Category Archives: Broadcasters

Radio Waves: New Quantum Receiver, Virus and Distance Learning by Radio, BBC Woofferton Early Days, and Hello Morse

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 Andrea, Kim Andrew Elliott, Dave Porter, and Phillip Novak for the following tips:


New quantum receiver the first to detect entire radio frequency spectrum (Phys.org)

A new quantum sensor can analyze the full spectrum of radio frequency and real-world signals, unleashing new potentials for soldier communications, spectrum awareness and electronic warfare.

Army researchers built the quantum sensor, which can sample the radio-frequency spectrum—from zero frequency up to 20 GHz—and detect AM and FM radio, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and other communication signals.

The Rydberg sensor uses laser beams to create highly-excited Rydberg atoms directly above a microwave circuit, to boost and hone in on the portion of the spectrum being measured. The Rydberg atoms are sensitive to the circuit’s voltage, enabling the device to be used as a sensitive probe for the wide range of signals in the RF spectrum.

“All previous demonstrations of Rydberg atomic sensors have only been able to sense small and specific regions of the RF spectrum, but our sensor now operates continuously over a wide frequency range for the first time,” said Dr. Kevin Cox, a researcher at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, now known as DEVCOM, Army Research Laboratory. “This is a really important step toward proving that quantum sensors can provide a new, and dominant, set of capabilities for our Soldiers, who are operating in an increasingly complex electro-magnetic battlespace.”

The Rydberg spectrum analyzer has the potential to surpass fundamental limitations of traditional electronics in sensitivity, bandwidth and frequency range. Because of this, the lab’s Rydberg spectrum analyzer and other quantum sensors have the potential to unlock a new frontier of Army sensors for spectrum awareness, electronic warfare, sensing and communications—part of the Army’s modernization strategy.

“Devices that are based on quantum constituents are one of the Army’s top priorities to enable technical surprise in the competitive future battlespace,” said Army researcher Dr. David Meyer. “Quantum sensors in general, including the one demonstrated here, offer unparalleled sensitivity and accuracy to detect a wide range of mission-critical signals.”

The peer-reviewed journal Physical Review Applied published the researchers’ findings, Waveguide-coupled Rydberg spectrum analyzer from 0 to 20 GigaHerz, co-authored by Army researchers Drs. David Meyer, Paul Kunz, and Kevin Cox[]

Virus and distance learning by radio (1937, 1946) (AE5X Blog)

Six to eight decades ago polio was one of the most feared diseases in the US. In 1952 alone, 60,000 children were infected, 3000 died and many more were paralyzed.
The most severe outbreaks were in 1937 and 1946. My father was a victim of the 1946 epidemic, suffering minor paralysis in one leg as a child.

In 1937, many schools around the country closed, as did public pools, movie theaters and parks. But the Chicago public school system took an innovative approach.

During that period, 80% of US households contained a radio. This allowed 325,000 children in grades 3-8 to continue their education at home via radio lessons aired by six Chicago radio stations (WENR, WLS, WIND, WJJD, WCFL, WGN) that donated time for the purpose.

Program schedules for each day were printed in the morning paper. Home with more than one radio & more than one child often set up radios in different rooms so that each child could hear the appropriate grade’s lesson.

This continued for one month…until schools reopened in late September of that year.

Curriculum was developed by teachers and monitored over the air by school officials. After each episode, a limited number of teachers were available for phone calls. A large number of the calls were from parents distressed that they could not clearly receive the broadcasts.[Continue reading…]

BBC Woofferton Early Days (Ludlow Heritage News) [PDF]

Very few structures are left in the Ludlow area which can be traced back to the Second World War. However, look five miles south of the town towards the rise of the hills and a tracery of masts can be seen. Go closer, and a large building can be found by the road to Orleton, surrounded now by a flock of satellite dishes, pointing upwards. The dishes are a sign of the recent past, but the large low building was made for the war-time radio station aimed at Germany.

