Tag Archives: Morse Code

Kostas explores an alternative to Morse Code that’s been used in prisons, with roots in ancient Greece

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Kostas (SV3ORA), for sharing the following guest post which originally appeared on his radio website:


TAP: A Morse alternative mode for the HAM, with no need for training

by Kostas (SV3ORA)

Introduction

The thinking of this new mode, came to me when someone posted that he quit the HAM hobby because he did not learn Morse code and he did not want to use computers to do the job for him. Some time I faced a similar situation and I believe many do one day or the other. So I thought that I had to do something about it. It is too bad people quit the hobby or missing the fun of the KEY operation, because of the obstacle of Morse code. No matter what CW operators that already learnt Morse might say, the fact is that Morse requires patience, continuous practice and most importantly time. After all military had dedicated courses on it in the past, so it must be more than true. These are things not all people can, or are willing to do. An alternative that gives the same pleasure like Morse and operates with the same techniques, but requires no training and time must exist. Meet the TAP mode!

Mode description

This mode has its roots to ancient Greece. You may read the article in Wikipedia for more information on the Polybius square. A form of it, was used in the previous century in was times, for in-prison communication. A modified version is presented here by me, that fits perfectly the HAM radio. This modified TAP code scheme, is dedicated to HAM radio and includes the numbers and the letter “k”.

This is all you need to know in order to send and receive TAP. It is easy to follow and easy to generate on paper. This is a 6 by 6 table, with the first six alphabet letters placed in the first line, the next six in the second and so on. After the alphabet ends, the numbers are put in the same manner. Thats it!

Sending TAP

It is better to describe the sending procedure with an example.
To send the letter “i” you send two dots (“i” is on the second row), wait a bit and then send 3 more dots (“i” is on the third column). In other words, you first count the number of rows where the letter exists, then wait a bit and then you count the number of columns where this letter exists. Before sending the next letter, leave a bit of more time, so as to distinguish that this is a separate letter and not the time between rows and columns. Thats it!

Try it now without any transceiver! Write the TAP table on a piece of paper (you do not need to write the row and column numbers), or read it from the website. Tap on your desk with your finger and send some words to the colleague near you. See how easy it is?

There are actually four spacings involved. The spacing between adjacent dots, the spacing between the row and the column, and the spacing between letters and the spacing between words. Follow the PARIS spacing, like Morse code does, if you intent to write a software for it. However, in practice, manual operators would need to consider just two spacings, the spacing between rows and columns and the spacing between letters. These are the most important. Just make the one bigger than the other and communication should be achieved without problems.

Receiving TAP

It is better to describe the receiving procedure with an example.
To receive the letter “i” you listen two dots (“i” is on the second row), then a short scilence time and then listen 3 more dots (“i” is on the third column). In other words, you first listen for a number of dots (this is the row where the letter exists), then sense the scilence and then you listen for the next number of dots (this is the column where the letter exists). The scilence time between two letters is greater than the scilence between rows and columns and this can be distinguished easily. Thats it!

Try it now without any transceiver! Write the TAP table on a piece of paper (you do not need to write the row and column numbers), or read it from the website. Put your coleague to sent you some TAP words and you should be able to decode them by counting the rows and columns in the TAP table.

A programmer that may need to implement the mode in software, should follow the PARIS spacing to distinguish the different parts of the code, as described above.

TAP advantages

Here are some advantages I can think, of TAP in comparison to Morse.

  • No training is required, start using it imediatelly, even by non-HAM people and kids. This probably is the greatest advantage and this is why most would want to use TAP in HAM radio.
  • The encoding/decoding square can be drawn easily, it is very easy to remember how to draw it.
  • Decoding by hardware or software means, becomes very easy, as there are no dashes to account for. Dot lengths can be anything and can be even varying from dot to dot, it does not matter.
  • All you count, is how many ON-states (taps) there are and the rough timing between them, to decide between a row-column or a letter. Because of this intependency from dashes, the code can be used on any means, radio, light, pipes, walls, desks etc.
  • If dot lengths are kept very short (up to the point where channel noise allows it), RF amplifiers can be pushed beyond their limits (due to limited duty cycle), or otherwise run cooler within their limits. There are some mediums, like light communication, where bright pulses of light can be produced easily (eg. xenon tubes), but not kept for duration and TAP is ideal on them.

TAP disadvantages

Here are some disadvantages I can think, of TAP in comparison to Morse.

