Tag Archives: NPR

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: Shedding Light on the Hindenburg, Chip Shortages, NPR at 50, and July 4th SAQ Grimeton Transmission

Icom IC-756 Pro Transceiver Dial

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, Rich Cuff, and the Southgate ARC  for the following tips:


Radio Amateur’s Vintage Home Movie Film Sheds Light on Hindenburg Disaster (ARRL News)

Vintage home movie film provided by New Jersey radio amateur Bob Schenck, N2OO, was the highlight of a PBS documentary about the Hindenburg disaster. The film, shot by his uncle Harold Schenck, may provide clues as to what initiated the disastrous 1937 fire that destroyed the airship Hindenburg and claimed 35 lives as the German zeppelin was landing at Lakehurst, New Jersey. Harold Schenck tried to interest government investigators in his film, shot from a different angle than newsreel footage that begins only after the fire was well under way, but it was largely overlooked. “Nobody ever asked for it,” Bob Schenck explains in the documentary.

The Schenck film is the highlight of a PBS “NOVA” documentary, Hindenburg: The New Evidence, that investigates the issue in considerable depth in an effort to unlock the secrets of the cold case. The program aired on May 19 and remains available for streaming.

“My dad had bought this nifty Kodak camera — a wind-up movie camera, 8 millimeters — and he couldn’t come [to the Hindenburg landing] because he worked,” Bob Schenck recounted during the documentary. “So, he asked my uncle and my mom if they would take some shots and see the Hindenburg land.”

Bob Schenck approached Dan Grossman, an expert on airships, including Hindenburg, in 2012 during a commemoration of the disaster that forever memorialized radio reporter Herbert Morrison’s plaintive on-air reaction, “Oh, the humanity!” The NOVA documentary not only shares Schenck’s footage, which provided new clues to re-examine the cause of the explosion. The documentary also reviews scientific experiments that helped investigators come to a fresh understanding of what set off the fire. [Continue reading…]

Will chip shortage hit ham radios ? (Southgate ARC)

Glenn O’Donnell K3PP of Forrester Research notes the chip shortage may have a more serious impact than first thought and gives Amateur Radio rigs as an example of what might be affected

Self-described as a “ham radio nut,” O’Donnell discussed one of his hobbies to explain how the sway of tech titans could impact smaller companies as industries compete for limited resources.

“In this hobby, the newer radio “toys” are advanced technology, but the hottest radio might sell 5,000 units per year. If Apple wants 100 million chips, but the little ham radio company wants 5,000, Apple wins!” O’Donnell said.

Read the article at
https://www.techrepublic.com/article/global-chip-shortage-the-logjam-is-holding-up-more-than-laptops-and-cars-and-could-spoil-the-holidays/

NPR at 50: A Highly Selective History (Washington Post)

The network’s half-century evolution from an audio experiment to a media powerhouse

Today NPR is one of Washington’s most familiar and influential media companies, operating out of a gleaming, ultramodern broadcast facility on North Capitol Street. Its radio programs, online content, and podcasts reach millions of people around the world. But when it launched 50 years ago, in April 1971, National Public Radio was a decidedly scrappy enterprise.

How did a modest radio project from a bunch of audio idealists evolve into the multimedia behemoth that we now spend countless hours listening to? To celebrate NPR’s anniversary, we’ve put together a look at its history and transformation. Please note: If you would like to imagine the whole thing being read to you in the voices of Nina Totenberg and Robert Siegel, we won’t object. Click here to read the full article…

SAQ Grimeton Transmission on July 4th (Southgate ARC)

The annual transmission event on the Alexanderson Day with the Alexanderson Alternator from 1924, on VLF 17.2 kHz CW with the call sign SAQ, is scheduled for Sunday, July 4th, 2021.

The Alexander Grimeton Association are planning to carry out two broadcasts to the world from the old Alexanderson alternator SAQ. Only required staff will be in place, due to the ongoing pandemic.

Transmission schedule:

  • Startup and tuning at 10:30 CET (08:30 UTC) with a transmission of a message at 11:00 CET (09:00 UTC)
  • Startup and tuning at 13:30 CET (11:30 UTC) with a transmission of a message at 14:00 CET (12:00 UTC)

Live Video from World Heritage Grimeton Radio Station
Both transmission events can be seen live on our YouTube Channel.
The live video starts 5 minutes before the startup and tuning.
https://mailchi.mp/aff85163e64f/alexanderson-day-2021?e=2c0cbe870f

 


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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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