Tag Archives: BBC News

Radio Waves: Digital Audio via Vintage Radio, “10-Minute-ish” Transmitter, Why No Channel 37, and Inventor of the Audio Cassette Dies at Age 94

Image by Jon Tyson

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 Ron, Valdo Karamitrov, Ronald Kenyon, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


‘I play digital music through my 1949 radio’ (BBC News)

When we think of technology our imagination usually takes us to images of the future. But for some, technology links us to the past – whether for nostalgia or for personal reasons

Following our recent feature on vintage technology, we asked you to share some of your collections with us – and people from around the world responded..

Rob Seaward, North Yorkshire, UK: 1949 Murphy A146 radio

I have a collection of older technology which I have collected throughout my life – including old cameras, calculators, hi-fis and radios. I had been interested in music from an early age, but it was really when my father purchased a Bang and Olufsen music centre that my interest in not only music, but style and function really took off.

To me, a lower middle-class grammar school kid living in Bradford, I suddenly had access to a world of real style and glamour.

My favourite piece must be the Murphy A146 console radio designed by Gordon Russell in 1949.

Its nickname is the “Batwing” because of the shape of the back panel. The sound is rich, slightly warm and typical of valve equipment. In its day, the radio cost the equivalent of an average monthly wage, it was built to last and the original valves are still working today.

However, as it pre-dates FM it is a little limited. I’ve had it restored and as part of the process we had a Bluetooth adapter installed which means I can now play my favourite digital music through this wonder from the 1940s – which really amazes people.[]

Getting on the Air With a 10-minute-ish Ham Transmitter (Hackaday)

Artificially constrained designs can be among the most challenging projects to build, and the most interesting to consider. The amateur radio world is no stranger to this, with homebrew radio designs that set some sort of line in the sand. Such designs usually end up being delightfully minimalist and deeply instructive of first principles, which is one reason we like them so much.

For a perfect example of this design philosophy, take a look at [VK3YE]’s twist on the classic “10-Minute Transmitter”. (Video, embedded below.)

The design dates back to at least the 1980s, when [G4RAW] laid down the challenge to whip up a working transmitter from junk bin parts and make a contact within 15 minutes — ten for the build and five for working the bands. [VK3YE] used the “oner” — one-transistor — design for his 10-minute transmitter, but invested some additional time into adding a low-pass filter to keep his signal clean, and a power amplifier to boost the output a bit.[]

Why Channel 37 Doesn’t Exist (And What It Has to Do With Aliens) (Vice)

Since the advent of analog TVs, channel 37 has always been static. Here’s why.

A version of this post originally appeared on Tedium, a twice-weekly newsletter that hunts for the end of the long tail.

I’m endlessly fascinated by stories of the quirks that were built into the TV system where the well-laid plans of the system simply fell apart because it was asked to do too many things.

Nearly five years ago, I wrote about one of them, the tale of how radio broadcasters were able to shoehorn an additional FM station into the radio because of the proximity of TV’s channel 6 to the rest of the radio feed.

So when I was informed that there was another oddity kinda like this involving the TV lineups, I decided I had to take a dive in.

It’s a tale that centers around channel 37, which was a giant block of static in most parts of the world during the 20th century.

The reason for that was simple: it couldn’t fend off its scientific competition.

1952

The year that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission opened up the television system to use UHF, or ultra high frequency signals. The practical effect of this addition of bandwidth was that the total number of potential TV stations increased dramatically, from 108 to 2,051, overnight. The first UHF applications were granted on July 11, 1952, according to The History of UHF Television, a site dedicated to the higher-frequency television offerings.

The radio telescope that became a headache for the television industry

Within a 600-mile radius of the city of Danville, Illinois, population 31,246, are numerous major cities—among them Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Toronto, and Washington, DC.

Nearly the entire length of the Mississippi River fits into that radius. If Danville was located just a little farther to the east, the radius would also include Philadelphia and New York City. For all intents and purposes, a 600-mile radius from Eastern Illinois covers basically the entire East Coast except the state of Florida and the Northeast.[]

Dutch inventor of the audio cassette tape dies aged 94 (Southgate ARC)

Lou Ottens, inventor of the cassette tape and a CD pioneer died aged 94 at his home in Duizel in Brabant on Saturday, Dutch media report.

Ottens, who studied to be an engineer, started working for Philips in 1952. Eight years later he became head of the firm’s recently introduced product development department. Within a year he and his team had developed the first portable tape recorder of which over a million were sold. Two years later he revolutionised the old reel-to-reel tape system by inventing the cassette tape.