  • Speed limit issues probably. TAP beginners achieve for sure faster speeds than Morse beginners. However, a trained Morse HAM, can achieve greater speeds with Morse.
  • Learning the table by heart, can be tricky in comparison to Morse. However war prisoners had tricks to learn by heart the 5×5 TAP  square.
  • Not known (yet) among the HAM community, like any new mode. Why not change that by let HAMs know about it?

TAP common points to Morse

There are some common points shared between TAP and Morse code.

  • Both are relatively slow modes.
  • Both are ON/OFF keying modes, efficient class-E amplifiers can be used.
  • Both share the same channel bandwidth and noise-related characteristics.
  • Both are human-oriented, although TAP does not require training. Both share the PARIS timing when implemented in software.
  • Both allow for the “joy of the KEY”. You send TAP with the same equipment as Morse.
  • Both are ideal for homebrew QRP, due to efficiency and transceivers simplicity.
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Radio Waves: North Korea Fights Outside Influence, Phishing Scam Uses Morse Code, The Power of Radio, and Afghanistan International TV

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!


That’s ‘Comrade’ To You! North Korea Fights To Purge Outside Influences On Language (NPR)

SEOUL — In the show Crash Landing on You, a rich South Korean woman accidentally paraglides into North Korea, where she is rescued by an army officer and falls in love with him. The series, which was released on Netflix in 2019, was a hit across the Korean Peninsula — including in the North, where it circulated on smuggled thumb drives.

“It created quite a stir, with Kim Jong Un even forbidding people from watching it,” says Kang Nara, a North Korean defector in Seoul who served as a consultant to the show.

That’s not surprising, as all South Korean content is effectively banned in North Korea.

Kang says she found Crash Landing on You appealing for its realistic depictions of life in the North, including the language. As in real life, North Koreans in the drama, for example, call their intimate partners “comrade” instead of “honey.”

But differences in language from the South are a sensitive issue for the North Korean regime. It has fought for more than half a century to purge North Korea’s language of foreign influences, and for roughly two decades to keep out southern-style expressions that northerners are gleaning from bootlegged South Korean TV dramas, movies and K-pop music. [Continue reading…]

Microsoft catches hackers using Morse Code to help cover their tracks (CyberScoop)

Clever hackers use a range of techniques to cover their tracks on a target computer, from benign-looking communication protocols to self-erasing software programs.

It’s not very often, though, that digital attackers turn to Morse Code, a 177-year-old signaling system, for operational security. Yet that’s exactly what played a part in a year-long phishing campaign that Microsoft researchers outlined on Thursday.

Morse Code — a method of representing characters with dots and dashes popularized by telegraph technology — was one of several methods that the hackers, whom Microsoft did not identify, used to obscure malicious software. It’s a reminder that, for all of their complexities, modern offensive and defensive cyber measures often rest on the simple concept of concealing and cracking code. Continue reading

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Radio Waves: 20K Hz & The Buzzer, Cuba Jamming, Rugby Radio Station soon a school, HRO Opens a store in FL, Police Use Morse, Tool Box Spy Radio, and “Einstein Listened”

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 Paul, David Goren, Pete Polanyk, Ulis Fleming, Troy Riedel, Tracy Wood, Dan Robinson, and Kris Partridge for the following tips:


The Buzzer (Twenty Thousand Hertz podcast)

This episode was written and produced by Olivia Rosenman.

Since World War I, countries around the world have been broadcasting mysterious numerical messages via shortwave radio. Though concrete evidence is hard to come by, the general consensus is that these coded messages are meant for undercover agents operating abroad. And one particular Russian station may have an even more sinister purpose. Featuring computer engineer Andrus Aaslaid, historian Maris Goldmanis, and documentary photographer Lewis Bush.

Cuba Jamming Ham Radio? Listen For Yourself (IEEE Spectrum)

A public SDR network triangulates the island as the source of mystery signals

By Stephen Cass

As anti-government protests spilled onto the streets in Cuba on July 11, something strange was happening on the airwaves. Amateur radio operators in the United States found that suddenly parts of the popular 40-meter band were being swamped with grating signals. Florida operators reported the signals were loudest there, enough to make communication with hams in Cuba impossible. Other operators in South America, Africa, and Europe also reported hearing the signal, and triangulation software that anyone with a web browser can try placed the source of the signals as emanating from Cuba.

