Tag Archives: Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station

VOA exhbition: “a fascinating look at early shortwave radio”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, George Herr, who shares the following item from the LA Times:

Long before cell towers started sprouting up everywhere, the federal government commissioned telecommunication companies to build five massive fields of shortwave radio antennae. The structures, which reached up to 450 feet, were located in out-of-the-way places in California, Ohio and North Carolina. Each was designed to bounce radio waves off the ionosphere, allowing federally produced programming to be transmitted all over the globe.

The U.S.’ international radio broadcaster Voice of America was born during World War II. It expanded during the Cold War. As technology advanced, its programs were carried via television and digital platforms. Today it is part of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, providing news and information in 50 languages to a weekly audience of 275 million.

Its early years are traced in a fascinating exhibition at the Center for Land Use Interpretation in Culver City. “Voice of America: The Long Reach of Shortwave” takes visitors back to the predigital world, before our political leaders began tweeting their innermost sentiments and policy decisions. Back then, international audiences were addressed more formally, via carefully scripted programming.

[…]The antennae are the stars of the show. They appear in photographs, in videos and on touch-screen monitors. Arranged in grids, arcs and asymmetrical arrays, they resemble high-tech fishing nets, impossibly spindly bridges, supersized spirit catchers and otherworldly telephone poles. Sculpturally impressive, they make Land Art look fussy, precious and small.

All but one of the five transmission stations have been abandoned. The most haunting component of the exhibition is a three-minute video documenting the destruction of the antennae. In sequence after sequence, little puffs of smoke appear before the towering antennae yield to the tug of gravity and topple to the earth in seemingly slow motion. Some crash into others, causing them to fall like skyscraper dominoes. It’s a sad ballet that marks the end of an era.

A pair of touch-screen slideshows is also bittersweet. It takes visitors on a virtual tour of Transmission Station B (the only one still functioning) and Transmission Station A (its twin). Both are near Greenville, N.C. To see the up-and-running station alongside its vandalized, disused doppelganger is to glimpse a living world next to a dying one.

Both are ours.

Click here to read the full story at the LA Times.

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Edward R. Murrow Shortwave Transmitting Station: wallpaper images

VOA-site-B-Wallpaper-MainBuilding2

On April 1st, I spent the bulk of the day at the Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station outside of Greenville, North Carolina. Prior to my visit, I asked if SWLing Post readers had any requests or questions I could address while there.

I printed all of your inquiries and made sure they were addressed during my visit. I also took a lot of photos!

I had hoped to have a post published the following week with all of the photos and responses properly curated, but frankly, I haven’t had the spare time to do it yet. I’ve simply had too much travel and too many projects on my plate since that site visit (not to mention cramming for the Extra exam!).

I’m working on a draft of the post now and Macon Dail (WB4PMQ), the transmitting station’s Chief Engineer, is helping me with captions and responding to your questions.

Wallpaper

One reader asked if I could snap some photos that could be used as wallpaper on his computer. This morning, I selected eleven images and cropped them to fit a widescreen monitor.

I tried to pick images that would work well as a background/wallpaper–meaning, they’re not too busy (visually). Some are abstract close-ups.

Click on any of the images on this page to enlarge–then simply save the image to your computer to use it as you see fit.

I hope you enjoy!

VOA-site-B-Wallpaper-MainBuilding VOA-site-B-Wallpaper-HighVoltage VOA-site-B-Wallpaper-Curtain-Closeup VOA-site-B-Wallpaper-Curtain-Antenna VOA-site-B-Wallpaper-Continental-Transmitter VOA-site-B-Wallpaper-BluePrints VOA-site-B-Wallpaper-AntennaFarm VOA-site-B-Wallpaper-Antenna VOA-site-B-Wallpaper-1 VOA-site-B-Wallpaper-TX-Mimic-Panel

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Video: Demolition company’s view of VOA Site A towers falling

Fullscreen capture 472016 113932 AM

While it’s fascinating to watch the video footage of the VOA Site A towers falling, it’s also a little heartbreaking.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I spent time last week at the VOA Site A’s twin site: VOA Site B (now the Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station).

While it’s a little tough for me to watch, imagine how difficult it is for the engineers who lovingly cared for these giant antennas for so many decades. Still, VOA Site A’s antennas needed to be demolished–they hadn’t been in operation since 2006 and would have soon become a hazard to anyone on the site.

It’s just tough to see these powerhouse curtain antennas collapse:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Post Readers: I’m hoping to have time this weekend to put together the photos I took last week and responses to your questions.

