Category Archives: FM

Today is World Radio Day 2021

Today is UNESCO World Radio Day and this year the theme highlights diversity on the airwaves. Here’s the announcement from UNESCO:

Proclaimed in 2011 by the Member States of UNESCO, and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 as an International Day, February 13 became World Radio Day (WRD).

Radio is a powerful medium for celebrating humanity in all its diversity and constitutes a platform for democratic discourse. At the global level, radio remains the most widely consumed medium. This unique ability to reach out the widest audience means radio can shape a society’s experience of diversity, stand as an arena for all voices to speak out, be represented and heard. Radio stations should serve diverse communities, offering a wide variety of programs, viewpoints and content, and reflect the diversity of audiences in their organizations and operations.

CELEBRATIONS IN 2021
On the occasion of World Radio Day 2021 (WRD 2021), UNESCO calls on radio stations to celebrate this event’s 10th anniversary and the more than 110 years of radio.

This edition of WRD is divided into three main sub-themes:

  • EVOLUTION. The world changes, radio evolves.This sub-theme refers to the resilience of the radio, to its sustainability ;
  • INNOVATION. The world changes, radio adapts and innovate.Radio has had to adapt to new technologies to remain the go-to medium of mobility, accessible everywhere and to everyone;
  • CONNECTION. The world changes, radio connects.This sub-theme highlights radio’s services to our society—natural disasters, socio-economic crises, epidemics, etc.

Click here to check out the UNESCO website devoted to World Radio Day 2020.

Radio Taboo Issa Nyaphaga on the right with a community friend and Radio Taboo listener on the left.

AS mentioned in a previous post, I also suggest you checkout this documentary produced by our friend, David Goren:

World Wide Waves: The sounds of community radio

We may think we live in a digital age, but only half the world is currently online. Across the globe, small radio stations bind remote communities, play a dazzling array of music, educate, entertain and empower people to make change. Cameroon’s Radio Taboo, in a remote rainforest village 100 miles off the grid, relies on solar power; its journalists and engineers are all local men and women. Radio Civic Sfantu Gheorghe in the Danube Delta preserves the history of the community. Tamil Nadu’s Kadal Osai (“the sound of the ocean”) broadcasts to local fishermen about weather, fishing techniques—and climate change. In Bolivia, Radio Pio Doce is one of the last remaining stations founded in the 1950s to organise mostly indigenous tin miners against successive dictatorships. And KTNN, the Voice of the Navajo Nation, helps lift its listeners’ spirits in a time of loss and grief.

Produced by David Goren
Presented by Maria Margaronis.

Click here to listen on the BBC World Service.

Happy World Radio Day, everyone!

Spread the radio love

WRTH 2021: A look inside the 75th Anniversary Edition!

Last week, I received a long-awaited Christmas gift: the 2021 World Radio TV Handbook. Normally, I’d receive this annual guide in the December time frame, but because of delays in international postal services due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I took delivery a few weeks late.  

I always look forward to receiving this excellent staple radio reference guide–and this is their 75th edition! As I say each year, the WRTH has never disappointed, so my expectations are always quite high.

Once again, the WRTH lived up to my expectations.

WRTH’s team of noted DXers from around the world curate frequencies and broadcaster information by region; while I’m not sure how they orchestrate all of this, the end result is truly a symphony of radio information. In addition to broadcaster listings, WRTH’s radio reviews, feature articles, and annual HF report make for excellent reading.

But the WRTH isn’t just a frequency guide: the publication always devotes the first sixty or so pages to articles relating to various aspects of the radio hobby. Following, I offer a quick overview of these.

The first article always features a WRTH contributor:  this year, they feature Stig Hartvig Nielson. His path to becoming a WRTH contributor began in his childhood when he said he was “tall enough to reach the radio tuning knob and tune away from dull Radio Denmark.”  His love of radio lead him down the path of becoming a broadcaster. Many of us know him via his station, Radio208.

WRTH Reviews

The second set of articles is always my favorite: WRTH receiver reviews.

This year, WRTH begins with an in-depth review of the AOR AR5700D wideband communications receiver–a radio I’d likely never touch in real-life, so it’s wonderful to take such a deep dive.  Next up is a review of the Bonito NTi MegaDipol MD300DX antenna which gets high marks for high gain, low noise, and good dynamic range. The following in-depth review is of the benchmark Icom IC-7610 general coverage transceiver. This was the first time I’ve read a review of this SDR transceiver with radio listeners in mind. WRTH then review the Bonito NTi CCMC30 common mode noise filter–a tool that can help radio enthusiasts mitigate RFI.

