Tag Archives: NPR

Radio Waves: Old Goats Are Going Away, Pack Accused of Fraud, Post-Brexit Radio Imports, and a TV Drama About Murder of G0HFQ

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 Dennis Dura, Ronald Kenyon, Michael Guerin, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Commentary: “The Old Goats Are Going Away” (Radio World)

Broadcasters need to act to refill our ranks before the dial goes quiet

I see trouble ahead in our business in the shortage of qualified broadcast engineers.

I am not speaking of IT people. I am speaking of the guy in a T-shirt and jeans who gets to the transmitter, looks for the problem, reads the schematic, crawls inside the box and replaces R-16, R-17, C-232 and Q-4, and the music again blares forth.

We are losing those guys every day, and they are being replaced by the guy who walks into the site, looks at the box, grabs his cell phone, calls BE or Nautel to find which board to pull, and ships it back while waiting for a loaner to get the rig going.

I never thought of myself as an old-timer. Starting in the business in 1963, old-timers were the guys I learned from, mostly World War II graduates. They knew everything about audio and RF. I wished I knew a tenth as much as they did.

My first real bit of engineering was converting a 50 kW FM station to stereo in 1963. No one listened to FM then, I think there were 10 FM radios in the city and five were in Cadillacs owned by mob hit men.

I remember putting the stereo generator in an eight-foot rack. It took up four feet of the rack and had enough 12AU7s in it to heat the building. It had two outputs, one L+R that went into the phase modulator of the serrasoid exciter and the L–R output that went into the exciter about 200 multipliers later (the crystal frequency was multiplied 864 times).

It was a technical nightmare compared to mono FM. Getting two matched phased phone lines from the studio to the transmitter over three exchanges was another task. But we were stereo most of the time.

The FCC had a rule that if you weren’t transmitting stereophonic program material for more than a certain length of time, you had to shut the stereo pilot off so as not to mislead the 10 listeners by illuminating their stereo beacon. So the pilot on/off was wired into the old Rust remote control so the studio could turn it off when a monophonic recording of a symphony played.

Times changed; we wound up with RF STLs, stereo generators on a single chip, CD players, computers and lots of stuff made in foreign countries that wasn’t worth fixing or whose parts were not available, so when they broke they wound up on a shelf at the transmitter site.[]

Voice of America CEO Accused Of Fraud, Misuse Of Office All In One Week (NPR)

Fresh crises and fresh challenges confront the Trump-appointed CEO of the parent of Voice of America, even with less than two weeks left of the Trump presidency.

To start, the Attorney General of the District of Columbia this week accused U.S. Agency for Global Media CEO Michael Pack of illegally funneling more than $4 million to his private documentary company through a not-for-profit that he also controls.

Then, five recent chiefs of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – appointed under Democratic and Republican administrations – jointly warned President-elect Joe Biden that Pack poses “a long-term threat to the credibility and professionalism of the five networks” he oversees.

And now Pack is now being accused of trying to propagandize the Voice of America by a group of whistleblowers. They take exception to a planned appearance by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at VOA’s Washington headquarters on Monday, just nine days before the Biden administration begins.

Pompeo will soon be out of his job. And it’s expected Pack will be replaced promptly as well. But he has sought to outlast his time in office by burrowing himself and conservative allies into boards that will steer Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks. The not-for-profit broadcasters are all funded by the federal government through USAGM.

Those networks, along with VOA and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, collectively reach more than 350 million people across the world each week. They historically have demonstrated American pluralism by providing balanced coverage of news events and robust political debate, regardless of how it reflects on current government officials. The broadcasters are also intended to serve the citizens of nations which do not allow journalists to operate freely.[]

Radio imports (Southgate ARC)

Now that the United Kingdom has left the European Union, we will see major changes in importing radio equipment.

Definitive information is scarce but imports from the UK can have VAT paid on purchase or depending on the retailer, VAT may have to be paid before delivery. If it comes via An Post, any charges will have to paid before the item is sent out for delivery.

The Post Office employees will not be collecting money at the door. Whether duty is also collected is not very clear, but some sources say that anything originating outside the European Union will attract duty as well as VAT. There may also be a handling charge.

