Radio Waves: Shively Labs Broadcast Antennas, Fedora SWL, F-150 Lightning AM, and Young Listeners on the Decline

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 Dennis Dura for the following tips:

Public radio engineers await fate of major antenna maker (Current)

The potential sale of one of the country’s only major manufacturers of high-power FM broadcast antennas is causing concern among public radio engineers who have long depended on the company for challenging projects such as directional antennas and multistation combiner systems.

Antennas and combiners made by Shively Labs carry the signals of many major stations, from Boston’s WBUR to Dallas’ KERA/KXT to Seattle’s KUOW. Shively’s headquarters in Maine boasts one of the few test ranges needed to fully prepare complex directional antenna systems for real-world performance.

Founded in 1963 by former RCA engineer Ed Shively, the company has been owned since 1980 by Howell Laboratories, an engineering firm that now has a wide range of product lines. Those include water purification systems, dehydrators and an increasing amount of contract work for the U.S. Navy.

While its military and commercial marine business has grown, broadcast antennas have become a smaller piece of the company’s portfolio, said Shively VP Angela Gillespie. [Continue reading…]

How to become a Shortwave listener (SWL) with Fedora Linux and Software Defined Radio (Fedora Magazine)

Catching signals from others is how we have started communicating as human beings. It all started, of course, with our vocal cords. Then we moved to smoke signals for long-distance communication. At some point, we discovered radio waves and are still using them for contact. This article will describe how you can tune in using Fedora Linux and an SDR dongle.

My journey

I got interested in radio communication as a hobby when I was a kid, while my local club, LZ2KRS, was still a thing. I was so excited to be able to listen and communicate with people worldwide. It opened a whole new world for me. I was living in a communist country back then and this was a way to escape just for a bit. It also taught me about ethics and technology.

Year after year my hobby grew and now, in the Internet era with all the cool devices you can use, it’s getting even more exciting. So I want to show you how to do it with Fedora Linux and a hardware dongle. [Continue reading…]

Did AM Radio Just Get Hit By “Lightning”? (Radio World)

There’s something missing from the newest F-150 Lightning truck

These days, the auto industry is as disrupted as broadcast radio. Like the radio companies – a group of independent operators, each moving down a different pathway – automakers are highly individual companies.

And in much the same way radio broadcasters have been rocked by digital players – streamers, podcasters, satellite radio – the auto companies have watched an outsider by the name of Elon Musk transform the way cars (and soon trucks) are designed, built, and sold.

[…]Ford CEO Jim Farley got the memo. And his company has jumped on the EV bandwagon in a big way.

[…]The company has led the way in trucks for decades with the F-150, the most successful in its class. But manufacturing the electric version of this truck represents a major risk for the company – and perhaps a turning point of the internal combustion engine. The new 2023 model of the F-150 is slick, with some hot new features – including a new backup camera when the tailgate is down, software updates, and other tech innovations.

But there’s something missing from the newest F-150 Lightning truck: AM radio. [Continue reading…]

How Can Radio Appeal to Young Consumers? (Radio World)

Radio has reinvented itself before to “go where the listeners are.” It could do so again

Broadcast radio is facing some significant challenges — and one of them involves young people.

That’s according to a recent report to the government of the United Kingdom. Though specific to the U.K. marketplace, the “Digital Radio and Audio Review” explores issues that are relevant to broadcasters everywhere.

The report was a joint government/industry project commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, prompted by the question of whether analog radio services should be sunset.

The report has many positive things to say overall. It describes radio as “a great British success story” and said the medium has evolved to embrace digital opportunities to maintain universal appeal. It describes a “thriving” radio market and said new online formats from broadcasters and new entrants have grown rapidly, bringing “increased choice and new habits to the U.K.’s audio sector.”

[…]But the report’s discussion about trends among young listeners is eye-catching.

[…]The report notes an ongoing decline in young listeners as online music options proliferate.