A review of the SDRplay RSPdx follows and the review speaks to the performance improvements included with the new HDR mode. The next review is actually one I authored of the Tecsun PL-990 portable radio–it’s always an honor to be in the pages of the WRTH!

The final review is of the Valent F(x) KiwiSDR; a little web-connected SDR receiver that has certainly transformed the nature and accessibility of remote listening.

WRTH Features

The first feature article, written by none other than Dave Porter, focuses on the development of HF broadcast transmitters. This article adds to the one he authored last year which focused on broadcast antennas. Dave is amazing because he has such an extensive history in the world of HF broadcasting and his experience and expertise are obvious in all of his writing. This is a must-read for those who want to know more about the “business side” of an international broadcast signal!

Manfred Rippich’s feature, Radio in Bhutan, explores the story of broadcasting in one of the most mountainous countries in the world where communities–including the capitol–are not easily accessible. Radio broadcasting plays an important role in this amazing country.

The following feature, Coastwatchers & the AWA Teleradio 3BZ written by Dr Martin Hadlow, takes a look at the importance of portable radios in the Pacific War. An absolutely fascinating piece for those of us who love radio history.

The final feature was written by Alan Pennington and explores the dynamic Scandinavian Weekend Radio.  It’s hard to believe SWR has celebrated 20 years on the air as of 2020. Pennington’s article explores the grassroots energy of this unique broadcaster!

The final article–a tradition–is the WRTH  HF propagation report/forecast by Ulf-Peter Hoppe. Always an informative read especially as we continue to work our way out of a long-term solar slump.

The 75th is another fantastic edition of the World Radio TV Handbook. As I say every year, I’ve never been disappointed with WRTH. Their publishing standards are such that the quality of their reviews, their writing, and (most importantly) their broadcast listings are simply unparalleled.

For DXers who collect QSL cards, you’ll find that broadcaster contact information in WRTH is often more up-to-date than a broadcaster’s own website. When readers contact me asking for QSL information from an obscure broadcaster, the first place I search is the current WRTH. Remember: their information is based on volunteer contributors who specialize in specific regions of the world–the most knowledgeable regional DXers keep this publication accurate.

Purchase your copy of WRTH 2020 directly from WRTH’s publishers, or from a distributor like Universal Radio (US) , Amazon.com (US),  or the Book Depository (international).

Spread the radio love

Any experience with the Tecsun TU-80 enthusiast-grade FM tuner?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, George, who writes:

Hi Thomas -I hope you’re keeping well.

[…]I have had my eye on the Tecsun TU-80. However, I seem to find no videos on its use and no reviews. Perhaps it’s because it’s new.

I wonder if any of the SWLing Post readers have some info about it.

Post readers: If you have any experience using the Tecsun TU-80 FM tuner, please comment. I am not familiar with it. Very curious if it might be a great dedicated FM DXing receiver. It is pricey ($530 US on eBay).

Spread the radio love

The new Sangean SG-108 portable HD radio

Many thanks for SWLing Post contributor, Zack Schindler, who shares the following:

Sangean released a new MW/FM/HDRadio this year, the SG-108: https://www.sangean.com/products/product.asp?mid=261&cid=3

It seems to be identical to the HDR-14 except for the color https://www.sangean.com/products/product.asp?mid=230&cid=3.

I wonder if the receiver is any better than the HDR-14? I have an HDR-14 and am amazed by its performance every time I use it.

Thanks for the tip, Zack! I, too, love the HDR-14. I also love the fact the SG-108 still uses AA batteries as well.

Spread the radio love

Radio Waves: Old Goats Are Going Away, Pack Accused of Fraud, Post-Brexit Radio Imports, and a TV Drama About Murder of G0HFQ

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 Dennis Dura, Ronald Kenyon, Michael Guerin, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Commentary: “The Old Goats Are Going Away” (Radio World)

Broadcasters need to act to refill our ranks before the dial goes quiet

I see trouble ahead in our business in the shortage of qualified broadcast engineers.

I am not speaking of IT people. I am speaking of the guy in a T-shirt and jeans who gets to the transmitter, looks for the problem, reads the schematic, crawls inside the box and replaces R-16, R-17, C-232 and Q-4, and the music again blares forth.

We are losing those guys every day, and they are being replaced by the guy who walks into the site, looks at the box, grabs his cell phone, calls BE or Nautel to find which board to pull, and ships it back while waiting for a loaner to get the rig going.

