Tag Archives: NPR

Radio Waves: First Microprocessors, Ocean FM, SWL Interviews, and NPR’s take on All-Digital AM

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’sRadio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Marty, Martin Butera, and the Radio Survivor for the following tips:

The Surprising Story of the First Microprocessors (IEEE Spectrum)

Transistors, the electronic amplifiers and switches found at the heart of everything from pocket radios to warehouse-size supercomputers, were invented in 1947. Early devices were of a type called bipolar transistors, which are still in use. By the 1960s, engineers had figured out how to combine multiple bipolar transistors into single integrated circuits. But because of the complex structure of these transistors, an integrated circuit could contain only a small number of them. So although a minicomputer built from bipolar integrated circuits was much smaller than earlier computers, it still required multiple boards with hundreds of chips.[]

Ocean FM Was Fire: How Local Radio Done Right Can Heat A Cabin | Radio Schmaltz (Part-Time Audiofile)

[…]The cabin on a rocky peninsula in Northwest Ireland might not have had all the letters for its Scrabble set or a microwave, but it did have another marvel of 20th century technology. It was a little CB/AM/FM radio crouching behind a box of matches on top of a kitchen cabinet.

I decided to put the switch on FM and started swirling the dial. As soon as I heard a lilting woman’s voice underneath a sheet of static, I began carrying it around the tiny room while adjusting the rabbit ears.

Now the signal was as clear as the peat-rich water was brown, a farmer was being interviewed about the economic downturn. It was a quick piece — just some brogue-ish assurances that one doesn’t choose agriculture for an easy life. Then came a trio playing an Irish ballad, and then came North West Hospice Bingo: a bingo game that allows listeners from across the broadcast range of Ocean FM’s two regional frequencies to play bingo, including the residents of the hospice.

I’d bundle up for walks outside where the wind was loud, blustery, and sacred. The ocean crashed against the rocks in a way I never conceived as being real outside of movies. But when I was inside, the radio might as well have been a Soviet relic with only a volume control and no tuner because I simply couldn’t touch that dial. I learned the schedule quickly, timing walks and firewood runs so that I’d be back in time for Country Jamboree, a boy-girl-boy-girl style line-up of Irish and American country tunes.

As I’d stand by the wood-stove, taking off my cold wet socks to put on the toasted, at time singed socks that I’d been roasting, I felt the fulfillment of the promise of radio. I could hear Fessenden making history with the first radio broadcast of music, Oh Holy Night transmitted on a rocky coast on Christmas Eve of 1906 and heard by ships at sea.[]

Coffee and Radio Listen

Coffee and Radio Listen is an investigation of Brazilian radio listener, by Martin Butera.

How they began listening to radio, the local or international stations that influenced them, the interests they have when tuning to a station, the languages they like to listen to, if they send listeners reports and collect QSLs, their antennas and receivers, and all aspects related to the radio listen both in shortwave and in other bands and modes.

Each month they will have in this blog, an exclusive interview with a Brazilian radio listen. At the end of this project, a free downloadable e-book will be available, which contains all the interviews and statistical references.

Every month there will be a new interview, this month of March launch month we start with 2 interviews

Martin is Argentinian, born in the city of Buenos Aires capital. He currently lives in Brasília DF, capital of Brazil. He is also a journalist, documentary maker and founding member of Radio Atomika 106.1 MHz (Buenos Aires, Argentina).

To know more about CREW 15.61 Radio Listeners’, please visit the following link.

Guest Post: Brazil’s newly-formed “15.61 Crew”

Collaborate on this project by Martín, our friend Rob Wagner (VK3BVW), Mount Evelyn DX Report (adapting the recordings).

Click here her to check out the Coffee And Radio Listen website.

NPR Supports All-Digital on AM, With Caveats (Radio World)

National Public Radio “generally supports” allowing stations to transition, if they wish, to all-digital AM transmission using HD Radio in the United States. But it believes the commission needs to go further on how it would handle interference complaints from neighboring analog stations in the band.

About 80 AM public radio stations are affiliated with NPR or receive operational funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, including WNYC(AM) in New York City.

NPR says it has significant interest in any measures to help AM broadcasters better serve the public by improving the listening experience.

“Facilitating the expansion of HD Radio and its additional functionality for program and public safety information and services would serve the public interest, provided the transition to all-digital HD Radio operation does not cause harmful interference,” NPR wrote in comments filed with the FCC this week.

“As it has in the past, NPR supports the expansion of HD Radio, but not at the expense of current analog AM service.”[…]


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The Public Radio: A one frequency FM receiver housed in a Mason jar

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul, who shares a number of articles about the one-frequency FM radio called the Public Radio:

Might be of interest to you and readers of the SWLing Post:
https://www.thepublicrad.io/

Why does the Public Radio cost $60?
http://pencerw.com/feed/2018/11/21/why-its-sixty-dollars

How to program a radio which is sealed inside a cardboard shipping box (they did not implement this for production):
https://wp.josh.com/2017/03/18/capacitive-coupling-casestudy-programming-the-public-radio-without-removing-it-from-its-sealed-shipping-box/

The Public Radio manufacturing line:
http://pencerw.com/feed/2018/2/8/the-public-radios-assembly-fulfillment-processes

Thanks for sharing, Paul. We’ve mentioned the Public Radio before, but I did not realize they were completely produced and assembled in the US.