‘I got annoyed with the clunky, user-unfriendly reel to reel system, it’s that simple’, Ottens said later. The new carrier had to be small enough to fit into his jacket pocket, Ottens decided, and he had a wooden model made to determine the ideal size. In 1963 the first plastic encased cassette tape was presented at an electronics fair carrying the slogan ‘smaller than a pack of cigarettes!’ The tapes were quickly copied by the Japanese but in different formats!

Ottens managed to make a deal with Sony to use the mechanism patented by Philips to introduce a standard cassette which was then rolled out globally. Over 100 billion were sold worldwide. Ottens went on to develop the CD, which again became a Sony-Philips standard and which sold over 200 billion.

In 1986 Ottens retired but he was often asked if he was proud of his inventions, which allowed millions to have access to music. ‘I have no ‘pride dial’’ Ottens said in an interview, stressing that both inventions were team efforts. His biggest regret was that that Sony, not Philips, invented what he considered to be the ideal application for the cassette tape, the Walkman. ‘That still hurts,’ he said. Dubious about the recent revival of the cassette tape Ottens said ‘nothing could beat the sound of a CD.’

Read more at DutchNews.nl
https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2021/03/dutch-inventor-of-the-audio-cassette-tape-dies-aged-94/?


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Radio Waves: RIP Dame Vera Lynn, 1928 London Noises, Repoliticizing VOA, and Shortwave Trading At the Speed of Light

Dame Vera Lynn (1917-2020)

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 Tracy Wood, Dennis Dura, David Goren, and Kim Elliott for the following tips:


Obituary: Dame Vera Lynn, a symbol of resilience and hope (BBC News)

Dame Vera Lynn, who has died at the age of 103, was Britain’s wartime Forces’ Sweetheart, and remained one of the country’s most potent symbols of resilience and hope.

With songs such as We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover, she inspired both troops abroad and civilians at home during World War Two.

As Britain’s cities came under attack, her wistful songs, with their messages of yearning and optimism, were heard in millions of British homes.

And 75 years later, the country turned to her once again as it faced another stern test.[]

Click here to read our SWLing Post tribute to Dame Vera Lynn from 2015 which includes a recording made from my Scott Marine Model SLRM.

London street noises 1928 (Sound and History)

THERE ARE NO BBC radio recordings surviving from before 1931, so the job of representing the 1920s falls to this curiosity from the Columbia Graphophone Company. It’s a 12” 78rpm disc made in 1928 in association with the Daily Mail newspaper.

It seems likely that the disc was somehow tied in with a Daily Mail campaign over urban traffic noise. The commentator on both sides of the disc is a man named Commander Daniel and he doesn’t approve of everything he hears in the city streets.

The recordings were made from single, static locations in Leicester Square and Beauchamp Place on Tuesday 11th and Thursday 20th September respectively. Columbia probably used a recording van equipped with a disc-cutter.[]

Repoliticizing Voice of America (The Hill)

When Michael Pack takes over as the first politically-appointed CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, his first task will be to comprehend the bewildering array of international broadcasting entities under the USAGM. This includes two government agencies: Voice of America and Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí), and four government funded corporations: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting Networks (the Arabic-language Alhurra and Radio Sawa) and the anti-censorship Open Technology Fund. Within this structure are broadcasting outlets that straddle two entities, such as the Russian-language Current TV. All told, the entities distribute content in 61 languages.

When past that hurdle, Pack must then decide if he wants to maintain the journalistic independence of USAGM’s entities, or if he wants to move them towards advocacy of the administration’s policies.[]

Companies Pitch Shortwave Radio to Shave Milliseconds Off Trades (Bloomberg)

High-frequency traders will famously do almost anything to get the latest market data and send their buy and sell orders a few milliseconds ahead of the competition. They blasted through mountains to build the most direct fiber-optic routes possible between exchanges in a competition that transformed global markets and was made famous by Michael Lewis’s book Flash Boys. Soon, pinging light through glass fiber at more than 124,000 miles per second wasn’t fast enough—the glass slows things down—so traders moved on to microwave transmitters that send signals through the air.

But that has problems, too. Microwaves travel only roughly as far as the eye can see before they peter out and need a signal boost. Now two rival market telecommunications companies have signed a pact that they say will give traders more access to experimental wireless signals which can travel across oceans.

