Category Archives: Nostalgia

Radio Waves: Guardians of Early Recordings, VOA Firewall, New DRM-Based HF Station, and Breakfast on BBC Essex Features Amateur Radio

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 Kim Elliott, Benn Kobb, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Meet the guardians of the world’s earliest musical recordings (LA Times)

The voice seeps in as if from another dimension, hissy and distant, like an AM radio broadcaster transmitting through late-night static.

“‘The Ambassador March’ by Brown’s Orche-streee for the Los Angeles Phonograph Company of Los Angeles, California,” a man announces with a gentlemanly accent. After a moment’s scratchy pause, a violinist opens with a melody, and a small orchestra jumps in. Led by a Long Beach-based bandleader named E.R. Brown, the song dances along for two minutes.

The fidelity is primitive by today’s high-definition audio standards, a quaint toss-away. But “The Ambassador March” and the Coke-can-sized wax cylinder upon which it was etched into permanence in the late 1800s open a portal to another era.

That wax cylinder and others like it — rescued from rural estate sales and dusty attics — have survived earthquakes, heat waves, mold and indifference. They feature Mexican folk songs; military band marches; minstrelsy songs of the kind that preceded American blues, folk and country music; and the voices of former Lincoln cabinet members, Southern senators, popes, preachers and comedians. Their survival is emblematic of a revolution that allowed sound to be freed from its origins. Once untethered, the world would be forever changed.[]

US international broadcasting: Rebuilding the firewall in the new administration (The Hill)

by Kim Andrew Elliott

President-elect Joe Biden, who as a senator had a key interest in U.S. international broadcasting, is looking at its future.

He named Richard Stengel, former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, to head the transition team for the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM). Under USAGM are the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Inc., Radio Free Asia Inc., Office of Cuba Broadcast (Radio/TV Martí to Cuba) and Middle East Broadcasting Networks Inc. (the Arabic-language Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa).

With government officials under President Trump instructed not to cooperate with Biden’s teams, the transition for the time being will have to be done from afar. The Trump-appointed USAGM CEO Michael Pack, whose leadership has fomented several controversies since he was installed in June, might decide to be a benign, if uncooperative, caretaker until the new management comes in. Or he could impose personnel changes and alterations in content that could diminish the credibility of the USAGM entities, a situation that could take years to repair.

During his campaign, Biden promised to fire Pack. Pack might try to serve out the three-year term stipulated in the legislation that replaced the bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) with a politically appointed CEO (Pack being the first). If such an attempt ends up in court, a June Supreme Court decision overruling the fixed term of the director of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, a victory for the Trump administration, could, ironically, be the undoing of any plans by Pack to stay on at USAGM.

Pack has already left his mark by rescinding the firewall “rule” published in June by the outgoing BBG. The rule, however, was not an act of Congress or a presidential directive. It was simply language placed in the Federal Register “to codify and memorialize definitions and practices associated with the firewall.” On such shallow roots, this tree was easy to fall. In October, Pack issued a repeal, which waved away the firewall rule as readily as it was instituted.[]

A New HF Station that’s Similar, but Different (DRMNA.info)

On October 21, 2020, DPA Mac LLC filed a FCC license application for a new, DRM-based International Broadcast Station to be located in Maple Park, IL. The principal is San Francisco entrepreneur Seth Kenvin and its technical consultant is Tamir Ostfeld of Raft Technologies, an Israeli developer of low-latency HF systems for so-called algorithmic trading.

No station devoted to algorithmic trading has ever been authorized for regular commercial operation in the U.S., as there is no formal radio service or spectrum allocation for that purpose. Several such stations have been licensed in the Experimental Radio Service (ERS), which is ostensibly for scientific studies only.

If the FCC licenses DPA Mac, it will be the first such station to make the transition from the ERS to regular, non-experimental licensing. This station would be the successor to experimental station WI2XXG. Other than the license document, the FCC has withheld most of WI2XXG’s records from public disclosure since it was first licensed in 2017.

DPA Mac is similar to other DRM stations on which we previously reported: WIPE in Alpine, NJ, which is built and is waiting on its FCC license; and WPBC, proposed for Batavia, IL. With regard to their use for non-broadcast, private data transmissions, those stations made general and non-descriptive representations to the FCC. On the other hand, DPA Mac’s license application is fairly transparent. The station aims to transmit “investment data from points within the United States to locations outside the United States carried over a channel immediately adjacent to the HF broadcasts…a low-power, low-latency digital data transmission service provided to private investors, including small- and medium-sized firms.” [Continue reading…]

Amateur radio on BBC Radio Essex

On Tuesday, November 24, CB and amateur radio featured in Sonia Watson’s popular Breakfast show on BBC Radio Essex

Among those interviewed was the Chair of Essex Ham, Pete M0PSX, who talked about the resurgence of interest in amateur radio.

