Category Archives: Nostalgia

Photo gallery of the Rampisham Down transmitting site in 2003

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Porter, who shares a link to the following site which contains an extensive galley of photos taken at the Rampisham HF transmitting site on October 11, 2003.

Click here to view the gallery.

Thank you for the tip, Dave!

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Radio Bulgaria celebrates 85th anniversary

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Iurescia (LW4DAF), who shares the following feature from Radio Bulgaria who celebrates their 85th anniversary:

Speaking your language for 85 years

2021 marks the 85th anniversary of the Bulgarian National Radio’s foreign language service to the world. It all began on 16 February, 1936. One year after the Bulgarian radio was officially launched, what is now Radio Bulgaria went on the air. It was a Sunday when Radio Sofia’s full morning programme was launched, to reach Europe, North America and North Africa.

Now, 85 years later, Radio Bulgaria is still talking to the world about the country in English, German, French, Spanish, Russian, Serbian, Greek, Albanian, Turkish and Bulgarian.

Our special feature presents intriguing facts from the history of Radio Bulgaria, its golden voices, as well as reminiscences from the people who have worked at Radio Bulgaria through the years.

Click here to view Radio Bulgaria’s feature articles.

Thank you for the tip, David. This article reminded me to listen, once again, to the final shortwave broadcast of Radio Bulgaria. Seems like yesterday!

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Chuck’s re-capped GE Superadio II might set a new AM BCL benchmark

I recently took delivery of a better-than-new classic solid-state portable broadcast receiver: the venerable GE Superadio II.

This Superadio II was generously given to me by SWLing Post contributor, Chuck Rippel (K8HU), who has–in his spare time–been re-capping and restoring all three of the GE Superadio series models and bringing them back to life. Chuck wanted to send me one of the units he’d recently finished, knowing that it might help me when doing AM reception evaluations. He insisted “no strings attached.”

Besides thank you, all I can say is…

Wow–!

Note angels singing in the background.

When I received the Superadio II a week or so ago, I removed it from the box and it looked brand new; even sporting the original “Headset Capable” grill sticker.

This is a case, however, of a refurbished radio likely out-performing the original.  Here’s a list of the main modifications:

  • All of the original dry capacitors replaced with Nichicon Audio Grade components
  • FM AFC and AM and FM IF and RF sections have been aligned
  • Rebuilt the volume control

I’m sure there are other modifications Chuck didn’t mention.

Chuck told me each radio takes a full day to restore. Some of the alignment, rebuilding, and re-capping is surprisingly tricky and varies with each of the three models. Why is he doing this?

Chuck told me, “My enjoyment comes from giving these radios a new lease on life.”

A new lease on life, indeed!

Last weekend, we had a break in the weather–and I had a short break in my schedule–so I took the GE Superadio II, GE 7-2990A, C.Crane CCRadio3, and Panasonic RF-2200 outdoors for some fresh air.

It was late afternoon and, frankly, I didn’t have the time to do a full comparative session, but having spent the better part of an hour tuning around and comparing the characteristics of each radio, I decided to make a short video to share.

The video features the GE Superadio II, but I speak to some of the pros and cons of each model. Keep in mind, this is very much a casual/informal comparison:

Click here to view on YouTube.

The SR-II not only has the best audio fidelity in this bunch, but it’s also extremely stable and has no noise floor to speak of. No doubt, this is the result of those Nichicon Audio Grade components and a skilled technician.

Side note: Chuck is well-known in the radio world because he used to restore the Collins R390A which must be one of the most mechanically-complicated receivers ever made.

I haven’t even properly tested the SR-II on FM yet because I couldn’t pull myself away from the mediumwave dial that afternoon!

I asked Chuck if he would consider refurbishing GE Superadios for other people and I think he would.  If interested, contact me and I’ll put you in touch. Else, Chuck might leave details in the comments section of this post.

He does currently have a restored GE Superadio II on eBay. I just checked and in his listing, you’ll see a full description of the modifications made.

Click here to view on eBay.