John EI7GL has compiled a list of radio and electronic dealers based in the European Union on his blog page and would welcome any updates you can supply.[]

TV drama about murder of radio ham G0HFQ (Southgate ARC)

On Monday, January 11, ITV will be broadcasting the first of a three part TV drama about the murder in June 1989 of Oxfordshire radio amateur Peter Dixon G0HFQ and Gwenda Dixon who were on holiday in Pembrokeshire

In the November 1989 Radio Communication magazine the RSGB asked:

Did you work GW0HFQ/M ?

As we’ve reported in previous editions of RadCom, Peter Dixon, G0HFQ. and his wife Gwenda were brutally murdered whilst on holiday in South Wales last June. Dyfed-Powys Police have asked us to say that they are still anxious to talk to anyone who had a contact with Peter whilst he was operating in Pembrokeshire as GW0HFO/M on 7 or 14MHz SSB. 28MHz FM/SSB or 144MHz FM. The dates between which they’d like you to check your logbooks are 19-29 June 1989.

Dyfed-Powys Police believe that Peter Dixon had a contact with another mobile station in the area on 28MHz FM on the morning of Wednesday 28 June.

The drama will be shown on ITV at 9pm on Monday, January 11, details at
https://www.itv.com/presscentre/ep1week2/
pembrokeshire-murders

A description of the murder is at
https://www.nickdavies.net/1992/06/27/the-tantalising-mystery-of-a-murder-in-pembrokeshire/

The October 1989 issue of 73 magazine carried a report, see page 13
https://worldradiohistory.com/Archive-DX/73-magazine/73-magazine-1989/73-magazine-10-october-1989.pdf


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Any off-air recordings of “The Famous Computer Cafe”–?

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

I am a game historian conducting research on early computer games. There is one radio program of particular historical significance called The Famous Computer Cafe that interviewed all the early movers and shakers of early computing, including Philip Estridge, Bill Gates, Bill Atkinson, Gene Rodenberry, and Stewart Brand. The show ran from 1983-1986 primarily in the Los Angeles area, but was distributed nationally over NPR starting in 1985. Only one recording is known to exist, along with a few transcripts, as the original tapes were lost years ago.

Here are more details on the show:

“There were several versions of the show, which aired on several radio stations, primarily in California. A live, daily half-hour version allowed phone calls from listeners. Taped versions (running a half-hour and up to two hours) also aired daily. The show started in 1983 on two stations in the Los Angeles area: KFOX 93.5 FM and KIEV 870 AM. In 1985 it began airing in the California Bay Area: on KXLR 1260 AM in San Francisco and KCSM 91.1 FM in San Matro, and KSDO 1130 AM in San Diego. [Note: KIEV ran 3:30-4pm M-F and KFOX 7:30am-8:00am and 6:00pm-6:30pm. I do not have information on the times for the 1 hour show.]

Also in 1985 a nationally syndicated, half-hour non-commercial version of The Famous Computer Cafe was available via satellite to National Public Radio stations around the United States, though it’s not clear today which stations ran it.”

https://ataripodcast.libsyn.com/antic-interview-402-the-famous-computer-cafe

I was hoping the Spectrum Archive might have some recordings within some of your files, particularly from the LA area. What additional information would I need to provide you in order to better locate some recordings?

Thank you for your help,

Devin

Thank you for your inquiry, Devin. I’m a huge fan of early personal computing and game broadcasts, but never heard the The Famous Computer Cafe. Unfortunately–as I mentioned via email–the Spectrum Archive nor the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive have any recordings of the program.

I’m willing to bet an SWLing Post reader may be familiar with the show, however.

Post Readers: If you have any information that could help Devin, please comment on this post. It would be brilliant if someone actually made an off-air recording of the show back int he day.

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Radio Waves: Media Network Returns, Pack Seeks Lasting Control, Airtime on ex-DW relay station, and KCRW Berlin Signs Off

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 Jonathan Marks, Kim Elliott, and Dennis Dura for the following tips:


Media Network Returns Jan 1st, 2021 (Critical Distance via Vimeo)

Media Network returns for a second series. Premieres here on Vimeo Friday January 1st 2021. In the meantime, how many faces do you recognise?

Trump Appointee Seeks Lasting Control Over Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia (NPR)

Michael Pack’s stormy tenure over the federal agency that oversees government-funded broadcasters abroad – including the Voice of America – appears to be coming to a close. Yet President Trump’s appointee has sparked an internal outcry by taking bold steps to try to cement his control over at least two of the networks and to shape the course of their journalism well into the Biden administration.

