Tag Archives: Mark Fahey

Sangean ATS-909X sticky keys?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Fahey, who left the following comment on our PL-880 review:

I’m reading this old post as I am a new user of the PL-880. I have it as my bedside and coffee table receiver in my house up in the Indonesian jungle.

I love it! Wished I purchased it months ago.

Until the PL-880 arrived I was using an ATS-909X up here – and seeing Thomas mention it here I thought I would ask about it.

I have owned 3 x ATS-909X over the years, two white and my most recent (about 2 years ago) is the black model. Every single one of them has the most frustrating key not functioning as you would expect bug. It like the keys are “sticking”, it’s not a mechanical problem, but something with the keyboard electronics. The 1st one I brought when the ATS-909X was basically unusable due the keyboard. The later purchases somewhat better, and the last Black one the best of the bunch with a software version that was supposed to fix the problem. All that said even the Black one is pretty crappy with unresponsive keys (unless you press hard and slowly – ie not rapid and fast sequences of key pressing).

Am I just suffering the effects of bad karma, or is everyone’s experience of the ATS-909X the same.

I’m so pleased I’m now using the PL-880. No problems, no crappy keyboard, just a great experience!

Cheers,
Mark

I’m glad you’re enjoying the PL-880, Mark. You’re right: it’s a brilliant portable.

Post readers: Have other ATS-909X owners experienced this problem with unresponsive keys? Please comment!

And Mark, we’re overdue an update on your Radio Seribatu stations!

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The Third Network: Investigating North Korea’s infamous cable radio

Photo by Chad O’Carroll (@chadocl via Twitter)

The NK News has published an article about North Korea’s “Third Network”: the infamous cable network radio installed in many homes and that, some report, cannot be turned off.

This article tries to separate fact from fiction and turns to SWLing Post friend, Mark Fahey, among other North Korea experts:

The North Korean radio you can never turn off: fact or fiction?

Rumors have persisted for years, but how true they are remains up for debate

Eric Lafforgue discovered the radio in September 2011, on the wall of a farmhouse north of Hamhung.

Although small and austere, with just a speaker and a turquoise dial for volume control, the device stood out for two reasons: firstly, it looked cemented to the wall and secondly, his guide told him that “people cannot turn off the system.”

The French photographer would later post an image of the device on Flickr, where it remains one of the few pieces of photographic evidence of a uniquely North Korean twist on public address systems typical to the region.

Instead of issuing intermittent earthquake and tsunami warnings, however, this network is alleged to broadcast regime propaganda into citizen’s homes day and night without respite.

In some ways, the existence of this type of radio would be in keeping with what we know about the North Korean media landscape.

All television, radio and internet content is strictly censored by the state and suffused with propaganda glorifying the exploits of the state and its economic successes.

And a walk down the streets of any North Korean city will inevitably bring you into contact with a wide variety of posters exhorting greater personal sacrifice for the regime, praising its achievements or damning its enemies.

These are vivid displays often accompanied by motivational music and state announcements pumped daily into streets through public loudspeakers.

Even so, while these manifestations of North Korean propaganda are well-known to even casual observers of the country, visual evidence for the radio system described by Lafforgue remains scant.

In all his own trips to the DPRK, Mark Fahey has never seen any such device in person, and not for any lack of trying.

“I’ve been looking in every single room, in every single building I’ve been in,” Fahey, an expert on North Korean propaganda, tells NK News.

Others have been luckier. During filming for the documentary “A State of Mind” in 2004, footage was captured of a device similar to Lafforgue’s on the wall of a Pyongyang apartment.

“State radio is piped to every kitchen in the block,” a voiceover explains. “Listeners can turn the volume down, but not off.”[…]

Click here to continue reading the full article at NK News.

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Independent review says U.S.-funded broadcaster failing to spread fair and balanced news

(Source: Washington Post via Mark Fahey)

A U.S. agency that is supposed to broadcast objective Spanish-language news programs into Cuba fails to meet basic standards of journalistic fairness[…] The review of [Radio] Martí content, conducted by Spanish-speaking academics and former journalists and released Tuesday, found the news organization routinely allows “almost any criticism of the Cuban government and its leaders” on the air. The effect, the report concluded, is that the station has sometimes resembled anti-communist propaganda and has failed to be a broker of fair and unbiased broadcast journalism, as is mandated by Congress.

John F. Lansing, the chief executive of the station’s parent organization, the U.S. Agency for Global Media, said the review did not find that the biased coverage had been directed by any political appointee of the Trump administration. Rather, he said, the failures flow from a “broken culture” at Martí, which has relied on Cuban dissidents as on-air personalities and on a small group of anti-communist organizations as sources for some content.

