Tag Archives: National Institute of Standards and Technology

Radio Waves: WLW at 100, WWVB Upgrades, Ofcom Radio Amateur Data, and Unlocking the Airwaves

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, Dave Zantow, and John Figliozzi  for the following tips:


WLW-AM Begins 100th Year On Air (WVXU)

It wasn’t Cincinnati’s first radio station, but WLW-AM is still the biggest.

Cincinnati industrialist Powel Crosley, Jr. began broadcasting WLW-AM over a 20-watt station from his College Hill home on March 2, 1922 – which means that the station is entering its 100th year today.

WLW-AM wasn’t Cincinnati’s first commercial radio station, but it is the oldest surviving station from the 1920s. WMH was operated by the Precision Instrument Co. from Dec. 30, 1921, to January 1923.  WMH was sold to Crosley and merged into WLW, says Randy Michaels, the former WLW-AM programmer and Jacor/Clear Channel executive who is the best radio historian I know.

In 1934, WLW-AM became “the Nation’s station” when President Franklin D. Roosevelt flipped a switch in the White House to activate the station’s unprecedented 500,000-watt experimental transmitter under its Tylersville Road tower. WLW-AM broadcast at “super power” around the clock for five years, through 1939, and continued the mega-wattage output midnight-2 a.m. until 1943. For years WLW-AM has boasted that the 50,000-watt signal reaches 38 states. (I’ve heard the station in New Jersey, Maryland, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Illinois and Missouri.)

For 99 years, WLW-AM has broadcast some of the most popular personalities in town: Jim Scott, Gary Burbank, Bob Trumpy, Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall, Cris Collinsworth, Jim LaBarbara, Bill Cunningham, Mike McConnell and Dale Sommers. Before them came Ruth Lyons, Bob Braun, Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, newsman Peter Grant, sportscaster Red Barber and comedian Red Skelton.

Although WLW-AM likes to promote itself as “news radio,” it’s perhaps best known for carrying Reds and most Bengals games, plus University of Cincinnati football and basketball and Xavier basketball.[]

WWVB broadcast system upgrades may include temporary outages (WWV)

The WWVB broadcast system is being upgraded with new equipment to improve the reliability of the signal. In order to install this equipment, beginning on March 9, 2021 the WWVB signal may be operated on a single antenna at approximately 30 kW radiated power for periods up to several days in duration, and may have occasional outages. Periods of reduced power operation lasting longer than 30 minutes will be logged on the WWVB Antenna Configuration and Power web page, and any outage longer than five minutes’ duration will be recorded on the WWVB Outage web page. Upgrades are expected to be complete by March 31, 2021.

Ofcom released age of radio amateurs data (Southgate ARC)

Following a Freedom of Information request about the age of radio amateurs Ofcom said they do not hold Date-of-Birth information for many radio amateurs but released what information they do have

Ofcom say “We do not hold a full breakdown of the age of issued amateur radio licensees as date of birth is not a mandatory field for licence applications.”

In September 2000 the then communications regulator (RA) abolished the ban on people under 14-years-old holding a Full amateur licence, since that time a person’s date of birth has served little regulatory purpose.

The data Ofcom released showed they only had Date-of-Birth information for:
7,312 out of 28,845 Foundation licences
4,104 out of 12,127 Intermediate licences
44,944 out of 54,072 Full licences

As of March 1, 2021 there was a total of 95,044 valid UK amateur radio licences.

Download the FoI reply and the available age data at
https://ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0022/214915/age-of-amateur-radio-licensees.pdf

You can submit a Freedom of Information request to Ofcom online at
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/new/ofcom

Unlocking the Airwaves (UMD)

Unlocking the Airwaves: Revitalizing an Early Public and Educational Radio Collection is a comprehensive online collection of early educational public radio content from the National Association of Educational Broadcasters (NAEB). The forerunner of CPB and its arms, NPR and PBS, the NAEB developed and distributed educational radio programs and accompanying print materials to schools and communities across the United States. What’s more, the NAEB lobbied extensively to unlock the airwaves—to access precious frequency space—in order to bring the voices of poet Robert Frost, architect Frank Lloyd Wright, anthropologist Margaret Mead, and conservationist “Ranger Mac,” among many other individuals, into American homes and classrooms.

The NAEB’s history is the dramatic story of idealists who believed in the utopian possibilities of technology for education and social uplift and who faced considerable challenges in pursuit of those goals, including economic depression, world war, and the scarcity of the electromagnetic spectrum. It’s a story that has much to tell us about 20th century American culture, as well as the 21st century’s environment of online educational technology and podcasting that we live in today.