Pack, the CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, also serves as chairman of the boards of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia. Pack and the members of the boards have now added binding contractual agreements intended to ensure that they cannot be removed for the next two years. Pack stocked those boards with conservative activists and Trump administration officials, despite a tradition of bipartisanship.

In other words, although President-elect Joe Biden has already signaled he intends to replace Pack as CEO of the parent agency soon after taking office next month, Pack would maintain a significant degree of control over the networks. Pack and USAGM declined requests for comment.

NPR has reviewed the language of the contracts, which have yet to be signed by the new presidents of the two networks – both of whom were appointed by Pack this month. The Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty contract was slated to be approved on Wednesday but appears to have been withdrawn from consideration after internal objections and inquiries from Congressional aides, NPR and other media. It is unclear what the future holds for the initiative from Pack.[]

Click here to download the RFE/RFA protest letter.

Sri Lanka to sell airtime on ex-DW relay station to Encompass Digital Media (Economynext)

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has agreed to sell airtime on a former Deutsche Welle relay station in Trincomalee in the North East of the island to UK based Encompass Digital Media Services, London.

Germany’s DW built the relay station in Sri Lanka in 1980 for mainly for international shortwave (HF) broadcasting. It also has a medium wave transmitter for South Asia.

The station was given to state-run Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation in 2012.

The rise of television and the internet had made international broadcasts more accessible, though SW retains audiences in many countries.

London based Encompass Media has proposed to transmit shortwave and mediumwave programs from the station. It has offered to pay 49,000 dollars and 16,000 dollars a month for the airtime.

The Cabinet of Ministers had approved the proposal in November 2020. (Colombo/Dec29/2020)[]

America’s voice goes silent in Berlin as last US radio station closes (Politico)

BERLIN — American radio is a Berliner no more.

The postwar American presence on Berlin’s airways that began in the summer of 1945 when the city was still digging itself out of the rubble of World War II ended this month as the last U.S. radio station in the German capital ceased operation. For years, the station, known in its final iteration as KCRW Berlin, offered listeners a daily helping of local English-language news and eclectic music.

The idea behind the station was to deliver Berliners a dose of unfiltered Americana and to serve as a transatlantic bridge. Even in an era of podcasts, the offering found a loyal if small audience, from daily commuters to American expats.

“It’s a sad moment embodying the end of a tradition,” Anna Kuchenbecker, a member of KRCW Berlin’s board, said, blaming the shutdown on the pandemic. KCRW Berlin was operated in partnership with a California public radio affiliate with the same call sign. The economic fallout of the coronavirus forced the U.S. station to make steep cuts, including layoffs.

The closure comes at a time of deepening estrangement between the U.S. and Germany following years of Donald Trump’s attacks on Berlin. The longtime allies have recently been at odds across a range of issues, from climate policy and trade to foreign policy.

KCRW Berlin wasn’t eligible to receive any of the billions in broadcast fees the German government collects in order to finance domestic public television and radio. Former station officials say it would have been up to KCRW in California and NPR, which is partly funded by the U.S. government, to save the Berlin operation.

“The pain that we are feeling with KCRW Berlin going away is something that is not necessarily felt in the U.S.,” the station’s program director Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson said.

But even in its home city, the station’s death received little attention; Berlin media barely took notice of KCRW’s shuttering or what it signified, noting the move only in passing.[]


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Help listening to NPR in Panama?

May thanks to SWLing Post reader, Aaron, who writes:

Hello Thomas,

We are moving to Panama full-time come January and I am a news junkie. The rural area we are moving to only has satellite internet which is very expensive and in not unlimited. Therefore I desperately need to figure out if I can short-wave Armed Forces or NPR directly in Panama?

Any help?

Thanks, Aaron

Wow–good question, Aaron.

Before I begin looking at options, keep in mind that the SpaceX Starlink system is being rolled out to beta testers now and will likely be public next year.  There’s an initial investment involved with equipment, but the monthly pricing is much more attractive than traditional sat internet providers and latency is also much lower. I, for one, will be looking into Starlink due to the terrible Internet options I have from home.

But back to your question…

So I’m not entirely sure the AFN still broadcasts regularly (or at all) from Guam and Diego Garcia on shortwave these days. I haven’t checked on this in a long time. I hope readers can confirm for us. Over the past couple of decades, AFN shortwave has trimmed and closed many of their sites/broadcasts.

