Tag Archives: Julian S

Julian reviews the Panasonic RF-B45 and shares comments regarding shortwave broadcasting and portable radios

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Julian S, who shares the following guest post and review:

Panasonic RF-B45 – A Comparative Review

by Julian S

18 and 19 October, 2022

I was raised on valve / tube radios. From my pre-teens in the 1960s, I enjoyed tuning through the frequencies as a form of exploration. In the 1970s I experimented with antennae to improve reception. And later, starting in the 1980s, I began to use travel radios, always looking for that perfect radio.

Today the perfect radio for us SWL’ers might need to include a time machine to take us back to the halcyon days of SW, say in the 1980s or 1990s, before so many Western broadcasters axed their Short Wave services.

Looking at the BBC World Service’s latest round of cuts, I am filled with horror. Is whoever decided those cuts deeply cynical or deeply ignorant?

Switching BBC World Service content from radio to the internet for countries that block or restrict internet access is not the way to reach people living there. In places where every person’s internet access is monitored, where access to websites and web-content is censored or blocked, BBC news internet content will not be widely available. Today and for the foreseeable future the way to reach perhaps half or more of the world’s population is radio, especially Short Wave radio broadcasts.

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) and other like-minded countries, eg the DPRK (North Korea) fully understand the importance of radio, especially Short Wave and they vigorously maintain multiple Short Wave broadcast programmes as a way to project soft power and influence people.

In this context, it’s no surprise that when the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 2017 suddenly, unexpectedly and against a back-drop of protests from Pacific Island Nations and rural Australians ditched its Short Wave broadcasts, the PRC’s China Radio International grabbed Australia’s SW frequencies.

I heard that in an earlier round of cuts China acquired frequencies dropped by the BBC World Service.

By the time the West wakes up again to the importance of Short Wave radio broadcasting as a means to communicate to the world, they will find the SW airwaves are full of PRC, North Korean, Vietnamese, Cuban and other broadcasters who never forgot how important SW broadcasts to the world are. I’m reminded of a line from the Sean Connery film, Rising Sun, “If you don’t want us to buy it, don’t sell it.”

Aside from the broadcasters mentioned above, there are still many others broadcasting on SW and there are plenty of Hams too. Short Wave radio listening and Ham radio are widespread and popular in Asia and Africa and are a major source of news. In some countries SW is also used as a means of business and social communication. So much so that there are home-grown radio and transceiver manufacturers in a number of African and Asian nations.

SW listening is big in China. So it’s no surprise that probably the best manufacturer of consumer grade short wave radio receivers is a China based company, Tecsun, who need no introduction. Tecsun seems to have taken over the role that was once held by Grundig, Sony, Panasonic and others. Indeed many of the later Grundig models are made by Tecsun.

If you’ve guessed that I like short wave radio, you’ve guessed right. And I suppose like many other fans, I usually have my eye open for something special.

Since hearing of the Panasonic RF B65 some years ago, I’ve been on the look-out for one at a reasonable price… this search led me to the RF B45…. But I’m a man of modest means so I need them to be priced accordingly.

Usually these two 30+ year old radios are priced on North American eBay like holy grail radios. More expensive than a 2nd hand Sony ICF 2010 / 2001D. Go figure. But the other day I found a Panasonic RF B45 for what I considered a reasonable price. It arrived yesterday, well packed, clean and in good condition. After dinner and this morning before breakfast I put it through some of its paces

What follows are some initial impressions of the Panasonic RF B45:

I’ve read a few reviews of it on eham, shortwave.ch etc. The controls are pretty easy to figure out. It has a similar form factor to the Sony ICF7600 series and is probably comparable in performance to the digital iterations of the Sony 7600 series… though the only 7600 series radio I have at present is the analogue 7601 which is comparable to the Tecsun R9700DX, except in price. New the Tecsun R9700DX is likely to be cheaper than a used Sony 7601 on eBay, and the Tecsun has a wider range of features, eg external antenna socket, comes with a long wire antenna, has better audio… but I digress…

…back to the Panasonic RF B45. This is a fine compact travel radio about the size of a paperback book or two DVD stacked boxes. Continue reading

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Julian spots a Sony ICF-SW77 on eBay

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

Hi Thomas,

I found this eBay listing for a seemingly new in the box Sony ICF SW77 complete with accessories and paperwork. It may interest SWLing readers.

