Category Archives: Shortwave Radio

Radio Waves: iHeart Layoffs • Radio JK FM • 2nd Chance for Pirates • Invisible War


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’sRadio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Here’s the first Radio Waves story collection. Enjoy!

‘The Culling Has Begun’: Inside the iHeartMedia Layoffs (Rolling Stone)

The largest radio company in America cut a number of employees this week, dealing a blow to local radio across the country

“The largest radio conglomerate in the country, iHeartMedia, initiated a round of mass layoffs this week, cutting enough people that one former on-air host described Tuesday as “one of the worst days in on-air radio history.” The layoffs were concentrated in small and medium markets, where staffs had already been reduced, striking another major blow to local radio.”

AER (Asociación Española de Radioescucha) Radio JK FM

SWLing Post contributor, Martin Butera, writes:

“Proclaimed in 2011 by UNESCO member states, and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 as International Day, February 13 became World Radio Day (WRD). This 2020, on World Radio Day, UNESCO calls on all radio stations to defend diversity, both in their newsrooms and on radio waves. Martin Butera, visited an important FM of Brasilia DF, capital of Brazil and anticipates this year’s motto that will be: “Pluralism, representation and diversity.”

A report in Spanish that Martin invites you to read by clicking here.

Give radio pirates chance to go legit (The Boston Globe)

The massive fines levied last month against two unlicensed Boston stations that served the Haitian immigrant community went too far.

The Invisible War of the Cold War Airwaves (X-Ray Audio)

In the radio show below, an episode of our Bureau of Lost Culture series on Soho Radio, we meet with Russian journalist, broadcaster and writer Vladimir Raevsky to hear the fascinating story of the Soviet Radio Jammers. Vladimir tells of the extraordinary lengths people went to to listen to the music they loved and of the gigantic amount of money spent by both sides in this invisible war of the airwaves.

We also hear from BBC Russian Arts correspondent Alex Kan about the brave / foolhardy so-called Radio Hooligans – the technically savvy young Soviets who dared to risk punishment by setting up their own little pirate radio stations to broadcast themselves and the music they liked using bootlegged and adapted equipment.

And finally we hear the strange story of the signal emitted by The Duga a gigantic mysterious installation near the Chernobyl nuclear site.

 

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Tecsun PL-990 and H-501: What we know so far about the upcoming production run

The PL-990 released in China last year.

Many of you have been asking me about the pricing and availability of the Tecsun PL-990 and H-501 receivers. Both radios were released late last year (2019) in China, but the final export version–and first full production run–has not yet hit the market.

I reached out to Anon-Co to see what updates, if any, we have about these radios. They were able to share the following points:

  • “Tecsun sold a first version of the PL-990 and H-501 in China as a promotion before Chinese New Year, at a promotional price.”
  • “They will launch further updated versions in the next few months, which will also be the international export version. This price will definitely be higher than the promotional prices, but the exact price is not available yet.”
  • “The version for the international market is not finalized yet. It may become available by the end of March or April, but there is no official launch date yet.”

The H-501 version released in China last year.

I think the important take-aways here are that we’re still perhaps a couple months out from the final versions shipping and that the price will be slightly higher than the initial production run in China.

Good news is, it sounds like this radio will get a proper vetting before it ships!  I’m willing to wait knowing this. Also, if I’m reading between the lines correctly, there could be some noticeable changes and updates to the final exported versions.

If you would like to follow updates about these radios as we post them, bookmark the tags PL-990 and H-501.


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More Tecsun PL-990 images

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Carel Kuijer, who shares the following images of the new Tecsun PL-990:

Thanks for sharing these, Carel!

FYI: I have not heard a solid update yet on pricing/availability of the Tecsun PL-990 and Tecsun H-501. Carel did note that the price in China is 1150 CNY, thus about 150 Euro or $166 USD, but not sure if this price will remain the same for the exported version. I will post updates here on the SWLing Post when they are available!


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Please consider supporting us via Patreon or our Coffee Fund!

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

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Krasne Antenna Array: Help Rick solve a 22 year old mysetery

The mystery array

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Rick Slobodian, who seeks help solving a 22 year old mystery. Rick writes:

[Perhaps you can help me] explain this antenna….a 22 year old mystery antenna (see photo above)? What sort of antenna is this and how does it work? It’s at 49.8994 N 24.685 E near Krasne, Ukraine.

