Category Archives: DRM

A look inside: The Worldwide Listening Guide’s Tenth Edition

As I’ve mentioned many times here on the SWLing Post, I’m something of a “content DXer.”

Clearly, I enjoy chasing obscure programming––news, documentaries, music, variety shows, anything the broadcasting world has to offer.   Even though my favorite medium for doing this has been shortwave radio, these days, I often turn to Wi-Fi or over-the-internet radio.  Wi-Fi radio offers the discerning listener the ability to track down fascinating regional content from every corner of the globe––content never actually intended for an international audience.

If you, too, like the chase, The Worldwide Listening Guide (WWLG) will be your go-to, and this recent edition––the tenth!––is the latest in a long line of handy volumes that help the listener catch what’s out there, noting that with each passing year there’s more content to catch.

Cornucopia of content

The variety of content from online broadcasters today is surely orders of magnitude more than any one individual has ever had via over-the-air (OTA) radio sources.

Though my WiFi radio offers an easy and reliable way to “tune” to online content––both real-time station streams and on-demand podcasts––the content discovery part is actually quite difficult. I liken it to browsing a large public library looking for a new and interesting book to read, but without the guidance of a librarian. The options are so plentiful that even with superb indexing and organization, one simply doesn’t know where to begin.

On the other hand––and I’m speaking from very recent experience here––if you find a good local independent bookstore, you might actually discover more meaningful titles because the bookstore selections are curated by both the proprietor and the local community.

With this analogy in mind, The Worldwide Listening Guide is essentially my local bookstore for online content and programming.

I recently received a review copy of the new 10th Edition of the Worldwide Listening Guide  by John Figliozzi and, as always, I enjoyed reading it from cover to cover.

The WWLG speaks to the types of programming I enjoy as an SWL because the author, John Figliozzi, is a devoted shortwave radio and international broadcasting enthusiast.

And while the bulk of the WWLG is a detailed and beautifully organized programming guide, it’s also so much more…

“The Many Platforms of radio”

As I’ve so often said, the WWLG is a unique guide; there’s nothing quite like it on the market because it truly takes a deep dive into the world of broadcasting and content delivery both from a technology and programming point of view.

Each media delivery platform, whether on AM, Shortwave, FM, Satellite Radio, Internet (WiFi Radio), and Podcasting, has a dedicated section in the book where Figliozzi explores each in detail. He also speaks to the state of each platform both from the broadcaster’s and the listener’s perspective.

Indeed, each chapter dedicated to these topics very much reminds me of the old Passport to Worldband Radio that I first picked up in the 1990s. The WWLG serves as a primer, but also speaks to the health and potential longevity of each platform.

I appreciate the fact that Figliozzi also addresses the nuts-and-bolts side of both over-the-air and online broadcasting.  For while I’d like to think that I’m reasonably knowledgeable about the world of radio, I find I always discover something new in each edition.

There’s a surprising amount of information packed into this slim, spiral-bound volume. The Worldwide Listening Guide is enough to keep even a seasoned content DXer happy for years…or at least, until the latest edition comes out!

In short? The WWLG is a bargain for all it offers, and I highly recommend it.

The 10th edition of The Worldwide Listening Guide can be purchased here:

Note that at time of posting copies of the WWLG can be pre-ordered at Universal Radio. Amazon.com will soon have links to purchase the 10th edition when they’re in inventory. I assume the W5YI group will also have the 10th edition available for purchase soon!  

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DRM Mystery: Benn shares the latest on Turms Tech Station WIPE

The following article by Benn Kobb was posted on Dec. 25 to Glenn Hauser’s World
of Radio list on groups.io. I repost it here with Benn’s permission:


Subject: As the World ‘Turms’

It would seem like 2021 would end with no FCC action on the three mysterious entities requesting licenses under the umbrella of International Broadcasting, but likely involved in sending private messages to trading clients in Europe and Asia.

In fact there has been action, of a sort.

Two of those applicants are still waiting to receive construction permits. The third — Turms Tech, part of Turms Holdings, a subsidiary of Emcor Securities of New York — already has a construction permit and says it has built a 10 kW DRM station in New Jersey.

Turms requested callsign WIPE. It is so listed with the FCC. Turms has no license to operate this station. Yet.

The FCC is apparently not clear about whether Turms intends to use WIPE for conventional broadcasting — you know, the only type of transmission permitted under the FCC rules for such HF stations.

