Tag Archives: FM Radio

Klubrádió: Hungarian independent talk radio station leaves the airwaves

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Balázs Kovács, who writes:

Hi Thomas,

As it was first announced last September as a possibility now happens: (one of?) the last major independent talk radio station in Hungary, the Klubrádió is forced off the air (92.9 MHz, Budapest region) from Monday (they will continue online).

“With the silencing of Klubrádió, it’s not just my morning commute that will suffer. Europe will have failed to stand up for its most fundamental values.”
A detailed article about the situation at the Independent from a former member of the governing party:
https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/eu-hungary-media-viktor-orban-b1799214.html

“There is a huge propaganda balloon built up by the government and Klubrádió was a little hole, a little piece of truth where the air could escape, so they had to close this little hole in the balloon and so they can construct their own propaganda world which does not reflect the realities of Hungary.”
The latest news in a shorter form at the CNN:
https://edition.cnn.com/2021/02/09/europe/hungary-klubradio-ruling-intl/index.html

“Finally, Ms. Karas says that Klubrádió still has a chance to be on air in case of a successful tender, but then right after this, she symbolically pulled the plug out of the transmitting equipment.”
Latest news release in response to the state from the radio:
https://www.klubradio.hu/adasok/klubradio-news-release-116227

with best regards,
Balazs

Balazs also shared this video which captures the last broadcast of Klubrádió:

Thank you for sharing this Balázs. I’m certain there are other SWLing Post readers in Hungary and throughout Europe who appreciated this independent voice over the air.

To listen to Klubrádió online, check out their website for details.

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Any experience with the Tecsun TU-80 enthusiast-grade FM tuner?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, George, who writes:

Hi Thomas -I hope you’re keeping well.

[…]I have had my eye on the Tecsun TU-80. However, I seem to find no videos on its use and no reviews. Perhaps it’s because it’s new.

I wonder if any of the SWLing Post readers have some info about it.

Post readers: If you have any experience using the Tecsun TU-80 FM tuner, please comment. I am not familiar with it. Very curious if it might be a great dedicated FM DXing receiver. It is pricey ($530 US on eBay).

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Radio Waves: Hammarlund Legacy, FM Radio Using Arduino, VOA Report on Bias, ARISS SSTV Event, and Geminids

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 Trevor, Dan Robinson, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Ham radio operators honor legacy of Mars Hill company (Citizen Times)

During the 1950’s and ’60’s, when the Hammarlund Manufacturing Company had a factory just west of Mars Hill College, the town could have been considered a world center of advanced electronic technology. With a company motto of “Quality Without Compromise,” almost 90% of American WWII wartime military electronic equipment employed Hammarlund capacitors. They also built U.S. Navy search radar installed on aircraft carriers, battleships and cruisers.

Hammarlund was one of the three leading brands of radio communications equipment at the time, along with Hallicrafters and Collins Radio. These three companies dominated in providing state of the art electronics equipment to the U.S. military, large and small corporations, and to private individuals who had the means and taste to own the very best.

Hammarlund Radio initially operated out of New York City starting in 1910, in the early days of radio. They began consolidating all of their operations in Mars Hill in 1951, in a newly constructed facility that spread out to over 100,000 square foot on Hammarlund Drive — now named Hickory Drive. The site employed hundreds from around the area and their work lives on today. []

FM Radio From Scratch Using An Arduino (Hackaday)

Building radio receivers from scratch is still a popular project since it can be done largely with off-the-shelf discrete components and a wire long enough for the bands that the radio will receive. That’s good enough for AM radio, anyway, but you’ll need to try this DIY FM receiver if you want to listen to something more culturally relevant.

