Tag Archives: North Korea

Radio Waves: Keeping CA Wildfires at Bay, 50 Years of KNOM, 24-Hour Saudi Radio Urdu Service, New Comms for Navy Subs, and North Korea Cracks Down on 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!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Peter Abzug, David Iurescia, and Dan Robinson for the following tips:


How A Group Of Dedicated Volunteers Are Keeping California’s Wildfires At Bay (NPR)

The Los Angeles Fire Department depends on help from amateur radio volunteers when fire threatens communications infrastructure. NPR looks at how ham radio operators are keeping residents safe.

50 years of KNOM Radio Mission (KNOM)

Whether you’ve been with us since the beginning, or you’re just getting to know us: it’s you, and your faithful support, that has made KNOM America’s oldest Catholic radio station. Thank you!

KNOM has been broadcasting in Western Alaska since July 14th, 1971, when the station could first be heard in Western Alaska.

The continuing mission has been possible only by the hard work, sacrifice, dedication, and love of thousands of people: our staff and volunteers, listeners and community members, and thousands of loyal benefactors across the nation who keep the lights on and the transmitters running. KNOM stands on their shoulders.

[…]Fifty years into KNOM’s history, the radio station is deeply embedded in Western Alaska. As we look to the future, KNOM’s vision is to one day be ‘taken over’ by the region – existing entirely for, and by, Western Alaskans. As the very first song ever played on KNOM – “We’ve Only Just Begun”, by The Carpenters – proclaims, the mission is just getting started.

KNOM continues to live out its values each day – as it has for five decades – as a friend and companion offering respectful service based on Catholic ideals. It is centered on the four cornerstones of the mission: Encountering Christ, Embracing Culture, Empowering Growth, and Engaging the Listener.

KNOM continues in sharing God’s love for Western Alaska through embracing its strength and beauty and being invested, long-term, in the growth of the region.

By engaging each listener with respect and companionship, KNOM hopes to amplify stories of hope, courage, and resiliency in Western Alaska.

Click here for stories and features on the KNOM 50th Anniversary Page. 

Saudi Radio To Launch 24-Hour Urdu Transmission (Bol News)

JEDDAH: The Saudi Radio plans to launch test transmission of a 24-hour Urdu service from the middle of September 2021, while the services will be formally launched on September 23, a Saudi official said.

The transmission will include programmes on Islam, the holy Quran, Ahadis and historical and world affairs.

Saudi Broadcasting Authority deputy chairman Faisal Ilyafi said this, while talking to a delegation of the Pakistan Journalists Forum (PJF).

The world transmission was started from the holy city of Makkah in September 1950 with a 15-minute slot for the Urdu programme, he said, and stressed that it is the need of the hour to face challenges and keep ourselves abreast of the changes in media.

The Saudi Urdu transmission has decided to continue its transmission on social media, such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, FM, Shortwave, Satellite, and Twitter, he added.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has given approval to the project under the supervision of Media Minister Dr Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi, he said, adding that the Saudi Information Ministry has also made several other languages part of the project.

The deputy chairman said any language has a supreme significance to disseminate news-cum-events, that’s why many foreign languages such as Russian, Spanish, Japanese, Hebrew and Chinese would be part of the transmission.[]

Communication Breakdown: Navy Submarines Need a New Way to Talk to Each Other (The National Interest)

Sea water diminishes the power of electrical transmission, challenges identified many years ago by the Navy and some of its partners who have been working on under communication for decades such as Northrop Grumman.

As Navy innovators work intensely to pioneer new methods of undersea communication, many might wish to reflect upon the decades of technical challenges associated with bringing any kind of undersea real-time connectivity to submarine operations. Historically, certain kinds of low-frequency radio have enabled limited degrees of slow, more general kinds of communication, yet by and large submarines have had to surface to at least periscope depth to achieve any kind of substantial connectivity.

The advent of new kinds of transport layer communications, coupled with emerging technologies woven into unmanned systems, are beginning to introduce potential new avenues of data processing and transmission intended to bring greater degrees of real-time undersea data transmission to fruition.

