Radio Waves: Honking SOS, Vatican Hosts Shortwave G9, AM Vital in Wyoming, and the Mainstream Transistor

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!

Supermarket delivery driver saves 90-year-old after ‘SOS’ Morse code signal on car horn (ITV)

A 90-year-old widower was saved by an supermarket delivery driver when he broke his hip – and used his car horn as Morse code.

Retired panel beater Keith Turner was left injured when he slipped on his driveway before he dragged himself to his car.

The quick-thinking pensioner then used the horn to sound out the SOS message in Morse code in a cry for help.

And it was heard by delivery driver Sam Speechley, 45, as she pulled up in her van in the Garden City village in Flintshire, North Wales.

Keith was taken to hospital where he spent three weeks with a broken hip before he was finally allowed home. [Click here to read at ITV…]

Vatican Radio hosts ‘G9’ of short wave media as ‘missionaries of peace’ (Vatican Radio)

Gathered at the historic headquarters of Vatican Radio in the Vatican Gardens, representatives of the nine primary western radio broadcasters meet with Monsignor Lucio Ruiz opening the meeting by recalling the importance of short wave in sending messages of hope and mercy all over the world.

By Michele Raviart

The “G9” group of the primary western radio broadcasters met at the Vatican on Tuesday focusing on a number of issues.

These included the use of short-wave radio in order to render the jamming of international broadcasters less effective through common efforts to coordinate how broadcast frequencies are used and technical cooperation between members.

This marked a key item on the agenda of the meeting which brought together the representatives, including Vatican Radio, in the historic building of the Pope’s radio, located in the Vatican Gardens, a place that housed the first radio station built by Guglielmo Marconi.

Reaching the ends of the earth
“You are at home, because the Holy See is everyone’s home, because it wants to welcome us in a universal embrace of fraternity to work for the good of humanity.”

That is how Monsignor Lucio Adrian Ruiz, Secretary of the Dicastery for Communication, opened the meeting.

In a world that is increasingly marked by expanded services in broadband and new technologies, we are “dedicating ourselves to shortwave and the services that are offered through it,” Msgr. Ruiz noted.

He added that this effort is “fundamental in order not to forget those people in different parts of the world who have no access to other forms of information and connection than with these technologies. For us, who are essentially missionaries, short wave offers a precious means of outreach since it allows us to reach the ends of the earth with a message of tenderness, mercy, peace and hope.” [Continue reading the full article…]

Car Manufacturers May Drop AM Radio; Wyoming Radio Station Owners Say AM Is Vital (Cowboy State Daily)

The AM dial on the radio may not be going the distance in future cars now that many auto manufacturers have begun shifting to electric vehicles.

That’s because electric motors generate wavelengths similar in frequency to AM radios, interfering with reception of the AM band.

It’s a problem that will likely get worse over time as electric vehicles adopt larger motors while trying to meet consumer expectations for long-distance travels.

That has many auto manufacturers mulling the possibility of dropping the AM dial altogether.

Rural Impacts

That’s not good news for rural states like Wyoming, radio station owners told Cowboy State Daily. They believe it’s concerning from both a public safety and awareness standpoint.

“AM radio is still vital in many communities, particularly in Wyoming in the rural areas,” Sheridan Media’s Bob Grammens told Cowboy State Daily. “Not just in Wyoming, but just across, you know, the Midwest.”

AM stations provide many communities a “life link” to a variety of alerts, including weather and emergency situations in addition to a full slate of local news and sports, he said.

“Like today (in Sheridan) we’re having you know, we’ve got almost a foot of snow,” Grammens said. “And, you know, we’re keeping the roads updated, the road conditions. You just don’t get that with a lot of stations.” [Continue reading…]

Taking the transistor mainstream with music on the go (Marketplace)

The future began 75 years ago this week with the invention of the transistor. We’ve been looking at the ecosystems of innovation that grew the transistor into the interconnected, digital revolution. The old Bell Telephone Labs in New Jersey was powered by genius and corporate monopoly power. But the transistor had to travel to Dallas for it to become music to our ears.

Before there was the first iPod and before the Walkman, there was the transistor radio. It didn’t need big vacuum tubes, so it made carrying a lightweight, more mobile listening device possible.

The first one was the Regency TR-1, and on its launch just before Christmas 1954, it was priced at $50, about $550 dollars in today’s money.

“What was amazing was that people were so transfixed with it, that it sold out at that price. They couldn’t make enough of them at first,” said Don Pies, son of the co-founder of the Regency company of Indianapolis. [Continue reading and listen to this report…]

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4 thoughts on “Radio Waves: Honking SOS, Vatican Hosts Shortwave G9, AM Vital in Wyoming, and the Mainstream Transistor

  1. Mike N7MSD

    The kewl thing about most SDRs is that they show you so much ABOVE (and often below) the SW band. The awesome thing about SOFTWARE defined radio is that you can make it do anything within the limits of the hardware: this is why a cheap TV dongle with an accessible test mode has become such a huge sensation both in the ham & maker world and beyond into the commercial & govt one! Specifically the Realtek dongles paired with their cheaper tuners will do 24-1766 MHz!

