Radio Waves: Shortwave is Holding its Own, Solar Storms and Internet Outages, Trust in News, and RSGB Convention Trailer

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 Dan Van Hoy, Dennis Dura, Rich Cuff, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:

Shortwave Radios Keep Up With Tech (Radio World)

There’s still lots to listen to, and new ways to do it

Surprise! Shortwave radio as a broadcast medium is holding its own, despite the intrusion of the internet, transmission cutbacks by major broadcasters such as the BBC World Service and Voice of America and abandonment of the SW bands by other state-owned broadcasters.

Meanwhile, the ways in which people listen to SW radio transmissions are evolving, because SW receiver manufacturers are keeping up with the technological times.

Stayin’ alive

There is no doubt that the variety of stations on the SW bands has declined, due to the end of the Cold War — the propaganda war of which drove the medium in the 1950s and 1960s — and the emergence of the internet.

Nevertheless, “Even with many stations that are long gone, there is still quite a lot to listen to on the SW radio bands,” said Gilles Letourneau, host of the OfficialSWLchannel on YouTube (25,600 subscribers) and editor of the CIDX Messenger magazine column “World of Utilities.”

“You have stations like Radio Romania, Voice of Turkey, Radio Prague, Radio Slovakia and Radio Tirana, Albania, while WRMI in Miami has popular listener-created programs like Voice of the Report of the Week,” he said.

“The big broadcasters are there as well but they don’t target North America anymore. Still, I get my share of BBC World Service, Radio France International, Voice of America and Vatican Radio mostly targeting Africa, Middle East and Asia but still listenable here at certain times of day.” [Continue reading…]

An ‘Internet apocalypse’ could ride to Earth with the next solar storm, new research warns (Live Science)

The underwater cables that connect nations could go offline for months, the study warns.

The sun is always showering Earth with a mist of magnetized particles known as solar wind. For the most part, our planet’s magnetic shield blocks this electric wind from doing any real damage to Earth or its inhabitants, instead sending those particles skittering toward the poles and leaving behind a pleasant aurora in their wake.

But sometimes, every century or so, that wind escalates into a full-blown solar storm — and, as new research presented at the SIGCOMM 2021 data communication conference warns, the results of such extreme space weather could be catastrophic to our modern way of life.

In short, a severe solar storm could plunge the world into an “internet apocalypse” that keeps large swaths of society offline for weeks or months at a time, Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi, an assistant professor at the University of California, Irvine, wrote in the new research paper. (The paper has yet to appear in a peer-reviewed journal).

“What really got me thinking about this is that with the pandemic we saw how unprepared the world was. There was no protocol to deal with it effectively, and it’s the same with internet resilience,” Abdu Jyothi told WIRED. “Our infrastructure is not prepared for a large-scale solar event.”

Part of the problem is that extreme solar storms (also called coronal mass ejections) are relatively rare; scientists estimate the probability of an extreme space weather directly impacting Earth to be between 1.6% to 12% per decade, according to Abdu Jyothi’s paper.[Continue reading…]

Overcoming indifference: what attitudes towards news tell us about building trust (Reuters Institute)

Executive summary and key findings 

In recent decades, trust in news has declined in many parts of the world (Fletcher 2020). While the coronavirus crisis has reminded some of the value of independent journalism, boosting trust in some places (Newman et al. 2021), many continue to regard news with considerable scepticism. The media are at the centre of often intense public arguments over how societies generally – and news specifically – deal with important and sometimes polarising issues including the pandemic but also more broadly the climate emergency, populist politicians, racial injustice, other social inequalities, and much more. One prominent feature of these debates is often outright hostile attacks on news media and individual journalists by vocal and visible critics who actively express their distrust and disdain for the media and its many shortcomings, both real and perceived, especially on social media.

To be fair, news media are not alone in facing often dwindling public trust. Trust in many other institutions, including both national and local governments, has also declined in some cases, as has interpersonal trust. However, social scientists have long stressed that, despite frequent and sweeping claims of a ‘crisis of trust’, there is no evidence for a consistent, across-the-board decline in public trust in every country, every institution, or every news organisation (Norris 2011, Newman et al. 2021). These wider developments and pronounced country-to-country differences are important for trust in news, too, because attitudes towards news media are difficult to disentangle from other forms of trust towards other institutions (Hanitzsch et al. 2018).

