Tag Archives: BBC World Service

Radio Waves: DRM Part of BBC Story, Antennas and Smith Charts, Shortwave “Hot Debate,” Carrington Event, and “Deep Freeze”

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!


DRM Is Part of the BBC World Service Story (Radio World)

The iconic broadcaster has been supportive of the standard for over 20 years

The author is chairman of the DRM Consortium. Her commentaries appear regularly at radioworld.com.

Our old friend James Careless studiously ignores DRM once more in his well-researched, but to our minds incomplete article “BBC World Service Turns 90” in the March 30 issue.

As an ex-BBC senior manager, I would like to complete the story now that the hectic NAB Show is over.

Having lived through and experienced at close quarters the decision to reduce the BBC shortwave about 20 years ago, I can confirm that the BBC World Service decision to cut back on its shortwave footprint — especially in North America, where reliable, easy-to-receive daily broadcasts ceased — has generated much listener unhappiness over the years.

In hindsight, the decision was probably right, especially in view of the many rebroadcasting deals with public FM and medium-wave stations in the U.S. (and later other parts of the world like Africa and Europe) that would carry news and programs of interest to the wide public.

But BBC World Service in its long history never underestimated the great advantages of shortwave: wide coverage, excellent audio in some important and populous key BBC markets (like Nigeria) and the anonymity of shortwave, an essential attribute in countries with undemocratic regimes.

BBC World Service still enjoys today about 40 million listeners worldwide nowadays. [Continue reading…]

The Magic of Antennas (Nuts & Volts)

If you really want to know what makes any wireless application work, it is the antenna. Most people working with wireless — radio to those of you who prefer that term — tend to take antennas for granted. It is just something you have to add on to a wireless application at the last minute. Well, boy, do I have news for you. Without a good antenna, radio just doesn’t work too well. In this age of store/online-bought shortwave receivers, scanners, and amateur radio transceivers, your main job in getting your money’s worth out of these high-ticket purchases is to invest a little bit more and put up a really good antenna. In this article, I want to summarize some of the most common types and make you aware of what an antenna really is and how it works.

TRANSDUCER TO THE ETHER
In every wireless application, there is a transmitter and a receiver. They communicate via free space or what is often called the ether. At the transmitter, a radio signal is developed and then amplified to a specific power level. Then it is connected to an antenna. The antenna is the physical “thing” that converts the voltage from the transmitter into a radio signal. The radio signal is launched from the antenna toward the receiver.

A radio signal is the combination of a magnetic field and an electric field. Recall that a magnetic field is generated any time a current flows in a conductor. It is that invisible force field that can attract metal objects and cause compass needles to move. An electric field is another type of invisible force field that appears between conductors across which a voltage is applied. You have experienced an electric field if you have ever built up a charge by shuffling your feet across a carpet then touching something metal … zaaapp. A charged capacitor encloses an electric field between its plates.

Anyway, a radio wave is just a combination of the electric and magnetic fields at a right angle to one another. We call this an electromagnetic wave. This is what the antenna produces. It translates the voltage of the signal to be transmitted into these fields. The pair of fields are launched into space by the antenna, at which time they propagate at the speed of light through space (300,000,000 meters per second or about 186,000 miles per second). The two fields hang together and in effect, support and regenerate one another along the way. [Continue reading…]

Smith Chart Fundamentals (Nuts & Volts)

The Smith Chart is one of the most useful tools in radio communications, but it is often misunderstood. The purpose of this article is to introduce you to the basics of the Smith Chart. After reading this, you will have a better understanding of impedance matching and VSWR — common parameters in a radio station.

