Tag Archives: Archive.org

Report from the 2017 Radio Preservation Task Force meeting

SWLing Post readers might recall that, last year, I had the distinctly great honor of presenting at the 2017 Radio Preservation Task Force meeting at the Library of Congress.

Several readers have asked me to share my experiences at the conference, so I’ll note the conference highlights here.

I attended all three days of the conference. The first day (Thursday, November 2) was held at the Woodrow Wilson Center and focused on Cold War broadcasting. It goes almost without saying that this was absolutely fascinating.  I learned a great deal. One of the day’s recurrent discussion themes, for example, focused on the keen awareness of those inside the Iron Curtain that they had been regularly subjected to propaganda.  In other words, the Cold War somehow created very discerning news listeners savvy enough to separate fact from fiction quite skillfully––an ability that many fear may (unfortunately) be eroding among today’s media audiences.  

That afternoon, SWLing Post reader, Phil Ewing, took me on an amazing tour of NPR’s new headquarters [thanks SO much, Phil!].


Later that afternoon at NPR, I attended an event celebrating NPR’s founding father and mission creator, Bill Siemering.  Bill and I co-presented at the Winter SWL Fest in 2011, and I admire him greatly both as a journalist and as an individual; I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to be at this event held in his honor.

Friday and Saturday sessions were held at the Library of Congress and were equally riveting as they covered nearly every aspect of radio preservation.

Here’s our panel just a minute before the forum began.

I was on the Digital Curation panel along with Charles Hardy (West Chester University and National Council on Public History), Jonathan Hiam (New York Public Library), Matt Karush (George Mason University and Hearing the Americas), Elena Razlogova (Concordia University) and Mark Williams (Dartmouth College and Media Ecology Project).

The discussion was dynamic, and to my pleasure, our Radio Spectrum Archive was quite the hit. The sincere interest in this project was beyond encouraging.  Indeed, after my presentation, I wasn’t able to address all of the questions from those in the audience because there were so many in line to speak to me about it; eventually the LOC had to re-arrange the room for a televised event, the 50th anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act.

But there’s more.  And it’s a great ending to our story, which is really only a beginning: via Alex Stinson with the Wikimedia Foundation, I was introduced to the Internet Archive team last month, whom, to our profound delight, has wholeheartedly agreed to support the Radio Spectrum Archive by giving us nearly unlimited space to store our massive collection of spectrum files.

In a word?  This conference was brilliant. There simply couldn’t have been a better outcome for the Radio Spectrum Archive and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Many thanks to the entire RPTF team, especially Director, Josh Shepperd, for putting this spectacular event together.

I’ve been invited to a couple other archive conferences as a result of the RPTF meeting, and I’ll give these some consideration.  Regardless, I know this: I’ll make room in my schedule for the next RPTF conference. No way am I missing it!

And at the next conference I look forward to speaking to each one of those people with whom tight scheduling prevented my speaking at this one. After all, it’s this kind of enthusiasm that assures the Radio Spectrum Archive’s future.

If you’d like a more in-depth report of the RPTF conference, check out this article in Radio World (via Richard Langley). If you’d like to learn more about the Radio Preservation Task Force, check out their website by clicking here.

Many thanks to my buddy, Bennett Kobb, who also gave me a tour of the brilliant LPFM station, WERA (96.7) in Arlington, VA–what an incredibly dynamic station and staff!

Ulysses E. Campbell (left) and Bennet Kobb (right) in the studios of WERA.

I’d also like to thank my friend Kim Elliott for generously hosting me during the multi-day event. Even modest accommodation in the DC area is very expensive–no doubt, Kim’s hospitality made the conference a reality for me. Thanks again, Kim!

Relive This Day In Radio History: When WJSV recorded an entire broadcast day

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Patalon, who reminds us that 78 years ago today (September 21, 1939) radio station WSJV made an audio recording of its entire 19 hour broadcast day. Bill points to these details from Wikipedia:

This undertaking was a collaboration between the station and the National Archives, and it was the first time that such a comprehensive recording of a radio broadcast had been made. The station then donated its original set of recording discs to the National Archives, giving it a rare and complete artifact from an era frequently called the Golden Age of Radio. Due to their historical significance, the United States Library of Congress has since added these sound recordings to its National Recording Registry.

https://www.radioarchives.com/WJSV_A_Day_in_Radio_History_p/ra140.htm

Let’s travel back in time…

If you would like to relive September 21, 1939, you can listen to all of the WSJV recording segments courtesy of Archive.org. I’ve embedded the full playlist below–simply press play at the top of the player and each segment will load automatically as long as this page is open. Note that in the very first segment, due to a WSJV equipment glitch, there is a period of silence. Enjoy:

Click here to view or download the full set of recordings on Archive.org.

Many thanks for sharing this bit of radio history, Bill! As a radio archivist, this sort of thing makes my day.

Coded message from WWII carrier pigeon structured like numbers station communiqué

The message contains the all-too-familiar 5 character groupings we’re used to hearing in numbers station broadcasts

This news story about a recently discovered WWII carrier pigeon message has been floating around the Internet over the past few days.

(Source: CNN)

Not even the British spy agencies that inspired James Bond can solve the mystery of a secret World War II message recently found on the skeleton of a carrier pigeon in a house chimney.

The meaning of the encoded message apparently died about 70 years ago with the wayward pigeon that David Martin found in his smokestack in Bletchingley, Surrey County, England.

Martin recently discovered the bird’s remains with the surprisingly intact message inside a small red canister attached to a leg bone.

[…]Hand-written on a small piece of paper labeled “Pigeon Service,” the note consists of five-letter words. Those words don’t make sense: The jumble begins with “AOAKN” and “HVPKD.” In all, the message consists of 27 five-letter code groups.

Indeed, the only hope the UK intelligence agency, the GCHQ, stands in deciphering the message (click here to see the full message) would be to find the appropriate, specific decipher key. Most likely, this message–like numbers station (a.k.a. spy numbers) messages–was a one-time communiqué, with a one-time decipher key. This type of encryption is incredibly effective as they provide little to no context for deciphering.

But again, that’s a part of the magic and mystery many of us find so fascinating about numbers stations.  The messages are (still) everywhere and broadcast publicly, yet, we have no clue of the meaning.

If you’ve never heard a numbers station, check out this audio of the numbers station, “The English Man” I recorded earlier this year:

Also, you should check out the many numbers station audio files in the Conet Project on Archive.org. Listen to a sample in the embedded player below:

11 GB+ of digital pirate radio recordings

(Source: TextFiles.com via Radio Survivor)

Since the 1990s, a fellow named Sealord has been recording pirate radio broadcasts coming across shortwave bands. Without authorization, license, or any sort of oversight, all manner of folks have been broadcasting illegal but probably not overly immoral shows out into the air. This collection, which is over 11 gigabytes and counting, has hours and hours of radio broadcasts, crackling with the sound of distant voices shouting over static and electromagnetic corruption. With names like XYZ Digital Pirate, Wolverine Radio, Whispery ID, Thinking Man Radio, The Voice of the Last DJ…. you’re talking some strange and mysterious personalities out there.

Not only is this collection worth checking out, but the whole of archive.org is an amazing collection of similar digital archives. I have listened to some of Sealord’s collection in the past but never recognized the extent of the total anthology. What an amazing service to us in the radio community who believe in the importance of preserving the sounds of the shortwaves.

On that note, I humbly ask that if you ever record shortwave audio, please consider uploading the uncompressed file to archive.org so that your recording can be shared and properly archived.  I’ve certainly uploaded many hours of shortwave radio recordings on behalf of SWLing.com (though, nowhere near 11GB and counting!).