Category Archives: AM

File this under: you never know and . . . what’s the harm in experimenting?

 

 

by Jock Elliott, KB2GOM

Ever since Thomas (our Maximum Leader) posted the latest DX Central MW Challenge, I’ve been curious . . . what could I hear if I gave it a shot?

Habitually, I get up early, between 4 and 5 am, so I decided to give it a try. Conventional wisdom is that, if you want to do AM (medium wave) DXing, you need a hot AM radio with a big ferrite bar, like the CCrane 2E . . .

Wanna guess what radio and antenna combo acquitted itself pretty well?

My old ham rig, an Icom IC-706 MkIIG, (which I wrote up here), hooked to my 50-foot wire indoor antenna, the horizontal room loop (which I wrote up here).

This AM’s listening, from my home outside Troy, NY, produced:

1170, WWVA — Wheeling, West Virginia
1180, WHAM — Rochester, NY
1200, Talk 1200 — Boston
1210, WPHT — Philadelphia

Now, before you hard-core AM DXers get all up in my face — Hey, I could hear those stations on the fillings in my teeth! — I’ll simply say that I get a kick out of hearing a distant station . . . any distant station . . . even it’s just a few hundred miles away. Sure, it’s not the astonishing stuff that Paul Walker and Gary DeBock accomplish, but to hear that faraway signal, crackling through the airwaves does me good.

Bottom line: you don’t need the latest and greatest optimized-for-the-task gear to give something a try . . . and you just might really enjoy it!

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2022-23 Season of the MW Frequency Challenge is underway with Week 1: 1160-1224 kHz

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor Loyd Van Horn at DX Central who shares the following announcement:

We are kicking off the 2022-23 DX season with the return of the MW Frequency Challenge! The MW Frequency Challenge officially started during the season premiere of our DX Central Live! livestream on YouTube on Friday, September 2022.

Our frequency range for this week’s challenge is 1160-1224 kHz!

A reminder of the rules for this season:

    • Submitted loggings must be for receptions made between 0000 UTC Saturday, September 24, 2022 and 0200 UTC Saturday, October 1, 2022. Any station that transmits between 1160-1224 kHz will be accepted for the challenge.
    • Submissions/loggings must be made with your own equipment, NO ONLINE SDRs (unless you own the online SDR). If you are logging receptions away from your home location, be sure to note that location on the submision form.
    • Submissions must be entered on the Google Form using the link below. Logs posted through social media, DX club log submissions, email, etc. will not be accepted.
    • Receptions can be for any station received within the frequency range. It does not need to be “new to you”, relogs are welcome as long as it occurred during the challenge period.

This week’s Google Form link is: https://forms.gle/EtKhNYc1qZhVmexh8

Good luck and best of DX!

73,

Loyd

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Video: Tour of AM Stereo Station KYET

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave (N9EWO), who writes:

Dan, shango066 on You Tube give us a nice little tour of KYET on 1070 kHz in Golden Valley Arizona which transmits in AM Stereo (6K day, 1 watt night). Harris solid state transmitter which is also shown in this video:

Click here to view on YouTube.

First part of his video explains the modified Realistic receiver (which he could not get working, well at least not yet):

Click here to view on YouTube.

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Radio Waves: The Gamut All Digital at 4 Years, Glory Days of Pirate Radio, AIR to Kashmir, and Podcast Collaborations

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 Eric Jon Magnuson for summarizing these news items for Radio Waves!


Hubbard Is Four Years In With All-Digital AM. Here’s How It’s Doing. (Inside Radio)

It has been just over four years since Hubbard Radio’s adult alternative “The Gamut” WWFD, Frederick, MD (820) powered down its analog signal and began operating as a digital-only AM station under experimental authority granted by the FCC. Since then, new FCC rules permitting all-digital AMs industrywide have broadcasters taking a closer look at WWFD as they consider options for struggling AMs.

WWFD posted a 1.5 share (12+) in Nielsen’s Frederick, MD spring survey with a weekly cume of 3,300. Before it went all digital, Dave Kolesar, Senior Broadcast Engineer at Hubbard and the station’s PD, says it was a ratings no-show, “a wasted signal.”