THE INVENTOR
The Smith Chart was invented by Phillip Smith, who was born in Lexington, MA on April 29, 1905. Smith attended Tufts College and was an active amateur radio operator with the callsign 1ANB. In 1928, he joined Bell Labs, where he became involved in the design of antennas for commercial AM broadcasting. Although Smith did a great deal of work with antennas, his expertise and passion focused on transmission lines. He relished the problem of matching the transmission line to the antenna; a component he considered matched the line to space. Continue reading

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Radio Waves: Solidarity Radio, BBC Shortwave & Dark Web, RnaG at 50, and CIDX Focus on Ukraine Update

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!


On air! Prague’s ‘solidarity radio’ targets Ukrainians (MSN)

Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war to the Czech Republic got a fresh morale booster this week as a new radio station based in Prague started offering broadcasts in Ukrainian.

The new channel called Radio Ukrajina broadcasts news, tips for refugees, music and fairy tales for children, as well as spiritual comfort passed on by Ukrainian churches.

Run by the Media Bohemia group comprising several radio stations, it broadcasts from an office building in central Prague via a mobile app and on the internet.

“It’s a solidarity radio,” said on-air manager Natalia Churikova, who spent 27 years working for the Prague-based, US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

“We are targeting Ukrainian war refugees who have moved here and trying to give them information they need to start a new life here before they can go back home, which we hope will eventually happen,” she told AFP. [Continue reading…]

BBC turns to dark web and shortwave radio to bring outside news to Russian people amid wartime crackdown (iNews)

Russian citizens are going underground to keep abreast of news from outside Kremlin-controlled sources

The BBC is trying techniques new and old to give Russians access to news from the outside world in the wake of a Kremlin crackdown on critical media.

It is just one of a number of western news sources – including social media platforms – being accessed through the so-called “dark web”, an underground version of the internet which can allow users to avoid being tracked.

“The BBC is doing what it has a long tradition of doing – making independent news available to people, often in places where authorities are trying to restrict access,” a spokesman for the broadcaster told i.

“So BBC will use the tools at its disposal – whether that was shortwave in the past or using circumvention tools now.” [Continue reading…]

RnaG at 50: A radio station created by the people for the people (The Irish Times)

RAIDIÓ NA GAELTACHTA HAS HAD A PROFOUND EFFECT ON THE GAELTACHT OVER THE LAST 50 YEARS, BUT IT DIDN’T HAPPEN OVERNIGHT.

I’m a year older than Raidió na Gaeltachta, so I can’t remember a time that it wasn’t a presence in my life. So many memories are bound up in it,” says Gormfhlaith Ní Thuairisg, presenter of Raidió na Gaeltachta’s weekday morning news programme, Adhmhaidin.

On April 2nd, 1972, 50 years ago next weekend, the State delivered on a promise first made in the 1920s to establish a radio station dedicated to serving Irish speakers in their own language.

“It will not cost a great lot of money, and the intention is that it should provide a programme in keeping with the language of the people,” minister for posts and telegraphs JJ Walsh told the Dáil during a debate on the Wireless Telegraphy Bill in November 1926.

But by the time the 1960s came around, and with still no sign of an Irish language radio service, Irish speakers had had enough of what they saw as empty promises made by the State. [Continue reading…]

Canadian Int. DX Club’s “Focus on Ukraine – Version 2.1” now available (CIDX)

“Focus on Ukraine” is a compilation of news reports, feature articles, references, web links, monitoring information, radio frequencies, independent monitoring reports and more, focusing on the media, communications, radio broadcasting, etc. related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Version 2.1 of the special feature “Focus on Ukraine” is now available on the Canadian Int. DX Club’s webpage at https://cidxclub.ca/ukraine-v2/

NOTE: Items marked NEW in Version 2.1. are additions and updates to Version 1.1 of “Focus on Ukraine”, published March 9, 2022

Version 1.1 is also available at https://cidxclub.ca/ukraine/


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Radio Waves: Why BBC WS Shortwave Matters, WTWW to Russia/Ukraine, Radio 5 to BBCWS, Finns Stock Up on Radios, and Asheville Radio Museum’s Amazing Volunteer

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!