Listen to the interview at 1:38:20 in this recording
https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p08xv7dv

You can find out more about amateur radio and the free Essex Ham Foundation Online training course at
https://www.essexham.co.uk/train/foundation-online/

You can follow Essex Ham on Twitter at
https://twitter.com/EssexHam

 


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Can you ID the radio in this pharmaceutical ad?

Many thank to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Evans (W4/VP9KF), who writes:

I was watching a TV advert (well, no I wasn’t), but then this one
comes on with a drug for COPD.

On the kitchen table, along with the inhaler thing there just happens
to be a radio 🙂

Let’s see who can find out what it is! Thanksgiving Quiz!

Oooh…good challenge. The resolution is pretty poor int he photo, but I’m almost certain I can ID the radio. Can you?  Please comment!

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Guest Post: Zenith Trans Oceanics Still Command Big Prices

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, for the following guest post:


Zenith Trans Oceanics Still Command Big Prices

by Dan Robinson

For many radio collectors and users, the Zenith Trans Oceanic R7000-2 is a must-have item in the collection. This was the final version of the Zenith Trans Oceanic line that stretched back for decades — production was shifted to Taiwan and tuning in this radio is accomplished with internal gears, with concentric knobs for main and fine tuning.

The R7000-2 has Longwave, AM, FM and importantly for fans of aircraft listening, the radio
has excellent VHF reception. The huge Zenith TO telescopic aerial is a real eye turner — it is
super tall and compares only to the SONY CRF-1 in length.

Some years ago, the used market saw a few NIB or LNIB Zenith R7000-2 every year or so.
That hasn’t been the case — at least it was not until just recently when a LNIB TO appeared from a California seller.

NIB or LNIB R7000-2 radios could often bring more than $1,000 and sometimes much higher —
even as high as $1500!

That did not stop bidding on this-2 R7000-2 from topping the $700 mark and reaching nearly
$800 in this auction.

This does not mean, however, that every R7000-2 will be out of reach but other R7000-2 radios on eBay at this time suffer from cosmetic issues of one kind or another (see photos) such as detached side vinyl and missing antennas.

Amazingly, as this is being written there is yet another R7000-2 on eBay, complete with original
box and papers, and the original purchase receipt. This one could well hit the $1,000 mark.

If you’re hunting for an excellent late production Zenith TO, this may very well be the time
to pull the trigger — but for one in 9.9 to 10.0 NIB condition you will pay a price!

Click here to check this Trans Oceanic R-7000-2 out on eBay.

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1979 ANARC Convention live recording featuring keynote by Rudy Espinal of Radio Clarin

Shortwave Radio Audio Archive contributor, Tom Gavaras, shares some of the most amazing off-air, studio, and personal recordings our archive.

Recently, he submitted a very unique recording. Tom notes:

Rudy Espinal of Radio Clarin (Dominican Republic) keynote speech at 1979 Association of North American Radio Clubs (ANARC) convention held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Convention took place in June 1979.

In this recording, you’ll hear a number of familiar names (including an early shout-out to our friend Kim Elliott).

I was in elementary school at the time of this convention, so it’s amazing bit of audio time travel for me.

Do you recognize any names in this recording? Do you remember Radio Clarin? Did you attend the 1979 ANARC Convention?  Inquiring minds want to know! Please comment!

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Aircheck cassette leads to lost album with heavy shortwave influence

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor Pete Polanyk, who shares the following story that all started with a recording he submitted to the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive:

Remember I sent you that clip of Radio Canada (that went up on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive) that was on the other side of a punk tape? Well I digitised and sold it on eBay. The tape featured a live gig of the band ATV (Mark Perry was the lead singer and main ideas person). A few days later I received an email from the buyer–a nice chap called Phillipe in France–who’s a big ATV fan.

“Just listened to the ATV one… I wonder, have you the faintest idea what the B-side is? It sounds like radio recordings, but on repeated listening sounds like some kind of noisy pieces or experimentation, which reminds me of similar ‘shortwave’ experiments done by ATV at the time of the second album. Do you know if this was somehow linked to the band?”

I replied saying it was a recording by me off the shortwave from the early 1980’s sadly, not the band, he wrote back:

“So, I guess playing with shortwave must have been something in the air back then?!
The funny thing is that there is a very similar track from a ‘lost ATV album’ entitled The End Of Flight 182 from late ‘78.