The idea for making the all-digital leap came around Christmas 2016 when Kolesar concluded that a music format on AM – even one as differentiated as The Gamut’s expansive playlist – was “pretty much a nonstarter that exists for the purpose of having an FM translator. In all-digital mode, the AM signal has the capability of becoming relevant again” with digital sound quality, and artist and album title and album artwork displays.

According to Xperi, about 35% of cars on the road in the DC market are equipped with HD Radio receivers. Yet only a small fraction of listening to radio in the market is to AM radio. The station focuses on the one-third of the market that could enjoy a music format that looks and feels like any other service in the dashboard. The strategy involves using the FM translator as promotional vehicle for the digital AM frequency: “when you’re outside the coverage area of our 94.3 FM signal, tune into 820 and hear us while you’re driving around,” Kolesar explains. [Continue reading…]

OPINION: Remembering the glory days of pirate radio 55 years on (Eastern Daily Press)

Radio DJ Tom Edwards looks back at his youth spent broadcasting off the East Anglia coast

Although I’ve lived in Lincolnshire for nearly 30 years having been born and educated in Norwich, I will of course always be a Norfolk man. At 77 years of age now I’ve been a broadcaster for 57 of those years.

During Easter of 1964 a somewhat mysterious radio station came on the airwaves playing non-stop music and the presenters seemed to be just ad libbing at the microphone in contrast to the rather staid BBC light programme which hardly played any popular music. The station turned out to be the now famous Radio Caroline, which was transmitting from a ship off the East Anglia coast.

I was a Bluecoat at Pontins holiday camp at Pakefield and the site had a Radio Pontins Tannoy system so I asked the boss for some money to buy some 45 hit singles which he agreed to and so started doing record requests for the happy campers.

Other stations, whether they were ships or wartime fortresses, suddenly began to appear right around the coast of the UK. Apart from Caroline there were other stations including Radio London, Radio England, Radio270 and Radio 390.

The more I heard of these stations, which were becoming so popular with an estimated audience of 22 million, the more I wanted to be out there at sea with them. I wrote and sent tapes of my Pontins shows to all of them. While on a few days off in Norwich, a man called Reg Calvert called me and said he liked what he heard and offered me a weekend try out on Radio City. [Continue reading…]

AIR’s Station At 9,000 Feet Along LoC In Kashmir Broadcasts Programs For People Living Across Border (India Times)

Surrounded by the barbed wires, dense deodar trees and Pir Panchal mountains in the backdrop, this is the All India Radio (AIR) Srinagar’s Radio Station which has been set up close to the Line of Control (LoC) in Rustum area of J&K’s Uri sector.

Set up in November 2020, the station has been built 9,000 feet above the sea level.

The radio station has been set up with an aim to provide access to the Kashmiri people living on the other side of the border to listen to their favourite programs.

“The local news, music programs and especially Pahari and Gojari programs are aired from this station for the Kashmiri population living on the other side of the LoC,” said Qazi Masood who heads the station in Uri. [Continue reading…]

Podcast Collaborations: The positives, the pitfalls, and the public interest (Public Media Alliance)

Three top public media podcast executives discuss with PMA the benefits and complications that come with collaborations, and how ultimately, they can help public media organisations fulfil their public service obligations.

As the podcast market globally becomes ever more saturated and competitive, PMA invited three top podcast executives from three leading public media organisations to discuss how collaborations might provide the pathway for public media organisations to remain the premier podcast producers. It came after a talk about podcast collaborations at Radiodays Europe in Malmö, Sweden in May 2022.

They spoke to PMA’s Editorial Manager, Harry Lock.

Harry Lock: Could you give me some examples of podcasts which you’ve worked on where you collaborated with another organisation? How does it actually work logistics-wise? 

Arif Noorani, Director of CBC Podcasts: Hunting Warhead is a collaboration we did with VG, Scandinavia’s biggest newspaper, on a story they’d spent more than two years on (it was nominated for a Prix Italia.) Production wise – CBC led the podcast and embedded a VG team member in the production team providing contacts, research and notes on scripts.