Chuck, thank you once again for sending me this SR-II. It’ll become a permanent addition here at SWLing Post HQ. Again, I’m simply amazed at the audio fidelity of this 1980s era receiver. Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything made today that can even compare.

And thanks for doing your bit to refurbish these classic portables!

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Radio Waves: China Bans BBC, Invention of Radio, Diversity and Connections, and DJ Broadway Bill Lee Talks Radio and AM DXing

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 Patrick, Marcus, Mike and Tracy for the following tips:


China bans BBC World News from broadcasting (BBC News)

China has banned BBC World News from broadcasting in the country, its television and radio regulator announced on Thursday.

China has criticised the BBC for its reporting on coronavirus and the persecution of ethnic minority Uighurs.

The BBC said it was “disappointed” by the decision.

It follows British media regulator Ofcom revoking state broadcaster China Global Television Network’s (CGTN) licence to broadcast in the UK.

Separately, the broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) said it would stop relaying BBC World Service programming in the region, prompting condemnation from the BBC.

China’s State Film, TV and Radio Administration said that BBC World News reports about China were found to “seriously violate” broadcast guidelines, including “the requirement that news should be truthful and fair” and not “harm China’s national interests”.

It said that the BBC’s application to air for another year would not be accepted.

The BBC said in a statement: “We are disappointed that the Chinese authorities have decided to take this course of action. The BBC is the world’s most trusted international news broadcaster and reports on stories from around the world fairly, impartially and without fear or favour.”[]

In Our Time: The Invention of Radio (BBC Sounds)

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the invention of radio. In the early 1860s the Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell derived four equations which together describe the behaviour of electricity and magnetism. They predicted the existence of a previously unknown phenomenon: electromagnetic waves. These waves were first observed in the early 1880s, and over the next two decades a succession of scientists and engineers built increasingly elaborate devices to produce and detect them. Eventually this gave birth to a new technology: radio. The Italian Guglielmo Marconi is commonly described as the father of radio – but many other figures were involved in its development, and it was not him but a Canadian, Reginald Fessenden, who first succeeded in transmitting speech over the airwaves.

With:

Simon Schaffer
Professor of the History of Science at the University of Cambridge

Elizabeth Bruton
Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Leeds

John Liffen
Curator of Communications at the Science Museum, London

Producer: Thomas Morris

Click here to listen via BBC Sounds.

World Radio Day 2021: Radio creates diversity and connects people (RADIOZENTRALE GmbH)

World Radio Day 2021: Radio creates diversity and connects people

World Radio Day will be announced by UNESCO for the tenth time on February 13th and once again refers to how important radio is for society and why it connects people.

Time to celebrate: UNESCO has proclaimed World Radio Day for the tenth time. In Germany, radio has been the everyday companion of people for a hundred years and, more than ever, radio is the medium of the hour. So this jubilee round provides many good reasons to pause and ask what radio means for each individual, society and the world. Radio itself does not take a break, it is on the air – every day and around the clock. Radio informs, entertains and offers a variety of programs, opinions and content. As a matter of course – and yet so indispensable – radio, both large and small, is the vital voice of people and for people.

At the global level, radio remains the most widely consumed medium

The world is changing rapidly. Social and political processes are becoming more dynamic due to new technologies, the communication network is getting faster and bigger and the challenges are becoming more important. In these processes, radio not only offers diversity, classification and orientation, but is also an integral part of opinion-forming because it is the platform for democratic discourse. This unique ability to reach a wide audience means radio can shape a society through diversity and is the place for those who want to speak up.

100 years of radio in Germany

In Germany, the medium for the ears and the head cinema is celebrating its centenary this year. The innovative strength of the medium and the trust base with listeners that has grown over the decades make it possible for radio to be the medium of the hour more than ever. It is the last mass medium and at the same time can digitally reach everyone with the entire range of offers. Radio is at eye level with people – both in terms of content and technology. Because just as society and people’s everyday lives have changed dramatically, so too have listening habits and content. What remains, however, is the great art of putting complex topics into understandable words and giving diversity a voice.