Why the BBC World Service’s New Ukrainian Shortwave Service Matters (The Rand Blog)

n March 2, the BBC World Service announced that it was restarting four-hour daily shortwave transmissions in English to Ukraine. The decision to resume Ukrainian shortwave broadcasts came after Russian forces began to deliberately target Ukrainian communications equipment, including the Kyiv television tower.

Why do these four-hour daily transmissions matter so much when the world supposedly has moved away from radio and adopted social media and the Internet? Isn’t shortwave an obsolete, century-old technology that harkens back to memories of World War II and the Cold War?

Despite its age, shortwave remains an enduring tool in the global fight against disinformation. In part, this is due to its unique broadcasting qualities. FM and broadcast television can only travel to just beyond the horizon. But shortwave can travel vast transcontinental and transoceanic distances. It accomplishes this feat by bouncing between the ionosphere and the earth—over mountains, skyscrapers, and digital firewalls.

It’s this last obstacle that’s most important here. Russia is demonstrating that it can destroy Ukraine’s television and FM broadcasting infrastructure. It can use hackers and such Kremlin-affiliated subversive agencies as the Internet Research Agency to take down or otherwise block Internet sites of Western and Ukrainian media agencies seeking to provide accurate information about the conflict. Cellphones only have limited range; they need towers to transmit longer distances. Russia has demonstrated that it can shut down cellphone communications in areas of Ukraine it has captured or is shelling, including nuclear power plants.

What about satellite reception? In theory, satellite reception can break through these issues. Last week, Starlink CEO Elon Musk sent “a truckload of satellite dishes” to Ukraine to provide “space Internet service.” But Russia can identify the satellite signals, seek to jam them, and locate those who have the dishes in Ukrainian areas now under its control.

This leaves shortwave, the venerable analog signal infamous for how it fades in and out as each wave is received. Shortwave cannot be hacked. It cannot be bombed or otherwise destroyed because it is being transmitted from far outside Ukraine. Shortwave is notoriously difficult to jam, despite Russia and China’s best efforts. The shortwave signal is always drifting slightly, making it difficult to precisely focus jamming equipment. The shortwave signal can also be more powerful than that of the jammer, effectively overriding the interference.

Shortwave only works if people listen. Fortunately, many Ukrainian families likely still have old, often cheap Soviet-era shortwave sets in their basements that can be powered by batteries or wall sockets. They are usually small and can be easily hidden from prying eyes. Some can even fit in a pocket. Shortwave radios can also be brought in as nonlethal aid. [Continue reading…]

Lebanon radio station tunes broadcast to Ukraine and Russia (WVLT)

LEBANON, Tenn. (WSMV) – Right now, the people of Ukraine need positive messages. One Lebanon family found a way to give them that with what they do best – a radio broadcast.

We all know there’s AM and FM radio, but there’s also shortwave radio. It’s listened to on a small device the size of a phone. While it may not be common in the U.S., radio personalities said it’s how people in Europe listen to radio continents away.

From the comfort of his home, Ted Randall brought comfort to those who need it most.

“We are broadcasting to the Ukraine and Russia,” Randall explained. “We are playing American rock and roll because our email responses have been saying, ‘please, no news, we are tired of hearing the news.’” [Continue reading…]

BBC Radio 5 Live suspends overnight programmes temporarily (RadioToday via Southgate ARC)

Overnight shows at BBC Radio 5 Live have been temporarily suspended due to a shortage of staff at the station’s MediaCity HQ.

BBC World Service will be rebroadcast instead until at least April 4th 2022.

Weekday overnight presenter Dotun Adebayo tweeted yesterday saying there will be no shows through the night until further notice, with a reply coming from weekend overnight host Hayley Hassall confirming the news.

An increase in COVID cases at the station means more staff are off work than usual.

A BBC spokesperson told RadioToday: “Due to increased COVID cases, we have temporarily suspended our overnight programming and will broadcast BBC World Service instead.”

