Tag Archives: NY Times

The Internet and community licenses have changed the London pirate radio scene

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Korchin (K2WNW), for sharing the following article from The New York Times:

London’s Radio Pirates Changed Music. Then Came the Internet.

LONDON — In 1993, the illegal radio broadcasters at Kool FM came up with a plan to keep the regulators from raiding their studios.

In those days, the rooftops of South and East London still bristled with unauthorized antennas. Installed by pirate radio stations on top of public housing blocks — the city’s tallest and least secure buildings — they transmitted sounds rarely heard on the BBC or commercial stations. Kool FM was at the heart of the scene, broadcasting jungle, rave, and drum and bass music from the Hackney district of East London.

All the pirates needed was a key to the building — easy to buy off a building worker or tenant — and a cheap transmitter. But they had a problem. Illegal broadcasting is, well, illegal, and, in Britain, pirates can face up to two years in prison, unlimited fines, bans from appearing on legal stations and equipment seizures.

So the pirates at Kool FM covered their studio door with concrete. To get in, they had to scale the outside of the building, jumping from balcony to balcony, said one of the station’s founders, who declined to give his real name but who broadcasts as Eastman. On a recent afternoon, he was standing outside Kool’s current studio in a warehouse on London’s outskirts. Drum and bass sounds from a D.J. called Papa G. emanated from behind the wall.

The regulators rarely bother them now, he said, and capers like the one he described are scarce. In the early 1990s, Kool “was the in thing,” said Eastman. But he estimated that Kool has lost 90 percent of its advertising revenue since its heyday. “We’re struggling because it’s hard to raise money to keep the station going.” Kool has recently rebranded as Kool London, and started focusing more on broadcasting online, though its shows still go out on the old pirate FM frequency.

Kool’s problems are part of a broader trend: Ofcom, the British communications regulator, estimated there are now just 50 pirate stations in London, down from about 100 a decade ago, and hundreds in the 1990s, when stations were constantly starting up and shutting down. Ofcom considers this good news, because illegal broadcasters could interfere with radio frequencies used by emergency services and air traffic control, a spokesman said.[…]

[T]wo things happened that changed the landscape of underground radio: first, the internet, and second, new licenses that encouraged pirates to reinvent themselves along more official lines.[…]

Continue reading the full article at The New York Times.

Stream Kool London here:

Stream Reprezent 107.3 here:

Stream Rinse FM here:

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Ruby Payne-Scott: a pioneer in radio astronomy

(Source: New York Times via Howard Bailen)

Since 1851, obituaries in The New York Times have been dominated by white men. With Overlooked, we’re adding the stories of remarkable people whose deaths went unreported in The Times.

By Rebecca Halleck
Every so often our sun emits an invisible burst of energy.

This energy ripples through space as electromagnetic waves and then crashes into planets and meteors and space debris and one another, causing a great cacophony above and around us.

A cacophony that was inaudible, until Ruby Payne-Scott entered a laboratory.

In the 1940s, Payne-Scott helped lay the foundation for a new field of science called radio astronomy. Her work led to the discovery of deep-space phenomena like black holes and pulsars and later helped astronauts understand how solar storms disrupt weather in space and electrical grids on Earth.

Yet as a married woman she was denied equal employment status and compensation. She challenged the scientific establishment in her native Australia and fought for the rights of women in the workplace, but ultimately left science to raise her children full time.

World War II opened the door to Payne-Scott’s scientific career. The Australian armed forces needed physicists, and men were joining the military to fight instead.[…]

Continue reading the full article at the NY Times.

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NY Times on the rise of low power community radio

When listening to marginal FM signals, the AR1780 can be set to mono mode instead of default stereo mode.

(Source: NY Times via Mike Hansgen)

As Low-Power Local Radio Rises, Tiny Voices Become a Collective Shout

SEATTLE — A knowledge of geography is essential if you are running a tiny, 100-watt radio station. Hills are bad, for example, as are tall buildings. Salt water, though, which lies at this city’s doorstep, can boost a radio signal for miles, like a skipped rock.

For a low-power FM radio station, anything measurable in miles is good.

But on a recent Thursday night, one station, KBFG, was struggling to even get on the air. The station’s signal, audible since November in an area measurable in square blocks, had flatlined. The Ballard High School basketball team was about to take the court and the live play-by-play was in doubt.

“We’re bootstrapping it,” said Eric Muhs, a physics and astronomy teacher. Headphones were slung around his neck, and a mop of unruly gray hair came further undone as he leaned into his laptop trying to fix a software glitch. But Mr. Muhs, 60, one of KBFG’s founders, admitted that the stakes for failure were relatively low. “Almost nobody knows that we exist,” he said.

Low-power nonprofit FM stations are the still, small voices of media. They whisper out from basements and attics, and from miniscule studios and on-the-fly live broadcasts like KBFG’s. They have traditionally been rural and often run by churches; many date to the early 2000s, when the first surge of federal licenses were issued.

But in the last year, a diverse new wave of stations has arrived in urban America, cranking up in cities from Miami to the Twin Cities in Minnesota, and especially here in the Northwest, where six community stations began to broadcast in Seattle.[…]

Continue reading at the New York Times.

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The New York Times: breaking news and antique radios

NYTimes-AntiqueRadios

Many thanks to my buddy, David Goren, who recently discovered that the New York Times Store is now selling fully-restored antique radios.

Pricing is not for the faint of heart–at time of posting, prices ranged from $395 to $23,000 US.  Each radio is beautifully presented, with a full description, and carries a one year restoration warranty. For an additional $95, many models can be modified with an AUX in audio jack.

While these radios are well outside my meager vintage radio budget, I must say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed looking at the photos and reading the descriptions.

Click here to view on the NY Times Store.

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NY Times: “Recalling the Imperfect Radio and TV Reception of the Past”

TV-Analog-Noise-SnowMany thanks to my dear friend, BJ Leiderman, for sharing this brilliant piece by Dana Jennings in the NY Times.

I’m only including a few quotes from this piece (below), so please visit this link to read the full article about the adventures, charm and nostalgia of analog TV and radio:

by Dana Jennings

I miss the television snows of yesteryear. And I don’t mean easy nostalgia for the inevitable reruns of “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

I’m talking real television snow, a longing for static, ghost images and the picture endlessly rolling and flip-flopping. While we’re at it, I ache for well-used vinyl crackling like bacon sizzling in a skillet … and the eerie whistles and wheezes from terrestrial radio.

This eccentric pining for the primitive electric hiss and sputter of my 1960s childhood is an honest reaction to our modern culture’s unhealthy addiction to (apparent) perfection. We want it all, we want it now, and we want it sublime.

We not only demand our television, radio and music in unblemished HD on whatever device we choose, but also our weddings, children, houses and bodies. And in our heedless embrace of digital cosmetic surgery, we’ve forgotten that it’s the flaw that makes a thing all the sweeter — like the bruise on a peach.[…]

[Like TV, my] radio needed the human touch, too. As I listened to Boston Red Sox night games, I’d grip the radio like a vise, its hot, orange guts stinging my hand; my skin would lobster up, but I didn’t care, because I could hear the game better. (That radio, a yellowing white Sylvania, also hummed constantly, kind of like the ringing in your ears hours after a Metallica concert.)

Then there was the utter delight of reeling in a far-away station late at night: from Montreal, from Wheeling, from Nashville. Even more bewitching were the otherworldly soundscapes to be found between station stops: eeps and boops, trills and squeals, shrill dronings from the ether that maybe signaled an alien invasion, or first contact with another galaxy.[…]

Read the full article on the NY Times…

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