I was at this transmitter site in 1998.

Antenna switch room

I was writing articles for a number of magazines hoping to find customers for airtime and to make this site viable.

I spent all day at the site wrote extensively about EVERYTHING ELSE: the shortwave transmitters, the longwave transmitters, the shortwave antennas, the vertical long wave antennas, and the vertical MW antennas.

Longwave antenna at Krasne

HRS curtain array at Krasne

The transmitters were behemoths: Komintern Burans 500Kw 1000 Kw 1200 Kw

New 1200 Kw transmitter under construction

This antenna was over a km form the main building and they would let me go there:

I took this photo of the array as I traveled past it by train.

Its 36 towers strung in a NE SE line–over 2 km long and each tower is approximately 40 m tall.

[My hosts] were they so evasive about this antenna array yet not the rest of the site.

[There are some peculiarities:]

  1. Do you see a feed line running along the bottom of the towers near the ground?
  2. I do not see any tuning shacks.
  3. Is it fed from one end or the other end or is each tower fed?
  4. If each tower is fed, then where are the tuning shacks/phasors?
  5. iIf it is a beverage then why so may towers and such close spacing?
  6. Is it something completely different?

What do you think it is? How do you think it works and what would be its purpose?

Thanks for sharing, Rick!  My hope is that one of the members of the Post community may be able to shed a little light on this interesting antenna array.  Please comment!

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Arcángel San Gabriel (LRA36) special broadcasts and LU1ZV activation

Source: Base Esperanza – Antártida

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Tracy Wood, who writes:

I listened to LRA36 streaming this past Friday with their special show, including callouts to other Argentine scientific stations via satphone and lots of greetings by ham radio enthusiasts, both recorded and via live call-in.

Source: Base Esperanza – Antártida

…At the conclusion the announcer said they would be back this Monday at 1800 Buenos Aires time or 2100 UTC.

Details about last Friday’s broadcast:

http://www.radionacional.com.ar/continuan-las-emisiones-especiales-en-lra-36-arcangel-san-gabriel/

Source: Base Esperanza – Antártida

The audio stream is only up when LRA36 is on the air apparently but is at the Radio Nacional website under the audio streams listing:”

http://vmf.edge-apps.net/embed/live.php?streamname=sc_rad32-100131&autoplay=true

Thank you so much for sharing this, Tracy! It’s incredibly difficult for me to snag LRA36 broadcasts off the air, so it’ll be nice to have this stream link as well.

I also recently received a note about LU1ZV: the amateur radio station at the Esperanza Antarctic Base.  What follows is a rough English translation of the press release. Click here to download the original press release in Spanish (MS Word Doc).

Source: Base Esperanza – Antártida

THE HAM RADIO ACTIVATION OF ESPERANZA ANTARCTIC BASE

Started on December 8, the activation of the LU1ZV amateur radio station of the Antarctic Base Esperanza, after years of being inactive.

The radio activity of LU1ZV has as primary objective to remember the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the transmission of the radio station LRA 36 “Arcángel San Gabriel” of the Esperanza Base, the first shortwave station in AM across Antarctica, which began broadcasting on October 20,1979. In addition, this activity seeks to maintain the continuity of emission of stations of radio amateurs from Antarctica.

The LU1ZV activation has registered more than 900 contacts with amateur radio stations
nationally and abroad, and in addition to covering all regions of the country, they have already

Source: Base Esperanza – Antártida

contacted twenty-two Argentine provinces.

Among the most relevant data that LU1ZV activity exhibits so far are the distant radio contacts  (despite the low emission power) as in the case of Japan, Canada, Latvia, Ukraine and Finland among others. They have contacted most South American countries, several of Central American countries and all from North America.

Another outstanding contact was made with VP8HAL, the Halley VI scientific station of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), located in the Brunt Ice Barrier, about 1,700 km SE of Hope.

The operation of LU1ZV is carried out from the study of LRA 36 and the rhombic antenna of the station, while the station isn’t operating. The amateur radio station activity adapts to the general schedule of the base and of LRA36, so activation times are reduced to a few hours during the evening – night.