It’s actually more Dave George (later of The Good Missionaries) than ATV but still Mark Perry contributed a bit to the recordings; and one of its tracks was released somewhere else as ATV. Anyway… the album features a ‘Shortwave’ track (entitled as such) by Dave George, and I’ve have included it here (I’ve attached the track he sent us.) Can you hear how it sounds similar to yours? The track/experimentation may also been what led ATV to write ‘The Radio Story’, but that’s just a personal assumption. Mark and George were definitely in touch back in those days since Mark contributed a bit to his album which was was recorded a few months before Dave joined ATV (which then soon became The Good Missionaries). Sadly Dave George passed a few years ago, so we won’t know much more about the album and the track.”

I wrote back and told him that I will probably send it to you as you’ll be well interested in the story. This is his last reply:

“Yeah, it could be nice and interesting Thomas’ mentions it on his site. To avoid any confusion here’re a few more details: the ‘Shortwave’ track is only Dave George, and was recorded a few months before Dave joined ATV (which then soon became The Good Missionaries), so technically it’s not ATV. But he was definitely in touch with Mark Perry back in those days since Mark contributed a bit to the album as I said; hence Thomas could also publish a youtube link to The Radio Story as well. Sadly Dave George passed a few years ago, so we won’t know much more about the album and the track.”

So that was the story! What a mad coincidence eh?

A mad coincidence indeed! Thank you for sharing the story, Pete. I love where art and shortwave meet and especially in moments of serendipity like this! Now to explore more Dave and ATV…

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The best radio you have is the one in front of you

This autumn, I’ve received a number of emails from new readers who’ve dusted off the radio in their closet and decided to get back into shortwave radio listening and/or ham radio.

I can’t recall another time I’ve gotten so many similar messages and I can only attribute it to the fact so many people across the globe are still having to social distance due to the C-19 pandemic.

There’s.a common theme in the messages I’ve been receiving from readers. Here’s an excerpt from the latest message (note that I removed the model name from this question because, frankly, it’s irrelevant):

“[My radio] seems to be in great working order. It’s been stored in a climate controlled environment and besides needing a little DeOxit on some of the pots, it works like new. I couldn’t be happier! My question to you is, this model is from the 1990s when I used to be hot and heavy into radio. I know technology has advanced by leaps and bounds since then, so as I get back into radio maybe I should invest in a newer model? What do you think or suggest?”

It’s true that radio technology has gone through a massive number of innovations since the 1990s. We’ve seen the advent of Software Defined Radios and portable receivers/transceivers sporting DSP technology.  Far be it from me to dissuade anyone from acquiring new gear!

With that said, I also believe that the best radio you have is the one in front of you. Period.

Listening is a skill

You can’t buy it. Whether you’re an SWL or ham radio operator, most of the time you’re on the air, you’re listening. And the best filter you have is the one in your head. I’ll quote from an article I posted many moons ago:

My good friend Vlado (N3CZ) is a case in point: he is one of the most capable ham radio DXers I know. His extraordinary ability to pull intelligible conversations and CW (Morse code) out of the static, even in crowded radio conditions, is simply astounding. Vlado’s main transceiver is nearly two decades old, and by no means a benchmark technically. If you ask Vlad if he uses filters and digital signal processing, he will wisely tell you, in his Macedonian accent: “Your best filter is between your ears.”

The same goes for SWLing. I have spent enough time listening to shortwave and weak DX that I can now pull conversations out of the noise that my (non-radio) friends can barely detect. I’m convinced this is healthy exercise for the old grey matter.

A seasoned radio enthusiast can grab any radio and make the most of it.

Imagine what Joe Walsh could do with a toy guitar…

Do you think the guitar makes him one of the greatest guitarists of all time?

 

Many of the advances in technology over the past two or three decades has, of course, given us better tools for working weak signals. But more importantly, it’s brought down the price of performance. I can invest $200 in an SDR that will perform as well as or better than multi thousand dollar benchmark receivers from the 1990s. So yes, in terms of equipment, it’s a brilliant time to be an SWL or ham radio operator.

But at the end of the day, your skills are more important your gear.

My advice?

Make the most of the radio you have.

Challenge yourself to log a certain amount of DX with your radio–try to work states, counties, provinces, regions, territories, or countries. Make your own goals!

Take your radio to the field.

Experiment with antennas.

Get to know your radio so well you can use it blindfolded!

If you still feel you want to invest more in your gear, go for it and don’t look back!

That will be all.

-Thomas

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Radio Waves: 100 Years of Radio, Maritime Radio Communications, AU2JCB Special Event Station, and 20th Anniversary of Ham Radio on the ISS

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, Dan Robinson, Datta Deogaonkar, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Commercial Radio Is 100 Years Old. Can It Survive? (Inside Hook)

Four industry veterans weigh in on how they’d “fix” a medium that remains popular but lacks innovation

The first broadcast from a commercial radio station took place on November 2nd, 1920. Here’s how I imagine listeners responded to the debut of KDKA-AM in Pittsburgh:

Nov. 2: This is amazing! I can hear someone from hundreds of miles away talking through this device! The world will never be the same!

