Tag Archives: FM

Radio Waves: More Cuts to Radio Canada International, RCI Action Comments, End of Radio Disney, Changes to German Phonetic Alphabet and Is FM More Efficient than DAB?

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’s Radio 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:


Canada’s public broadcaster announces new cuts to Radio Canada International (Radio Canada International)

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.[]

‘Modernizing’ RCI to death! (RCI Action)

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, Radio Disney Country to End Operations in Early 2021 (Variety)

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 to wipe Nazi traces from phonetic alphabet (BBC News)

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.[]

Click here for the Newsroom audio via BBC Sounds.

How much energy is used to deliver and listen to radio? (BBC Research and Development)

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.

Today, we are publishing our research which explores the energy footprint of BBC radio services, both as it stands now and how it may change in the future. This work is the first of its kind in analysing the novel area of radio energy use and forms an extension to the research we released back in September looking at the environmental impact of BBC television.

In our study, we considered the energy use across all available platforms, namely AM, FMDAB, 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.[]


Do you enjoy the SWLing Post?

Please consider supporting us via Patreon or our Coffee Fund!

Your support makes articles like this one possible. Thank you!

Spread the radio love

More field time with the new Icom IC-705 general coverage QRP transceiver

I’ve been using the Icom IC-705 pretty heavily since I took delivery of it a couple weeks ago.

The more time I spend with this radio, the more I like it.

Serious functionality and features

I originally stated that I’d probably sell the IC-705 after my review/evaluation period because it simply doesn’t have the design characteristics I like in a field QRP radio.

I tend to prefer simple field radios with a basic high-contrast LCD or analog display, and a protective cover over the display. I’m not personally the biggest fan of pressure sensitive touch screens in field applications.

Earlier this week, I stopped by Lake Norman State Park for a quick Parks On The Air (POTA) activation.

I wrote a field report on QRPer.com noting the fact that the IC-705 is a superb SSB transceiver. It truly is. I included a video showing the IC-705 as I worked a few stations on the 40 meter band, and another video demonstrating SSB memory keying (politely overlook the fact I had the rig set to LSB on 20 meters in that video–!).

Listening in

When I finish a park activation, I often spend a little time on the broadcast bands tuning around and enjoying the low-RFI setting.

At Lake Norman, I decided to make a short video highlighting the wide receiving range of the IC-705. The video only highlights a few bands–the IC-705 can actually receive from 0.030–199.999 MHz and 400.000–470.000 MHz.

The EFT-MTR end-fed antenna I had connected to the IC-705 that day was not ideal for reception above 15 MHz, but as you’ll see, it was adequate for a little radio fun. I was using the Emtech ZM-2 external antenna tuner that day because my mAT-705’s battery died.  I highly recommend the ZM-2 for shortwave listeners and QRPers alike because it makes it so easy to tweak wire antennas for optimal matching and reception. In the video, however, I left the tuner in the last matched configuration. This isn’t exactly a pro video, but I hope you’ll enjoy it anyway:

The Icom IC-705: A keeper

This transceiver is so versatile, I don’t think I can let go of it. I really appreciate the IC-705’s frequency versatility and excellent performance. With this compact rig, I can do some proper SWL DXing and possibly even FM and MW DXing.

As simple as it is, the built-in digital recorder clinches the deal.

The IC-705 is a pricey piece of kit at $1300 US, but I suspect Icom will lower the price or start offering rebates once the supply/demand curves normalize. At present, retailers are struggling to keep up with customer demand and most purchases are on back-order.

Blind Audio Test results

I’ve just closed the surveys for our IC-705 blind audio tests. The response was overwhelming and the results?  Well, you’ll soon find out. I hope to present all of the findings in a post within the next few days.

Boomark this link to follow all of our IC-705 posts.


Do you enjoy the SWLing Post?

Please consider supporting us via Patreon or our Coffee Fund!

Your support makes articles like this one possible. Thank you!