We have three international co-productions with the BBC World Service – launching in the next year. It’s an equal joint effort – Jon Manel, commissioner for the BBC World Service and I co-lead all aspects of the project. We think the combined heft of CBC Podcasts and the BBC World Service was attractive. We meet weekly and more (along with Whatsapping each other if it’s urgent) to discuss production, content, rollout and all the business side of things. We have one point person between the production teams and the BBC/CBC to keep it streamlined. To make this work, you have to have lots of trust between all sides, and a shared vision of the type of content you want to make (in this case journalistically-driven serialised narrative storytelling rich in characters and heartbeat). Jon and I have informally collaborated for a few years so that really helped. We’ll also combine our audience building, digital and marketing efforts in the launch and rollout.

Andrew Davies, Digital and Engagement Editor, ABC Australia: Co-productions and collaborations with external organisations/partners is still a relatively new area for the ABC in podcasting. There have been a number of collaborations between Radio National (ABC’s specialist talks network) and the BBC but those have mostly been radio focused. The ABC’s Audio Studios team did a co-production with WNYC Studios a few years ago with Short & Curly, our very popular ethics podcast for children.

More recently we’ve worked with Arif and the CBC Podcasts team around the release of series two of our popular Stuff The British Stole podcast. That involved the CBC team helping with audience building (through cross-promotion, publicity, marketing and digital/social content) in the North American market. That was a really successful collaboration and we were excited to work with the CBC as we knew they recognised not just what a great show it is but also wanted to help it reach a bigger audience. There were a large number of people involved from both broader teams but I want to echo Arif’s point about having clear point people on both sides to keep things streamlined.

Tim Watkin, Executive Producer of Podcasts & Series, RNZ: RNZ Podcasts has produced 46 podcasts in partnership with 38 different organisations. That includes other broadcasters and media, production houses and funders. Collaboration can take many forms.

The most common form of collaboration for RNZ is where we make a podcast alongside an independent production company. For example, Eating Fried Chicken in the Shower is a series that was pitched to us by an independent producer, Charlie Bleakley, and host James Nokise. RNZ paid for the series but was very hands-on, more than a mere commission. We provided a supervising producer, sound recordist on location, draft audio edits, studios for the final mix and promotion. [Continue reading…]


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Matt’s 2022 Portable Loop Antenna Shootout

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Matt Blaze, for the following guest post:


Matt’s 2022 Portable Loop Antenna Shootout

by Matt Blaze, WB2SRI

Followers of this blog may be familiar with my “shortwave radio shootouts” that I post from time to time. The idea is to compare how well different radios demodulate the exact same signal. Basically, I take a bunch of radios, hook them up to the same antenna via an RF distribution amplifier, tune the radios to some distant signal, and record the audio output from them simultaneously. Sometimes that kind of comparison can be more revealing of actual real-world performance than lab measurements or technical specifications.

The other day, I decided to do the same thing, but for antennas instead of radios. Essentially, I inverted the setup. Instead of hooking up different radios to the same antenna, I hooked up identical radios to different portable antennas and recorded them demodulating the same signals at the same time.

In this first of perhaps a series of these antenna shootouts, I wanted to compare three portable amplified magnetic loop antennas. When I say “portable” here, I mean broadband antennas that can pack reasonable compactly for travel and that can be set up and broken down easily for use “on location”, say on a picnic table or hotel balcony, or perhaps installed temporarily on a roof, without too much fuss.

The antennas are:

The Wellbrook FLX1530LN with a 1 meter diameter loop of LMR400 coax. This is my “standard” portable antenna (I use a telescoping broom handle for the support; I wrote about it here as the “signal sweeper” last year). Excellent performance, but on the bulky side for travel. Performs well from LW through HF. Not cheap, at about USD 225 including shipping for the amplifier and power injector, but not including the loop, mounting hardware, or feedline.

The Wellbrook FLX1530LN with a 0.5 meter diameter loop of RG142 (a stiff “aircraft grade” version of RG58 that holds it shape well at this size). I used some 1/2 inch PVC pipe as the vertical support. Because of the smaller diameter loop and thinner coax, it packs down to a much smaller and lighter package than the 1 meter LMR400 version.

