Radio Waves: Waves Around Earth’s Core, New Australian Communications Minister, Shipping Forecast Future, and Hams Accused of Being Spies

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!

Giant Magnetic Waves Have Been Discovered Oscillating Around Earth’s Core (Science Alert)

Earth’s interior is a far from quiet place. Deep below our surface activities, the planet rumbles with activity, from plate tectonics to convection currents that circulate through the hot magmatic fluids far underneath the crust.

Now scientists studying satellite data of Earth have identified something inside Earth we’ve never seen before: a new type of magnetic wave that sweeps around the surface of our planet’s core, every seven years.

This discovery could offer insight into how Earth’s magnetic field is generated, and provide clues of our planet’s thermal history and evolution – that is, the gradual cooling of the planetary interior.

“Geophysicists have long theorized over the existence of such waves, but they were thought to take place over much longer time scales than our research has shown,” says geophysicist Nicolas Gillet of the Université Grenoble Alpes in France.

“Measurements of the magnetic field from instruments based on the surface of Earth suggested that there was some kind of wave action, but we needed the global coverage offered by measurements from space to reveal what is actually going on.

“We combined satellite measurements from Swarm, and also from the earlier German Champ mission and Danish Ørsted mission, with a computer model of the geodynamo to explain what the ground-based data had thrown up – and this led to our discovery.”

Earth’s magnetic field is the subject of much fascination for scientists. Research to date suggests that the invisible structure forms a protective ‘bubble’ around our planet, keeping harmful radiation out and the atmosphere in, thus allowing life to thrive. [Continue reading…]

Michelle Rowland sworn in as new Communications Minister (TV Tonight)

Michelle Rowland sworn in as new Communications Minister

Australia has a new minister leading regulation in the screen sector.

Michelle Rowland M.P. has been sworn in as the new Communications Minister under PM Anthoyn Albanese.

Replacing Paul Fletcher, she has previously been shadow communications minister in opposition.

“It is an honour to be sworn in as Minister for Communications and to serve the Australian people under an Albanese Labor Government,” she said.

“This portfolio has the potential to further enable an Australia where connectivity and content enriches our quality of life, informs us, drives productivity and empowers us to fulfil our potential. I am dedicated to ensuring Australians, in our cities and regions, are united and connected. Now, let’s get to work” [Continue reading…]

‘A link across time’: how shipping forecast will outlast Radio 4 long wave (The Guardian)

Boats have not needed the broadcast for decades but radio bosses know nostalgia for it runs deep

Radio 4’s shipping forecast is a national institution, with millions of listeners reassured by the thought that, somewhere out at sea, British fishers are patiently waiting by their radios to find out whether there is a gale warning in Rockall or Cromarty.

Yet the announcement that Radio 4’s long wave signal will be shut down as part of the BBC’s latest cuts has left many wondering how the country’s fishing fleet will cope without access to the four-times-a-day updates.

The slightly less romantic reality, according to Mike Cohen of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, is that his members have not needed Radio 4 for decades. Modern fishers have far more accurate devices to warn them about the wind and rain: “Even the small 15-metre boats in Bridlington have satellite internet these days. I’ve had video calls from people in the middle of the sea.”

Yet that does not mean they are immune to the charms of Sailing By, the music that heralds the forecasts and was designed to help captains adjust their radios: “That theme tune is a link to other times, other people, other places. There’s as much a fondness among fishermen for that as there is for the rest of us.”

When the fishers’ trade body asked its members how they felt about the shipping forecast one said it “acted as a link across communities, a link across time”. Another added: “For us it is a bygone age but for many older folk it is a reassuring connection to the past.”

The BBC plans to end dedicated programming on its Radio 4 long wave frequency next year, which could mean the loss of two of the current four shipping broadcast updates. The early morning and late night forecasts will remain on FM, DAB and online broadcasts. But the loss of the long wave signal – accessible far from the British mainland – confirms they will essentially be nostalgia pieces, more about waking the nation up or lulling listeners to sleep. [Continue reading…]

Two Brits arrested in Albania as police accuse them of spying after seizing radio gear (Southgate ARC)

Two Britons were quizzed on allegations of espionage by officers at Tirana International Airport in Albania after police discovered sophisticated Kenwood radios in their luggage

Two Britons have been arrested by Albanian spooks and accused of spying after border police found radio transmitters in their luggage.

The pair were quizzed on allegations of espionage by officers at Tirana International Airport after they discovered sophisticated Kenwood radios in their luggage.

They told the officials they were IT engineers who were carrying the amateur gear to indulge their hobby while on holiday in Albania.

