Category Archives: Current Events

FT Video: “Ukraine’s battle of the airwaves”

Many thanks to a number of SWLing Post contributors who share a link to the following video via the Financial Times.

Description:

A look at three aspects of wartime radio in Ukraine: the interception of communications between Russian soldiers, how broadcasters are using radio to combat censorship online, and the mysterious silence of a radio transmitter known as ‘The Russian Lady’

Click here to view on YouTube or click here to view on the Financial Times website.

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Radio Waves: A Second Golden Age, RFE Popular in Russia, Station Helps Ukrainian Refugees, Symbol of Normalcy, Saving Wax Cylinders, and Antarctic Post Office Opportunity

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!


Is radio in a second golden age? Here’s what the first looked like. (MSN / Washington Post)

On. Oct. 30, 1938, America was rocked by shocking news: Aliens had been spotted crash-landing outside Grover’s Mill, N.J. Additional sightings were soon made across the Northeast, including reports of Martians unleashing poisonous gas on Manhattan and burning onlookers alive with ray guns. Periodically, the breathless news reports would be reduced to static.

Listeners reacted in real time; many of them flooded the streets wearing gas masks and wet towels over their faces. Stores were raided, bridges and expressways were inundated with traffic, and pregnant women reportedly went into early labor.

Of course, the alien invasion never actually happened. The news bulletins were part of a live Halloween program a young producer and a cast of talented actors were presenting over the radio. The producer was 23-year-old Orson Welles, and the name of the episode was “War of the Worlds.” The H.G. Wells-adapted story had been produced for radio as part of Welles’s regular Sunday night broadcast, “The Mercury Theater on the Air” — a program that had hitherto been largely ignored, as it was up against a wildly popular variety show starring comedians Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.

Only this Sunday was different, as millions of Americans who had tuned in to listen to Bergen and McCarthy changed their dials when the duo introduced a guest opera singer. “No one was in the mood for opera that night, and much of the country stumbled onto Welles’s broadcast by mistake, not knowing the news bulletins they heard were part of a radio drama,” explained Carl Amari, a syndicated radio host and the founder of Radio Spirits, a large distributor of classic radio programs. [Continue reading…]

The Kremlin tries to stifle Radio Free Europe — and its audience surges (Washington Post)

As the U.S.-funded broadcaster is forced to shut most of its Russian operations, its Web traffic indicates that Russian people are eagerly consuming its stories

Radio Free Europe, the U.S.-funded operation that got its start by piping American-flavored news through the Iron Curtain in 1950, could see big trouble brewing for its Russian operation in recent years.

The Kremlin kept putting the screws to its Russian-language broadcasts, throwing up ever more regulatory hurdles. But it was in late 2020 that the hammer really came down. The “media regulator” demanded that every broadcast, digital story and video carry an intrusive disclaimer at the top stating that what followed was the product of a foreign agent.

“Basically, it was like telling our audience to go away,” said Jamie Fly, the CEO of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, as the organization has been known since a 1976 merger.

That labeling would interfere with the private nonprofit’s mission at a core level. So, Fly told me, “we refused to comply.” [Continue reading…note that this content might be behind a paywall for some readers.]

New radio station helps Ukrainian refugees adapt in Prague (AP)

PRAGUE (AP) — This is Radio Ukraine calling.

A new Prague-based internet radio station has started to broadcast news, information and music tailored to the day-to-day concerns of some 300,000 Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in the Czech Republic since Russia launched its military assault against Ukraine.

