Tag Archives: David Goren

Radio Waves: Narco-Antennas, Pirate Radio Beginnings, Arqiva Restructure and Redundancies, and the Ghostly Buzzer

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 Skip Arey,  David Goren, Paul Evans, Kanwar Sandhu and Dave Porter for the following tips:


Special Report: Drug cartel ‘narco-antennas’ make life dangerous for Mexico’s cell tower repairmen (Reuters)

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The young technician shut off the electricity at a cellular tower in rural Mexico to begin some routine maintenance.

Within 10 minutes, he had company: three armed men dressed in fatigues emblazoned with the logo of a major drug cartel.

The traffickers had a particular interest in that tower, owned by Boston-based American Tower Corp (AMT.N), which rents space to carriers on its thousands of cellular sites in Mexico. The cartel had installed its own antennas on the structure to support their two-way radios, but the contractor had unwittingly blacked out the shadowy network.

The visitors let him off with a warning.

“I was so nervous… Seeing them armed in front of you, you don’t know how to react,” the worker told Reuters, recalling the 2018 encounter. “Little by little, you learn how to coexist with them, how to address them, how to make them see that you don’t represent a threat.”

The contractor had disrupted a small link in a vast criminal network that spans much of Mexico. In addition to high-end encrypted cell phones and popular messaging apps, traffickers still rely heavily on two-way radios like the ones police and firefighters use to coordinate their teams on the ground, six law enforcement experts on both sides of the border told Reuters.[]

How Pirate Radio Rocked the 1960s Airwaves and Still Exists Today (HowStuffWorks)

If you’ve been binge-watching movies lately, you may have come across “Pirate Radio.” Director Richard Curtis’ 2009 comedy-drama stars the late Philip Seymour Hoffman as The Count, a disc jockey for an unlicensed rock radio station that broadcast from a rusty, decrepit ship off the British coast in the mid-1960s, defying government authorities to spin the rock records that weren’t allowed on the BBC at the time. The plot is based loosely on the saga of an actual former pirate station, Radio Caroline, that was founded by an offbeat Irish entrepreneur named Ronan O’Rahilly, the inspiration for the character portrayed by Bill Nighy.

“Pirate Radio” is a period piece, set in a time when the Rolling Stones’ “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and the Who’s “My Generation” were still scandalous and controversial rather than nostalgic anthems for today’s aging baby boomers. So you couldn’t be blamed for assuming that it depicts a long-vanished phenomenon, like Nehru jackets with iridescent scarves and psychedelic-patterned paper mini dresses.

To the contrary, though, more than a half-century later, pirate radio is still a thing. In fact, it’s possibly more widespread than it was in the 1960s, even in an age when streaming internet services such as Spotify and Pandora put the equivalent of a jukebox in the pocket of everyone with a smartphone. And as a bonus, Radio Caroline still exists — though, ironically, it’s gone legal.[]

Arqiva confirms restructure and redundancies (IBC.org)

[Note: Arqiva is the UK domestic broadcast transmission provider.]

Arqiva is working on a restructure of its business that could result in a third of its staff being made redundant.

According to a report in the Telegraph, the media infrastructure business is preparing to cut around 500 staff, which is approximately a third of its workforce.

An Arqiva spokesperson confirmed to IBC365 that some job losses will occur.

They said: “The sale of our telecoms business makes Arqiva a smaller organisation, changes our revenue profile and reduces our available profit pool.

”We are therefore conducting a review of the costs and systems we need to run our business over the next three years.

”Regrettably, we will need to reduce the size of our workforce, but it’s much too early to speculate about numbers.”

The Telegraph report cites the shift to streaming and a drop in income for broadcasters as reasons for the potential cuts.[]

The ghostly radio station that no one claims to run (BBC Future)

In the middle of a Russian swampland, not far from the city of St Petersburg, is a rectangular iron gate. Beyond its rusted bars is a collection of radio towers, abandoned buildings and power lines bordered by a dry-stone wall. This sinister location is the focus of a mystery which stretches back to the height of the Cold War.