One suspect was registered as using a “ham radio” in the Tirana region on online profiles, which also say he specialises in “electronic warfare”.

Albanian police confirmed that they have opened a probe over allegations of “spy activities” and “espionage”.

A source said: “It’s highly unusual to be carrying this sort of equipment and even more strange for someone to be stopped and accused of being a covert agent.”

The two Britons were held on May 30 and then allowed to return to the UK. However they remain under investigation, police say. The electronic kit by Kenwood – which makes a range of cutting edge communication devices – was sent to the Albanian Criminal Laboratory for further examination.

You can read the full Daily Mirror article at

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8 thoughts on “Radio Waves: Waves Around Earth’s Core, New Australian Communications Minister, Shipping Forecast Future, and Hams Accused of Being Spies

  1. Bill V Lee

    “adio” ??
    swiing’s Copy Editor is nodding

    “‘A link across time’: how shipping forecast will outlast Radio 4 long wave (The Guardian)
    Boats have not needed the broadcast for decades but radio bosses know nostalgia for it runs deep
    adio 4’s shipping forecast is a national institution, with millions of listeners reassured by the thought that, somewhere out at sea, British fishers are patiently waiting by their radios to find out whether there is a gale warning in Rockall or Cromarty.

  2. Mark

    There is younger and younger People in charge at the BBC and most other media outlets and they would probably have grown up with FM radio and probably never heard LW or MW and probably never even heard of Shortwave.

    AM radio in Europe is dying fast, especially English speaking radio. I try to tune in to many UK stations today from here in Ireland and I’m told this station isn’t available in your area……..sad times.

    It’s a pity the BBC never embraced DRM because right now on my kiwisdr 22:00 UTC I am listening to CNR on 9655 Khz and amazed at how a 30 Kw DRM station is being received vs the 500 Kw Analogue station just before it. It’s rock stable too and not the first time I’ve picked it up but it really does show the potential of DRM.

    Earlier in the day I was listening to the German station Funklust on 15785 Khz and from what I know this station is transmitting at only 100 watts, propagation isn’t as good now at 22:08 UTC but what really struck me was how good it sounded, almost comparable to Analogue AM using the xHE-AAC codec, previously I only heard AAC DRM and it sounds absolutely woeful compared to analogue but I can listen to xHE-AAC, it’s actually not bad at all. Funklust is the only station I have heard transmitting in xHE-AAC.

    Sadly I think even here in Europe we will never see a take up in DRM as more countries turn to DAB and are now only interested in transmitting locally. I suppose a lot of people tune in online from foreign countries unless of course you want to listen to a lot of UK stations which are geo blocked.

    1. mangosman

      Mark, have you listened to BBC World Service
      Frequency Start UTC Stop UTC CIRAF – click here to see map Broadcaster FMO Language Transmitter Latitude Longitude Beam Power (kW) Days of operation (Sun=1) From date To date Notes
      3955 0459 0600 27SE,28NW BBC Worldservice ENC Eng Woofferton 52N19 002W43 114 100 1234567 09-May-2022 30-Oct-2022 DRM_EUROPE

