Tag Archives: Benn Kobb

Radio Waves: Brazil Proposes End of all Ham Radio Exams, Radio Engineer Files Objection to WIPE, Radio in the Malvinas War, and List of 48 Weatheradio Sites in Proposed Closure

Icom IC-756 Pro Transceiver DialRadio 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 Rob (PE9PE), Bennett Kobb, Harald
(DL1AX), and Dennis Dura for the following tips:


Brazil proposes end of all amateur radio exams (Southgate ARC)

ANATEL, the Brazilian National Telecommunications Agency, recently published a public consultation, CP65, which is available at this link:

In their website, LABRE, the Brazilian Amateur Radio League, was surprised by the CP65 proposal that proposes, among other topics, the extinction of the COER (amateur radio certificate) exam for all classes and replacement by free access to initial class C, as is done today with the Citizen’s Band, as well as access to subsequent classes B and A upon presentation of the Certificate of Technical Course and Graduation in Telecommunications, respectively, or minimum stay of 3 years in each class.

In addition, the aforementioned proposal suggests ending the rules of different prefixes for each of the States of the Federation, remaining only the prefix per class and there would no longer be any special callsigns.

The proposal, in addition to going against what is consensus in the international regulation related to the Amateur Radio Service, is absolutely contrary to the LABRE’s thinking with regard to the minimum requirements to be a radio amateur and also does not match ANATEL’s request for support from LABRE in the revision of amateur radio regulations in Brazil.

For further clarification on the subject, LABRE has already requested a meeting with ANATEL, which will be scheduled soon.

PR7GA

Radio Engineer Files Objection to WIPE (DRMNA.info)

Story by Bennett Kobb:
On September 3, radio engineer Alex Pilosov of Shortwave Solutions filed with the FCC an objection to WIPE, the DRM-based HF station of Turms Tech of New York, presumed to be ready to broadcast from the Armstrong Tower in Alpine, NJ.

WIPE is suspected to be intended mainly for secret, non-broadcast message transmission for private trading clients while broadcasting financial and economic news for the public.

WIPE is not yet operational. The station is waiting on its FCC license, but Pilosov took aim at possible glitches in its license application. He also raises the issue of whether U.S. shortwave stations can legally conduct non-public telecommunications in the broadcast bands in a service limited to broadcasting.

Pilosov is a consultant to HF stations in the Experimental Radio Service, which are not constrained by the broadcast rules; thus he or his clients are prospective competitors to WIPE. This is Pilosov’s second FCC objection. He also filed against the application of Parable Broadcasting for WPBC, a DRM HF station proposed for Batavia, IL.[]

Radio in the Malvinas War (RAE)

In 2020 we celebrate the centenary of radio in Argentina. Such an event can be approached in various ways, since there are several milestones along this century of radio in our country. There are some events that are marked by fire in collective memory.

It is our intention to approach the celebration focusing on an event in which radio was in the spotlight: the 1982 Malvinas War, a conflict waged on various fields: military, economic, diplomatic and, of course, communications, mainly as a means of propaganda.

Most countries over time have recognised the great potential of radio as an effective instrument both in times of war and peace. Historically, Germany was the first country to use this for purely political purposes.

During WWII the broadcasts of Radio Tokyo, Radio Germany, the BBC in London and other stations were used for propaganda and military purposes by combatant nations.

The post-war period and the subsequent Cold War brought along a “war of the airwaves”. During these years, countless stations emerged with their own propaganda styles, looking to advance their social, political and economic systems.

An example of this are the broadcasts of Radio Moscow, Voice of America or Radio Beijing. Along with these stations, others of a clearly political nature emerged, such as Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, that targeted countries in Eastern Europe, as well as nations that became independent after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This group also includes the so-called clandestine stations, which generally broadcast secretly from conflict zones or from nearby regions or using rented transmission sites.

Before April 2, 1982, the Malvinas Islands had one radio station: the Falkland Islands Radio Service (FIBS) – with broadcasts in English. Content aired included locally-produced programs as well as news services of BBC London. It broadcast on 536 khz and 2370 khz.