In a studio at the heart of the Czech capital, radio veterans work together with absolute beginners to provide the refugees with what they need to know to settle as smoothly as possible in a new country. Continue reading

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Radio Waves: Arecibo Failure Caught on Video, Heathkit Employee Reminisces, Radio at 100 Series, and FCC to Require Email on Applications

Arecibo Observatory’s 305-meter telescope in November 2020 (Credit: University of Central Florida)

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 Ned Wharton, Pete Eaton, Zack Schindler, and Dave Zantow for the following tips:


NSF releases footage from the moment Arecibo’s cables failed (ARS Technica)

Today, the National Science Foundation released video taken at the moment the Arecibo Radio Observatory’s cables failed, allowing its massive instrument platform to crash into the dish below. In describing the videos, the NSF also talked a bit about the monitoring program that had put the cameras in place, ideas it had been pursuing for stabilizing the structure pre-collapse, and prospects for building something new at the site.

A quick recap of the collapse: the Arecibo dish was designed to reflect incoming radio radiation to collectors that hung from a massive, 900-ton instrument package that was suspended above it. The suspension system was supported by three reinforced concrete towers that held cables that were anchored farther from the dish, looped over the towers, and then continued on to the platform itself. Failure of these cables eventually led to the platform dropping into the dish below it.

[…]The video of that collapse comes from a monitoring system put in place in the wake of the cable failures. Due to the danger of further cable breaks, the NSF had instituted no-go zones around each of the three towers that supported the cables. With no personnel allowed to get close enough to inspect the cables, the staff started monitoring them using daily drone flights, one of which was in progress during the collapse. In addition, a video camera was installed on top of the visitor’s center, which had a clear view of the instrument platform and one of the support towers.

Continue reading full article.

Heathkit: An Employee’s Look Back (Electronic Design)

Lessons of a successful electronic business—an interview with Chas Gilmore, former Heath executive.

For those of you who do not know or remember, Heath Company was the largest kit company in the world. Heath designed and put practically every type of electronic product into kit form. Its products, called Heathkits, were exceptionally popular and many are still in use today.

Over the years, Electronic Design has published many Heathkit-related articles and blogs. Recently, I had a chance to talk with Chas Gilmore, who was a Heath executive. For those of you who fondly remember Heathkit and miss its products, here’s a look back at this amazing company and the lessons it offers.

Chas, what was your affiliation with Heath?

A recent physics graduate, I joined Heath in 1966 as an engineer in the Scientific Instruments department. This was a new group designing laboratory instruments supporting the Malmstadt/Enke, Electronics for Scientists program. The kit business was making great strides.

The audio department was about to introduce the AR-15 FM receiver/amplifier. It had rave reviews, putting Heath in the top tier of the Audio/HiFi market. At the same time, the Ham (amateur radio) department was updating the phenomenally successful SB-line of an HF SSB receiver, transmitter, and transceiver, and modernizing the popular $99 single-band SSB transceiver line[]

Radio at 100 & Roots of Radio Series (Radio World)

Zack writes:

Found this interesting series at Radioworld called “Radio at 100”. It is 29 different articles about the history of broadcasting in the USA. A lot of your readers might enjoy these;
https://www.radioworld.com/tag/radio-at-100

Another great series at Radioworld that your readers might be interested in “Roots of Radio”:

https://www.radioworld.com/columns-and-views/roots-of-radio

ARLB038 FCC to Require Email Addresses on Applications (ARRL Bulletin 38 ARLB038)

Amateur radio licensees and candidates will have to provide the FCC with an email address on applications, effective sometime in mid-2021.

If no email address is included, the FCC may dismiss the application as defective.

The FCC is fully transitioning to electronic correspondence and will no longer print or provide wireless licensees with hard-copy authorizations or registrations by mail.

A Report and Order (R&O) on “Completing the Transition to Electronic Filing, Licenses and Authorizations, and Correspondence in the Wireless Radio Services” in WT Docket 19-212 was adopted on September 16. The new rules will go into effect 6 months after publication in the Federal Register, which hasn’t happened yet, but the FCC is already strongly encouraging applicants to provide an email address.

When an email address is provided, licensees will receive an official electronic copy of their licenses when the application is granted.

