Okay SWLing Post readers: I need you to dig through your off-air recordings for something pretty obscure…
Over at the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive, I frequently receive inquiries from educators, researchers, historians, and enthusiasts looking for very specific off-air recordings, often for some worthy project or other. It’s quite a thrill when I can lay hands on just what’s being sought in our rather deep recordings archive.
I recently received just such an inquiry from producer Meghan Keane at NPR, and though we were not able to provide immediate help, I’m quite intrigued by the subject and thus not quite ready to give up the search. Meghan writes:
My name is Meghan Keane and I’m a producer for NPR’s Invisibilia. I’m working on a story about Somalia and music, and am currently looking for some archival sound.
Around 2010, many radio stations in Somalia broadcasted animal noises and gun shot noises to protest Al-Shabab. I am hoping to find audio of that to use in my story. Please let me know if you have any leads!
Fascinating stuff. I do recall a news story about Somali radio broadcasts including animal and gun shot noises back in the day, but I never actually heard a broadcast on shortwave or mediumwave.
Post readers: Can you help Meghan track down such a recording? If you can, please comment and/or contact me!
Several readers have asked me to share my experiences at the conference, so I’ll note the conference highlights here.
I attended all three days of the conference. The first day (Thursday, November 2) was held at the Woodrow Wilson Center and focused on Cold War broadcasting. It goes almost without saying that this was absolutely fascinating. I learned a great deal. One of the day’s recurrent discussion themes, for example, focused on the keen awareness of those inside the Iron Curtain that they had been regularly subjected to propaganda. In other words, the Cold War somehow created very discerning news listeners savvy enough to separate fact from fiction quite skillfully––an ability that many fear may (unfortunately) be eroding among today’s media audiences.
That afternoon, SWLing Post reader, Phil Ewing, took me on an amazing tour of NPR’s new headquarters [thanks SO much, Phil!].
Later that afternoon at NPR, I attended an event celebrating NPR’s founding father and mission creator, Bill Siemering. Bill and I co-presented at the Winter SWL Fest in 2011, and I admire him greatly both as a journalist and as an individual; I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to be at this event held in his honor.
Friday and Saturday sessions were held at the Library of Congress and were equally riveting as they covered nearly every aspect of radio preservation.
Here’s our panel just a minute before the forum began.
I was on the Digital Curation panel along with Charles Hardy (West Chester University and National Council on Public History), Jonathan Hiam (New York Public Library), Matt Karush (George Mason University and Hearing the Americas), Elena Razlogova (Concordia University) and Mark Williams (Dartmouth College and Media Ecology Project).
The discussion was dynamic, and to my pleasure, our Radio Spectrum Archive was quite the hit. The sincere interest in this project was beyond encouraging. Indeed, after my presentation, I wasn’t able to address all of the questions from those in the audience because there were so many in line to speak to me about it; eventually the LOC had to re-arrange the room for a televised event, the 50th anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act.
But there’s more. And it’s a great ending to our story, which is really only a beginning: via Alex Stinson with the Wikimedia Foundation, I was introduced to the Internet Archive team last month, whom, to our profound delight, has wholeheartedly agreed to support the Radio Spectrum Archive by giving us nearly unlimited space to store our massive collection of spectrum files.
In a word? This conference was brilliant. There simply couldn’t have been a better outcome for the Radio Spectrum Archive and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Many thanks to the entire RPTF team, especially Director, Josh Shepperd, for putting this spectacular event together.
I’ve been invited to a couple other archive conferences as a result of the RPTF meeting, and I’ll give these some consideration. Regardless, I know this: I’ll make room in my schedule for the next RPTF conference. No way am I missing it!
And at the next conference I look forward to speaking to each one of those people with whom tight scheduling prevented my speaking at this one. After all, it’s this kind of enthusiasm that assures the Radio Spectrum Archive’s future.
Many thanks to my buddy, Bennett Kobb, who also gave me a tour of the brilliant LPFM station, WERA (96.7) in Arlington, VA–what an incredibly dynamic station and staff!
Ulysses E. Campbell (left) and Bennet Kobb (right) in the studios of WERA.
I’d also like to thank my friend Kim Elliott for generously hosting me during the multi-day event. Even modest accommodation in the DC area is very expensive–no doubt, Kim’s hospitality made the conference a reality for me. Thanks again, Kim!
It’s likely the only time you really notice one of your neighborhood broadcast and cell towers is at night when they’re lit up with conspicuous bright red lights.
Those lights help pilots see the huge metal structures that can reach 1,000 feet into the air — but they can spell disaster for birds.
In 1976 in Gun Lake, Mich., one tower killed over 2,300 birds in one night, says Caleb Putnam, who works for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. He says for reasons scientists still can’t quite figure out, birds kept flying headlong into towers.
“If that many are dying at one night at one tower and yet there are thousands of towers across the country and as you go across the world, the numbers are staggering,” he says.
Putnam says in North America alone it’s estimated that 7 million birds smash into towers every year. But until recently scientists didn’t know why it was happening.
[…]”We were able reduce the numbers of bird fatalities on communications towers by simply extinguishing those non-flashing lights,” she says. “Those fatalities were reduced by as much as 70 percent.”[…]