Sea water diminishes the power of electrical transmission, challenges identified many years ago by the Navy and some of its partners who have been working on under communication for decades such as Northrop Grumman. Northrop’s efforts date back to the World War II era and, along with the Navy and other industry contributors, helped pioneer the innovations that helped adapt RF communications architecture to sonar today. Considering this history, there are some interesting synergies woven through various elements of undersea warfare radio communications.

A 2014 essay by Carlos Altgelt, titled “The World’s Largest “Radio” Station,” details some of the historic elements of how the U.S. Navy pursued Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) undersea connectivity. Through its discussion of low-frequency ELF connectivity, the essay explains the technical challenges associated with undersea communication, which seem to align with how Northrop Grumman innovators describe how undersea communications will need to largely evolve in the areas of acoustics and optics.

As Altgelt notes: “As a result of the high electrical conductivity of sea water, signals are attenuated rapidly as they propagate downward through it. In effect, sea water ‘hides’ the submarine from detection while simultaneously preventing it from communicating with the outside world through conventional high-frequency radio transmissions. In order to receive these, a submarine must travel at slow speed and be near the surface, unfortunately, both of these situations make a submarine more susceptible to enemy detection.”[]

North Korean capital cracks down on illegal TVs to prevent access to South Korean broadcasts (RFA via the Southgate ARC)

Each Pyongyang household must report the number of TVs they own, and they face stiff punishments for hiding them

North Korea has ordered residents of the capital Pyongang to report the number of televisions in each household to stop them from watching banned shows from prosperous, democratic South Korea, sources in the country told RFA.

In North Korea, access to media from the outside world is strictly controlled, and TVs and radios are manufactured to only pick up domestic channels and must be registered with the authorities. But residents do find ways to access South Korean signals, either by using foreign televisions or modifying domestic ones.

Getting caught during routine inspections with a TV that can pick up illegal signals is a punishable offense. Residents with more than one television hide their illegal TVs during inspections, only to bring them out again to watch Seoul’s latest hot drama or variety show, former residents told RFA.

Authorities are aware of the deception and have issued a directive that every household in the city declare to their local neighborhood watch unit how many televisions they have.

“Residents are trying to hide them, but the judicial authorities are trying to find them. They are looking for TVs that can get South Korean TV channels in addition to the ‘official’ channels,” said a resident of Pyongyang, who requested anonymity for security reasons.

“Everyone knows that in Pyongyang, South Korean TV signals can be picked up in various areas,” the source said. He mentioned the Mangyongdae and Rangrang districts in the center of the city of 2.8 million.

In these areas the residents have been known to have two or three televisions in their homes, so they can watch the legal channels during inspections and watch South Korean broadcasts in secret,” the source said.

The source said that residents have developed clever ways to hide their illegal TVs.

Read more from this very interesting Radio Free Asia article:
https://www.rfa.org/english/news/korea/tv-05252021155129.html


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Radio Waves: AM TX Sites Now Prized Real Estate, New Leaders for RFE/RL, New EU Cars Will Have DAB, and North Korean Fisherman Pays Ultimate Price for Listening to 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 Tracy Wood, Michael Bird, Michael Guerin, Mike Terry and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


AM Radio Transmitter Sites Now Valuable Real Estate for Logistics Industry (Transport Topics)

The familiar real estate adage “location, location, location” rings true these days for huge tracts on the outskirts of major cities — sites that for decades housed AM radio towers but that today command top dollar as e-commerce fuels rising demand for new warehouses and logistics centers.

Look no further than the $51 million sale of a five-acre parcel in Queens, N.Y., where an AM radio station will eventually abandon its existing tower and transmitter site, and move it.

New York radio station WFME’s owner, Nashville, Tenn.-based Family Radio, sold its AM transmitter site to Prologis, a San Francisco developer that specializes in building warehouses for companies looking to expand final-mile capability.

This property is situated near the Long Island Expressway, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, and La Guardia and JFK airports. The spot’s current value as a logistics hub far outstrips its importance to a broadcast outlet that didn’t register in New York’s most recent radio ratings book.