The AM frequency was intended to cover the Port Stanley area, reaching a little further with SW transmissions.[]

List of 48 Weatheradio Canada transmitting site proposed for decommissioning (Weatheradio Newsletter)

As mentioned in a previous post, Weatheradio Canada is considering shutting down 48 network transmitters across the country. SWLing Post contributor, Dennis Dura, recommends checking out the Weatheradio Canada Newsletter for updates.

He also forwards the following list of sites that are proposed for decommissioning. Click here to download the list as a PDF.


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Radio Waves: Questions About New HF Stations, Towers Damaged after Hurricanes, Evolution of Ham Radio, and The Vintage Radio Repairman

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 Ed, Paul, Bennett Kobb, and Kanwar Sandhu for the following tips:


Questions Remain as New HF Stations Wait for Licenses (DMRNA.info)

Here is the story by Bennett Kobb:
As previously reported here at DRMNA.info, the New York company Turms Tech LLC has applied to the FCC for a license for International Broadcast Station WIPE in New Jersey. The license would cover a station already built under a FCC Construction Permit, and would allow it to begin regular operations.

The FCC announced on August 13, 2020 that this license application was accepted for filing, a routine stage at which the FCC examines the application, and might even visit the station, and if everything is in order it will be licensed.

We’re not sure everything is in order. The application for Construction Permit placed the transmitter site at N 40° 57′ 40.38″, W 73° 55′ 23.97″, the broadcast and communications center surrounding the famous Armstrong Tower at Alpine NJ. Its Application for License, however, specifies N 40° 51′ 40″, W 73° 55′ 23″. (Hat tip to Alex P for noting this discrepancy. More about him below.)

While the substitution of 51 for 57 in the coordinates might seem a simple typo, the FCC typically has no sense of humor about coordinate errors. Commission examiners may wonder why a station intended for a historic radio-TV facility ended up among some Manhattan apartments.

The deeper question with WIPE and another, apparently similar station WPBC, is what these stations are really for and what that means for the FCC Rules. WIPE was extremely vague about its program plans, but told the FCC that it will transmit data obtained from third parties using Digital Radio Mondiale. Putting that tidbit together with exposures in a series of public articles in the media and tech blogs, it would seem that audio programming will not be the central mission of this peculiarly named station, whose principal is a financial executive and forestry entrepreneur without any broadcast experience we could find.

We suspect instead that the WIPE data stream will be used not for broadcasting to the public — the only function permitted to International Broadcast Stations under FCC Rules — but instead will be used for private communication with foreign exchanges for high-speed trading.[]

KSWL-TV tower crashed into buildings near 210 Interstate Hwy (Brad Dye)

Images of tower damage in Lake Charles, LA Bottom photo by KATC-TV of KSWL-TV tower crashed into buildings near 210 Interstate Hwy

After bombarding coastal areas of southern Louisiana with wind gusts up to 130 mph and a storm surge over nine feet as a hurricane, Laura swept north while also spreading over Arkansas Thursday. Laura weakened to a tropical storm early Thursday afternoon, with winds at 70 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Laura is predicted to move through the Tennessee Valley and the Mid-Atlantic today into tomorrow.

Power outages from the storms totaled over 900,000 as of Thursday afternoon, according to PowerOutageUS. The site collects data from utilities nationwide. The bulk of the outages were in Louisiana and Texas, according to ABC News. Mississippi reportedly had over 9,400 customers without power as of Thursday morning, reported the Clarion Ledger.

Louisiana and Texas had the most cell site outages as of Thursday mid-day, according to the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System. Of the 4,650 cell sites served in Louisiana, 380 were not working. Over 200 of the site outages were due to a lack of power, 141 had a transport issue and 16 were damaged.

Calcasieu and Cameron counties were hit especially hard. 140 sites (75 percent) were not working in Calcasieu County and 20 (69 percent) were out in Cameron County.

Of the 17,621 cell sites served in Texas, 113 were non-operational.

Jefferson County was the hardest hit, with 39 (15.8 percent) out of 247 sites not working. Just over 45 of the non-working sites were out due to a lack of power, 41 for transport reasons and 20 were damaged, according to DIRS.

Cable and wireline companies reported 192,915 subscribers out of service in the affected areas; this may include the loss of telephone, television, and/or Internet services.

