Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor and political cartoonist, Carlos Latuff, who shares the following guest post:
Carlos Latuff at Catacumba Park in Rio de Janeiro, monitoring Ethiopian broadcasts.
ETHIOPIA: A WAR THROUGH RADIO
by Carlos Latuff, special for The SWLing Post
We just entered 2022 and the civil war in Ethiopia has already completed 1 year. On the one hand we have the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) guerrillas from northern Ethiopia and its allies, and on the other hand we have the armed forces of Ethiopian government and its allies. The dead are piling up, accusations of war crimes from both sides, local and international political interests at stake, and no perspective for a peaceful solution. Without going into the reasons for this new war in Ethiopian territory, I’d like to focus on the use of radio waves by both parties of this conflict.
I monitored shortwave broadcasts from Ethiopia and to Ethiopia between October 21, 2021 and January 4, 2022. The receivers were Tecsun PL-606 and XHDATA D-808, using both the telescopic antenna and a long wire. In all cases, listening was carried out in Brazilian cities.
Carlos at Catacumba Park monitoring and recording clandestine Ethiopian broadcasts.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor and political cartoonist, Carlos Latuff, who has been exploring the world of clandestine radio, documenting the on-going conflict in Ethiopia via shortwave radio. The following are two examples of his radio log art, this time for documenting jamming of Dimtse Wegahta Tigray and BBC News Tigrinya. Carlos shares the following art and recordings:
Characteristic noise of “jamming” (intentional interference), probably coming from the Ethiopian government, preventing reception of the signal from the clandestine broadcaster Dimtse Wegahta Tigray (Voice of the Dawn Tigray).
Dimtse Wegahta Tigray broadcasts daily to warring Ethiopia on the frequency of 15340 kHz, using the powerful transmitters of the company TDF (Télédiffusion de France) in Issoudun, France.
Captured at Parque da Catacumba, Rio de Janeiro, 12/29/2021, 2:36 pm (local time):
BBC News Tigrinya broadcasting from UAE to Ethiopia/Eritrea
BBC News Tigrinya, 12065 kHz, broadcasting from Al Dhabbiya, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Excerpt from the news.
– Ethiopian party member EZEMA talks about the intention to form a cabinet in the government of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed despite the war.
– US Embassy in Eritrea asks that country’s government to release political dissidents.
The BBC is among the news channels that are accused by the Ethiopian government of “spreading fake news”.
Signal received in Rio de Janeiro, 01/04/2022, at 3:14 pm (local time).
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 Ron, Andrea Borgnino, and Tracy Wood for the following tips:
Non-official radio stations always attracted shortwave listeners who call them “clandestines”, follwing a mixture of mis-understanding and romanticism. The range of this class of stations is remarkably wide. Nowadays, the majority of them is renting time from major transmission centres like Nauen/Germany, Issoudun/France or Toshkent/Uzbekistan.
As all media, they are put into service to influence people and to sell something by propaganda. The difference between an official broadcaster, like Voice of America, and a “clandestine” like North Korea Reform Radio is not palpable – both are financed by the U.S. Congress.
With most broadcasters transmitting on a scale between facts (“white” – nearly only the BBC) and sheer disinformation (“black”), clandestines are placed on the darker third of this range. The separation between “clandestine” and “official” is rather artificial. There simply is no difference between e.g. the official World Harvest Radio and the clandestine Voice of Wilderness, both religious brodcasters, funded by Cornerstone Ministries International/USA – to take just two religious stations.
Today’s activity of clandestines is concentrated on Africa and Asia with especially taking countries like North Korea, China, Eritrea and Sudan into focus.[…]
In anticipation of its upcoming move, the FCC has adopted a new FCC seal. The redesigned seal is the product of an agency-wide contest that solicited proposals from employees and contractors. The winning design, submitted by Umasankar Arumugam, was selected by a vote of the agency’s employees and contractors.