The overnight show usually runs from 1am till 5am.

In other 5 Live news, the station’s new logo has now been uploaded to social media channels, and BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra has been renamed to BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra.
https://radiotoday.co.uk/2022/03/bbc-radio-5-live-suspends-overnight-programmes/

Finns stock up on portable radios after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (YLE News)

One retailer said last week’s sales of battery-powered radios were triple that of the same time last year.

Electronics retailers in Finland have seen increased sales of battery-powered radios in the past few weeks, suggesting that some residents are preparing for the possibility of a coming emergency situation.

Sales of portable radios began to tick up at the electronics chain store Veikon Kone in Sodankylä, shortly after Russia’s deadly invasion of Ukraine, according to shop manager Jukka Haavisto.

“Radio sales rose to an entirely new level than they were,” he explained, adding that battery-powered radios were products that mostly sold in the summer.

“It’s a surprise to everyone and there are already availability issues,” Haavisto said.

Portable radio sales have doubled at the electronics store chain Gigantti, according to the retailer’s sales manager, Sami Kinnunen, who noted that last week’s sales were about triple that of the same time last year.

“We’re selling all kinds of radios, but ones with batteries are the most popular. It can be said that the change is significant, but we’re not talking about sales of thousands, but rather hundreds,” Kinnunen explained, noting that some models have sold out.

A noticeable uptick in sales of radios at electronics retailer Verkkokauppa.com has been seen on a weekly basis, according to the firm’s commercial director, Vesa Järveläinen.

He said the most popular radios were basic FM models that sell for around 20 euros.

“Right now we’re often selling about 100 radios a week, while before the increase the figure was a few dozen or so,” Järveläinen said. [Continue reading…]

Radios restored at Asheville museum, preserving vital part of communications history (WLOS)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — At the Asheville Radio Museum, Tim McVey tunes in an RCA Radiola 20, built in 1927 but still kicking.

“This one still requires that you manipulate two dials to tune it in, and you have another dial here that fine tunes this dial. And this controls the filaments in the tubes,” says McVey, as he tunes the sound of several radio stations with static, down to one station with clear sound.

McVey retired from the FBI and moved from the Washington D.C. area to the mountains a year and a half ago.

“I get giddy thinking about it, because Tim has been such a remarkable addition to the museum,” says Asheville Radio Museum Curator Stuart Smolkin.

Smolkin says McVey has restored some of the most important radios in the museum, built in the 1920’s and 30’s, preserving a vital part of communications history.

“Without radio, we would not have cell phones,” Smolkin explains. “We would not have GPS. We would not have wireless internet routers, or wireless Bluetooth speakers. The list goes on and on.”

McVey tunes in another radio, this one from 1931, sounding great. [Continue reading…]


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Radio Waves: BBC WS extra funding, WRMI to Russia/Ukraine, Lviv Station’s Mission, Moscow Echo, and Former Tandy CEO Dies

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!


Ukraine war: BBC World Service granted extra funding (BBC News)

The BBC World Service will receive more than £4m in extra funding from the UK government to help counter disinformation about the Ukraine war.

The BBC made the request for the money, which will also be used by the Ukrainian and Russian language services to cover urgent and unexpected costs.

It welcomed the announcement and said the money would help relocate staff and operations to safe locations.

The two language services have had record audiences since the invasion.

The announcement on Wednesday followed a BBC request to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Foreign Office.

“The BBC has seen a big demand for clear, fact-based, impartial journalism to counter disinformation and our teams are working around the clock to bring people the very best independent journalism,” BBC director general Tim Davie said.

“This funding will also help us with the immediate need to support staff who have been displaced, many of whom are continuing to work and provide vital expertise to the whole of the BBC,” he added. [Continue reading…]

BBC gets emergency funding to fight Russian disinformation (Gov.UK)

£4.1 million in additional funding for BBC World Service to support Ukrainian and Russian language services in the region

The government is giving the BBC World Service emergency funding to help it continue bringing independent, impartial and accurate news to people in Ukraine and Russia in the face of increased propaganda from the Russian state.