The Report and Order can be found in PDF format online at, https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-adopts-electronic-licensing-report-and-order

Under Section 97.21 of the new rules, a person holding a valid amateur station license “must apply to the FCC for a modification of the license grant as necessary to show the correct mailing and email address, licensee name, club name, license trustee name, or license
custodian name.” For a club or military recreation station license, the application must be presented in document form to a club station call sign administrator who must submit the information to the FCC in an electronic batch file.

Under new Section 97.23, each license will have to show the grantee’s correct name, mailing address, and email address. “The email address must be an address where the grantee can receive electronic correspondence,” the amended rule will state. “Revocation of the station license or suspension of the operator license may result when correspondence from the FCC is returned as undeliverable because the grantee failed to provide the correct email address.”
NNNN
/EX[]


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Target Jim Creek: is an Obscure Washington State Naval Radio Facility in Russia’s Nuclear Crosshairs?

A new article in the Seattle Times newspaper discusses a large VLF radio facility that many people even in nearby Seattle, WA are not aware of:

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/obscure-snohomish-county-navy-radio-station-named-as-top-russian-target/

This story reminds me of my 1960s childhood, growing up with a father who worked on the USA’s Minuteman ICBM missile defense program. This Cold War era missile system was a cousin to the submarine-based nuclear weapons. The Jim Creek transmitter was–and still is–a vital communications link to U.S. subs stationed worldwide.

Guy Atkins is a Sr. Graphic Designer for T-Mobile and lives near Seattle, Washington.  He’s a regular contributor to the SWLing Post.

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Sydney Hobart Yacht Race Frequencies

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jerome van der Linden, who writes:

I just found after reviewing a 16 page PDF of regulations etc from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, some relevant information for listeners who may want to try to hear the boat to shore communications of yachts participating in this annual yacht race, which is quite famous in this part of the world.

This race will commence at 1300 Sydney time 26th December, which is 0200 UTC, by my reckoning (today, down here). The race normally runs for about 3 or 4 days depending on conditions. It’s not clear to me just when the boats are expected to report their positions, other than that shown below for Green Cape, which is in southern News South Wales. Perhaps someone else can add the time schedule if they know it.

“Boats shall be capable of transmitting/receiving, as a minimum, on the following frequencies:

– VHF – International Channels 16, 72, 73, 80 and 81
– HF/SSB – 4483kHz and 6516kHz and such other frequencies as the Organising Authority may determine”

“Boats shall maintain a 24 hour listening watch for the duration of their race on VHF Channel 16.

For radio communications, a boat’s name may be limited to not more than two words. The Race Committee may alter names where appropriate. The Sailing Instructions will require that boats report by radio when they are in the vicinity of Green Cape and make a declaration confirming their time of passing as well as the following:

  • The HF radio is fully operational
  • Liferaft(s) are on board
  • Engine and batteries are operational
  • Boat and crew are in a satisfactory condition to continue
  • The skipper has comprehensively considered the most current weather forecast and the boat and crew are fully prepared for the conditions forecast.”

[Note that] I just found, from a post a couple years ago, that the time for reporting may be 0735 and 1905 Australian eastern time, which would mean 2035 and  0805 UTC while the race is in progress. It also suggests the 6516kHz frequency is the main one, with 4483 being the backup.

Brilliant, Jerome! Thank you for sharing these frequencies—how I would love to listen to some of the craft report in on HF. I think I’ll be spending some time down under on the KiwiSDR network the next few days!

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Celebrating ten years of the SWLing Post––and a chance to win a piece of broadcasting history!

Ten years ago, I created a blog.

I designed the SWLing Post as a simple site where I could share a few links and articles about my favorite topic: radio.  And maybe educate a few new listeners about the hobby.

Never would I have imagined that within a few years, the site would grow to over 7,000 daily readers.

It’s still hard for me to comprehend. It’s also hard to believe that ten years have passed since I started the Post. Incredible.

Of course, what makes this site so special is the community of dedicated SWLing Post readers, contributors and supporters. People who show up to share in the radio discussion everyday.

