The international service of the Sri Lankan Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) recently doubled its Tamil Service airtime to two hours, on 873 kHz AM (medium wave) from Puttalam transmitter. The new schedule is 0130-0330 UTC (7.00 am to 9.00 am IST). This is partly in response to individual efforts of listeners, many in the southern part of India, in Bengaluru. Introducing this change, Colombo International Radio also announced that shortly they are going to use DRM on 1548 kHz! This will be done by is using the old transmitter of Deutsche Welle located in the north of Sri Lanka at Trincomalee. The Sri Lankan public broadcaster has started airing the DRM announcement:
The publicity for the new DRM service is in full swing. See video:
On the occasion of Czech Radio’s centenary, we asked our listeners to let us know where they heard our special programme on that day in order to map Radio Prague International’s broadcast reach today. Here are at least some of the many letters and photos which you have sent us. Thank you to all our loyal fans.
George Jolly, who was listening to our special programme over the internet, wrote from Houston, Texas:
“Thank you so much for the special program today celebrating your 100 years of radio. If I were not so far away, I would surely visit you on Saturday. It means a lot to me that you continue the tradition of the ‘radio magazine’. Hearing the opera excerpt and other recordings from the past was wonderful!
“I love old music and old technology like radio, and I love that you are keeping their spirit alive and new again for today’s world. I am so grateful to celebrate your centenary with you from afar.”
Another listener from the United States is Timothy Marecki, who wrote us from New Port Richey in Florida: Continue reading →
State association questionnaire finds one in three AM stations have no FM translator
The National Alliance of State Broadcasters Association (NASBA) is reporting insights it discovered after polling AM stations about the removal of over-the-air AM in new cars.
The data collected from more than 1,000 AM stations shows that many do not have an FM translator and/or do not stream their signals over internet connections, NASBA says. The group is hoping to use the information to rally proponents of AM to help convince companies like Ford, Mazda, BMW and others to keep reception of AM in their new vehicles.
NASBA says the automakers “are cutting corners on expensive new electric vehicles” by eliminating AM radios, which means more than 4,000 AM stations in the United States are at risk. But its survey results show that AM radio across the country provides a diverse mix of music and talk and is a vital link for millions of listeners. [Continue reading…]
“It was the music without the spots, that made FM,” says a reader
The comments written by Dave Bialik in the latest Radio World hits the nail right on the head. The average person, which is about 95% of the population, couldn’t care less about audio fidelity. The days of “audiophiles” are gone. The downturn of AM listenership is almost exclusively due to poor programming, poor content. Yes, FM in its early days was mostly easy listening, beautiful music and classical music. It catered to the audiophiles, and had a very limited audience even though it sounded great and in 1963 by offering multiplex stereo.
Once a few of the FM guys realized people were fed up with the 45 minute commercial breaks on AM stations with popular music, the format was adopted on FM, but with none or few commercials (because no one wanted to advertise on FM). Once people found out they could get the rock and pop music on FM without all the talk, the band switch started taking place. It had nothing to do with audio — remember at this time people were buying 8-track tapes by the millions and they were technically several steps below AM radio. It was the music without the spots, that made FM. Once that happened, most of the large and middle market stations threw all of their eggs into the FM basket and put something on the AM just to hold the license.
I once worked for an AM station owned by one of the large groups. In its heyday, in the 50’s–70’s, it was THE top 40 station. In a market of 40 stations, it had a 60 share. Once the group owners bought a big FM signal, they blew the AM away and loaded it with satellite talk. After a few years, that 60 share was .5 — yes point 5. After a few years of this, and it becoming unsellable, one of the staff suggested to management that they should go back to a music format playing the hits of the 50’s and 60’s (this was in 2002). [Continue reading…]
Czech Radio celebrates a significant anniversary this year. 18 May 2023 marks exactly 100 years since the start of regular radio broadcasting in the Czech Republic, then Czechoslovakia, when the private company Radiojournal began broadcasting from a humble scout tent in Prague’s Kbely.
For the occasion of its monumental jubilee, Czech Radio has prepared a rich programme for the public, new broadcasting highlights and a unique exhibition at the National Technical Museum. Celebrations throughout the year will illustrate the remarkable journey of the most trusted public service media in the Czech Republic.
