documentary about the Hindenburg disaster. The film, shot by his uncle Harold Schenck, may provide clues as to what initiated the disastrous 1937 fire that destroyed the airship Hindenburg and claimed 35 lives as the German zeppelin was landing at Lakehurst, New Jersey. Harold Schenck tried to interest government investigators in his film, shot from a different angle than newsreel footage that begins only after the fire was well under way, but it was largely overlooked. “Nobody ever asked for it,” Bob Schenck explains in the documentary.

The Schenck film is the highlight of a PBS “NOVA” documentary, Hindenburg: The New Evidence, that investigates the issue in considerable depth in an effort to unlock the secrets of the cold case. The program aired on May 19 and remains available for streaming.

“My dad had bought this nifty Kodak camera — a wind-up movie camera, 8 millimeters — and he couldn’t come [to the Hindenburg landing] because he worked,” Bob Schenck recounted during the documentary. “So, he asked my uncle and my mom if they would take some shots and see the Hindenburg land.”

Bob Schenck approached Dan Grossman, an expert on airships, including Hindenburg, in 2012 during a commemoration of the disaster that forever memorialized radio reporter Herbert Morrison’s plaintive on-air reaction, “Oh, the humanity!” The NOVA documentary not only shares Schenck’s footage, which provided new clues to re-examine the cause of the explosion. The documentary also reviews scientific experiments that helped investigators come to a fresh understanding of what set off the fire. [Continue reading…]

Will chip shortage hit ham radios ? (Southgate ARC)

Glenn O’Donnell K3PP of Forrester Research notes the chip shortage may have a more serious impact than first thought and gives Amateur Radio rigs as an example of what might be affected

Self-described as a “ham radio nut,” O’Donnell discussed one of his hobbies to explain how the sway of tech titans could impact smaller companies as industries compete for limited resources.

“In this hobby, the newer radio “toys” are advanced technology, but the hottest radio might sell 5,000 units per year. If Apple wants 100 million chips, but the little ham radio company wants 5,000, Apple wins!” O’Donnell said.

Read the article at
https://www.techrepublic.com/article/global-chip-shortage-the-logjam-is-holding-up-more-than-laptops-and-cars-and-could-spoil-the-holidays/

NPR at 50: A Highly Selective History (Washington Post)

The network’s half-century evolution from an audio experiment to a media powerhouse

Today NPR is one of Washington’s most familiar and influential media companies, operating out of a gleaming, ultramodern broadcast facility on North Capitol Street. Its radio programs, online content, and podcasts reach millions of people around the world. But when it launched 50 years ago, in April 1971, National Public Radio was a decidedly scrappy enterprise.

How did a modest radio project from a bunch of audio idealists evolve into the multimedia behemoth that we now spend countless hours listening to? To celebrate NPR’s anniversary, we’ve put together a look at its history and transformation. Please note: If you would like to imagine the whole thing being read to you in the voices of Nina Totenberg and Robert Siegel, we won’t object. Click here to read the full article…

SAQ Grimeton Transmission on July 4th (Southgate ARC)

The annual transmission event on the Alexanderson Day with the Alexanderson Alternator from 1924, on VLF 17.2 kHz CW with the call sign SAQ, is scheduled for Sunday, July 4th, 2021.

The Alexander Grimeton Association are planning to carry out two broadcasts to the world from the old Alexanderson alternator SAQ. Only required staff will be in place, due to the ongoing pandemic.

Transmission schedule:

  • Startup and tuning at 10:30 CET (08:30 UTC) with a transmission of a message at 11:00 CET (09:00 UTC)
  • Startup and tuning at 13:30 CET (11:30 UTC) with a transmission of a message at 14:00 CET (12:00 UTC)

Live Video from World Heritage Grimeton Radio Station
Both transmission events can be seen live on our YouTube Channel.
The live video starts 5 minutes before the startup and tuning.
https://mailchi.mp/aff85163e64f/alexanderson-day-2021?e=2c0cbe870f

 


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22 thoughts on “Radio Waves: Shedding Light on the Hindenburg, Chip Shortages, NPR at 50, and July 4th SAQ Grimeton Transmission

  1. Solovino

    Billions? How much funding is appropriated to the CPB? Annual funding for the CPB has been level at $445 million for several years. That amounts to about $1.35 per American per year and that represents 0.01 percent (one one-hundredth of one percent) of the federal budget.

    Reply
    1. Bob Colegrove

      You don’t have to fund a favored project; instead, you foster it with tax incentives. To say it another way, you won’t find this money in any budget or appropriation. It’s money the government didn’t get due to tax exempt contributions from donors who made pledges when these stations go begging twice a year – “social engineering” in today’s parlance.

      Reply
  2. Solovino

    John, the information you cited is over 30 years old! It may have been true then, but it is not now. You may check the annual audited consolidated financial statement on the NPR website for the most current status.

    I stand by the statement that on average, less than 1% of NPR’s annual operating budget comes in the form of grants from CPB (Corporation for Public Broadcasting) and federal agencies and departments.