Despite its historic importance and contemporary relevance, most of the NAEB members’ programs were never heard again after their initial brief moments on the air. The archives for the radio programs and their related paper documentation have been split for over 25 years between two institutions: the University of Maryland and the Wisconsin Historical Society. Unlocking the Airwaves reunites the split collections, finally realizing the potential of the collections of the NAEB for exploration and and the broader public.

Click here to explore Unlocking the Airwaves.


Do you enjoy the SWLing Post?

Please consider supporting us via Patreon or our Coffee Fund!

Your support makes articles like this one possible. Thank you!

Spread the radio love

KUNC piece features WWV

Chief Engineer Matt Deutch at WWV/WWVB. (Photo: Thomas)

(Source: Southgate ARC via Eric McFadden)

Broadcaster KUNC reports that a little-known radio station in Fort Collins might one day save the world

An array of radio towers sits behind security fences amid farms and pastures north of Fort Collins. This is home to WWV, the country’s oldest radio call letters. The station’s high-frequency broadcasts can be heard around the globe if you have the right kind of radio.

Now playing: pulsing sounds, every second, followed by an announcement of the exact time.

The station is run by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, which is home to the atomic clock. WWV is capable of more than telling time. It could, if need be, save the world.

“Could be,” said Elizabeth Donley, chief of NIST’s Time and Frequency Division. “It’s an important part of our work.”

This year the station conducted communications exercises in coordination with the Department of Defense. Thirty-seven states, National Guard units, emergency management agencies and others participated in simple announcements. They were meant to see how many listeners are out there and how far away they can be reached. The answer: there are thousands of listeners as far away as Australia and New Zealand.

Mark Jensen, a civilian planner with U.S. Northern Command, the military’s homeland security operation in Colorado Springs, called WWV a “most essential asset to our nation.”

Should an emergency arise, volunteers would jump into action. They’re part of a program the military dubs MARS, which stands for Military Auxiliary Radio System. While jokes abound that the operators should not be confused for Martians, their work is serious. It’s doomsday stuff, like responding to the aftermath of a nuclear attack because the associated electromagnetic pulse could wipe out most communications.

Listen to program and read the full story at
https://www.kunc.org/post/how-little-known-radio-station-fort-collins-might-one-day-save-world

Spread the radio love

FY 2019 NIST budget looks good for time stations

WWV Chief Engineer Matt Deutch. (Photo: Thomas Witherspoon)

Many thanks to the number of SWLing Post readers who have forwarded this article from the ARRL News that notes the WWV Special Event Station, planned for later this year, is a go. This is great news indeed.

With regards to the FY2019 budget uncertainty surrounding NIST radio stations WWV, WWVH and WWVB, the ARRL notes:

“The NIST budget for WWV, WWVH, and WWVB will remain level for FY 2019.”

As I mentioned in a recent post, this is the feedback I’ve received as well–that the portion of the budget that includes NIST radios station will remain the same as it was last year. Last year, the NIST internally-allocated funds for the stations and it appears it will this will happen again! Brilliant news, indeed.

With that said, I do wonder if the next budget request (which is only a few months away) will include all of the NIST radio stations.

Time will tell…

Spread the radio love

End of WWV weather information

Photo taken in 2014 of the sign above WWV’s primary 10 MHz transmitter.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who writes:

As monitored here in NB on 15 MHz today (31 January), WWV ended the National Weather Service Atlantic and Pacific marine high-seas and storm warnings after 19:00 UTC. Before that time, announcements about the ending of the warnings were transmitted during minutes 4 and 7 after the hour with the Atlantic information in minutes 8 and 9 and the Pacific information in minute 10. So, the last storm warnings were during the 18:00 UTC hour. After 19:00 UTC, the announcements in minutes 4 and 7 were discontinued and the storm warnings in minutes 8, 9, and 10 were replaced with an announcement about the ending of the warnings. Presumably, there was a similar transition on WWVH.

Thanks for the report, Richard!

In terms of an overall update about WWV in the 2019 NIST budget, there has been no real news to report. It seems the funding level for the Laboratory Programs (where the radio stations reside) will be funded at the same level as it was in 2018. Of course, NIST can internally-allocate many of their funds as they wish. Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Cuff, who’s been keeping an eye on this budget process.

I must admit that I find it interesting WWV, WWVH and WWVB all continued to operate as normal during the Federal Government Shutdown.