Turms originally told the FCC that it will engage in “broadcast and data services” and “broadcast of financial, economic news and data through distribution of programs generally prepared on the basis of requests by clients.”

Clear as mud. If broadcasting business news on shortwave to DRM receivers is profitable, you’d think that WTWW, WRMI, WBCQ, WWRB etc. would have discovered that years ago.

And what’s that about “data”? The FCC rules are plain that HFBC stations are for broadcasting to the public. There is no exemption to that requirement whether the broadcast is audio for listening or data for decoding.

So to clarify the issues, on Dec. 3, 2021 five FCC staff members asked WIPE’s consulting engineer if he could answer a few questions.

He couldn’t, at the time. Quoting from a record of that online meeting: “The information being sought was clarification of certain general non-technical items that will be possibly proposed by the pending shortwave operation. These type of items or clarifications are not normally items that this [engineering] firm would be knowledgeable.”

Presumably after consulting with his client Turms, he later provided FCC with these answers:

– – –

Q: Clarification is requested regarding the audio and data content of the general service to be provided, if known?

A: Airtime will be sold to anyone interested in broadcasting his contents. Editorial line will focus on contemporary topics, no religious or political contents. More specifically the target we’re looking for is global news and financial information, CNBC style programs.

Q: Will encryption be used in the transmitted signal?

A: No encryption will be used, this is a general broadcast.

Q. Will there be a contract for reception of the signal required?

A. No contract will be required for the reception.

Q. Will a DRM receiver be required for either or both the audio or the data?

A. A DRM receiver will be required for both audio and data.

Q. Will the proposed transmitter site receive other international HF signals to be rebroadcast on the intended operation?

A. No.

– – –

The FCC’s question about contract is especially pertinent, as the FCC considers broadcasting to require no contract between transmitting and receiving parties. A private data operation would involve such a contract, usually for some kind of subscription or other fee for service.

So what should we believe? WIPE will not engage in private data communications, but will instead pursue a sketchy business plan?

On December 23, 2021, RF engineer Alex Pilosov submitted a detailed objection — his second — to the TURMS application. According to Pilosov, “the directors and officers of TURMS do not claim any broadcasting experience, but certainly have substantial business experience, and are aware of the business of trading and data transmission.

“What TURMS claims,” he told the FCC, “is that a company without any experience in broadcasting decides to construct the first International Broadcast station in 20 years dedicated to ‘financial news’ programming, and ‘data broadcast to the general public,’ foregoing any subscription revenues, but somehow able to recoup the setup costs by broadcast operations alone.

“The second possibility, apparent from digging into the facts and associated entities, is that TURMS instead lacked candor in its filings, and that its application for ‘International Broadcast’ is merely a pretext for private data transmission business.”

If and when WIPE goes on the air — on 9.65, 11.850, 13.720 and 15.450 MHz — DRM monitoring by the SWL community should help establish the facts about any possible encrypted or otherwise non-public, non-broadcast emissions from this station.

Benn Kobb

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Radio Nacional da Amazonia prepares for DRM broadcasts

Photo: DRM Consortium

Many thanks to a number of SWLing Post contributors who share the following news from the DRM Consortium:

Brazil prepares for domestic DRM transmissions to Amazonia (DRM Consortium)

DRM broadcasts from a locally produced transmitter will be originated for the first time in Latin America, as Brazil will officially start digital (DRM) shortwave transmissions through The National Radio of the Amazon towards the vast area of the northern Amazon region, mainly inhabited by indigenous populations.

In another first, Empresa Brasil de Comunicação (EBC), the public broadcaster, placed the order for the high-powered transmitter with a local manufacturer, the BT Transmitters company from Porto Alegre. BT Transmitters signed a contract with EBC for the production of a 100 kW transmitter in the DRM digital system.

The equipment will be used on the 11,780 kHz frequency in the 25-meter band, which is one of the shortwave channels used by Rádio Nacional da Amazônia since 1977.

The purchase for R$3.5 million is the result of an auction held in August 2020, in which other equipment for EBC’s public radio broadcasts is planned to be acquired.

At the end of last year, Nacional da Amazônia carried out tests with the DRM technology using a transmitter of 2.5 kW with the digital power of just 1 kW.  EBC demonstrated then, for the first time in the country, the use of multi-programming and the transmission of interactive multimedia applications.