I never thought of myself as an old-timer. Starting in the business in 1963, old-timers were the guys I learned from, mostly World War II graduates. They knew everything about audio and RF. I wished I knew a tenth as much as they did.

My first real bit of engineering was converting a 50 kW FM station to stereo in 1963. No one listened to FM then, I think there were 10 FM radios in the city and five were in Cadillacs owned by mob hit men.

I remember putting the stereo generator in an eight-foot rack. It took up four feet of the rack and had enough 12AU7s in it to heat the building. It had two outputs, one L+R that went into the phase modulator of the serrasoid exciter and the L–R output that went into the exciter about 200 multipliers later (the crystal frequency was multiplied 864 times).

It was a technical nightmare compared to mono FM. Getting two matched phased phone lines from the studio to the transmitter over three exchanges was another task. But we were stereo most of the time.

The FCC had a rule that if you weren’t transmitting stereophonic program material for more than a certain length of time, you had to shut the stereo pilot off so as not to mislead the 10 listeners by illuminating their stereo beacon. So the pilot on/off was wired into the old Rust remote control so the studio could turn it off when a monophonic recording of a symphony played.

Times changed; we wound up with RF STLs, stereo generators on a single chip, CD players, computers and lots of stuff made in foreign countries that wasn’t worth fixing or whose parts were not available, so when they broke they wound up on a shelf at the transmitter site.[]

Voice of America CEO Accused Of Fraud, Misuse Of Office All In One Week (NPR)

Fresh crises and fresh challenges confront the Trump-appointed CEO of the parent of Voice of America, even with less than two weeks left of the Trump presidency.

To start, the Attorney General of the District of Columbia this week accused U.S. Agency for Global Media CEO Michael Pack of illegally funneling more than $4 million to his private documentary company through a not-for-profit that he also controls.

Then, five recent chiefs of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – appointed under Democratic and Republican administrations – jointly warned President-elect Joe Biden that Pack poses “a long-term threat to the credibility and professionalism of the five networks” he oversees.

And now Pack is now being accused of trying to propagandize the Voice of America by a group of whistleblowers. They take exception to a planned appearance by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at VOA’s Washington headquarters on Monday, just nine days before the Biden administration begins.

Pompeo will soon be out of his job. And it’s expected Pack will be replaced promptly as well. But he has sought to outlast his time in office by burrowing himself and conservative allies into boards that will steer Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks. The not-for-profit broadcasters are all funded by the federal government through USAGM.

Those networks, along with VOA and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, collectively reach more than 350 million people across the world each week. They historically have demonstrated American pluralism by providing balanced coverage of news events and robust political debate, regardless of how it reflects on current government officials. The broadcasters are also intended to serve the citizens of nations which do not allow journalists to operate freely.[]

Radio imports (Southgate ARC)

Now that the United Kingdom has left the European Union, we will see major changes in importing radio equipment.

Definitive information is scarce but imports from the UK can have VAT paid on purchase or depending on the retailer, VAT may have to be paid before delivery. If it comes via An Post, any charges will have to paid before the item is sent out for delivery.

The Post Office employees will not be collecting money at the door. Whether duty is also collected is not very clear, but some sources say that anything originating outside the European Union will attract duty as well as VAT. There may also be a handling charge.

John EI7GL has compiled a list of radio and electronic dealers based in the European Union on his blog page and would welcome any updates you can supply.[]

TV drama about murder of radio ham G0HFQ (Southgate ARC)

On Monday, January 11, ITV will be broadcasting the first of a three part TV drama about the murder in June 1989 of Oxfordshire radio amateur Peter Dixon G0HFQ and Gwenda Dixon who were on holiday in Pembrokeshire

In the November 1989 Radio Communication magazine the RSGB asked:

Did you work GW0HFQ/M ?

As we’ve reported in previous editions of RadCom, Peter Dixon, G0HFQ. and his wife Gwenda were brutally murdered whilst on holiday in South Wales last June. Dyfed-Powys Police have asked us to say that they are still anxious to talk to anyone who had a contact with Peter whilst he was operating in Pembrokeshire as GW0HFO/M on 7 or 14MHz SSB. 28MHz FM/SSB or 144MHz FM. The dates between which they’d like you to check your logbooks are 19-29 June 1989.

Dyfed-Powys Police believe that Peter Dixon had a contact with another mobile station in the area on 28MHz FM on the morning of Wednesday 28 June.