The K-180WLA, an inexpensive (about USD 60) 0.5 meter loop from China, sold on eBay and Amazon. The loop is steel wire (which can be wound down to a small diameter for transport), and the kit includes everything you need, including a rechargeable power injector. (However, the power injector uses a noisy voltage booster, so I substituted my own bias-T injector for these experiments). Ostensibly covers LW through VHF, but the low end coverage is, shall we say, somewhat aspirational, as you will see.

– I also recorded, for comparison, the built-in ferrite bar (for LW/MW) and whip antenna (for HF) of the receiver.

This is, of course, only a small sampling of portable loop antennas, both commercial and homebrew. But I wanted to start with what I had on hand and with what meets my own needs. (I omitted from consideration loops that require tuning, since I want to be able to install the antenna without needing access to it every time I change frequency).

For each signal captured, I oriented and positioned each antennas to maximize signal quality, taking care to move them away from each other and interfering metal objects. So you’re hearing (approximately) the best each antenna had to offer (on my roof under suboptimal band conditions).

The receivers I used were four Sangean ATS-909×2 portable LW/MW/SW/FM/Air radios. I believe this to be the best currently available (relatively inexpensive) portable shortwave receiver on the market. It has excellent performance (and is admirably resistant to overload and intermod when used with an active antenna). It lacks a sync mode, but that’s rarely implemented well on portable radios anyway. As a practical matter, it has a good line-level output jack, and I already happened to own four of them.

As in my other shootouts, for each signal, there are a total of five recordings: a monoaural recording of the audio from each of the four antennas, plus a narrated stereo recording comparing a reference (the 1M Wellbrook) on the Left channel with each of the other antennas in succession on the Right channel. The stereo recording is intended as a quick overview, but it will only make sense if you listen in stereo, preferably with good headphones. (You can switch the earcups to get a quick comparison as you listen.)

Continue reading

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Radio Waves: AM/FM Receiver Sales Stabilize, Asheville Radio Museum Adds Model HS2, Legacy remains of WSY, and Farewell to WCFW

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!


AM/FM Receiver Sales Have ‘Stabilized’ Even As Audio Turns Up On More Devices. (Inside Radio)

Anyone who has tried to find an AM/FM receiver in a big box retailer knows they are not as easy to find as they once were. It is little surprise then that the Consumer Technology Association expects fewer to sell this year. But at roughly five million units now sold each year, CTA expects that number to hold steady in the years to come, in part due to the role radio plays during emergencies.

“That category has stabilized,” said Rick Kowalski, Director of Industry Analysis and Business Intelligence at CTA. “It’s a low number relative to other categories, but there’s a steady demand, just in terms of people having an AM/FM radio for those situations where you might need a battery-powered radio as a backup.”

CTA forecasts 4.7 million traditional radio receivers will be sold this year in the U.S. That is six percent lower than the five million units sold in 2021. “Looking out in the next five years. It’s not going to get much lower than that,” Kowalski said in an interview.

CTA projects 24.5 million smart speakers will sell this year, or roughly five-times as many as traditional radio receivers. But in what may be a surprise to many, that estimate is actually two percent lower than the 25 million smart speakers that CTA says were sold last year. [Continue reading…]

“Bringing it home” Asheville Radio Museum adds local piece of history to its collection (WLOS)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — The Asheville Radio Museum has added a new piece of history to its’ collection!

It’s a 1922 radio receiver built by an Asheville-based business.

The model HS2 radio the museum procured is only one of two known to exist.

Collector and restorer Robert Lozier found that it was the first name brand radio built in North Carolina.

News 13 spoke to the director of media communications Peter Abzug about why this radio is so significant.

“Having this radio here, in Asheville, where it was built is really significant,” he said. “It’s bringing it home. Although the company itself didn’t last for years and years, it did employ people and it was a significant part of Asheville’s history, and something we can be very proud of.”

Click here to watch the video at WLOS.

