Tag Archives: AM Radio

Radio Waves: Absolute Radio’s Switch-Off, Pirate Database, Little Pea Island, Zero Power Transmitting, and is AM Radio Dead?

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

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, JP, NT, and Paul for the following tips:


Hear Absolute Radio’s 200KW Transmitter Switch Off Forever (YouTube)

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Saturday morning fun: “fat” MW DXing with the MFJ-1886

By Jock Elliott, KB2GOM

It was a reader, Mario Filippi, who set me on this path. He posted a comment that said, in part: “An interesting place to DX would be the segment between 1500 – 1590 kc’s where there are a number of news stations, one being federal news on 1500.”

Huh, I thought, federal news? I wonder if I can hear that. So I hooked up the MFJ 1886 Receive Loop Antenna to my Grundig Satellit 800 receiver and tuned to 1500. With the 800’s whip antenna, I heard mostly static; switching to the 50-foot indoor room loop, pretty much the same; same thing with the 1886 with the amplifier turned off. But turn the 1886’s amplifier on, and it was like getting slammed against the wall by the schoolyard bully: LISTEN TO ME! A big, fat, S9 signal, sounding like WGY 810 just a few miles from me. Wow, I thought, this loop can really pull out a signal.

A little research revealed, as nearly as I can tell, that Federal News 1500 is in Washington, DC, over 300 miles from me. Over the next few days I would occasionally check on Federal News 1500 using the 1886 loop, and typically it was loud and clear here in Troy, NY.

Hidden behind a curtain, the 3-foot aluminum loop of the MFJ 1886 works well for MW DXing.

Early this morning, Jan. 28, 2023, a thought crept into my brain: how many big, fat, MW signals could I detect with the combo of the Satellite 800 and the MFJ 1886 loop antenna? (Bear in mind that my 1886 rests flat against a window and is NOT rotatable in its current configuration.) Here’s the log, with station IDs when I could get them.

Time                Frequency                   Station

1100Z              1520                            WWKB Buffalo

1102Z              1530                            Milwaukee? Sports, Australian open

1106Z              1540                            CHIN Toronto, old time radio programs

1112Z              1560                            religious music

1115Z              1660                            orchestral music, Strauss waltzes

1118Z              540                              middle eastern music

1121Z              660                              WFAN, NYC

1124Z              700                              WLW, Cincinnati

1127Z              710                              WOR, the Voice of New York

1129Z              730                              French language, Canada mentioned

1132Z              750                              WSB, Atlanta

1134Z              770                              WABC, NYC

1135Z              790                              ortho doctor show

1138Z              860                              French language, Canada mentioned

1140Z              880                              WCBS, NYC

1142Z              1010                            WINS, NYC

1144Z              1020                            Talk

1146Z              1030                            WBZ, Boston

1148Z              1050                            WEPN, ESPN radio, New York

1149Z              1060                            KYW, Philadelphia, PA

1153Z              1090                            WBAL, Baltimore

1154Z              1110                            WBT Charlotte, NC

Bottom line: it was immense fun, tuning around for “fat” MW stations in the early AM. Periodically I checked the other antennas as I traversed the band, but universally the MFJ 1886 was better at pulling them in.

Fat station DX? You bet! Try it; you’ll like it!

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Radio Waves: Shively Labs Broadcast Antennas, Fedora SWL, F-150 Lightning AM, and Young Listeners on the Decline

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

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 contributor Dennis Dura for the following tips:


Public radio engineers await fate of major antenna maker (Current)

The potential sale of one of the country’s only major manufacturers of high-power FM broadcast antennas is causing concern among public radio engineers who have long depended on the company for challenging projects such as directional antennas and multistation combiner systems.

Antennas and combiners made by Shively Labs carry the signals of many major stations, from Boston’s WBUR to Dallas’ KERA/KXT to Seattle’s KUOW. Shively’s headquarters in Maine boasts one of the few test ranges needed to fully prepare complex directional antenna systems for real-world performance.

Founded in 1963 by former RCA engineer Ed Shively, the company has been owned since 1980 by Howell Laboratories, an engineering firm that now has a wide range of product lines. Those include water purification systems, dehydrators and an increasing amount of contract work for the U.S. Navy.