Receiving frequency-modulated radio waves is typically more difficult than their amplitude-modulated cousins because the circuitry necessary to demodulate an FM signal needs a frequency-to-voltage conversion that isn’t necessary with AM. For this build, [hesam.moshiri] uses a TEA5767 FM chip because of its ability to communicate over I2C. He also integrated a 3W amplifier into this build, and everything is controlled by an Arduino including a small LCD screen which displays the current tuned frequency. With the addition of a small 5V power supply, it’s a tidy and compact build as well.[]

2016 Report Confirmed Problem of Political Bias At Voice of America (USAGM Watch)

by Dan Robinson

Trump USAGM CEO Michael Pack Was Attacked For Attempts to Focus on Problem

It was May of 2016 and Amanda Bennett was only a few weeks into what would become a nearly four year stint as director of the Voice of America, among the “plum” jobs in Washington, D.C.

Bennett was just getting her feet wet, and at the time was dependent on a group of longtime embedded VOA managers that she would at one point describe as a “fantastic leadership team.”

She had received fair warning, from former VOA employees and extensive reporting by the independent watchdog website BBG and USAGM Watch, of disturbing issues at VOA, located in what has long been one of the most dysfunctional of federal agencies.

Some VOA journalists were using their taxpayer-funded positions to engage in self-promotion and campaign for political causes, a fact little known to most Americans. VOA’s website and digital operations were plagued by failures in breaking news coverage, and inaccuracies in content.

Both VOA and what was then called the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) were increasingly seen by U.S. lawmakers as moribund. A Republican-led and eventually bipartisan effort in Congress proposed major restructuring – there was little patience left on Capitol Hill where the agency was increasingly considered to be “broken,” “rudderless,” and “worthless.” President Obama signed the reform legislation in December 2016 to create a powerful agency CEO position and to make the BBG Board purely advisory.[]

ARISS Slow Scan TV event (Southgate ARC)

An ARISS Slow Scan TV (SSTV) event is scheduled from the International Space Station (ISS) for late December. This will be a special SSTV event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of ARISS.

The event is scheduled to begin on December 24 and continue through December 31.

Dates are subject to change due to ISS operational adjustments.

Dave, AA4KN
ARISS PR

The Geminids – a reminder (Southgate ARC)

The Geminids are a prolific meteor shower caused by the object 3200 Phaethon, which is thought to be a Palladian asteroid with a “rock comet” orbit. This would make the Geminids, together with the Quadrantids, the only major meteor showers not originating from a comet.

They are the biggest meteor shower of the year, and normally occur between 4 December – 17 December.

The peak is expected on 14 December.

Expect FM “pings” and hopefully interesting dx opportunities.

Mike


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Radio Waves: United Biscuit’s Radio Station, WMAL Towers Demolished, Canada’s First Off-Grid Station, and St. Helena Gets Fiber

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 Todd R, Skip Arey and Tracy Wood  for the following tips:


Cracker factory records: the surprising story of United Biscuits’ radio station (The Guardian)

Playing Bollywood soundtracks and songs about safety shoes, this shopfloor station made stars out of Dale Winton and Nicky Horne, and paved the way for UK commercial radio

nless you spent your summers packing Jaffa Cakes into boxes in the 70s, you are unlikely to have heard of the United Biscuits Network (UBN). It was a radio station for biscuit-makers, broadcasting around the clock to factories in London, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow. One part industrial psychology, another part community radio, UBN was intended to make factory life more bearable, but over its nine-year lifespan, it emerged as one of the most daring, anarchic and pioneering stations to hit the UK airwaves.

Music has long been a point of contention in the workplace. Prof Marek Korczynski, who co-authored Rhythms of Labour (2013), describes the history of British working life as “a battle over soundscapes”. Bosses first wanted silent factories, but during the second world war, Korczynski says, “industrial psychologists – the forerunners to HR departments – started looking at playing cheerful music in factories, at the times of day when productivity would dip”. After the war, as Britain rebuilt itself, this strategy was maintained with muzak: inoffensive background tunes, played to lighten the monotony of factory work.