Three television stations, five FMs and one AM reported they were off-air.[]

Ham radio is dying! No it’s not, it’s evolving (K0LWC)

I’ve heard ham radio is dying since as far back as I can remember. It’s one of those common sayings you always hear. Like, “get off my lawn,” and “kids these days.” But is it true? Is there any evidence to support this? Let’s take a closer look.

Data from the ARRL shows that ham radio licensees are increasing. When you look at the chart above, you see two significant markers that are likely driving this growth.

  • The removal of the code requirement by the FCC.
  • The economic collapse of 2008.

The Morse code requirement was always an intimidating part of obtaining your General FCC license. Learning Morse code is like learning a second language. It takes time and effort to learn, and that’s not a bad thing. However, it doesn’t change that it scared many people away from the hobby. When the FCC removed this requirement in 2007, I believe it opened the door for many who spent years on the fence. Then you have the economic downturn of 2008. What does that have to do with ham radio? A lot.

After the economic downturn, the United States watched as survivalism, now commonly calling “prepping,” entered mainstream culture. People were worried as the country was involved in multiple wars and our economy was on the brink of collapse. Citizens stocked up on food storage, water, firearms, and…communications equipment. As our country spiraled into more turmoil ham radio licenses steadily increased to more than 750,000 by the end of 2019.[]

The Vintage Radio Repair Man (Great Big Story–YouTube)

Click here to watch on YouTube.


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High-Frequency Parties asks FCC to question proposed Chicago DRM broadcaster’s true mission

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bennett Kobb, who shares an FCC Informal Objection he drafted and filed together with Kim Elliott and Christopher Rumbaugh.

Click here to download the Informal Objection. (PDF)

Radio World published a great summary of the filing today:

There’s a plan in the works to build a new international shortwave radio station in Illinois, one that would use the Digital Radio Mondiale modulation system. But now several prominent members of the U.S. shortwave community are asking the Federal Communications Commission to take a closer look first.

Parable Broadcasting Co. in April asked the FCC to allow it to build the station in Batavia, Ill., west of Chicago, using the call sign WPBC. It wants to offer “broadcasting and data services.”

Specifically, Parable wrote that the station would “serve the areas of Europe that may be authorized by the commission. The planned broadcast content includes religious and educational programming, as well as data content provided by third parties.” It added that it wants to “take advantage of the recent push by the National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters to develop and provide content for the growing DRM market.”

Now three individuals, collectively called the High-Frequency Parties, filed an informal objection. It’s that wording about data content that concerns them.

Bennett Z. Kobb, Kim Andrew Elliott and Christopher D. Rumbaugh said international broadcast stations in the U.S. are intended “to be received directly by the general public in foreign countries.”

Now they told the FCC that it is impossible to tell from the Parable application whether all of the data services and data provided by third parties will qualify. [Continue reading at Radio World…]

Bennett clarified with me:

The [FCC] rules require these [broadcasters] to be 100% broadcast stations, not a cover for some other kind of service.

Because there is no established radio service for international shortwave trading, some have used the workaround of calling them “experiments”. Quite a few such “experimental” stations have been licensed, some at rather high power levels.

See for example this article.

But legally, the Experimental Radio Service is supposed to be for temporary scientific purposes, not ongoing for-profit operations. We don’t know what those stations are really up to because the FCC has kept the details secret. All we know is some technical data such as callsigns, frequencies, QTH.

Instead of experimental stations, others wanting to get into the data business — including the Turms Tech station in New Jersey, and this Parable station in Batavia IL — seem to be using the work-around of the International Broadcast service. That is, proposing an audio programming station that uses the DRM data channel for trading messages.

We are not in the 1970s or 80s. There’s not enough money today in broadcasting audio to other countries, to justify the millions spent on real estate, engineering, antennas and transmitter plant. Most SW broadcasting around the world is not commercial. So it is very peculiar for new entrants to drop major bucks in this field.

The new guys are probably not getting in to spread the gospel. That is a surface paint. There are already several U.S. HF stations with religious content, as you know, including WTWW, WWCR, WRMI, WRNO, WINB, WWRB, WHRI, WBCQ, WJHR etc. and most would welcome new customers for airtime.

No need to construct new stations.

So what is this new station really? Get it out in the open and ask them how they intend to comply with the existing rules. If they are in the business of carrying secure messages for traders, that does not qualify and will need some special FCC action to allow it. Let the public see the reasoning.

