Tag Archives: BBC

Radio Waves: BBC lifeline, NZ Concert FM, Band Planning Group, and SETI VLA search

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 Howard, Mark Hirst, Micheal Bird, Pete Eaton, andTroy Riedel for the following tips:


The BBC gave me a lifeline as a child. It must be kept public (The Guardian)

Those who lobby against the corporation’s service remit fail to understand its unique relationship with its audience

ou’re mistaken if you think you can hand Margaret Thatcher a pearl-handled revolver and expect her to do the right thing. She’d shoot you with it.” As memory serves me, those were the words of a member of parliament being interviewed on the BBC World Service in November 1990. The programme was Newshour, and the presenter was Owen Bennett-Jones. I recall these details because the ousting of Thatcher was the first political event I tuned into properly as a child with an interest in politics living in a sub-Saharan African country with no access to media that covered current events.

Satellite dishes were prohibitively expensive, and apart from a short news bulletin on state-controlled TV there was no other source of news, let alone analysis – until I found the BBC World Service on shortwave radio. I started to haul the only portable radio in the house, a large battery-powered contraption with a long-bent aerial, everywhere I went, becoming aware of the dead zones in the house where the signal was weak, and making note of the times when the signal was strongest. Night-times were the worst. I would heave the radio into the bed and painstakingly tease the dial to find the crackling transmission from Bush House, able only to fall asleep when I managed to find the faint voices fading in and out of the crackle of white noise.[]

NZ’s Concert FM may be safe (RadioInfo)

The future of New Zealand’s Concert FM seems to have been assured after NZ Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern said her Cabinet was looking at an unused FM frequency as a solution to keeping the station on air.

There has been public outcry since the announcement of Concert FM’s proposed closure late last week with ex PM, Helen Clark going public to condemn the move.

RNZ’s breakfast king, Mike Hosking, says that the government is out of touch replacing it with a youth station, “The fact they’re calling it “youth” immediately shows how out of touch they already are, and hopefully they can hire someone who’s pants aren’t pulled up quite as high who can put them straight.”

Under the proposed changes, the classical station would lose its FM frequency, presenters, interviews and live programmes, become fully automated and move to the AM band.[]

New HF Band Planning Discussion Group (Southgate ARC)

The ARRL has created a new HF Band Planning Discussion Group which is open to both members and non-members

The ARRL say:

HF Band Planning Committee Chair Mike Raisbeck, K1TWF, will moderate the group, which will focus on the ARRL HF Band Planning Committee’s recommendations and other band-planning activities.

Earlier this month, the ARRL HF Band Planning Committee invited comments and suggestions from the Amateur Radio community on its report to the ARRL Board. At the Board’s January meeting, the committee presented its specific recommendations in graphical form for each HF band and each US license class, with the goal of increasing harmony on the HF bands, particularly between CW and digital users. Those responding to the initial call for comments and suggestions are encouraged to cross-post their remarks to the new HF Band Planning Discussion Group.

The discussion group is at
https://groups.arrl.org/g/ARRL-HF-Band-Planning/

Other discussion groups are at
https://groups.arrl.org/g/ARRL-Groups/subgroups

Source ARRL
http://www.arrl.org/news/arrl-creates-new-hf-band-planning-discussion-group

Astronomers to sweep entire sky for signs of extraterrestrial life (The Guardian)

Project is collaboration between privately-funded firm and New Mexico observatory

Astronomers will sweep the entire sky for signs of extraterrestrial life for the first time, using 28 giant radio telescopes in an unprecedented hunt for alien civilisations.

The project is a collaboration between the privately-funded Seti Institute and the Very Large Array observatory in New Mexico, one of the world’s most powerful radio observatories. Gaining real-time access to all the data gathered by VLA is considered a major coup for scientists hunting extraterrestrial lifeforms and an indication that the field has “gone mainstream”.

