Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Carlos Latuff, who shares the following FM radio recordings made while flying over northwest Africa. Carlos writes:
Flying over Northwest Africa towards Paris yesterday I managed to listen and record FM stations from countries like Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco and Spain, at an altitude of 10668 meters, using the native FM radio of my cell phone. Interesting thing is that it was only possible when I got close to the plane emergency exit. Back to my seat I wasn’t able to listen.
94.3 FM, Senegal, May 11, 2023:
95.0 FM, SNRT Amz Morocco, May 11, 2023:
101.7 FM, Spain, May 11, 2023:
91.0 FM, Mauritania, May 11, 2023:
Thank you for sharing this, Carlos. Impressive reception from your cell phone’s FM receiver!
State association questionnaire finds one in three AM stations have no FM translator
The National Alliance of State Broadcasters Association (NASBA) is reporting insights it discovered after polling AM stations about the removal of over-the-air AM in new cars.
The data collected from more than 1,000 AM stations shows that many do not have an FM translator and/or do not stream their signals over internet connections, NASBA says. The group is hoping to use the information to rally proponents of AM to help convince companies like Ford, Mazda, BMW and others to keep reception of AM in their new vehicles.
NASBA says the automakers “are cutting corners on expensive new electric vehicles” by eliminating AM radios, which means more than 4,000 AM stations in the United States are at risk. But its survey results show that AM radio across the country provides a diverse mix of music and talk and is a vital link for millions of listeners. [Continue reading…]
“It was the music without the spots, that made FM,” says a reader
The comments written by Dave Bialik in the latest Radio World hits the nail right on the head. The average person, which is about 95% of the population, couldn’t care less about audio fidelity. The days of “audiophiles” are gone. The downturn of AM listenership is almost exclusively due to poor programming, poor content. Yes, FM in its early days was mostly easy listening, beautiful music and classical music. It catered to the audiophiles, and had a very limited audience even though it sounded great and in 1963 by offering multiplex stereo.
Once a few of the FM guys realized people were fed up with the 45 minute commercial breaks on AM stations with popular music, the format was adopted on FM, but with none or few commercials (because no one wanted to advertise on FM). Once people found out they could get the rock and pop music on FM without all the talk, the band switch started taking place. It had nothing to do with audio — remember at this time people were buying 8-track tapes by the millions and they were technically several steps below AM radio. It was the music without the spots, that made FM. Once that happened, most of the large and middle market stations threw all of their eggs into the FM basket and put something on the AM just to hold the license.
I once worked for an AM station owned by one of the large groups. In its heyday, in the 50’s–70’s, it was THE top 40 station. In a market of 40 stations, it had a 60 share. Once the group owners bought a big FM signal, they blew the AM away and loaded it with satellite talk. After a few years, that 60 share was .5 — yes point 5. After a few years of this, and it becoming unsellable, one of the staff suggested to management that they should go back to a music format playing the hits of the 50’s and 60’s (this was in 2002). [Continue reading…]
Czech Radio celebrates a significant anniversary this year. 18 May 2023 marks exactly 100 years since the start of regular radio broadcasting in the Czech Republic, then Czechoslovakia, when the private company Radiojournal began broadcasting from a humble scout tent in Prague’s Kbely.
For the occasion of its monumental jubilee, Czech Radio has prepared a rich programme for the public, new broadcasting highlights and a unique exhibition at the National Technical Museum. Celebrations throughout the year will illustrate the remarkable journey of the most trusted public service media in the Czech Republic.
“Czech Radio will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the start of regular broadcasting. It is an honour for me to be at the helm of this public institution at a time when we are recapitulating important past moments, revisiting our history and remembering outstanding radio personalities. But this extraordinary anniversary is also an opportunity for us to show that 100 years of radio broadcasting is only the beginning. We are ready to launch the next century of our existence with new programming projects and technological innovations. The entire project of our anniversary celebrations aims to support the position of Czech Radio on the media market and also to show that it is an important partner for other institutions. I believe that with an imaginative programme we will not only delight current listeners, but also attract new ones,” said René Zavoral, Director General.