While its military and commercial marine business has grown, broadcast antennas have become a smaller piece of the company’s portfolio, said Shively VP Angela Gillespie. [Continue reading…]

How to become a Shortwave listener (SWL) with Fedora Linux and Software Defined Radio (Fedora Magazine)

Catching signals from others is how we have started communicating as human beings. It all started, of course, with our vocal cords. Then we moved to smoke signals for long-distance communication. At some point, we discovered radio waves and are still using them for contact. This article will describe how you can tune in using Fedora Linux and an SDR dongle.

My journey

I got interested in radio communication as a hobby when I was a kid, while my local club, LZ2KRS, was still a thing. I was so excited to be able to listen and communicate with people worldwide. It opened a whole new world for me. I was living in a communist country back then and this was a way to escape just for a bit. It also taught me about ethics and technology.

Year after year my hobby grew and now, in the Internet era with all the cool devices you can use, it’s getting even more exciting. So I want to show you how to do it with Fedora Linux and a hardware dongle. [Continue reading…]

Did AM Radio Just Get Hit By “Lightning”? (Radio World)

There’s something missing from the newest F-150 Lightning truck

These days, the auto industry is as disrupted as broadcast radio. Like the radio companies – a group of independent operators, each moving down a different pathway – automakers are highly individual companies. Continue reading

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A little daytime Medium Wave DXing . . .

By Jock Elliott, KB2GOM

Let’s get one thing clear from the start: it’s all Ken Reitz’s fault. When the search for the guilty begins, the finger should point squarely at Mr. Reitz.

Who is Ken Reitz? He is the Managing Editor and Publisher of The Spectrum Monitor.  

The Spectrum Monitor is a radio hobbyist magazine available only in PDF format and can be read on any device capable of opening a PDF file. It covers virtually aspect of the radio hobby, and you can find it here: https://www.thespectrummonitor.com/ I am a subscriber, and I can heartily recommend it without reservation.

So what is it that Mr. Reitz did that set me off? Short answer: he wrote a really good article entitled “AM DX Antennas: Long Wires and Loops Big and Small.” In it, he mentioned that he could hear, from his location in Virginia, WCBS on 880 in New York City, some 300 miles away. He also mentioned that he could hear, during daylight hours, WGY in Schenectady, NY, about 400 miles distant.

WGY is a local station for me in Troy, NY, but I wondered: Could I hear WCBS in New York City? That’s nearly 150 miles from me. Hmmm.

So I started firing up various radios and radio/antenna combinations on 880 kHz. I tried my Icom IC706 MkIIIG ham transceiver, hooked to the 45-foot indoor end-fed antenna. Nothing heard.

Next, my Grundig Satellit 800 connected to its 4-foot whip antenna. I could hear WCBS barely, but with a horrible buzzing noise. Switching the Satellit 800 to the horizontal room loop antenna I could hear WCBS better, but the noise was really, really nasty.

One way to preserve domestic tranquility is to hide the MFJ Loop behind a curtain!

Then I connected the MFJ 1886 Receive Loop Antenna. Tah-dah! I could hear WCBS just fine, with some noise in the background, but “armchair copy.” The MFJ loop made a huge difference in the quality and strength of the signal. I also tried the MFJ loop with another radio I have under test (its identity to be revealed in the future) and found, while I couldn’t hear WCBS at all with the radio’s internal antenna, the 1886 made an enormous difference, pulling out a fully copyable signal with noise in the background.

Finally, I tried a couple of my portables. My Tecsun 880 could hear WCBS, but the noise level was high enough to be annoying. Finally, I tried my CCrane Skywave SSB. The Skywave did a better job of pulling the signal out of the noise. I got the same result with the CCrane Skywave SSB2. Both Skywaves were using their internal ferrite antennas. Impressive.

Bottom line, for this very small foray into daytime medium wave DXing, the MFJ-1886 Receive Loop Antenna was a powerful and useful tool, one I can easily recommend. Second, when it comes to portables, the CCrane Skywave SSB (either model) continues to show that it is “The Little Radio That Could.”