Normal astronomy operations will continue at the VLA, which was featured in the 1997 film Contact, but under the new arrangement all data will be duplicated and fed through a dedicated supercomputer that will search for beeps, squawks or other signatures of distant technology.

“The VLA is being used for an all-sky survey and we kind of go along for the ride,” said Andrew Siemion, director of the Berkeley Seti centre. “It allows us to in parallel conduct a Seti survey.

“Determining whether we are alone in the universe as technologically capable life is among the most compelling questions in science, and [our] telescopes can play a major role in answering it,” said Tony Beasley, director of The National Radio Astronomy Observatory, which runs the VLA.[]


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Loss of BBC Hindi shortwave service and listener reactions

(Photo by Elle via Unsplash)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Iurescia (LW4DAF), who shares the following story from The Print:

Emotional emails & offers to crowdfund — how fans tried to keep BBC Hindi radio on air

The service fell silent last month with its last transmission on 31 January. The BBC management now plans to boost its digital and TV presence.

New Delhi: It was the BBC’s Hindi radio on shortwave that slowly carved an identity for the British broadcaster in India after its launch 80 years ago. With an estimated audience of 40 lakh across India, the radio service was the first choice for consumers of serious news and entertainment alike, particularly in the remote and far-flung parts of the country.

But the service fell silent last month, on 31 January, with the BBC management citing a dwindling audience and plans to boost digital and TV presence as reasons to call time on this chapter of history.

It came as a rude shock for its loyal audience and the dismay was evident, according to BBC insiders.

“It was heartbreaking to see the kind of emotional emails and letters we received on the days preceding the shutdown and after that,” an insider told ThePrint. “They (the audience) pleaded to keep the service afloat. Some even said they were willing to crowdfund it. But it seems the management was interested in the numbers and the BBC Hindi radio service on shortwave was not giving them adequate numbers.”

Another insider in the BBC said audience numbers for the radio service had come down from 1 crore a few years ago to about 40 lakh now, even as its presence on platforms such as YouTube thrived. The service has also established its presence on television with a tie-up with news channel NDTV.

“But in our experience the quality of news consumers is poor in digital as compared to the loyal audience that BBC Hindi radio service in shortwave enjoyed,” the second insider said, basing the assessment on feedback received from both sets of audiences.

“I would say the management was insensitive to the millions of listeners in the remote corners of India who banked on the service as their daily source of news,” the insider added.

The decision to switch off BBC Hindi radio is part of the British broadcaster’s global cost-cutting efforts. It had planned to end the BBC Hindi radio service in 2011, but changed plans owing to massive outrage and a high-profile campaign supported by eminent journalist and author Sir Mark Tully, a former bureau chief of the BBC.

It’s not just the BBC Hindi radio service that has suffered on account of this twin push to cut costs and go digital. Even BBC Urdu announced in December last year that it will end the radio broadcast of its popular news and current affairs programme, Sairbeen.

In India, BBC also has internet broadcasts in other Indian regional languages, but no associated radio services. […]

Continue reading the full article at The Print.

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Radio Waves: RNZ Cuts Classical, Australian EmComm Plan, BBC Funding, and NHK Viewing Fees

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Broadcasting 

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 Troy Riedel and Michael Bird for the following tips:

RNZ set to cut back Concert and launch new youth service (Radio New Zealand)

In the biggest overhaul of its music services in years, RNZ is planning to cut back its classical music station RNZ Concert and replace it on FM radio with music for a younger audience as part of a new multimedia music brand. Mediawatch asks RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson and music content director Willy Macalister to explain the move.

The broadcaster is proposing to remove RNZ Concert from its FM frequencies and transform it into an automated non-stop music station which will stream online and play on AM radio.

It would be replaced on FM by a service aimed at a younger, more diverse audience as part of a new multimedia “music brand”.

RNZ Concert would be taken off FM radio on May 29 and the youth platform would be phased in ahead of its full launch on August 28.