“In the 10 years from 2010 to 2020, the weekly reach of live radio among 15–24s declined by 8% (or 7.1 percentage points) from 88.7% to 81.6%,” the review stated. [Continue reading the full story…]

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6 thoughts on “Radio Waves: Shively Labs Broadcast Antennas, Fedora SWL, F-150 Lightning AM, and Young Listeners on the Decline

  1. mangosman

    Infotainment systems contain a microprocessor. The infotainment systems use Software Designed Radios. To get radio they add a single tuner chip which amplifies, and converts the signal to around 12 kHz and sent to a pair of analog to digital converters. From then the rest of the receive function is performed by the microprocessor. Most software will decode AM and FM, and there is software for DAB+ and Digital Radio Mondiale.

    As for antennas, the shark fin is so small compared to the 133 m of an ideal antenna, how does it pickup anything? It contains a wideband amplifier. The problem here is that if there is interference which overloads the amplifier eg from the EV, it will modulate all incoming wanted signals causing noise or in the digital radio case, unreliable reception. The manufacturers need to either mount a motor driven telescopic retracting antenna or a fixed one. 1.05 m tall for DRM in the old NTSC channels 2 – 6.

    On the marketing front, the vehicle markets are worldwide with modifications for various countries.
    In Europe many AM stations have closed and moved to DAB+ all digital radio. Digital terrestrial reception in vehicles is compulsory but AM is not. In India DRM covers nearly the whole country. They have 4 pure digital DRM high powered transmitters and nearly 40 transmitting AM and DRM, except for an hour a day when they transmit DRM only. DRM also operated in the HF band, band 1 (47 – 88 MHz) and band 2 (87.5 – 108 MHz).
    In all Australia AM is still used extensively due to large coverage areas and low population densities. Mobile internet only covers very small areas from each base station, so it is uneconomic to provide it in all but isolated towns and some major roads.

  2. Peter L

    Vehicle makers drop AM because its not something their customers demand. A radio friend has a “Mustang” Mach-E (not actually a Mustang but is an EV) and it has AM … so it’s not really a technical issue but a marketing one.

    That said, in cars that still offer the AM band, it’s only the antenna that’s really different and vehicle makers have been putting crap AM antennas in cars for years. I can’t imagine that the difference in *cost* between an FM-only receiver and an FM/AM one is that much – a chip is a chip.

    It’s marketing. No one cares if their car has an AM radio because there is no compelling reason to want one. AM offers *nothing* that isn’t on FM … or satellite … or whatever you want streamed from your phone to the car’s speakers.

    1. Rob W4ZNG

      >> No one cares if their car has an AM radio because there is no compelling reason to want one.

      Late night, long distance driving. There is nothing like country music or a late night paranormal show to get you through the wee hours. However, I just wish that some of the MW spectrum would be re-allocated to a digital format that (a) actually works and (b) is somewhat standard.

  3. mangosman

    The first AM broadcasts started when they started selling the T model Ford. Now that Ford is going from the internal combustion engine to electric motors, isn’t it about time broadcasters went pure digital just like US TV did in 13 years ago. Not that system with very low power digital signals called HD Radio but to high power all digital Digital Radio Mondiale. There is enough channels in the vacant TV channels 2 – 6 for all 17,000 USA broadcasters. There will be no limits caused by adjacent channel interference because HD Radio uses the channels of other broadcasters to transmit the digital signals. That is why the digital coverage area is much smaller than the analog coverage area. If on HD 1, when the digital errors are excessive it reverts to analog. HD2 -HD4 just mutes. In the DRM mentioned above the whole signal is within the channel which is half the bandwidth of FM and a quarter of that of HD Radio in that band.
    The DRM receiver standard includes the High Frequency (Short Wave) bands so you can SWL whilst driving!

  4. Jason VE3MAL

    The Lightning’s 2022/2023 change indicates that contemporary EVs can have AM radios, but they need external antennas to do so -which automakers don’t want to install.

    Alternatively, the RFI from motor controllers, which are just fancy AC inverters, is highly predictable. It’s not white noise. There’s nothing preventing them from using the same types of DSP noise canceling that hams use. Considering how powerful the “entertainment systems” already are in these new vehicles, it could potentially be done entirely with software -if manufacturers could be persuaded to invest in it.

  5. Hank Michalenka, CPA

    Seems to me the logical next step is for the highway radio station to convert to FM. I pass by a “tune to 1620 AM” flashing highway sign every day in my commute and I haven’t seen it used in years.


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