There was one issue, according to Korczynski: “Workers grew to hate muzak.” As jobs on the production line were deskilled and made ever more monotonous, muzak’s effectiveness weakened and staff turnover soared. For Sir Hector Laing, the chairman of United Biscuits in the 1960s, stemming the flow – and its cost – was desperately necessary. Drawing on the success of commercial pirate stations such as Radio Caroline, Laing put adverts in Melody Maker, bought state-of-the-art broadcasting equipment and set up his very own station from UB’s headquarters in Osterley, west London (where Sky’s HQ sits today).[]

Demolition of Bethesda radio towers takes a piece of history, rare open space (Washington Post)

When the four orange and white steel towers first soared over Bethesda in 1941, they stood in a field surrounded by sparse suburbs emerging just north of where the Capital Beltway didn’t yet exist. Reaching 400 feet, they beamed the voices of WMAL 630 AM talk radio across the nation’s capital for 77 years.[]

Manitoulin boasts Canada’s first off-grid radio stations (Manitoulin Expositor)

LITTLE CURRENT – Great Lakes Country 103 FM and Hits100 FM have opened a new broadcasting studio and office space at the Flat Rock Entertainment Centre, home of Manitoulin Countryfest and Rockin’ the Rock, becoming the first off-grid commercial radio stations in Canada, according to CEO Craig Timmermans.

“It’s super nice to not have an electricity bill anymore,” says Mr. Timmermans as he leads The Expositor on a tour through his company’s new headquarters at 1 Radio Road on the southeastern edge of Little Current.

Through the front doors of the building lies a reception area floating in the centre of a large, open rectangular space. All of the central furniture is moveable so the team can empty the space for special events and small live concerts.

To the right is a small seating area featuring a wood and epoxy tabletop made by Kelly ‘KT’ Timmermans, president of the company. She has also built the live-edge wooden shelving and a table inside the adjacent boardroom.

“This is what I did with my quarantine,” she says with a laugh. “It’s nice to have our own space and to be in charge of our own destiny. We loved being downtown but it didn’t help our business like we had hoped.”[]

Telecom Egypt signs agreement with St Helena Government to provide it with its first subsea solution (Capacity)

02 November 2020: Telecom Egypt and St Helena Government (SHG) have signed an agreement to connect the Island to Telecom Egypt’s subsea system over the Equiano submarine cable system.

Telecom Egypt will be the first to provide St Helena with a fibre optic connection to the rest of the world, which is a crucial step towards the Island’s economic growth. The cable, along with the associated high-speed internet, is planned to be delivered to the Island by early 2022.

The branch that connects Telecom Egypt’s system to St Helena will be 1,140km long. The cable itself will run from the West Coast of Africa and provide St Helena with access to both Lisbon, Portugal and Melkbosstrand, South Africa with scalable connectivity ranging from a few hundred gigabits up to multiple terabits, as demand varies. It, therefore, provides the most cost effective solution to the growth in the Island’s bandwidth needs.

In light of its vast experience in the subsea connectivity business, Telecom Egypt, in conjunction with SHG, will provide a Dynamic Circuit Network functionality, which will ensure that SHG’s communication partners have access to fixed bandwidth.?Telecom Egypt will also support SHG in the design, installation, and configuration of the submarine and network equipment.[]


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NPR listeners shift from over-the-air radio, to streaming content (in a very big way)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, William Lee who shares the following story via Nieman Labs. Note that this is an excerpt from the story and that my comments follow:

Radio listening has plummeted. NPR is reaching a bigger audience than ever. What gives?

This year, for the first time, NPR will make more money from underwriting on podcasts than on its radio shows.

Since the pandemic took hold in the United States, NPR’s radio ratings have taken a nosedive. Half of AM/FM listening in the United States takes place in a car, but between reduced (or eliminated) commutes and social distancing, there’s been a steep decline in the drivers that make up public radio’s traditional broadcast audience.

“People who listened to NPR shows on the radio at home before the pandemic by and large still do,” NPR’s own media correspondent, David Folkenflikreported on July 15. “But many of those who listened on their commute have not rejoined from home. And that threatens to alter the terrain for NPR for years to come.”

