Tag Archives: Covid-19

With no Internet at home, PA school district uses AM radio to reach students

Check out the following story and video from WTAE Pittsburgh:

BUTLER, Pa. —As the coronavirus shutdown continues, the is going back to an old technology to help kids from falling more behind than they already are.

AM radio is making a comeback.

“We were trying to figure out how to create some normalcy for all of our students,” said Superintendent Brian White, “and we thought what better way than grabbing onto AM radio?”

White says he got the idea from a conversation with his father, also an educator, as they were setting up ways to communicate.

White says several students in the geographically large district don’t have access to the internet.

“When he was talking about that, I thought why aren’t we doing this for all of our students, that would be great. But let’s go to radio instead,” White said.

Elementary and secondary school teachers record lessons the night before and send them in. Then, 680 AM WISR in Butler broadcasts the lessons. Secondary students get their lessons at 9 a.m. and elementary students at 9:30 a.m.

“I thought the idea was great. It kind of takes you back in a way to think about the days of fireside chats,” said Hope Hull, the principal at Connoquenessing Elementary School.

Hull says she thinks this exercise improves listening skills for students. She added that her teachers are excited to put these lessons together.

White says there are plans in motion to get more students laptops and Wi-Fi capability.

Click here to read the full story and watch the WTAE video.

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All India Radio suspends shortwave and “pure DRM’ transmissions during Covid-19 lock-down

Photo by Karthik Chandran

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Fahey, who notes that All India Radio has suspended a number of their broadcast services during the Covid-19 lock-down.

Mark shares the following Office Memorandum from India’s Public Service Broadcaster.

Click here to download memorandum (PDF).

In terms of shortwave (ESD) services, here’s the relevant section from the Memorandum:

B) NON-ESSENTIAL RADIO SERVICES

The following non-essential radio services may be suspended with immediate effect during the lock-down

ESD

5) All ESD services

6) All transmitters dedicated to ESD

DRM

7) Pure DRM mode operations

a. DRM transmitters may be operated on analogue / simulcast mode to relay the National News Service subject to local circumstances and conditions

FM

8) Stations with a 3rd FM channel may relay audio of DD News or DD India subject to feasibility

On the WRTH Facebook group, Sanjay Sutradhar, did note one shortwave broadcast still in service:

It appears 9380 kHz from Aligarh is radiating AIR Vividh Bharti services, may be on a truncated wattage. 8am & 8.30pm news is extended to one hour dedicated to Covid-19 news in-country and world-wide and developments but it is the common broadcast carried out in-country on all bands, at 1.45 UTC

Mark Fahey asks:

I wonder if they will ever bring AIR’s External Service back–?

That’s the big question, isn’t it? The government lock-down is set for 21 days, but I fully expect it could take much longer if other Covid-19 countries are any indication.

If AIR’s shortwave service is closed for an extended period of time–recognizing they deem it “non-essential”–I wouldn’t be surprised if they made deep cuts or keep it closed. Let’s hope for the best outcome, though.

Stay tuned! We’ll keep you updated.


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“Sri Lanka turning ex-Voice of America relay station into COVID-19 hospital”

Google Earth view

(Source: Economy Next)

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will turn the building of a former Voice of America relay station into a COVID-19 hospital, as part of efforts to accommodate an increase in patients, a high level task force that drive Coronavirus control activities in the country said.

Sri Lanka has designated 18 hospitals to accept COVID-19 patients, but most of the confirmed patients are treated at the main infectious disease hospital in Colombo.

Mulleriyawa hospital, which is close to the IDH has also been turned into a COVID-19 treatment centre.

Sri Lanka is turning decommissioned Voice of America facilities into a COVID-19 treatment centre with the help of the military, a statement from the anti-COVID-19 task force quoted, Director General of Health Service Anil Jasinghe as saying.

The Voice of America relay station in Iranawila was built under heavy opposition from the Catholic Church. The VOA paid rent for the land and handed over facilities free of charge to the government.

VOA also handed over its old transmitters in Ekala and the land to the government when the new relay stations was built.[…]

Click here to read the full article.

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Ipsos survey explores Coronavirus impact on radio usage

(Source: Inside Radio via Dennis Dura)

Here’s How Coronavirus Is Impacting Work Habits And Radio Usage.

Scores of companies across the country are encouraging their employees to work from home to help limit the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. How this is changing American work habits and their usage of AM/FM radio is the subject of a freshly fielded study from Ipsos.

Commissioned by Cumulus Media/Westwood One, the national study of 1,027 persons 18+ was conducted from March 13 -15 “While the number of businesses, venues, and locations that have closed or curtailed visitation has grown sharply even since this study was fielded just two days ago, this data serves to quantify the state of the American workforce during a period in time,” Cumulus/Westwood One Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard says in a post on the “Everyone’s Listening” blog.

[…]Importantly for radio, nearly one in five (18%) heavy AM/FM radio listeners, defined as those who listen to more than 5 hours a week, say they will listen even more to broadcast radio due to the coronavirus outbreak, while 79% said about the same and only 4% indicated less.

Additionally, 20% of heavy AM/FM radio listeners say they will be listening more to news reports on AM/FM radio. “The crisis has also turned many into news fanatics,” Bouvard says. “Nearly one-third say they will be consuming more news online and news on TV.”[…]

Click here to read the full article.

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Guest Post: “Radio. Now is your time to shine.”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Fred Waterer, who shares this message from his friend, Jarrad Brooke:


Radio. Now is your time to shine.