“Czech Radio will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the start of regular broadcasting. It is an honour for me to be at the helm of this public institution at a time when we are recapitulating important past moments, revisiting our history and remembering outstanding radio personalities. But this extraordinary anniversary is also an opportunity for us to show that 100 years of radio broadcasting is only the beginning. We are ready to launch the next century of our existence with new programming projects and technological innovations. The entire project of our anniversary celebrations aims to support the position of Czech Radio on the media market and also to show that it is an important partner for other institutions. I believe that with an imaginative programme we will not only delight current listeners, but also attract new ones,” said René Zavoral, Director General.
The celebrations will officially commence on 10 March with a formal ball at the Municipal House in Prague, where the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Gustav Brom Radio Big Band and musical guests Ewa Farna, Mirai, Dara Rolins and No Name will perform.
On the day of its 100th birthday, Czech Radio will hold a grand concert in the Riegrovy Sady park for listeners and the general public. The concert will include performances by the band Chinaski, as well as musicians Aneta Langerová, Mirai Navrátil and Marek Ztracený, who will be the first performer broadcast on Czech Radio in its second century of existence. [Continue reading…]
Sometimes, in hindsight, it can be difficult for a writer to determine when and where story actually began.
With this one, was it when the FCC began licensing low-power community radio stations in 2000? Or was it when I began hosting a Radio Monitoring Net on the local 146.94 repeater (Troy, NY) at 7 pm on Tuesday nights?
For sure, a tipping point was when one of the net participants suggested check out a low-power FM community radio station on 92.7 FM. It’s kind of like western swing, he said.
I did check it out and found it to be a combo of traditional country and what I call “hillbilly jazz.” No announcer between musical selections, and occasional station IDs. At 7 am, I heard the Ralph Nader radio hour. Allegedly it is licensed to the Oakwood Community Center in Troy, NY, but nothing on the air that I have heard suggests that connection. Very curious. Is a place-holder for something else?
It turns out there are hundreds of low-power community radio stations across the United States. They are limited to 100 watts and an antenna height of 30 meters (100 feet). According to the FCC:
To qualify for an LPFM license, you must be:
A government or non-profit educational institution, like a public or private school or state or private university
A non-profit organization, association or entity with an educational purpose, like a community group, public service or public health organization, disability service provider or faith-based organization
A government or non-profit entity providing local public safety or transportation service, like a volunteer fire department, local government or state transportation authority
An Indian or Alaska Native tribe, band, nation, pueblo, village or community that will provide non-commercial radio services.
In addition, applicants for LPFM licenses must be based in the community in which they intend to broadcast. An organization is considered community-based if:
It is physically headquartered or has a campus within 10 miles of the proposed transmitting antenna
Seventy-five percent of its governing board resides within 10 miles of the proposed transmitting antenna
It is a non-profit or governmental public safety organization that intends to broadcast within the area of its jurisdiction
In the case of a Tribal application, the applicant’s Tribal lands are within the service area of the proposed station.
There are several LPFM stations in my area, and chasing them is fun. I found the best success with my Tecsun PL-880 and its long whip antenna. Sometimes the whip works best when held vertically; sometimes, horizontally; sometimes moving the whip horizontally as little as 45 degrees will blank one station and bring up another. The end effect is to look like a drunken sword master while getting into the Better Half’s potted plants, knocking over scanners on the desk, and other encounters with the long whip.
Nevertheless, chasing low power community radio stations is fun, and I can predict, with some authority, that you may encounter programming that you won’t find anywhere else.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Loyd Van Horn, who shares the following announcement:
DX Central Announces Inaugural Grand Slam DX Challenge
Chances are, if you ask a DXer how they began their love of DX, many will tell you it all began by searching through the static for the unmistakable sounds of baseball.
Radio and baseball have been intrinsically tied together since the early days of both. In fact, radio broadcasts of baseball games, long before the days of television, are what helped to turn it into “America’s National Pastime.”
It is with that history in mind that we are pleased to announce the inaugural Grand Slam DX Challenge.
Originating from an idea between DX Central’s Loyd Van Horn (W4LVH) and Sean Kutzko (KX9X), the Grand Slam DX Challenge (GSDXC) once again honors the link between radio and baseball by challenging hobbyists to log as many radio stations, from as many Major League Baseball teams, as possible during the MLB regular season.
“I knew I wanted to have some sort of challenge,” says Van Horn. “I just wasn’t sure exactly what or how that would work. Then Sean came to me with the idea of doing something around the baseball season and I thought ‘that’s genius!’”
The notion of tying America’s game with DXing came naturally to Kutzko.
“My love for baseball goes back probably on par with the same time that I got interested in AM DXing as a really, really small kid,” says Kutzko. “[The challenge] is a multi-month event focused around the two greatest things that I spend my time with which is radio and baseball.”