The celebrations will officially commence on 10 March with a formal ball at the Municipal House in Prague, where the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Gustav Brom Radio Big Band and musical guests Ewa Farna, Mirai, Dara Rolins and No Name will perform.
On the day of its 100th birthday, Czech Radio will hold a grand concert in the Riegrovy Sady park for listeners and the general public. The concert will include performances by the band Chinaski, as well as musicians Aneta Langerová, Mirai Navrátil and Marek Ztracený, who will be the first performer broadcast on Czech Radio in its second century of existence. [Continue reading…]
Sometimes, in hindsight, it can be difficult for a writer to determine when and where story actually began.
With this one, was it when the FCC began licensing low-power community radio stations in 2000? Or was it when I began hosting a Radio Monitoring Net on the local 146.94 repeater (Troy, NY) at 7 pm on Tuesday nights?
For sure, a tipping point was when one of the net participants suggested check out a low-power FM community radio station on 92.7 FM. It’s kind of like western swing, he said.
I did check it out and found it to be a combo of traditional country and what I call “hillbilly jazz.” No announcer between musical selections, and occasional station IDs. At 7 am, I heard the Ralph Nader radio hour. Allegedly it is licensed to the Oakwood Community Center in Troy, NY, but nothing on the air that I have heard suggests that connection. Very curious. Is a place-holder for something else?
It turns out there are hundreds of low-power community radio stations across the United States. They are limited to 100 watts and an antenna height of 30 meters (100 feet). According to the FCC:
To qualify for an LPFM license, you must be:
A government or non-profit educational institution, like a public or private school or state or private university
A non-profit organization, association or entity with an educational purpose, like a community group, public service or public health organization, disability service provider or faith-based organization
A government or non-profit entity providing local public safety or transportation service, like a volunteer fire department, local government or state transportation authority
An Indian or Alaska Native tribe, band, nation, pueblo, village or community that will provide non-commercial radio services.
In addition, applicants for LPFM licenses must be based in the community in which they intend to broadcast. An organization is considered community-based if:
It is physically headquartered or has a campus within 10 miles of the proposed transmitting antenna
Seventy-five percent of its governing board resides within 10 miles of the proposed transmitting antenna
It is a non-profit or governmental public safety organization that intends to broadcast within the area of its jurisdiction
In the case of a Tribal application, the applicant’s Tribal lands are within the service area of the proposed station.
There are several LPFM stations in my area, and chasing them is fun. I found the best success with my Tecsun PL-880 and its long whip antenna. Sometimes the whip works best when held vertically; sometimes, horizontally; sometimes moving the whip horizontally as little as 45 degrees will blank one station and bring up another. The end effect is to look like a drunken sword master while getting into the Better Half’s potted plants, knocking over scanners on the desk, and other encounters with the long whip.
Nevertheless, chasing low power community radio stations is fun, and I can predict, with some authority, that you may encounter programming that you won’t find anywhere else.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Loyd Van Horn, who shares the following announcement:
DX Central Announces Inaugural Grand Slam DX Challenge
Chances are, if you ask a DXer how they began their love of DX, many will tell you it all began by searching through the static for the unmistakable sounds of baseball.
Radio and baseball have been intrinsically tied together since the early days of both. In fact, radio broadcasts of baseball games, long before the days of television, are what helped to turn it into “America’s National Pastime.”
It is with that history in mind that we are pleased to announce the inaugural Grand Slam DX Challenge.
Originating from an idea between DX Central’s Loyd Van Horn (W4LVH) and Sean Kutzko (KX9X), the Grand Slam DX Challenge (GSDXC) once again honors the link between radio and baseball by challenging hobbyists to log as many radio stations, from as many Major League Baseball teams, as possible during the MLB regular season.
“I knew I wanted to have some sort of challenge,” says Van Horn. “I just wasn’t sure exactly what or how that would work. Then Sean came to me with the idea of doing something around the baseball season and I thought ‘that’s genius!’”
The notion of tying America’s game with DXing came naturally to Kutzko.
