Tag Archives: Mike Terry

Radio Waves: WBCN, Reactions to AM Digital, More KPH, and Cereal Box Telescopes

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, Mike Terry, Troy Riedel, andGrant Porter for the following tips:


WBCN history reveals revolutionary power in local radio (Boston University News Service)

SOMERVILLE – What started as a midnight to 6 a.m. slot on a failing classical music station, became the voice of a generation in 1970s Boston. Now, more than 50 years after WBCN sparked a “revolutionary new experiment in radio,” the bygone rock station is still making waves.

The 2018 documentary, “WBCN and The American Revolution,” tells the origin story of Boston’s first rock and roll station through a combination of rock hits. Never-before-seen photos, videos and interviews with some of Boston’s most beloved radio hosts, were greeted with cheers at the Somerville Theatre screening Thursday night.

Bill Lichtenstein, who began volunteering with WBCN at 14, directed and produced the film. After crowdfunding and a decade in the making, it has been touring independent theaters and festivals across the U.S. for the last year and a half.

WBCN was grounded in good music. Founded by Ray Riepen, owner of South End music venue The Boston Tea Party, WBCN introduced voices like The Velvet Underground, The Who, Bruce Springsteen and Led Zeppelin to the city, and quickly found a home in Boston’s huge student population. Within three months, the station, run by amateur hosts and young volunteers during classroom breaks, was playing 24 hours per day.[…]


“It Will Make Millions of Receivers Obsolete … This Is Needless” (Radio World)

What people are saying to the FCC about all-digital on the AM band

Radio World is providing an ongoing sampler of comments of what people are telling the FCC about its proposal to allow U.S. stations on the AM band to switch voluntarily to all-digital transmission. Here are more in the series:

Kirk Mazurek told the FCC that he is an avid AM listener who has “invested time and money in equipment towards my hobby as many others have. If this proposal goes through it will make the millions of receivers obsolete requiring the purchase of new equipment. This is needless, there are a lot of people who have vintage radios and a lot of them have been restored. This proposal would make them useless. I urge you not to ratify this proposal.”

Mark Wells raised concern about interference from digital to analog signals on the same channel. “This is especially applicable at night when one is listening to distant stations in out-of-state markets, he wrote. “For example, clear channel stations WBT in Charlotte and KFAB in Omaha are both on both on 1110 kHz. Let’s say one switches to digital, and one does not. As it is they both may fade in and out as the atmosphere does its nightly tricks, but the signals remain mostly useable. But, if one is digital and the other analog would it not ‘blank out’ the analog station?”[…]


Podcast features Coastal Radio Station KPH (DitDit.fm)

There was a time when the airways bristled with Morse Code. There were commercial radio stations all around the world whose business was sending and receiving Morse Code messages to ships at sea. Coast station KPH, located at Point Reyes National Seashore near San Francisco, is one of those stations. Richard Dillman was there in 1997 when KPH sent it’s last message and closed it’s doors. It was the end of the line for the men and women who had spent their careers sending Morse Code to ships at sea. There was nowhere else for them to go…

Two years later, Richard Dillman with a group of volunteers returned to KPH and put it back on the air. Listen as Richard tells us about the future of Maritime Morse Code Coastal Station KPH!


A hydrogen line telescope made from cereal boxes and an RTL-SDR (RTL-SDR.com)

SpaceAustralia.com have recently been hosting a community science project that involves encouraging teams to build backyard radio telescopes that can detect the arms of our Milky Way Galaxy by receiving the Hydrogen line frequency of 1420 MHz.

This can be achieved at home by building a horn antenna out of cardboard and aluminum foil, and a feed from a tin can. Then the Hydrogen line and galactic plane can be detected by using an RTL-SDR, LNA, and software capable of averaging an FFT spectrum over a long period of time.

While most horn antennas are typically made from four walls, one participant, Vanessa Chapman, has shown that even trash can be used to observe the galaxy. Vanessa’s horn antenna is made from multiple cereal boxes lined with aluminum foil and an old tin fuel can. The boxes are held together by some string and propped up by some sticks.

With her cereal box horn antenna combined with an RTL-SDR Blog V3, and an RTL-SDR Blog Wideband LNA, Vanessa was able to use software to average the spectrum over time as the galactic plane passed overhead, revealing the Hydrogen line peak and corresponding doppler shift from the galactic plane.[…]


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Radio Waves: New BBC Ham, Russian Propaganda, Rotators, USB Continuity, and a Moment of Silence

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, Marty, Mike Terry, and Tracy Wood for the following tips:


BBC World Service presenter is a radio amateur (Southgate ARC)

Gareth Mitchell M7GJM is well known as presenter of the BBC World Service show Digital Planet. He got his amateur licence in 2019 thanks to help from members of Essex Ham

Since getting his licence, Gareth M7GJM has been mentioning amateur radio in his BBC World Service show, most recently, featuring how radio hams in Australia have been helping with emergency comms.

