Tag Archives: BBC

GCHQ “hidden past” in the press

Benhall Aerial View (Source: GCHQ.gov.uk)

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

You recently posted about the on going GCHQ exhibition at the Science Museum here in London.

I now offer you two more GCHQ items. Both radio related.

First one from BBC Radio:

How Scarborough saved the world

The Secret History of GCHQ

Stories from the intelligence agency’s hidden past – and how it’s been listening in for the last 100 years. With BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera.

Click here to listen online (when available).

This will be transmitted tonight at 20h00 London (BST, UTC +1) that’s at 15h00 East Coast time! This will be available after TX on BBC Sounds, the replacement for BBC iPlayer radio.

The second, also radio related, is/has US interest:

GCHQ’s secret hilltop site in Scarborough revealed as having pivotal role in Cuban missile crisis

he pivotal role in the Cuban missile crisis played by a secret outpost of GCHQ in Scarborough has been revealed.

The task of the tiny bunker on the North Yorkshire coast, described by staff as dank and often smelly, had been to monitor the Soviet Baltic fleet and merchant shipping in the northern hemisphere.

In 1962 this somewhat unglamorous job for Britain’s cyber spy agency was thrust into the centre of world affairs as tensions between the West and the Soviet Union threatened to escalate into nuclear war.

On October 16, 1962, US President John F Kennedy had been told the Soviet Union was secretly shipping nuclear missiles to Cuba, just 90 miles off America’s south eastern coast.

US forces established a naval blockade, preventing the arrival of any ships, but some Soviet vessels were already on their way to the island. Any confrontation between the two naval forces risked escalation into nuclear war.

The operators in the Scarborough bunker were able to intercept the Soviet ships reporting back their position and establish where they were heading.

“Traditionally just another task at the bottom of Scarborough’s priority list, suddenly escalated to the very top priority for British intelligence,” Tony Comer, GCHQ’s historian told the BBC.[…]

Click here to continue reading the full story at The Telegraph.

and [from the BBC]:

Scarborough’s role in the Cuban missile crisis revealed

A secret base in Scarborough played a key role in resolving the Cold War’s Cuban missile crisis, it can now be revealed.

Up on a hilltop, not far from a caravan park in England’s North Yorkshire coast sits what is believed to be the longest continually running listening station in the world.

The GCHQ base at Scarborough was established just before World War One because its position was ideal to intercept German naval radio signals in the North Sea.

During World War Two, it helped locate German U-boats in the Atlantic. By the Cold War it shifted to monitoring Soviet communications.[…]

Click here to read the full story at the BBC.

I hope, for you in time to hear it “live”, and the online version for your blog readers.

I managed to do just that, Kris! Thank you so much for sharing these links and stories. I especially look forward to the Radio 4 piece later today.

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Petition calls for BBC to allow streaming on 3rd party sites/apps

 

 

(Source: Southgate ARC)

A petition calling on the BBC to reinstate its internet radio stations to third-party apps has attracted nearly 2,000 signatures.

The petition is asking the broadcaster to reverse its decision to remove BBC stations from TuneIn, a popular app for listening to live internet radio.

The BBC removed its streams from the service at the end of September.

In a blogpost at the time, the BBC said that it was making the move because services like TuneIn do not allow it to collect data on its streams.

Kieran Clifton, the BBC’s director of distribution and business development, said: “We want our programmes, products and services to be the best they can be. And a major way we ensure that is by using meaningful data. Data is more and more important – as it helps us to make more types of programmes we know people like, and equally importantly, identify gaps in our commissioning to ensure we’re making something for all audiences. We also use the data collected about what you watch, listen to or read online to offer personalised programme recommendations – and make our services even more tailored to you.

“When we make our programmes available via third parties, we ask that those platforms either allow you to sign into your BBC account – or provide us with meaningful data directly. Unfortunately, TuneIn doesn’t do either of these, so we couldn’t reach a data sharing agreement with them.”

According to the petition, however, the move means that many listeners with digital radio devices can no longer listen to BBC stations.

The petition’s creator, Julian Prokaza, said: “The changes mean that a great many new internet devices are now effectively obsolete for people who used them mainly to listen to BBC radio.

“The changes also do not abide by the BBC remit of ‘making sure you can watch and listen to our programmes in ways that are both easy and convenient for you.’

“The BBC should restore its TuneIn streams immediately and maintain them at least until fully functional replacement services for affected devices are available.”

Source:
https://www.prolificlondon
.co.uk/marketing-tech-news/other-media-news/2019/10/bbc-internet-radio-petition-gathers-pace

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“BBC’s secret World War Two activities revealed”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Fred Waterer and Mike Hansgen who share the following article from the BBC:

A new archive has revealed the BBC’s role in secret activities during World War Two, including sending coded messages to European resistance groups.

Documents and interviews, released by BBC History, include plans to replace Big Ben’s chimes with a recorded version in the event of an air attack.

This would ensure the Germans did not know their planes were over Westminster.

BBC programmers would also play music to contact Polish freedom fighters.

Using the codename “Peter Peterkin”, a government representative would provide staff with a particular piece that would be broadcast following the Polish news service.

Historian David Hendy said: “The bulletins broadcast to Poland would be deliberately short by a minute or so and then a secret messenger from the exiled Polish government would deliver a record to be played.

“The choice of music would send the message to fighters.”[…]

Click here to read the full article at the BBC.