If they covered Central America (they don’t) one option would be satellite radio. Sirius XM has an NPR highlights channel called NPR Now.

One thought I had though was FTA (Free To Air) satellite. This would require investing in a small satellite receiver and dish, but sometimes news audio feeds can be found for free via satellite. I wouldn’t be surprised if NPR has an accessible feed. Plus, you’d then also have access to other live satellite programming and channels from across the globe. My hope is that our FTA-savvy Post readers might comment and help us out here! Click here to read a post by Mario about using FTA to listen to radio stations.

Readers: Please feel free to comment if you have other ideas for listening to NPR from Panama (or other rural/remote parts of the world).

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Radio Waves: Sculptor Honors Fern Blodgett Sunde, Pack Removes VOA Editorial Independence, KDKA Centennial, and Tracking Murder Hornets with Wireless Tech

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 Fred Waterer, Phillip Novak, Guy Atkins, Dan Robinson, and Eric McFadden for the following tips:


Sudbury sculptor’s latest work honours Fern Blodgett Sunde (CBC)

‘The wave she touches symbolizes the wave of social change that came for Canadian women in the storm of war’

A sculptor from Sudbury has unveiled his latest life-sized bronze statue in honour of the first woman to work as a wireless radio operator.

Canadian Fern Blodgett Sunde served on a Norwegian merchant ship, during WW II’s Battle of the Atlantic.

Tyler Fauvelle’s statue of Sunde also honours all Canadians who served during that time — and it was unveiled in Cobourg earlier this month, where Sunde grew up. Fauvelle’s work includes more than a dozen public art bronze monuments, four of which are military-themed.

“Fern’s clothing is very typical of what she wore as she carried out her duties as a wireless operator aboard the Mosdale,” Fauvelle said.

“The headphones slung around her neck symbolize her work and her profession. The pin on her lapel commemorate the sisterhood of Sparks who followed her to sea. The wave she touches symbolizes the wave of social change that came for Canadian women in the storm of war.”

In 1943, she was awarded the Norwegian War Medal, the first woman ever to receive the honour.

“It was a privilege to create this lasting tribute to Canadians of a monumental generation, the men and women who fought and supported a necessary war,” Fauvelle said.

“Thousands didn’t live to see the peace that their sacrifice bought, and they were on my mind as I sculpted the clay.”[]

U.S. Agency Targets Its Own Journalists’ Independence (NPR)

A regulatory “firewall” intended to protect Voice of America and its affiliated newsrooms from political interference in their journalism was swept aside late Monday night by the chief executive of the federal agency which oversees the government’s international broadcasters.

Michael Pack, a Trump appointee who assumed leadership of the U.S. Agency for Global Media in June, wrote that he acted to eliminate policies that were “harmful to the agency and the U.S. national interest.” And Pack argued they had interfered with his mandate “to support the foreign policy of the United States.”

Pack has already come under fire for revelations that his senior aides investigated the agency’s journalists for bias against President Trump and pushed for their dismissals and reassignments, in seeming violation of the rules he has now rescinded, effective immediately.

“The key to the credibility of any news organization is editorial independence and adherence to the professional standards of journalism,” said David Kligerman, whom Pack suspended as the agency’s general counsel in August.

Kligerman was the chief author of the regulation which Pack just killed. It was supported by the agency’s bipartisan board, which was dissolved upon Pack’s confirmation. Kligerman is also among a group of a half-dozen whistleblowers who have come forward to challenge Pack’s actions since he arrived in June.

“The firewall protects the networks by insulating their editorial decisions from political interference,” Kligerman said. “That is what differentiates the Voice of America and the other USAGM-funded networks from the state-sponsored propaganda of Russia, China, Iran and others.”[]

Also see: VOA Reporter Apologizes for Halloween Tweet That Sparked Wave of Anti-Trump Comments (BBG Watch)

 

KDKA Centennial-The birth of Commercial Radio (Southgate ARC)

November 2, 2020 marks the centennial of radio station KDKA going on the air for the first time. Their first broadcast, considered by many to be the birth of commercial broadcast radio, was to report the election results of the Harding-Cox presidential race. KDKA has been on the air continuously ever since.