The revised design incorporates several elements: communications technologies currently transforming our world; four stars on the outer seal border, drawing from the legacy of the predecessor Federal Radio Commission seal; 18 stars on the shield, recognizing the current number of bureaus and offices; and the eagle and shield, identifying the FCC as a federal government agency.[…]
The notion of WNYC becoming the flagship station of a non-commercial network of cultural stations was first publicly articulated by Mayor La Guardia at the launching of the station’s new WPA-built transmitter facility in Greenpoint, Brooklyn on October 31, 1937. La Guardia envisioned a non-commercial/educational radio network connected via shortwave rather than expensive landlines leased by AT&T, but the FCC prohibited interstation communication by means other than wire when wire is available. At the ceremony La Guardia sharply criticized the FCC prohibition: “That is just as nonsensical and as unreasonable as to say that one isn’t permitted to fly from here to Chicago because there are railroads going from here to Chicago. Of course, all this is very good for the New York Telephone Company, but it is not so hot for us.”[…]
New RAC membership renewal procedures (RAC via Southgate ARC)
On behalf of Radio Amateurs of Canada, I would like to thank you for your continued support of Amateur Radio in Canada and internationally.
Your membership has helped RAC in its two primary objectives: to support and promote Amateur Radio in Canada and internationally; and to provide valuable programs and services to RAC members (see below).
As a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the RAC Head Office in Ottawa has been closed temporarily and we are no longer able to send out membership renewal notices by mail and we will be sending out email notices instead.
We would appreciate it if you would please watch for these messages in your inbox and also in your junk folders – this is especially true if you have Outlook or Hotmail email addresses.
In addition, you can assist us by checking to see when your membership will expire by logging on to the RAC website and going to the “My Membership” webpage (https://www.rac.ca/my-membership/). You can also find it on the mailing label of the paper version of The Canadian Amateur magazine or by calling the RAC office as described below.
If you need to renew your membership you can do so by using one of the following options:
Online: by completing the online renewal form (or by clicking on the “Join Radio Amateurs of Canada” logo on the top right of the RAC website). Payments must be made by credit card or by PayPal.
By phone: by calling 877-273-8304 from 10 am to 4 pm EST/EDT, Monday through Friday (except statutory holidays). You may pay by credit card or you may send a cheque for the appropriate amount to the RAC head office.
By mail: if you prefer to have your renewal form processed via standard mail, you can download an application for your region from the Membership Renewals webpage and mail it to the RAC Office.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ed, who shares the following story about Radio Biafra from the LA Times:
Every evening as 5 o’clock approaches, the clogged, perpetually dusty streets of this industrial city in southeastern Nigeria begin to empty.
Groups of men just off work go inside, shut their doors and tune their radios to 102.1 FM.
Then an anthem begins to play, and a voice says “Kedu” “how are you” in the Igbo language to welcome listeners to the daily broadcast of Radio Biafra.
For the next 90 minutes, hosts and various guests proselytize for the revival of an old dream: the creation of an independent state called Biafra.
The broadcasts, conducted live from an undisclosed location in Nigeria, are illegal, and the group behind them the Indigenous People of Biafra, or IPOB has been classified by the government as a terrorist organization since 2017. Its leaders say they eschew violence and want a peaceful settlement of the issue through a national referendum.
Activists say people caught listening to the station have been arrested or beaten. But many residents here say they are willing to take the risk.
Radio Biafra is a daily reminder of the bloody civil war that ravaged Nigeria between 1967 and 1970. The conflict started when a Nigerian military general, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, declared an independent state of Biafra. It ended after more than a million deaths, mostly from starvation after the government imposed a food blockade on the region.
Ultimately, the rebels surrendered and the area was reintegrated into Nigeria under the government motto “No victor, no vanquished.”
But the memory of the brutal war looms large in Aba, feeding enthusiasm for the broadcasts despite extremely long odds that Biafra will ever come to be.[…]
Many thanks to SWLing Post and SRAA contributor, Richard Langley, who has recently uploaded an off-air recording of the Voice of Peace to the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive. This is a fascinating recording that I thought I would re-post here on the Post.