Spread the radio love

Update: Discontinuation of NWS High Seas and Storm Warnings on WWV and WWVH

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mohamed, who comments with an update about the loss of NWS High Seas and Storm Warnings on WWV and WWVH. Mohamed writes:

The decision to terminate the broadcasts has not been retracted. It has only been delayed to January 31, 2019:

(Source: National Weather Service)

NOUS41 KWBC 151610
PNSWSH

Service Change Notice 18-102
National Weather Service Headquarters Silver Spring MD 1210 PM EST Thu Nov 15 2018

To: Subscribers:
-NOAA Weather Wire Service

-Emergency Managers Weather Information Network -NOAAPORT
Other NWS Partners, Users and Employees

From: Craig Hodan, Chief Dissemination Systems Branch

Subject: Discontinuation of NWS High Seas and Storm Warnings
over NIST Time Frequency Broadcasts Effective January 31, 2019

Effective Thursday, January 31, 2019, at 200 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) or 1800 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the NWS will discontinue dissemination of High Seas and Storm Warnings portion of the National Institutes of Science and Technology (NIST) time frequency broadcasts as issued by WWV and WWVH “shortwave” radio covering the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific.

This service is being terminated because weather information in the current broadcast format does not support frequent enough updates for changes in marine weather and cannot provide enough detail in the allotted window required by mariners to avoid hazardous weather. Additionally, alternative technologies and numerous media outlets that provide weather information in various formats have overtaken the need for providing weather information through the NIST frequency signals.

Other sources of marine weather and high seas alerts and detailed forecasts are available over satellite, telephone, the Internet, Marine Fax, Radio Fax and VHF radio. Currently the NWS, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and the U.S. Navy (USN) provide multiple dissemination methods for storm positioning, high sea areas, observations, forecasts, outlooks and warnings for both coastal and oceanic marine zones near the United States using Navigational Telex (NAVTEX), Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and High Seas SImplex Teletype Over Radio (HFSITOR) in compliance with World Meteorological Organization (WMO) policies and the International Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention.
Please refer to the following websites for more information on how to use these technologies:

1. http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/navtex.htm (NAVTEX)

2. http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/gmdss.htm (GMDSS)

3. http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/hfsitor.htm HFSITOR)

4. http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/inmarsat.htm (SAFETYNET)

5. http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/marine/vhfvoice.htm (USCG VHF)

For additional information, please contact:

Gregory Zwicker
National Weather Service
Dissemination Systems Branch
301-427-9682
gregory.zwicker@noaa.gov

National Service Change Notices are online at:

https://www.weather.gov/notification/

NNNN

Spread the radio love

WWV & WWVH marine storm warning announcements continue

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who notes that WWV & WWVH marine storm warning announcements continue despite a recent announcement that they would end.

Richard has been monitoring WWV/WWVH broadcasts and shared the following note earlier this month:

The weather broadcasts (storm information) were still there at 8, 9, and 10 minutes past 0:00 UTC on 1 November on WWV as monitored here in NB. Haven’t had a chance to check them since. Are they actually gone? If so, when were the last ones broadcast. The warning at the 4-minute mark hadn’t been heard for days. I’m wondering if the decision to terminate the broadcasts was reversed.

Yesterday, Richard added the following:

[…]And still there on WWV (and presumably WWVH) on 16 November at 03:08 UTC on 10 MHz. So I guess this conclusively means that the proposal to cancel the broadcasts has been rescinded at least for the time being.

Thanks for sharing this, Richard.

Your observation prompted me to check the NOAA Marine Forecast page. I discovered that it has been updated it since the notice to stop marine forecasts was first announced last month.

Before, it stated that the “end of the high seas warnings [is] scheduled for October 31, 2017.” Either NOAA made the decision to end the the forecasts in 2017 and never followed through, else the individual who posted the announcement mistakenly noted 2017 instead of 2018.

NOAA does not note edit dates on this page, so there’s no way of knowing when the page was updated. Regardless, there is no longer a firm termination date mentioned on the page. Now the National Weather Service simply states:

“the NWS is considering a proposal to discontinue this service.”

So I believe, Richard, you are correct: the NWS has at least temporarily rescinded cancellation of the service.

Thanks for following this development, Richard!

Spread the radio love

WWV & WWVH to drop NOAA marine storm warning announcements October 31, 2018

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Zantow (N9EWO), who notes that WWV and WWVH are announcing the end of marine storm warning announcements on October 31, 2018.

This morning, I made the following recording of the announcement via WWV 5 MHz at 4 minutes past the hour:

Last year this time NOAA announced the end of the high seas warnings scheduled for October 31, 2017.

Spread the radio love