The rules that exist are very old. We think FCC needs to do a top-to-bottom review of the HF broadcast rules and scrap a lot of it. FCC should permit stations to be built for U.S. domestic audiences, and they should reduce the minimum AM power (50 kW) to lower this barrier to
entry.

And they should perhaps consider how data communications could be formally authorized. Maybe it wouldn’t be just a broadcast service any more, it could be a HF Communications Service with the old restrictions on languages and advertising discarded and more opportunities for people to try out creative ideas.

So we’re pressing the issue that this needs to be examined. Thanks for reading.

Thank you for sharing this, Bennett! We hope your filing gets its due attention. I also agree on one of your final points, that the FCC lower its 50 kw AM power requirement of a shortwave station as it places a huge barrier in front of would-be shortwave broadcasters.

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FCC Audio Programming Inquiry: Implications for HF Broadcasting

Many thanks to Bennett Z. Kobb, Kim Andrew Elliott, and Christopher Rumbaugh for authoring “Comments of the High Frequency Parties” that is now filed with the FCC.

Update: please also check out this FAQ.

Here’s the introduction:

The Public Notice in MB Docket 18-227 requests comment on “whether laws, regulations,
regulatory practices or demonstrated marketplace practices pose a barrier to competitive
entry into the marketplace for the delivery of audio programming … [and] concerning the
extent to which any such laws, regulations or marketplace practices affect entry barriers for
entrepreneurs and other small businesses in the marketplace for the delivery of audio
programming.”

The Commission’s Rules do pose barriers to entry and unnecessarily restrict the licensing
and delivery of programming by International Broadcast Stations.

These rules originated in a period when the government utilized or countenanced privately owned, high-frequency (HF, 3-30 MHz) broadcasters as voices against foreign adversaries.
The rules prohibit stations directed primarily to U.S. audiences. They impose detailed
language, announcement, advertising and record keeping practices, require monitoring of
foreign market particulars, and mandate a minimum DSB transmission power level that is
excessive for domestic service and textual and image content.

These and certain other obsolete restrictions are overdue for review and revision or deletion.[…]

Click here to download and read the full document as a PDF.

Click here to check out the FAQ regarding the HF Broadcasting Filing.

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Report from the 2017 Radio Preservation Task Force meeting

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WINB to add new transmitter

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Benn Kobb (AK4AV), who notes:

This routine FCC HF announcement indicates that it has received an application from WINB.

http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db1213/DOC-348229A1.pdf

According to Ms. Ghavami, the FCC’s engineer on HF broadcast matters, the application is to add a transmitter to the existing station, for which a new construction permit is required.

Thanks for the tip, Benn!

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New Experimental Radio Station: Skycast (WI2XER)

Skycast

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Benn, who writes:

[Skycast (WI2XER)] is a station in the Experimental Radio Service, licensed under Part 5 of the FCC Rules.

Benn provided the following details:

Licensed 3 March 2016: SKYCAST SERVICES LLC WI2XER 0809-EX-PL-2015

New experimental to operate in HF bands from 13.87 MHz to 21 MHz to pursue significant advancements in the state of telecommunications technology.

Farmingville (Suffolk), NY

www.skycastservices.com

License:
https://apps.fcc.gov/els/GetAtt.html?id=173579&x=.

Explanation, redacted:
https://apps.fcc.gov/els/GetAtt.html?id=170747&x=.

Note location of receivers, stated in section 6.

Explanation of redactions:
https://apps.fcc.gov/els/GetAtt.html?id=171385&x=.

Benn continues:

HF operations in the ERS are rare. I have been following ERS for years.

Applicants in this service are required to describe their experimental program, but can ask the FCC to withhold certain details from public disclosure. That is the reason for the redactions.

The actual purpose of this Skycast is not obvious from the available documentation, but some intrepid investigation may reveal it. SWLs should listen for these operations. The company said that the receivers are in Western Europe.

Experimental stations are not supposed to directly generate revenue. There are occasional exceptions. Most ERS stations are for defense and security related developments, specific demonstrations or academic research.

Readers: please comment if you have any information about this station or its service. Any reception reports/notes would also be welcome!

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