As more and more mass gatherings are cancelled and outdoor entertainment is cancelled – more and more people will turn to other forms of media for entertainment. Netflix and streaming are the obvious choices – but I believe even Free to Air TV and yes -radio will get a free kick as well.

I’m not talking about those in isolation or quarantine – as that is obviously an extremely small portion (or hopefully!) a small portion of our potential audience. I’m talking just the general population who feel they need somewhere to go, tune out, escape and be entertained… seeing as they have no where in groups outdoors to do it anymore.

Radio – now more than ever, needs to make sure they use this free kick of audience to their advantage to make sure they become loyal and stay. Everything that goes to air right now needs to be to the highest quality – every song, announcer break, commercial and element needs to fit now more than ever.

Radio did such a great job in the bush fire emergency. Now build on that and maximise it even more. You never know, you could be a listeners emergency today in needing them needing an escape from reality for a while.

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Searching for the perfect dual-band mobile and radio inventory in the wake of shut-downs

The Yaesu FT-100DR

As we here in North America are about to see how deep the Covid-19 pandemic is going to go, some of us are trying to turn lemons into lemonade and make the most of our social distance.

My buddy, Eric (WD8RIF), has inspired me to add another item to my growing Social DX Bucket List: install a dual-band mobile radio in my 2018 Subaru Forester.

I had planned to install a mobile rig shortly after purchasing the Forester, but frankly, I’m a “below 30 MHz” kind of guy, so most of my radio funds support HF gear.  When I’m taking a long trip, or wanting to join a local net however, I really miss the luxury of a proper mobile VHF/UHF radio.

 

Eric has pretty much convinced me the Yaesu FT-100DR is a solid choice at $299 US. At least, it’s the rig he plans to acquire.

He also discovered, last week, that new units of the FT-100DR are completely out-of-stock here in the US.

This prompted me to contact a couple of friends who work in the ham radio retail world–I was curious if radio inventory, in general, is running low.

Turns out, things are okay for now

It seems the shortage of FT-100DR units is pretty specific to this transceiver model and the back-order started before the Coronavirus outbreak and consequent shutting down of factories and supply chains across the globe. Likely, there’s a shortage of a specific part that has brought production to a halt.

In general, ham radio transceiver inventory is healthy for now, but supply chains and import of new units has been slowed or halted by the pandemic. Both of my friends believe production has started again in China (albeit slowly) which would coincide with what Anna recently told us. It’ll take a while for production and supply chains to ramp-up and inventory filled locally.

I wouldn’t be surprised if inventory of lower-cost handheld and mobile VHF/UHF transceivers starts to dwindle. As posted earlier today, there’s been a significant uptick of new ham radio licensees. Newly minted hams might be looking for a first radio.

My advice?

If you’re planning to purchase a new transceiver in the near future, and you feel financially secure enough to do so, bite the bullet! I would also recommend supporting your domestic ham radio retailers like (here in the US) Universal Radio, GigaParts, DX Engineering and Ham Radio Outlet. Your purchase will support them through what is obviously going to be difficult financial times ahead for small businesses.

Otherwise, just sit tight for a while! You may find a deal on the used market. One of my favorite places to check is QTH.com’s classifieds.

Speaking of the used market, this is an excellent time to post the gear you’ve been planning to sell!

Dual band mobile suggestions?

If I find a deal on a used FT-100DR, I might snag it (after giving Eric the opportunity, of course). Otherwise, I think I’ll wait until later this year and simply invest in the mounts, antenna, and wiring in the meantime.

The Icom ID-4100A also seems like a solid choice.

In truth, even the FT-100DR doesn’t really satisfy all of the features I’d like in a mobile radio. Here are the features an ideal dual-band radio would offer:

  • Compact remote head
  • Bluetooth
  • VHF/UHF analog
  • GPS
  • APRS
  •  DMR (because where I live, it’s the best repeater network by far)
  • Extended receiver coverage
  • Easy to program

Yeah, I’m essentially looking for a unicorn. DMR mode would be amazing, but I’m not sure there’s a single DMR/analog mobile with remote head. Please correct me if I’m wrong. I’d love your suggestions and experience.

Also, are you considering making any major radio purchases over the next few months. or do you plan to wait until the economy begins to recover? Please comment!

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Ham Radio interest “soaring” in wake of Covid-19 pandemic

(Source: Southgate ARC)

The number of Americans obtaining their ham radio licenses is soaring as the country comes to grips with the coronavirus pandemic.

Just as shoppers are hoarding necessities and food in panic buying, more people have quickly studied to become amateur radio operators to ensure they can maintain communications with others in emergency situations and disasters.

More than 765,000 in the United States already have their amateur radio licenses from the Federal Communications Commission, however, data from the FCC indicates a recent uptick in the number of new hams, especially since the outbreak of COVID-19 worldwide. In addition, HamRadioPrep.com, a website that teaches prospective hams what they need to know to pass the FCC tests, also has experienced a huge surge in new students in the past two weeks as news continues to evolve about the pandemic.

In a comparison of the time period from March 5-13, 2020, to the same days in 2019, the number of persons signing up for amateur radio license courses on HamRadioPrep.com has soared more than 700% since news of the coronavirus outbreak dominated headlines. At the same time, the FCC shows a 7.1% percent uptick in new amateur licensees in the first week of March in 2020 vs the same week in 2019

Read more at:
http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/4623310#
ixzz6GyaDCCSz

Click here to read at the Southgate ARC.

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