This particular adventure began about three weeks ago with an email from CCrane. “Timeless, Easy to Use with Long Range Radio Reception” the headline read. Further, the accompanying text promised: Comes with needle and dial tuning, one button for power, one button for a bright display light, and has no clock or alarm. The radio in question was the C.Crane CCRadio-EP PRO.
The “Long Range Radio Reception” initially caught my eye, but the simplicity of an old-fashioned “needle and dial” – what I call “slide rule” – tuning” also appealed to me, so I emailed CCrane, asked them if they would like to send me one for review, which they did, without charge.
While waiting for the EP PRO to arrive, I examined the photos of the EP PRO on the CCrane website, and I noticed something peculiar: a switch on back for choosing between 9 kHz tuning steps and 10 kHz tuning steps. Whaaat?! Why in the world would you need such a thing on a radio with needle and dial tuning?
We’ll get to the answer to that question shortly, but first let’s take a tour of the CCrane EP PRO.
The case is a rectangle with rounded corners that measures 11.4″ W x 7.3″ H (8.4″ H with handle) x 2.75″ D and weighs 4.5 pounds without batteries. Starting on the left front panel, you’ll find a 5-inch speaker. To the right of that, there is the slide rule (needle and dial) tuning setup, with a small red light on the right side that illuminates when a station is found. Below that is a CCrane logo and further below is a switch for selecting AM (520 – 1710 kHz, 10 kHz steps; 522 – 1620 kHz, 9 kHz steps), FM (87.5 – 108 MHz), or FM stereo; a knob for adjusting bass, a knob for adjusting treble, and a knob for choosing between narrow (2.5 kHz) and wide (6 kHz) filter bandwidths.
On top of the EP PRO are a red POWER button, a black button for lighting the tuning dial, a flip-up carry handle, and a 36-inch telescoping antenna for FM reception. (Inside the case is a ferrite bar antenna – 12mm x 200mm (7.9″) long with CCrane’s Twin Coil Ferrite® technology.)
On the right side of the case at top is the tuning knob, below that a knob for fine-tuning the internal antenna for AM reception, and at the bottom a knob for volume. On the left side of the case, you’ll find a 1/8” stereo headphone jack, a line-in jack, and a socket for plugging in an external 6-volt AC adaptor which is provided with the EP PRO.
On the back of the radio is a hatch for installing four D-cell batteries (CCrane says it will run for about 175 hours at moderate volume with the dial light off), external antenna connections: spring loaded for AM and “F” connector for FM, a switch for selecting internal or external AM antenna, and the switch for selecting 9 or 10 kHz tuning steps.
That’s it. The EP PRO is almost Zen-like in its simplicity. There are no seek buttons, no automatic storage functions, no memories, no key pad. And there is a darn good reason for that. It turns out that the immediate predecessor of the EP PRO, the CCrane EP, was created by Bob Crane because his mother wanted a very simple radio that was easy to operate. The CCrane EP, a true needle and dial analog radio, was the result.
Bob believed that, besides his mother, there was a market for such a radio, and there was. Unfortunately, after a time, the analog chips necessary to build the CCrane EP became unavailable. As a result, the radio was redesigned internally using modern digital chips (essentially the same as those in CCrane’s model 2E and 3 radios) while keeping it simple and easy to operate. So inside what looks like an old-fashioned analog radio beats the heart of a high-performance digital radio that combines the high sensitivity needed to hear distant stations with excellent selectivity to block signals from the side.
In my view, the EP PRO is great fun to operate. In the predawn hours on a weekend morning with the rain falling softly outside, I started tuning slowly across the AM dial with the EP PRO in my lap. Near the bottom end, a couple of sports mavens were chatting about a pitcher who had a couple of rough two initial outings and then had “settled in.”
A bit further up the dial Dionne Warwick was telling me to “walk on by.” Then I ran into a music station competing with a talk show considering “the Bible, angels, and UFOs.”
Up the dial some more, apparently a good deal on a high performance car could be had at a dealership in Connecticut; then an air quality report for New York City, a female voice delivering a long discourse in French and so on up the dial.
I was impressed at the number of stations that the EP PRO was pulling in, and it brought me back to the simple joy of tuning around to see what’s on the air.
Each time a discernible station appeared, the red tuning LED would light up. As needed, I used the antenna tuning knob and the bandwidth selection switch to tweak the signal. The needle and dial tuning gives an approximate indication of where on the band the radio is tuned, so if you want a positive ID, you need to listen for a station ID or some other clue to the station’s location.