“I know it’s tempting to make an assumption about the Trump administration, particularly given the terms that have been used about the press, but I can tell you unequivocally that there has been no influence by the Trump administration,” said Lansing, a holdover from the Obama administration. Rather, he said, the report reveals “a lack of basic journalist standards across the board.”[…]

Read the full article on the Washington Post.

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An aircraft hijacking story with “a shortwave twist”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Fahey, who writes:

[A] great aircraft hijacking story with a shortwave twist….

Read the full article from NK News on the link below–the shortwave twists are here in two interesting paragraphs…

“Two fight attendants from the YS-11 eventually emerged as announcers on the “Voice of the National Salvation,” a North Korean propaganda radio station targeting South Korean audiences.”

“The station claimed to be a voice of the alleged South Korean underground Juche resistance, and thus it badly needed broadcasters who were capable of speaking polished, Seoul-style Korean.”

Take to the skies: North Korea’s role in the mysterious hijacking of KAL YS-11 | NK News – North Korea News

https://www.nknews.org/2019/03/take-to-the-skies-north-koreas-role-in-the-mysterious-hijacking-of-kal-ys-11/

Thank you, Mark. I was not aware of this story. It was too bad for those flight attendants that they had a skill the North Korea propaganda machine needed.

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Mark’s Tree House DXpedition in Bali

I recently received an email from SWLing Post friend, contributor and Patron, Mark Fahey, who is currently enjoying a fascinating DXpedition.

Many thanks to Mark who has allowed me to share a few of his notes from the trip. Mark writes:

I am at Susut, in the Bangli Regency, on the Indonesian island of Bali.

This treehouse is at the base region of Mt Agung, an active volcano, so the earth rumbles a few time each day.

For the next week and a half, I am alone in the Indonesian jungle with my WinRadio Excalibur a collection of loops and wire antennas and lots of storage for spectrum recording. No QRM, I am running on DC, but charge my gear during the day from an AC mains supply.

DX is fantastic – best today being CNR in DRM locked solid!

But the big disappointment is just like Malaysia, MW in most of Indonesia is now just white noise, nothing at all – and hardly any RRI (Radio Republik Indonesia) on the tropical bands now.

But FM jam-packed, I expect many are community pirate stations as well. I came all setup for FM capture as well.

Wow! What a brilliant DXpedition location, Mark! It appears you’ve truly removed all other distractions being in such a remote area.

Sign me up! I’m ready for some Indonesian tree house DXing!

Thanks for sharing, Mark! [And by the way, I’m not at all envious. Okay, maybe just a little. Or a lot.]

Post readers: Have you ever been on a DXpedition in an exotic or unique location?  Please comment!


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Switzerland ending RF terrestrial broadcasting of television

Television TV

Photo by Ajeet Mestry on Unsplash

(Source: Fortune via Mark Fahey)

Switzerland Is Doing Away With Over-the-Air TV. Could the U.S. Do the Same?

Rabbit ears and other TV antennas could be useless in Switzerland before too long.

The Swiss government has given the country’s public broadcaster approval to turn off its digital terrestrial TV (known as over-the-air to most people) by the end of 2019. It will be the first nation in Europe to do so.

Most Swiss have high speed broadband internet connections and cable networks in their homes, so the move is unlikely to affect many citizens. Only 1.9% of the population, about 64,000 people, reportedly take advantage of the service that’s being discontinued.

Other European nations are expected to follow Switzerland’s lead in the next 10 to 15 years. And while many Americans believe the right to free, over-the-air broadcasts are protected, that’s not quite as cut and dry as it might seem.

Yes, the federal government licenses the airwaves to television stations (among other entities). […]But the government doesn’t license networks, only individual stations, as outlined by the FCC.

“We license only individual broadcast stations,”: the agency says in a 2008 report explaining its authority.

[…]Put another way: Networks are not required to broadcast their shows over the air.[…]

Click here to read the full article at Fortune.

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A KiwiSDR Dynamic SNR Map

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Fahey, who shares the following comment in response to our KiwiSDR post from yesterday:

[T]here are now so many [KiwiSDR] receivers – how do you know which ones are best? Why not use this map as an alternative to sdr.hu/map:

[A]ll the same receivers are shown in a map interface but the receiver signal to noise ratio changes how big each receiver target appears. The bigger the blob, the better the lower the noise which usually equates to a better antenna system etc.

http://sibamanna.duckdns.org/sdr_map.html

Wow!  Thanks for the excellent tip, Mark! This map makes exploring the KiwiSDR network much easier. I especially like the full screen option.

Note, too, that Mark hosts a KiwiSDR in Freemans Reach, Australia (near Sydney). Mark sets the default auto logout for 2 hours to better cater to SWLs (which he says only represents about 10% of his SDR guests!). Most KiwiSDRs use the 30 minute default auto logout, which I find frustrating when I’m making broadcast recordings.

Click here to enjoy Mark’s KiwiSDR in Freemans Reach, Australia.

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