Radio Waves: RTL Ends Longwave, Ana Montes Released, Mystery Antennas Across Utah, RIP Mihail Mihailov, and Morse in Music

The Junglinster RTL longwave transmitter (via Wikimedia Commons)

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!

RTL Ends Longwave Service (Radio World)

On 234 kHz, the new year rang in with static, not bells or fireworks. As had been announced in October, French broadcaster RTL switched off its longwave broadcasts on January 1, 2023.

Long-time RTL presenter Georges Lang marked the occasion with a bittersweet tweet: “Voilà, c’est fini… Goodbye good old Long Waves, you did a good job for a so long time. You belong now to the history of Radio-Luxembourg and RTL.”

Groupe M6, which owns the station, noted that maintaining longwave broadcasts from the Beidweiler, Luxembourg, transmission site consumed about 6,000 megawatt-hours of electricity each year, roughly equal to the average annual energy consumption of 3,000 French people. [Continue reading…]

US releases top Cuba spy Ana Belén Montes after 20 years in prison (The Guardian)

SWLing Post contributor, Ed, shares this story and notes:

Some SWLing Post readers might be interested to learn that one of the few spies ever caught in the U.S. using shortwave numbers station transmissions to receive instructions is Ana Belén Montes, who was just released from prison after serving 20 years of her 25-year sentence.

Former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst, 65, freed after being found guilty of espionage in 2002

One of the highest-ranking US officials ever proven to have spied for Cuba has been released from prison early after spending more than two decades behind bars.

Ana Belén Montes pleaded guilty in 2002 to conspiracy to commit espionage after she was accused of using her leading position as a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) official to leak information, including the identities of some US spies, to Havana. She was sentenced to 25 years in prison at the age of 45.

Montes, now 65, was released on Friday, the US bureau of prisons said.

A US citizen of Puerto Rican descent, Montes began working for the DIA in 1985 and rapidly climbed its ranks to become the agency’s top Cuba analyst. [Continue reading…]

Why are antennas popping up all over the foothills? Salt Lake City seeks to solve mystery (KSL)

SALT LAKE CITY — On Wednesday, Salt Lake City public lands officials hiked for hours up a snowy trail to remove a mysterious device – one that’s popping up all over the foothills.

It consists of a locked battery box, a solar panel, and an antenna, according to Tyler Fonarow, the city’s recreational trails manager.

“These towers have been bolted into different peaks and summits and ridges around the foothills,” Fonarow explained, “and it started with one or two, and now it might be as much as a dozen.”

The first ones appeared about a year ago, but Fonarow said many more were found in the past few months. The small towers don’t have permits, and it’s unclear who’s installing them.

“We just don’t leave things on public lands anymore. You have to ask for permission,” he said.

One was removed last week and another on Wednesday, with more will be removed in the coming weeks.

“Once we get up to the Twin Peaks, it gets real steep, so we were up there. There were five of us, and then we took some kids’ sleds to bring the equipment down to make it a little bit easier on us,” Fonarow said. [Continue reading and watch video report…]

Mysterious Antennas Are Appearing in Utah’s Hills and Officials Are Stumped (Vice)

City officials have found around a dozen of the antennas and no one is sure what they’re for.

Strange antennas have appeared in the foothills around Salt Lake City and authorities have no idea what they are or who put them up.

As first reported by KSLTV 5 in Utah, people first began noticing the antennas a year ago. They’re simple machines made up of a LoRa fiberglass antenna, a locked battery pack, and a solar panel to power it. The Salt Lake City public lands department has been pulling them down as they find them, and told KSLTV that there have been as many as a dozen.

[…]According to Fonarow, the highest elevation one of the antennas had been found at is the top of Mount Wire, which is more than 7,000 feet. He said the trip out the mountain would take about an hour, but it would be a hard hike.

“One person could do it,” he said. “But it would take two trips unless they’re really strong. The three main components are a suitcase sized…plastic, weatherproof case for their electric equipment for the battery and router. It was about 50 or 60 pounds. And then there’s two antennas, four to six feet, and the solar panel which is about three by four feet. It would be a pretty tough thing to do by yourself.”

The router made Fonarow initially think the thing was a cell phone booster, he said. Another leading theory online is that the antennas are part of a cryptocurrency mining operation.

Helium is a type of cryptocurrency that uses antennas to create a long-range, wide-area network. Instead of proof-of-work releasing token rewards, Helium relies on what it calls proof-of-coverage. The wider the network, the more Helium you’re mining. Helium mining requires the exact kind of antenna shown in the photos of the devices recovered by Salt Lake City authorities. There are plenty of articles online instructing people how to create solar-powered rigs for Helium miners to deploy in rural areas, and Helium miners are fond of bragging about the elevation of their antennas. [Continue reading the full story on Vice…]

We say goodbye to Mihail Mihailov, doyen in the Spanish edition of “Radio Bulgaria” (Bulgaria Posts English)

Mihail Mihailov, a brilliant translator and speaker from the Spanish edition of “Radio Bulgaria”, has left us. His translations and journalistic presence on the air will continue to be an example of high professionalism and excellent command of the language of Cervantes.