The Head of Hope Base, Lieutenant Colonel Norman Walter Nahueltripay was present during some contacts and received greetings from radio correspondents.

This special activation also includes the project “Uniendo Voces” of the National University of Quilmes (UNQ) of the province of Buenos Aires, an initiative that included areas of interest to amateur radio and Antarctic activations, and which was presented to the
Antarctic Joint Command (COCOANTAR).

“Uniendo Voces” has participated in these radio activations since 2013 (in Marambio Base and Matienzo) to which the historical emission from Base Esperanza is now added, within the framework of a special initiative called “DX Radial Expedition Uniting Voices”.

The amateur Radio Claudio García (LU1VC) member of the LRA 57 Radio Nacional de El
Bolsón (province of Chubut) and Juan C. Benavente (LU8DBS) of COCOANTAR and UNQ, perform the activation for which they had to move equipment to that Antarctic base.
The radio activation of Esperanza has the support and collaboration of Adrián Korol,
director of the Argentine Broadcasting Abroad (RAE) who expressed his emotion and
satisfaction for “this joint achievement with the Antarctic Command and the National University of Quilmes. “

Antarctic bases are licensed by amateur radio stations, and like all the activity, is regulated by the National Communications Agency (ENACOM). These radio activations have a “high symbolic and real value”, as Korol says, and they contribute, in addition to remembering ephemeris, to the promotion of sovereignty in the Antarctic region from the radio spectrum.

Likewise, the amateur radio activity contributes to the study of communications – such as
radio wave propagation conditions- and keeps an alternative communication service active and effective.

Many Argentine radio amateurs from different parts of the country are attentive to the
calls from LU1ZV and collaborate with the initiative.”

Along with the photos and LU1ZV press release above, I also received press releases from two special broadcasts that happened earlier. Click here and here to download the MS Word documents in Spanish.

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VOA Museum featured in Atlas Obscura

VOA Bethany

(Source Atlas Obscura via Paul Evans W4/VP9KF)

The former Voice of America broadcast site at Bethany Station is now a museum. It covers the history and role of Voice of America, as well as the history of broadcast and radio itself.

Tucked into the former equipment bays are row upon row of early radio examples. You’ll spot everything from early broadcast equipment to novelty radios from the ’70s.

From 1944 to 1994, the site was used to broadcast news and information to Europe and North Africa. It was originally run by the Office of War Information. Adolf Hitler complained after a Cincinnati broadcaster impersonated him.

In 1963, the Voice of America took direct control of the broadcast facility. Using the expertise of the local Crosley Broadcasting Corporation’s engineers, enormous 250-kilowatt transmitters were built.

Although the towers were torn down in 1998, the Art Deco broadcast building remains, and houses the Amateur Radio Association, Media Heritage, and the Gray History of Wireless collections call the facility home.[…]

Click here to read the full article in Atlas Obscura.

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The WWII “Mosquito Network”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Marty, who shares this article by Mark Durenberger in Radio World:

Inside the U.S. effort in a battle of the airwaves during the Pacific campaign of World War II

We can’t fully appreciate the importance of news from home to those who served in World War II. In the Pacific campaigns, G.I.s, sailors and Marines fought bloody island-hopping battles; as each island was cleared, garrison troops and hospitals moved in and carried on their own war against mosquitoes, isolation and boredom. The island fighters were fortunate if dated mail caught up with them before they moved on to the next target. Timely personal-level communications were pretty much absent.

Radio programming from America was available but only on shortwave. And shortwave radios were not generally available. The fortunate few had been issued “Buddy Kits” that included a radio, a small PA system and a record player for discs sent by mail. But for most there was no way to receive short-lived information such as news and sports. They were left with enemy radio propaganda such as Japan’s “Orphan Ann/Annie” (aka one of several Tokyo Roses) and the “Zero Hour” program.

No wonder that the idea of having a local island radio station doing “live from home” was so fiercely supported. Enlightened commanders saw the idea as a terrific morale-builder. The only problem was how to pull it off.

A solution, not uniquely, came from within the ranks. It started with the work of some bored but talented soldiers in the Panama Canal Zone who in 1940 built a couple of 50 W transmitters and put them on the air without authorization, labeling them “PCAN” and “PCAC.”[…]

Click here to continue reading the full article at Radio World.

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