To celebrate this historic milestone, Pittsburgh area amateur radio operators, also known as hams, will take to the airwaves with a series of special event stations. Their goal is to contact as many other ham radio operators across the United States and around the world. They will be celebrating the centennial of KDKA for the entire month of November.

KDKA originally began operations in 1916 as an amateur radio station, call sign 8XK, operated by Dr. Frank Conrad, Assistant Chief Engineer of Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company. During World War I, amateur radio operations were ordered to be suspended because of national security concerns. After the war, the operators reorganized the station as a commercial AM radio station. The first transmissions of KDKA were from a makeshift studio on a roof of the Westinghouse K Building in East Pittsburgh.

Ham radio clubs participating in the centennial special event include the North Hills Amateur Radio Club in Pittsburgh, which is planning to operate from II-VI Incorporated located in Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, the former KDKA transmitter site from 1931 to 1939. One of the original tower piers still stands on the property to this day. Another operating location is being planned at the Westinghouse Lodge in Forest Hills, located about ten miles east in suburban Pittsburgh, which was the former KDKA transmitter site from 1923 to 1930.

Other Pittsburgh area ham radio clubs planning operations include the Panther Amateur Radio Club in addition to a joint operation planned between the Steel City Amateur Radio Club and the Wireless Association of South Hills. Outside of Pittsburgh, other ham radio clubs planning operations are The Skyview Radio Society in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, which will operate from their clubhouse, in addition to the Butler County Amateur Radio Public Servce Group in Butler, Pennsylvania, and the Washington Amateur Communications Radio Club in Washington, Pennsylvania. Individual radio amateurs will also be operating from their home stations. In addition, there is a small group of ham radio operators planning portable field operations from South Park in suburban Pittsburgh.

“More than one hundred years ago, many experimenters started delving into a new technology known as wireless, or radio,” said Bob Bastone, WC3O, Radio Officer for the Skyview Radio Society in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. Bastone explained that many of those early pioneers were radio amateurs. “One hundred plus years later, many amateur radio operators are still contributing to wireless technology while also serving their communities and enhancing international goodwill. Congratulations to KDKA Radio, also known in the early years as amateur radio stations 8XK, 8ZZ, and W8XK.”

Bastone said that the special event stations will exchange post cards, called QSL cards, with hams who confirm radio contacts with them.
A commemorative QSL card has been produced with artwork designed by the graphic arts department at KDKA Radio. “We amateur radio operators look forward to contacting thousands of other hams around the world to celebrate this huge milestone in the commercial broadcasting industry,” said Bastone.

The KDKA amateur radio special event stations, operating with call signs K3A, K3D, K3K, and W8XK will be set up at several locations in Pennsylvania during November, inviting the public to come visit while observing the required social distancing protocols. “The special event stations will also help demonstrate ham radio to our communities while our volunteers practice operating skills and station readiness,” said Robert Mente, NU3Q, Emergency Coordinator for the Allegheny County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES). He and his fellow volunteers log many hours each year providing public service and practicing their emergency communications capability. The group provides communication services for The Pittsburgh Marathon, Race for the Cure, the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, the Great Race, and the American Diabetes Tour de Cure in addition to providing communication support for the American Red Cross and the Pittsburgh National Weather Service office.

For more information about the KDKA centennial and a schedule for the ham radio special event stations including locations, operating frequencies, and how to obtain a commemorative certificate, visit www.kdka100.org and www.qrz.com/db/w8xk. Information is also available in the Special Events Station section both on the ARRL website and in QST Magazine.

We wish to thank II-VI (pronounced two-six) for the use of their corporate facilities in Saxonburg, PA, on the very site where KDKA used to broadcast from for most of the 1930s. II-VI is a global leader in engineered materials and optoelectronic components. For nearly 50 years, they have manufactured innovative products for applications in the industrial, communications, aerospace & defense, life sciences, semiconductor capital equipment, automotive, and consumer markets. Learn more at ii-vi.com.

ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio® in the US, has information on becoming a ham radio operator:
www.arrl.org/what-is-ham-radio
.

