Category Archives: Broadcasters

Radio Waves: Audacy Files for Bankruptcy, WBCQ’s Ampegon Antenna, and FM DRM in India

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 NT, Dennis Dura, Alan, and Rich Cuff for the following tips:


WSJ Report: Audacy Close to Filing for Bankruptcy (Radio World)

Facing deadlines this year to pay back some of its $2 billion in debt, Audacy appears poised to file for bankruptcy protection, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The WSJ says all that debt is about to trigger a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, possible within weeks, with senior lenders assuming ownership of the radio company following the reorganization. (Chapter 11 is the type of bankruptcy that allows a company to maintain operations while creating a plan to repay creditors, rather than Chapter 7, which involves liquidation of assets.)

Audacy has been slow rolling payback of its massive debt, which was mostly accumulated back in 2017 when the former Entercom Communications merged with CBS Radio. The broadcast company rebranded as Audacy in 2021.

The publicly-owned radio company has been skipping loan interest payments since late last year in efforts to facilitate talks with its lenders, according to reports to the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission. The broadcaster has blamed a softness in the ad markets for its inability to pay back the loans.

The WSJ says Audacy — which has $632 million in first lien debt due in Nov. 2024 — has reached agreement with its lenders for a “pre-packaged bankruptcy plan.” The business and economy-focused newspaper reports lenders will help finance the reorganization. It’s unclear if Audacy CEO David Field will remain with the company following the reorganization.

Audacy, which is one of the biggest U.S. radio owners with 230 radio stations in 46 markets, has gone through recent format reorganizations that have resulted in significant job losses through consolidation of on-air positions. [Continue reading…]

WBCQ Relies on High-Power Shortwave Antenna (Radio World)

One of the more unusual facilities featured in our recent Radio World ebook about interesting RF plants is at WBCQ. It uses what is believed to be the only rotatable shortwave antenna in North America.

The station operates from Monticello in northern Maine; it’s owned and operated by Allan and Angela Weiner, who also are licensees of WXME(AM) 780 kHz and WBCQ(FM) 94.7 MHz at the site.

Installed in 2018, the AHR 4/4/0.5 antenna was manufactured by the former Ampegon AG and can transmit signals up to 500 kW. It is used to broadcast “World’s Last Chance,” a ministry that believes “the return of Yahushua is only a few years away” according to Bible prophecy.

The program is heard on 9.330 MHz in various languages for target areas in both the western and eastern hemispheres. (The program has posted reception reports.)

The turnkey installation was done by Cestron International of Germany, with work led by Winfried Zimmer. Lance Cook was project manager for WBCQ.

“The high-power antenna offers different radiation patterns and an antenna gain of up to 23 dB and uses a technology characterized by a single-shaft structural design,” Cestron said in a project summary.

The tubular shaft has a diameter of four meters. Its support design will absorb static and dynamic forces originating from the antenna components, allowing the system to function even under extreme weather conditions, according to Cestron. [Continue reading…]

Roadmap 2024-DRM digital radio services in FM band in India (Broadcast and Cablesat)

All India Radio (AIR), the public service broadcaster in India, is providing terrestrial radio services in all the radio broadcast bands – MW, SW, and FM. Commercial broadcasting in FM band is licensed to private radio stations, and community radio stations are also permitted for non-commercial use.

At present, most of the terrestrial radio services in India are in analogue, except for some services of AIR in MW and SW bands, which are in DRM digital.

Keeping in view the advantages of digital radio broadcasting, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the regulator for broadcasting, on Feb 1, 2018, had recommended to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (M/o I&B), Government of India, that digital broadcasting in FM band (VHF band II) should also be allowed, without disturbing the existing analogue transmissions. [Continue reading…]


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Radio 4 Continuity Announcers

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who writes:

While setting up to record BBC Radio 4 LW for the turn of the year using the U. Twente SDR receiver, I noticed the program in the final hour before midnight: “But First This …” It is about the jobs of Radio 4 continuity announcers and is a behind the scenes look into radio continuity. Those interested in how radio production works will find it interesting. It includes discussions on the reading of the Shipping Forecast, also known as the Shipping Bulletin, and not crashing the Greenwich Time Signal (the pips). There’s quite an amusing music and poetry item about the pips. Several of the continuity announcers, some of whom also read the news, take part including Neil Nunes, who frequent listeners to the World Service will recognize.