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Radio Waves: Absolute Radio Turns Off AM in UK, Carlos Latuff Interview, X-Class Flaring, and Morse Code Is Back!

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!


Absolute Radio to switch off all AM transmitters across the UK (Radio Today)

Bauer is removing Absolute Radio from Medium wave this month as it turns off all AM frequencies for the station across the country.

Absolute Radio launched exclusively on AM (as Virgin Radio) 30 years ago in 1993 using predominantly 1215 kHz along with fill-in relays on 1197, 1233, 1242 and 1260. Some of these have been turned off in recent years in places such as Devon, Merseyside and Tayside.

Whilst this is a historic milestone for the radio industry, it shouldn’t affect many listeners as just two percent of all radio listening currently takes place on AM.

Absolute Radio also lost its FM frequency in London in 2021 in favour of the ever-expanding Greatest Hits Radio network.

The move makes Absolute Radio a digital-only service, broadcasting nationally on DAB and online. [Continue reading…]

Coffee and Radio – with Carlos Latuff (Radio Heritage)

[…]Carlos Henrique Latuff de Sousa or simply “Carlos Latuff”, for friends, (born in Rio de Janeiro, November 30, 1968) is a famous Brazilian cartoonist and political activist. Latuff began his career as an illustrator in 1989 at a small advertising agency in downtown Rio de Janeiro. He became a cartoonist after publishing his first cartoon in a newsletter of the Stevadores Union in 1990, and continues to work for the trade union press to this day.

With the advent of the Internet, Latuff began his artistic activism, producing copyleft designs for the Zapatista movement. After a trip to the occupied territories of the West Bank in 1999, he became a sympathizer of the Palestinian cause in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and devoted much of his work to it. He became an anti-Zionist during this trip and today helps spread anti-Zionist ideals.

His page of Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/carloslatuff/) currently has more than 50 thousand followers, where of course you can see his work as a cartoonist and also shows his passion for radio. [Continue reading…]

X-CLASS SOLAR FLARE (Speaceweather.com)

A large and potentially dangerous sunspot is turning toward Earth. This morning (Jan. 6th at 0057 UT) it unleashed an X-class solar flare and caused a shortwave radio blackout over the South Pacific Ocean. Given the size and apparent complexity of the active region, there’s a good chance the explosions will continue in the days ahead. Full story @ Spaceweather.com ( https://spaceweather.com)

Looking to Ditch Twitter? Morse Code Is Back (Smithsonian Magazine)

For almost 20 years, Steve Galchutt, a retired graphic designer, has trekked up Colorado mountains accompanied by his pack of goats to contact strangers around the world using a language that is almost two centuries old, and that many people have given up for dead. On his climbs, Galchutt and his herd have scared away a bear grazing on raspberries, escaped from fast-moving forest fires, camped in subfreezing temperatures and teetered across a rickety cable bridge over a swift-moving river where one of his goats, Peanut, fell into the drink and then swam ashore and shook himself dry like a dog. “I know it sounds crazy, risking my life and my goats’ lives, but it gets in your blood,” he tells me by phone from his home in the town of Monument, Colorado. Sending Morse code from a mountaintop—altitude offers ham radios greater range—“is like being a clandestine spy and having your own secret language.”

Worldwide, Galchutt is one of fewer than three million amateur radio operators, called “hams,” who have government-issued licenses allowing them to transmit radio signals on specifically allocated frequencies. While most hams have moved on to more advanced communications modes, like digital messages, a hard-core group is sticking with Morse code, a telecommunications language that dates back to the early 1800s—and that offers a distinct pleasure and even relief to modern devotees.

Strangely enough, while the number of ham operators is declining globally, it’s growing in the United States, as is Morse code, by all accounts. ARRL (formerly the American Radio Relay League), based in Newington, Connecticut, the largest membership association of amateur radio enthusiasts in the world, reports that a recent worldwide ham radio contest—wherein hams garner points based on how many conversations they complete over the airwaves within a tight time frame—showed Morse code participants up 10 percent in 2021 over the year before.