Even as its legacy platform’s audience has declined, though, NPR says it is reaching more people than ever. The dip in radio listenership — 22 percent — has coincided with a record number of people turning to NPR on virtually every other platform. More people than ever are reaching NPR through the website, apps, livestreams, and smart speakers (“Alexa, I want to listen to NPR”).

[…]Some of the changes in NPR’s audience mirror what we’ve seen elsewhere in the news industry — traffic to news sites spiked in the early months of the pandemic — but the pandemic’s long-term effects seem poised to have a unique impact on radio listenership.

NPR’s senior director of audience insights, Lori Kaplan, has said public radio’s audience includes a disproportionate percentage of workers who are able to do their jobs remotely during coronavirus shutdowns — and that these professionals are interested in continuing to work from home even after we’ve left coronavirus in the rearview mirror.

“We’re experiencing a sea change,” Kaplan told Folkenflik. “We’re not going back to the same levels of listening that we’ve experienced in the past on broadcast.”

[…]NPR’s leaders have been reading the tea leaves. They’ve seen the studies showing younger generations overwhelmingly use the internet and their phones (not radios) for audio. In other words, they knew this shift was coming. They just didn’t know it would happen all at once.

“It was so clear people’s behaviors were changing,” said Tamar Charney, who leads NPR’s digital strategy. “You’d look at the demographic trends and young people were not listening to radio like older people.”[…]

Continue reading the full story at Nieman Labs.

This is a fascinating report and I’m willing to bet NPR has nothing to lose by being open about listening numbers and platforms compared to some commercial networks.

I’ve spoken with a number of friends in the commercial radio industry and the story is very familiar: since the pandemic especially, less people use over-the-air radio to listen to programming. The majority of over-the-air radio listening is done in the car and with the C-19 pandemic, there’s simply been less driving and commuting.

We radio enthusiasts are unique compared with our neighbors in that we actually have radios in our homes.

There is a trend, though, above and beyond anything pandemic related and it’s hard to ignore: with the proliferation of mobile Internet devices that anyone and everyone carries on their person, consumers prefer and expect on-demand content.  If you have a radio show on an FM station and it’s not offered as a podcast or via one of the streaming networks, you could be missing out on the bulk of your potential audience.

Even though I’m a hard-core radio enthusiast (by pretty much any measure), I appreciate on-demand content. For example, my staple evening news show these days is Marketplace. I prefer listening to the show live at 18:00 local on WCQS (88.1 FM) even though the signal isn’t super strong at my home (fortunately, I’ve got some brilliant radios to pull it in!). At least half of the time, however, family plans intrude on that 18:00-18:30 time slot, so I rely on the Marketplace podcast version of the show which is typically posted thirty minute after the end of their live show. So even though I’m a radio enthusiast, I still rely on streaming content for my favorite news show.

As technology and listener habits shift, I do wonder how local radio stations will adapt.

We’ve a number of SWLing Post community members who work in the radio industry around the world. Feel free to chime in and comment with your thoughts and experience.

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UK analog commercial broadcasters given permission to go digital at their discretion

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Kris Partridge, who shares the following article that notes the UK will not follow a Norway-style digital switch-off. Rather, broadcasters will be allowed to switch off individual AM (and eventually FM) transmitters once they determine it is no longer a cost-effective strategy.

From Radio Today:

Analogue commercial radio licences to be given ten-year renewal

Analogue commercial radio licences due to expire in the next couple of years will be given a 10-year extension under new government plans.

During a consultation, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport had originally proposed either 5 or 8 year extensions, but in light of the Coronavirus pandemic’s impact on commercial radio revenues has decided to offer stations an extra 10 years.

[…]Minister for Media and Data John Whittingdale said: “As we move into an increasingly digital world we’re making sure the licensing landscape for radio is fair and up-to-date and allows audiences to enjoy a wide range of high-quality stations.

