Monthly Archives: May 2022

Radio Waves: Taiwan Radio Enthusiasts, ABC Radio Still Vital, Funklust DRM, and Democracy’s Reliance on Quality Information

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

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 contributor, Eric Jon Magnuson, who has been taking an active role in helping to curate our Radio Waves tips.


Taiwan radio enthusiasts tune in as Chinese, U.S. warplanes crowd sensitive skies (Reuters)

SYUHAI, Taiwan, May 24 (Reuters) – Shortly after dawn on a southern Taiwanese beach, Robin Hsu’s iPhone pings with the first radio message of the day from Taiwan’s air force as it warns away Chinese aircraft.

“Attention!” a voice says on the radio, speaking in Mandarin to a Chinese military plane flying at an altitude of 3,500 meters. “You have entered our southwestern air defence identification zone and are jeopardising aviation safety. Turn around and leave immediately.”

Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, has complained for years of repeated Chinese air force missions into its air defence identification zone (ADIZ), which is not territorial airspace but a broader area it monitors for threats.

Although Taiwan’s Defence Ministry details these almost-daily incursions on its website, including maps outlining the activity, a band of Taiwanese radio enthusiasts like Hsu has been tuning in to related radio traffic and publishing the recordings online. [Continue reading…]

ABC’s oldest medium, radio, still vital in a world of streaming and podcasts (ABC News)

Thelma Denny doesn’t know life without the ABC.

Now 84, the resident of Apple Tree Creek near Bundaberg, was born six years after radio announcer Conrad Charlton announced to the country: “This is the Australian Broadcasting Commission.”

As a young girl, Thelma remembers her father “always had the radio on”, especially for the cricket or her mother’s favourite long-running radio drama Blue Hills.

These days the radio is her comfort and companion, especially since her husband, Ronald, died in 2016, two days after their 58th wedding anniversary.

Still living independently, the great-grandmother loves nothing more than to unwind with Phillip Adams talking from her bedside table each weeknight as she falls asleep.

But ABC radio is also her lifeline, so when her radio went on the blink, Thelma was at a loss.

“That’s been the problem, I can’t get an update on the weather,” she said.

“If there is a storm on, I have to turn off the television and the computer which has the weather bureau site.”

In times of emergency, it’s recommended battery-powered radios are part of home emergency kits, with power outages, poor internet and phone coverage meaning many regional areas’ only source of information is the radio. [Continue reading…]

Funklust is back on air with a boost (Red Tech)

ERLANGEN, Germany — Funklust, a German Digital Radio Mondiale shortwave station that began broadcasting in 2003, has returned to the air after undergoing extensive improvements.

Funklust is the student radio station of Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany. The station is a partnership between the university and the nearby Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits.

Friedrich-Alexander-Universität describes itself as “one of the largest research universities in Germany,” while Fraunhofer bills itself as “Europe’s largest application-oriented research organization.”

A joint effort

The students produce the program content and schedule. Fraunhofer handles the technical side of Funklust. Programming is mostly non-stop music, but it does carry a few external programs, such as Radio Goethe. The station was originally on the air as BiteXpress in 2003 and switched to Funklust several years later.

Fraunhofer recently updated the station’s equipment, and Funklust returned to shortwave in October 2021 after going off air in 2018.

The original transmitter was a 1,000 watt Telefunken S2525 DRM-capable transmitter. Fraunhofer replaced it with a new RFmondial 250 watt transmitter, which feeds the signal into a vertical lambda/four-monopole antenna mounted on a concrete mast at a height of 58 meters (just over 190 ft.)

A shortwave broadcast station typically broadcasts an analog signal using amplitude modulation. A single transmitter would only carry a single audio service, nothing more. By contrast, a DRM transmitter offers additional signal options, including the carrying of transmission information and other data. [Continue reading…]

Public Media and Direct Democracy (Public Media Alliance)

By Gilles Marchand, Director General of SRG SSR

“The fate of democracies will depend on their ability to produce and disseminate quality information.”

This article was originally published in Le Monde on 15 April 2022.