Click here to check it out on eBay.

Best wishes,

Thank you for the tip, Julian. This does look like a solid unit and in great shape. The seller also has a positive review history which is always a plus. As I always mention with portables of this age, you would need to plan to have it serviced in the future to make sure there are no leaky capacitors or other issues ongoing. I’ll admit I’ve always liked the design of the SW77! That said, 480 EUR is a steep asking price!

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eBay: Julian spots an excellent condition Sony ICF-7600A complete with box

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Julian Stargardt, who writes:

I was just browsing through eBay when I stumbled on this listing that may interest some SWLing readers: An excellent condition SONY ICF-7600A.

The listing is for a Sony ICF 7600 [with box and accessories] – the original ICF 7600, a very different beast from the still in production ICF 7600GR.

Must be over 40 years old and looks like it’s just left the shop.

Click here to view on eBay (partner link supports the SWLing Post).

Thanks for the tip, Julian. For someone seeking a complete ICF-7600A in great shape, this would be a good choice. The price is a bit steep compared to other 7600A’s on the market, but few come with a box, earpiece, and packing. I notice that the seller is accepting offers (that’s the route I’d go!). The ICF-7600A is a cool analog portable and one I’ve thought about acquiring at some point.

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Latina sit vivere: Julian sheds light on Latin

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Julian Stargardt, who shares the following in response to our previous post regarding Latin radio programming:

Dear Friends,

Latin is widely reputed to be a “Dead” language, the Finnish broadcast is only one of several examples of how it continues to be a living language.

In Switzerland a form of Latin is one of the official national languages – it’s called Rhaeto Romansch or Rumantsch – it is spoken as a first language predominantly in the large – by Swiss standards – Canton of Graubuenden (“Grisons” in French and “Grey Leagues” in English). Elsewhere in alpine Europe other descendants of spoken – or “Vulgar” Latin also survive or indeed flourish. These include Ladin (guess where its name comes from) and Friulian.

Map of Grisons Switzerland. (Source: Tschubby via Wikimedia Commons)

In Switzerland almost 40,000 people claim Rumantsch as their first and principal language and almost 61,000 use it is daily communication. Education, news media and literature, and TV are all prevalent in Rumantsch areas of Switzerland.

Those with a passion for Latin may derive some fun from the website for Radiotelevisiun Svizra Rumantscha: https://www.rtr.ch/

Sure it’s not the Latin of Cicero and it may have given him shivers of horror but I reckon he’d be able to follow it…

Here are a couple of tales that may interest readers…

Friends of mine became lost while hiking in a remote region of the Swiss Alps in the mid-1960s. As dusk fell they encountered a shepherd whom they attempted to converse with, first in German, then in French, and finally in Latin. The shepherd’s face lit up when he heard Latin and as they chatted in Latin they were able to establish their location and the route off the mountain back to civilization… and in the course of the conversation it emerged that my friends came from England, at which point the shepherd broke into English, explaining that he’d served as a seaman for 20 years in the British Merchant Marine before returning home. My friends spent the night with him in his stone hut.

In this day and age of instant communications and the internet, such stories seem distant indeed. But it is not so long ago that Latin was widely used as a means of communication within the Roman Catholic Church and Latin is still its official language… as recently as the 2004 10th General Assembly of Bishops there was a Latin language group…

Nor is it so long ago that certain professions and areas of scholarship used Latin as their lingua franca. Talking of the 1960s I recall my father telling me that Latin was used in this way and to convince me he took me to a medical conference in or about 1965 in Melbourne, Australia to hear a paper read in Latin by a European – Polish if memory serves me correctly – delegate.

Appropriately and perhaps showing a humorous side of the Church, the Vatican City has an ATM machine with instructions in Latin, see this photo on Wikipedia:

Today English has replaced Latin as the world’s language of learning and universal communication. Like Latin, English has a very broad and adaptable vocabulary and a rigorous grammatical syntax which enables complex ideas to be expressed accurately and intelligibly… though English grammar is not as rigorous as Latin, or for that matter Turkish….

Best wishes for a Very Happy and Successful New Year!

Thank you for shedding light on this topic, Julian!  Per your request, I’ve been listening to and enjoying Radiotelevisiun Svizra Rumantscha this morning. Though I was aware, to my knowledge, I’ve never actually heard Romansh spoken. Fascinating!  Thanks for the language lesson, Julian.

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