RNZ’s music staff were informed about the proposed changes this morning in an emotional, occasionally heated meeting with the RNZ music content director Willy Macalister, head of radio and music David Allan, and chief executive Paul Thompson.[]

[Australian] Senate to vote on National Emergency Communications Plan (ABC Friends)

Today Senators can vote to recognise and support ABC Emergency Broadcasting Services and start to plan for a National Emergency Communications Plan.

[…]The motion comes after ABC Friends surveyed bushfire affected communities, with 95% of the 750 respondents indicating that they wanted to see a national plan of additional essential communications infrastructure.

More information to come once the motion has been moved.[]

UK government, at odds with media, eyes BBC funding change (AP)

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s government announced Wednesday it is considering a change in the way the BBC is funded that would severely dent the coffers of the nation’s public broadcaster.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government — which is increasingly at odds with the country’s news media — said it would hold a “public consultation” on whether to stop charging people with a criminal offense if they don’t pay the annual levy that funds the BBC.

The broadcaster gets most of its money from a license fee paid by every television-owning household in the country, which currently stands at 154.50 pounds ($201) a year. Failing to pay can result in a fine or, in rare cases, a prison sentence.

In 2018, more than 121,000 people were convicted and fined for license fee evasion. Five people were imprisoned for not paying their fines.

The BBC is Britain’s largest media organization, producing news, sports and entertainment across multiple TV, radio and digital outlets. The BBC’s size and public funding annoy private-sector rivals, who argue the broadcaster has an unfair advantage.[]

NHK Asked to Cut Viewing Fees Further (Jiji Press)

Tokyo, Feb. 5 (Jiji Press)–Japanese Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi asked Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) on Wednesday to cut television-viewing fees further.
The request was included in a set of proposals compiled by Takaichi. The proposals were approved the same day at a meeting of the Radio Regulatory Council, which advises the minister.

After expected cabinet approval, the proposals will be submitted to the ongoing session of the Diet, Japan’s parliament, together with NHK’s fiscal 2020 draft budget.

The public broadcaster has already decided to cut viewing fees and expand the scope of fee exemptions by the end of fiscal 2020, in order to reduce viewers’ burdens by the equivalent of 6 pct of its fiscal 2018 fee revenue.[]

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Radio Waves: Sun Up-Close, Super NZ Public Broadcaster, One SDR, and ABC Emergency Broadcasting

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, Paul Evans, Troy Riedel, Michael Bird, and Marty for the following tips:

Sun’s surface seen in remarkable new detail (BBC News)

Source: Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope

Behold the Sun’s convulsing surface at a level of detail never seen before.

The Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope on Hawaii has released pictures that show features as small as 30km across.

This is remarkable when set against the scale of our star, which has a diameter of about 1.4 million km (870,000 miles) and is 149 million km from Earth.

The cell-like structures are roughly the size of the US state of Texas. They are convecting masses of hot, excited gas, or plasma.

The bright centres are where this solar material is rising; the surrounding dark lanes are where plasma is cooling and sinking.[]

The New Zealand Cabinet plans to create a new, super-sized public broadcaster (Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union)

It is understood the NZ cabinet has signed off on a high-level decision to proceed and to commission a business case, after the Minister for Broadcasting, Kris Faafoi, presented a revised paper on Monday.

There was pushback from some senior Labour and New Zealand First ministers about the way the preferred option was landed on, the implications for public broadcasting if RNZ ceased to be a standalone company, and the speed at which it had been progressing.

The plan was to work towards having the new media company in place by about 2023 and that appears to still be the goal.

RNZ was told the amended proposal puts a specific emphasis on the fact the new company will be primarily a public service media outlet, and to ensure that is made crystal clear in any legislation, and through a charter.[]

One SDR: A new website focusing on the basics of software defined radio

Good morning. I have been following SWLing over the years and it’s an amazing resource.

