Radio Waves: G4 Solar Storm, AM for Car Safety, AI DJs Next Month, and NYC Pirate Fined $2 Million

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 contributors Troy Riedel, Dennis Dura, and Richard Cuff for the following tips:

Strongest solar storm in nearly 6 years slams into Earth catching forecasters by surprise (

The powerful solar storm supercharged auroras as far south as Colorado and New Mexico.

The most powerful solar storm in nearly six years slammed Earth today (March 24), but strangely, space weather forecasters didn’t see it coming.

The geomagnetic storm peaked as a severe G4 on the 5-grade scale used by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to assess the severity of space weather events. The storm’s unexpected ferocity not only made auroras visible as far south as New Mexico in the U.S., but it also forced spaceflight company Rocket Lab to delay a launch by 90 minutes.

Geomagnetic storms are disturbances to Earth’s magnetic field caused by solar material from coronal mass ejections (CME) — large expulsions of plasma and magnetic field from the sun’s atmosphere. It turns out that this particular geomagnetic storm was triggered by a “stealth” CME which — as the name suggests — is rather tricky to detect. [Continue reading…]

Congressman Says Make AM a Mandatory Car Safety Feature (Radio World)

Gottheimer also supports federal spending on AM infrastructure to assure continuity of service

A congressman from New Jersey wants the government to add AM radio to the list of safety equipment that carmakers must include in their vehicles.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer has called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to “add AM radio to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to require that all automakers, including EV manufacturers, include AM radio as a stock feature in their vehicles. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards are the minimum safety standards that a manufacturer must meet when making a vehicle — including requirements related to airbags, brakes, seatbelts, tires, controls and displays.”

The National Association of Broadcasters welcomed his effort.

Gottheimer, a Democrat who represents a district along the state’s northern border, held a news event next to a Tesla dealership in Paramus, N.J., along with New Jersey Broadcasters Association Executive Director Jordan Walton. [Continue reading…]

AI-generated DJs are coming to radio stations in the US and Canada next month (Business Insider)

An AI-generated radio DJ could be coming to your local radio station.

RadioGPT, a GPT-4-powered radio content generator from media company Futuri, is set to debut next month in radio stations in the US and Canada, Axios Cleveland reported.

Powered by the same tech that ChatGPT draws upon, RadioGPT aims to man radio airtime spots with AI-generated scripts and voices, as well as tailored local news content.

You can listen to a demo from the company that gives you a preview of what the AI-generated DJ voices sound like — which tell listeners that they are, in fact, fully AI — sprinkled between curated songs. The page includes snippets of RadioGPT-generated voices presenting news, weather, and traffic updates.

“Anything a radio human can do, I can do better,” one of the AI hosts can be heard saying in between songs. “Every voice you hear is 100% AI.” [Continue reading…]

FCC Fines 15 Year-Old Pirate Radio Station in NYC $2 Million (Vice)

The FCC is using its new powers to ask from the maximum fine from an Ecuadorian pirate radio station that’s run for more than 15 years.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is using a new law to fine a pirate radio station operating in New York City for more than $2 million. For 15 years, Impacto 2, which has been operated by two brothers, has broadcast Ecuadorian news, culture, sports, and talk-radio on 105.5 FM in Queens. The feds have tried to shut it down repeatedly, but have never succeeded.

The FCC announced the fine in a press release last week. “The Commission proposed the maximum penalty allowable, $2,316,034, against brothers César Ayora and Luis Angel Ayora for pirate radio broadcasting in Queens, New York,” the release said. The FCC also said it was trying to seize $80,000 in equipment from a man broadcasting pirate radio in Eastern Oregon.

The Ayoras have been on the FCC’s radar since 2008 when they started broadcasting Impacto 2 for the Ecuadorian community in Queens: “The brothers César and [Luis] Angel Ayora in September 2008 founded the first Ecuadorian FM radio station in New York City. . . The station never sleeps, because a team of communication professionals are working for you 24 hours a day,” their website, which is currently down, said. The station is broadcast over the internet and has moved around the FM spectrum several times over the years. [Continue reading…]

Do you enjoy the SWLing Post?

Please consider supporting us via Patreon or our Coffee Fund!

Your support makes articles like this one possible. Thank you!

Spread the radio love

10 thoughts on “Radio Waves: G4 Solar Storm, AM for Car Safety, AI DJs Next Month, and NYC Pirate Fined $2 Million

  1. Alexander, DL4NO

    My focus is emergency preparedness. Any power outage cuts any private communication at once or within hours. Then radio is the primary source of information. Therefore I think small radios with a minimum of power consumption are essential.

    Here in Germany we have switched off all AM transmitters years ago which not only I think was a grave mistake. At least Deutschladfunk should have kept its AM transmitters for emergency purposes. There were 6-8 100 kW transmitters that could be heard all over Germany.

    All we still have are FM (analog) and DAB+ (digital) transmitters. Only very few FM stations with typically a 20 kW transmitter and a 10-16 dB antenna cover more than a circle with some 50 km. By design DAB+ uses a 25 km transmitter range. This is a much to fragile infrastructure in case of a bigger disaster.