Tracking Murder Hornets with Wireless Tech (Multiple Sources via Guy Atkins)

Here is a story a lot of people in my state have been following for a few weeks. It culminated last Saturday with the identification of a nest of so-called “Murder Hornets”. The big break in finding the nest came recently when a radio-tagged hornet led researchers to the actual hive or nest.

https://www.geekwire.com/2020/uw-researcher-put-tiny-tracking-technology-giant-hornets-help-state-deal-murderous-pest/

This link from our local paper shows the hornet eradication in action. Check out the alien-like protective suits! https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/scientists-remove-98-murder-hornets-in-washington-state/

[Check out] the picture of the hornet next to the ruler, to see the size of these nasties: https://www.geekwire.com/2020/using-radio-trackers-scientists-finally-locate-murder-hornet-nest-washington-state/


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Radio Waves: A “Calm” Solar Cycle 25, WWJ History, Czech Radio’s Digital-Only Future, and UK Ham Radio Exam Stats

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 Ron, Mike, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


As Disasters Roil Earth, A New Sun Cycle Promises Calmer Weather — In Space (NPR)

Giant flares and eruptions from the sun can cause space weather, and stormy space weather can interfere with everything from satellites to the electrical grid to airplane communications. Now, though, there’s good news for people who monitor the phenomenon — the sun has passed from one of its 11-year activity cycles into another, and scientists predict that the new cycle should be just about as calm as the last.

That doesn’t mean, however, zero risk of extreme weather events. Even during the last, relatively weak solar cycle, drama on the sun triggered occasional weirdness on Earth like radio blackouts, disruptions in air traffic control, power outages — and even beautiful aurorae seen as far south as Alabama.

Over each solar cycle, the roiling sun moves from a relatively quiet period through a much more active one. Researchers monitor all this activity by keeping an eye on the number of sunspots, temporary dark patches on the sun’s surface. These spots are associated with solar activity like giant explosions that send light, energy, and solar material into space.

Counting of sunspots goes back centuries, and the list of numbered solar cycles tracked by scientists starts with one that began in 1755 and ended in 1766. On average, cycles last about 11 years.

Based on recent sunspot data, researchers can now say that so-called “Solar Cycle 24” came to an end in December of 2019. Solar Cycle 25 has officially begun, with the number of sun spots slowly but steadily increasing.[]

WWJ in Detroit: A 2020 Centennial Station (Radio World)

Iconic AM station just celebrated the 100th anniversary of its first broadcast

It was shortly after World War I that Clarence Thompson, a partner of Lee de Forest, formed a new company Radio News & Music Inc. in New York. His goal was to encourage newspapers to broadcast their news reports by wireless, using de Forest transmitters.

The franchise offer — available to only one newspaper in each city — offered the rental of a de Forest 50-watt transmitter and accessories for $750. Just one newspaper signed up for the deal; it was the Detroit News, led by publisher William E. Scripps.

He had been interested in wireless since investing in Detroit experimenter Thomas E. Clark’s wireless company in 1904. Scripp’s son, William J. “Little Bill,” was an active ham radio operator, operating a station in the Scripps home.

People Might Laugh

Scripp proposed accepting the Radio News & Music offer and building a Detroit News radio station in 1919, but he met resistance from his board of directors. It was not until March of 1920 that he was given the go-ahead to sign a contract.

The de Forest transmitter was shipped to Detroit on May 28, 1920, but was lost in transit; a second transmitter was constructed and sent on July 15. This delayed the installation of the station until August.[]

Czech Radio has expanded DAB + coverage to 95 percent of the population and announced the switch-off of medium waves (Digitalni Radio)

NOTE: This is a machine translation of the original post in Czech.

Czech Radio has entered another, important phase of radio digitization. To date, the ?Ro DAB + multiplex signal has reached 95% population coverage. Ten new transmitters were launched in Bohemia and Moravia. You can find a detailed description of them below.

DAB + technology is becoming a common distribution channel for Czech Radio, which will be placed on the same level as analogue FM / FM broadcasting. All marketing activities will already include the “DAB + More Radio” logo. ?eské Radiokomunikace is planning to start certification of receivers next year in order to protect customers and facilitate orientation in the range for them and retailers.

According to the CEO of Czech Radio, René Zavoral, the public service media is proceeding in accordance with a long-term strategic plan. The head of communication and press spokesman Ji?í Hošna describes the step as a turning point that can affect the direction of the entire radio market.[]

UK amateur radio exam report released (Southgate ARC)

The RSGB Examinations Standards Committee (ESC) report covering 2019 is now available for anyone to download

The report contains statistics for the both the RSGB amateur radio exams and the Air Cadets Organisation (ACO) exam which Ofcom considers to be equivalent to the RSGB Foundation.