Here is the program description from the BBC Radio 4 website:

“Continuity announcers’ voices are at the heart of Radio 4 – they introduce programmes and bring us the news. But who are they? What does it take to do their job – from introducing The Archers to reading the Shipping Forecast? And what happens on those hopefully rare occasions when things don’t go according to plan? With contributions from more announcers than ever previously spotted in one place, and a special musical performance, countdown to the new year with the BBC Radio 4 announcers.”

The program is available to listen again here:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001trdd

Might be worth a mention on the SWLing Post.

All the best
— Richard

Fascinating. Thank you for sharing this, Richard!

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Radio Waves: Agriculture Supports AM, In-Car Radio Listening, Making Waves, and AI Future at the VOA

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 Dennis Dura, Rich Cuff, and Dan Robinson for the following tips:


Ag Coalition Speaks Up for AM Radio Bill (Radio World)

Access to radio becomes even more important for America’s producers in times of emergency.

Producers of milk, wheat, cotton, sugar, corn, rice and many other farm and ranch products in the United States are speaking up in support of the federal legislation that would require AM radio in new vehicles.

Twenty-five agricultural groups have sent a letter to Capitol Hill endorsing the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act. (Read the letter.)

The National Association of Broadcasters highlighted the letter. It said the bill has 196 cosponsors in the House and 44 in the Senate.

“Our members rely on AM radio and the vital services it provides daily,” they wrote.

“AM radio is a source of weather, commodity and national farm policy updates for our members. Access to radio becomes even more important for America’s producers in times of emergency.” [Continue reading…]

AM/FM In-Car Listening Surges to Pre-Pandemic Norms (Radio World)

Edison Research releases its latest “Share of Ear” data

Pierre Bouvard is chief insights officer for Cumulus Media and Westwood One. This story originally appeared on his blog.

Edison Research’s quarterly “Share of Ear” study is the authoritative examination of time spent with audio in America. Edison Research surveys 4,000 Americans annually to measure daily reach and time spent for all forms of audio.

Since “Share of Ear” has been running continuously since 2015, it affords an opportunity to examine an eight-year view of American audio usage. Here are the major trends:

  • The proportion of in-car AM/FM radio listening has surged from the prior year to pre-pandemic norms
  • For all ad-supported audio, the proportion of at-home listening remains elevated
  • Spoken word is on the rise: All forms of non-music content (News, Personalities/Talk, and Sports) increased strongly during the pandemic; Since then, spoken word growth has accelerated
  • Podcast shares are up +575% since 2016
  • Pandora/Spotify ad-supported music streaming shares are down -31% over the same period
  • AM/FM radio streaming’s audience share is now greater than Pandora/Spotify combined
  • At a 69% share overall and a massive 85% in-car share, AM/FM radio remains the dominant ad-supported audio platform. [Continue reading…]

Still making waves after 100 years (Mail and Guardian)

South Africa first came into my life as a young boy in Canada for two reasons.

One, I had an uncle who worked for a shipping company. Among other things, the company imported goods from and exported goods to South Africa.

A ship carrying South African tinned pineapple, bound for Montreal, sank in the St Lawrence River in the 1960s. My uncle was involved in the salvage operation, and, as a consequence, my family and many other relatives ate tinned pineapple from South Africa for the next few years — we grew to hate it.

The second reason was radio. My grandfather gave me a shortwave radio when I was about eight years old. One of the distant radio stations that blasted into my bedroom, loud and clear, was Radio RSA (now Channel Africa), the voice of the South African government of the day.

I listened to Radio RSA, as I listened to any shortwave station I could pick up, because it was exotic.

The easiest stations to pick up in those days were from the big broadcasting countries — the BBC, Radio France Internationale, the Voice of America, Radio Moscow and Radio Havana Cuba, to name but a few. Even Albania had a strong-signal broadcaster — Radio Tirana. [Continue reading…]

VOA faces internal backlash over newsroom guidance on use of generative AI to voice news reports (FedScoop)

Journalists at VOA have pushed back on newsroom leadership’s AI policy regarding “synthetic voices,” documents obtained by FedScoop show.

Dozens of journalists and staff at Voice of America are strongly opposed to the state-owned news organization’s plan to use AI-generated synthetic voices, documents obtained by FedScoop show, with employees expressing concerns that the tool could breed mistrust with its audience, cause misinformation to spread and potentially eliminate jobs within the newsroom.

