Tag Archives: Propaganda

Radio South Atlantic: recording of a short-lived clandestine radio station

Crosley-Dial-BlackAndWhite

In reply to our recent post about Radio Atlantico del Sur, SWLing Post contributor, Jonathan Marks, adds:

Radio South Atlantic was a short-lived clandestine radio station started by the UK Ministry of Defence with programmes aimed at Argentine troops on the Falkland islands. This programme was broadcast from a transmitter on Ascension Island which was temporarily taken away from BBC World Service.

The Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas), also known as the Falklands Conflict, Falklands Crisis and the Guerra del Atlántico Sur (Spanish for “South Atlantic War”), was a ten-week war between Argentina and the United Kingdom over two British overseas territories in the South Atlantic: the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. It began on Friday 2 April 1982 when Argentina invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands (and, the following day, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands) in an attempt to establish the sovereignty it had long claimed over them.

On 5 April, the British government dispatched a naval task force to engage the Argentine Navy and Air Force before making an amphibious assault on the islands. The conflict lasted 74 days and ended with the Argentine surrender on 14 June 1982, returning the islands to British control. In total, 649 Argentine military personnel, 255 British military personnel and three Falkland Islanders died during the hostilities.

This is a studio copy of Radio South Atlantic. In May 1982, the British government decided to set up a Spanish language radio station targeting Argentine troops. This was probably in response to an Argentine radio station (nicknamed Argentine Annie by the UK press) which appeared on shortwave some weeks earlier using the Beatles theme “Yesterday” as a signature tune.

I was editing the Media Network programme at the time. We could hear Radio South Atlantic in Hilversum – but the signal was very weak. So I rang the British embassy in the Hague and asked if it would be possible to get a studio copy of the programme to use in a documentary feature we were making. A few days later, a courier riding a large motorbike arrived at RN’s reception and asked for me. I went down to the front-desk to sign for the tape. “But you can’t keep this tape. You can only listen to it” was the message from guy in the helmet. “I have to take it back to the Hague in about half an hour”. I said I’d look for an empty studio, gave the guy a large coffee and wandered casually round the corner. Then I made a mad dash to the fast copy-room used to make tape copies of RNW transcription programmes for other radio stations. It had a machine that could copy tapes at around 8 times faster than normal. Luckily, Jos, the guy in charge, saw my challenge, set up the machine immediately and 15 minutes later I was back in reception to return the tape to the messanger. And I had a copy.

It seems the British dropped leaflets over the Falklands to try and spread the word that this shortwave radio station existed. And we later analysed the programme. It was classic Sefton Delmer (Black Propaganda), although rather poorly presented. Bit like calling up Vera Lynne if the British had a dispute with France.

But this is one of the few surviving recordings of Radio South Atlantic. You be the judge of how effective it all was. http://jonathanmarks.libsyn.com/radio-south-atlantic-may-1992

Click here to read Jonathan’s full post about Radio South Atlantic and listen to the recording on his website.

This is an amazing recording, Jonathan.  I’ll admit that I had never heard of Radio South Atlantic before and never knew a UK-supported clandestine station was on the air during The Falklands War/Guerra de las Malvinas.

Thanks for the excellent history lesson and your own (clandestine) recording!

Spread the radio love

Propaganda from the air

China-y-8gx8

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ken Hansen, who (several weeks ago) shared a link to this article from The Daily Beast:

China Now Has A Flying Propaganda Machine

The Chinese military has a new warplane with an unusual purpose: to beam propaganda and disinformation into hostile territory.

In that way, the new, four-engine Y-8GX7 psychological operations plane—also known by its Chinese name, Gaoxin-7—is analogous to the U.S. Air Force’s EC-130J, which it says“conducts military information support operations and civil affairs broadcasts in F.M. radio, television and military communications bands.”

A flying radio outpost might seem rather retro, even quaint, in the internet era. But in many of the world’s worst conflict zones, internet access is limited—and people still get much of their information from radio and television.

EC-130s—which has its own nickname, “Commando Solo”—and similar U.S. aircraft like it have broadcast propaganda in nearly all U.S. conflicts since the Vietnam War. Perhaps most famously, EC-130s flew over Libya during the 2011 international intervention in that country, in one case advising Libyan navy sailors to stop resisting and remain in port.

“If you attempt to leave port, you will be attacked and destroyed immediately,” the EC-130J crew warned via radio in English, French, and Arabic. A Dutch ham radio operator overheard and recorded the broadcast.

According to the Air Force, the EC-130Js deployed to the Middle East in 2015. While the flying branch didn’t specify exactly where the psyops planes went or why, it’s likely they supported the U.S.-led war on ISIS, perhaps bombarding militant fighters with warnings similar to those the EC-130J crews broadcast over Libya five years ago.[…]

Click here to read the full article on The Daily Beast.

Spread the radio love

WWII Correspondence Collection highlights POW radio letters

Atwater-Kent-Dial

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Cuff, who shared the following article via the Winter SWL Fest email group:

(Source: Ithaca.com)

He Got News to Families of POWs

The word “archives” can conjure up an image of dusty boxes of documents and sepia photographs. Do not be deceived. In fact, the files in the Tompkins County History Center Archives are filled with stories and all manner of tantalizing clues and evidence about the lives of those who came before us. And in the hands of Archives Director Donna Eschenbrenner—knowledgeable, helpful, ever eager to assist—those files can come alive.