  3. Dafydd Jones

    And of course,once they end dedicated programing the last reason for listening to Long Wave,unless 1) you just like that analogue sound & reassuring background hiss,that some people of a certain age do enjoy 2) you are a fanatical DX-ER who just loves the thought of that old transmitter packing out the kilo watts for hundreds of miles or 3) you really do only have a LW/MW radio (and there may be a few of those? There are still lot’s of people who use black & white tv’s apparently! Whatever they’re watching certainly deserves a nod for longevity! Mine conked out years ago!).
    Long Wave does have some good points,of course! The signal travels hundreds of miles. It can be listened on an inexpensive portable radio,with reasonable sensitivity,for next to nothing,literally anywhere! No need for a wi-fi connection/router,no subscription fee! And Radio 4 is mostly speech orientated,so sound quality isn’t quite as important as it is for most of the other BBC radio station’s,unless you must hear your latest instalment of a Phillip Pullman novel in stereo sound?! The trouble is,as I pointed out at the beginning of my rant,the proportion of people who listen to Radio 4 on Long Wave is obviously relatively small. I don’t know the current percentage and I’m always inclined to view data on such statistics from broadcaster’s like the BBC,with a pinch of salt! Rte’s handling of the proposed closure of the Long Wave transmitter springs to mind! While I’d be the last person to suggest they lied,data seems to have been conveniently ignored & skued in their favour! And,then there’s the debacle of the closure ABC’s shortwave transmissions. Again,convenient ignoring of & skewing of data! The problem is that while,even in this day & age,there are some very good reason’s for maintaining shortwave broadcast’s in the Northern Territory & Pacific (the vast geography & remoteness,lack of & unrelability of digital/fm alternatives,hurricane’s,tsunami’s,etc!) and in the case of the Irish diaspora,an elderly/ageing population who are not technically minded/resistant to digital technology (And it’s easy to be disparaging about this! Maybe,you’ll be resistant to some kind of technology when you’re old? No,I won’t,you might say! But you don’t know,because you’re not old!). Rte’s proposed DAB coverage was limited to specific areas,Brexit finished off any hopes of network coverage (for the time being,anyway!) and it’s been difficult enough to sell DAB to the general,UK population,let alone the aeging diaspora! As to broadcasting Rte using DRM?!! Elderly people with DRM radios?!!Don’t make me laugh! Of course,it’s available on satellite (Sky! I don’t know about Freesat?) Most elderly people,like me,want to watch their tv’s,not listen to it,with the screen blacked out!
    In a paralell universe (which,some here might suggest I live in?!!) Radio 4 would continue in all it’s analogue glory! Manufacturer’s would spend money on promoting it’s virtues (those suggested here) it & selling Long Wave capable radios. Young people would rejoice at liberating themselves from their enslavement to & filling the vast bank accounts of big multi-national corporations! But,sadly life is not like that! And,unfortunately,for the minority (and unless there really is a vast,lizard-like conspiracy & there really are thousands of 198khz LW listener’s out there?! Or something incredible & totally unforseen,like out of a John Wyndham novel,happens!!) Radio 4 Long Wave is almost certainly doomed! At this point,anyone who does listen to it needs to beat their chest & howl as loudly as they possibly can (I do mean,metaphorically!). Speak now or forever hold your peace! Maybe,march through the streets of London! Deliver a petition to Downing Street! Go on Hunger Strike! You never know?! If you’re very,very lucky,the BBC might turn yellow in the face of middle england (or,maybe,some other bits?) and delay closure or/& the end of dedicated programing a little longer (I’d bet on the former,if one of either!). It will be interesting to see if anyone kicks up a fuss & how much,if any,entails? There usually is a fuss of some kind when the Beeb muck around with the Radio 4 schedules! This could be bigger? Or smaller? Or,it just won’t happen at all!
    Oh well,you’ll still be able to listen to the Shipping Forecast at bedtime! And in stereo! The minority of mariner’s who do swear by their Long Wave radio,could be in trouble,though! (I think there could be a storm brewing,Bill?!!)
    Thanks for the SWling Post,by the way & to all the great people who post’s here!

    1. mangosman

      In remote Australia there are satellite fed low powered FM transmitters. The coverage area is similar to mobile phones ie a radius of 10 km. The same approach is used by Radio Australia!

      When is the UK going to switch off DAB for DAB+? All new systems like DAB+ and DRM is to follow the Norwegian example and the conversion of television to digital. Set up a rollout program which also includes a rolling switch off program. After 12 months the Norwegian ratings returned to their analog averages and have increased since then. The listeners get much more choice, broadcasters much lower transmission costs and in many countries a reduction of carbon dioxide generation.

  4. mangosman

    It would appear, as in many broadcasters there is little knowledge of propagation of the various modes of program distribution to listeners.
    The highest frequencies with the exception of satellites travel the least distance ie mobile internet, DAB followed closely by DAB+ then FM down to low frequency (LW) . An exception is made for high frequency (SW) because it can not only follow the earth but can also be reflected from the ionosphere. So what is the point in broadcasting the forecasts on DAB(+) or FM? shows the BBC transmits to Europe on DRM for an hour a day when fishers would be preparing to go out. Not only could the BBC announce the weather forecast, but also send the weather map to be displayed on a DRM radio or computer, using a SDR dongle.

  5. John

    Ah, the old Buzz Aldrin edition Grundig!

    Still have mine from way back bought at Universal Radio, mines came down with sticky case syndrome, like a lot of other folks’ units did.

    Since I was born and raised in the UK few things evoke a stronger sense of nostalgia than listening to “Sailing By” followed by the Shipping Forecast late at night on BBC Radio 4, longwave.
    All those strange sounding places, it was like hearing a report of an alien landscape, all read in that very proper BBC voice.

    One of those articles mentioned BBC longwave broadcasts of cricket matches. That’s another hit of nostalgia right there. I never had any interest in cricket whatsoever, but recall hearing those scratchy sounding matches on 198 kHz playing in the background as aural wallpaper.

    It’s sad the BBC will be ending its longwave transmissions. But technology marches on and I’d be sadder if it didn’t…


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