This jump is remarkable, given that in the early 1990s, the Federal Communications Commission, which licenses all U.S. hams, dropped its requirement that beginner operators be proficient in Morse code; it’s also no longer regularly employed by military and maritime users, who had relied on Morse code as their main communications method since the very beginning of radio. Equipment sellers have noticed this trend, too. “The majority of our sales are [equipment for] Morse code,” says Scott Robbins, owner of ham radio equipment maker Vibroplex, founded in 1905, which touts itself as the oldest continuously operating business in amateur radio. “In 2021, we had the best year we’ve ever had … and I can’t see how the interest in Morse code tails off.”

Practitioners say they’re attracted by the simplicity of Morse code—it’s just dots and dashes, and it recalls a low-tech era when conversations moved more slowly. For hams like Thomas Witherspoon of North Carolina, using Morse code transmissions—sometimes abbreviated as CW, for “continuous wave”—offers a rare opportunity to accomplish tasks without high-tech help, like learning a foreign language instead of using a smartphone translator. “A lot of people now look only to tools. They want to purchase their way out of a situation.”

Morse code, on the other hand, requires you to use “the filter between your ears,” Witherspoon says. “I think a lot of people these days value that.” Indeed, some hams say that sending and receiving Morse code builds up neural connections that may not have existed before, much in the way that math or music exercises do. A 2017 study led by researchers from Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, and from University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands supports the notion that studying Morse code and languages alike boosts neuroplasticity in similar ways. [Continue reading…]


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Radio Waves: Margaret Iaquinto’s Conversations with Cosmonauts, Why AM Stations Power Down at Night, PEI Ham Radio Surge, and Calls on Flights Allowed

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!


The unlikely story of an American ham radio amateur and her conversations with cosmonauts in space (PRI’s The World)

In the 1980s, Margaret Iaquinto was an amateur ham radio operator who communicated with Russian cosmonauts in space. She talked to them for over a year. Iaquinto died in 2014. But her son Ben Iaquinto remembers the friendships she developed with the cosmonauts. Marco Werman speaks to Ben Iaquinto about his mom’s hobby and the conversations she had with these Russian cosmonauts.

Radio Stations Shut Or Power Down At Night, Because Of The Laws Of Physics (IFL Science)

If you’re a radio fan, or have merely been stuck in a car as day transitions into night, you may have noticed that you don’t get quite as clear signal in the hours of darkness.

Before you assume that it’s a plot by reverse vampires (possibly in conjunction with the saucer people) in order to make radio listeners go to bed, you should know that it’s actually the result of a requirement by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to power down or turn off at night, and the FCC in turn are required to do this by the laws of physics.

It all has to do with wavelengths and the ionosphere. During the daytime, AM signals primarily propagate close to the ground (known as ground wave propagation) and follow the curves of the Earth. In the daylight hours, AM signals sent by radio stations can cover around 162 kilometers (100 miles) before you will struggle to hear the signal.

As good as this is, at night the ability of long waves to propagate large distances becomes a problem, thanks to the ionosphere. Between 80 and 600 kilometers (50-373 miles) above the Earth, particles in the Earth’s atmosphere are bombarded with Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) and x-ray solar radiation, ionizing them as they do so. The ionosphere grows and shrinks (on your side of the planet) depending on the time of day.

At night, the layer reflects AM radio signals (known as “skywave” propagation) to a much greater degree than during the day, allowing the signal to be carried for hundreds of miles further than during the day. While this may sound like good news, it is what’s known as a “pain in the butt” for any communication regulators out there, or people who want to listen to anything other than an indiscernible mess of static.

“Because of this change in signal propagation from daytime to nighttime, if every AM station kept its daytime operating power at night, massive interference would result,” the FCC explains on their website. [Continue reading…]

Islanders’ interest in amateur radio surges because of COVID-19 and Fiona (CBC)

‘The sky’s the limit. There’s just so many different things that you can learn’

The amateur radio community on P.E.I. is growing, thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic and post-tropical storm Fiona.

Stratford resident Brent Taylor has been a ham radio operator for 38 years, in New Brunswick and P.E.I. He goes by the call sign VY2HF.

“It’s been absolutely fantastic. We have been so thrilled with the number of people that have come forward, and now that we’re getting them on the air,” Taylor said.