The debate surrounding funding for public service broadcasting is wide open and has, in particular, been covered by this newspaper. The French Presidential election campaigns have provided various different proposals, ranging from replacing the licence fee with an allocated budget to privatising the entire sector.

Clearly, this is a sensitive issue. It concerns a fragile ecosystem that has been disrupted by international pressure from streaming platforms and turned upside down by social media. It also fascinates politicians who enjoy the rush of being regulators, clients and media consumers all at the same time. Switzerland, with its direct democracy model, is an interesting testing ground as the citizens of this small multilingual and multicultural federal state get to decide regularly on the fate of the country’s public service with a vote.

Switzerland: a testing ground

As such, SRG SSR (Swiss Broadcasting Corporation) is the only public service provider in Europe to have come face to face with universal suffrage. In 2018, a referendum on abolishing all forms of public funding for it sparked fierce, unprecedented debate surrounding SRG SSR’s radio, TV and online programmes. The European broadcasting industry watched on in amazement as the battle lines were drawn between those for and against the existence of public service media. In the end, following a lot of intense campaigning, there was a convincing outcome at the polls as over 70% came out in favour of this public service and a licence fee which at the time amounted to around 360 euros a year per household! [Continue reading…]


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Radio Waves: Sowing Fear in War Zone, Shortwave’s Pedigree, CBC/Radio-Canada Moscow Bureau to Close, and a Voice for Hungary’s Roma Minority

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

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


Russian radio voices sow fear in Ukraine war zone (France24)

Lysychansk (Ukraine) (AFP) – The portable radio in the dark cellar of the rocket-damaged kindergarten was transmitting news in Russian over whistling airwaves about the Kremlin’s military triumphs in Ukraine.

The six frightened women and lone man cowering in the heart of the east Ukrainian war zone had no idea whether to believe the monotone voice — or who was actually patrolling the streets of the besieged city of Lysychansk above their heads.

All they knew was that their building was hit a few days earlier by a Grad volley that left the tail end of one of the unexploded rockets sticking out of the pavement at a sharp angle just steps from the back door.

Their feverish fears vacillated between the idea that their shelter’s lone entrance might get blocked by falling debris and that the Kremlin’s forces might come knocking unannounced.

“The Russians on the radio just said that they have captured Bakhmut. Is that true?” Natalia Georgiyevna anxiously asked about a city 30 miles (50 kilometres) to the southwest that remains under full Ukrainian control. [Continue reading…]

Thoughts on Shortwave’s Heritage and Future (Radio World)

In this guest commentary, DRM’s Ruxandra Obreja dives back in to the shortwave debate

Radio World’s “Guest Commentaries” section provides a platform for industry thought leaders and other readers to share their perspective on radio news, technological trends and more. If you’d like to contribute a commentary, or reply to an already published piece, send a submission to [email protected]

Below is perspective from Ruxandra Obreja, consortium chairman of Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM), in response to the commentary “Shortwave Revival a Non-Starter? The Authors Respond.” Her commentaries appear regularly at radioworld.com.

Seldom have we seen so much passion and polarizing views as in the recent articles for and against shortwave. From “it’s dead and gone” to “this is the revival,” all shades of opinion concerning this simple and all-encompassing platform have been expressed vigorously.

Shortwave Has a Pedigree

Shortwave, currently used for large-area, regional and international coverage in the developing world, certainly registered a decline in the past two decades (but it never died, as you can see here). This loss of pre-eminence in the developed world after the Cold War is not surprising. The platforms available nowadays, in the so called “global village,” include “basic” internet connections (browsing, emails, messaging apps of any type), to the prolific social media products (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit), as well as video, radio and TV apps, satellites, mobiles give the impression that the whole world is truly connected!

At least this is the view from Washington, London, or Berlin. But there are the same proportion of people in Europe and America with everyday internet access as there are in Africa with no way to access to it. In such regions, shortwave and mediumwave radio remains essential for many, one of only a few reliable means to receive communication.