“Long term, we see this as a strategic move that adds to our growing footprint of high-quality logistics space that offers quick and easy access to consumers.” said Jeremiah Kent, Prologis senior vice president of value added investments. “In one of the most densely populated markets in the world where demand for logistics real estate is high and land is scarce, Prologis is well-positioned to respond to the acceleration of e-commerce and consumers’ expectation for same- and next-day delivery services.”

The rising value of these locations is being driven by changing consumer habits and rapid technological evolution. Sites on the edge of town that in radio’s heyday were cheap and plentiful can now house vital links in a supply chain propelled by technology that was hard to imagine back in AM’s early days.[]

USAGM CEO Names New Leaders for RFE/RL, OCB (VOA)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Agency for Global Media announced that former VOA journalist Ted Lipien will return to run Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, the current acting director at the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, will become director.

The appointments follow USAGM CEO Michael Pack’s December 9 announcement that former Voice of America director Robert Reilly would return to lead that network.

Lipien joined VOA in 1973 and worked as the chief of the Polish language service and later as a senior news and marketing executive until 2006. For 10 years, Lipien worked in Munich and Prague as the Eurasia regional marketing director, helping VOA and RFE/RL place programs on stations across the region. In an announcement sent to staff, he recalled listening to Radio Free Europe while growing up in communist Poland.

“I’m honored, and humbled, to be entrusted with helping this storied organization continue to break the hold of censorship and give voice to the silenced,” he wrote.

Since leaving U.S. broadcasting, Lipien has been a vocal critic of VOA’s and USAGM’s previous leaders. He has also defended Pack’s tenure as CEO, saying Pack has focused on correcting long-running issues of bias and mismanagement at the networks.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is a nonprofit multimedia broadcasting organization funded by U.S. Congress grants. Based in Prague, it serves as a surrogate media source in 27 languages, mostly in places where a free press remains either banned or not fully established.

Jeffrey Scott Shapiro has been with the Office of Cuba Broadcasting since July 2017. In announcing Shapiro’s new position, Pack cited his deep connections to local communities in South Florida and his track record in producing objective news.

“Transmitting objective news and information to the island plays a critical role in moving toward a free Cuba, and it is a privilege to be a part of such an important mission,” Shapiro wrote in a published statement.

The Office of Cuba Broadcasting oversees Radio and Television Marti, based in Miami, Florida. The network provides news, information and analysis to the people of Cuba via satellite television and shortwave radio, as well as flash drives, DVDs and text messages.

Pack was confirmed by the Senate as CEO in June with a three-year term and fired several news executives upon his arrival. He later declined to testify before a House of Representatives panel examining his decisions at the agency, including his decision to fire the heads of RFE/RL, Radio Free Asia and OCB, and replace their boards. The then-director of VOA, Amanda Bennett, resigned two days before Pack joined the agency.

Last month a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting Pack and other USAGM officials from interfering with the editorial independence and First Amendment rights of journalists at VOA and other networks they oversee. The ruling still allows Pack to appoint leaders of those news networks to oversee them.

The November 20 court order prohibits the CEO and other defendants from communicating directly with journalists at the networks without the consent of their directors. The order is part of a lawsuit filed by five USAGM officials whom Pack placed on administrative leave in August. The suit accuses Pack and his political appointees of unlawful actions and of violating the First Amendment and a statutory firewall set up to ensure editorial independence. Pack has said the lawsuit is “without merit” and that all of his and his team’s decisions and actions are “correct and lawful.”

Earlier this month, a federal office set up to protect whistleblowers ordered USAGM to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by its own top officials.[]

All new car radios to have digital terrestrial radio (Southgate ARC)

From today, people purchasing new passenger vehicles across Europe will be able to benefit from the advantages of digital radio – greater choice, clearer audio and enhanced data services.

Article 113, Annex XI in the EECC states that “Any car radio receiver integrated in a new vehicle of category M* which is made available on the market for sale or rent in the Union from 21 December 2020 shall comprise a receiver capable of receiving and reproducing at least radio services provided via digital terrestrial radio broadcasting”.

The regulation applies to all EU member states – regardless of the status of DAB in each country.