This little history attempts to tell the story of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s transmitting station at Woofferton near Ludlow in Shropshire during the first years of its existence. When and why did the BBC appear in the Welsh border landscape with a vast array of masts and wires strung up in the air? The story begins in 1932, when the BBC Empire Service opened from the first station at Daventry in Northamptonshire. Originally, the service, to link the Empire by wireless, was intended to be transmitted on long-wave or low frequency. But, following the discovery by radio amateurs that long distance communication was possible by using high frequency or short waves, the plan was changed. Later in the decade, the BBC expanded the service by also broadcasting in foreign languages. Although Daventry had a distinguished name in the broadcasting world, it was never technically the best place for a short-wave site, being on a hill and close to a growing town.

This article can be found in the Ludlow Heritage News: click here to download the full PDF.

 

Hello Morse: A collection of AI and Chrome experiments inspired by Morse code on Android Gboard (Google)

Developer Tania Finlayson found her voice through Morse code. Now she’s partnering with Google to bring Morse code to Gboard, so others can try it for accessible communication.

Morse code for Gboard includes settings that allow users to customize the keyboard to their unique usage needs. It works in tandem with Android Accessibility features like Switch Access and Point Scan.

This provides access to Gboard’s AI driven predictions and suggestions, as well as an entry point to AI-powered products, like the Google Assistant.[]

 


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An update from Radio Kahuzi

Drawing of the new studio building for Radio Kahuzi

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who writes:

SWLing Post readers have no doubt been wondering, along with the rest of us, about the status of Radio Kahuzi, the religious missionary station in Democratic Republic of Congo.

The station has been off the air for months, following a lightning strike in 2020 and various ongoing problems with power supply there in DRC.

Now, a note from Richard McDonald, founder of Radio Kahuzi, who says that they hope to be back on the air soon, though no timeline is provided.

For those who are not familiar with the station, it used a slightly off frequency of 6210.2 kHz in the 48 meter band. This was within the area of European pirate stations, and various broadcasters transmitting to North Korea and Iran, but propagation was usually such that Radio Kahuzi could be heard at European SDR sites in the hour or so before station sign off in the 1800 to 1820 UTC range.

Unclear from the note sent by McDonald is what power the station will be using when it does
finally return to the air. Previously power was in the 500 to 750 watt range. McDonald provided a drawing of what appears to be the new studio building for Radio Kahuzi [see image at top of page].

Hi Daniel and our faithful Dxers !

Thank you for your interest and encouragement for Radio Kahuzi and BESI ! The Lord is GOOD and we are recovering from the malaria and the yearly flu; finding another Normal !

We received the repair parts Monday 1 Feb 2021 DHL from Mike Axmon and Son Set Solutions that we were not able to find locally, to repair our SW Transmitter, after a Lightning Strike that took out four Radio Stations the same day.

We hope the partial repair will now be complete to bring back the functions that thus far were uncontrolled after initially replacing the six transistors, etc. !

At the same time, SNEL is being converted to a Cash Power system at the Studio, and our Antenna will be re positioned Next Door.

A New Prime Minister will be installed soon, as the government is being transitioned, while we are all still in Lock Down with little changes being made backward and forward, locally and world-wide !

We trust you are all well and making progress where ever you are !

Keep Looking UP !

In His Love and Care,

Richard and Kathy McDonald, Directors

BESI / Radio Kahuzi / Bukavu, D R Congo

Many thanks, Dan, for the update!

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Video: How the UK shipping forecast is made

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David (G4EDR), who writes:

I know that you and many of your readers of the SWLing Post (myself included) have a fascination with the UK Shipping Forecast so thought you may be interested in this YouTube video showing how the Met Office prepare the forecast for broadcasting.

Thank you, David! Yes, indeed, I love the shipping forecast. I must admit that I’m pleased (and not terribly surprised) to see that forecasts are not based purely on computer models, but on the expertise of experienced meteorologists.

Thank you for sharing!

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National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine resumes mediumwave broadcasting

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor,  Vlad (US7IGN), who writes:

Hello!

I hasten to inform you the good news that Ukrainian radio resumes broadcasting on medium waves.

At a time when the whole world is curtailing broadcasting, a new station has appeared on the air!