  2. mangosman

    AM and Wyoming. The telcos have been very successful in convincing broadcasters that they should stop broadcasting and save money. It means however for the listener that they have to pay the telco to deliver programming. Some think it is free, however by it’s nature using the internet, particularly mobile internet requires a separate bidirectional channel between the broadcaster and the listener, This means that if broadcasting stops then the telcos will have to provide a transmitter/receiver for each simultaneous listener and these also will require bandwidth to be purchased from the FCC. This iwll put up capital and operating costs.
    As for EVs all digital HD in the AM band can reject some EV interference, which if it is excessive the receiver will mute. Unfortunately for HD radio, the digital signals are around 10 % of the analog signal. (Pure digital HD still contains a carrier which carries no data) Better is Digital Radio Mondiale because there is no carrier giving greater protection against EV interference.

    How reliable is calling 511 Notify will not work if the electricity insulators are covered in melting snow because the electricity fails. It is easier to backup power a broadcasting transmitter as compared to the large number of cell phone base stations.

    1. Mike N7MSD

      As usual I have to not only completely disagree but point out your arguments are extremely outdated. I may be marked a troll here but someone has to say it.

      “This means that if broadcasting stops then the telcos will have to provide a transmitter/receiver for each simultaneous listener and these also will require bandwidth to be purchased from the FCC.”
      Already is. The bandwidth required for a compressed AM-quality signal is a few dozen kilobits at most. The multi-casting is done in data centers; the station (or you or whoever) just has to upload to the servers where its copied to whoever wants to listen (now OR in the future). This isn’t video, which requires much more but as all the streaming services prove, this is easy to provision especially these days; audio is trivial. As for “capital & operating costs”, putting up an actual broadcast station with all the engineering, coordination (especially for LW & MW and/or near national borders) is a an expensive lengthly mess; meanwhile, I can be up & broadcasting with my smart phone & you receiving it on your device of choosing in literally minutes–or set up a video call in seconds! Welcome to the 21st Century!

      “How reliable is calling 511 Notify will not work if the electricity insulators are covered in melting snow because the electricity fails. It is easier to backup power a broadcasting transmitter as compared to the large number of cell phone base stations.”
      Again just the opposite is true in most cases: how can you call *9*11 (or 112 or whatever) if the weather knocks out power for an extended time. Even telco central offices only have so much fuel. Cable & fiber will go unless the repeaters have extra power (they don’t unless they’re in a bad area). Modern lithium batteries & 21st century SoCs keep things operating for a LONG time without needing fossil fuel backup; many sites are 100% solar (and wind sometimes).

      AM (including SW) works for poor countries because of patents & the cost of building a cheap radio that only receives simple analog signals. The First World doesn’t care, especially younger generations. Personal example: 18 years ago I was a truck driver. When I drove through Wyoming I saw billboards reminding people about “local radio” (or similar, as I said it’s been a while). Listening in, I heard nothing but talk & country: YUCK! I turned the radio back off. I didn’t have satellite radio (which is what the billboards were campaigning against) but the sound of the engine was preferable! *NOW* you have near-continuous LTE (4G) along that route; outside its spottier unless you have satellite (again). Most would just turn off the radio altogether & just listen to their saved list.

      Bottom line, there are fewer & fewer listeners because there’s nothing to listen to: do you really need 4 country stations, or the entire bottom of the dial to be religious broadcasters? There is only one thing I personally use AM (& sometimes FM) for: DXing to see how far I can here (& if the band is open) & how well my radio works (when it did: I forgot to mention the radio in my car no longer works [I think the antenna is disconnected somewhere] AND I DON’T CARE! REALLY!!)

      I’m getting off my soap box now; I’m tired of repeating myself & won’t do it again. Incidentally, in a poll, few in Ukraine were listening to SW (many don’t even have radios)–instead they were getting all their info from Telegram. Feed that in to this story as you wish.

  3. Jon Hudson

    Thinking about the invention of the integrated circuit which came some 12 years later it occurs to me that it was a young inquisitive Jack Kilby who invented the silicon chip making Texas Instruments the successful company it is today. How did he become technically inquisitive? As a kid he was mesmerized by Radio Communications – he was introduced to the magic of amateur radio at a very young age! It also occurs to me that it’s at aged 10-13 years that kids truly get fascinated by things which set them up for life. Today, the default way in which youngsters get hooked on interests which shape their future, is via the internet…. and that’s now totally controlled either by parents, big business, the state or nutters wanting to influence them!

    So, here’s the thing. If you know a teenager who’s smart, has a PC, is inquisitive and would like to explore technology that can give a truly unmoderated view (yet relatively safe! ) of what’s out there, then get them a good SDR receiver (we’re talking under $200) – with a piece of wire as an antenna he or she can explore and be in control! There’s so much to tune into – there are broadcasts from around the work on shortwave, aircraft comms from aircraft flying overhead – both voice and transponder data, there are radio amateurs and illegal pirate stations (real people) transmitting from pretty much every country in the world telling it how it is as they see it. There are high resolution satellite camera images to decode and mysterious number stations to pick up and ponder as to what they intend! The shortwave spectrum alone still offers so much:


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