Since the arrival of AM and FM some seventy years ago, the invention of at least three largely recognized digital broadcasting systems (DRM, DAB/DAB+ and HD) is the most notable radio development. Digital Radio Mondiale — the DRM open-source global standard — is the latest and most advanced of the three systems, but the only one that can digitize radio in all frequency bands and the only digital option for shortwave.

Closing shortwave transmitters and then trying to restart them presents a huge time, effort and financial challenge. However, nowadays, broadcasters can often buy shortwave transmission hours, in digital, too, from third party distributors, and do not necessarily need to rebuild a comprehensive infrastructure. [Continue reading at Radio World…]

Russia to close CBC/Radio-Canada Moscow bureau (Public Media Alliance)

The closure of the public media organisation’s bureau demonstrates further curtailment of independent and free press in Russia.

CBC/Radio-Canada – the only Canadian news organisation with a permanent presence in Russia – has been ordered by the Kremlin to close its bureau. After more than 44 years of reporting from Moscow, CBC/Radio-Canada staff have been told to leave the country. However, Vladimir Proskuryakov, deputy chief of mission of the Russian Embassy to Canada, said they would not be rushed out of the country. He told the CBC News the staff would not be forced to leave in “less than three weeks.”

CBC/Radio-Canada currently has 10 employees working in Moscow, including locally hired staff.

The move is retaliatory and comes two months after the Canadian telecommunications regulator, CRTC, banned Russian state TV stations RT and RT France from broadcasting in Canada. [Continue reading…]

Radio station elevates voices of Hungary’s Roma minority (AP News)

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Intellectuals, broadcasters and cultural figures from Hungary’s Roma community are using the airwaves to reframe narratives and elevate the voices of the country’s largest minority group.

Radio Dikh — a Romani word that means “to see” — has broadcast since January on FM radio in Hungary’s capital, Budapest. Its 11 programs focus on Roma music, culture and the issues faced by their community, and aim to recast the way the often disadvantaged minority group is perceived by broader society.

“Roma people in general don’t have enough representation in mainstream media … and even if they do, it’s oftentimes not showing the right picture or the picture that is true to the Roma community,” said Bettina Pocsai, co-host of a show that focuses on social issues.

Radio Dikh, she said, aims to “give voice to Roma people and make sure that our voice is also present in the media and that it shows a picture that we are satisfied with.”

Some estimates suggest that Roma in Hungary number nearly 1 million, or around 10% of the population. Like their counterparts throughout Europe, many of Hungary’s Roma are often the subjects of social and economic exclusion, and face discrimination, segregation and poverty.

Adding to their marginalization are stereotypes about Roma roles in society, where they are often associated with their traditional occupations as musicians, dancers, traders and craftspeople that go back centuries. [Continue reading…]


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Carlos’ Shortwave Art and recording of the Voice of Korea (May 26, 2022)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor and noted political cartoonist, Carlos Latuff, who shares his radio log art of a recent Voice of Korea broadcast.


Carlos notes:

Part of news bulletin from Radio Voice of Korea shortwave broadcast in English about efforts of North Korea’s government to fight covid-19 pandemic.

Listened in Porto Alegre, Brazil, May 26, 2022, 21h09 (UTC), frequency of 15245 kHz.

Click here to view on YouTube.

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Alan Roe’s A22 season guide to music on shortwave (version 2)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Alan Roe, who shares his A-22 (version 2) season guide to music on shortwave. Alan provides this amazing resource as a free PDF download:

Click here to download Music on Shortwave A-22 v2 (PDF)

Thank you for sharing your excellent guide, Alan!

This dedicated page will always have the latest version of Alan’s guide available for download.

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Matt’s Rooftop Receiver Shootout: Round Two!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Matt Blaze, for the following guest post:


Matt’s Rooftop Receiver Shootout, Round Two.

by Matt Blaze

You may recall that back in April, I dragged eight of my favorite receivers up to the roof, hooked them up to a portable antenna, and compared their abilities to demodulate various signals at the same time. For the most part, the similarities between radios were more striking than their differences. I hinted that there’d be a second installment to come, including more receivers and more challenging signals, to further expose and highlight the practical real-world performance differences between the radios we use.