From February 1, the National Public Television and Radio Company of Ukraine will resume broadcasting UA: Ukrainian radio in the medium-wave band on the frequency 549 KHz.

The medium-wave transmitter of UA: Ukrainian radio in the village of Luch, Mykolaiv region, with a capacity of 500 kW, covers most of the territory of Ukraine (during the day – 60% of the territory including the occupied territories, from evening to morning – the whole territory of Ukraine).

http://uarl.info/news/ukrainskoe_radio_vosstanavlivaet_veschanie_na_srednih_volnah

Brilliant news–many thanks for the tip, Vlad!

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Radio Waves: FCC Warn Extremists Using Radio, ARRL Statement, Historic Radio Tirana Building, and Bob’s Replica Broadcast Studios

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 Pete, Bill, Trevor R. and Steve Reardon for the following tips:


Blocked from social media, extremists discuss turning to radios to plan attacks, FCC warns (CNN Business)

The US government is warning that groups could rely on radio equipment as an alternative to social media to plan future criminal activities.

In a stark warning Sunday, the Federal Communications Commission’s enforcement bureau said people coordinating or conducting criminal activity over radio waves are breaking the law.

“The Bureau has become aware of discussions on social media platforms suggesting that certain radio services regulated by the Commission may be an alternative to social media platforms for groups to communicate and coordinate future activities,” the FCC said in its warning Sunday. “Individuals using radios in the Amateur or Personal Radio Services in this manner may be subject to severe penalties, including significant fines, seizure of the offending equipment, and, in some cases, criminal prosecution.”

The FCC licenses certain signals for people to broadcast over radio waves. Those messages are generally protected by the US Constitution’s First Amendment. But the FCC reminded radio licensees and operators that it is prohibited to transmit “communications intended to facilitate a criminal act.” People are also not allowed to encode their messages to obscure their meaning from law enforcement.

The laws governing airwaves apply to amateurs broadcasting with personal ham radios, which can reach long distances. But they also apply to people using Citizens Band (CB) radios commonly used for communication between truckers — or even walkie-talkies.

In the wake of the January 6 Capitol riots, Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR) and other mainstream social networks have become more vigilant about policing people who use their platforms to plan or incite attacks. They have booted off several high-profile radicals and thousands of groups and users who the platforms say engage in harmful conspiracy theories and other violence or hate speech.[]

ARRL on the Purpose of Amateur Radio (ARRL News)

For over 100 years amateur radio and ARRL — the National Association for Amateur Radio® — have stood for the development of the science and art of communications, public service, and the enhancement of international goodwill. Amateur Radio’s long history and service to the public has solidified the well-earned reputation that “Amateur Radio saves lives.”

Amateur Radio Operators, due to their history of public service, their training, and the requirement that they be licensed by the FCC have earned their status as a component of critical communications infrastructure and as a reliable resource “when all else fails.”

Amateur Radio is about development of communications and responsible public service. Its misuse is inconsistent with its history of service and its statutory charter. ARRL does not support its misuse for purposes inconsistent with these values and purposes.[]

Historic Radio Tirana Building Looks Set to Be Demolished (Exit News)

The doors and windows of the historic Radio Tirana building were removed in the middle of the night during the weekend, while Albanians stayed inside due to heavy rains.

The Villa is a second category monument and was the first media institution in the country. It was built in 1938 by the Kollciu family as a house for two of the brothers. Completely symmetrical in its design and layout, it was built in the Italian neoclassical style that was popular at the time.

It was later seized under the order of King Zog and was the base for Radio Tirana until 1965. It was then used by the Institute of Anthropology and Art until the previous owners took it back. It has since been left to decay and is in a bad state of disrepair.

It stands over four floors including a basement. It features two main entrances, columns, a hallway with marble tiles, wooden framed windows and metallic balustrades.

As it was abandoned, a few members of the Roma community were living there.

Despite it being a cultural monument, the removal of these fixtures signals that demolition could be imminent. It lies just off Rruga Kavajaes and occupies prime Tirana real estate.[]

N.S. radio enthusiast turns basement into replica studio (CBC Nova Scotia)

There’s no denying Bob Cooke’s passion for radio. The Lower Sackville man used to work in the business back in the mid-1970s and now, it’s likely he has the largest collection of radio gear in Canada. CBC’s Colleen Jones reports.