Legacy remains of WSY, Alabama’s first radio station (Alabama News Center)

Innovation is at the historic heart of Alabama Power, beginning with its founding in 1906 and Capt. William Patrick Lay’s vision of electrifying the state by harnessing the power of Alabama’s rivers.

But the company’s embrace of another cutting-edge technology, just 16 years after Alabama Power’s incorporation, is also historic.

One hundred years ago this year, on April 24, 1922, Alabama Power hit the airwaves with the state’s first operating radio station. WSY (an acronym for “We Serve You”) began broadcasting from rented space in a building on Powell Avenue in Birmingham.

The 500-watt AM station was initially designed as a company tool, to provide better communications among employees – especially those in the field and at remote generating plants. In fact, radio technology was so new – regularly scheduled radio programming in the United States started only in 1920 – Alabama Power engineers had to design and build most of WSY’s transmitting equipment.

“We began assembling the set … with intentions of using it for purposes of operation of the system exclusively,” wrote George Miller, the employee in charge of the station, in the July 1922 issue of the company’s Powergrams. “The broadcast feature came up, though, and materially changed our plans.”

Indeed, a month before the station went on the air, The Birmingham News published a do-it-yourself piece about “how to make your own radiophone receiving set” so local residents could pick up WSY when it began broadcasting.

Interest in the station was so strong that within weeks it began offering entertainment programs, according to “Developed for the Service of Alabama,” the centennial history of Alabama Power, written by noted historian Leah Rawls Atkins.

Dee Haynes, with the Alabama Historical Radio Society, recalled one story that underscores WSY’s popular embrace. Soon after WSY went on the air, earpieces began disappearing from the handsets of payphones all over Birmingham, apparently because people were swiping them to use in home-built receiving sets. [Continue reading…]

FAREWELL TO FM: A Grandson’s Recollections of His Family’s Legacy Radio Station, WCFW (Volume One)

For 54 years, WCFW has been a beloved independently owned radio station on 105.7FM. But for lifelong Eau Claire resident Parker Reed, it has been more than that: it’s his family’s life, love, and legacy.

A catchy jingle – featuring the melody “WCFW, where FM means fine music” – came across a young radio station owner’s desk in 1969.

It was short, simple, and it worked. The owner paid $25 for it, and more than 50 years later that same jingle – which has aired thousands of times on 105.7FM radio – exemplifies the values of WCFW in Chippewa Falls and the couple who have owned it for over half a century: simplicity and consistency.

My grandparents, Roland and Patricia Bushland, have owned and operated WCFW since its inaugural broadcast on the airwaves on Oct. 20, 1968. Earlier this summer, they decided to end their 54-year stint in radio, selling the legacy station to Magnum Media – a Wisconsin-based media organization owned by Dave Magnum who now owns 25 radio stations across the state and will take over operations of the quaint, easy-listening station later this fall.

It’s a bittersweet moment – for the community, yes, but especially for our family, for whom the station has been an integral part of our lives for decades.

“It’s hard to not have mixed feelings about it, because it was our life for so long,” said my grandmother, Patricia Bushland. “When you start something, and you’re the only people who ran it all those years, you get attached to it. But after so many years, I’m thrilled to death that someone new is coming in, and we can finally take a break.”

When my grandfather, Roland, was young, he would draw pictures of radio towers during school – as his life too began with radio, front and center. My great-grandfather Roy Bushland owned and operated multiple Bushland Radio Specialties storefronts in Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire since the early 1930s – a business where my grandfather got his start in 1952 after he graduated Chippewa Falls High School as salutatorian. [Continue reading…]


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The AMT-MW207 mini AM radio transmitter kit

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Frans Goddijn, who shares the following video demonstrating the AMT-MW207: a tiny $25 mediumwave transmitter kit that can be purchased on AliExpress:

To be clear, the AMT-MW207 is not designed to be a whole house AM transmitter like the SSTran and others.

The seller describes it as a device to debug and test AM receivers. Since it only employs a built-in bar antenna, the transmitter would need to be placed in close proximity to the receiver.

Click here to view on AliExpress.

Thanks for the tip, Frans!

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