Photo By Staff Sgt. James Avery | Capt. Luke Reese, commander of C Company, 7th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), successfully transmitted a 300-mile high frequency voice and data radio check to West Point, May 3, 2018
Going the Distance! 1BTC Uses HF Radio to Go Far and Wide
FORT DRUM, NY, UNITED STATES
Story by Capt. Ed Robles
1st Brigade Combat Team,10th Mountain Division (LI)
FORT DRUM, New York (May 3, 2018)–Captain Luke Reese, commander of C Company, 7th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), successfully transmitted a 300-mile high frequency voice and data radio check to West Point while spearheading a new program to boost tactical communications from Fort Drum. Maj. Gen. John Baker, Commanding General, U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, observed the radio check from West Point.
In an effort to renew some looked-over radio options, Reese opened the possibility of HF long-range capabilities.
“This is something we’ve been working on,” said Reese. “Dusting off some of this old equipment that hasn’t been used in years and use it as a relevant back-up plan.”
Leveraging high frequency is a skill that hasn’t been prioritized in the Army in recent years. The Army uses frequency modulation and ultra-high frequency tactical satellite, which have benefits, but are also limited.
“HF presents some challenges because making this network functional requires some level of experience… there’s really an art to it,” said Maj. Craig Starn, 1BCT S6 officer-in-charge. “The major benefit is it provides unlimited range with zero cost or resources required and no lead time is required to use the system.”
Reece’s efforts in HF strives to enhance the Army’s ability to maintain mission command while extending the brigade’s, or any unit’s, operational reach.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley who shares the following item from Kim Elliott. Note that this news is dated February 22, 2018 (yes, it was lost in my drafts folder!):
Broadcasting Board of Governors budget request includes plans for shortwave
Kim Andrew Elliott
22 February 2018
The Broadcasting Board of Governors, consisting of VOA, RFE/RL, Radio Free Asia, Radio/TV Martí, Radio Sawa and Alhurra, is slated for a $24 million budget reduction in fiscal year (FY)
Of course, Congress will review and probably will modify the President’s budget request for BBG and other agencies.
Here are excerpts from the budget request pertaining to shortwave:
“TSI [Technology, Services and Innovation, i.e. BBG engineering] continues to move the BBG from traditional broadcasting technologies, such as cross-border radio transmissions shortwave (SW) and medium wave (MW serving regions where these platforms are no longer popular, to other delivery systems that are rapidly growing in effectiveness and are less expensive to operate (e.g., FM radio, DTH satellite, internet streaming, mobile, and social media). …
“As part of its multi-year global network realignment, TSI will continue to focus efforts on upgrading its shortwave capacity at the Kuwait Transmitting Station, even as use of SW decreases. With superior strategic location and extremely low operating costs, this station will be able to serve the overwhelming majority of legacy SW audiences in the most cost-effective manner possible, at a fraction of the cost of other BBG operated site or expensive leased capacity. …
“Over the years, the use of shortwave (SW) radio has declined globally. TSI has responded by consolidating broadcasts to more cost-effective transmitting stations and reducing or even eliminating SW where it is no longer relevant. In markets where SW does still retain a sizable, valuable audience, TSI is committed to making SW service available in the most cost-effective way possible. To meet this need, TSI has been upgrading the Kuwait Transmitting Station (KTS), which enjoys a superior strategic location and extremely low operating costs. In FY 2017 TSI continued to expand that facility, and in FY 2018 TSI will procure and install new antennas. In FY 2019, TSI is committed to investing in the KTS expansion further, utilizing whatever resources may be available, in order to realize longer-term savings. Ultimately, the BBG’s goal is to be able to serve most legacy SW audiences from this one site, at a fraction of the cost of all the other transmitting stations, so that other, more expensive sites may be scaled back or closed.
Philippines relay will close
“In FY 2017, TSI completed the closure of the station in Sri Lanka and in FY 2018 will close the BBG facility in Poro, Philippines. TSI’s systematic and thorough review of all transmission leases will continue in FY 2019, identifying further opportunities for savings. In the years between 2010 and 2016, total costs associated with Cross Border Radio (SW and MW ) have declined by over $25 million (34.5%), and we expect this decrease to continue as we respond to market needs and as the Administration and Congress authorize us to shutter less effective legacy facilities …
“[I]n China, including Tibet, TSI will continue to provide satellite TV and radio service via Telstar 18, the most popular satellite in China, for only a fraction of the cost of the BBG’s legacy shortwave and medium wave transmissions to the region. This allows TSI to leverage the widespread use of satellite receiver dishes across the country and provide accessible programming where local cable and internet access is restricted. In FY 2018, TSI will procure additional satellite capacity on this satellite, allowing BBG to simultaneously distribute HD and SD TV programming and capitalize on the migration of Chinese audiences to HDTV, while not stranding legacy SD users. …
“Radio remains a very popular platform in many BBG markets, particularly Africa. BBG global weekly radio audiences increased by a stunning 28 million in 2016 alone and by 35 million since 2012. While shortwave continues to be a relevant means of delivery in several African markets, in most countries rapid growth and competition in the media market have shifted radio
habits almost entirely towards FM. The BBG provides 24/7 FM radio programming in over 30 markets across the continent. …
But good news for Kuwait and Greenville stations
“As part of its multi-year global network realignment, TSI will continue to focus efforts on upgrading its shortwave capacity at the Kuwait Transmitting Station, even as use of SW decreases. With superior strategic location and extremely low operating
costs, this station will be able to serve the overwhelming majority of legacy SW audiences in the most cost-effective manner possible, at a fraction of the cost of other BBG operated site or expensive leased capacity. …
“The BCI [broadcasting capital improvement] funds in FY 2018 (and base funds in FY 2019) will be used to continue the planned reconfiguration and expansion of the shortwave broadcast
infrastructure at the Kuwait Transmitting Station. This will allow BBG to enhance transmission to multiple regions, including Africa, and achieve cost savings for shortwave broadcasts.