Post Readers: Please comment if you own a Public Radio. I’m very curious what you think about the audio fidelity.

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“VOA Launches Rohingya Language Program”

Teachers gather with VOA Learning English instructor at the end of training. (Source: Inside VOA)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors, Eric McFadden and Bruce who share the following item from NPR:

The Voice of America has begun a daily radio show in Rohingya, the language spoken by Muslim refugees who have been forced to flee Myanmar. The program is called “Lifeline.”

Click here to read/listen at NPR.

Also, Inside VOA published the following press release:

VOA Launches Rohingya Language Program

Today the Voice of America’s Bangla language service started a five-day-a-week radio show in Rohingya, the language spoken by Muslim refugees that have fled Myanmar. More than 800,000 people have taken refuge at the Kutupalong camp, one of the world’s largest refugee camps at the Myanmar-Bangladesh border.

Titled Lifeline, the 30-minute radio show, is available through short and medium wave signals. The program focuses on the lives and needs of the refugees, providing them with valuable information on security, family reunification, food rations, available shelter, education and health including vaccinations and water purification. In addition, a daily segment of the program offers the refugees the opportunity to share their stories, extend greetings to their families and learn about the hazards of joining extremists groups. One overarching objective of the broadcast is to counter Muslim extremists’ narratives and recruitment efforts in the camps and inform the Rohingya about the U.S. and the international community’s involvement in the crisis.

“After visiting Cox’s Bazaar and the Kutupalong refugee camp last year, it became obvious to me that we needed to address the informational needs of these people caught in the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world today,” said VOA Director Amanda Bennett. “Providing them with a reliable and authoritative source of news, as well as practical information that will improve their lives, is what the Voice of America does well in various hotspots around the world.”

Prior to launching the Rohingya language program, a VOA Learning English team travelled to the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, in March of this year at the invitation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The VOA instructors offered six days of intensive training on teaching techniques and methods for 100 selected English teachers. The teachers, in turn, will use the acquired knowledge to train another 5,000 of their colleagues in the camps.

Click here to read at Inside VOA.

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Photos from CBC/Radio-Canada broadcast house in Québec City

So as many of you now know, I’m in Québec, Canada, at the moment, and was here when Scott Simon with NPR’s Weeked Edition called.

The show’s senior producer, Ned Wharton, asked if I would mind stepping into the Radio Canada/CBC broadcast house in Québec City for a studio-to-studio interview. It’s perhaps a thirty minute drive from where I’m staying. I don’t think Ned wanted to inconvenience me, but little did he know that this radio geek has been itching to poke my head in that building for the past decade or more…Way cool!

So, I stepped in.  And it was a great experience.  Want to see what the studio looks like?

The interview took place in a small recording studio.

My recording booth at Radio-Canada/CBC Québec City

Everything (the board) was controlled by NPR at the other end of the connection. All I had to do was adjust my monitor level. Not the best photo–the front-facing camera on my old iPhone 5 can’t handle low light–but here’s another studio shot…

After the interview, I stepped outside into the atrium and took shots of the radio studio entrance and the main atrium.

Unfortunately, there was no one available to take me on a full tour as everyone was preparing afternoon shows. That’s okay, though, as I was excited just to get a peek in the studios! Great fun.

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Interview with Scott Simon of NPR regarding potential time station shutdowns

My recording booth at Radio-Canada/CBC Québec City

Hi, folks!  If you just heard me on  NPR’s Weekend Edition regarding the NIST Budget cuts to WWV, WWVH, and WWVB, welcome, and stick around! This is where the SWLing Post (and other projects we work on, such as the Shortwave Archive, the Radio Spectrum Archive, and the non-profit, Ears to Our World) serve up all things shortwave.  Here, we discuss both the fun (and importance) of this cool old-school medium that, remarkably enough, still has relevance even in our internet-interconnected world.

And for our regular Post readers:  on Thursday afternoon, I had the great pleasure of being interviewed by Scott Simon of NPR via Radio Canada/CBC in Québec City, QC, Canada. More on that to come.

The show (with the SWLing Post bit) aired just this morning. You can click here to listen via NPR’s website, or via the embedded player below:


I feel especially chuffed that NPR would give the topic of WWV some exposure. This piece wasn’t so much a call to action as simply building awareness of what the shutdown of our national pacemaker––in the form of WWVB time station––might mean to the average person who has a self-setting wall clock, or watch (most of us do).  (Even at NPR, they’ll be asking, Now, where did we store that stepladder?)

Or what it might mean to the shortwaves themselves, which we in North America may appreciate a source of nostalgia or entertainment––and, yes, handy for keeping time––we have to recognize that there are still pockets of our world, especially in remote, rural, and/or war-torn regions, where shortwave radio is especially vital.

So, something that belongs to all of us––yet another example of a global source of information––may soon be taken away.  If you disagree with this proposal, I urge you to contact your local representatives, and sign this White House petition.

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NPR: ‘Radio Dodo’ Creates Bedtime Stories For Syrian Refugees

(Source: NPR via Eric McFadden)

NPR’s Ari Shapiro talks to Brigitte Alepin, the creator of “Radio Dodo,” or Sleepytime Radio, a program that creates bedtime stories for Syrian refugees.

Click here to read the full transcript or listen to the story via NPR.

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Treasure hunt: Seeking Somali radio recordings from 2010

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!

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