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David Warren: Radio enthusiast who invented the “Black Box” flight recorder

As a schoolboy, David was fascinated by electronics and learned to build his own radio sets (Source: BBC and the Warren Family Collection)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul W4/VP9KFPaul W4/VP9KF, who notes that David Warren, inventor of ‘Black Box’ recorders was a ham radio operator and radio enthusiast.

The following short biography comes from this memorial website:

David Warren (full name David Ronald de Mey Warren) was an Australian inventor. He is most famous for his invention of the Flight data recorder (invented in 1956), or more commonly known as the “black box”

The “Black Box” is a device that records in-flight conversations and data. Warren came up with the idea of recording the flight crew’s conversation on a device that could be protected to increase its chances of surviving the crash. Although it has the name “Black Box”, it is coated with heat-resistant bright orange paint for high visibility in a wreckage, and the Black Box is usually mounted in the aircraft’s tail section, where it is more likely to survive a severe crash.

David Warren was born on the 20th of March, 1925, on Groote Eylandt, an island off the coast of the Northern Territory. He was the first child of European descent born on the island. When he was at the age of four, he was sent to Tasmania and Sydney to spend most of the next 12 years in boarding schools (Launceston Grammar School in Tasmania and Trinity Grammar School in Sydney).

Australia’s first major air crash in 1934 claimed the life of David’s father.

Warren had received a crystal set from his father just before the disaster that started his interest in amateur radio and electronics. Almost 20 years later, when the age of commercial jet aircraft was just beginning, Warren worked as a chemist, specialising in aircraft fuels at the Aeronautical Research Laboratories.

Dr Warren was working as a scientist at Melbourne’s Aeronautical Research Laboratory, where he was helping to investigate the 1953 mystery crash of a Comet jetliner. New fuels being used in Jets in the early 50’s were more likely to become explosive at altitude than conventional aircraft fuels and this was identified as a possible cause of the Comet crash. While listening to the arguments over possible causes of the Crash, Warren realised that the solution could be at hand if someone on the plane had been carrying a device similar to the then newly released “Protona Minifon” portable recorder that he saw at a trade fair.

The device would be fire proof (using steel wire as the recording medium like the “Pocket Recorder”) and erase itself so that the last hours of the flight were always recorded. The device consisted of a single steel wire as the recording medium and provided four hours of recording and automatically switched itself on and off with the aircraft. It was during this period that Dr Warren incorporated the idea of recording instruments on a separate channel – his interest in electronics as a schoolboy was brilliantly applied to turn instrument readings into recordable dots and bleeps.

The recorder was well received in England (where the name “Black Box” was made up by a journalist at a briefing) and also in Canada where the idea was seen as a potential addition to beacons being developed there.

Warren continued to lead the project, developing the Flight Memory device to record more instruments with greater accuracy. This led to the first commercially produced flight recorder-the Red Egg.

A further disaster at Wintoon in 1967 saw Australia become the first country to make both flight data and cockpit voice mandatory on all jets.

While a student at the University of Sydney, David met Ruth Meadows, who became his wife and lifetime supporter. Together, they raised a family and shared an interest in science and education. When he retired, David and Ruth lived in Caulfield South, Victoria, in regular contact with their four children and seven grandchildren.

David died at the age of 85 in 2010, 19 July, Melbourne, Australia. After his death, He was buried in a casket bearing the label “Flight Recorder Inventor; Do Not Open”.

Then in June 2012, the ACT Government named a road, David Warren Road, in the suburb of Hume in recognition of Warren. On 25 March 2014, the Defence Science and Technology Organisation renamed their Canberra headquarters to the David Warren Building.

Thanks for sharing this, Paul!  Fascinating…

Note that the BBC recently published an amazing piece about Dr. Warren on the 9th anniversary of his passing–click here to read.

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Site shares story of the BBC’s wartime reporting

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Kris Partridge, who shares the following note following our recent series of posts about WWII radio:

The, nearly, full story of the BBC’s wartime reporting can be found here. Yes, I hope another interesting read both for your good self and the readers of The SWLing Post:

http://www.orbem.co.uk/repwar/wr_action.htm

What an excellent read! Thank you for sharing this link, Kris!

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Radio Doc: New York City’s pirates of the air

SWLing Post friend, David Goren (the same fellow behind Shortwaveology and the Brooklyn Pirate Radio Sound Map) has just produced and presented a BBC World Service documentary about the pirate radio scene in NYC.

Spoiler alert: it’s amazing–!

Below, I’ve included the description and audio links from the BBC World Service:

New York City’s pirates of the air

As the workday winds down across New York, you can tune in to a clandestine world of unlicensed radio stations; a cacophonous sonic wonder of the city. As listeners begin to arrive home, dozens of secret transmitters switch on from rooftops in immigrant enclaves. These stations are often called ‘pirates’ for their practice of commandeering an already licensed frequency.

These rogue stations evade detection and take to the air, blanketing their neighbourhoods with the sounds of ancestral lands blending into a new home. They broadcast music and messages to diverse communities – whether from Latin America or the Caribbean, to born-again Christians and Orthodox Jews.

Reporter David Goren has long followed these stations from his Brooklyn home. He paints an audio portrait of their world, drawn from the culture of the street. Vivid soundscapes emerge from tangled clouds of invisible signals, nurturing immigrant communities struggling for a foothold in the big city.

With thanks to KCRW and the Lost Notes Podcast episode Outlaws of the Airwaves: The Rise of Pirate Radio Station WBAD.

Producer/Presenter: David Goren

Click here to download New York City’s pirates of the air via the BBC World Service.

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