Cuba has a long history of interfering with broadcast signals, with several commercial radio stations in Florida allowed to operate at higher than normal power levels to combat jamming. But these new mystery signals appeared to be intentionally targeting amateur radio transmissions. A few hours after the protest broke out on the 11th, ham Alex Valladares (W7HU) says he was speaking with a Cuban operator on 7.130 megahertz in the 40-meter band, when their conversation was suddenly overwhelmed with interference. “We moved to 7170, and they jam the frequency there,” he says. Valladares gave up for the night, but the following morning, he says, “I realize that they didn’t turn off those jammers. [Then] we went to [7]140 the next day and they put jamming in there.”[]

New school at home of former radio station on track for autumn launch (Coventry Telegraph)

Houlton School, where Rugby Radio Station once stood, is set take its first influx of pupils in September

Plans for a new school at the historic former home of Rugby Radio Station are being fine-tuned and remain on track for a September start.

Houlton School, which will be named after the town in America that received the first transatlantic voice broadcast from Rugby Radio Station in 1927, will take its first influx of 180 Year 7 pupils this autumn.

The school, which forms part of the 6,200-home urban extension in Houlton, east of Rugby town centre, will take a new year group of 180 pupils every 12 months.

Michael McCulley, the school’s Principal Designate, said: “Whilst building a fantastic £39m new school during three lockdowns has had its challenges, we are also acutely aware that we have had a completely blank page from which to develop our exciting curriculum and pastoral programme.

“This freedom has been important as we have needed to evolve to the changing needs of our first group of students.[]

Ham Radio Outlet to open store in Florida (Amateur Radio Newsline)

Ham Radio Outlet, the nationwide amateur radio retailer in the US, has announced that its ongoing expansion plans will include a store in the state of Florida. The new store will join 12 already open in such states as California in the West, where the company is based, to Delaware in the East, Arizona and Texas in the South, New Hampshire in the North. The company’s announcement on social media set off a wave of speculation about the new location, especially on Instagram where the company wrote, “We’re not telling yet! We’re open to suggestions.” The closest Ham Radio Outlet to Florida is in Atlanta, Georgia. The company, which calls itself the world’s largest supplier of amateur radio equipment, is also known for shipping internationally.

Old is gold: In times of satellite & internet, Pune cops keep Morse Code in use as a robust stand-by communication mode (The Indian Express)

Every Sunday, an operator with Pune Police’s wireless wing sends a Morse Code message to the office of the Director General of Police, Maharashtra.

IN THE era of satellite communication, which involves transmitting signals into space and back, and internet based systems transferring gigabytes of data in a flash, police have kept alive the age-old system of Morse Code – a primitive method of sending messages in the form of dots and dashes.

Every Sunday, an operator with Pune Police’s wireless wing sends a Morse Code message to the office of the Director General of Police, Maharashtra. While this is their way of paying tributes to one of the earliest modes of telecommunication, it is primarily a way of maintaining a robust stand-by mode of message delivery in case all other means of communication fail.

Pune City police have recently started a series of tweets featuring the communication systems used by the police and their evolution till date. On Sunday, Pune Police Commissioner Amitabh Gupta tweeted, “As an ode to the beginning of wireless communications, the Commissioner’s Office still uses Morse Code to transmit Messages every Sunday.”[]

Antiques Roadshow: Spy radio disguised as toolbox found in garden shed worth huge sum (The Express)

ANTIQUES ROADSHOW saw a World War II spy radio which was disguised as a toolbox fetch a huge valuation when it travelled to Kenilworth Castle.

Antiques Roadshow’s expert Mark Smith marvelled at the ingenuity of a spy radio which was used in World War Two in a recent episode. The item, from the outside, was made to look like a toolbox but when opened, displayed a detailed radio which could be “powered by any source”. So how much was it worth? Mark put a £10,000 to £15,000 price tag on it.[]

Einstein Listened (WNYC)

Former WNYC director Seymour N. Siegel suggested that WNYC once received fan mail from Einstein. As I continue to look far and wide for evidence of this alleged bit of praise, I can’t help but wonder, what broadcast prompted the great man to write? Alas, so far, the document has eluded me. But, we do know that the father of the theory of relativity was a subscriber to both the WNYC and WQXR program guides. And we have no less than Erwin Panofsky, the noted German-American art historian and friend of Einstein’s, to thank for that.