Spread the radio love

Radio Waves: Research on Gen Z Listenership, Early Women in Radio, Carlos Latuff Interview, and “Your Next Tech Purchase Should Be a Radio”

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 Jeb, Dennis Dura, and Dan Van Hoy for the following tips:


Edison Research: 55% Of Gen Z Listen to AM/FM Radio Every Day But… (Radio Insight)

n their latest Share Of Ear study, Edison Research notes that over 55% of 13-24 year-olds listen to AM/FM radio daily.

However the study notes that these Gen Z listeners spend 50% less of their total share of time listening to AM/FM radio than the average 13+ population meaning they spend less time with radio than older generations. They also mostly listen to AM/FM in the car with 50% of their listening coming in vehicles. The study also notes that these 13-24 year-olds use a radio receiver 50% less than the average 13+ population, and they use their phones for listening 75% more than the average 13+ population with 58% more of their total share of time listening to streaming audio than the average 13+ population. Their share of YouTube listening, which is surveyed only for music and music videos, is 98% higher than the average 13+ population.

The study also notes that 89% of their listening to AM/FM is done through a traditional radio and only eleven percent coming from streaming of broadcast brands.[]

The Women Who Overcame Radio’s Earliest Glass Ceilings (Radio World)

Before the dawn of broadcasting, women were frequently hired as wireless operators, and so it was not a surprise that women’s voices were heard as announcers and program hosts in the early days of broadcast radio.

Sybil Herrold was perhaps the world’s first disc jockey; she played Victrola records on her husband Charles Herrold’s experimental station, which broadcast in San Jose from 1912 to 1917.

In Boston, Eunice Randall’s voice was heard on a variety of programs over AMRAD station 1XE (which became WGI in 1922). In New York City, WOR audiences regularly heard Jesse Koewing, who was identified on the air only as “J.E.K.” while Betty Lutz was the popular “hostess” heard on WEAF.

At WAHG (now WCBS), 16-year-old Nancy Clancy was billed as the country’s youngest announcer.[]

Coffee and Radio Listen – Episode 2 Carlos Latuff (Coffee and Listen)

Carlos Henrique Latuff de Sousa or simply “Carlos Latuff”, for friends, (born in Rio de Janeiro, November 30, 1968) is a famous Brazilian cartoonist and political activist. Latuff began his career as an illustrator in 1989 at a small advertising agency in downtown Rio de Janeiro. He became a cartoonist after publishing his first cartoon in a newsletter of the Stevadores Union in 1990 and continues to work for the trade union press to this day.

With the advent of the Internet, Latuff began his artistic activism, producing copyleft designs for the Zapatista movement. After a trip to the occupied territories of the West Bank in 1999, he became a sympathizer for the Palestinian cause in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and devoted much of his work to it. He became an anti-Zionist during this trip and today helps spread anti-Zionist ideals.

His page of Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/carloslatuff/) currently has more than 50 thousand followers, where of course, you can see his work as a cartoonist and also shows his passion on the radio.[]

Your Next Tech Purchase Should Be a Radio (PC Mag)

As the pandemic drags on, it’s time to return to a slower, older technology, one that frees you from the unending sameness served up by algorithms.

Quarantine has slowed everything down so much that it almost feels like we’re going back in time. The first few weeks were measured in sourdough starter, then in seeds sprouting from patches planted in backyards or squeezed into space on windowsills. Things are quieter now, but maybe too quiet.

Commutes used to be accompanied by music and podcasts piped in through earphones or car speakers. This casual sensory stimulation seems disposable, but it’s one of many small pleasures that have slipped away nearly—but not quite—unnoticed.

That’s why it’s time to return to a slower, older technology that can provide auditory companionship and match the new pace of your days: the radio.

Radios, more affordable and portable than TVs, used to be household staples and a more intimate part of people’s days—a companion in the bath or during a solitary drive or walk. Now they’re mostly found in go bags and as vehicle infotainment center afterthoughts.[]


Do you enjoy the SWLing Post?

Please consider supporting us via Patreon or our Coffee Fund!

Your support makes articles like this one possible. Thank you!

Spread the radio love

Guest Post: What is FM Lightning Scatter DX?