The drama will be shown on ITV at 9pm on Monday, January 11, details at
https://www.itv.com/presscentre/ep1week2/
pembrokeshire-murders

A description of the murder is at
https://www.nickdavies.net/1992/06/27/the-tantalising-mystery-of-a-murder-in-pembrokeshire/

The October 1989 issue of 73 magazine carried a report, see page 13
https://worldradiohistory.com/Archive-DX/73-magazine/73-magazine-1989/73-magazine-10-october-1989.pdf


Do you enjoy the SWLing Post?

Please consider supporting us via Patreon or our Coffee Fund!

Your support makes articles like this one possible. Thank you!

Spread the radio love

The export version of the Tecsun PL-330 has landed

Tuesday evening, I picked up a package from Anon-Co with the new export version of the Tecsun PL-330 inside. Anon-Co sent this unit to me for evaluation at no charge to me. Anon-Co will start shipping the PL-330 next week and the price will be $59.99.

By request, I took a few photos of the PL-330 as I unpacked it. This should give you an idea about how the radio is packed and what is included in the Anon-Co package:

The Anon-Co PL-330 package includes:

  • Tecsun PL-330 receiver
  • an English owner’s manual
  • a brown synthetic velveteen carry pouch
  • MicroUSB charging cable
  • earphones

My first thought? It looks like a mini PL-990!

The PL-330 is powered by one BL-5C battery pack. To meet shipping regulations, the BL-5C is not pre-installed–you’ll need to do that yourself.

Note that the PL-330 lacks a fold-out back stand. That is unfortunate

On the air

Unfortunately, I’ve had no proper time to evaluate the PL-330 (comparisons) yet as this is an incredibly busy week for me.

I did, however, listen to the PL-330 as I worked outside all day Wednesday. Sadly, there was a lot of news to follow here in the States that day.

I was able to receive all of my benchmark local and regional AM and FM stations with no problem. For day-to-day broadcast listening, it seems to be a solid portable.

It’s still early days, but I think the PL-330 may be one of the best portables for FM I’ve tested in a while. On Wednesday, I tuned to WFAE in Charlotte a number of times throughout the day and the PL-330’s lock on the station was rock-solid. WFAE’s transmitter is just over one hundred miles from my home, so this is typically a tough catch if I’m inside my home or my car, etc.

The real test? I can also receive WFAE with the PL-330 in my kitchen window. Again, only a small number of portables can reliably grab WFAE’s signal from that spot. Indeed, the PL-330 almost receives WFAE as if were a local station.

While this is far from a laboratory test, it is certainly a real-world test for this radio enthusiast.

I’ve yet to dive into the shortwaves, although I’m incredibly curious how well the sync lock might work. I’m keeping expectations low–after all, this is a $60 radio. The price point is quite good for sporting upper and lower sideband reception, let alone synchronous detection.

For more information about the PL-330, I’d encourage you to check out the following posts:

Spread the radio love

Radio Waves: Solar Radios Help Kenyan Children, Synchronous AM’s History, FM Radio on Jupiter, and New WSJT mode Q65

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Tracy Wood, Richard Langley, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


With schools shut by pandemic, solar radios keep Kenyan children learning (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

Solar-powered radios have been distributed to the poorest homes that lack electricity access, with lessons broadcast daily during the COVID-19 crisis – and perhaps beyond

TANA RIVER, Kenya, Dec 23 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Deep in Tana River County, in southeastern Kenya, a group of pupils formed a circle around their teacher, jotting down notes as they listened to a Swahili diction lesson coming from the solar-powered radio sitting in their teacher’s lap.

The radio the children from Dida Ade primary school gathered around was one of hundreds distributed for free to the most vulnerable households in the semi-arid region east of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.

The radios allow children without internet access or electricity at home to continue studying while schools are closed to slow the spread of COVID-19, in a project that could also help children stay in education after the pandemic.

Funded by the Zizi Afrique Foundation, a Kenyan non-governmental organisation that produces research to drive education policy, the solar-powered radios also come with bulbs for household lighting and slots for phone-charging.

When schools across Kenya shut in March to slow the spread of COVID-19, Zizi Afrique did a survey in Tana Delta sub-county and found that just over one-fifth of households owned a radio and only 18% had access to electricity.[]

Synchronous AM’s Long and Tortuous History (Radio World)

AM boosters repeatedly have been proven effective, but the FCC consistently has declined to allow their wide use

With AM improvement on the radars of broadcasters and the FCC, there has been renewed talk in recent years about the subject of AM “boosters,” the carrier frequency synchronization of multiple transmitters. The commission opened a comment period on AM boosters in 2017.

It wasn’t the first time the FCC has explored this topic and failed to act on it. In fact, AM boosters have been proposed and tested dozens of times since the early days of radio. But even though the technology has repeatedly been proven effective, the commission consistently has declined to allow the operation of AM boosters on anything more than an experimental basis, for a variety of reasons.