After graduating from Spanish philology at “St. Kliment Ohridski” University, Mihail Mihailov dedicated himself to translation. A curious moment in his career is the help he gave to the Bulgarian engineers in Cuba, who built a number of infrastructure sites on the island. But as a professional Micho left the brightest mark with his work in the Spanish edition of the “Radio Bulgaria” program of the BNR.

Michaud was a man with a huge heart and a loyal friend, ready to help anyone. He possessed a brilliant memory and a characteristic, memorable voice. He was very eager to share his knowledge with his colleagues and was always eager to teach them something new! [Continue reading…]

Morse messages in music and more (YouTube)

A look at words in Morse code (audible and visual) that have been incorporated into songs, games, etc. Featuring Rush, Beethoven, Dream SMP and others!

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8 thoughts on “Radio Waves: RTL Ends Longwave, Ana Montes Released, Mystery Antennas Across Utah, RIP Mihail Mihailov, and Morse in Music

  1. mangosman

    I wonder if it would have closed if they had added a DRM content server and DRM modulator. This would have reduced the electricity consumption by at least 50 %. The sound quality would have drastically improved including stereo sound.
    DRM radios can tune these frequencies.

    1. qwertyamdx

      Doesn’t matter. They had test DRM transmissions on MW and SW. The LW site is also equipped with DRM-capable equipment. The system has been a massive failure in Europe, though. Despite being introduced 20 years ago, if you go on eBay today and search for ‘drm radio’ or ‘drm receiver’, you’ll end up with nothing. The majority of broadcasters that used to run test DRM transmissions have either returned to AM or became completely silent. Turned out nobody really wanted this ‘drastically improved sound’, which was rather resembling early 90s dialup internet radio.

      1. Paul JAMET

        A 500 Kw transmitter would probably have been enough for RTL to transmit in DRM throughout France, even beyond… But European countries have chosen DAB+, a European standard… Several hundred transmitters will be needed to cover all of France in DAB+… Even if a multiplex can bring together up to 12 programs… DAB receivers are expensive! The DAB+ receiver installed in my new car has a 10-inch color touch screen… But it is impossible to find the equivalent on the Internet or in stores… Finally, DAB++ or even DAB+++ are already operational! Will citizens agree to buy a new receiver every 5 to 10 years?

        India has chosen DRM. Medium-wave transmitters transmit in classic AM and DRM, which makes it possible to cover large areas and distribute several programs on the same frequency: But where are the DRM receivers in India? Only in new cars?

        Long story short, I think Digital Radio has a limited future because 5G Broadcast is almost available! The younger generations have been using their smartphones for a long time to listen to the Radio when they listen to the Radio… In my opinion, they most often listen to their playlist or streaming programs…

        Very smart who could say today how we will listen to the Radio in 10 years!

        Further reading:

      2. mangosman

        You are way out of date.
        1300 million Indians are covered with MF DRM from up to 2 million Watt transmitters. There is over 5 million cars with DRM fitted since 2017…

  2. qwertyamdx

    Regarding RTL’s longwave: electricity consumption of a 3000-people town doesn’t sound that big when we consider that France has almost 68 million of inhabitants. Similarly, 6 GWh doesn’t seem like some astronomical amount when one finds out that it was only 2 years ago when the Luxembourg transmitting sites (Junglinster & Beidweiler) were equipped with solar panels capable of delivering 10 GWh each year. The Beidweiler site, which was the primary transmitter for RTL 234 kHz, has been upgraded with new highly efficient solid-state transmitters in 2011. Definitely a premature decision by the station’s management.

    1. Jean Pierre

      I totaly agree with your remarks. The truth is that the owner of RTL radio is owned by M6 (TV) who is managed by value per share oriented head. RTL on 234khz had a nationwide audience (and beyond borders into the UK, Benelux, Germany, Switzerland and as far as north africa. Shuting down the LW tx will have an impact on the audience of RTL who has a limited FM coverage and very small dab+ coverage… of course the station has promotted the “app” but it also needs a router or a strong mobile signal. Sorry RTL is not longer RTL, it had ALWAYS been the most popular radio station in France but a number of “savings” have pushed it to N°3 going down. And it will accelerate.

  3. Richard Langley

    “As had been announced in October, French broadcaster RTL switched off its longwave broadcasts on January 1, 2023.”

    Not quite. The shutdown was delayed one day. It occurred a few seconds after midnight UTC on 2 January.

    1. JAMET Paul

      That’s right! And this at the request of the host Georges Lang who was on the air on the evening of December 31, 2022 and who was able to continue his program without being interrupted on Long Waves!


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