“My love for baseball goes back probably on par with the same time that I got interested in AM DXing as a really, really small kid,” says Kutzko. “[The challenge] is a multi-month event focused around the two greatest things that I spend my time with which is radio and baseball.”
To help turn this idea into reality, Kutzko brought his experience building the ARRL’s National Parks on the Air (NPOTA) program in 2016 for the amateur radio community. In addition, Kutzko and Van Horn teamed up with Mike Leary (K7MSO), an experienced web developer and radio hobbyist, who volunteered his time and skills to the project.
The premise is simple: a participant should try to receive as many stations – and from as many different Major League Baseball teams – as possible. The broadcasts must be from the team-sanctioned radio network broadcast (national broadcasts from networks such as ESPN, Westwood One, etc. do not count).
There are nine entry categories that a participant can choose from, and include AM only, FM only or both AM and FM submissions.
Submissions for the challenge will be through the challenge Web site: grandslamdxchallenge.com. The full rules and scoring system for the challenge also available on the same site.
It is important to note that this inaugural edition of the challenge is a true beta version. Feedback from the community will be critical for resolving any defects or making any improvements for future iterations of the challenge.
“I just hope that this is something people will really be able to enjoy, perhaps even remind them of why they fell in love with radio in the first place,” says Van Horn. “With the Sporadic Es season coming for FM and the unique propagation opportunities that often occur during summer on AM, there should be plenty here to keep DXers glued to their radios throughout the summer!”
The powerful solar storm supercharged auroras as far south as Colorado and New Mexico.
The most powerful solar storm in nearly six years slammed Earth today (March 24), but strangely, space weather forecasters didn’t see it coming.
The geomagnetic storm peaked as a severe G4 on the 5-grade scale used by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to assess the severity of space weather events. The storm’s unexpected ferocity not only made auroras visible as far south as New Mexico in the U.S., but it also forced spaceflight company Rocket Lab to delay a launch by 90 minutes.
Geomagnetic storms are disturbances to Earth’s magnetic field caused by solar material from coronal mass ejections (CME) — large expulsions of plasma and magnetic field from the sun’s atmosphere. It turns out that this particular geomagnetic storm was triggered by a “stealth” CME which — as the name suggests — is rather tricky to detect. [Continue reading…]
Gottheimer also supports federal spending on AM infrastructure to assure continuity of service
A congressman from New Jersey wants the government to add AM radio to the list of safety equipment that carmakers must include in their vehicles.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer has called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to “add AM radio to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to require that all automakers, including EV manufacturers, include AM radio as a stock feature in their vehicles. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards are the minimum safety standards that a manufacturer must meet when making a vehicle — including requirements related to airbags, brakes, seatbelts, tires, controls and displays.”
The National Association of Broadcasters welcomed his effort.
Gottheimer, a Democrat who represents a district along the state’s northern border, held a news event next to a Tesla dealership in Paramus, N.J., along with New Jersey Broadcasters Association Executive Director Jordan Walton. [Continue reading…]
An AI-generated radio DJ could be coming to your local radio station.
RadioGPT, a GPT-4-powered radio content generator from media company Futuri, is set to debut next month in radio stations in the US and Canada, Axios Cleveland reported.
Powered by the same tech that ChatGPT draws upon, RadioGPT aims to man radio airtime spots with AI-generated scripts and voices, as well as tailored local news content.
You can listen to a demo from the company that gives you a preview of what the AI-generated DJ voices sound like — which tell listeners that they are, in fact, fully AI — sprinkled between curated songs. The page includes snippets of RadioGPT-generated voices presenting news, weather, and traffic updates.
“Anything a radio human can do, I can do better,” one of the AI hosts can be heard saying in between songs. “Every voice you hear is 100% AI.” [Continue reading…]
The FCC is using its new powers to ask from the maximum fine from an Ecuadorian pirate radio station that’s run for more than 15 years.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is using a new law to fine a pirate radio station operating in New York City for more than $2 million. For 15 years, Impacto 2, which has been operated by two brothers, has broadcast Ecuadorian news, culture, sports, and talk-radio on 105.5 FM in Queens. The feds have tried to shut it down repeatedly, but have never succeeded.