BBC World Service will receive an additional £4.1 million in emergency funding to support its Ukrainian and Russian language services in the region, and to help it increase trusted and independent content to counter disinformation about the war in Ukraine.

BBC World Service channels – including TV, radio and digital – play an increasingly valuable role in challenging the Kremlin’s disinformation, but it is facing additional costs from operating within a military conflict and due to a crackdown on independent reporting in Russia.

Following a BBC request, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office will provide the extra funding to cover urgent and unexpected costs that have arisen as a result of the conflict.

This will help the BBC to relocate staff and operations to safe locations to ensure the resilience of their services and that they continue to reach people in Russia and Ukraine.

The BBC will also use the funding to continue expanding new and more widely accessible content, delivered through a range of channels, to tackle disinformation and to help local audiences circumvent the Kremlin’s media restrictions and continue to access the BBC’s journalism.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said:

The Government is providing the BBC with an additional £4.1 million in emergency funding to help the World Service broadcast directly into Ukraine and Russia.

In scenes reminiscent of 80 years ago, the BBC will ensure that audiences in the region can continue to access independent news reporting in the face of systemic propaganda from a dictator waging war on European soil. It’s vital we lift the veil on and expose the barbaric actions of Putin’s forces.

Minister for Europe and North America, James Cleverly said:

Britain is calling out Putin’s lies and exposing his propaganda and fake news.

This new funding will help strengthen the BBC’s impartial voice in Russia and Ukraine, which is critical to counter Russian disinformation and will help ensure we win the battle for the airwaves.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

The World Service receives funding from the BBC’s licence fee income, in addition to grant funding directly from the FCDO. The World Service’s Spending Review settlement for the period 2022 to 2025 from the FCDO will be confirmed shortly.

The Culture Secretary made it clear to the BBC in her letter confirming the final licence fee settlement that the BBC should continue to make a substantive investment from the licence fee into the World Service to ensure that it continues to effectively reflect the United Kingdom, its culture and values to the world – in English and through its language services.

Russia, Ukraine Get News From Shortwave Radio Station In South FL (Patch)

Radio Miami International (WRMI)? is working with Shortwaves for Freedom to transmit news to Russia and Ukraine during the war.

OKEECHOBEE, FL — When the commercial shortwave radio station Radio Miami International — which operates under the call letters WRMI — got its start in 1989, its primary focus was helping Cuban exile groups in Miami legally transmit programming to their homeland.

Since then, the station has broadcast news during all sorts of trying times — the Gulf War, hurricanes, earthquakes, other natural disasters.

Now, 30 years later, at a time when Instagram, TikTok and other social media platforms rule when it comes to communication, WRMI finds itself in a unique position during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Working with several organizations and government groups, the station is broadcasting news programming to both Russians and Ukrainians who have access to shortwave radios.

“We’ve been through all sorts of crises. This is one of the biggest,” said Jeff White, the station’s general manager.

When the station launched three decades ago, Radio Miami International worked with Cuban exiles and Latin American groups to find existing shortwave stations where they could buy airtime to broadcast shows. [Continue reading…]

Lviv radio gets ‘new mission’ after Russian invasion (Yahoo News)

The Lvivska Khvylya local radio station in west Ukraine changed its broadcast output dramatically the day Russia invaded the country.

The first thing staff did was to ease off on the entertainment programming and ramp up coverage of the war for their tens of thousands of listeners. Continue reading

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Carlos’ Shortwave Art and Recording of the BBC World Service

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor and noted political cartoonist, Carlos Latuff, who shares his radio log art of a BBC World Service broadcast to Ukraine and Russia in English.


Carlos notes:

BBC, 5875 kHz, listened in Porto Alegre, Brazil, March 19, 2022, 21h32 (UTC).