Live, off-air, approximately twenty-minute recording of the Voice of Peace from Baghdad on 29 December 1990 beginning at 21:40 UTC on a shortwave frequency of 11860 kHz. This broadcast originated from a transmitter either in Iraq or Kuwait.
Iraq’s Voice of Peace was established in August 1990 to beam programs to American servicemen stationed in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait at the beginning of the month. Programming consisted of music, initially easy-listening music but subsequently changing to a “Top 40” mix, news and commentary in a failed effort to try to demoralize the American troops. Beginning in September 1990, the broadcasts used a female announcer dubbed “Baghdad Betty” by the Americans. Reportedly, Baghdad Betty was replaced by a team of announcers sometime in December 1990. The recording is an example of the news and music programming. It is not known if the female announcer is the famous Baghdad Betty or someone else.
Reception of the broadcast was poor to fair with slight interference and fading. At 21:58 UTC, there is interference splash from WYFR starting up on 11855 kHz. The initial frequency recorded may have been 21675 kHz before switching after a minute or so to 11860 kHz as the radio teletype interference abruptly stops at this point. The recording includes frequent station identifications such as “You are tuned to the Voice of Peace from Baghdad.”
The broadcast was received in Hanwell, New Brunswick, Canada, using a Sony ICF-7600D receiver and supplied wire antenna draped around the listening room.
Key GOP Lawmaker: Go after North Korea with sanctions and short-wave radio
WASHINGTON — House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R.-Calif., called Wednesday for tough new sanctions on Chinese banks that do business with North Korea. Royce also said the Stalinist regime in Pyongyang has been losing its totalitarian grip on a population increasingly getting information from short-wave radio and contraband South Korean movies.
Royce said in an interview with Yahoo News on Sirius XM POTUS Channel 124 that he had met with a top North Korean defector who played up the impact of communications from the outside world as a way to pressure the government of Kim Jong Un.
“He told me that the one thing really shaking the resolve of people across North Korea is the information that’s coming in on two short-wave [radio stations] run by defectors,” Royce said. “They’re telling people what’s really going on in North Korea and in the outside world.”
The defector, Royce recalled, said, “You should help amp that up and get that all across the country.”
Voice of America and Radio Free Asia — descendants of Cold War-era information warfare — currently broadcast 10 hours per day of short- and medium-wave radio into North Korea, according to a congressional aide. And Congress doubled their Korean-language programming for the year ending Oct. 1 to $6 million, where it will stay for the next fiscal year, the aide said.[…]
[Radio Erena founder, Biniam Simon, writes:] “You have to understand: Eritrea is completely closed. No information is available there at all, about the outside world or what is going on internally. So if you’re an Eritrean journalist, and you make it to a place where so much information is available, the first thing you think is: why not tell people all this? It was the obvious thing to do.”
[…]The station broadcasts a two-hour programme in Arabic and Tigrinya seven days a week, repeating it several times a day, giving listeners inside Eritrea multiple opportunities to listen (they may do so, in the privacy of their own homes with the shutters closed and the sound turned down, only when electricity is available – which it often isn’t). As well as news about what the regime may be up to, it provides a detailed picture of what is happening to the refugees who are travelling to Europe – when a boat carrying 360 Eritreans capsized off Lampedusa in 2013, a correspondent was immediately dispatched to Italy – as well as features about diaspora success stories, footballers and athletes among them.
It runs smoothly. There is always a lot to tell. Making sure it can be picked up in Eritrea, however, remains a constant struggle. In 2012, the government managed to block it – seemingly unbothered by the fact that in doing so, it also blocked its own television channel (both broadcast on one satellite frequency). It has also successfully jammed it on shortwave, and on at least one occasion has hacked into the Radio Erena website, destroying it completely. “It’s a nonstop challenge,” he says. “We’re constantly fighting them, and it’s getting harder and harder because they are now employing new experts from China and Indonesia.”
But if this is exhausting, it’s also hugely encouraging: “It means that what we’re doing is working. We know this because the government wants us to stop.”[…]