Category Archives: Broadcasters

Loss of BBC Hindi shortwave service and listener reactions

(Photo by Elle via Unsplash)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Iurescia (LW4DAF), who shares the following story from The Print:

Emotional emails & offers to crowdfund — how fans tried to keep BBC Hindi radio on air

The service fell silent last month with its last transmission on 31 January. The BBC management now plans to boost its digital and TV presence.

New Delhi: It was the BBC’s Hindi radio on shortwave that slowly carved an identity for the British broadcaster in India after its launch 80 years ago. With an estimated audience of 40 lakh across India, the radio service was the first choice for consumers of serious news and entertainment alike, particularly in the remote and far-flung parts of the country.

But the service fell silent last month, on 31 January, with the BBC management citing a dwindling audience and plans to boost digital and TV presence as reasons to call time on this chapter of history.

It came as a rude shock for its loyal audience and the dismay was evident, according to BBC insiders.

“It was heartbreaking to see the kind of emotional emails and letters we received on the days preceding the shutdown and after that,” an insider told ThePrint. “They (the audience) pleaded to keep the service afloat. Some even said they were willing to crowdfund it. But it seems the management was interested in the numbers and the BBC Hindi radio service on shortwave was not giving them adequate numbers.”

Another insider in the BBC said audience numbers for the radio service had come down from 1 crore a few years ago to about 40 lakh now, even as its presence on platforms such as YouTube thrived. The service has also established its presence on television with a tie-up with news channel NDTV.

“But in our experience the quality of news consumers is poor in digital as compared to the loyal audience that BBC Hindi radio service in shortwave enjoyed,” the second insider said, basing the assessment on feedback received from both sets of audiences.

“I would say the management was insensitive to the millions of listeners in the remote corners of India who banked on the service as their daily source of news,” the insider added.

The decision to switch off BBC Hindi radio is part of the British broadcaster’s global cost-cutting efforts. It had planned to end the BBC Hindi radio service in 2011, but changed plans owing to massive outrage and a high-profile campaign supported by eminent journalist and author Sir Mark Tully, a former bureau chief of the BBC.

It’s not just the BBC Hindi radio service that has suffered on account of this twin push to cut costs and go digital. Even BBC Urdu announced in December last year that it will end the radio broadcast of its popular news and current affairs programme, Sairbeen.

In India, BBC also has internet broadcasts in other Indian regional languages, but no associated radio services. […]

Continue reading the full article at The Print.

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Radio Waves: Russian State Radio in KC, FRBs, New-Cycle Sunspot, and ABC Friends Bushfire Update

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’sRadio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Michael Bird and Ted Miller for the following tips:


Meet The Man Who Brought Russian State Radio To Kansas City (KCUR)

The man responsible for broadcasting Russian state programming in the Kansas City area says he always dreamed of owning a radio station.

Today he owns two, plus a small fleet of radio transmitters across the Kansas City metro.

But money remains tight, he laid off his staff years ago and the stations sell airtime to local residents and religious organizations at cut-rate prices. He hasn’t given himself a paycheck in months.

So Pete Schartel’s ears perked up a while back when he heard that Radio Sputnik pays $30,000 a month to broadcast its programming in Washington, D.C.

“I’m going, ‘Oh my Lord, that’s twice what my whole budget is,’” he told KCUR in a two-hour interview at his flagship station, KCXL, last week. “They must have some money. Let’s investigate this.”

Schartel found Arnold Ferolito, the broker who negotiated the 2017 deal to broadcast Russian programming 24 hours a day in Washington, and made his pitch: “We’re right in the middle of the country. This would be a good test market.”[]

Something in Deep Space Is Sending Signals to Earth in Steady 16-Day Cycles (Vice)

Scientists have discovered the first fast radio burst that beats at a steady rhythm, and the mysterious repeating signal is coming from the outskirts of another galaxy.