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Radio Waves: AM TX Sites Now Prized Real Estate, New Leaders for RFE/RL, New EU Cars Will Have DAB, and North Korean Fisherman Pays Ultimate Price for Listening to Radio

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 Tracy Wood, Michael Bird, Michael Guerin, Mike Terry and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


AM Radio Transmitter Sites Now Valuable Real Estate for Logistics Industry (Transport Topics)

The familiar real estate adage “location, location, location” rings true these days for huge tracts on the outskirts of major cities — sites that for decades housed AM radio towers but that today command top dollar as e-commerce fuels rising demand for new warehouses and logistics centers.

Look no further than the $51 million sale of a five-acre parcel in Queens, N.Y., where an AM radio station will eventually abandon its existing tower and transmitter site, and move it.

New York radio station WFME’s owner, Nashville, Tenn.-based Family Radio, sold its AM transmitter site to Prologis, a San Francisco developer that specializes in building warehouses for companies looking to expand final-mile capability.

This property is situated near the Long Island Expressway, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, and La Guardia and JFK airports. The spot’s current value as a logistics hub far outstrips its importance to a broadcast outlet that didn’t register in New York’s most recent radio ratings book.

“Long term, we see this as a strategic move that adds to our growing footprint of high-quality logistics space that offers quick and easy access to consumers.” said Jeremiah Kent, Prologis senior vice president of value added investments. “In one of the most densely populated markets in the world where demand for logistics real estate is high and land is scarce, Prologis is well-positioned to respond to the acceleration of e-commerce and consumers’ expectation for same- and next-day delivery services.”

The rising value of these locations is being driven by changing consumer habits and rapid technological evolution. Sites on the edge of town that in radio’s heyday were cheap and plentiful can now house vital links in a supply chain propelled by technology that was hard to imagine back in AM’s early days.[]

USAGM CEO Names New Leaders for RFE/RL, OCB (VOA)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Agency for Global Media announced that former VOA journalist Ted Lipien will return to run Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, the current acting director at the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, will become director.

The appointments follow USAGM CEO Michael Pack’s December 9 announcement that former Voice of America director Robert Reilly would return to lead that network.

Lipien joined VOA in 1973 and worked as the chief of the Polish language service and later as a senior news and marketing executive until 2006. For 10 years, Lipien worked in Munich and Prague as the Eurasia regional marketing director, helping VOA and RFE/RL place programs on stations across the region. In an announcement sent to staff, he recalled listening to Radio Free Europe while growing up in communist Poland.

“I’m honored, and humbled, to be entrusted with helping this storied organization continue to break the hold of censorship and give voice to the silenced,” he wrote.

Since leaving U.S. broadcasting, Lipien has been a vocal critic of VOA’s and USAGM’s previous leaders. He has also defended Pack’s tenure as CEO, saying Pack has focused on correcting long-running issues of bias and mismanagement at the networks.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is a nonprofit multimedia broadcasting organization funded by U.S. Congress grants. Based in Prague, it serves as a surrogate media source in 27 languages, mostly in places where a free press remains either banned or not fully established.

Jeffrey Scott Shapiro has been with the Office of Cuba Broadcasting since July 2017. In announcing Shapiro’s new position, Pack cited his deep connections to local communities in South Florida and his track record in producing objective news.

“Transmitting objective news and information to the island plays a critical role in moving toward a free Cuba, and it is a privilege to be a part of such an important mission,” Shapiro wrote in a published statement.

The Office of Cuba Broadcasting oversees Radio and Television Marti, based in Miami, Florida. The network provides news, information and analysis to the people of Cuba via satellite television and shortwave radio, as well as flash drives, DVDs and text messages.

Pack was confirmed by the Senate as CEO in June with a three-year term and fired several news executives upon his arrival. He later declined to testify before a House of Representatives panel examining his decisions at the agency, including his decision to fire the heads of RFE/RL, Radio Free Asia and OCB, and replace their boards. The then-director of VOA, Amanda Bennett, resigned two days before Pack joined the agency.