Ofcom has been concerned about the participation of women in amateur radio and STEM disciplines. They requested the ESC to publish figures for the number of women taking the exams. Unfortunately the results are disappointing with only 9.9% of all exams being taken by women.

Download the ESC report from
https://rsgb.org/main/blog/examination-standards-committee-reports/2020/09/18/examinations-standards-committee-report-2020-for-activities-during-2019/


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NPR listeners shift from over-the-air radio, to streaming content (in a very big way)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, William Lee who shares the following story via Nieman Labs. Note that this is an excerpt from the story and that my comments follow:

Radio listening has plummeted. NPR is reaching a bigger audience than ever. What gives?

This year, for the first time, NPR will make more money from underwriting on podcasts than on its radio shows.

Since the pandemic took hold in the United States, NPR’s radio ratings have taken a nosedive. Half of AM/FM listening in the United States takes place in a car, but between reduced (or eliminated) commutes and social distancing, there’s been a steep decline in the drivers that make up public radio’s traditional broadcast audience.

“People who listened to NPR shows on the radio at home before the pandemic by and large still do,” NPR’s own media correspondent, David Folkenflikreported on July 15. “But many of those who listened on their commute have not rejoined from home. And that threatens to alter the terrain for NPR for years to come.”

Even as its legacy platform’s audience has declined, though, NPR says it is reaching more people than ever. The dip in radio listenership — 22 percent — has coincided with a record number of people turning to NPR on virtually every other platform. More people than ever are reaching NPR through the website, apps, livestreams, and smart speakers (“Alexa, I want to listen to NPR”).

[…]Some of the changes in NPR’s audience mirror what we’ve seen elsewhere in the news industry — traffic to news sites spiked in the early months of the pandemic — but the pandemic’s long-term effects seem poised to have a unique impact on radio listenership.

NPR’s senior director of audience insights, Lori Kaplan, has said public radio’s audience includes a disproportionate percentage of workers who are able to do their jobs remotely during coronavirus shutdowns — and that these professionals are interested in continuing to work from home even after we’ve left coronavirus in the rearview mirror.

“We’re experiencing a sea change,” Kaplan told Folkenflik. “We’re not going back to the same levels of listening that we’ve experienced in the past on broadcast.”

[…]NPR’s leaders have been reading the tea leaves. They’ve seen the studies showing younger generations overwhelmingly use the internet and their phones (not radios) for audio. In other words, they knew this shift was coming. They just didn’t know it would happen all at once.

“It was so clear people’s behaviors were changing,” said Tamar Charney, who leads NPR’s digital strategy. “You’d look at the demographic trends and young people were not listening to radio like older people.”[…]

Continue reading the full story at Nieman Labs.

This is a fascinating report and I’m willing to bet NPR has nothing to lose by being open about listening numbers and platforms compared to some commercial networks.

I’ve spoken with a number of friends in the commercial radio industry and the story is very familiar: since the pandemic especially, less people use over-the-air radio to listen to programming. The majority of over-the-air radio listening is done in the car and with the C-19 pandemic, there’s simply been less driving and commuting.

We radio enthusiasts are unique compared with our neighbors in that we actually have radios in our homes.

There is a trend, though, above and beyond anything pandemic related and it’s hard to ignore: with the proliferation of mobile Internet devices that anyone and everyone carries on their person, consumers prefer and expect on-demand content.  If you have a radio show on an FM station and it’s not offered as a podcast or via one of the streaming networks, you could be missing out on the bulk of your potential audience.

Even though I’m a hard-core radio enthusiast (by pretty much any measure), I appreciate on-demand content. For example, my staple evening news show these days is Marketplace. I prefer listening to the show live at 18:00 local on WCQS (88.1 FM) even though the signal isn’t super strong at my home (fortunately, I’ve got some brilliant radios to pull it in!). At least half of the time, however, family plans intrude on that 18:00-18:30 time slot, so I rely on the Marketplace podcast version of the show which is typically posted thirty minute after the end of their live show. So even though I’m a radio enthusiast, I still rely on streaming content for my favorite news show.

As technology and listener habits shift, I do wonder how local radio stations will adapt.

We’ve a number of SWLing Post community members who work in the radio industry around the world. Feel free to chime in and comment with your thoughts and experience.

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