Trust also matters for democracy. When the public place their trust in those who are in fact trustworthy, it can be profoundly enabling. But its absence can be equally debilitating, and, when trust is misplaced, it can lead us astray. Trust in news specifically matters for journalists who want people to rely on their reporting, for news media who depend on people paying attention to (and paying for) the news they produce, and for each of us as citizens. We all need trustworthy sources of information to understand and navigate our worlds and consider perspectives outside of our own narrow personal experiences.

The impact of the digital media environment on trust

Understanding trust in news and how news media may be able to build trust is especially important in an increasingly digital, mobile, and platform-dominated media environment where more and more people rely on intermediaries, including search engines, social media, and messaging applications, to access and discover news. As more people spend more of their time using platforms – which often provide limited context on the sources of information displayed and where many do not recall the brands behind stories they have read (Kalogeropoulos et al. 2019) – there are considerable concerns about how such changing audience behaviours will impact attitudes towards news outlets that depend on trusting relationships with audiences. [Continue reading…]

RSGB 2021 Online Convention trailer released

The Society has just launched a trailer for this year’s online Convention. It gives a whistle-stop tour of the programme that delighted 3,500 radio amateurs from 24 countries on the day last year, and a taste of what to expect from this year’s event.

It is just one minute long so take a look, be inspired and put 9 October 2021 in your diary!

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6 thoughts on “Radio Waves: Shortwave is Holding its Own, Solar Storms and Internet Outages, Trust in News, and RSGB Convention Trailer

  1. Mario

    Been listening to shortwave for over 50 years with many receivers purchased and sold over those 5+ decades. Yes, there were many more stations to listen to back then but still I can’t resist spinning that SW radio dial or firing up the RTL-SDR dongle to see what weak, distant SW stations are on the air. Radio Havana is very strong here along with Radio Romania and wonderful Greek music from Voice of Athens. Brother Stair (RIP) seems to be everywhere also.

    UTEs such as CW from the Israeli Navy, RTTY from German meteorological stations, WWV, CHU, WEFAX from stations around the world, Airline comms, the ham bands, and random, unexpected SSB comms (numbers stations included) from unknown stations still capture my interest. HF will always be interesting to listen to.

  2. Jean Pierre

    The “big” broadcasters have left shortwave to leave plenty of room to Radio China International. VOA, BBC, Radio France, but also Deutsche Welle or Radio Canada are all public funded and have forgotten that by leaving shortwave they also dropped a lot of “soft power”. I remember listening for hours to VOA’s Jazz hour a few years back, it gave me good time but it certainly did twist my mind that makes me always think of America with kindness. Come back “big” broadcasters, an extra two or three transmitters is not that expensive and the return is huge.

  3. Mike S

    >“The big broadcasters are there as well but they don’t target North America anymore. Still, I get my share of BBC World Service, Radio France International, Voice of America and Vatican Radio mostly targeting Africa, Middle East and Asia but still listenable here at certain times of day.”

    I’d be interested to know which ones people listen to in North America. Vatican Radio is the only one I pick up consistently. Are there BBC and VOA broadcasts that can more or less be heard in North America reliably?

    1. Tom Servo

      At least as far as the eastern half of the US goes, English broadcasts by Romania, Turkey and Spain are all easily audible here most days. BBC and the VOA are audible occasionally from Africa in various languages including English from time to time.

      Tirana, Prague and R. Slovakia in English are all rebroadcast by WRMI at various times.

      I don’t think anything specifically targets the western US anymore from outside the country, but XEPPM Mexico City, R. New Zealand Intl, NHK and North Korea are all pretty easy catches in various languages.

      It’s certainly not like it was in “ye olden golden days” but WRMI and WWCR both still play tons of music from all kinds of genres. KBC from Germany still rocks two hours every weekend on the east coast, too.


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