Despite this low power of the transmitter supplied by BT Transmitters, recordings were reported from different regions of the country and even from North America and Europe (Radiolab – Começam transmissões de rádio digital DRM em onda curta no Brasil).

The results of the tests were published last month by the DRM Consortium.

The DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) standard provides power savings of up to 80% in electricity consumption, a sound quality equal or superior to FM, as well as allowing images and other data to be sent to the radio receiver.

DRM is a worldwide consortium, and more information can be found at www.drm.org.

This story was also noted in Radio World:

DRM Shortwave Will Serve Amazon Region (Radio World)

National Radio of the Amazon orders a 100 kW BT transmitter

National Radio of the Amazon plans to use DRM shortwave transmissions to serve indigenous populations in the northern Amazon region, according to the Digital Radio Mondiale Consortium.

Public broadcaster Empresa Brasil de Comunicação (EBC) ordered a 100 kW BT transmitter to broadcast in DRM at 11,780 kHz in the 25-meter band, a shortwave channel used by Rádio Nacional da Amazônia.

The purchase, valued at about $650,000 USD, was the result of an auction held a year ago for purchase of equipment for EBC public radio broadcasts.

This is believed to be the first domestic DRM installation on a locally produced transmitter in Latin America.

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Short recording of BBC World Service in DRM

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mangosman, who shares the following off-air recording via the KiwiSDR network and notes:

Attached is a diagram showing the path and the receiver data, the end of a one hour daily broadcast is in the other file. They switched the transmitter back to AM before the end of the station promo.

I listened to the same broadcast on the previous day. It did not have any disturbances over that time. The quality was identical.

That’s a great decode of the BBC in DRM. Thanks for sharing! DRM is such an amazing mode when you get consistent and stable reception. Here in North America, that can be very difficult to achieve, but it’s fascinating when it does happen! Thanks for sharing!

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STARWAVES DRM SoftRadio App for Android now released

Photo by Adrien on Unsplash

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Srebnick, who shares the following press release from Starwaves:

STARWAVES DRM SoftRadio App for Android now available!

Good news for all SDR friends: STARWAVES DRM SoftRadio App for Android is now available for public use! Listen to DRM – Digital Radio Mondiale live radio broadcasts on your Android smartphone or tablet by simply connecting an SDR RF dongle via USB.

The app is available on Google Play Store and Amazon App Store.

The STARWAVES DRM SoftRadio allows you to conveniently enjoy any DRM live radio broadcast on your Android smartphone or tablet. No Internet connection required. All you need is an SDR RF dongle or receiver connected to your device via USB.

DRM or Digital Radio Mondiale is the global digital radio standard used for all digital international transmissions as well as for national and local services in many countries. To learn more about DRM and its features visit https://www.drm.org.

Please see our DRM SoftRadio Knowledge Base for further details!

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Radio Waves: Josh reviews the Belka-DX, Sinclair Fraunhofer DRM Partnership, Clear Net Frequencies Requested, and

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 TomL, Alan, Bruce Atchison, and Troy Riedel for the following tips:


Belka DX Shortwave Receiver – Closest Thing To A Spy Radio? (HRCC via YouTube)

Sinclair Launches ATSC 3.0 Test Site; Partners With Fraunhofer On Mondiale Service Integration (ATSC)

HUNT VALLEY, Md.—Mark Aitken, senior vice president of advanced technology at the Sinclair Broadcast Group, flipped the switch on a 100w transmitter to begin broadcasting ATSC 3.0 from atop the station group’s corporate headquarters here with the express purpose of testing reception on small devices like its MarkONE 3.0-enabled smartphone and, in particular, integration of Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) in its broadcast app.

The launch comes on the same day Sinclair and German technology research institute Fraunhofer IIS jointly announced they are working together to bring audio services using the DRM standard to ATSC 3.0. (Earlier this year, Sinclair rolled out 3.0 simulcasts of its Seattle radio stations with its DRM-based broadcast app.)

“We are actually building the DRM radio service into the [3.0] broadcast app environment,” says Aitken. “That means those [DRM] services will be carried in band and transported just like HEVC [high efficiency video coding] and [Dolby] AC-4.”[]

Clear Frequencies Requested for Net Providing 24/7 Coverage of St Vincent Volcanic Eruption (RAC Newsletter)

For immediate release:
April 20, 2021 –

The Caribbean Emergency and Weather Net (CEWN) has been providing round-the-clock coverage during the La Soufriere volcanic eruption on the island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Several neighbouring islands are also being affected by the disaster.