It all began when the distinguished gang at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey decided to chip in and build the Nobel laureate a “high-fidelity” radio for his 70th birthday. The 1949 gift included subscriptions to the WNYC, WQXR, and WABF program guides.[]


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G6QA’s Slow Morse Morning Club

While some SWLs and radio listeners dislike Web-based SDRs because they don’t feel like “real radio” there’s no denying that they do offer up listening opportunities you might not otherwise be able to enjoy from home.

Case in Point

Friend and SWLing Post contributor, Pete Madtone, has been enjoying dropping in on a local Slow Morse Morning Club via the G0XBU WebSDR. He’s shared a bit of recorded audio with me in the past, but this morning he sent me a link to the SDR with the frequency of the class in progress.

We both listened live with Pete and the repeater in the UK, and me in the States.

The class is wonderful and what I consider an ideal use of local repeaters.  Linda serves up a sentence of slow code, then reads back what she sent. The others on the repeater then chime in with their copy–what they copied and what they missed. There really is no better way to build up your CW chops in the beginning than to do this–it’s interactive, supportive, and the audio very clear via FM on the repeater. It’s proper distance instruction using my favorite medium: radio!

Plus, well, the whole thing has some serious charm. I started an audio recording of the class this morning. Here’s it is for your enjoyment:

Thanks for the tip this morning, Pete!

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Carlos seeks clarity about another CW station

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Carlos Latuff, who writes:

Today (June 5, 2021) I heard another mysterious CW transmission here in Rio Grande do Sul coast, this time on 8779 kHz, 18h31 UTC.

I did some research and this frequency is related to Rome Radio (which is no longer transmitting in CW) and a marine channel (ITU821) related to Cape Town Radio but I’m not sure:
https://capespectrum.wordpress.com/hf-marine/

I’m sure your readers will solve this puzzle as well.

Thanks for sharing, Carlos!

Post readers: Can you help Carlos ID this station? Please comment!

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Can you help Carlos identify this CW station?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Carlos Latuff, who writes:

Hey Tom,

Check out this recording.

I heard it today on 16976 kHz USB, at 13h08 UTC, here in Tramandai coast, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

Maybe your readers may have an idea what is this CW about?

Thank you for sharing this, Carlos!

Post readers: If you can ID this station, please comment!

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Radio Waves: Radio Tirana’s Global Communist Voice, Sounds of Community Radio, Morse Code Phishing, and the Mission of Vatican 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 David Shannon, Dennis Dura, and David Iurescia for the following tips:


Sources on Cold War Radio, Paradoxes, Maoism, and Noise (Wilson Center)

Radio Tirana emerged as a global Communist voice in the 1970s, reaching Brazilian guerillas in Araguaia, Maoist factions across Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and many other listeners around the world. Elidor Mëhilli explains how this came to be.

“Dear Radio Tirana,” the letter begins, “here in the Alps we can hear you well, and we are especially fond of your propaganda directed at the Italian Communist Party.” The letter is dated April 12, 1976 but its Italian authors are not named. After a final greeting “Viva Mao e Viva Stalin,” they have simply signed off “a group of true Communists.”[i]

Two months earlier, in Entroncamento, Portugal, someone has penned a letter to the same station. “Camaradas,” his note begins, “I am a worker (a porter) who listens regularly to your Portuguese-language broadcasts.” The letter then proceeds with complaints about the fate of Communism in Portugal, with questions about Albania’s foreign policy, about why Radio Tirana spoke so infrequently about Portugal, about sports, about whether a trip to the Balkans might be possible.[ii]

By March, in Arequipa, Peru, a thirty-year-old places the recipient’s address on a small envelope: Señor Director, Radio Tirana, Albania.

He is among early Peruvian intellectuals who have been drawn to Mao Zedong’s ideas. Having completed a thesis on the topic, he is on his way to becoming a professor within a few years. “Unfortunately, I have to tell you that it’s been over a year that I do not receive your broadcasts,” he writes, “I think that it might due to the interference of the imperialist Yankees or perhaps the Soviet social-imperialists.”[iii]

Once a modest station, Radio Tirana had become a global Communist voice by the 1970s, reaching Brazilian guerillas in Araguaia, teeny-tiny Maoist factions across Asia, Africa, and Latin America, far-flung dots scattered across oceans and seas. This turned the station into a kind “of superpower of its kind” as author Ardian Vehbiu has put it. Officials embraced this role, broadcasting in numerous languages—English, Arabic, French, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, German, Indonesian—and beaming anti-capitalist and anti-Soviet messages day after day.[]