At one point I jumped to the FM dial and found I could easily pick up many FM stations even with the whip antenna collapsed. In all, I am of the opinion that both the AM and FM sides of the receiver are pretty “hot,” and at no time did I find myself wishing for an auxiliary antenna for more signal. Further, the sound through headphones or the speaker is very pleasant indeed. In my mind, the relatively unadorned exterior of the EP PRO belies its outstanding performance. To stretch an analogy, it’s a nitro-burning funny car in the body of a Honda Civic, and you don’t have to be a genius to drive it.
If you’re looking for a high-performance radio that is easy to use and sounds good through speaker or headphones, the CCRadio EP PRO delivers the goods. For a content DXer like me, the EP PRO encourages me to tune around and discover the magic of radio all over again.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Carlos Latuff, who shares the following FM radio recordings made while flying over northwest Africa. Carlos writes:
Flying over Northwest Africa towards Paris yesterday I managed to listen and record FM stations from countries like Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco and Spain, at an altitude of 10668 meters, using the native FM radio of my cell phone. Interesting thing is that it was only possible when I got close to the plane emergency exit. Back to my seat I wasn’t able to listen.
94.3 FM, Senegal, May 11, 2023:
95.0 FM, SNRT Amz Morocco, May 11, 2023:
101.7 FM, Spain, May 11, 2023:
91.0 FM, Mauritania, May 11, 2023:
Thank you for sharing this, Carlos. Impressive reception from your cell phone’s FM receiver!
It is hard to imagine a less spectacular looking piece of radio gear than the SDRplay RSPdx. It is literally a black box. Aside from the printing on top of the box, the most exciting thing about the RSPdx are the two red plastic covers on the antenna connectors on the side. There are no switches, no knobs . . . you can’t do anything to it except connect an antenna (or antennas) on one side and a USB cable on the opposite.
But once you connect the USB cable to your laptop and fire up the SDRuno software (that you have previously downloaded and installed), you are now in command of a listening post that covers from 1 kHz to 2 GHz.
We’ll get to the important stuff in just a minute, but first a little background.
For an oldster retrocrank like me, a proper radio has knobs and switches . . . preferably a knob or switch for every job. Lately, however, I have noticed that a lot of DXers and ordinary listeners are reporting good success with SDRs – software-defined radios. So I started to wonder about them.
There are three elements to a software-defined radio like the SDRplay RSPdx: the SDR box itself, which is the part of the system that actually receives the radio signals; a Windows computer (laptop or desktop), which provides the command and control for the SDR; and whatever antennas are required to receive the signals that the listener would like to hear. And, just to be absolutely clear, you need all three elements for the SDR system to work at all.
With my curiosity about SDRs rising, I inquired of Thomas, SWLing’s Maximum Leader, whether SDRplay – one of SWLing Post’s sponsors – might like me to take a look at one of their SDRs. Their answer was an emphatic Yes, and I had an RSPdx in my hands just a couple of days later at no cost to me or the SWLing Post.
I have to admit I had some trepidation about the process of bringing the RSPdx online because any time you have three different elements from three different sources that must work together for a system to function properly, there is always the possibility that some of the elements might not “play well together.”
Installation is easy and fast. Connect the RSPdx to the computer using a USB A-male to B-male cable (which the user must supply; often called a printer cable), then connect the antennas using the appropriate cable. In my case, I connected an MFJ 1886 Receive Loop to the Antenna C connector and an off-center fed dipole to the Antenna A connector.
To SDRplay’s great credit, they have produced an excellent video for first-timers and folks not familiar with SDRs — https://youtu.be/Oj_-dOLVzH8 . I recommend watching it, perhaps a couple of times, before you get started.
When you first fire up the SDRuno software, you will see the main panel:
Click on the “RX” button, and the Receive panel will be displayed. After you slide it over, it will look something like this:
Click on SP1 or SP2 in the main panel, and one of the peak displays will appear:
Finally, click on the PLAY button in the main panel, and whatever frequency you have selected will begin to play. Continue reading →
The capital’s local radio scene is having a renaissance. From pub garden pop-ups to shipping container stations, Londoners are falling back in love with FM (and DAB/online/smart speaker/insert new mode of listening here). Tuning in has never been better, says Jessica Benjamin — antennae at the ready, it’s time to meet our favourite local stations
Westside — Hanwell 89.6 FM
Broadcasting from Hanwell’s Clocktower Mews to west London, Westside Radio was launched in 2007 by none other than Boris Johnson himself. ‘He promised to come back to Westside if he was elected mayor on the condition that we would play songs by The Clash,’ station manager Sone Palda tells me. ‘All of this while he was surrounded by Labour MPs and councillors in the studio.’ Big name politicians aside, Palda is both excited by and concerned for the future of local radio. ‘In this era community radio is one of the key mediums producing genuine local content and news,’ he says. ‘Most of the local independent commercial stations are being bought up by the big groups, then being rebranded and losing their identity. We want to remain being a platform for emerging radio presenting and production talent, and to continue entertaining our dedicated local audience.’