Last month a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting Pack and other USAGM officials from interfering with the editorial independence and First Amendment rights of journalists at VOA and other networks they oversee. The ruling still allows Pack to appoint leaders of those news networks to oversee them.

The November 20 court order prohibits the CEO and other defendants from communicating directly with journalists at the networks without the consent of their directors. The order is part of a lawsuit filed by five USAGM officials whom Pack placed on administrative leave in August. The suit accuses Pack and his political appointees of unlawful actions and of violating the First Amendment and a statutory firewall set up to ensure editorial independence. Pack has said the lawsuit is “without merit” and that all of his and his team’s decisions and actions are “correct and lawful.”

Earlier this month, a federal office set up to protect whistleblowers ordered USAGM to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by its own top officials.[]

All new car radios to have digital terrestrial radio (Southgate ARC)

From today, people purchasing new passenger vehicles across Europe will be able to benefit from the advantages of digital radio – greater choice, clearer audio and enhanced data services.

Article 113, Annex XI in the EECC states that “Any car radio receiver integrated in a new vehicle of category M* which is made available on the market for sale or rent in the Union from 21 December 2020 shall comprise a receiver capable of receiving and reproducing at least radio services provided via digital terrestrial radio broadcasting”.

The regulation applies to all EU member states – regardless of the status of DAB in each country.

Despite the impact of Covid-19, Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Denmark have already introduced laws mandating digital terrestrial radio in cars and other countries are expected to follow shortly.

In the first half of 2020, over 50% of new cars sold in Europe included DAB+ as standard – a number that is expected to reach 100% by the end of 2021 as DAB+ adoption continues to grow across Europe.

More information and regular updates on the EECC directive and its implementation across Europe is available on the WorldDAB EECC factsheet.

*Motor vehicles with at least four wheels designed and constructed for the carriage of passengers

https://www.worlddab.org/news

North Korean fisherman publicly executed for listening to foreign radio (The New Daily)

A North Korean fishing boat captain has been publicly executed for listening to banned foreign radio stations while at sea.

The man, only known by his surname Choi and said to have been in his 40s, was killed by firing squad in front of 100 boat captains and fisheries executives, according to a Radio Free Asia report.

Choi, who owned a fleet of more than 50 ships, is thought to have been turned in by a crew member after they turned against him.

According to the RFA report, Choi ultimately confessed to authorities and was charged with “subversion against the party”.

“In mid-October, a captain of a fishing boat from Chongjin was executed by firing squad, on charges of listening to Radio Free Asia regularly over a long period of time,” a North Korean law enforcement official told RFA.

“They publicly shot him at the base in front of 100 other captains and managers of the facility’s fish processing plants. They also dismissed or discharged party officials, the base’s administration and the security officers who allowed Choi to work at sea.”

The network said the fishing boat captain began his habit of tuning into foreign radio stations, including RFA, while serving as a radio operator in the military. He had listened to RFA – a US-government funded network that broadcasts in Korean – for 15 years.

“The security authorities decided then that the time to re-educate him had long past, so they executed him by firing squad,” the source said.

“It seems that the authorities made an example out of Choi to imprint on the residents that listening to outside radio stations means death.”[]


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Alan Roe’s Guide to 2020 Holiday Broadcasts on Shortwave

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Alan Roe, who writes:

I have been collating a list of programming on shortwave over the forthcoming holiday period. The programmes listed are predominantly, but not necessarily, seasonal. Here is the first edition of this compilation, which will be updated and redistributed if and when more information becomes available.

Regular weekly music programming, where no special advance programme information has been provided, are not included in this list, but please refer to my Music on Shortwave list also uploaded to the files section.

I hope that you find it useful.

Additions and corrections are most welcome to alan-roe-swl@randa33.co.uk

Best wishes for Christmas and a Happy New Year
Alan Roe, Teddington, UK

Click here to download (PDF). [V4 Update]

This is brilliant, Alan! Thank you so much for curating this guide and sharing it!

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