World Wide Waves: The Sounds of Community Radio (BBC World Service)

We think we live in a digital age, but only half the world is currently online. Across the globe, small radio stations bind remote communities, play a dazzling array of music, educate, entertain and empower people to make change. Cameroon’s Radio Taboo, in a remote rainforest village 100 miles off the grid, relies on solar power; its journalists and engineers are all local men and women, and some of its audience listen on wind-up radios. In Tamil Nadu, Kadal Osai (“the sound of the ocean”) broadcasts to the local fishing community about weather, fishing techniques—and climate change. In Bolivia, Radio Nacional de Huanuni is one of the last remaining stations founded in the 1950s to organise mostly indigenous tin miners against successive dictatorships; its transmitters are still protected by fortified walls.

For World Radio Day, we visit community stations around the globe and celebrate the enduring power, possibilities and pleasures of the airwaves.

This program will be available shortly after broadcast on Feb 14, 2021. Click here for details.

New phishing attack uses Morse code to hide malicious URLs (Bleeping Computer)

A new targeted phishing campaign includes the novel obfuscation technique of using Morse code to hide malicious URLs in an email attachment.

Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail invented morse code as a way of transmitting messages across telegraph wire. When using Morse code, each letter and number is encoded as a series of dots (short sound) and dashes (long sound).

Starting last week, a threat actor began utilizing Morse code to hide malicious URLs in their phishing form to bypass secure mail gateways and mail filters.

BleepingComputer could not find any references to Morse code being used in phishing attacks in the past, making this a novel obfuscation technique

The novel Morse code phishing attack
After first learning of this attack from a post on Reddit, BleepingComputer was able to find numerous samples of the targeted attack uploaded to VirusTotal since February 2nd, 2021.

The phishing attack starts with an email pretending to be an invoice for the company with a mail subject like ‘Revenue_payment_invoice February_Wednesday 02/03/2021.'[]

Father Lombardi: Mission of Vatican Radio in service of the Pope (Vatican News)

We reproduce excerpts from an article written on the 90th anniversary by the former Director of Vatican Radio, which were published in the latest issue of La Civiltà Cattolica.

By Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ

On 12 February 2021 it will be exactly 90 years since Pope Pius XI inaugurated the new Vatican Radio Station – built at his request by Guglielmo Marconi and entrusted to the care of Jesuit Father Giuseppe Gianfranceschi as its first director. The “mission of Vatican Radio was clear from the beginning: to be an instrument at the service of the Pope for his ministry of proclaiming the Gospel in the world and guiding the universal community of the Catholic Church. This mission has been preserved over time and has been reaffirmed several times by the Popes, guaranteeing a strong identity of the institution. […]

The voice of the Pope
Vatican Radio […] was founded in 1931, in the context of the rapid establishment of the new Vatican City State […]. The radio station built by Marconi was at the forefront of the technology of the time, and was able to provide telegraphic and radio service completely independently from Italy. Thanks to short-wave technology, in an “ether” not yet overcrowded with countless transmissions, it was possible to be heard on other continents with a rather low power. At the beginning of its existence, Vatican Radio was the instrument thanks to which the Catholics of the world could hear the voice of the Pope directly for the first time. […]

The 1930s were years of the power of totalitarianism. Pius XI’s positions were courageous and, in the thickening of the storm, he looked to the Church with confidence. The demand for broadcasts in different languages to guide and support the faithful in European countries grew rapidly. Father Filippo Soccorsi, appointed to lead the Radio in 1934 (at 34 years old!), after the untimely death of Fr. Gianfranceschi, not only dedicated himself to improving the technical structures — such as the new antenna towering over the Vatican gardens, known as “The Pope’s Finger” — but promptly grasped the expectation to make the Radio grow also in the content of its programming. Thus, in 1936, the Vatican Broadcasting Corporation was accepted into the International Broadcasting Union with a recognition of its special nature, which authorised it to carry out radio activities without any geographical limitations. Because of the limited means available, Fr Soccorsi asked for the collaboration of Jesuit brethren from various countries for the editing and presentation of the texts. The German-language broadcasts were particularly important.