VOA, which has a weekly worldwide audience of approximately 326 million, is the largest and oldest of U.S. government-funded news networks and international broadcasters.

The news organization released internal guidance on the use of artificial intelligence in November, following months of discussions with journalists and labor representatives that stirred up backlash and controversy within the news organization.

FedScoop obtained the new AI guidance as well as a letter of opposition — signed by dozens of journalists within the news organization — that was sent to VOA leadership in October and has not been made public until now.

“We are deeply concerned that a portion of the Artificial Intelligence guidance that the agency is preparing to issue will do more harm than good,” the signed letter said. “Specifically, we object to language that would allow Artificial Intelligence to be used ‘for voicing scripts.’” [Continue reading…]


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Chuck’s Indian music fix via AIR Port Blair

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Chuck Rippel (K8HU), who writes:

With so many SWBC outlets choosing to go off air, I find that I really miss Indian music.  This time of year was ripe for a number of regional Indian outlets on 60M to be audible on ECNA during local evening, peaking around 0100Z.  A fairly skillful DX catch was AIR Port Blair transmitting on 4760.0.

Port Blair is the capital city of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and is located on South Andaman Island with the Bay of Bengal on the west coast and the Andaman Sea off the east, they are actually located a bit closer to Burma than India.  Don’t put a visit to Andaman Is on your bucket list though, The Andaman and Nicobar Islands Protection of Aboriginal Tribes Act of 1956 prohibits travel to the island, and any approach closer than 5 nautical miles (9.3 km), in order to protect the remaining tribal community from “mainland” infectious diseases against which they (likely) have no acquired immunity.

No more shortwave but wait, the programming is still available VIA webcast, URL below. The programming heard here so far has been in Bengali and Hindi but surprise, at 2230Z and 1737Z, I was surprised to hear the news read in English.  The Andaman Islands observe Indian Standard time or UTC +5:30 which put their TOH at the EST: 30 or, our BOH.

So, treat yourself to some Naan Bread, spool up your web browser and click on:

https://onlineradiofm.in/stations/air-port-blair-pc

Thank you, Chuck!

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CBC/Radio-Canada to cut workforce in budget shortfall

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Iurescia, who shares the following item from Radio Canada International:

CBC/Radio-Canada to cut 10 per cent of workforce, end some programming as it faces $125M budget shortfall (RCI)

Public broadcaster says most cuts will take effect over the coming year

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Radio-Canada announced Monday that it plans to cut about 10 per cent of its workforce and axe some programming to cope with a potential $125 million budget shortfall.

In a news release, the public broadcaster said it plans on cutting 600 union and non-union positions across the entire organization. The corporation said about 200 vacant positions will be eliminated on top of that.

CBC and Radio-Canada, the French-language arm, will each be cutting in the range of 250 jobs, while the rest of the cuts will come from the technology and infrastructure department and other corporate divisions, said the corporation.

CBC spokesperson Leon Mar said some of the cuts will begin immediately but most will take effect over the coming year.

CBC/Radio-Canada — which received around $1.3 billion in public funding in the 2022-2023 fiscal year — also announced Monday it will reduce its English and French programming budgets for the next fiscal year and cut about $40 million from independent production commissions and program acquisitions.

Mar said that will mean fewer new television series and fewer episodes for existing shows.

The corporation said earlier this year it had begun cutting $25 million through measures such as limiting travel, sponsorships and marketing, and delaying technology initiatives.

The public broadcaster blamed its budget issues on rising production costs, declining television advertising revenue and fierce competition from the digital giants.

CBC/Radio-Canada said it’s also grappling with forecast reductions to its parliamentary funding beginning in the next fiscal year. A fund to help the public broadcaster offset revenue losses during the pandemic is also ending, it said. The fund supplied the CBC with $21 million a year for two years.

We understand how concerning this is to the people affected and to the Canadians who depend on our programs and services. We will have more details in the months ahead, but we are doing everything we can to minimize the impact of these measures, said CBC/Radio-Canada president Catherine Tait in a prepared statement. [Continue reading…]

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Radio Reminiscences . . . A Reader Participation Post

By Jock Elliott, KB2GOM

The other night, at 10 pm Eastern Time (0300 UTC), I was listening to Zoomer Radio from Toronto, Canada, on 740 kHz (medium wave) when a program called “Theatre of the Mind” came on. This wonderful program airs Monday through Friday and presents “Old Time Radio” programs from back in the day when radio dramas were a regular part of on-the-air fare.