Photo by Olivier Lance on Unsplash

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bruce Atchison, who shares the following guest post:


What is Lightning Scatter DX?

by Bruce Atchison (VE6XTC)

Believe it or not, it’s possible to receive distant FM stations during a thunder storm. While lightning makes it difficult to hear AM and shortwave broadcasts, its crackles aren’t as evident on the 88 MHz to 108 MHz band.

When lightning strikes, it temporarily ionizes the air around it. Radio signals are reflected by the charged gasses and come back down to earth.

From my experience with this kind of DX, the signal became noticeably stronger during lightning strikes. This effect lasted for a second, then the signal level dropped to its former strength.

While a thunder storm raged overhead on July 7th, I used my CC Skywave SSB radio to check out the FM band. Instead of hearing E-skip as I had hoped, I found that tropo-like conditions reflected stations down to my home. I heard signals from a hundred miles away or further.

As just one example, I found a low-power station with the call letters CKSS on 88.1MHZ. They call themselves 88.1 The One. Find out more about this station at the http://www.881theone.ca/ link. It’s located in the town of Stony Plain, Alberta. This station plays country music and airs local news events.

At a guess, I’d say the transmitter is about 120 miles from my QTH in Radway. It normally doesn’t come in at all. The signal strength varied too, showing that it wasn’t a local.

In my instance of catching CKSS’s signal, a form of tropo ducting was also present. Rain can produce reflections of signals but it’s much more pronounced in the UHF and microwave bands.

When a thunder storm is ruining AM and shortwave reception, try DXing the FM band. You’ll be surprised at what occasionally comes in.

For further information on weather-related DX, check William R. Hepburn’s article.

To see a demonstration of lightning scatter on amateur TV, watch the
following video:

To hear what FM lightning scatter sounds like, watch this video:


Thank you for sharing this guest post Bruce. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never tried to hear lightening scatter DX, but I will certainly give it a go.  This time of year, we’ve numerous thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening, so I’ll certainly have the opportunity!

Post readers: Have you ever caught FM DX off of Lightening Scatter? Please comment!

Spread the radio love

External FM antenna for Android phones/tablets

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

Check this little gadget for android phones or tablets

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32976847250.html

If they have the FM app installed than this will come handy.

One needs to select speaker and not earphone as expected.

It works fine here. (I don’t know if Apple phones have an FM module)

Thank you, Adid! Very cool! This little antenna costs $0.90 USD–an insanely low price.

If you have an old set of earphones lying around the house (I probably have two dozen that ship with various radios) you could also snip off the earpieces and use the pigtail as a wire FM antenna.

Spread the radio love

The Public Radio: A one frequency FM receiver housed in a Mason jar

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul, who shares a number of articles about the one-frequency FM radio called the Public Radio:

Might be of interest to you and readers of the SWLing Post:
https://www.thepublicrad.io/

Why does the Public Radio cost $60?
http://pencerw.com/feed/2018/11/21/why-its-sixty-dollars

How to program a radio which is sealed inside a cardboard shipping box (they did not implement this for production):
https://wp.josh.com/2017/03/18/capacitive-coupling-casestudy-programming-the-public-radio-without-removing-it-from-its-sealed-shipping-box/

The Public Radio manufacturing line:
http://pencerw.com/feed/2018/2/8/the-public-radios-assembly-fulfillment-processes

Thanks for sharing, Paul. We’ve mentioned the Public Radio before, but I did not realize they were completely produced and assembled in the US.

Post Readers: Please comment if you own a Public Radio. I’m very curious what you think about the audio fidelity.

Spread the radio love

Swiss Army Knife FM antenna

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Balázs Kovács, who shares the following video of a Swiss Army knife and tweezers being used as FM antennas:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Thanks for sharing this, Balázs. The video actually makes a good point: it takes so little to make an effective FM antenna to receive local stations. I’ve been with repair technicians when working on radios They’ll often use their precision screwdriver as an antenna to test the receiver before reassembly.

I also carry a couple cheap instrumentation patch cord with alligator clips on both ends to act as a short antenna or antenna extension when needed. Honestly, It’s amazing how often I reach for them!

Spread the radio love