Nov. 3: They’re playing “Wang Wang Blues” again already?

The joke here is twofold: First, there’s a popular song called “Wang Wang Blues” from 1920. And second, by day two, KDKA had already developed the repetitive play-the-hits format that would become one of its hallmarks for the following century.

The first commercial broadcast actually related to the election — it was the idea of a radio manufacturer, Westinghouse, to offer up programming to go along with their newfangled tech (a century later, Apple and Sonos thought exactly the same thing). The first commercial broadcast featured updated results of the Harding-Cox presidential race “before [people] read about it in the newspaper,” as this PBS retrospective notes.

One hundred years later, commercial radio still holds a place in American daily life. The average American still listens to about 106 minutes of radio per day (with the coronavirus and its attendant lockdowns projected to increase that number), and there are more than 15,000 stations in this country alone.

We’re certainly listening to radio differently: according to Statista, 57% of Americans do so online, whether by streaming, downloads, satellite or digital radio. If you asked me how I listen to radio, I’d offer up services like Apple Music 1, Sonos Radio and Dash Radio; podcast downloads from ESPN Radio; online streaming of overseas entities like BBC 1 and Triple J or any occasional college station like WSOU; NPR stations for news and commentary (and music if it’s KCRW); and for new music, a DJ-free experience via Spotify’s New Release Radar playlist. In other words, while audio-only, passive-listening medium has survived and thrived for a century, which is astounding and worthy of celebration, the need for traditional, turn-the-dial “commercial” radio is decidedly on the wane.[]

Radio Officers: our past is our future, our way is to be Radiomen

Many thanks to Dan Robinson who shares this excellent site devoted to maritime communication officers: https://trafficlist.altervista.org/

Special event station commemorating Aacharya Jagadish Chandra Bose

Sir, I want to mention with great pride that I am (VU2DSI) celebrating the birthdate 30 November of Aacharya Jagadish Chandra Bose- every year with a special callsign- AU2JCB for the last 15 years. He is well known as the “Father of Wireless Communication” in the world of science.

AU2JCB will operate from 20 Nov 2020 to 15 DEC 2020.

The Details of operation

Period: 20 NOV 2020 to 15 DEC 2020

Frequencies: 10 M– 28545, 28510,28490. 21 M—21235, 21310, 21350. 20M—14210, 14250, 14310. 40 M—7040, 7150. 80 M — 3710. IN FM MODE—– 6M –50800, 51500. 10 M—29700.

QSL— Direct to VU2DSI, “SURABHI” MEHERABAD. AHMEDNAGAR.414006. INDIA.

This year VU2EVU & VU2XPN will operate with AU3JCB & VU5JCB call-signs respectively.

From Kolkatta, VU3ZHA & VU3MZE will operate with AT2JCB & AU8JCB call-signs respectively. Ten more stations will operate from Kolkatta with JCB in the prefix.

Aacharya J.C.BOSE:

https://www.cv.nrao.edu/~demerson/bose/bose.htm

http://www.qsl.net/vu2msy/JCBOSE.htm

http://au9jcb.angelfire.com for info about Aacharya J.C.BOSE & his work.

https://ethw.org/Jagadish_Chandra_Bose

Regards, HAPPY DEEPAWALI to & all.

DATTA

VU2DSI (AU2JCB).

20th anniversary of first ham radio operation from ISS (Southgate ARC)

On November 13, 2000, the ISS Expedition-1 crew turned on the ARISS Ericsson radio for the first time and completed several contacts with ARISS ground stations around the world to validate the radio communications system

These inaugural contacts launched an incredible two-decade operations journey on ISS, enabling ARISS to inspire, engage and educate our next generation of explorers and provide the ham radio community a platform for lifelong learning and experimentation.

In celebration of the ISS 20th anniversary, ARISS was part of an ISS Research and Development Conference Panel session entitled “20 years of STEM Experiments on the ISS.”  The video below, developed for this panel session, describes our program, celebrates our 20th anniversary, conveys some key lessons learned over the past 20 years and describes the ARISS team’s vision for the future.  Enjoy watching!

20 years of continuous operations is a phenomenal accomplishment.  But what makes it even more extraordinary is that ARISS has achieved this through hundreds of volunteers that are passionate in “paying it forward” to our youth and ham radio community.  On behalf of the ARISS International team, I would like to express our heartfelt thanks to every volunteer that has made ARISS such an amazing success over the past 20 years. Your passion, drive, creativity and spirit made it happen!!

Congratulations ARISS team!!!

Frank H. Bauer, KA3HDO
ARISS International Chair

Watch ARISS 20th Anniversary


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