As I listened, I got sucked through a hole in the space-time continuum. Instantly, I was no longer an official oldster with eight decades in his sights .  .  . now I was a grade-school kid on Saturday morning in the early 1950s looking forward to Big John and Sparky and Space Patrol coming up on the radio. Programs like that were a regular staple of my childhood.

It’s weird, but I can’t recall the content of any specific episode, but I can easily remember the joy I felt as the familiar strains of “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic” (Big John and Sparky’s theme) were broadcast.

Theatre of the Mind is a great moniker for radio dramas, because your mind is forced to fill in the details of the drama. The dialog, narrative description, and a few sound effects provide the clues, and, in the magic of your imagination, you provide the rest of the scenery and the setting, and it is great fun.

The power of the mind’s eye was brought home powerfully to me, in a funny way. Space Patrol was not just a radio program; it was also a television program. My family did not have a TV until I was in fourth grade. As a result, I never saw Space Patrol on TV until I saw it at a friend’s house. (Remember this was in the infancy of TV.) When I did, my overwhelming impression was: this is lame. The program that was wonderful in my mind on radio was considerably less so on live TV.

Later in grade school, I was given a germanium diode radio for Christmas. It became my tool for secretly monitoring “The Hawthorne Den” (jazz after midnight) under the covers. It was Big Time, Big Deal adventure for a boy my age . . . does it get better than that?!! It actually did, when my Dad brought home a Zenith Transoceanic.

So dear reader, check out Zoomer Radio on 740 if you can and enjoy Theatre of the Mind.

And now it’s your turn: what are your favorite radio reminiscences (modern or ancient like mine)? Please post them below.

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Radio Waves: DRM in Cars, Big Ben is Back, and RNZ Pacific’s 75th Anniversary

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 Pete and Dennis Dura for the following tips:


Now Is the Time to Save AM in Cars Using Digital (Radio World)

“DRM eliminates unstable and degraded audio, saves spectrum and, more importantly, a lot of energy costs”

The author is chairman of the DRM Consortium. Her commentaries appear regularly at radioworld.com.

Much ink has been used recently on the topic of carmakers dropping AM reception capability in cars, especially in EVs. Hence the “for and against” discussions in the U.S., at least, about the “AM for Every Vehicle Act.”

Shortwave reception, with is large coverage possibilities, has often been criticized for its audio quality which can be noisy and subject to annoying levels of variations. In cars, there are other drawbacks like less than optimum antennas, which are mostly tuned for vertical polarization while shortwave is horizontally polarized.

It is undeniable that analog AM Shortwave reception in cars can be quite unreliable, also due to lower average-SNR over time. But all these negative points are not always present. In some places (take Nigeria and the BBC broadcasts) the shortwave transmissions are great, in a quality that is not much different from that of a FM broadcast. [Continue reading…]

Bong! Big Ben broadcasts to return to Radio 4’s regular schedule (The Guardian)

Westminster’s famous bell will be heard live from next week after years of only occasional appearances

It is one of the most recognisable sounds in the UK, and one that hasn’t been heard on BBC Radio 4 since New Year’s Eve last year, but from next week the famous bongs of Big Ben will be heard once again on the station.

The most famous bell in the UK will be heard live once again on Monday 6 November, just before the 6pm news bulletin and again before midnight. Listeners will be able to hear the chimes again before Radio 4’s Westminster Hour political discussion programme at 10pm on Sundays.

And after years of only occasional appearances, the chimes will form part of Radio 4’s regular schedule where they will be heard live twice daily and three times on Sundays after new microphones and a live set-up were installed.

To mark the nation’s two-minute silence this Remembrance Sunday, Big Ben will also be heard live on 11 November at 11am, and the bongs will air at 3pm on Christmas Day, before the king’s speech is broadcast on Radio 4. [Continue reading…]

RNZ Pacific’s shortwave service turns 75 (Radio New Zealand)

It has been 75 years since Radio New Zealand started broadcasting on short-wave into the Pacific region.

Using two 7.5 kilowatt transmitters in Titahi Bay, near Wellington, Radio New Zealand began short-wave broadcasts to Australia and the Pacific in 1948.

RNZ Pacific’s Moera Tuilaepa-Taylor has this report.


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