To do that, signals need a longer wavelength—known as a shortwave rather than microwave—that bounces between the water and atmosphere. It’s an imperfect solution. The waves can handle only a fraction of the data that fiber can, carrying about a kilobit per second vs. gigabits. And some signals can be lost.

Raft Technologies Inc., a startup based in Tel Aviv, says the trade-offs are worth it. Raft says it can send data over shortwave from Chicago to Frankfurt in 31.4 milliseconds, which it says is about 4.5 milliseconds faster than the best available fiber route. That’s an eternity in an industry that tends to measure improvements by the thousandth of a millisecond. The company says the signal is about 85% reliable, compared with 100% for fiber. Clients can use a fiber line in parallel as a fail-safe measure.[]


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Radio Waves: More Solar Minimum, Cold War Moscow, C-19 Ham Radio Event, and a WWII Code-Breaker is SK

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 Bill Patalon, Dirk Rijmenants, Rodrigo Tarikian, and David (G4EDR) for the following tips:


Deep ‘Solar Minimum’ is feared (Southgate ARC via Forbes)

Forbes magazine reports a deep ‘Solar Minimum’ is feared as 2020 sees record-setting 100-day slump

Jamie Carter writes:

While we on Earth suffer from coronavirus, our star—the Sun—is having a lockdown all of its own. Spaceweather.com reports that already there have been 100 days in 2020 when our Sun has displayed zero sunspots.

That makes 2020 the second consecutive year of a record-setting low number of sunspots

So are we in an eternal sunshine of the spotless kind?

Read the full article at
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamiecartereurope/2020/05/12/the-sun-is-asleep-deep-solar-minimum-feared-as-2020-sees-record-setting-100-day-slump/

Radio Moscow and the Cold War (SIGINT CHATTER)

Geopolitics and international conflicts during the Cold War made it important for the United states and the Soviet Union to inform people or influence their political views, and this in many countries around the world. But how did they reach their audience?

Today, we can hardly imagine a world without Internet, cable and satellites that brings all the news and information from across the globe in your lap. Yet, during most of the Cold War, people only had newspapers, local TV, FM and AM radio. The only solution to spread ideas was shortwave radio, as these waves travel around the globe and can listened to by everyone with a shortwave radio.

Both East and West had, and still have, shortwave radio stations with a world service. The best known were Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty on one side, and Radio Moscow, Radio Beijing and Radio Havana Cuba on the other side. Everyone had their own truth and accused the other side of expansion drift, disinformation and inciting across the world.

One truly iconic station was Radio Moscow World Service. Their foreign service broadcasting started in 1929 with transmitters in Moscow and Leningrad, and later also relay stations in Vladivostok and Magadan. Radio Moscow reached whole Eurasia, Africa and North and South America. During the Cold War, their broadcasts reached across the world with transmitters in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and Cuba, and they broadcast in more than 70 languages.[]

COVID-19 Radio Communication Event (SRAL)

COVID-19 RADIO COMMUNICATION EVENT
DATE: June 06-07, 2020.
STARTS 10.00 UTC SATURDAY – ENDS 09.59 UTC SUNDAY

For amateur radio operators worldwide, social distancing is not an issue. Our ham radio network of radio-wave signals flies high and wide, across all borders near and far. Amateur radio operators are well-known for their communication on skills during the happy days, but also during times of crisis.Even if ham radio operators are now confined to their homes, they are encouraged to communicate, to enhance their friendships, and to keep their minds and skills sharp for global messaging whenever needed.

Click here to download the full announcement with event details (PDF).

Tributes as World War Two code breaker Ann Mitchell dies aged 97 (BBC News)

Tributes have been paid to Ann Mitchell – one of the last of a World War Two code-breaking team at Bletchley Park – who has died aged 97.

Mrs Mitchell, who deciphered German codes at the British code-breaking centre from 1943, died at an Edinburgh care home on Monday.

Her family and friends said she had been declining in health for some years and had “a life well lived”.

The Scotsman reported she had tested positive for Covid-19 recently.

Her son Andy Mitchell, 61, told BBC Scotland: “She was a loving mother and it’s very sad but she was declining in old age with memory loss and physical frailties.

“I’m pleased she has been given the recognition for a life well lived.”[]


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Radio Waves: FCC Wipes Out Engineering Division, Last Nazi Message Decoded, Remembering Ronan O’Rahilly, and French Radio Society Free Publications

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 Mike, Eric McFadden, and Paul Evans, and for the following tips:


FCC Eliminates Its Own Engineering Division (Radio World)

The Federal Communications Commission has elected to eliminate the Engineering Division at the organization in an effort to, as it says, “streamline the organization of the Media Bureau” as part of the public interest.