It is thought to be the headquarters of a radio station, “MDZhB”, that no-one has ever claimed to run. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for the last three-and-a-half decades, it’s been broadcasting a dull, monotonous tone. Every few seconds it’s joined by a second sound, like some ghostly ship sounding its foghorn. Then the drone continues.

Once or twice a week, a man or woman will read out some words in Russian, such as “dinghy” or “farming specialist”. And that’s it. Anyone, anywhere in the world can listen in, simply by tuning a radio to the frequency 4625 kHz.

It’s so enigmatic, it’s as if it was designed with conspiracy theorists in mind. Today the station has an online following numbering in the tens of thousands, who know it affectionately as “the Buzzer”. It joins two similar mystery stations, “the Pip” and the “Squeaky Wheel”. As their fans readily admit themselves, they have absolutely no idea what they are listening to.[…]


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Wellbrook power supply source?

Wellbrook Mag Loop antenna at Mark Fahey’s QTH near Sydney, Australia.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Goren, who writes:

I need a new power supply for one of my Wellbrook loop antennas.

Do you know of good source for reliable ones? I forgot where I obtained the last replacement which worked fine until the wire attaching to the plug worked loose.

Here are the specs:

Plug in Class 2 Transformer
Model: DC1200300R
Input: 120VAC 60 Hz 9W
Output: 12V DC 300mA
manufacturer: Sandin Ltd.

Searching online delivers a mixed bag of somebody’s old power supply.

Post Readers: Any suggestions for David? I’m sure he’s particularly interested in a good quality power supply–one that’s quiet and would last a few years. Please comment and include links when possible!

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Shortwave Shindig live stream tonight via the Wave Farm

David Goren hosts the annual Shortwave Shindig at the Winter SWL Fest

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Goren, who notes that the Winter SWL Fest Shortwave Shindig will stream live via the Wave Farm this evening.

The Shortwave Shindig will begin on February 28, 2020 at 9:15 pm EST (or February, 29 at 2:15 UTC).

The stream link will be accessible at the Wave Farm website, but only when the show is live.

To listen to the Shortwave Shindig live, simply click on this link to view the Shindig page at the Wave Farm Website.

You can also access the Shortwave Shindig live stream by clicking on the “Listen” link at the top left corner of the Wave Farm website. Note the stream link will only appear and play when the show is live.

Here’s a description of the 2020 Shortwave Shindig from the Winter SWL Fest website:

ANNUAL SHORTWAVE SHINDIG – David Goren

Come join our informal and popular late night hang as David Goren and friends celebrate the short wavelengths with stories, songs, and vintage sounds.

Shortwave Shindig Opening Ceremonies
2115 – 2200
Our resident folk music laureate Saul Broudy opens the show with old radio favorites and specialties from his vast repertoire followed by a revue of shortwave sounds in popular culture and specially commissioned works.

Meet the Archivists
2200 – 2245
Our panel of radio archivists Thomas Witherspoon, Mark Fahey and David Goren share rarities from their archives including some gems from the recently rescued collection of the late Michael Pool aka The Professor.

NYC FM Pirate Radio Update
2245 – 2330
A sneak peek at a major update to the Brooklyn Pirate Radio Sound Map and related news and discussion about urban pirate radio in the U.S.

Mercy! So Much Noise
2330-????
Tom Miller aka Comrade Squelch and David Goren weave a dense mix combining live radio with archival air checks.

Many thanks, David, for sharing this info!  I look forward to participating in the Shortwave Shindig once again!

Viva la radio!

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Brooklyn Pirate Radio Sound Map Fundraiser

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jack Jones, who shares the following:

Do you want to be part of pirate radio history? David Goren, creator of the Brooklyn Pirate Radio Sound Map, ( https://map.pirateradiomap.com/ ) is headed for an upgrade/expansion in 2020 with many exciting new features… To that end there’s a fundraiser afoot!

The Brooklyn Pirate Radio Sound Map is the first phase of a multimedia documentary project which launched in 2017 with the help of funding from the Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC). An interactive online sound map containing archival recordings of the pirate stations is paired with a four part historical essay tracing the development of Brooklyn pirate radio through interviews, and sound recordings.

