Radio Waves: X-Class Flare & Halloween CME, Ham Callsign History, 2/3 UK Listeners Now Digital, AM/FM Until 2030, and Rampisham’s New Plan

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!

Significant X-class solar flare (Southgate ARC)

There was a global eruption on the sun today. It started with a powerful X1-class solar flare from sunspot AR2887.

The blast created a massive tsunami of plasma in the sun’s atmosphere, which rippled across the entire solar disk. A CME is probably heading for Earth, raising the possibility of a geomagnetic storm on Halloween. More information and updates @

Solar Flare Alerts: Sign up for Space Weather Alerts and get instant text notifications when solar flares are underway.

History of the Ham Radio Callsign (Southgate ARC)

In this video Mike Ritz W7VO looks at the history of amateur radio call signs in the United States

Every legal amateur radio operator in the world has a unique callsign assigned to them by their government, and many of us are better known by our callsign than our given name. But what world event was it that caused these monikers to be? Why are they constructed the way they are?

Watch this video I put together as presented at the QSO Today Expo in March 2021, and discover for yourself the storied history of the ham radio callsign!

Watch The Storied History of the Ham Radio Callsign:

Long-awaited RAJAR return reveals two thirds of radio listening now on digital (The Drum)

The RAJARs, the auditor of radio audiences in the UK, has announced the ups and downs of the industries for the first time since 2020 revealing how habits have changed greatly since.

British radio broadcasters reach broad audiences although younger people are less likely to regularly engage with radio in any form. That is despite DAB and other digital formats now accounting for well over 60% of total listenership.

Radio, in general, reaches 89% of the British population aged 15 and over, per the latest RAJAR figures. 62% of the population is exposed to BBC radio per week, listening to around nine hours of its stations over the course of a week. Crucially that breaks down to 72% of over 45s, while only 50% of under-55s listened to BBC radio.

BBC Radio 2 accounts for 26% of all listening per week, with BBC Radio 1 following at 15%.

Meanwhile, commercial radio reaches 66% of the population per week, for an average of 8.6 hours a week. By contrast, younger audiences typically listen to more commercial radio than audiences over 45 – 69% vs 64%.

Global accounts for the highest amount of listening across its various stations, with 23.5% market share. Listening hours across its radio network grew 5% year on year versus Q1 2020, and now stands at 236 million hours.

In terms of format, 34% of radio listenership takes place across AM and FM stations, versus 66% in digital. Of the digital total DAB accounts for 43%, with online and in-app making up 18% and DTV listenership accounting for 5%. Even in environments like in-car listening, digital audio is at the fore, with 53% of in-car listening happening via digital channels. [Continue reading…]

AM and FM radio to stay on air until 2030 (The Telegraph)

Officials are seeking to prevent radio broadcasting from going extinct, as listeners switch to digital streaming services and smart speakers

The future of FM radio is to be secured for the rest of the decade after a government review recommended that analogue services are protected until at least 2030.

Broadcasters will be required to keep AM and FM services on the airwaves under the proposals, which are aimed at ensuring elderly radio listeners and those in remote areas are not forced to switch to digital-only radios.

The UK had been due to begin winding down analogue radio licences from 2022, but last year Ofcom gave permission for broadcasters to continue operating for up to ten years. The Government is now expected to officially push back the digital switchover following the study by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Officals are seeking to prevent radio broadcasting from going extinct in Britain as listeners switch to digital streaming services and smart speakers.

Julia Lopez, the media minister, said: “We will not have a digital switchover until at least 2030 and will consider new rules to keep our thriving radio sector at the heart of the UK’s media landscape.”

While modern radios have increasingly switched to digital audio services, the report said FM radio should be protected until at least 2030. It added that just 3pc of listening is now done over AM radio, making a future switch-off increasingly likely.

The report added the new radios will be required to include digital settings by 2023. [Continue reading noting possible paywall…]

New Dorset business centre plan at former Rampishan BBC site (Dorset Echo)

A RURAL business centre could be developed at the former BBC transmitter site at Rampisham – with a range of companies said to be interested.

Among those listed are a firm producing music for films, a vets’, stone sculpture, a joinery business, charcutier, steel fabricator and a ceramic producer.

Few changes are thought likely to be needed to the external appearance of the site although internal changes would be needed to create suitable spaces for small to medium-sized businesses interested in re-locating there. Historic features, including the carved BBC crest, would be retained.

A planning application to Dorset Council seeks approval for changes to a range of buildings on the site, some of them retrospective.

The site, in open countryside, four miles from Maiden Newton and eight from Dorchester, was last used for BBC transmissions in October 2011 by which time it was operated by Babcock International. [Continue reading…]


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8 thoughts on “Radio Waves: X-Class Flare & Halloween CME, Ham Callsign History, 2/3 UK Listeners Now Digital, AM/FM Until 2030, and Rampisham’s New Plan

  1. Mike N7MSD

    One more thing I forgot: I do occasionally tune in AM / MW and FM and weather radio (something that doesn’t exist in Europe, found in NAm on 162.400-550 MHz in 7 channels), but almost always as DX beacons rather than the programs being broadcast.