Part of news bulletin: Russian missiles hit military base in Ukraine, killing soldiers.

BBC announced it’s broadcasting news to war-ravaged Ukraine and parts of Russia…in English!

Click here to listen via YouTube.

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Radio Waves: Colorado Inmate Radio, Experimental Radio News 4, BBC World Service to Ukraine, DIY Radio, and When the World Tuned to Shortwave

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!


Inmate-produced radio station streams beyond prison walls (NBC News)

Inside Wire, available 24/7 to incarcerated people in Colorado and to online listeners around the world, is said to offer a chance for prisoners and those they harmed to heal.

LIMON, Colo. — Herbert Alexander stares at the sound waves jumping on the computer screen in front of him, his shaved head partially covered by headphones. He’s editing a short audio feature on incarcerated fathers, a subject with which he is intimately familiar.

His two sons will soon hear his voice and his story because Alexander, 46, an inmate at Limon Correctional Facility, is preparing a segment for Inside Wire: Colorado Prison Radio, billed as the first radio station to be produced inside a prison and available to the world outside.

Other radio stations created in prisons generally air only within the walls of their lockups, but Inside Wire, which premiered March 1, reaches all 21 prisons in the state and beyond, online and by app, making the first of its kind in the country, organizers said.

“In spaces where isolation continues, this medium can cut through that,” said Ryan Conarro, general manager and program director of Inside Wire and creative producer for the University of Denver Prison Arts Initiative, which oversees the program in partnership with the Colorado Department of Corrections. [Continue reading at NBC…]

Experimental Radio News 4 (Experimental Radio News)

This issue of ERN includes novel aeronautical experiments, life-detecting radars and non-wearable health monitoring, the latest on those mysterious shortwave trading stations and more.

Click here to read a wide variety of topics in Experimental Radio News 4.

BBC World Service resurrects shortwave broadcasts in war-torn Ukraine (TPR)

The BBC has resurrected an old school way of broadcasting in order to reach people in the crisis area of Ukraine: Shortwave radio. What is shortwave, and why has the BBC decided to begin using it again? Continue reading

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NY Times: “BBC revives shortwave radio dispatches in Ukraine, and draws ire of Russia.”

Woofferton Transmitting Station (Photo by Shirokazan via Wikimedia Commons.)

Many thanks to a number of SWLing Post contributors who share the following news item from the New York Times. I’ve included an excerpt below, but the full article article can be found on the NY Times website. You may need a NY Times account to read this article if you’re not a paid subscriber; the account is free and allows you a limited number of free articles each month:

BBC revives shortwave radio dispatches in Ukraine, and draws ire of Russia. 

As Russia is trying to cut off the flow of information in Ukraine by attacking its communications infrastructure, the British news outlet BBC is revisiting a broadcasting tactic popularized during World War II: shortwave radio.

The BBC said this week that it would use radio frequencies that can travel for long distances and be accessible on portable radios to broadcast its World Service news in English for four hours a day in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, and in parts of Russia.

“It’s often said truth is the first casualty of war,” Tim Davie, director-general of the BBC, said in a statement. “In a conflict where disinformation and propaganda is rife, there is a clear need for factual and independent news people can trust.”

On Tuesday, Russian projectiles struck the main radio and television tower in Kyiv. Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s defense minister, wrote on Twitter that Russia’s goal was “to break the resistance of the Ukrainian people and army,” starting with “a breakdown of connection” and “the spread of massive FAKE messages that the Ukrainian country leadership has agreed to give up.”

Shortwave radio has been a go-to vehicle to reach listeners in conflict zones for decades, used to deliver crackling dispatches to soldiers in the Persian Gulf war, send codes to spies in North Korea and pontificate through the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. But more modern forms of radio along with the internet eventually pushed shortwave out of favor; the BBC retired its shortwave transmissions in Europe 14 years ago. [Continue reading the full article…]

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