For this reason, I want to make the following twelve months special for the SWLing Post community.

And so…let’s have some fun!

Starting this month, until November 2019, we’re going to put together a series of contests and activities to help celebrate ten years of the SWLing Post.

Let’s get started today!

Our first prize is phenomenal…

RCA Window from MI-7330 (note that wooden base is not included)

This exceptional prize, an RCA transmitter window has been generously donated by our long-time friend and contributor, Dave Porter (G4OYX). Thank you so much, Dave!

Dave describes this unique prize as “a piece of broadcast history” from the Wooferton Transmitting station in the UK;

Click to enlarge

At 75 years old it is a round plate glass window that was fitted in the central main door of the RCA senders, installed in 1943.

The window is 12.25,” 315 mm in diameter, and is 5 mm thick. The glass is tinted in a shade of light blue and the RCA trademark letters are etched out in sunken relief.

It was one from the last pair of senders, either Sender 85 or Sender 86, both retired and removed in 1980. (S81 – S84, the previous four were removed in 1963.)

The pair of windows were retrieved by Jeff Cant and one was presented to long-time BBC/VOA staffer Mr Dick Lett on his retirement in 1988. Jeff kept the other. Mr Lett has recently died and his daughters returned the plate to Jeff. It is this plate that is the [prize] gift in this competition.

Jeff gave it to Dave Porter who thought [that] rather than keep it himself, it would be a good donation to this celebration of ten years of the SWLing Post.

Wow…when Dave volunteered this as a prize for the SWLing Post, I almost fell out of my seat. Frankly, I’m already envious of the lucky winner!

Here’s how you can enter to win this piece of shortwave history!

Each week, starting today–at the bottom of this page–we’ll post a question about the Woofferton Transmitting Site. There will be a total of five questions with the final question posted on December 10th. The contest will close on December 14 and a winner will be announced shortly thereafter.

We’ll embed a Google quiz form with each question, and provide a space for you to answer the question. This is the only way to enter the contest as the Google form exports the results to a spreadsheet that we’ll use to pick a winner. Note: Please don’t email or comment with your answer, as the system won’t count it as a valid entry.

Each correctly answered question will count as an entry in the contest. Since we’ll have a total of five questions, this means you could have a total of five contest entries.  Good luck, Post readers!

Details & Fine Print

This contest is open to all SWLing Post readers and contributors, with the obvious exception of myself and Dave Porter, who donated this piece.

Each entry will require your name, email address, and shipping address. These details will be used to contact you and ship your prize to you, should you win. These details will also be one means of making sure multiple entries aren’t being made by one individual for each question (if we suspect someone of doing this, we would simply delete all of their associated entries.).  But I’m sure we’re all good sports here.

All email addresses, names, and shipping addresses will be deleted once a winner is selected, to protect your privacy.

All correct entries will be entered on a spreadsheet, which will assign each entry a sequential number. We will then pick a random number with the random number generator and thus choose the winner.

Please note: If you read the SWLing Post email digest, you will need to view our prize questions on the web to see the embedded form.

Ready?  Let’s get started! (FYI: Question #2 will be posted next week.)

If the form below does not display, click here to open it in a new window.

Our first question:

Many thanks again to Dave Porter for his generosity in offering us this wonderfully unique piece of broadcasting history and for kindly agreeing to ship it to the winner! 

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Top DX Radio Club’s SWDX December contest

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, John C, who writes:

I wanted to inform your readers and you of a really cool SWDX contest that’s free of charge and lasts throughout the month of December.

The attached website has all the contest rules. I participated last year and enjoyed it very much. They sent a really nice certificate suitable for framing for participating. Hopefully you will post this info on SWLing and maybe some SWDXers will participate. Thanks so much in advance, and 73!

http://www.topdx-radioclub.com/top10dx.html

Thank you for sharing details about this SWDX contest, John!

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