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Any requests? Heading to the Edward R. Murrow transmitting station…

VOA-Greenville-Curtain-Antennas

I’m planning to visit the Edward R. Murrow transmitter station for a few hours on Friday (tomorrow). This will be my third trip to the station and I’ll be hanging out with the chief engineer, Macon Dail. I plan to take more photos–especially of some recent transmitter upgrades.

Any questions/requests?

If you like, I would be happy to ask Macon any technical/engineering questions you may have about the site and post his replies here on the SWLing Post next week.

Additionally, if you have something specific you’d like me to photograph, please ask and I’ll attempt to do so. The only areas I’m not allowed to photograph are those dealing with site security.

Please comment with your questions and requests no later than tomorrow morning!

In case you’re not familiar, the Edward R. Murrow transmitter site is the last BBG shortwave broadcasting site on US soil. Click here for a photo tour I posted a few ago.

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BBG’s Fiscal Year 2016 Congressional Budget Request

BBG-Budget-Request

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who shares a link to the Broadcasting Board of Governor’s Fiscal Year 2016 Congressional Budget Request.

Click here to download as a PDF.

I’ve read key portions of the request.

Regarding shortwave, the BBG are asking for budget reductions in almost all of the BBG shortwave broadcasting arms, with a few exceptions.   They acknowledge, in each case, that shortwave broadcasting is not as cost-effective as other means of distribution (including FM, Internet and satellite). The do acknowledge that shortwave broadcasting is still needed in some strategic markets. Here is, perhaps, the most telling quote I found:

“To serve audiences in less developed areas of the world, BBG must continue to broadcast via traditional technologies such as shortwave and maintain capability on these platforms by replacing antiquated equipment. But to stay relevant in competitive news markets and serve current and future audiences, BBG must invest in new cutting-edge technology. In areas where ownership and usage of shortwave radio has declined significantly, the Agency has evolved away from broadcasting in shortwave.”

A few specific highlights from the request:

Page 19

4) ENHANCE HIGH FREQUENCY TRANSMISSION CAPABILITY ($2.8M)
BBG will continue the shortwave realignment project that began in FY 2014, which increases shortwave transmission capability at its Kuwait Transmitting Station. This enhancement provides improved coverage to underserved areas of the world and
reduces operating costs by decreasing reliance on external leases. All aspects of
this proposal focus on improving transmission capability, while continuing
to reach audiences in Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Tibet and
Western China. The added capacity will support broadcasts for RFE/RL, RFA and
VOA.

At $2.00 per broadcast hour, Kuwait provides the highest return on investment in the BBG transmitting station portfolio. Thus, BBG began expansion of the facility in FY 2014 with
the construction of a new high frequency antenna and design of the transmitter building expansion. The proposed investment, extending through FY 2018, will bring the Kuwait
Transmitting Station up to the maximum capability allowed by the country agreement and will enable the Agency to decrease overall operating costs for the foreseeable future. When the realignment project is completed, the Kuwait station will have ten shortwave transmitters with associated antennas.[…]

Page 22:

Reduce Shortwave Costs [-$2.90M] The Office of Technology, Services, and Innovation (TSI) will eliminate less effective transmission frequencies and realign transmissions to end high cost leases. TSI will realize additional reductions to antiquated technologies by reducing transmissions to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burma, and Kurdish-speaking regions and eliminating shortwave to Russia, the Caucasus, Belarus, Laos, Cambodia, Rwanda, and Burundi. Audiences in these countries access news and information on more efficient,[…]

Page 69

STRATEGY BASED ON AUDIENCE
MEDIA HABITS
Using research on audience media habits, TSI will continue to move away from less effective legacy shortwave and medium wave transmissions toward other technologies, where appropriate, to reach larger and younger audiences. Where shortwave remains important, TSI is building a more cost-effective transmission infrastructure to support broadcast requirements. Of particular note are efforts at the Kuwait Transmitting Station. Because of the station’s strategic importance and low operating costs, TSI is installing a new shortwave antenna that is expected to be operational in FY 2015 and will expand the station’s transmitter building in FY 2016 to accommodate future transmitter build-outs.[…]

Page 109

To serve audiences in less developed areas of the world, BBG must continue to broadcast via traditional technologies such as shortwave and maintain capability on these platforms by replacing antiquated equipment. But to stay relevant in competitive news markets and serve current and future audiences, BBG must invest in new cutting-edge technology. In areas where ownership and usage of shortwave radio has declined significantly, the Agency has evolved away from broadcasting in shortwave.
BBG has closed transmission stations, repurposed equipment and invested these savings in platforms that the audience has shifted to, primarily in digital media technology and other high-priority programming.

Click here to download the full request as a PDF.

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