The FCC announced the fine in a press release last week. “The Commission proposed the maximum penalty allowable, $2,316,034, against brothers César Ayora and Luis Angel Ayora for pirate radio broadcasting in Queens, New York,” the release said. The FCC also said it was trying to seize $80,000 in equipment from a man broadcasting pirate radio in Eastern Oregon.
The Ayoras have been on the FCC’s radar since 2008 when they started broadcasting Impacto 2 for the Ecuadorian community in Queens: “The brothers César and [Luis] Angel Ayora in September 2008 founded the first Ecuadorian FM radio station in New York City. . . The station never sleeps, because a team of communication professionals are working for you 24 hours a day,” their website, which is currently down, said. The station is broadcast over the internet and has moved around the FM spectrum several times over the years. [Continue reading…]
In the song Por Eso Te Quiero Cuenca (That’s Why I Love You Cuenca) the singer recites a litany of the many reasons to love this city. What do I love about Cuenca? Well, unlike the song, I won’t include well-roasted guinea pig.
The elevation of 2560 meters (8,400 feet) gives Cuenca a comfortable spring-like climate year-round. Daily highs are usually around 20C/70F. Nights are chilly but not cold. Most days have at least several hours of sun, even during the rainy season (as it is now). There are numerous green parks and plazas including long tree-lined walking paths along the two main rivers that run through the city. The drinking water, which comes from high up in the mountains, is the best in South America. Yes, you can drink it right from the tap.
A walking/bike path runs along the Yanuncay River for over six kilometers through the south side of Cuenca. A similar path runs along the larger Tomebamba River in the center of town.
The people of Cuenca are among the friendliest I’ve found anywhere. It’s a well-run, educated city with lots of civic pride. The metro area population is only about a half-million so it’s small enough to easily get anywhere but large enough to have the benefits of a city. Cuenca has several good universities and theaters and the symphony orchestra gives free concerts most Friday evenings. It’s a pleasure to simply stroll through the beautiful architecture in the old centro neighborhood.
One of many beautifully restored buildings in Cuenca’s old centro.
Getting around Cuenca is easy. A ride on the excellent bus system costs just thirty cents and taxi rides usually run under two dollars. And, unlike the much larger cities of Quito and Guayaquil, Cuenca has a mass transit system. In 2013 city leaders voted to put in a light rail line. Doing so required digging up two of the main streets through the old downtown but rather than just dig up two streets they decided to dig up the entire old downtown … to replace the aging water and sewer systems, move all electric lines and cables underground, and install high-speed fiber optic Internet. (Fiber optic Internet was also run above ground in the newer neighborhoods outside the centro.) The result is one of the few places in Latin America where one can enjoy beautifully restored architecture and colonial churches without the views being marred by powerlines. And the Internet here is better than most places I’ve stayed at in the United States.
Those are just a handful of the reasons that I love Cuenca.
Early Radio in Cuenca
Radio broadcasting in Ecuador started in 1925 with Radio El Prado in Riobamba, a small city in the center of the country. Other stations soon started up in Guayaquil and Quito, including HCJB in 1931. Broadcasting came to Cuenca in 1934 when a group of friends purchased a homemade ten-watt transmitter from an engineer in Guayaquil and put it on the air as La Voz de Tomebamba. The name came from the main river flowing through Cuenca. At the time there were only four receivers in the city so the audience was rather sparse. La Voz de Tomebamba initially broadcast for only one or two hours a night and most of the musical selections were done live as there weren’t many 78 RPM records in town. Years later one early listener reminisced, “It was sixty percent noise. Only radio fanatics could be entertained by listening to such a thing.”
Old studio equipment from La Voz de Tomebamba
Gradually, the owners added new equipment and expanded the daily schedule. A fifty-watt transmitter was added in 1938 and by 1947 the power had been increased to two hundred watts. The first frequency listing that I’ve found for La Voz de Tomebamba was for 4200 kHz in a 1944 FBIS newsletter. The 1947 WRTH listed it as on the air from 0000 to 0430 GMT on 4200 kHz. And that was the station’s only frequency. Until the 1960s it was very common for radio stations in Ecuador to only broadcast on shortwave and not on medium wave. For example, the 1957 WRTH lists eighty Ecuadorian stations on shortwave (not counting HCJB) but only fifty-nine on medium wave.