“Today we are experiencing that the world is changing rapidly. We face major challenges when I think of climate change, the current corona pandemic or the debates on racism, for example. The task of radio here is to inform and classify. To make the soft tones heard and to reflect the diversity of opinions, ”says Grit Leithäuser, Managing Director of Radiozentrale. “But the most important thing is to act at eye level with the listeners. This grown connection and mutual trust are something for both sides that one should be aware of and that it has to be preserved every day. Then, in a hundred years, radio will be the medium for people who listen on whatever technical route, in order to learn from one another and to live diversity. ”

World Radio Day was first proclaimed by UNESCO in 2012 and this year it has the motto: “New World, New Radio”. At the suggestion of Spain, the General Conference of UNESCO initiated World Radio Day in memory of the founding of United Nations Radio on February 13, 1946. The aim of the day is to make the public and the media more aware of the importance of radio, to the decision-makers Encourage information to be established and made accessible through the radio.

Further information on World Radio Day can be found at: https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/worldradioday

The generic initiative Radiozentrale sees itself as a common platform for public and private radio stations as well as generic companies in the radio industry. The radio center has set itself the goal of positioning the medium of radio and providing comprehensive information about the (advertising) medium of radio. More information: www.radiozentrale.de

DJ Broadway Bill Lee talks about today’s radio, AM DXing and much more (Stars Cars Guitars via YouTube)

Broadway Bill Lee raps to Alex Dyke about growing up in Cleveland, the impact of the Beatles in 1964 and honing his craft as a DJ. Bill remembers being on-air in New York City the night that John Lennon was murdered and how he felt compelled to take to the air on September 11th 2001.

 


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Radio Waves: Radio Tirana’s Global Communist Voice, Sounds of Community Radio, Morse Code Phishing, and the Mission of Vatican 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 David Shannon, Dennis Dura, and David Iurescia for the following tips:


Sources on Cold War Radio, Paradoxes, Maoism, and Noise (Wilson Center)

Radio Tirana emerged as a global Communist voice in the 1970s, reaching Brazilian guerillas in Araguaia, Maoist factions across Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and many other listeners around the world. Elidor Mëhilli explains how this came to be.

“Dear Radio Tirana,” the letter begins, “here in the Alps we can hear you well, and we are especially fond of your propaganda directed at the Italian Communist Party.” The letter is dated April 12, 1976 but its Italian authors are not named. After a final greeting “Viva Mao e Viva Stalin,” they have simply signed off “a group of true Communists.”[i]

Two months earlier, in Entroncamento, Portugal, someone has penned a letter to the same station. “Camaradas,” his note begins, “I am a worker (a porter) who listens regularly to your Portuguese-language broadcasts.” The letter then proceeds with complaints about the fate of Communism in Portugal, with questions about Albania’s foreign policy, about why Radio Tirana spoke so infrequently about Portugal, about sports, about whether a trip to the Balkans might be possible.[ii]

By March, in Arequipa, Peru, a thirty-year-old places the recipient’s address on a small envelope: Señor Director, Radio Tirana, Albania.

He is among early Peruvian intellectuals who have been drawn to Mao Zedong’s ideas. Having completed a thesis on the topic, he is on his way to becoming a professor within a few years. “Unfortunately, I have to tell you that it’s been over a year that I do not receive your broadcasts,” he writes, “I think that it might due to the interference of the imperialist Yankees or perhaps the Soviet social-imperialists.”[iii]

Once a modest station, Radio Tirana had become a global Communist voice by the 1970s, reaching Brazilian guerillas in Araguaia, teeny-tiny Maoist factions across Asia, Africa, and Latin America, far-flung dots scattered across oceans and seas. This turned the station into a kind “of superpower of its kind” as author Ardian Vehbiu has put it. Officials embraced this role, broadcasting in numerous languages—English, Arabic, French, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, German, Indonesian—and beaming anti-capitalist and anti-Soviet messages day after day.[]

World Wide Waves: The Sounds of Community Radio (BBC World Service)

We 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, and some of its audience listen on wind-up radios. In Tamil Nadu, Kadal Osai (“the sound of the ocean”) broadcasts to the local fishing community about weather, fishing techniques—and climate change. In Bolivia, Radio Nacional de Huanuni is one of the last remaining stations founded in the 1950s to organise mostly indigenous tin miners against successive dictatorships; its transmitters are still protected by fortified walls.