    There is no “federal cash trough” that NPR is able to dip from.

    Reply
    1. John

      I stand by my statement, there’s been no change in NPR’s “business model”.

      You’re figures are easily refuted:

      The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) receives its funding through federal appropriations; overall, about 15% of public television and 10% of radio broadcasting funding comes from the federal appropriations that CPB distributes.
      https://www.everycrsreport.com/reports/RS22168.html

      According to CPB, in 2009 11.3% of the aggregate revenues of all public radio broadcasting stations were funded from federal sources, principally through CPB, in 2012 10.9% of the revenues for Public Radio came from federal sources.

      Directly or indirectly, the money ultimately derives from US taxpayers
      NPR shouldn’t be getting a dime of federal money.

      Reply
    2. Bob Colegrove

      I’m looking at the 2018 Form 990 from WETA, Washington DC’s dues paying PBS station (available at https://weta.org/sites/default/files/2021-01/FY%202019%20IRS%20990%20__%20July%202018%20to%20June%202019.pdf).

      Of at total revenue of ~$110M, ~$5M were in direct government grants. Nearly all the rest (~$105M) were in private gifts and contributions which are tax deductible. Let’s assume a worst case that all the donors make less than $40K, putting them in the 12% tax bracket. That would mean the Federal Government has made an indirect contribution of at least $12M to one station. Granted, WETA is in a large market, but then not all the donors make less than $40k/year, and neither does this include state deductions. Nevertheless, multiply that by 350 PBS stations, all paying dues to NPR. Now we’re talking $4.2 billion dollars annually. As the late Sen. Everett M. Dirksen would have said, “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking about some real money.”

      Time to log the station and turn the dial.

      Bob Colegrove

      Reply
      1. John

        And where do you think the money comes from that built those radio stations and helps maintain them?

        = local, state and federal sources accounts for almost 50% of that budget

        It all sounds like a very nice cozy arrangement, scandalous even.
        Maybe some NPR journalists could do an expose…

        Reply
  3. Michael Black

    The Hindenberg story is a real stretch. Amateur radio has nothing to do with it, the uncle who filmed it wasn’t a ham. The only connection is that the nephew is a ham.

    It’s like if I fell down, and it was reported in the local paper. So the ARRL reports it because I have a ham license.

    They shouldn’t have tried to make it news, and it shouldn’t have been repeated here just because it was in the feed.

    Reply
    1. John

      Since NPR is celebrating its 50th birthday here’s a great blast from the past “celebrating” it from another point of view.

      https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/how-do-i-hate-npr-let-me-count-the-ways/Content?oid=882237

      I concur with his analysis 100%, I’m sure nothing has changed since then.

      One of the insights is particularly sharp, NPR’s journalism is actually thoroughly mediocre and self-serving, they get away with “journalism” that would have the average newspaper editor wielding their red pen with gusto.

      Also, the claim they only get a teeny, tiny portion of their budget from federal sources is blown wide open. Through a variety of accounting tricks and smoke and mirrors NPR has its snout deep in the federal trough.

      Reply
      1. Solovino

        “Through a variety of accounting tricks and smoke and mirrors NPR has its snout deep in the federal trough.”

        This is a common misconception. In reality, NPR produces an annual audited consolidated financial statement and files IRS 990 and 990T statements. Any “accounting tricks and smoke and mirrors” would be quickly detected by the IRS.

        On average, less than 1% of NPR’s annual operating budget comes in the form of grants from CPB (Corporation for Public Broadcasting) and federal agencies and departments.

        Reply
        1. John

          This is false:

          “Well, you pay for it. That may come as a surprise; through a propaganda campaign that’s been successful beyond its wildest dreams, NPR has convinced most people that it no longer depends on tax dollars for its existence. The NPR claim that less than 3 percent of its funding comes from the federal government is accepted as gospel almost everywhere.

          But what that figure really represents is a clever bookkeeping trick. In 1987, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting—the quasi-independent organization in charge of distributing the annual $300-million-plus federal subsidy to public broadcasting—stopped funding NPR directly and started giving the money directly to public radio stations, which then hand it back to NPR in the form of “dues.” That covers about two-thirds of NPR’s $46 million annual budget.

          Then there’s the matter of that $198 million satellite NPR uses to distribute its programming: yup, paid for with tax dollars. (NPR also makes a nice chunk of change by renting out the satellite’s excess capacity to a private paging company.)

          And without taxpayer dollars, there wouldn’t be any public stations to run NPR’s programs. Of the total $377 million spent on public radio in fiscal 1991, nearly half was provided by local, state, and federal government. Taxes are the lifeblood of the entire industry.”

          Propaganda indeed, NPR has it’s snout deeply embedded in the federal cash trough.