I’m writing from https://onesdr.com which is an Education website with articles that simplify Software-defined Radio. I write about practical aspects of SDR including associated components such as Low Noise Amplifiers, Filters, Bias Tees, etc. My goal is to demystify RF technology and make it more accessible to the growing community of SDR enthusiasts.

As well I have been contributing to several RF-related Wikipedia pages* to popularize RF and Wireless in general.

Interim Report of Survey of ABC Emergency Broadcasting in Bushfire Affected Communities (ABC Friends)

95% of respondents to ABC Friends’ Survey of ABC emergency broadcasting in bushfire affected communities believe there is a need for a national plan of additional essential communications infrastructure.

This devastating bushfire season attests to the ABC’s position as Australia’s pre-eminent emergency broadcaster. The number of ABC emergency broadcasts has risen from 256 in 2017-2018 to 371 in 2018-2019 to 673 to date this year (4 Jan). The ABC’s emergency broadcasts continue in the face of ongoing funding cuts and with no additional funding to cover the resources which have been poured into the effort.

On 3 January, via Facebook, ABC Friends National asked for feedback about the ABC’s emergency broadcasts from those affected by the bushfires. Whilst highly praised, there were reports that access to ABC broadcasts was sometimes a problem.

ABC Friends subsequent media release made an urgent call for the Federal Government to restore funding that guarantees infrastructure and transmission that is vital for emergency services broadcasting. It also advised of the launch of a survey (see appendix 1) to obtain more formal feedback about access to emergency broadcasts. This survey was delivered on 13 January via Facebook and via email through our membership and supporter base.

750 people responded to the survey.

91.1% of those surveyed said that the ABC local emergency broadcasts were important to them during the crisis.

96.1% of those surveyed said that ABC staff with local knowledge was important to them.

98.5% of those surveyed said that it was important to them that their local ABC outlet remain open and well-staffed.[]


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Radio Waves: Podcast Preservation, Art Bell Plaque, BBC News Cuts, Space Storms, and DK7IH’s Homebrew Transceiver

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 Terry, Troy Riedel, and Jeff Murray for the following tips:


Radio Survivor Podcast #230 – The Library of Congress Launches Podcast Preservation Project (Radio Survivor)

On this week’s episode we learn about a brand new project at the Library of Congress that is focused entirely on archiving podcasts. Ted Westervelt, Manager of the Podcast Preservation Project at Library of Congress, joins us to share early details from this new initiative. He explains that the hope is that a wide variety of all types of podcasts will be part of the collection, including the Radio Survivor Podcast.[]


Memorial Plaque Honoring Art Bell Unveiled at Park in Pahrump, Nevada (Coast to Coast)

Coast to Coast AM founder Art Bell has been honored with a memorial plaque at a park in the Nevada city of Pahrump. The beloved radio personality, who passed away in April of 2018, was a longtime resident of the community and famously broadcast from his home there. The marker, which was unveiled by Nye County on their Facebook page this past Friday and is located at Calvada Eye park, was funded by a group known as the ‘Friends and Fans of Art Bell’ with additional financial support and installation provided by the county.[]


BBC News to close 450 posts as part of £80m savings drive (BBC News)

Around 450 jobs will be cut from BBC News under plans to complete its £80m savings target by 2022.

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

BBC News boss Fran Unsworth said there had to be a move away from traditional broadcasting and towards digital.

But broadcasting union Bectu said the changes mean staff will be “under even more pressure to deliver”.


How likely are space super-storms? (EarthSky)

A new analysis shows that “severe” space super-storms happened 42 years out of the last 150, and “great” super-storms happened 6 years out of 150. These storms can disrupt modern electronics, aviation and satellite systems and communications.