For World Radio Day, we visit community stations around the globe and celebrate the enduring power, possibilities and pleasures of the airwaves.

This program will be available shortly after broadcast on Feb 14, 2021. Click here for details.

New phishing attack uses Morse code to hide malicious URLs (Bleeping Computer)

A new targeted phishing campaign includes the novel obfuscation technique of using Morse code to hide malicious URLs in an email attachment.

Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail invented morse code as a way of transmitting messages across telegraph wire. When using Morse code, each letter and number is encoded as a series of dots (short sound) and dashes (long sound).

Starting last week, a threat actor began utilizing Morse code to hide malicious URLs in their phishing form to bypass secure mail gateways and mail filters.

BleepingComputer could not find any references to Morse code being used in phishing attacks in the past, making this a novel obfuscation technique

The novel Morse code phishing attack
After first learning of this attack from a post on Reddit, BleepingComputer was able to find numerous samples of the targeted attack uploaded to VirusTotal since February 2nd, 2021.

The phishing attack starts with an email pretending to be an invoice for the company with a mail subject like ‘Revenue_payment_invoice February_Wednesday 02/03/2021.'[]

Father Lombardi: Mission of Vatican Radio in service of the Pope (Vatican News)

We reproduce excerpts from an article written on the 90th anniversary by the former Director of Vatican Radio, which were published in the latest issue of La Civiltà Cattolica.

By Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ

On 12 February 2021 it will be exactly 90 years since Pope Pius XI inaugurated the new Vatican Radio Station – built at his request by Guglielmo Marconi and entrusted to the care of Jesuit Father Giuseppe Gianfranceschi as its first director. The “mission of Vatican Radio was clear from the beginning: to be an instrument at the service of the Pope for his ministry of proclaiming the Gospel in the world and guiding the universal community of the Catholic Church. This mission has been preserved over time and has been reaffirmed several times by the Popes, guaranteeing a strong identity of the institution. […]

The voice of the Pope
Vatican Radio […] was founded in 1931, in the context of the rapid establishment of the new Vatican City State […]. The radio station built by Marconi was at the forefront of the technology of the time, and was able to provide telegraphic and radio service completely independently from Italy. Thanks to short-wave technology, in an “ether” not yet overcrowded with countless transmissions, it was possible to be heard on other continents with a rather low power. At the beginning of its existence, Vatican Radio was the instrument thanks to which the Catholics of the world could hear the voice of the Pope directly for the first time. […]

The 1930s were years of the power of totalitarianism. Pius XI’s positions were courageous and, in the thickening of the storm, he looked to the Church with confidence. The demand for broadcasts in different languages to guide and support the faithful in European countries grew rapidly. Father Filippo Soccorsi, appointed to lead the Radio in 1934 (at 34 years old!), after the untimely death of Fr. Gianfranceschi, not only dedicated himself to improving the technical structures — such as the new antenna towering over the Vatican gardens, known as “The Pope’s Finger” — but promptly grasped the expectation to make the Radio grow also in the content of its programming. Thus, in 1936, the Vatican Broadcasting Corporation was accepted into the International Broadcasting Union with a recognition of its special nature, which authorised it to carry out radio activities without any geographical limitations. Because of the limited means available, Fr Soccorsi asked for the collaboration of Jesuit brethren from various countries for the editing and presentation of the texts. The German-language broadcasts were particularly important.

In the tragedy of war: for peace and solidarity with the suffering
[…] On the eve of the war, in 1939, there were regular broadcasts in Italian, French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Ukrainian, and Lithuanian, and the station was able to be a point of reference for the Church in the immense tragedy, playing its role of denouncing violence, supporting victims and members of the resistance, and encouraging hope. The “Radio-messages” of Pius XII in wartime, eagerly awaited and listened to with great attention throughout Europe, remain famous. His was the loudest and most authoritative voice rising above the warring parties in those terrible years, calling for justice and peace.