A mysterious radio source located in a galaxy 500 million light years from Earth is pulsing on a 16-day cycle, like clockwork, according to a new study. This marks the first time that scientists have ever detected periodicity in these signals, which are known as fast radio bursts (FRBs), and is a major step toward unmasking their sources.

FRBs are one of the most tantalizing puzzles that the universe has thrown at scientists in recent years. First spotted in 2007, these powerful radio bursts are produced by energetic sources, though nobody is sure what those might be. FRBs are also mystifying because they can be either one-offs or “repeaters,” meaning some bursts appear only once in a certain part of the sky, while others emit multiple flashes to Earth.

Pulses from these repeat bursts have, so far, seemed somewhat random and discordant in their timing. But that changed last year, when the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment Fast Radio Burst Project (CHIME/FRB), a group dedicated to observing and studying FRBs, discovered that a repeater called FRB 180916.J0158+65 had a regular cadence.[]

A New-Cycle Sunspot is Forming (SpaceWeather.com)

Today, [February 7, 2020] a new sunspot is emerging in the sun’s southern hemisphere, right here. Its magnetic polarity identifies it as a member of Solar Cycle 25, the long-awaited next solar cycle. Although solar activity remains low, this new-cycle spot continues the recent trend of intensifying Solar Cycle 25 sunspot formation. Apparently, Solar Minimum won’t last forever….www.spaceweather.com

ABC Friends’ Special Bushfire Edition of Update (ABC Friends)

British natural historian David Attenborough has described this summer’s fires as ‘a major international catastrophe.’ Read gripping personal accounts of bushfire experiences, analysis from our National President Margaret Reynolds and Vice-President Professor Ed Davis, selected articles from journalists, reports from the ABC, and the observations of many ordinary Australians on the role of the ABC as our Emergency Broadcaster.

The ABC’s Emergency Broadcasts saved lives and kept families safe. Hundreds of ABC staff, many returning early from leave and working in extreme conditions, brought stories, pictures, sound and  essential emergency information to every corner of Australia.  It is appalling that many ABC staff are facing redundancy as a result of the recent $83.7 million budget cuts inflicted on the ABC by the Morrison government, on top of the $250m in cuts since 2014.

ABC Friends will be in Canberra when parliament resumes to demand the restoration of funds so that our ABC remains strong and independent.

Read Update here

Update is the national membership magazine of ABC Friends. Not a member? Sign up here.

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Radio Waves: RNZ Cuts Classical, Australian EmComm Plan, BBC Funding, and NHK Viewing Fees

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Broadcasting 

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: 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 and Michael Bird for the following tips:

RNZ set to cut back Concert and launch new youth service (Radio New Zealand)

In the biggest overhaul of its music services in years, RNZ is planning to cut back its classical music station RNZ Concert and replace it on FM radio with music for a younger audience as part of a new multimedia music brand. Mediawatch asks RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson and music content director Willy Macalister to explain the move.

The broadcaster is proposing to remove RNZ Concert from its FM frequencies and transform it into an automated non-stop music station which will stream online and play on AM radio.

It would be replaced on FM by a service aimed at a younger, more diverse audience as part of a new multimedia “music brand”.

RNZ Concert would be taken off FM radio on May 29 and the youth platform would be phased in ahead of its full launch on August 28.

RNZ’s music staff were informed about the proposed changes this morning in an emotional, occasionally heated meeting with the RNZ music content director Willy Macalister, head of radio and music David Allan, and chief executive Paul Thompson.[]

[Australian] Senate to vote on National Emergency Communications Plan (ABC Friends)

Today Senators can vote to recognise and support ABC Emergency Broadcasting Services and start to plan for a National Emergency Communications Plan.

[…]The motion comes after ABC Friends surveyed bushfire affected communities, with 95% of the 750 respondents indicating that they wanted to see a national plan of additional essential communications infrastructure.