Sometime in the early 1960s La Voz de Tomebamba made the switch to medium wave and left shortwave. Their 4200 kHz frequency is not listed in the 1965 WRTH, nor are they listed in any later ones. (I would be interested to hear from anyone who remembers listening to them on shortwave.) The changes may have had to do with financial problems the station was having. It closed in 1967 and remained off the air until returning under new ownership four years later. Today La Voz de Tomebamba is one of the most popular radio stations in town and has an excellent news department. Their sister station, Super Rock FM 94.9, is very popular with younger listeners.
La Voz de Tomebamba today.
The second station in Cuenca was Radio Cuenca, which began broadcasting in October 1945 on 2830 kHz with two-hundred watts. It was included in a 1953 list of stations logged by the Universal Radio DX Club of Indiana. To the local audience, Radio Cuenca was best known for its many live music broadcasts. Continue reading →
The father and son team of Joe and Jeff Geerling have teamed up on radio-related projects before.
Joe is a broadcast engineer, working into his fifth decade in the St. Louis market. He was market chief for CBS Radio for 20 years and today is the director of engineering for Covenant Network.
His son Jeff has spent nearly 15 years as a software architect and developer. He founded Midwestern Mac LLC and is active in many open-source software communities. Jeff recalls that one of his first web programming projects in the late 1990s was to construct an interface to display the current song on 98.1 KYKY(FM)’s initial website for his dad.
Last February, Joe appeared on a video on Jeff’s YouTube channel to install a Raspberry Pi IP KVM in a Covenant Network studio. That collaboration went so well that commenters on Jeff’s videos began clamoring for more appearances by the senior Geerling.
Over a family vacation, Joe and Jeff came to the realization that the iconic Crestwood Master Tower in Shrewsbury, Mo. — nicknamed by its original engineering community as “the Supertower” — would make for a perfect showcase for a new Geerling Engineering YouTube channel.
Given Joe’s expertise with the site, the idea for a video was a natural. In fact they ended up making two. [Continue reading…]
The investment activity of Amancio Ortega in the United Kingdom does not stop. Pontegadea, the group that manages the equity investments of the founder of Inditex (Zara, Massimo Dutti, Bershka…) and the richest man in Spain, is negotiating the purchase of a new office building in London, as revealed on Wednesday by the specialized website CoStar News. This, citing market sources, indicates that the operation would be around 80 million pounds (89.7 million euros, at current exchange rates). The building, originally a printing press built in the twenties, is close to the BBC headquarters and, in fact, for years served as offices for the commercial division of British public broadcasting.
The property, renovated in 2015 by the construction company Kier and the firm Brimelow McSweeney Architects, currently houses a business of coworking (flexible office rental). Of the more than 3,000 meters built, 2,100 are available for rent, according to the building’s commercial brochure. Some websites advertise their tables for a price that exceeds 840 euros per table per month. It offers, in addition to parking for bicycles or changing rooms, a kitchen, private offices, meeting rooms or terraces on the upper floor (the fifth) and on the roof. To this we must add a privileged location in the center of the British capital, in the Fitzrovia neighborhood. The building is close to Soho, the British Museum and Regent’s Park. [Continue reading…]
Our smartphones have become our constant companions over the last decade, and it’s often said that they have been such a success because they’ve absorbed the features of so many of the other devices we used to carry. PDA? Check. Pager? Check. Flashlight? Check. Camera? Check. MP3 player? Of course, and the list goes on. But alongside all that portable tech there’s a wider effect on less portable technology, and it’s one that even has a social aspect to it as well. In simple terms, there’s a generational divide that the smartphone has brought into focus, between older people who consume media in ways born in the analogue age, and younger people for whom their media experience is customized and definitely non-linear. Continue reading →
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