So, as promised, here we are with Round Two of my Rooftop Receiver Shootout.

This time around, I used approximately the same setup, but with a total of fifteen different radios. And once again, I took advantage of nice weather and brought a multitude of receivers, recording gear, cables, and an antenna up to my roof to listen to and record shortwave signals under the open sky.

Our fifteen receivers included everything from “dream radios” from the 1980’s to current-production desktop models to less expensive modern portables to high-performance bench-top lab measurement gear. I tried to curate samples of a wide range of radios you may be familiar with as well as some you probably aren’t.

The lineup consisted of:

  • Icom R-8600, a current production “DC to Daylight” (or up to 3 GHz, at least) general coverage communications receiver, with highly regarded shortwave performance.
  • AOR AR-ONE, another DC to 3 GHz general coverage radio, less well known due to the high price and limited US availability. Excellent performer, but a counterintuitive and awkward (menu-driven) user interface is less than ideal for shortwave, in my opinion.
  • Reuter RDR Pocket, a very cute, if virtually impossible to get in the US, small production, high performance SDR-based shortwave portable receiver. It’s got an excellent spectrum display and packs near desktop performance into a surprisingly small package.
  • AOR 7030Plus, an extremely well regarded mobile/desktop HF receiver from the late 90’s. Digital but retaining some important analog-era features like mechanical filters. Designed and (mostly) built in the UK, it’s got a quirky menu-driven user interface but is a lot of fun once you get used to it.
  • Drake R8B, the last of the much-beloved Drake receivers. Probably the chief competitor to the 7030+.
  • Drake R7A, an excellent analog communications receiver (but with a digital VFO) from the early 80’s. It still outperforms even many current radios.
  • Sony ICF-6800W, a top of the line “boom box”-style consumer receiver from the early 80’s. Great radio, but hard to use on SSB, as we saw in Round One.
  • Panasonic RF-4900, the main competition for the Sony. Boat-anchor form factor, but (improbably) can run on internal D-cell batteries. Generally impressive performer on AM, but, like the Sony 6800, difficult to tune on SSB.

You may remember the above radios from Round One back in April. The new radios this time were:

  • Tecsun 501x, a larger-format LW/MW/HF/FM portable released last year. As noted below, it’s a generally good performer, but regrettably susceptible to intermod when connected to a wideband external antenna (as we’ll see in Part One).
  • Tecsun PL-990x, a small-format portable (updating the PL880), with many of the same features as the 501x. Like the H501x, good performance as a stand-alone radio, but disappointing susceptibility to intermod when fed with an external antenna.
  • Sangean ATS-909x, a recent LW/MW/HF/FM portable with a good reputation as well as a few quirks, such as only relatively narrow IF bandwidth choices on HF. Excellent performance on an external antenna.
  • Sangean ATS-909×2, an updated, current production version of the ATS-909x that adds air band and a few performance improvements. Overall excellent, though I would prefer an addition wider IF bandwidth choice. My go-to travel receiver if I don’t want to take the Reuter Pocket.
  • Sony ICF-7600GR, a small-format digital LW/MW/SW/FM portable introduced in 2001 and the last of the Sony shortwave receivers. Showing its age, but still competitive in performance.
  • Belka DX, the smallest radio in our lineup, made in Belarus. You’ll either love or hate the minimalist interface (one knob and four buttons). If you’re going to secretly copy numbers stations in your covert spy lair, this is a good radio to use. Can be difficult to obtain right now due to sanctions.
  • Finally, a bit of a ringer: the Narda Signal Shark 3310, a high performance SDR-based 8.5 GHz RF spectrum and signal analyzer. As with most test equipment like this, demodulation (especially of HF modes) is a bit of an afterthought. But it has an excellent front end and dynamic range, intended for identifying, extracting, and analyzing weak signals even in the presence of strong interference. Not cheap, but it’s intended as measurement-grade lab equipment, not consumer gear. Demodulated audio is noticeably delayed (several hundred ms) compared with other receivers due to the multi-stage DSP signal path.