  2. 13dka

    Yeah about that G4 storm… it sucked (still does). I like a little DX on my walks and all that European-only traffic makes me feel claustrophobic. 🙂

  3. mangosman

    The USA government already subsidises the cost of backup power to some AM broadcasters for emergency broadcasting. This excludes Weather Radio.
    Why should a government legislate to maintain a 120 year old analog technology? This technology is very wasteful and pollution generating by generators. Between 67 – 100 % of the signal depending on the sound volume is the carrier signal. It contains no sound information, Digital Radio Mondiale has no carrier. AM is consuming a lot of electricity which is made worse in high power transmitters because cooling of the transmitter is also required. Even FM is wasteful of electricity when compared to DRM. The same coverage on the FM band is achieved with 10 % of the radiated power.
    There are only 37 TV transmitters (10 kW -50 kW) in the whole USA on channels 2 – 6, thus those frequencies can be used for 356 DRM channels for all broadcasters. This will enable broadcasters to add slideshow and detailed indexed text to multiple sound channels. There is more capacity to indicate police blocked roads to vehicle navigation systems.
    Existing broadcasts can continue unaltered until a cutoff date, just like in 2009 for analog TV.

    1. Thomas Post author

      DRM isn’t used int he US on the AM broadcast band. The FCC adopted HD Radio (IBOC) in 2002 as a digital audio broadcasting method for use in the United States. Love it or hate it, it’s the approved digital format. To my knowledge, they haven’t done this for DRM. Also, there are no automobiles I know of that are marketed and sold in the US that have DRM capabilities. The US hasn’t adopted DRM like India has.

    2. Alexander, DL4NO

      AM is not as “wasteful” as you think, especially for emergency purposes: Small AM radios have a minimum of power consumption! Any digital modulation requires a digital receiver. Radios like the $10 radio shown here recently contain a SDR on a chip – otherwise they would need some pre-selection circuitry that they cannot have for that price tag. I have such a radio and it consumes a minimum of 60 mA from three AA cells. My old, purely analog, portable radio uses a minimum of 8 mA from two AA cells. An earphone might increase the power supply by a few mA, while a loudspeaker easily draws 100 mA.

      1. mangosman

        The reason why the AM carrier is required is because 120 years ago they had to use a cats whisker detector which was really a diode which has been used ever since. The carrier is used to forward bias the diode to linearise its characteristics to reduce the distortion otherwise the speech would be unintelligible. This was well before transistors so they were not considered.
        Alexander you should only compare power consumption as power and not current because the supply voltage will affect it. ie. 60 mA from 3x 1.5 V = 270 mW. 3 x .008 = 24 mW.
        I cannot find it at the moment but recent digital radio chips have substantially reduced their power consumption so that the audio stage is by far the biggest power consumer particularly when driving speakers. They have done this by dropping the voltage to run them to 1.8 V which is insufficient for speaker driving audio output amplifier.
        I would also like to point out the all DAB+, DRM radios use rechargeable batteries. They are charged by USB. You can get a ‘Cigarette;’ lighter to USB plug and a car battery will run these radios for many hours. There are also car DAB+ and DRM receivers in the infotainment systems in cars outside of North America.
        Also many radio transmitters run continuously regardless of the number of listeners receivers are used on demand. All reasonable sized AM transmitters have large diesel generators to power them and their cooling. The fuel tanks need refuelling from tankers during blackouts.
        Lastly mobile phones use rechargeable batters and use considerable battery power, not only for the display but also to transmit its location to the closest cell tower about every 15 minutes. Most cell phone towers will only run on batteries for around 3 hours, useless in an emergency. The ones in the centre of the emergency get overloaded by those using them to find out what is going on by looking at maps etc, preventing those calling for help getting through, because each active phone has to have a transmitter/receiver to itself.

      2. mangosman

        Part 2 The transmitter
        The most powerful AM transmitters in the USA are 50,000 W of carrier when transmitting silence. When the highest volume sound is transmitted it rises to 75 kW to include the sound on top of the carrier. The highest powered MF AM transmitter is 2 million Watts for silence!
        On average a 50 kW AM transmitter consumes 74.1 kW of electricity. To cover the same area using DRM in the same medium frequency band, only 20 kW of DRM signal is required consuming 25 kW of electricity.
        If each AM radio consumed 1 Watt including speaker sound then the receiver power consumption would equal the transmitter electricity consumption when there are 75,000 simultaneous listeners. At other times there are very few listeners making the transmitter’s electricity consumption significant when compared to receivers.

        DRM can transmit Emergency Warnings where the radio is hibernating to be woken by the EWF code. The radio produces an international evacuation signal to wake potential victims in the danger area, and makes a loud announcement for changes in instructions. The radio can also show maps and indexed to different simultaneous emergencies. The DRM radio can then go back to sleep unless the on button is switched on. In addition closed road data can be sent to vehicle navigation systems, cause them to reroute around closed roads.

        1. Jason VE3MAL

          The argument really should be why *medium wave* should be preserved, rather than the modulation scheme. I don’t care whether it’s AM, or whether it slowly transitions to a digital scheme. What is important is that medium wave radio broadcasts can blanket large regions, reliably, in a way that nothing else can do. Unless anyone wants to fund free-to-air XM-style satellite, there’s no other way to reliably get information to large rural regions without relying on local internet infrastructure all working (and being paid for by every single resident you want to reach).

          Honestly, AM kind of sucks for this purpose. All those cheap car radios can’t deal with all the random carriers at night. While people will kind of tolerate some static crashes, the whine of a carrier from a slightly off-frequency station or some other local noise source in the audio is intolerable. AM really needs decent DSP now, and if you are using a DSP chip, why not use a digital capable one?

  4. Zack S

    I bet that RadioGPT will be used at most stations soon including news radio too. Why pay for people to be on the air when you can have a machine do the work? But there might be a backlash too. Why would I want to listen to a machine and a lot of other people are likely to feel the same also. Hell, if AI is so great perhaps it will buy products from advertisers too…

    AI is going to destroy a lot of jobs. TV and movie production will soon have almost no actual actors. Check this out too;


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.