More information to come once the motion has been moved.[]

UK government, at odds with media, eyes BBC funding change (AP)

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s government announced Wednesday it is considering a change in the way the BBC is funded that would severely dent the coffers of the nation’s public broadcaster.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government — which is increasingly at odds with the country’s news media — said it would hold a “public consultation” on whether to stop charging people with a criminal offense if they don’t pay the annual levy that funds the BBC.

The broadcaster gets most of its money from a license fee paid by every television-owning household in the country, which currently stands at 154.50 pounds ($201) a year. Failing to pay can result in a fine or, in rare cases, a prison sentence.

In 2018, more than 121,000 people were convicted and fined for license fee evasion. Five people were imprisoned for not paying their fines.

The BBC is Britain’s largest media organization, producing news, sports and entertainment across multiple TV, radio and digital outlets. The BBC’s size and public funding annoy private-sector rivals, who argue the broadcaster has an unfair advantage.[]

NHK Asked to Cut Viewing Fees Further (Jiji Press)

Tokyo, Feb. 5 (Jiji Press)–Japanese Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi asked Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) on Wednesday to cut television-viewing fees further.
The request was included in a set of proposals compiled by Takaichi. The proposals were approved the same day at a meeting of the Radio Regulatory Council, which advises the minister.

After expected cabinet approval, the proposals will be submitted to the ongoing session of the Diet, Japan’s parliament, together with NHK’s fiscal 2020 draft budget.

The public broadcaster has already decided to cut viewing fees and expand the scope of fee exemptions by the end of fiscal 2020, in order to reduce viewers’ burdens by the equivalent of 6 pct of its fiscal 2018 fee revenue.[]

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Radio Waves: Capitol Code, Clay’s Corner, The Buzzer, iHeart Layoffs, and Australian Hams

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio 

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: 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, William Lee, Stana Horzepa, Rich Cuff, and Marty for the following tips:


Capitol Records Building Morse Code (WA1LOU)

This iconic Los Angeles landmark has been emitting secret messages since it opened. However, only those with a keen eye for Morse code can decipher what they say.

It was the former president of Capitol Records, Alan Livingston, who got the idea to have the light on top of the building send out a signal in Morse code. The word chosen for this secret message was “Hollywood.” When the building opened in 1956, Samuel Morse’s granddaughter Leila Morse had the honor of turning the light on.

Read the rest of the story at Atlas Obscura.


Clay’s Corner February 2020 Edition (Northwest Broadcasters)

Some are interpreting this as meaning that – every – AM will be switching to digital leaving a Jillion AM only receivers with nothing to listen to (except for electrical gizmo noise). I give more credit than that to the owners of AM Radio Stations. I would highly doubt if any market would see all of their AM’s go digital. Perhaps in an ownership that had two AM’s it might make sense to have one of each.

[…]Other question is, what will the company that owns HD Radio (EXPERI) want to extract from the owner of an AM station that’s willing to put everything on the line and go all digital?
The bottom line is there appears to be a lot of interest in this proposal. The FCC’s process will likely draw a number of comments, pro and con. This will be an interesting process to watch. I can say one thing, never did I ever dream that we would be debating this issue![]


Seven mysterious sounds science has yet to solve (Popular Science)

The Buzzer

Numbers stations—shortwave radio transmissions of monotone coded messages—are inherently creepy. But call sign UVB-76 has outcreeped them all by playing the same jolting tone from Russia since 1982. Similar broadcasts are useful for sending messages where snoops might intercept digital comms, so “the Buzzer” could simply assist spies. But it plays far fewer words and digits than confirmed espionage outlets, so some suspect it’s a science project that bounces radio waves off the ionosphere to detect solar flares. The most intriguing theory posits that it’s a doomsday device that will go silent should Russia suffer a nuclear attack, thus triggering retaliation.