The antenna was my portable “signal sweeper” Wellbrook FLX-1530 on a rotatable tripod, using a power splitter and a pair of Stridsberg Engineering 8-port HF distribution amplifiers to feed the fifteen radios. So every radio was getting pretty close to exactly the same signal at its RF input. Continue reading

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SWLing in Kiev: Vlad’s recording of VORW Radio International

Many thanks to my friend and SWLing Post contributor, Vlad (US7IGN), who recently shared a recording of VORW Radio International he made in Kiev (Ukraine) on May 27, 2022, at 16:00 UTC using his Icom IC-756 Pro III connected to a roof-mounted GP 5 M antenna. This show was broadcast on 9670 kHz from Austria. [See details in the April QSL above.]

Here’s Vlad’s recording:

Click here to view on YouTube.

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A Practical Application of Ham Radio – the Commuter Assistance Network         

The big gun of the operation, the Motorola CDM 1250. While sitting on The Big 94 repeater, it also scans NY State Police frequencies.

By Jock Elliott, KB2GOM

Disclaimer: this isn’t about shortwave; it’s about 2 meter ham radio, but it’s something I thoroughly love doing in the world of radio.

About 40 years ago, a Citizens Band operator named Ed Barnat started a loose-knit group called Tri-County Assistance. Its purpose was to detect problems on the roadways and report them in real time. Ed acted as the central hub for information and in turn relayed it on to the proper authorities for action. He also used the information gathered through the Tri-County net to provide on-the-air traffic reports for local radio stations. Back then, there were no cell phones and no traffic apps on smart phones. CB and broadcast radio were the only sources of traffic info for commuters.

In time, Ed got his ham license – N2RKA – and added a 2-meter section to the Tri-County net. Somewhere along the line, I got my ham license and participated in both sides of the net. Then change of jobs forced Ed to stop running the Commuter Assistance Net as it was now known.

Thrown into Deep Water

A couple of hams tried to continue the net, but struggled and ran into trouble. One day, I had just checked in when the repeater owner came on the air, because of a problem, he forbid the two hams from using his repeater to run the net and added, “Jock, if you want to run the net, you can.”

Holy smokes! I believed firmly in the concept of the Commuter Assistance Net. I had a wife and a son, and if they were out on the roadways and had a problem, I would want them to get help (no cellphones, remember?). So I agreed, but being Net Control is very different from being a net participant, and I had to figure it out as I did it. That was over 25 years ago.

At first, I kept a strict log of the callsigns of the hams who checked into the net, and I maintained a list over 70 agencies that I might need to call with an incident. With the advent of the Traffic Management Center (see below), now I have a single point of contact, and I keep a hash mark tally of the number of hams who participate each week.

One of the things I am most proud of is the lack of bureaucracy. We’ve operated 25 years with no dues, no bylaws, no formal membership list, and only three meetings . . . all for pie and coffee.

The Dawn Patrol

Scanners are part of the commuter net. Below are some of my notes for the week and my hash tag tally of check-ins day-by-day.

Every workday morning at 6 am, I fire up a Motorola CDM 1250 transceiver on 146.94 and announce: “This KB2GOM, net control, standing by for the Commuter Assistance Network.” 146.94 is an open repeater (no tone) that is located on Bald Mountain, north of Troy, NY. Its coverage footprint is enormous, reaching far to the North, South, and West. The East is pretty well blocked by the Berkshire Mountains. Official backup is our sister repeater on 147.330 – PL 146.2, and if both repeaters are down, find the net on simplex at 146.520.

The Big 94 — 146.94 — repeater has a huge footprint.

The net serves the Capital District of New York, which nearly at the eastern edge of the state, about 145 miles north of New York City. Workday mornings, a large number of commuters drive into the three major cities: Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, which have a population of about 600,000. People commute to state government offices (Albany is the capital of the state), colleges, universities, and a variety of companies.