Read the Essex Ham story at
https://www.essexham.co.uk/news/online-learning-and-exam.html

Information on the free Foundation Online course that Gareth took is at
https://www.essexham.co.uk/train/foundation-online/


Russian ‘Propaganda Machine’ Selects Kansas City As Its Second Radio Broadcast Site (KCUR)

Commuters interested in conspiracy theories about George Soros, Hillary Clinton and the Republican National Committee have a new option, courtesy of the Russian government.

Early this month, a radio station based in Liberty, Missouri, signed a three-year deal to broadcast Radio Sputnik across Kansas City.

The English-language programming airs for three hours each morning and again in the evening on three frequencies controlled by KCXL: 1140 AM, 102.9 FM and 104.7 FM.

It’s produced by the U.S.-based branch of an organization created in 2013 by Russian President Vladimir Putin to promote Russian interests abroad.

The organization, Rossiya Segodnya, hopes to restore a “fair attitude to Russia in every country in the world,” according to court records.

For now, Radio Sputnik only broadcasts in two American cities: Kansas City and Washington D.C., where its programming has aired since 2017.

“We’d love to broadcast in all major U.S. markets,” a Radio Sputnik spokesperson told KCUR via email. “But unfortunately, U.S. authorities are working really hard to prevent us from doing so.”[…]


Rotators – How do you turn that thing? (Nuts and Volts)

We’ve had a few columns on antennas and propagation, and there sure is a lot of variation in the types of antennas! All the different ways signals propagate require different antenna directions and types. Hams use dinky finger-sized “rubber ducks” on handheld radios but also some ridiculously big antennas it seems. Hams can’t use as much power as some of the other communication services, so they use antennas to get through by focusing radiated power.

If the antennas can focus a signal, then they need to be able to focus it in the desired direction, right? A few antennas can do that electrically by controlling the signal’s phase or switching antenna elements on and off. Most of the “pointable” ham antennas, though, need to be pointed mechanically and held in place during a contact or to keep a communications link working. The thing that hams use to point their antennas — large and small — is called a rotator.

There are a wide range of rotators, just like antennas. You may have used a TV antenna rotator with its “chunk-chunk-chunk” stepping. At the other end of the scale, whole towers turn! We’ll cover some of the most common types and give you an idea of how they work. (If you want detailed information, including guidelines and illustrations for how to work with these unsung heroes of the antenna farm, see the sidebar, “Rotator and Tower Know-How.”)


Build a USB continuity jig (Nuts and Volts)

If you’re like me, you likely have a drawer or shoebox stuffed with assorted USB cables that are used to either charge or program a USB device. The problem often is that some cables may only be useful for charging, and which only have the +Vcc and ground wires intact with one or both data wires either broken or not connected in the first place.


Every Radio Station in Los Angeles Holds Moment of Silence for Kobe Bryant (Billboard)

Los Angeles has been rendered speechless by the shocking death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, and seven others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., on Sunday morning. And for one minute and eight seconds — the extra time nodding to Bryant’s original No. 8 Lakers jersey — radio stations across the city held a moment of silence Monday (Jan. 27) at noon.

The Southern California Broadcasters Association asked its members to synchronize their moment of silence, as well as continuously airing reminders about the upcoming tribute.

Before noon, the SCBA requested all local area radio stations to repeat this core introductory message for grieving Angelenos listening in: “Right now All LA radio stations are now broadcasting 1:08 minute silence for LA Sports Legend Kobe Bryant,” according to an announcement posted on the association’s website.[…]


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More BBC Mediumwave Closures

(Source BBC Blog via Mike Terry)

By Kieran Clifton
Director, BBC Distribution & Business Development

In my blog posted in the summer of 2017, I explained the BBC’s plans for local radio and the reasons for the closure of some of our medium wave transmitters – which happened in January last year. This was the first stage of putting into action a plan that the BBC originally announced in 2011. Starting in February 2020, and completing in mid-2020, we will be moving on to the next stage of the plan, closing a further 18 medium wave transmitters across England, Scotland and Wales. There is a list of services affected at the end of this blog post.

My earlier blog post explained why we are closing some local medium wave transmitters, but I wanted to recap again here. The majority of radio listening in the UK – including to the BBC – is now digital, and digital listening is continuing to grow. We want to make our services available to you when and how you want them, but it’s also right that the BBC continues to ensure that the ways we distribute our services represent good value for money for you, the licence fee payer.

The BBC is committed to a digital future for radio, and in the past few years we have funded local DAB expansion, made all local radio stations available on digital terrestrial TV (such as Freeview), and we have transformed our online and mobile offering with BBC Sounds.  Together with FM (which has recently been expanded for Radio Wales), these ways of receiving our stations now make up the great majority of listening, and as a result continuing to transmit these services on medium wave would no longer represent good value for money.

This change was planned as long ago as 2011, but we have taken a measured approach to implementing it to ensure that as many of you as possible have already moved on to other ways of receiving the services before we make this change.  We know that the changes will impact some of you, and that’s why we’re speaking about the plans again now. We want to make sure that people listening to these transmissions will be able to use other methods to hear the same programmes.