My theory is that these mysterious sounds are actually the intro to a Pink Floyd song, possibly from their 1969 album Ummagumma. Because the early Floyd albums, before Dark Side of the Moon, are no longer heard on-air, the Russians stole this music knowing we’d never notice. Ooh, gotta go… I hear the black helicopters coming…[]


iHeartMedia laid off hundreds of radio DJs. Executives blame AI. DJs blame the executives. (Washington Post)

When iHeartMedia announced this month it would fire hundreds of workers across the country, the radio conglomerate said the restructuring was critical to take advantage of its “significant investments … in technology and artificial intelligence.” In a companywide email, chief executive Bob Pittman said the “employee dislocation” was “the unfortunate price we pay to modernize the company.”

But laid-off employees like D’Edwin “Big Kosh” Walton, who made $12 an hour as an on-air personality for the Columbus, Ohio, hip-hop station 106.7 the Beat, don’t buy it. Walton doesn’t blame the cuts on a computer; he blames them on the company’s top executives, whose “coldblooded, calculated move” cost people their jobs.[]


Amateur radio skills prove useful during bushfire emergencies (ABC News)

Amateur radio enthusiasts have proved themselves useful during the recent bushfires after traditional telecommunication channels broke down.

Amateur radio, also known as ham radio, is a skill and international hobby whereby enthusiasts use specific radio frequencies to communicate with each other.

In Australia, users must complete an exam to obtain a license through the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

It was volunteers with these skills who were called in to assist during the recent New South Wales bushfires.

Neil Fallshaw is vice-president of WICEN NSW Communications, a group of volunteers with amateur radio licenses who can help in emergency situations.

He said about 30 members provided a temporary radio system in the Bega, Cobargo, Narooma, and Bermagui areas after some of the local radio infrastructure was damaged or had lost power.

“We deployed one of our radio repeaters on the mountains. We put a radio repeater system on that mountain to cover a portion of the south coast,” Mr Fallshaw said.

He said that radio system assisted the NSW Volunteer Rescue Association and Bega Valley Shire Council staff to communicate from bushfire-affected towns like Bermagui and Cobargo.

“They normally use just mobile phones, but the mobile phones in the area were down because of fire damage,” Mr Fallshaw said.[]

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Radio Waves: Podcast Preservation, Art Bell Plaque, BBC News Cuts, Space Storms, and DK7IH’s Homebrew Transceiver

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio 

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: 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, Mike Terry, Troy Riedel, and Jeff Murray for the following tips:


Radio Survivor Podcast #230 – The Library of Congress Launches Podcast Preservation Project (Radio Survivor)

On this week’s episode we learn about a brand new project at the Library of Congress that is focused entirely on archiving podcasts. Ted Westervelt, Manager of the Podcast Preservation Project at Library of Congress, joins us to share early details from this new initiative. He explains that the hope is that a wide variety of all types of podcasts will be part of the collection, including the Radio Survivor Podcast.[]


Memorial Plaque Honoring Art Bell Unveiled at Park in Pahrump, Nevada (Coast to Coast)

Coast to Coast AM founder Art Bell has been honored with a memorial plaque at a park in the Nevada city of Pahrump. The beloved radio personality, who passed away in April of 2018, was a longtime resident of the community and famously broadcast from his home there. The marker, which was unveiled by Nye County on their Facebook page this past Friday and is located at Calvada Eye park, was funded by a group known as the ‘Friends and Fans of Art Bell’ with additional financial support and installation provided by the county.[]


BBC News to close 450 posts as part of £80m savings drive (BBC News)

Around 450 jobs will be cut from BBC News under plans to complete its £80m savings target by 2022.

Outlets to be hit by job closures include BBC Two’s Newsnight, BBC Radio 5 Live and the World Update programme on the World Service.

BBC News boss Fran Unsworth said there had to be a move away from traditional broadcasting and towards digital.

But broadcasting union Bectu said the changes mean staff will be “under even more pressure to deliver”.