To help turn this idea into reality, Kutzko brought his experience building the ARRL’s National Parks on the Air (NPOTA) program in 2016 for the amateur radio community. In addition, Kutzko and Van Horn teamed up with Mike Leary (K7MSO), an experienced web developer and radio hobbyist, who volunteered his time and skills to the project.
The premise is simple: a participant should try to receive as many stations – and from as many different Major League Baseball teams – as possible. The broadcasts must be from the team-sanctioned radio network broadcast (national broadcasts from networks such as ESPN, Westwood One, etc. do not count).
There are nine entry categories that a participant can choose from, and include AM only, FM only or both AM and FM submissions.
Submissions for the challenge will be through the challenge Web site: grandslamdxchallenge.com. The full rules and scoring system for the challenge also available on the same site.
It is important to note that this inaugural edition of the challenge is a true beta version. Feedback from the community will be critical for resolving any defects or making any improvements for future iterations of the challenge.
“I just hope that this is something people will really be able to enjoy, perhaps even remind them of why they fell in love with radio in the first place,” says Van Horn. “With the Sporadic Es season coming for FM and the unique propagation opportunities that often occur during summer on AM, there should be plenty here to keep DXers glued to their radios throughout the summer!”
It is 2010 and Colombian Colonel Jose Espejo has a problem. Not only is the Farc increasing its kidnapping activity, targeting police and military hostages, but many of the soldiers already in captivity – some kept in barbed-wire cages and held isolation in for over a decade – are losing hope of ever being rescued.
Colombia’s dense jungle and mountainous terrain mean rescue missions can take months to plan, especially because Farc guerrillas are known to shoot all hostages dead at the first hint of a raid. Colonel Espejo knew that in order for future missions to succeed, he would need to warn the captives that help was coming so they could be ready to make a break for it when the army arrived. But how do you get a message across to military hostages without tipping off their captors and placing them in even greater danger?
The unexpected solution – hide the message in a pop song with an interlude in Morse code that the military hostages could decipher. Soldiers learned Morse code in basic training, and it was unlikely that the Farc, who were not military trained, would know it. This is the tale of Better Days, a pop song with a secret Morse code message that became an actual lifesaver.
At the NAFB Convention, Simington said AM radio is an “indispensable resource”
FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington met with members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting during their 79th annual convention on Nov. 16. In his remarks, Simington emphasized the importance of AM radio and outlined the steps needed to ensure its future in a changing market.
Simington began his remarks with a more personal anecdote. He said he grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan, Canada, where “besides the trade papers, there was no media institution more trusted to inform us about all we needed to know than AM radio.”
“AM radio was for us then, and is for the more than three million farmers across the U.S. now, an indispensable resource,” he said.
Simington said AM radio is the “essential spine” of the Emergency Alert System and “lets you know what’s happening not just globally, but locally — from school closures and traffic delays to city council and county management meetings and high school sports games.”
He comments on the growing populations that view AM radio as a “dead” and outdated technology, and why he believes that to be a falsity. [Continue reading…]
Anyone who has tried to find an AM/FM receiver in a big box retailer knows they are not as easy to find as they once were. It is little surprise then that the Consumer Technology Association expects fewer to sell this year. But at roughly five million units now sold each year, CTA expects that number to hold steady in the years to come, in part due to the role radio plays during emergencies.
“That category has stabilized,” said Rick Kowalski, Director of Industry Analysis and Business Intelligence at CTA. “It’s a low number relative to other categories, but there’s a steady demand, just in terms of people having an AM/FM radio for those situations where you might need a battery-powered radio as a backup.”
CTA forecasts 4.7 million traditional radio receivers will be sold this year in the U.S. That is six percent lower than the five million units sold in 2021. “Looking out in the next five years. It’s not going to get much lower than that,” Kowalski said in an interview.
CTA projects 24.5 million smart speakers will sell this year, or roughly five-times as many as traditional radio receivers. But in what may be a surprise to many, that estimate is actually two percent lower than the 25 million smart speakers that CTA says were sold last year. [Continue reading…]
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — The Asheville Radio Museum has added a new piece of history to its’ collection!
It’s a 1922 radio receiver built by an Asheville-based business.
The model HS2 radio the museum procured is only one of two known to exist.
Collector and restorer Robert Lozier found that it was the first name brand radio built in North Carolina.
News 13 spoke to the director of media communications Peter Abzug about why this radio is so significant.