Let’s take a moment to look back at the history of this beleaguered technology.

BOSTON REPEATER
In 1930, crystal control of transmitter frequencies was still an emerging technology, and the allowable frequency tolerance of a broadcast transmitter was +/- 500 Hz. Two stations operating on the same channel, even if widely geographically separated, could generate a heterodyne beat note of up to 1 kHz, a disconcerting annoyance to listeners.

Consequently, only a few stations were allowed to operate nationwide evenings on any one channel at the same time. Further, there were 40 clear-channel stations, each one having exclusive nationwide use of its frequency. As most of these clear-channel stations were network affiliates, many channels were wastefully duplicating the same programs.

In 1929, the respected radio engineer Frederick Terman proposed that, if all stations of the two networks (NBC and CBS) could synchronize their carrier frequencies within +/- 0.1 Hz to eliminate the heterodyne beat notes, they could all coexist on a single channel per network, freeing up dozens of channels for new stations.

Synchronization was first proved successful by the Westinghouse station WBZ in Springfield, Mass. Broadcasting from the roof of the Westinghouse factory, WBZ failed to cover Boston, so WBZA was opened as a Boston repeater. The two stations were synchronized on the same frequency beginning in 1926, using a tuning fork as a frequency reference.[]

FM Radio on Jupiter, Brought to You by Ganymede (EOS)

Another first from NASA’s Juno spacecraft: the detection of radio emissions from the Moon Ganymede, over a range of about 250 kilometers in the polar region of Jupiter.

Louis et al. [2020] present exciting new observations of radio emissions on Jupiter from the NASA Juno spacecraft – the first direct detection of decametric radio emissions originating from its Moon Ganymede. These observations were made as Juno crossed a polar region of the Giant Planet where the magnetic field lines are connected to Ganymede.

The radio emissions were produced by electrons at relativistic energy (a few thousand electron volts) in a region where the electron’s oscillation frequency (“plasma frequency”) is much lower than its gyration frequency (“cyclotron frequency”). Such electrons can amplify radio waves very close to the electron cyclotron frequency very rapidly, via a physical process called electron cyclotron maser instability (CMI). They can as well produce aurora in the far-ultraviolet – which was also observed by the camera on Juno.

Juno was traveling at a speed of approximately 50 kilometers per second, and it spent at least about 5 seconds crossing the source region of the emission, which was therefore at least about 250 kilometers in size.

The observed decametric radiation on Jupiter is clearly the “shorter cousin” (in wavelength) of the auroral kilometric radiation on both Earth and Saturn: the CMI being responsible for their production on the three planets.

Citation: Louis, C. K., Louarn, P., Allegrini, F., Kurth, W. S., & Szalay, J. R. [2020]. Ganymede?induced decametric radio emission: In situ observations and measurements by Juno. Geophysical Research Letters, 47, e2020GL090021. https://doi.org/10.1029/2020GL090021

Andrew Yau, Editor, Geophysical Research Letters[]

New WSJT mode Q65 (Southgate ARC)

WSJT-X 2.4.0 will introduce Q65, a digital protocol designed for minimal two-way QSOs over especially difficult propagation paths

On paths with Doppler spread more than a few Hz, the weak-signal performance of Q65 is the best among all WSJT-X modes.  Q65 is particularly effective for tropospheric scatter, ionospheric scatter, and EME on VHF and higher bands, as well as other types of fast-fading signals.

Q65 uses 65-tone frequency-shift keying and builds on the demonstrated weak-signal strengths of QRA64, a mode introduced to WSJT-X in 2016.  Q65 differs from QRA64 in the following important ways:
•A new low-rate Q-ary Repeat Accumulate code for forward error correction
•User messages and sequencing identical to those in FT4, FT8, FST4, and MSK144
•A unique tone for time and frequency synchronization.  As with JT65, this “sync tone” is readilyvisible on the waterfall spectral display.  Unlike JT65, synchronization and decoding are effective even when meteor pings or other short signal enhancements are present.
•Optional submodes with T/R sequence lengths 15, 30, 60, 120, and 300 s.
•A new, highly reliable list-decoding technique for messages that contain previously copied message fragments.

Read the new Q65 Quick Start Guide at
https://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/Q65_Quick_Start.pdf


Do you enjoy the SWLing Post?

Please consider supporting us via Patreon or our Coffee Fund!

Your support makes articles like this one possible. Thank you!

Spread the radio love