“Today’s step ensures there is no disruption for loyal listeners of treasured FM and AM radio services such as Classic FM, Absolute Radio and TalkSport over the next decade.

“We will soon be turning our attention to providing similar long-term certainty to support the future growth of digital radio.”[…]

Click here to read the full story.

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Radio Waves: Hacking Satellites, “Close-Knit” Ham Radio Culture, TV Drama Diplomacy, and Ofcom Relaxes Restricted Service Licence

(Image: NASA)

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 BJ Leiderman, London Shortwave, and Michael Bird for the following tips:


Hacker Used £270 of TV Equipment to Eavesdrop on Sensitive Satellite Communications (CBRonline.com)

“Vulnerable systems administration pages and FTP servers were publicly routable from the open internet.

An Oxford University-based security researcher says he used £270 ($300) of home television equipment to capture terabytes of real-world satellite traffic — including sensitive data from “some of the world’s largest organisations.”

James Pavur, a Rhodes Scholar and DPhil student at Oxford, will detail the attack in a session at the Black Hat security conference in early August.

Pavur will also demonstrate that, “under the right conditions” attackers can hijack active sessions via satellite link, a session overview reveals.

The news comes as the number of satellites in orbit is expected to increase from approximately 2,000 today to more than 15,000 by 2030. (Elon Musk’s SpaceX alone has permission to launch 12,000 satellites.)[]

A close-knit culture, with separation at its core (Christian Science Monitor)

Ham radio operators are a global collective with a common aim: to forge human connections in an expanding network. As COVID-19 makes us all ‘distance,’ we wanted to tune in to their world.

You’re logged in, the Zoom meeting underway, and suddenly faces freeze. The best you can do: Reboot the router and cross your fingers. You’re on the phone with a friend, deep in conversation, and the audio gets garbled as the bars on your phone drop from one to none. Technology can fail us at inconvenient times. But imagine a communications technology that could hold up even in the most rugged and remote situations.

It exists, and it’s much older than the smartphone.

Amateur radio, or ham radio, has been around for more than a century, functioning as both workhorse and recreational hobby. After the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, amateur operators coordinated communications as cellphone systems became overloaded. They played a key role in Puerto Rico in 2017 after Hurricane Maria took down much of the communications infrastructure. Though there hasn’t been as much of a need during the pandemic – with traditional systems up and running – amateur radio is keeping its own user communities in touch, informed, and emotionally grounded.[]

Australia criticised for TV drama diplomacy (Radio New Zealand)

[Listen to full interview above or at RNZ.]

Australia has been told it should not send low-brow TV dramas and reality shows to the Pacific, but find out what the region really wants.

Canberra has announced plans to stream television content to the Pacific as part of efforts to promote Australia’s relationship with the region, and to counter Chinese influence.

But a spokesperson for advocacy group, Australia Asia Pacific Media Initiative, Sue Ahearn, says sending programmes like Neighbours, Border Force is not the answer.

She believes Australia could provide a much greater service for the Pacific.[]

Update: Licensing drive-in movies and church services (Southgate ARC)

Drive-in movie and church service event organisers could be granted temporary radio licences by Ofcom, which may allow film lovers and congregations to come together while still observing social distancing.

Ofcom has today updated its licensing information to offer guidance to individuals or organisations who may wish to hold these types of events. They require a ‘restricted service licence’ from Ofcom, so that people in their cars can hear the film soundtrack, or what is being said, on their FM car radios.

Given the current coronavirus pandemic, we are waiving the usual 60-day notice period for licence applications. We will also process applications quickly, with the aim of providing an answer to applicants within two weeks of it being received.

We recognise that these events may be a way for communities and congregations to enjoy a film or to worship, while still observing social distancing. In granting any licence, however, we are not authorising the event itself. It is for licensees to ensure that any events are permissible under Covid-19-related laws and guidance.

More information, including on how to apply for a restricted service licence, is available.
Licensing information []


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