Soho Radio — Soho
Launched in 2014 and broadcasting live from Broadwick Street, Soho Radio has serious clout when it comes to big name presenters. Think Primal Scream’s Simone Marie Butler, Groove Armada’s Tom Findlay, Jim Sclavunos of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and Metronomy’s Anna Prior to name a few — and they don’t just stop at radio. ‘We won Event of the Decade [in Time Out magazine] for our 12-hour street party broadcast with R3 Soundsystem,’ station manager Rachael Bird says. ‘We had some amazing DJs join us live on air, with the likes of Seth Troxler, Norman Jay, Artwork, Eats Everything and Sink the Pink gracing the decks. The day culminated with our very own lorry sound system pulling up in the streets of Soho to finish the street party with a bang — it didn’t last long before it got shut down (whoops!) but was definitely a Soho Radio highlight and a day to remember.’ The grassroots online station has since expanded to the Big Apple, where it has been streaming from Lower Manhattan since late 2020 for a double dose of Soho listening. [Continue reading the full article…]
Kraina FM CEO Bogdan Bolkhovetsky says station helps military, lifts people’s spirits
A Kyiv radio station is broadcasting from a makeshift studio to bring Ukrainians the latest news about the war, and music to lift their spirits during the hours spent sitting in air raid shelters.
“In Kyiv, air raid alerts are eight to nine times a day, lasting from 30 minutes to three hours,” said Bogdan Bolkhovetsky, CEO of Kraina FM, an independent Ukrainian music station.
“And while people sit in shelters, they sing … Ukrainian songs,” he told The Current’s Matt Galloway.
Playing a variety of Ukrainian on the airwaves “is good for people … it brings back some normality to life, I guess,” he said.
Bolkhovetsky and his family fled Kyiv in the days after the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24. Members of his team also fled, and they regrouped in a small village in the Carpathian Mountains on Feb. 27. The village lies south of Lviv in the west of Ukraine, where many refugees have fled to escape Russia’s advance from the east. Some find refuge in the west’s smaller towns and villages, but others press on to cross into neighbouring Poland or Slovakia.
Cilla Benkö is the director general and CEO of Sveriges (Swedish) Radio. She started as an intern in the sports department when there were very few females in the industry. Benkö, who has worked at the organization for more than 30 years as a journalist and has held several managerial positions, provides insight into how Swedish Radio is navigating today’s evolving landscape. Continue reading →
We encourage you to explore the creative work from over 120 artists and composers.
A great many of these remarkable dynamic works draw on a wide array of recordings from the SRAA; the resulting compositions and soundscapes are rich with sonic textures, evocative collages of sound and memory, which emerge into further sources of inspiration.
For World Radio Day 2022, we tune in to radio stations around the world that connect communities, spark conversations, keep traditions alive and give a voice to their listeners. From Aboriginal Koori Radio in Australia to a community station in India run by rural women from the lowest Dalit caste, the airwaves carry intimate wisdom, vital knowledge, beats and tunes that keep reminding us who we are.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul, who recently shared a link to this Craigslist listing and asked if anyone in the SWLing Post community might be familiar with this Beam Box Electronically Directable FM Antenna.
View of the western cluster of curtain antennas from the roof of RCI Sackville’s former transmissions building. Photo from June, 2012.
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’sRadio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Kris Partridge, Gareth Buxton, Dave Zantow, and Paul R for the following tips:
Officials at CBC/Radio-Canada announced a fresh round of cuts at Radio Canada International (RCI) on Thursday as part of a “major transformation” of the beleaguered international service of Canada’s public broadcaster.
A joint statement released by Radio-Canada executive vice-president Michel Bissonnette and his CBC counterpart, Barbara Williams, said the goal of the transformation was “to ensure that the service remains a strong and relevant voice in the 21st-century media landscape.”
“In its strategic plan Your Stories, Taken to Heart, the public broadcaster committed to ‘taking Canada to the world’ and ‘reflecting contemporary Canada,’” the joint statement said.
“Transforming RCI is a necessary step to allow the service to effectively fulfil the important role it must play in delivering on those commitments.