Despite the impact of Covid-19, Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Denmark have already introduced laws mandating digital terrestrial radio in cars and other countries are expected to follow shortly.

In the first half of 2020, over 50% of new cars sold in Europe included DAB+ as standard – a number that is expected to reach 100% by the end of 2021 as DAB+ adoption continues to grow across Europe.

More information and regular updates on the EECC directive and its implementation across Europe is available on the WorldDAB EECC factsheet.

*Motor vehicles with at least four wheels designed and constructed for the carriage of passengers

https://www.worlddab.org/news

North Korean fisherman publicly executed for listening to foreign radio (The New Daily)

A North Korean fishing boat captain has been publicly executed for listening to banned foreign radio stations while at sea.

The man, only known by his surname Choi and said to have been in his 40s, was killed by firing squad in front of 100 boat captains and fisheries executives, according to a Radio Free Asia report.

Choi, who owned a fleet of more than 50 ships, is thought to have been turned in by a crew member after they turned against him.

According to the RFA report, Choi ultimately confessed to authorities and was charged with “subversion against the party”.

“In mid-October, a captain of a fishing boat from Chongjin was executed by firing squad, on charges of listening to Radio Free Asia regularly over a long period of time,” a North Korean law enforcement official told RFA.

“They publicly shot him at the base in front of 100 other captains and managers of the facility’s fish processing plants. They also dismissed or discharged party officials, the base’s administration and the security officers who allowed Choi to work at sea.”

The network said the fishing boat captain began his habit of tuning into foreign radio stations, including RFA, while serving as a radio operator in the military. He had listened to RFA – a US-government funded network that broadcasts in Korean – for 15 years.

“The security authorities decided then that the time to re-educate him had long past, so they executed him by firing squad,” the source said.

“It seems that the authorities made an example out of Choi to imprint on the residents that listening to outside radio stations means death.”[]


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Dan discovers a video and photo montage of VOK listeners

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, DanH, who writes:

The YouTube channel Phuong DPRK Daily recently posted a video titled Listeners to Radio “Voice of Korea” in Pictures. This video offers a look at photos of VOK Voice of Korea (DPRK) shortwave listeners. I recognize the voice of one of the VOK newscasters as the narrator of this video. It is interesting to take note of the shortwave receivers shown in the photos as well. This video was also posted on the Voice of Korea website on September 25, 2020.

I listen to the English Language Service of VOK Voice of Korea from my suburban listening post in Northern California, USA. The VOK English language broadcasts beamed to South America usually provide the best reception for me. Here is my most recent reception video of VOK. It was recorded on November 10, 2020.

There are more reception videos of VOK available at my website Willow Slough DX. These videos include newscasts read by the male announcer heard on the photo album video.

Happy SWLing! The shortwave broadcast bands are beginning to improve after the long nadir of solar minimum!

DanH

Thanks for sharing this, Dan!

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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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FEBC to blanket North Korea with 250,000 watt AM signal

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Tracy Wood, who notes:

New construction – a 250 kw FEBC medium wave outlet coming southwest of Seoul. BTW, FEBC currently leases at least one hour of VOA-Korean on FEBC 1188 khz Seoul.

An interview with the FEBC president on CBN News:

(Source: CBN NewsCBN News)

Communist North Korea is about to get hit with a massive new radio signal carrying the message of Christ’s love like never before.

“It’s an AM station, 250,000 watts, which will clearly cover North Korea,” said Ed Cannon, president of Far East Broadcasting Company, also known as FEBC.

For over 75 years, FEBC has been using radio signals to send the message of Jesus Christ around the world.

Cannon says this new “super station” will be erected close to the border of North and South Korea.

“We’ve secured a location on the western coast of South Korea just a few miles south of the Demilitarized Zone,” Cannon told CBN News. “It’s a perfect location because the signal goes across the ocean for a few miles and then goes right into North Korea.”

FEBC’s president says the radio signal will launch in a few months and will carry gospel programs produced from neighboring South Korea.