“Having this radio here, in Asheville, where it was built is really significant,” he said. “It’s bringing it home. Although the company itself didn’t last for years and years, it did employ people and it was a significant part of Asheville’s history, and something we can be very proud of.”
Innovation is at the historic heart of Alabama Power, beginning with its founding in 1906 and Capt. William Patrick Lay’s vision of electrifying the state by harnessing the power of Alabama’s rivers.
But the company’s embrace of another cutting-edge technology, just 16 years after Alabama Power’s incorporation, is also historic.
One hundred years ago this year, on April 24, 1922, Alabama Power hit the airwaves with the state’s first operating radio station. WSY (an acronym for “We Serve You”) began broadcasting from rented space in a building on Powell Avenue in Birmingham.
The 500-watt AM station was initially designed as a company tool, to provide better communications among employees – especially those in the field and at remote generating plants. In fact, radio technology was so new – regularly scheduled radio programming in the United States started only in 1920 – Alabama Power engineers had to design and build most of WSY’s transmitting equipment.
“We began assembling the set … with intentions of using it for purposes of operation of the system exclusively,” wrote George Miller, the employee in charge of the station, in the July 1922 issue of the company’s Powergrams. “The broadcast feature came up, though, and materially changed our plans.”
Indeed, a month before the station went on the air, The Birmingham News published a do-it-yourself piece about “how to make your own radiophone receiving set” so local residents could pick up WSY when it began broadcasting.
Interest in the station was so strong that within weeks it began offering entertainment programs, according to “Developed for the Service of Alabama,” the centennial history of Alabama Power, written by noted historian Leah Rawls Atkins.
Dee Haynes, with the Alabama Historical Radio Society, recalled one story that underscores WSY’s popular embrace. Soon after WSY went on the air, earpieces began disappearing from the handsets of payphones all over Birmingham, apparently because people were swiping them to use in home-built receiving sets. [Continue reading…]
For 54 years, WCFW has been a beloved independently owned radio station on 105.7FM. But for lifelong Eau Claire resident Parker Reed, it has been more than that: it’s his family’s life, love, and legacy.
A catchy jingle – featuring the melody “WCFW, where FM means fine music” – came across a young radio station owner’s desk in 1969.
It was short, simple, and it worked. The owner paid $25 for it, and more than 50 years later that same jingle – which has aired thousands of times on 105.7FM radio – exemplifies the values of WCFW in Chippewa Falls and the couple who have owned it for over half a century: simplicity and consistency.
My grandparents, Roland and Patricia Bushland, have owned and operated WCFW since its inaugural broadcast on the airwaves on Oct. 20, 1968. Earlier this summer, they decided to end their 54-year stint in radio, selling the legacy station to Magnum Media – a Wisconsin-based media organization owned by Dave Magnum who now owns 25 radio stations across the state and will take over operations of the quaint, easy-listening station later this fall.
It’s a bittersweet moment – for the community, yes, but especially for our family, for whom the station has been an integral part of our lives for decades.
“It’s hard to not have mixed feelings about it, because it was our life for so long,” said my grandmother, Patricia Bushland. “When you start something, and you’re the only people who ran it all those years, you get attached to it. But after so many years, I’m thrilled to death that someone new is coming in, and we can finally take a break.”
When my grandfather, Roland, was young, he would draw pictures of radio towers during school – as his life too began with radio, front and center. My great-grandfather Roy Bushland owned and operated multiple Bushland Radio Specialties storefronts in Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire since the early 1930s – a business where my grandfather got his start in 1952 after he graduated Chippewa Falls High School as salutatorian. [Continue reading…]
I’ll never forget the excitement I felt as I bought my first transistor radio with a hard-saved pile of silver coins. I was 9, and I wasn’t just getting a piece of shiny kit, I was gaining access to a whole world of music and chat and cool that might somehow magically bind me to the other kids in my neighbourhood and at my school.
That thrill was only topped when, in my teens, I discovered the seditious sounds of student radio on the FM band, and realised there really were other people like me in the world. Like Jenny in the Velvet Underground song, I turned on a radio station and my life was saved by rock and roll.
It’s doubtful, though, that young listeners feel the same way about the medium today. While they consume vast quantities of music, much of it is via streaming platforms like Spotify, YouTube and TikTok. The radio isn’t the principal conduit to a world and identity – it’s just one channel among many. And when they do listen to radio, young people are increasingly shunning the stations targeting them in favour of golden oldies.