During the war, however, Vatican Radio became famous for another service: it was in fact a fundamental instrument of the great commitment desired by Pius XII with the “Information Office of the Secretariat of State,” set up in 1939 to track down missing civilians and soldiers and prisoners; to provide information to their families and, if possible, to re-establish among them at least a link of greeting and remembrance. […]

Vatican Radio devoted specific broadcasts to requesting news about the missing and broadcasting short messages from the families to the prisoners, whose names were slowly spelled out by the “metallic” voice of the speakers. These broadcasts reached 70 hours per week, with peaks of 12-13 hours per day. Between 1940 and 1946, a total of 1,240,728 messages were broadcast in 12,105 hours of actual transmission time. In some cases, the transmissions were broadcast over loudspeakers in prison camps. The testimonies of gratitude for this service were numerous and moving. This is one of the most beautiful pages in the history of Vatican Radio.

A voice for the “Church of Silence”
With the end of the war, Vatican Radio accompanied with its broadcasts the climate of moral and spiritual reconstruction of the countries devastated by the conflict, while preparations were in full swing for the great Holy Year of 1950, a time of renewed vitality of the Church.

But in the meantime, most of Eastern Europe fell under the oppression of the communist regimes, and the Catholic Church became the object of harsh persecution in many countries. This was an historic challenge for Vatican Radio, which was practically the only way through which the faithful could nurture their bond with the Pope and the universal Church and receive support for their faith. Even with limited resources, programmes in the languages of Eastern European countries became more numerous and were given more airtime. At the end of the 1940s, the programme in Polish — which together with Italian, English, French, Spanish and German had always been one of the main languages of transmission — was joined by those in Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Russian, Croatian, Slovenian, Ukrainian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Belarusian and, shortly afterwards, Albanian. For decades, throughout the time of oppression, the broadcasts of Vatican Radio offered a regular and sure appointment for the faithful, religious, priests and bishops deprived of the freedom to express and live their faith.

There would be countless stories to tell about those years. In certain countries and in certain periods of the harshest persecution, listening to Vatican Radio was absolutely forbidden and seriously dangerous: it could be the cause of serious penalties, up to imprisonment and even — in some cases — the death sentence. For some languages, such as Polish or Slovak, the audience was high, while for others, where Catholics were a minority, there were not many listeners. But the principle that guided the fathers of the Radio, according to the Pope’s intention, was not the vastness of the audience, but the situation of need of the listeners. That is why the languages of broadcasting to Eastern countries have always represented more than half of the languages used by Vatican Radio. When, after many years, the walls fell, the gratitude of the faithful and the people could finally express itself in moving forms, such as the more than 40,000 letters that arrived at the Ukrainian Section in the first year after the fall of the Soviet regime, or the bestowal of the award of the Albanian State for the work of Vatican Radio. […]

Communication for communion
In 1970 the editorial offices and studios of Vatican Radio moved to Palazzo Pio, in front of Castel Sant’Angelo, providing adequate space in what would become the main headquarters of the station for decades. In 1973 Father Roberto Tucci […] succeeded Father Martegani in the general direction. We were on the eve of the Holy Year 1975 and the Radio was completely mobilised. It was not only a matter of broadcasting live the great papal celebrations, audiences and events, and of giving adequate information in all languages so that the universal Church felt involved, but also of providing a service for pilgrims arriving in Rome from all over the world. […]

Pasquale Borgomeo, who would become a dynamic and creative director of programmes; and Father Félix Juan Cabasés, in charge of the “Central Editorial Office,” later the “Documentation Service”: The former would greatly cultivate the valuable international relations of the station, in particular with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU); the latter would leave a lasting mark in the organisation of documentation and editorial programming. […]

Vatican Radio thus reached maturity, with increasing professional and journalistic quality, which makes it not only the beating heart of daily communication in the universal Church — “communication for communion”, as the Council hoped — but also an active protagonist in the wider world of Catholic and lay communication in the life of the Church.[]


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