Because of the very low cost of electrical power in Kuwait, the Kuwait Transmitting Station is the least expensive IBB station to operate. This project will allow the agency to shift mission-critical but higher cost transmissions from other stations in the IBB network to Kuwait.
“TSI will install and deploy three newer SW transmitters at the Greenville, NC Edward R. Murrow transmitting station enabling a doubling of frequencies servicing Cuba and making it extremely difficult for the Cuban government to effectively block Radio Marti signals into the Island. …
“To serve audiences in less developed areas of the world, the BBG must continue to broadcast via traditional technologies, such as shortwave, and maintain capability and improve efficiency on these platforms by replacing antiquated equipment. But to stay relevant in competitive news markets and serve current and future audiences, the BBG must continue to invest in new cutting-edge technology. In areas where ownership and usage of shortwave radio has declined significantly, the Agency has evolved away from broadcasting in that medium. The BBG has closed transmission stations, repurposed equipment and invested these savings in
platforms that the audience has shifted to, primarily television and digital media.”
Bhubaneswar: Only a lucky few get to live and breathe their passion and Rajendra Sahu, a carpenter, is one of them.
From Odisha’s capital city of Bhubaneswar, Sahu steals time to give shape to his imagination. He has been carving radios of varied shapes and sizes since past decade-and-half.
“I make radios just because it makes me happy. I return from work by 7 pm and start with the daily ritual of making radio,” said Rajendra. He prepares the cabinet with plywood, sunmica and cane whereas the circuit board is affixed from discarded ones.
“It takes around five days to assemble a radio. I browse through online sites looking for designs,” said Rajendra, who also collects antique radio sets from various parts of Odisha.
“I grew up listening to the radio. There’s a charm to it that the gadgets today fail to deliver. My father too was very fond of them. He would make radios, but I learnt to make them by myself,” he added.[…]
Several readers have asked me to share my experiences at the conference, so I’ll note the conference highlights here.
I attended all three days of the conference. The first day (Thursday, November 2) was held at the Woodrow Wilson Center and focused on Cold War broadcasting. It goes almost without saying that this was absolutely fascinating. I learned a great deal. One of the day’s recurrent discussion themes, for example, focused on the keen awareness of those inside the Iron Curtain that they had been regularly subjected to propaganda. In other words, the Cold War somehow created very discerning news listeners savvy enough to separate fact from fiction quite skillfully––an ability that many fear may (unfortunately) be eroding among today’s media audiences.
That afternoon, SWLing Post reader, Phil Ewing, took me on an amazing tour of NPR’s new headquarters [thanks SO much, Phil!].
Later that afternoon at NPR, I attended an event celebrating NPR’s founding father and mission creator, Bill Siemering. Bill and I co-presented at the Winter SWL Fest in 2011, and I admire him greatly both as a journalist and as an individual; I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to be at this event held in his honor.
Friday and Saturday sessions were held at the Library of Congress and were equally riveting as they covered nearly every aspect of radio preservation.
Here’s our panel just a minute before the forum began.
I was on the Digital Curation panel along with Charles Hardy (West Chester University and National Council on Public History), Jonathan Hiam (New York Public Library), Matt Karush (George Mason University and Hearing the Americas), Elena Razlogova (Concordia University) and Mark Williams (Dartmouth College and Media Ecology Project).
The discussion was dynamic, and to my pleasure, our Radio Spectrum Archive was quite the hit. The sincere interest in this project was beyond encouraging. Indeed, after my presentation, I wasn’t able to address all of the questions from those in the audience because there were so many in line to speak to me about it; eventually the LOC had to re-arrange the room for a televised event, the 50th anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act.
But there’s more. And it’s a great ending to our story, which is really only a beginning: via Alex Stinson with the Wikimedia Foundation, I was introduced to the Internet Archive team last month, whom, to our profound delight, has wholeheartedly agreed to support the Radio Spectrum Archive by giving us nearly unlimited space to store our massive collection of spectrum files.
In a word? This conference was brilliant. There simply couldn’t have been a better outcome for the Radio Spectrum Archive and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Many thanks to the entire RPTF team, especially Director, Josh Shepperd, for putting this spectacular event together.
I’ve been invited to a couple other archive conferences as a result of the RPTF meeting, and I’ll give these some consideration. Regardless, I know this: I’ll make room in my schedule for the next RPTF conference. No way am I missing it!
And at the next conference I look forward to speaking to each one of those people with whom tight scheduling prevented my speaking at this one. After all, it’s this kind of enthusiasm that assures the Radio Spectrum Archive’s future.
Many thanks to my buddy, Bennett Kobb, who also gave me a tour of the brilliant LPFM station, WERA (96.7) in Arlington, VA–what an incredibly dynamic station and staff!
Ulysses E. Campbell (left) and Bennet Kobb (right) in the studios of WERA.
I’d also like to thank my friend Kim Elliott for generously hosting me during the multi-day event. Even modest accommodation in the DC area is very expensive–no doubt, Kim’s hospitality made the conference a reality for me. Thanks again, Kim!