The latest Australian radio survey results saw Smooth FM pick up considerable market share in the younger demographics – 10-17, 18-24 and 25-39 – and much of it came at the expense of the ABC’s youth-focused network Triple J.
In the survey, which covered the period of February 27 to May 21, Triple J clocked an average audience of just 78,000 listeners in the five mainland capital cities across the full listening week (from a total of 1.56 million average radio listeners). In Sydney, it held a 3.9 per cent share of the listening audience, in Melbourne 4.5 per cent. It did better in Brisbane, where it has a 6.7 per cent share of listening, Perth (6.8 per cent) and Adelaide (5.1 per cent). [Continue reading at The Age…]
Much is made of Radio’s digital future in Australia. The publicly listed broadcasters and the industry body CRA are obsessed with digital. And so they should be as the content equation continues to fragment and the battle for your attention increases. The buzzword is AUDIO.
However, this appears to me at the significant risk of over-looking the goose that lays the golden eggs – FM and AM radio. The audience numbers and revenue this “traditional” medium continues to generate are staggering and dwarf many “digital audio” businesses.
This from radiotoday.com.au: “Commercial radio ad revenue in May was up 11.2% compared to May 2021, continuing months of sustained growth in the sector. (April was up 8.8%) That’s according to data released today by industry body Commercial Radio Australia. Ad revenue for the five major Australian capital city markets totalled $66.273 million during the month compared to $59.605 million a year ago. Commercial Radio is currently flying on all fronts with record audience listening levels in the most recent GFK survey and now an 11.2% year on year increase in commercial revenue for May.”
I would have thought that’s something for Radio to be very proud of, especially in the light of declining television viewership and publishing readership trends? But the word Radio is in danger of extinction.
This from SCA’s Annual report: “The four pillars of our refreshed corporate strategy are to entertain, inform and inspire our audiences; to establish LiSTNR as Australia’s ultimate audio destination; to use our assets to help our clients succeed; and drive and embed a digital audio first operating model.” Where’s Radio? [Continue reading at Radio Today…]
The author is a retired broadcast engineer who has been involved with advancing radio and television throughout his career, including for Qualcomm/MediaFLO, Harris, Nautel and ONEMedia LLC/Sinclair.
There are days when I feel like Ira Wilner, who wrote a piece here in reply to my commentary about NextGen TV.
Why bother with OTA broadcast? That is the question, isn’t it? But then, several explanations come to mind.
OTA is free. It’s hard to beat free. Streaming delivery requires an ISP or wireless data payment. Subscription satellite is needed when one drives through nowhere. Admittedly, many of us have connectivity in all the places we want it for other reasons; thus, sometimes it is a “sunk cost” for listeners, but always an additional, buy-it-by-the-bit, per-listener CDN cost for broadcasters.
OTA is low-friction. It’s hard to be smoother than navigating on-off/volume/tune.
OTA doesn’t buffer. It does not (and should not on NextGen) require searching with a browser. Done well, there isn’t even a “channel change” delay.
Try surfing through the dial on IP. Try scanning for local stations when travelling. I like local. On Sunday nights, I could stream “The Big Broadcast,” WAMU’s longest-running program, which I became addicted to when I commuted east; but I dial up KCFR or KUNC here in Denver instead. I am that lazy. I hate friction.
And if we don’t have an FCC license, just exactly what are we? Pause and contemplate what we’d be without a signal and those magic call letters. [Continue reading at Radio World…]
Cape Town – This Youth Month, award-winning RX Radio, run by and for children and based at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, are appealing to the public for help to keep the groundbreaking initiative going.
RX Radio celebrate their fifth birthday this year, with a studio based at Red Cross Hospital and their broadcast feed reaching the paediatric wards at Brooklyn Chest and Paarl Hospital.
With a vision of reaching every hospital with a paediatric ward in South Africa, RX Radio has trained over 135 young reporters from ages 4 and up.
A team of five staff, one intern, one mentor, volunteers and former reporters work behind the scenes to train, co-ordinate, and support the reporters – but the children are always behind the microphones and are active participants in the production; they design their own shows, choose the music, invite guests, write interviews, questions, and even plan fundraising events.
RX Radio founder, Dr Gabriel Urgoiti said: “Children make up 34% of people in South Africa; you see them everywhere, but at the same time you don’t see them, children are quite invisible. What RX radio continues trying to do is provide a platform where children can be heard and children can be engaged on things that are important to them. We provide them with an opportunity to talk, and working at hospitals has helped children with chronic conditions tell their stories and improve healthcare delivery.” [Continue reading at IOL…]