A new joint study by the University of Warwick and the British Antarctic Survey used historical data to extend scientists’ previous estimates of the likelihood of space super-storms. These storms may originate with solar flares, seen to erupt explosively on the sun during years of high solar activity. Space super-storms aren’t harmful to humans, because our atmosphere protects us, but they can be hugely disruptive to our modern technologies. They can cause power blackouts, take out satellites, disrupt aviation and cause temporary loss of GPS signals and radio communications, scientists say. The new work shows that what the scientists called “severe” space super-storms occurred 42 years out of the last 150 years. What they called “great” super-storms occurred in 6 years out of 150. The new work also sheds light on what’s called the Carrington event of 1859, the largest super-storm in recorded history.[]

Also check out: Are Solar Storms Dangerous To Us?


DK7IH’s New HOMEBREW Transceiver Raises the Bar for All of Us (Soldersmoke Podcast)

And that, my friends, is a HOMEBREW transceiver. Wow, amazingly well done. After I showed this to Pete N6QW (no slouch in the homebrew packaging department), in frustration with his self-perceived shortcomings he threatened to give up on homebrewing and to throw away all his rigs. Don’t do it Pete!

Peter Rachow, DK7IH has carefully documented his project through as series of blog posts:
Here is Part 1. Part 9 deals with mechanical construction, packaging and what George Dobbs used to call “socketry.”[]


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More BBC Mediumwave Closures

(Source BBC Blog via Mike Terry)

By Kieran Clifton
Director, BBC Distribution & Business Development

In my blog posted in the summer of 2017, I explained the BBC’s plans for local radio and the reasons for the closure of some of our medium wave transmitters – which happened in January last year. This was the first stage of putting into action a plan that the BBC originally announced in 2011. Starting in February 2020, and completing in mid-2020, we will be moving on to the next stage of the plan, closing a further 18 medium wave transmitters across England, Scotland and Wales. There is a list of services affected at the end of this blog post.

My earlier blog post explained why we are closing some local medium wave transmitters, but I wanted to recap again here. The majority of radio listening in the UK – including to the BBC – is now digital, and digital listening is continuing to grow. We want to make our services available to you when and how you want them, but it’s also right that the BBC continues to ensure that the ways we distribute our services represent good value for money for you, the licence fee payer.

The BBC is committed to a digital future for radio, and in the past few years we have funded local DAB expansion, made all local radio stations available on digital terrestrial TV (such as Freeview), and we have transformed our online and mobile offering with BBC Sounds.  Together with FM (which has recently been expanded for Radio Wales), these ways of receiving our stations now make up the great majority of listening, and as a result continuing to transmit these services on medium wave would no longer represent good value for money.

This change was planned as long ago as 2011, but we have taken a measured approach to implementing 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.

All stations which will be affected will continue to be on FM and digital outputs (such as DAB, digital television, or online). For most people, re-tuning their radios or cars to FM or DAB is likely to be the simplest solution.

You can use our Problem Assistant tool to get more information on how to access all BBC services in your area.

The stations which will no longer be transmitted on MW are:

    • Three Counties Radio (3CR)
    • Radio Merseyside
    • Radio Newcastle
    • Radio Solent (for Dorset)
    • Radio Solent
    • Radio Cornwall
    • Radio York

In addition, the following stations will have reduced MW coverage:

Radio Scotland

    • Areas in and around both Aberdeen and Kirkcudbright

Radio Wales

    • Tywyn, Forden and Llandrindod Wells transmitter areas

Radio Cumbria

    • Areas in and around Whitehaven

Radio Norfolk

    • Areas in and around Norwich
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“The BBC and the Cold War”

A vintage radio from Kim Andre Elliott’s collection.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Kris Partridge, who writes:

With Saturday being the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, BBC OnLine has posted this to commemorate the anniversary:

https://www.bbc.com/historyofthebbc/100-voices/coldwar

The Cold War was the defining global conflict of the second half of the Twentieth Century. Fought across multiple terrains, the “soft power” of international broadcasting placed the BBC on the frontline of the information war.To commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, we explore the role the BBC played in communicating our understanding and experience of the Cold War, with the help of newly-released oral history interviews with those involved.

Click here to view this collection of stories and memories at the BBC.

Thanks so much for sharing this, Kris!

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