How likely are space super-storms? (EarthSky)

A new analysis shows that “severe” space super-storms happened 42 years out of the last 150, and “great” super-storms happened 6 years out of 150. These storms can disrupt modern electronics, aviation and satellite systems and communications.

A new joint study by the University of Warwick and the British Antarctic Survey used historical data to extend scientists’ previous estimates of the likelihood of space super-storms. These storms may originate with solar flares, seen to erupt explosively on the sun during years of high solar activity. Space super-storms aren’t harmful to humans, because our atmosphere protects us, but they can be hugely disruptive to our modern technologies. They can cause power blackouts, take out satellites, disrupt aviation and cause temporary loss of GPS signals and radio communications, scientists say. The new work shows that what the scientists called “severe” space super-storms occurred 42 years out of the last 150 years. What they called “great” super-storms occurred in 6 years out of 150. The new work also sheds light on what’s called the Carrington event of 1859, the largest super-storm in recorded history.[]

Also check out: Are Solar Storms Dangerous To Us?


DK7IH’s New HOMEBREW Transceiver Raises the Bar for All of Us (Soldersmoke Podcast)

And that, my friends, is a HOMEBREW transceiver. Wow, amazingly well done. After I showed this to Pete N6QW (no slouch in the homebrew packaging department), in frustration with his self-perceived shortcomings he threatened to give up on homebrewing and to throw away all his rigs. Don’t do it Pete!

Peter Rachow, DK7IH has carefully documented his project through as series of blog posts:
Here is Part 1. Part 9 deals with mechanical construction, packaging and what George Dobbs used to call “socketry.”[]


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Krasne Antenna Array: Help Rick solve a 22 year old mysetery

The mystery array

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Rick Slobodian, who seeks help solving a 22 year old mystery. Rick writes:

[Perhaps you can help me] explain this antenna….a 22 year old mystery antenna (see photo above)? What sort of antenna is this and how does it work? It’s at 49.8994 N 24.685 E near Krasne, Ukraine.

I was at this transmitter site in 1998.

Antenna switch room

I was writing articles for a number of magazines hoping to find customers for airtime and to make this site viable.

I spent all day at the site wrote extensively about EVERYTHING ELSE: the shortwave transmitters, the longwave transmitters, the shortwave antennas, the vertical long wave antennas, and the vertical MW antennas.

Longwave antenna at Krasne

HRS curtain array at Krasne

The transmitters were behemoths: Komintern Burans 500Kw 1000 Kw 1200 Kw

New 1200 Kw transmitter under construction

This antenna was over a km form the main building and they would let me go there:

I took this photo of the array as I traveled past it by train.

Its 36 towers strung in a NE SE line–over 2 km long and each tower is approximately 40 m tall.

[My hosts] were they so evasive about this antenna array yet not the rest of the site.

[There are some peculiarities:]

  1. Do you see a feed line running along the bottom of the towers near the ground?
  2. I do not see any tuning shacks.
  3. Is it fed from one end or the other end or is each tower fed?
  4. If each tower is fed, then where are the tuning shacks/phasors?
  5. iIf it is a beverage then why so may towers and such close spacing?
  6. Is it something completely different?

What do you think it is? How do you think it works and what would be its purpose?

Thanks for sharing, Rick!  My hope is that one of the members of the Post community may be able to shed a little light on this interesting antenna array.  Please comment!

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WRTH 2020: A look inside

I received my review copy of the 2020 World Radio and TV Handbook (WRTH) shortly after returning from holiday travels last week. I always look forward to receiving this excellent staple radio reference guide–and this is their 74th edition! The WRTH has never disappointed, so my expectations are always quite high.

Once again, the WRTH lived up to my expectations.

WRTH’s team of noted DXers from around the world curate frequencies and broadcaster information by region; while I’m not sure how they orchestrate all of this, the end result is truly a symphony of radio information. In addition to broadcaster listings, WRTH’s radio reviews, feature articles, and annual HF report make for excellent reading.