  2. Mike N7MSD

    I’m probably going to catch flak for this but I have to reply to “mangosman” first paragraph: why stop at analog? I hardly listen to ANY broadcast radio! DAB (or HD here) makes no difference if its all just crap. The radio has been broken in my car for years except for the XM satellite radio receiver which I don’t have a subscription for. There is NOTHING on the air worth listening to on regular broadcast, IMHO. When they’re complaining about the FM receiver chip being disabled (if present) in my mobile cell phone, I also don’t care; if I want to listen, I find a nearby radio.

    The stuff I *DO* want to listen to is all online; seriously, *ALL* of it! I can listen to what I want, when I want. With phone LTE networks in most areas, all I can ask is, why does broadcast still exist? Sure, the EMCOMM angle, but beyond that?

    Now I understand I am in the minority for many, as these figures above seem to tell. Likewise, I only watch TV at work, and its completely unplugged and disconnected at home (if my place didn’t come with one, I wouldn’t have one). All of my media consumption is on my PC, smart phone, tablet, etc. I used to game heavily; maybe one day i will again.

    1. davide

      “I can listen to what I want, when I want”. I agree. Every afternoon, I listen BBC, Spain stations and other European broadcasters on MW. With digital radio this will be impossible…

      1. mangosman

        This is Digital Radio Mondiale. (DRM), yes in the high frequency (short wave) band

        0559-0700 BBC World Service 3955 kHz Daily English NW Europe UK, Woofferton 100 114

        I listen to BBC World Service from Singapore with a path length of 4000 km and it comes in as if the transmitter were next door and without errors. You do however need a DRM radio to hear it.

    2. mangosman

      Fortunately I do not live in the USA where I hear that radio programming is appalling. This is not the case in other countries.
      It’s about time the word got out. DRM and DAB+ which can transmit 18 programs per transmission channel, is the most energy efficient method of distributing program to a wide audience. The lease efficient is HD radio, AM, FM and the internet particularly cell phones with their many thousands of transceivers on towers. All programming must be served to each individual listener and there must be a wasteful return path. A cell phone tower covers around 310 square km, A high powered FM transmitter with an antenna 100 m above the surrounding terrain can cover around 31000 square km.

      One way to reduce the greenhouse gases is to broadcast using DRM or DAB+ neither of which contain a wasteful carrier which contains no sound information. HD in the AM band still uses a carrier!

      I am intrigued, the only high frequency (Short Wave) radio transmitted in the USA is either Government owned Voice of America and religious broadcasters who’s audience is outside of your country, you seem to listen to foreign sources (Spotify is Swedish), on the internet, do you listen to any broadcasts? If not why do you post here?

  3. mangosman

    With the worldwide climate change conference on In Scotland next week, It is surprising that Boris Johnson is not pushing the radio broadcasting industry to switchoff AM and FM due to the large quantities of electricity used by broadcasters resulting in more greenhouse gases being produced. A DAB+ or DRM transmitter can carry 18 stereo programs for less power consumption than an FM transmitter for the same coverage area. A change to all digital will lower the electricity demand making renewable energy generation at transmitter sites cheaper.

    When will Ofcom do a survey to find out how many DAB only receivers are being used.? DAB broadcasting started in 1995, UK receiver designs were modified to also receive DAB+ for the start of full time high powered DAB+ broadcasting in Australia in 2009. The other European countries using DAB have converted to DAB+ including Norway which switched off analog at the end of 2017. Now everybody has DAB+ receivers and the ratings have returned to previous levels and are now rising because some of the new additional channels are popular. The reason why Norway switched off analog was that their transmitter network was uneconomic. So rather than one FM transmitter per program they installed one for Government stations and another for commercial on each transmitter site.
    What is the average age of the the UK analog transmitter network? Also old DAB only transmitters are easily upgraded to DAB_ by changing the encoder. This will allow all of those mono programs to go stereo and the improved error correction will prevent the bubbling mud sound where reception errors are excessive.

    1. Mike Barraclough

      Ofcom do regular surveys of DAB set ownership. The recent report says “The market for radio listening including DAB radio is increasingly mature. Around 66% of UK adults currently claim to have access to a DAB radio set at home. However, over the past five years, there has been a decline in sales of new DAB portable devices used in the home….According to data from consumer goods industry analysts, in-home DAB radio sets sales fell by 17.8%, analogue radios by 24% and, overall, all radio devices declined by 21.1% in 2020. This trend is forecast to continue as smart speaker device penetration grows alongside the increasing choice listeners have via online audio services. This is likely to impact future investment in radio-only products resulting in some manufacturers exiting the radio market in the next five to ten years.”

  4. Mike Barraclough

    The Daily Telegraph story, written before the DCMS had been made available to the public, is incorrect regarding any Government requirement for services to remain on AM or FM. Commercial radio broadcasters can hand back AM and FM licences at any time or choose not to renew them.
    The report also says
    “Industry should begin planning for the long-term retirement of analogue services in line with the projected decline in analogue listening – but set no mandatory dates for the end of AM services at this point of time. BBC, Wireless and Bauer (operators of national MW services) should develop a plan for the migration from AM services to take place at some point in the mid-2020s.” AM listening now only has a 3% share of overall radio listening most of which is to the three national services Absolute Radio, BBC 5 Live and Talksport.
    It goes on to say “Based on current trends, a transition from FM to digital (DAB and IP) will not be possible before 2030 but the radio industry should start to make plans and preparations in terms of long-term investment on that basis and revisit this in a further Review to be completed by 2026.”
    All of this written before the RAJAR figures came out showing a significant increase in listening to digital platforms.


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