“The strategy of our organization is to use indigenous people in their native language to produce programming,” Cannon said. “We have a large segment of South Korean people broadcasting and we also have a number of escapees, refugees from North Korea, who’ve come to our organization.”

Cannon claims the signal will be “unblockable” by North Korea’s regime and will “reach far past the northern boundary of North Korea covering the entire country with the message of Jesus Christ.”

According to its website, FEBC’s broadcasts can be heard in 107 languages and 49 countries from 149 stations and transmitters.

“Our goal in North Korea is the same as it is in all of our other countries: to share the gospel through radio so that people will be inspired to follow Jesus Christ as their Savior,” Cannon told CBN News in an earlier interview.

North Korea is the most dangerous country in the world for Christians. Cannon says anyone caught listening to FEBC programs faces severe consequences.

“The {North Korean} refugees themselves say ‘pray for courage, pray for perseverance’ because the Christians are reaching out in ways to gather together in the Name of Christ, to pray together, to listen to the radio together, and they are willing to endure severe persecution,” Cannon told CBN News.

Each year, Open Doors USA releases their World Watch List, a ranking of the 50 countries where Christians face the most persecution.

North Korea has taken the top spot for 18 years in a row.

“If Christians are discovered, not only are they deported to labor camps as political criminals or even killed on the spot, their families will share their fate as well,” Open Doors asserted on their website. “Christians do not even have the slightest space in society, on the contrary, they are publicly warned against.”

Click here to read the full article art CBN News.

Thank you for sharing this, Tracy!

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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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An unusual 1990s reception report from North Korea

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who spotted this fascinating account in The Mayo News:

Michael Commins on his remarkable communication from inside North Korea

THE Korean peninsula dominates world news coverage this week.

[…]Around 1988, after becoming engrossed in the hobby, I also bought the acclaimed Sony 2001D shortwave radio from Padraig Gilmore of Gilmore Electrical in Claremorris. Padraig was a genius when it came to radios and he also had a huge interest in shortwave listening.
I recall listening to the last broadcast of Radio Berlin and tuning in on a weekly basis to some favourite shows on The Voice of America, Radio Netherlands, Radio Havana (still broadcasting on 6000khz), Radio Prague, Radio Moscow (with their powerful transmitters on numerous frequencies), Radio Canada International, HCJB from Quito in Ecuador, Vatican Radio, and a host of the stations from around the world.

[…]On a few occasions, I managed to pick up the English language broadcast of Radio Pyongyang from North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea). I posted some reception reports to them and got back their radio schedules and QSL cards as well as some cultural material.

One day in the 1990s, I received an extraordinary letter from a person at the international radio station in North Korea. It was smuggled out of the country and posted in Japan. There was no internet and no Facebook back then. Shortwave radio was the only way to get news broadcast across thousands of miles.

Today, for the first time I reveal some of the contents of the letter but am still reluctant to state the date I received the letter (which I wrote on the back of it) … just in case.

Here are some extracts:
“I am writing this letter to tell you we are tired of repeating the same programs all the year round. We may deal with fresh information when we air the news about foreign countries, but when we are told to air radio commentaries we in most cases try to search similar programs we had once aired previously.

“This is the safest way to be faithful to our duty because we are told to quote some phrases from the remarks of our Great Leader Kim II Sung or Dear Leader Kim Jong II whenever we draft the manuscript of the commentaries. This is why we have been repeating the same tones for years.

“No freedom of speech nor of association exists in my country. You will never notice any dark side of our society when you listen to our radio programs.

“The reality of my country is that the people, especially those living outside of Pyongyang are suffering from the severe shortages of food and daily commodities. They are urged to engage in the campaign to take two meals, instead of three meals, a day.

“I don’t think our closed-door policy will last forever, and sometime, in the future and all of a sudden the people will rise up against the government. I think now is the time for the intellectuals to come to the rescue of our fatherland”.

This letter has been kept safe and sound over the years, between the covers of ‘The Moscow Correspondents’, a fine book by Whitman Bassow, former Moscow Bureau Chief of Newsweek, which provides wonderful insights into the USSR over generations.[…]

Click here to read the full story at The Mayo News.

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