When responding to disasters and emergencies such as this, the CEWN utilizes 3.815 MHz LSB and 7.188 MHz LSB. CEWN is requesting that Radio Amateurs not involved in the volcano response to keep these frequencies clear.

Geomagnetic storm warning (Spaceweather.com via Southgate ARC)

A CME is heading for Earth and it could spark a geomagnetic storm when it arrives on April 25th.

NOAA forecasters say moderately strong G2-class storms are possible, which means auroras could dip into northern-tier US states from Maine to Washington.

Full story and updates @ Spaceweather.com.

 


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Radio Waves: Dirty Transmitters, World Amateur Radio Day, Electronic Echoes, DRM via Android, and 10 More BBC AM Services Close

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 Grayhat, David Iurescia, Bill Hemphill, Harald Kuhl, and Troy Riedel for the following tips:


Transmitter Noise / Dirty Transmitters: Receiver Performance has hit a Brick Wall (DJ0IP)

For the past 15 years, Ham Radio’s Mega-Focus on Receiver Dynamic Range (DR3) has resulted in the community ignoring other factors that are just as important to receiver performance.

Even though our receivers have made a quantum leap in performance in important parameters such as DR3, RMDR, etc., On-The-Air Reception has gotten worse.

Unless used at a multi-transmitter site, today’s typical user won’t detect a difference in the receiver performance between a radio with 90 dB DR3 and a radio with 110 dB DR3. That’s because Receiver Performance is not the limiting factor.[]

World Amateur Radio Day 18 April 2021 (IARU REGION 2 Newsletter)

World Amateur Radio Day (WARD) is an opportunity to celebrate the many accomplishments and contributions of amateur radio to the communications technology revolution which has dramatically impacted the daily life of virtually everyone on the planet. Many of these technologies and techniques started as experiments, not by governments or commercial enterprises, but by radio amateurs.

WARD 2021 commemorates the 96th anniversary of the International Amateur Radio Union’s founding in 1925, where amateurs first met in Paris to band together to give voice to these early experimenters to national governments and international bodies representing all radio amateurs.

The almost universal adoption of mobile technology created ever increasing demand on a finite resource, the radio spectrum. Access to useable spectrum is the fundamental base on which amateur radio was built and continues to be developed. As a result, amateur radio is very different than decades ago. Embracing new technologies and techniques has greatly expanded what amateur radio is and opened further possibilities as to what it could be. The proliferation of technology also means that the ongoing experimentation and innovation in electronics, radio frequency technique and radio wave propagation is no longer only the traditional realm of the radio amateur but also includes university research satellites, the “maker” community, and other non-commercial experimenters: citizen scientists.

Looking ahead, this ongoing evolution of the telecommunications ecosystem makes it clear that the national Member Societies of the IARU and IARU itself must also continuously change and adapt. A century later, the future possibilities are as exciting as ever.

Celebrate World Amateur Radio Day. The pandemic and more localized natural disasters continue to demonstrate the value of ordinary citizens as technically skilled contributors to society. The original social network is robust. Expose someone new to amateur radio (properly distanced), get on the air and contact the many special event stations, on HF, VHF, or satellite.

Electronic Echoes (KPC Radio)

From SWLing Post contributor Bill Hemphill:

“I have run across an interesting set of audio interviews that were done by Aaron Castillo of kpcradio.com. This is an internet based radio station of Pierce College in California.

Aaron did a series of audio interviews in the fall of 2020 called Electronic Echoes. See following link:

https://kpcradio.com/author/aaron-castillo/

 

STARWAVES DRM SoftRadio App upgrades mobile devices to receive undistorted DRM Digital Radio anytime and anywhere (Fraunhofer Press Release)

Horgen/Switzerland, Erlangen/Germany: Starwaves, a developer and distributor of receiver technologies centered around the digital broadcast standard DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale), joined forces with Fraunhofer IIS, a leading supplier in the field of broadcast encoder and receiver components for DRM, to develop an Android app that allows DRM reception on mobile devices. Starwaves enables Android phones and tablets to receive entertainment, text information, and emergency warnings via DRM Digital Radio – without costly data plans, independent from cell phone network availability, and based on innovative Fraunhofer technology.

Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) is the digital successor standard to the classic AM and FM radio services. In many parts of the world, terrestrial digital radio broadcasts are already an important and trusted source of entertainment and information. They do not require monthly payments and work reliably even if there are no cell networks available. Radio reception with mobile phones and tablets combines the mobility and flexibility of these devices with the benefits of free-to-air radio services.

Starwaves has been active in the field of DRM radio receivers for many years. The “STARWAVES DRM SoftRadio” app was developed in close cooperation with Fraunhofer IIS. Its goal is to ensure easy access to innovative DRM radio services for everybody. It is available from now in the Google and Amazon Android app stores. The app provides listeners with access to all the essential features of the DRM digital radio standard, across all transmission bands from DRM on long wave to FM band and VHF band-III.

Fraunhofer IIS is a significant co-developer of core digital radio technologies. This includes the innovative xHE-AAC audio codec, which provides high audio quality at lowest data rates, as well as the Journaline application, which gives radio listeners access to news, the latest sports updates, local weather forecasts, travel tips, and even radio schooling services without requiring internet access.

The app also supports many more DRM features such as the Emergency Warning Functionality (EWF), image slideshows, station logos, and service descriptions including Unicode support for worldwide application. To provide all these services, the app only requires a standard off-the-shelf SDR RF dongle that is attached to the device’s USB port.

“We are proud to launch the world’s first low-cost full-featured DRM digital radio reception solution for mobile devices, developed in close partnership with Fraunhofer IIS. Now everybody can easily upgrade their existing mobile phone and tablet to enjoy DRM digital radio with its undistorted audio quality and advanced features including Journaline,” says Johannes von Weyssenhoff, founder of Starwaves.

I order to meet the needs of everyday radio listeners and to clearly separate this app from the engineering-driven approaches of the past, usability was a primary development objective from day one. With only a few clicks on the clutter-free interface, users select their preferred radio service, navigate through the clearly structured menus, and gain instant access to the various advanced information services that DRM provides. By supporting multiple user interface languages, the app ensures optimized usability in many countries around the globe.

About STARWAVES

Found in 2005 in Bad Münder, Lower Saxony/Germany, Starwaves had set its focus on the development and distribution of receiver technologies around the digital broadcast standard DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale). As far back as 2003 after both organizations, the DRM Consortium and the WorldDAB Forum, had expressed their appeal to the industry at IFA in Berlin to develop and produce multi-standard receivers compatible with both their systems, Starwaves developed its model ”STARWAVES Prelude”, the world’s first DRM-DAB receiver and presented it at CeBIT 2004 in Hanover. In 2006 Starwaves was again in the headlines with the ”Carbox”: It was the world’s first automotive DRM-DAB receiver which then was produced in volumes and enjoyed by lots of listeners worldwide – including many DXers thanks to its excellent analogue Short-Wave capabilities as well.

Since 2008 Starwaves moved its focus to Africa where it developed and tested an innovative approach of broadcasting community television in the L-Band with DVB-T2 in cooperation with ICASA – another world premiere. After DRM was chosen the national standard in India in 2012 Starwaves relocated its headquarters to Switzerland and started developing a new generation of DRM receivers.

Starwaves also initiated Africa’s first DRM trial in the FM Band in Johannesburg/South Africa and completed it with local and international partners. The trial report contains valuable discoveries regarding the feasibility of DRM for community radio which guided the South African government to adopt DRM in the FM Band for community radio and secured the report becoming an internationally recognized piece of standard literature, recently endorsed by ITU. Today, Starwaves offers various DRM receivers and broadcast solutions for consumers and the professional broadcasting industry.

For more information, contact sales@starwaves.com or visit www.starwaves.com/de/starwaves-drm-softradio

Ten more stations turn off Medium Wave services (Radio Today)

Ten more local BBC radio stations are turning off their Medium Wave transmitters for good this year.

BBC Essex, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, BBC Radio Devon, BBC Radio Leeds, BBC Radio Sheffield, BBC Hereford & Worcester, BBC Radio Stoke, BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Radio Foyle will be FM and digital only in May and June 2021.

In addition, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Gloucestershire will reduce AM coverage.

The BBC’s intention to close MW transmitters was first announced ten years ago in 2011.[]


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