“Probably because of COVID, and maybe because of Fiona, there’s been a more of an interest, I think, in people wanting to be able to maintain their connections with each other, even from their own homes.”

Taylor said a dozen people started the 12-week training program in the fall, and eight passed their exams and are now licensed operators.

“The most diverse I’ve ever seen. And I’ve been teaching off and on this course for 35-plus years. To see the number of women in the course, for one thing, is just tremendous,” Taylor said.

“Also, cultural diversity and a wide range of ages from as young as 12 years old.” [Continue reading…]

No more airplane mode? EU to allow calls on flights (BBC)

Airline passengers in the European Union (EU) will soon be able to use their phones to full effect in the sky.

The European Commission ruled airlines can provide 5G technology on board planes, alongside slower mobile data.

This could mean flyers will no longer be required to put their phone on airplane mode – though the specifics of how it will be implemented are unclear.

The deadline for member states to make the 5G frequency bands available for planes is 30 June 2023.

This will mean people can use all their phone’s features mid-flight – enabling calls as well as data-heavy apps that stream music and video.

Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market, said the plan would “enable innovative services for people” and help European companies grow.

“The sky is no longer a limit when it comes to possibilities offered by super-fast, high-capacity connectivity,” he said. [Continue reading…]


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Radio Waves: Bell Labs Horn Antenna At Risk, Tuckerton Tower, The Warsaw Radio Mast, and End of AM Car Radio?

Dial

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. 

A special thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dennis Dura, for these news tips! Enjoy:


Historic Bell Labs Horn Antenna At Risk, Holmdel Citizens Group Says (Patch.com)

Citizens for Informed Land Use is against a proposal before the Planning Board to reclassify the former Nokia site for redevelopment.

HOLMDEL, NJ — Citizens for Informed Land Use, Preserve Holmdel and others are rallying to preserve the Bell Labs Horn Antenna, which they say is threatened if the 43-acre site it stands on is reclassified for residential development.

The property at 791 Holmdel Road is home to the Bell Labs Horn Antenna, once used by Bell Labs scientists Dr. Robert Wilson, who still lives in the township, and Dr. Arno Penzias, to study microwave radiation from beyond the Milky Way, the organization says.

The site is also described by the group “as the highest point in Monmouth County, providing remarkable views of Raritan Bay and Manhattan.”

The scientists’ “research confirmed evidence of the Big Bang Theory as the origin of the universe and earned both men a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1978,” the land use group said in a news release.

But on Nov. 22, the Township Committee approved a resolution directing the Planning Board to study whether the former Nokia site in the Crawford Hill section of Holmdel – the site of the Horn Antenna – should be reclassified as an “area in need of redevelopment.” [Continue reading…]

New Jersey’s Disturbing Monolith Secrete: The Rise and Fall of Tuckerton Tower (YouTube)

In Tuckerton, NJ, a massive cement monolith sits out of place, and upon closer inspection, out of time. You see, this gigantic block was once the base of the tallest structure in North America and the second tallest in the world after the Eiffel Tower. Built in 1912, the Tuckerton tower stood at 825 feet and was the first and most potent transatlantic broadcasting tower ever, but here’s the twist, although it was on US soil, it was entirely built by and belonged to Germany.

Why the tallest tower on earth collapsed | The Warsaw Radio Mast (YouTube)

The Warsaw Radio Mast (Polish: Maszt radiowy w Konstantynowie) was a radio mast located near G?bin, Poland, and the world’s tallest structure at 646.38 metres (2,120.7 ft) from 1974 until its collapse on 8 August 1991.

Designed by Jan Polak, and one of the last radio masts built under Communist rule, the mast was conceived for height and ability to broadcast the “propaganda of the successes” to remote areas such as Antarctica. It was the third tallest structure ever built, being surpassed as the tallest by the Burj Khalifa tower in the United Arab Emirates in 2009 and Merdeka 118 tower in Malaysia in 2022. Designed by Jan Polak, its construction started in July 1970, was completed on 18 May 1974, and its transmitter entered regular service on 22 July of that year. The opening of the mast was met with extensive celebration and news coverage by the Polish Film Chronicle.

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