“To that end, RCI will soon be offering more content in more languages, drawing on the work of CBC/Radio-Canada’s respected news teams to reach new audiences at home and abroad.”
Earlier in the morning Radio-Canada executives held a virtual meeting with RCI employees to inform them of upcoming changes.
In all, the transformation will reduce the number of RCI employees by more than half, from the current 20 to nine, including five journalists assigned to translate and adapt CBC and Radio-Canada articles, three field reporters, and one chief editor.
As part of the announced transformation, the English and French language services of RCI will be eliminated and will be replaced by curated content created by CBC and Radio-Canada respectively.
The remaining Arabic, Chinese and Spanish services will also be reduced in size.
However, two new language services – Punjabi and Tagalog – will be added to the editorial offering presented by RCI, officials said.
RCI content will also get more visibility by being incorporated into CBCNews.ca and Radio-Canada.ca with its own portal page featuring all the languages, the statement said.
RCI apps will be folded into the CBC News and Radio-Canada Info mobile apps, while the service’s five existing apps will be deleted, the statement added.
Under the new plan, RCI’s operations will focus on three main areas: translating and adapting a curated selection of articles from CBCNews.ca and Radio-Canada.ca sites; producing a new weekly podcast in each RCI language; and producing reports from the field in Chinese, Arabic and Punjabi.
“This transformation will help bring RCI’s high-quality, relevant content to more people around the globe and allow them to discover our country’s rich culture and diversity,” the statement said.
The union representing Radio-Canada employees lambasted the move as a “rampage.”
“It feels like Groundhog Day with more cuts to RCI under the guise of transformation,” said Pierre Toussignant, president of Syndicat des communications de Radio-Canada (SCRC).
In 2012, CBC/Radio-Canada slashed RCI’s budget by nearly 80 per cent, forcing it to abandon shortwave radio broadcasting altogether. The cuts also resulted in significant layoffs and the closure of RCI’s Russian, Ukrainian and Portuguese language services.[…]
On December 3, 2020, Canada’s national public radio and television broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada announced “a major transformation” of Radio Canada International (RCI) titled “Modernizing Radio Canada International for the 21st century”. And if you didn’t know anything about the toxic relationship between the two, you would really think this was great news.
After all the budget cuts the national broadcaster has imposed on RCI (for example an 80 % cut in 2012) the news this time is more languages, greater visibility, and an expanded editorial line-up.
Let’s take these “improvements” one at a time.
How has CBC/Radio-Canada decided to give “greater visibility” for RCI’s Internet content? They’re going to bury it in inside the CBC and Radio-Canada websites, and not allow RCI to continue on a site that has existed since 1996.
In this same announcement, CBC/Radio-Canada says it’s adding complete sections in Punjabi and Tagalog to the existing services in English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese. In fact it’s adding one “field” journalist to work in Punjabi, and one in Tagalog – not whole sections.
As far as the Spanish, Arabic and Chinese services which each have three seasoned experienced presenter-producers offering tailored content for their target audiences outside Canada, well, they’re all fired. What will remain is one “journalist” per language, who will be obliged to translate texts given to them in English and French.
And now we come to the sections working in Canada’s official languages of English and French. Again, each of these services has three seasoned experienced presenter-producers offering tailored content for an international audience that needs explanations that the domestic service is not obliged to do. So what will Canada’s Voice to the World be obliged to do in this “major transformation”? Fire all six producers and have an editor at CBC, and one at Radio-Canada, choose some stories, and place it on the “RCI website” which is just a section of the CBC and Radio-Canada websites. Yes, the ones that give RCI “greater visibility”.
The CBC/Radio-Canada announcement speaks glowingly about how RCI has provided a Canadian perspective on world affairs, but then starts skidding into talking about “connecting with newcomers to our country”, “engaging with its target audience, particularly newcomers to Canada”, and making this new content “freely available to interested ethnic community media.” Certainly sounds like CBC/Radio-Canada is intent on servicing ethnic communities in Canada.
But there’s a problem. That’s not RCI’s mandate. And CBC/Radio-Canada has no right to change that mandate. Because Canada’s Broadcasting Act, Article 46 (2), makes it a condition of the national public broadcaster’s licence to provide an international service “in accordance with such directions as the Governor in Council may issue.”
And the latest Governor in Council, Order in Council, PC Number:2012-0775, says Radio Canada International must “produce and distribute programming targeted at international audiences to increase awareness of Canada, its values and its social, economic and cultural activities”.