          Reply
  4. Steve Allen

    I started listening to NPR in the very early 1970s, specifically All Things Consider while making dinner in our cheap apartment overlooking downtown St. Paul, MN. We continued to listen over the years until we entered the 21st century, at which time NPR became so politically polarizing (i.e. leftist) that we could no longer listen. Now that we are in 2021, their programming narrative (Covid-19 for example) continues to be proven false and is another example of the socialist infiltration of the MSM that has occurred over the last twenty years. How they continue to be funded by public tax dollars is beyond me. It’s so sad that almost everything in our lives is now controlled by some entity’s political agenda.

    Reply
    1. Bob Colegrove

      Funding continues under the auspices of what has come to be called “The Deep State,” a core of tenured bureaucrats who continue unmolested by any change of elected administrators. NPR’s agenda, to some extent, is countered by a small group of conservative talk show hosts who have managed to become syndicated on numerous stations across the AM dial, but whose incessant, defensive whining doesn’t do the message much good.

      The bottom line is a gross lack of substantive content across the broadcast spectrum. For those of us who once tuned in regularly to the Lone Ranger and the Joy Boys, no further explanation is necessary.

      Bob Colegrove

      Reply
      1. Solovino

        While NPR does not receive any direct federal funding, it does receive a small number of competitive grants from CPB and federal agencies like the Department of Education and the Department of Commerce. This funding amounts to approximately 2% of NPR’s overall revenues.

        Reply
      2. Solovino

        “Funding continues under the auspices of what has come to be called “The Deep State,” a core of tenured bureaucrats who continue unmolested by any change of elected administrators.”

        Please provide us any evidence you have of such a “fact.”

        Reply
        1. Jeremy

          Agreed. I’m a lifelong conservative, but I listen to NPR because they exercise good journalism. They’ll also do in-depth reporting you can’t find anywhere else. And, being a listener, I notice they interview an equal amount of representatives from each side of the aisle.

          This “deep state” connection is nonsense and propagated by those who aren’t willing to actually show proof. Based on its structure, NPR is actually more transparent about their finances than any of the for-profit news sources. You can even see their tax returns!

          I would rather listen to journalists and people I trust even if what they’re reporting doesn’t always jive with my own political sensibilities. I’d rather do that than put my brain on a shelf and let someone else plant their own thoughts in my head. I still value critical thinking even if it isn’t convenient.

          Reply
    2. Solovino

      I’ve found NPR’s coverage to be fair and balanced, not politically oriented at all. What part of NPR’s Covid-19 coverage was “proven false”?

      While NPR does not receive any direct federal funding, it does receive a small number of competitive grants from CPB and federal agencies like the Department of Education and the Department of Commerce. This funding amounts to approximately 2% of NPR’s overall revenues.

      Reply
      1. John

        NPR shoudn’t be getting any US taxpayers’ money at all, not a single dollar, directly or indirectly.

        And if it’s only 2% of their budget, no problem, they should be fine without it. Then they can compete in the free marketplace just like any other private media company is required to.

        And if they can’t compete, they should cease to exist, same as any other company that fails to deliver a product or service at a price others are willing to pay for = the Air America radio network* (2004-2010).

        *continually lecturing their audience and whining about what a terrible place the US is turned out to be not such a good business model after all…who’d could have ever guessed that?

        Reply
    3. John

      I stopped listening to NPR years back for exactly the same reasons.

      Back in the UK the BBC, funded by legally-mandated purchase of a TV license (how they’re still getting away with this “business” model is a complete mystery to me), drifts from scandal to scandal. The latest one involves protecting one of their “journalists” named Bashir, who they knew had forged bank statements to help snag an interview with the late Princess Diana.

      What did the cuddly BEEB do when this was brought to their attention?

      They immediately fired the whistleblowers and destroyed their reputations.
      They then promoted Bashir making him head of BBC Religious Programming.

      This all came to light with the recent release of Lord Dyson’s report. Dyson didn’t pull any punches in his conclusions which revealed knowledge of what Bashir had done at the highest level within the BBC and deliberate attempts to smear those who’d brought Bashir’s illegal activities to their attention.

      And then there’s the BBC’s coverage of Brexit, which was so egregiously biased in favor of the remain side, their long claimed stance of impartiality was ripped clean away.

      Thankfully Brits are wising up, terminating their TV licenses in the millions, and heading over to streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon for their entertainment where they won’t be threatened with fines and imprisonment for having the nerve to not cough up for the TV license.

      I watched a news clip re the currect woes of the BBC a few days back. One of the commentators mentioned he’d recently asked his 16-year old nephew what he thought of the BBC. His nephew’s response, “what’s the BBC?”.

      The BBC is fast becoming a dinosaur and irrelevant on the UK’s media landscape. It should either join the 21st century and become a subscription-based service or suffer the fate of the dinosaurs.

      Reply
    4. Solovino

      “their programming narrative (Covid-19 for example) continues to be proven false and is another example of the socialist infiltration of the MSM that has occurred over the last twenty years.”

      What reporting about Covid-19 has NPR done that has been proven false? Please provide us evidence of your assertion.

      Reply

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