In the tragedy of war: for peace and solidarity with the suffering
[…] On the eve of the war, in 1939, there were regular broadcasts in Italian, French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Ukrainian, and Lithuanian, and the station was able to be a point of reference for the Church in the immense tragedy, playing its role of denouncing violence, supporting victims and members of the resistance, and encouraging hope. The “Radio-messages” of Pius XII in wartime, eagerly awaited and listened to with great attention throughout Europe, remain famous. His was the loudest and most authoritative voice rising above the warring parties in those terrible years, calling for justice and peace.

During the war, however, Vatican Radio became famous for another service: it was in fact a fundamental instrument of the great commitment desired by Pius XII with the “Information Office of the Secretariat of State,” set up in 1939 to track down missing civilians and soldiers and prisoners; to provide information to their families and, if possible, to re-establish among them at least a link of greeting and remembrance. […]

Vatican Radio devoted specific broadcasts to requesting news about the missing and broadcasting short messages from the families to the prisoners, whose names were slowly spelled out by the “metallic” voice of the speakers. These broadcasts reached 70 hours per week, with peaks of 12-13 hours per day. Between 1940 and 1946, a total of 1,240,728 messages were broadcast in 12,105 hours of actual transmission time. In some cases, the transmissions were broadcast over loudspeakers in prison camps. The testimonies of gratitude for this service were numerous and moving. This is one of the most beautiful pages in the history of Vatican Radio.

A voice for the “Church of Silence”
With the end of the war, Vatican Radio accompanied with its broadcasts the climate of moral and spiritual reconstruction of the countries devastated by the conflict, while preparations were in full swing for the great Holy Year of 1950, a time of renewed vitality of the Church.

But in the meantime, most of Eastern Europe fell under the oppression of the communist regimes, and the Catholic Church became the object of harsh persecution in many countries. This was an historic challenge for Vatican Radio, which was practically the only way through which the faithful could nurture their bond with the Pope and the universal Church and receive support for their faith. Even with limited resources, programmes in the languages of Eastern European countries became more numerous and were given more airtime. At the end of the 1940s, the programme in Polish — which together with Italian, English, French, Spanish and German had always been one of the main languages of transmission — was joined by those in Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Russian, Croatian, Slovenian, Ukrainian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Belarusian and, shortly afterwards, Albanian. For decades, throughout the time of oppression, the broadcasts of Vatican Radio offered a regular and sure appointment for the faithful, religious, priests and bishops deprived of the freedom to express and live their faith.

There would be countless stories to tell about those years. In certain countries and in certain periods of the harshest persecution, listening to Vatican Radio was absolutely forbidden and seriously dangerous: it could be the cause of serious penalties, up to imprisonment and even — in some cases — the death sentence. For some languages, such as Polish or Slovak, the audience was high, while for others, where Catholics were a minority, there were not many listeners. But the principle that guided the fathers of the Radio, according to the Pope’s intention, was not the vastness of the audience, but the situation of need of the listeners. That is why the languages of broadcasting to Eastern countries have always represented more than half of the languages used by Vatican Radio. When, after many years, the walls fell, the gratitude of the faithful and the people could finally express itself in moving forms, such as the more than 40,000 letters that arrived at the Ukrainian Section in the first year after the fall of the Soviet regime, or the bestowal of the award of the Albanian State for the work of Vatican Radio. […]

Communication for communion
In 1970 the editorial offices and studios of Vatican Radio moved to Palazzo Pio, in front of Castel Sant’Angelo, providing adequate space in what would become the main headquarters of the station for decades. In 1973 Father Roberto Tucci […] succeeded Father Martegani in the general direction. We were on the eve of the Holy Year 1975 and the Radio was completely mobilised. It was not only a matter of broadcasting live the great papal celebrations, audiences and events, and of giving adequate information in all languages so that the universal Church felt involved, but also of providing a service for pilgrims arriving in Rome from all over the world. […]

Pasquale Borgomeo, who would become a dynamic and creative director of programmes; and Father Félix Juan Cabasés, in charge of the “Central Editorial Office,” later the “Documentation Service”: The former would greatly cultivate the valuable international relations of the station, in particular with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU); the latter would leave a lasting mark in the organisation of documentation and editorial programming. […]

Vatican Radio thus reached maturity, with increasing professional and journalistic quality, which makes it not only the beating heart of daily communication in the universal Church — “communication for communion”, as the Council hoped — but also an active protagonist in the wider world of Catholic and lay communication in the life of the Church.[]


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