But the WRTH isn’t just a frequency guide: the publication always devotes the first sixty or so pages to articles relating to various aspects of the radio hobby. Following, I offer a quick overview of these.

The first article always features a WRTH contributor:  this year, they feature Luis Cavalho who is their contributor for Portugal, the Azores and Madeira. His path to becoming a WRTH contributor began in his childhood snagging mediumwave DX with an array of portable radios. His love of radio lead him to the world of shortwave radio, WRTH and eventually his own radio website to serve Portuguese listeners.

WRTH Reviews

The second set of articles is always my favorite: WRTH receiver reviews.

This year, WRTH begins with an in-depth review of the excellent ELAD FDM-DUOr tabletop SDR receiver.  Next they build on their 2019 review of the SDRplay RSPduo by exploring its unique diversity reception capabilities. They also review the AirSpy HF+ Discovery and were so impressed they awarded it the 2020 Best Value SDR.

This year, WRTH also reviewed two portable radios by Pure: the Pure Elan E3 DAB, DAB+, FM receiver and the Pure Elan IR5 WifI radio.

The final two reviews are of affordable products that offer incredible value for the radio listener: the venerable Tecsun PL-310ET ultralight radio and the Tecsun AN-200 MW Loop Antenna. I enjoyed reading a fresh review of each of these products as I’ve personally used both for nearly a decade.

WRTH Features

The first feature article, written by none other than Dave Porter, focuses on the development of HF broadcast antennas. His article serves as an excellent primer on the topic, covering Rhombic Antennas, Corner Quadrant Antennas, Log-Periodic Arrays and ALLISS /Rigid Curtain Arrays. A must-read for those who want to know more about the “business side” of a broadcast signal!

Hans Johnson’s feature, Sea Breeze and Wind from Japan, explores the story behind the broadcasts to Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea. Truly, an inspiring story of a determined and mission-dedicated broadcasters.

The following feature article was written by WRTH contributor and chief editor of the New Zealand DX Times, Stu Forsyth, who outlines the history of broadcasting from New Caledonia in the Pacific.

The next feature article focuses on the “finer points” of mediumwave propagation. I thought this was an informative and and timely article as so many shortwave DXers (including yours truly) spend time on the mediumwave bands especially during winter and times of rough HF propagation. A must-read!

Ashraf Chaaban, president of the Association des Radio Amateurs Tunisiens, takes WRTH readers with him on a visit to the Sidi Manson Transmitter Site in Tunisia in the final feature article. Having an affinity for broadcast sites, I sincerely enjoyed the focus on Sidi Manson which fell silent on shortwave in 2014.

Next, WRTH spotlight the annual Digital Update which summarizes the dynamic state of digital broadcasting. I’ve found this feature to be incredibly informative as we see how digital broadcasting is penetrating both domestic and international services.

The final article–a tradition–is the WRTH  HF propagation report/forecast by Ulf-Peter Hoppe. Always an informative read especially as we work our way out of a log-term solar slump.

The 74th is another fantastic edition of the World Radio TV Handbook. As I say every year, I’ve never been disappointed with WRTH. Their publishing standards are such that the quality of their reviews, their writing, and (most importantly) their broadcast listings are simply unparalleled.

At the heart of any WRTH is an uncompromising and unparalleled amount of information regarding regional and international broadcasting.

For DXers who collect QSL cards, you’ll find that broadcaster contact information in WRTH is often more up-to-date than a broadcaster’s own website. When readers contact me asking for QSL information from an obscure broadcaster, the first place I search is the current WRTH. Remember: their information is based on volunteer contributors who specialize in specific regions of the world–the most knowledgeable regional DXers keep this publication accurate.

Purchase your copy of WRTH 2020 directly from WRTH’s publishers, or from a distributor like Universal Radio (US) , Amazon.com (US),  or the Book Depository (international).

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