The net runs every morning from 6 am until 8:15 am and sometimes longer when a major event happens such as a blizzard or major accident. On an average day, there a relatively long stretches of silence, punctuated by check-ins. On a typical morning, 8-10 hams will participate, and we’ll handle 1-2 incidents a day.

Most of the time, the incidents are disabled vehicles in or out of traffic which I report by phone to the Traffic Management Center, which is run by the NY State Department of Transportation. The TMC is located in the same room as the State Police dispatchers, and when a report comes in, troopers or HELP trucks, as appropriate to the situation, are sent to handle the call. Sometimes TMC calls to let me know about incidents, so the communication is a two-way street.

A trash truck that almost went over the guardrail.

Sometimes we get accidents, accidents with injuries, chemical spills, vehicles (including a propane tanker) on fire, rollovers, and even a truck that smashed into a bridge overpass. During one morning, an ice storm swept through the area, and I handled 70 calls in two hours.

Just Two Rules

Everyone is welcome to participate in the Commuter Assistance Net. The goals are simple: to detect problems on the roadways and report them to the proper authorities and to share that information with net participants.

The net has just two rules. The PRIME DIRECTIVE is: Don’t cause anything! Rule two: when in doubt, report anyway.

With all the traffic cameras that seem to be just about everywhere, one might ask: “Why do you even need a commuter net?” Three reasons: (1) the cameras don’t see everything; (2) the folks at TMC can’t monitor all the cameras all the time; it’s impossible, and (3) there is nothing like a trained observed (which the net participants are) to let you know what is actually going on in a particular situation.

Sometimes Funny Happens

Here’s a true story from the net that was posted on Reddit:

Going back a few years, I had a job that required me to commute about 45 minutes each way. On one local repeater, on 146.94, there was a “commuter net” that ran every morning from about 6-8, net control was a fellow that worked from home named Jock Elliot, KB2GOM. The ostensible purpose of the net was to track commute traffic conditions, warn about backups, construction, obstructions, debris, and to get assistance to stranded motorists. Jock had the local traffic center (the one that provides traffic reports to all of the broadcast media in the area), DOT and several fire and police departments all on speed-dial and would bring them up to date. Sometimes, they would call him as well with info, because he could be counted on to get eyes on the situation. I was a participant every morning during this stretch of time.

It was a fairly relaxed net, the channel was quiet most of the time, owing to it being largely event-driven, so some light banter went by most mornings . . . more some days than others, depending on the overall conditions . . . you get the idea, I hope.

Anyway, it was protocol, when a car was spotted along the side of the road, we would call it in, and Jock’s first question was always, “Is it occupied?” The answer to this question would decide what order he called DOT (which had a free roadside assistance service), police, and the traffic center. If it was occupied, it was in that order; if not, it was traffic center, then police.

That leads us to one particular morning. Jock gave me a call. It went like this:

Jock: KC2***, KB2GOM. Are you on this morning?

Me: KB2GOM, KC2***. Go ahead.

Jock: Do I remember right, that you take I-90 east?

Me: QSL.

Jock: Have you passed Everett Rd. yet?

Me: Negative. Probably about ten minutes ahead.

Jock: Great. The Traffic Center is telling me that they’ve got a report of debris in the road. When you get there, would you get a closer look at it so I can tell them what it is?

Me: Roger that.

About ten minutes pass. . . .

Me: KB2GOM, KC2***. I have eyes on the debris.

Jock: KB2GOM. What is it?

Me: There is a mattress sitting in the middle lane, about a hundred feet past the offramp.

A beat.

Jock: Is it occupied?

Finally, I am deeply grateful for all the hams who have participated in the net over the years . . . over 150 by my best estimate.

One day, I was thanking one of the net participants, and I said: “Without you guys, I would be just a weird old guy with a radio.”

Fred, W2EMS, came back to me: “Ah, Jock . . .”

Me: Yeah?

Fred: “Even with those guys, you’re still a weird old guy with a radio!”

When I stopped laughing, I said, “Guilty as charged.”

So if you are in the Capital District of New York on a workday morning between 6 am and 8:15, drop a call on 146.94 . . . everyone is welcome!

  • End —
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