All stations which will be affected will continue to be on FM and digital outputs (such as DAB, digital television, or online). For most people, re-tuning their radios or cars to FM or DAB is likely to be the simplest solution.

You can use our Problem Assistant tool to get more information on how to access all BBC services in your area.

The stations which will no longer be transmitted on MW are:

    • Three Counties Radio (3CR)
    • Radio Merseyside
    • Radio Newcastle
    • Radio Solent (for Dorset)
    • Radio Solent
    • Radio Cornwall
    • Radio York

In addition, the following stations will have reduced MW coverage:

Radio Scotland

    • Areas in and around both Aberdeen and Kirkcudbright

Radio Wales

    • Tywyn, Forden and Llandrindod Wells transmitter areas

Radio Cumbria

    • Areas in and around Whitehaven

Radio Norfolk

    • Areas in and around Norwich
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“Pirate DAB multiplexes take to the air in Dublin and Cork”

(Source: Radio Today Ireland via Mike Terry)

Pirate radio stations are appearing on unlicenced DAB digital multiplexes in Dublin and Cork, and more are planned for other cities in Ireland.

The “FreeDAB” platform, now carrying around ten stations, was born out of frustration over the procedures in place to broadcast legally on DAB in Ireland.

During the recent 12-month legal DAB multiplex trial operated by ‘éirdab’ in Cork, a radio station wanting to broadcast via this method would need to pay upfront for a five-year Section 71 licence (a list price of €14,000 (plus VAT)) and wait up to five months for the application to be processed.

But waiting five months for a licence and paying five years up-front to be on a 12-month trial are just two of the issues holding back DAB in Ireland.

The technology required to broadcast a multiplex is now easier to acquire and is mostly controlled by software whilst costs to broadcast illegally via the multiplexes also appear to be very low.[…]

Continue reading the full article at Radio Today Ireland.

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Due to RFI budget cuts “The Sound Kitchen” leaves shortwave

Many thanks to Mike Terry on the WRTH Facebook page, who notes that RFI’s “The Sound Kitchen” will no longer broadcast on shortwave.

From The Sound Kitchen‘s latest post:

For our DX enthusiast and shortwave listener friends: I am sad to announce we no longer have a shortwave frequency; we have severe budget constraints which no longer permit us to broadcast via shortwave.

But you can still hear us on World Radio Network. As you know, we now broadcast only 1 hour per day, Monday – Friday, from 14:00 to 15:00 UTC/GMT.

For North America: WRN broadcasts the quotidian RFI English programme three times a day from Monday to Friday, from 06:00 to 06:59, from 10:00 to 10:59 and from 16:00 to 16h59 UTC/GMT.

http://babcock.media/world-radio-network/networks/english-north-america/

For Africa and Asia: WRN broadcasts the quotidian RFI English programme three times a day from Monday to Friday, from 06:00 to 06:59, from 10:00 to 10:59 and from 16:00 to 16h59 UTC/GMT.

http://babcock.media/world-radio-network/networks/english-africa-asia/

For Europe: WRN broadcasts the quotidian RFI English programme three times a day from Monday to Friday, from 07:00 to 07:50, from 12:00 to 12:59 and from 20:00 to 20:59 UTC/GMT.

http://babcock.media/world-radio-network/networks/english-europe/

In Paris, you can hear us on World Radio Paris (http://www.worldradioparis.fr/) on DAB+, Monday to Friday from 15:00 to 15:59 UTC/GMT as well as Tuesday through Saturday from 07:00 to 07:59 UTC/GMT.

Click here to read the full post.

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Radio Caroline testing on 648 kHz

(Source: Southgate ARC via Mike Terry)

Caroline 648 testing

A test signal with continuous music and announcements reported today.

Reception reports on Facebook from the UK, Holland, Belgium, France and Austria.

Some reports from mainland Europe refer to a co-channel Romanian or Slovenian station.

I think this is at a lower power than the permitted 1 KW.

Much excitement in anorak circles!

Note that if you’re interesting in monitoring 648 kHz but live outside the broadcast footprint, you can easily listen and record via the U Twente WebSDR.

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Radio Caroline to broadcast on 648 kHz mediumwave

(Source: Southgate ARC and Mike Terry)

Caroline to be on 648 kHz with 1 kW ERP

We can now announce that our AM frequency will be 648 kHz with a power of 1000 watts. This is ERP or simply the power radiated by the aerial.

A transmitter was imported from the Continent a few days ago and is now being modified to suit the frequency. There are further hurdles, but as you can see progress is being made.
http://www.radiocaroline.co.uk/#home.html

It’s taken Radio Caroline 53 years to get an AM licence and it was perceived as a threat to the BBC for many years.

Ironically 648 kHz was best known for transmitting the BBC World Service in English around the clock on 648 kHz from September 1982 until March 2011 from the Orfordness transmitting station on the Suffolk coast.

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