The map was initially funded by the Brooklyn Arts Council. David is seeking additional funding to continue his research, add new features to the map, and expand the map to the other pirate radio neighborhoods of Queens, the Bronx and suburban New Jersey.

Please support David via GoGetFunding.

Thanks so much for sharing this fund raiser for the Brooklyn Pirate Radio Sound Map, Jack!

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The Verge: “Who’s afraid of the PIRATE Act? Not Joan Martinez”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Hirst, who shares this article from The Verge:

When she was growing up in East Flatbush among the Haitian diaspora, former pirate broadcaster Joan Martinez — no relation to the New York radio legend Angie Martinez, despite what Joan claimed to her friends as a youth — said that the sounds of pirate radio were the backdrop to her childhood. “Starting Friday night, all throughout the weekend, you would just hear all these like crazy DJs just talking and all this music,” Martinez says. Her parents’ apartment was the meeting spot for her whole family, a place where they’d reminisce about being in Haiti. They needed a place that felt like home. Martinez says that, as a kid, she never understood why the stations they listened to only broadcast on the weekends. As she got older, there were fewer of them — and then in 2010, she says, they started to come back online.

Martinez got into the scene as a broadcaster after her mother turned down an offer to be a DJ at a pirate station. “She was like, ‘No, I don’t want to. However, I do have a daughter that did study broadcasting in college,’” — Joan — “and then all of a sudden they were like, ‘We want her. Like, can we bring her in here?’” Martinez went. It was 2010. Her first job was as an anchor, where she talked through the news from the Caribbean and New York City. Then she filled in for a couple of high school girls who had their own show — and eventually took the spot over completely. It was a talk show she did with her friends for a year and a half, until Martinez decided to go back to school. (“It was a pretty live show. Sometimes things get a little raunchy, sometimes things get a little too crazy and it’s like, I don’t want to piss off my supervisor,” she says. Pirates have org charts and standards, too.)

After school, she went back, but not for very long; academia pulled her back in, and today, she’s in grad school, currently at work on her thesis. “I was doing pirate for a good five years and then when I got into grad school, since the coursework was becoming very time consuming, I had to kind of let that go,” Martinez says, adding that she’s mostly involved these days in an administrative, consulting way. “However, you know, I still keep my fingers in their pot.”[…]

Continue reading the full article at The Verge.

The Flat Bush area of Brooklyn, NY, is the cultural center of the FM Pirate Radio Scene. Check out David Goren’s Brookly Pirate Radio Soundmap to dive in deeper!

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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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Peggy Sue (K5PSG) is silent key

Image Source: PeggySueOnline.com

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Goren, who notes the passing of Peggy Sue who was the inspiration for Buddy Holly’s song. Dave notes, “Peggy Sue was a ham.”

She was indeed and her callsign was K5PSG. David shared the following article from the  Lubbock-Avalanche Journal:

Peggy Sue Gerron, who will be forever remembered in association with Buddy Holly because of his song bearing her name, died early Monday at University Medical Center in Lubbock.

She was 78.

Friends in Texas and New Mexico, who particularly knew her as a ham radio enthusiast, remember how fascinated she would be in talking to people she had never met from around the world.

Doug Hutton of Lubbock, who also is an amateur radio operator, said he was one of her friends who helped her get her radio license a decade or so ago.

Bryan Edwards, now living in New Mexico after operating the business called Edwards Electronics in Lubbock, said, “Peggy Sue was always just plain good to people.”

Hutton didn’t remember Peggy Sue from high school.

“She was three years younger than I am,” he said. But he knew her later as a ham radio buff.

“For several years, we had an event every year where it would be publicized within the ham radio community so that people would get on a certain frequency and talk to Peggy Sue,” he said. “That was a great thrill to those people to talk to her.”[…]

Continue reading the full article here.

Click here to watch Buddy Holly perform Peggy Sue live on the The Ed Sullivan CBS TV Show.

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