The commission plans to fold the work of the Engineering Division into the Media Bureau’s Industry Analysis Division (IAD) due to changes in the duties of the Engineering Division.

“By incorporating the work and staff of the Engineering Division into IAD, we can better ensure that the bureau’s technical expertise is integrated more fully into the bureau’s adjudicatory matters and policy proceedings,” the commission announced on April 29.

Back in 2002, the Engineering Division was established to conduct technical reviews of media-related matters, including overseeing technical compliance of TV and radio broadcast licenses, as well as things like cable regulatory filings and license transfers. But as the industry transitioned from analog to digital and from paper to electronic filing, the Engineering Division’s tasks have diminished.[]

Last Nazi message intercepted by Bletchley Park revealed (BBC News)

The last German military communications decoded at Bletchley Park in World War Two have been revealed to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

They were broadcast on 7 May 1945 by a military radio network making its final stand in Cuxhaven on Germany’s North Sea coast.

The message reports the arrival of British troops and ends: “Closing down for ever – all the best – goodbye.”

After Germany surrendered, VE Day was declared the next day.

In 1944, this German military radio network, codenamed BROWN, had extended across Europe sending reports about the development of experimental weapons.

But a year later, as the Allies entered the town and closed in on his position, a radio operator at his post signed off to any colleagues who might still be listening.[]

Remembering ‘Radio Caroline’ Founder Ronan O’Rahilly, A Pioneer Of Pirate Radio (NPR)

NPR’s Scott Simon talks to U.K. broadcaster Johnnie Walker about Ronan O’Rahilly, the founder of the pirate Radio Caroline, who died on April 20 at the age of 79.[]

French Society makes Radio REF free for April and May

Paul Evans notes that two REF-Radio publications are now free to download via the REF website. If you know French, you’ll enjoy these quality radio publications:

Click here to download REF-Radio (PDFs) for:


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Radio Caroline’s Founder, Ronan O’Rahilly, dies aged 79

Photo of Ronan O’Rahilly 16 August 1967 by Eric Koch / Anefo

(Source: BBC News)

The founder of Radio Caroline – the first pirate radio station off the UK – Ronan O’Rahilly has died aged 79.

His death was announced by the current Radio Caroline, which still exists off the Essex coast.

The station was founded in 1964 to compete with the BBC and launched the careers of many well-known DJs, achieving enormous popularity.

Mr O’Rahilly, who lived in Ireland, had been diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2013.

Radio Caroline was the first of several pirate radio stations that challenged BBC radio’s dominance in the 1960s.

The station played pop music all day, while the BBC only played pop for an hour a week.

[…]After the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act was passed in 1967, Radio Caroline continued to broadcast from ships until 1991, when the Ross Revenge was shipwrecked off the Kent coast

The station, which started broadcasting again on medium wave in 2017, helped pave the way for modern commercial radio.[…]

Click here to read the full story at the BBC.

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Radio Waves: Digitizing Pakistan, BBC MW Closures, Lowe HF-250 Review, and BBC News suspends 450 job cuts

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. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Alan, Mike, and Dave Zantow for the following tips:


Government to fully digitize Radio Pakistan (Radio Pakistan)

The incumbent government, under its vision of introducing modern trends and technology in different sectors, has planned to fully digitize the state-owned Radio Pakistan.

This information has been revealed in official documents during the ongoing week-long national workshop on Digital Radio Migration policy of Radio Pakistan at Pakistan Broadcasting Academy, Islamabad.

The digitization will bring about a revolution in the field of broadcasting in the country, and will capture the audience at home and abroad including South Asia and Central Asia and the Middle East through quality news, current affairs and programs.

Under the plan, the biggest 1000-Kilowatt DRM Medium-wave transmitting station of Radio Pakistan will be set up at Fort Monroe hill station in Dera Ghazi Khan district in South Punjab at an estimated cost of three billion rupees.

It will be the first ever most powerful but digital transmitter of Radio Pakistan that is to be established in center of the country as part of Phase-II of Digital Radio Migration policy and it will help cover the entire population of Pakistan with crystal clear and noise-free waves.

The project has already been approved by the federal cabinet while the Punjab government has been asked to acquire land for the said purpose.

Under Phase-II of DRM plan, five DRM+FM transmitters of 10-kilowatt each will be installed in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Faisalabad and Multan in the existing Radio Stations.