This latest announcement by the CBC/Radio-Canada is, unfortunately, yet another in a string of actions over the last 30 years to eliminate Canada’s Voice to the World.
After failing to shutdown the service in 1990, 1995 and 1996 when pressure from listeners from around the world, and from Canadian Members of Parliament and Senators stopped the closure, the national broadcaster went about dismantling RCI one section after another, one resource after another in a death by a thousand cuts.
This assault on RCI really started in earnest in 1990 when Canada’s Voice to the World was a widely popular and respected international service of 200 employees, broadcasting in 14 languages heard around the world. The 1990 cut removed half the employees, and half the language sections. Over the years, under the guise of streamlining and improving the service, it’s been one cut after another. With this year’s announcement RCI will have a total of nine employees!
Not satisfied with cutting resources, CBC/Radio-Canada has also continually tried to undermine RCI’s international role.
When in 2003 a Canadian parliamentary committee agreed with the RCI Action Committee, in emphasizing RCI’s important international role and suggested more resources should be given to RCI, CBC/Radio-Canada responded by removing two key corporate policies that specifically outlined the necessity for producing programmes for an international audience, again, despite an obligation under the Broadcasting Act.
The reductions in resources, the limiting or decreasing of RCI’s outreach, culminated in 2012 when CBC/Radio-Canada announced it was taking RCI off of shortwave radio broadcasts which had been the main way of communicating to the world since 1945.
This decision deliberately ignored the 2003 Order in Council that specifically obliged CBC as part of its licence to have RCI broadcast on shortwave. Two months after protests by the RCI Action Committee highlighted the illegality of this move, the Canadian Heritage Minister at the time, changed the Order in Council, eliminating shortwave from RCI’s obligations.
This whole sorry tale underlines a key problem facing Radio Canada International:
A domestic national broadcaster is deciding whether or not Canada should have an international voice to the world, and how well it should be funded.
Clearly however, the decision of whether Canada has a Voice to the World and how well it should be funded, should be a decision made by Parliament.
In the meantime, Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault should tell CBC/Radio-Canada that it is not allowed to make this latest policy change. Then he should freeze any changes to the service until there is a serious renewal of the Voice of Canada, one that will give it financial and political protection from a toxic relationship with the national broadcaster.[…]
Radio Disney and Radio Disney Country are shutting down early next year.
Disney Branded Television president Gary Marsh announced the news Thursday, which impacts 36 part-time and full-time employees. The move comes as Marsh’s division looks to emphasize the production of kids and family content for streaming service Disney Plus and the linear Disney Channels.
Radio Disney first debuted in Nov. 1996 as a terrestrial broadcast network, aimed at kids, who would pick music playlist by calling a toll-free phone request line. The station was key to amplifying a bevy of musical artists, including the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Hilary Duff, Aaron Carter and others.
Radio Disney Country launched in 2015 as a digital platform, expanding two years later with two Los Angeles terrestrial stations.[…]
Germany is to revamp its phonetic alphabet to remove words added by the Nazis.
Before the Nazi dictatorship some Jewish names were used in the phonetic alphabet – such as “D for David”, “N for Nathan” and “Z for Zacharias”.
But the Nazis replaced these with Dora, North Pole and Zeppelin, and their use has since continued with most Germans unaware of their anti-Semitic origin.
Experts are working on new terms, to be put to the public and adopted in 2022.
The initiative sprang from Michael Blume, in charge of fighting anti-Semitism in the state of Baden-Württemberg, backed by the Central Council of Jews in Germany.
The job of devising new terms for the problematic letters is now in the hands of the German Institute for Standardization (DIN).
The commonly-used equivalent in the UK is the Nato phonetic alphabet, with terms such as “F for Foxtrot, T for Tango”. But many English speakers also use terms like “D for Dennis, S for Sugar” on the phone.[…]
Is FM radio more energy-efficient than DAB? Do transmitters or audio devices consume the most electricity? What effect will switching off certain radio platforms have on energy use? As part of our work to improve the environmental impact of BBC services, we now have the answers to these questions and more.
In our study, we considered the energy use across all available platforms, namely AM, FM, DAB, digital television (DTV) and via internet streaming services (such as BBC Sounds), revealing which ones have the largest footprints. We also compared energy use at various stages in the radio chain – not just looking at what the BBC is directly responsible for, such as preparation (playout, encoding and multiplexing) and distribution (transmitters and internet networks), but also in the consumption of our content by audiences. This highlighted the key energy hotspots in the BBC radio system and where best to focus our efforts if we want to reduce our energy footprint.[…]