Besides, eight DRM+FM transmitters of five kilowatt each will be installed in Quetta, Peshawar, Gilgit, Skardu, Gwadar, Mirpur (Azad Kashmir), Khairpur and Narowal in the existing radio stations.

The phase-II of the plan would be accomplished in three years with an overall estimated cost of 3,153 million rupees.

And under Phase-III of the plan, four DRM medium wave transmitters of 100-kilowatt each will be installed in Lahore, Skardu, Quetta and Peshawar for strategic purposes.[]

BBC Radio to close more medium wave transmitters (Radio Today)

The BBC says it is closing a further 18 medium wave transmitters across England, Scotland and Wales in the next stage of its plan to cut costs.

Services being closed range from BBC Radio Solent’s two AM frequencies on the South Coast to BBC Radio Scotland’s service in Aberdeen.

Six more BBC Local Radio services will no longer be transmitted on AM – they are Three Counties Radio (630 and 1161 kHz), BBC Radio Merseyside (1485 KHz), BBC Radio Newcastle (1458 KHz), BBC Radio Solent and BBC Radio Solent (for Dorset) 999 and 1359 KHz, BBC Radio Cornwall (630 and 657 kHz) and BBC Radio York (666 and 1260 KHz).

Kieran Clifton, Director, BBC Distribution & Business Development explains: “The majority of radio listening in the UK – including to the BBC – is now digital, and digital listening is continuing to grow.

“This change was planned as long ago as 2011, but we have taken a measured approach to implement it to ensure that as many of you as possible have already moved on to other ways of receiving the services before we make this change. We know that the changes will impact some of you, and that’s why we’re speaking about the plans again now. We want to make sure that people listening to these transmissions will be able to use other methods to hear the same programmes.”[]

Dave’s review of the Lowe HF-250 (N9EWO)

[…]As far as audio quality goes, it’s extremely difficult to beat the Lowe HF-250. Mind you it has it’s share of “bug-a-boos” as well.

In our view it has held up much better in it’s old age vs. the AOR AR7030. Properly operating and in decent condition samples are fairly rare on the used market now (even more so in North America). Most owners know what the receiver is and hang on to them. But once a great while one does show up on the used market. Click here to read the full review.

BBC News suspends 450 job cuts to ensure Covid-19 coverage (BBC News)

BBC News has suspended plans to cut 450 jobs as it faces the demands of covering the coronavirus pandemic.

The job losses were announced in January and were part of a plan to complete a £80m savings target by 2022.

Outlets due to be hit include BBC Two’s Newsnight, BBC Radio 5 Live and the World Service’s World Update programme.

Director general Tony Hall gave staff the news on Wednesday, a week after the broadcaster delayed the end of the free TV licence scheme for all over-75s.

Lord Hall said “we’re suspending the consultation on those saving plans”.

He told staff: “We’ve got to get on with doing the job that you’re doing really brilliantly.

“It would be inappropriate. We haven’t got the resource to plough ahead with those plans at the moment, so we’ll come back to that at some point.

“But for the moment we just want to make sure you are supported and you’ve got the resources to do the job that you and your colleagues are doing amazingly.”[]


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BBC: “Finnish radio drops Latin news after 30 years”

(Source: BBC News via Kris Partridge)

The Yle public broadcaster has told its ‘carissimi auditores’ (dear listeners) that “everything passes, and even the best programmes reach the end of the road. This is now the case with our world-famous bulletin, which has broadcast the news in Latin on Friday for the past 30 years”.

The core members of the ‘Nuntii Latini’ (News in Latin) team – Professor Tuomo Pekkanen and lecturer Virpi Seppala-Pekkanen – have been with the five-minute bulletin since it was first broadcast on 1 September 1989, although other newsreaders and writers have joined since.

Professor Pekkanen took gracious leave of Yle, saying that, “judging by the feedback, Nuntii Latini will be missed around the world – and we send our warm thanks to you all for these past years!”

[…]Latin news addicts won’t have to suffer withdrawal symptoms for long, as the language’s greatest remaining bastion, the Catholic Church, launched its own weekly news bulletin in Latin the same week as Yle’s programme went off air. [read more here]

The key difference is that Yle offered a broad world news agenda, rather than Vatican Radio’s more focused ‘Hebdomada Papae’ (The Pope’s Week) – not to mention the fact that the Catholic Church uses its own, Italian-influenced pronunciation, rather than the Classical version preferred by scholars.[…]

Read this full news item at BBC News.

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