Such a collection is file V-63-7-6, the ‘Meredith Brill WWII Correspondence Collection. In early 1944 15-year-old Caroline resident Meredith (“Bub” to his family) Brill was a shortwave radio enthusiast. What made Brill remarkable is that he was able, with his radio, to get information from Nazi-occupied Europe thousands of miles away, about American servicemen who had been taken prisoner by the Germans. He wrote the names, ranks serial numbers and home addresses down, and then sent letters to the families of the prisoners. He wrote dozens of such letters. The archives file is comprised of thank-you letters from those families, Brill’s notebooks and some of his letters that were returned unread.

His own letters are extraordinary. They are simple without being blunt, and his all-caps typewritten directness doesn’t disguise the very human impulse to ease a family’s anxiety. “I hope this information will be of help to you because I know many parents worry a great deal about their sons and daughters in the service.”

Shortwave radios captured the imagination of a lot of young people in those days. The technology has been called the “first internet.” A shortwave radio uses frequencies just above the medium AM broadcast band, and it can be used for very long distance reception by means of “skip propagation,” in which the radio waves are reflected back to earth from the ionosphere. It allows communication around the curvature of the earth. Sound quality can vary greatly, and it depends on the season and time of day, but you can hear broadcasts from around the world. Generally, the signals are best at night.[…]

Continue reading at Ithaca.com…

Back in 2011, I posted a short review of Lisa Spahr’s book, World War II Radio Heroes, which also focuses on these amazing POW messages. Such a fascinating piece of WWII radio history.

Spread the radio love

Reuters: FCC and Justice Department investigate Chinese radio network

Reuters-Logo1

Wow–seems the FCC and Justice Department took notice of Reuters’ CRI investigation reported earlier:

(Source: Reuters via Mike Terry)

The Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department are investigating a California firm whose U.S. radio broadcasts are backed by a subsidiary of the Chinese government, officials said.

Both investigations come in response to a Reuters report published on Monday that revealed the existence of the covert radio network, which broadcasts in more than a dozen American cities, including Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, Houston and San Francisco. (reut.rs/1Wrflt4)

“Based on reports, the FCC will initiate an inquiry into the facts surrounding the foreign ownership issues raised in the stories, including whether the Commission’s statutory foreign ownership rules have been violated,” FCC spokesman Neil Grace said.

The California firm is owned by James Su, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Shanghai. Reuters reported Monday that Su’s company, G&E Studio Inc, is 60 percent owned by a subsidiary of Chinese state-run radio broadcaster China Radio International (CRI).

The FCC doesn’t restrict content on U.S. radio stations, except for rules covering indecency, political advertising and children’s programming.

But under U.S. law, the FCC prohibits foreign governments or their representatives from holding a radio license for a U.S. broadcast station. Foreign individuals, governments and corporations are permitted to hold up to 20 percent ownership directly in a station and up to 25 percent in the U.S. parent corporation of a station.

G&E does not own any U.S. stations, but it leases two 50,000-watt stations: WCRW in Washington for more than $720,000 a year, and WNWR in Philadelphia for more than $600,000 a year.

Through a different set of limited liability companies, Su owns, co-owns or leases virtually all the air time on at least a dozen other U.S. stations. Those stations carry G&E content, which is produced largely by his West Covina, California studios or by state-run CRI in Beijing….

Read the full article at Reuters…

Spread the radio love

Reuters: How China exerts soft power through a global radio network

CRI-China-Radio-International

Many thanks to several SWLing Post readers for sharing a link to the following investigative story from Reuters. I’ve included an excerpt below–you can read the full article, and watch a video at Reuters online.

(Source: Reuters)

In August, foreign ministers from 10 nations blasted China for building artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea. As media around the world covered the diplomatic clash, a radio station that serves the most powerful city in America had a distinctive take on the news.

Located outside Washington, D.C., WCRW radio made no mention of China’s provocative island project. Instead, an analyst explained that tensions in the region were due to unnamed “external forces” trying “to insert themselves into this part of the world using false claims.”

Behind WCRW’s coverage is a fact that’s never broadcast: The Chinese government controls much of what airs on the station, which can be heard on Capitol Hill and at the White House.

[…]A typical hour on most stations begins with a short newscast that can toggle between China news and stories about violent crimes in the United States. Besides the overtly political coverage, topics range from global currency fluctuations and Chinese trade missions to celebrity wardrobe analysis and modern parenting challenges.

[G&E president and CEO James Su] declined to describe how he makes money when most of the U.S. stations air virtually no commercials. He also declined to say how he got the money to finance his radio leases and acquisitions.

His stations, Su said, offer the American public an alternative viewpoint on Chinese culture and politics. He has “no way to control” what CRI broadcasts on the stations, he said, nor is he part of any plan to spread Chinese propaganda.

“We are only telling the unfiltered real news to our audience,” he said.

On Oct. 29, WCRW carried a program called “The Hourly News.” Among the top stories: Senior Chinese and U.S. naval commanders planned to speak by video after a U.S. Navy ship passed close by China’s new artificial islands in the South China Sea.

Washington and its allies see the island-building program as a ploy to grab control of strategic sea lanes, and the Navy sail-by was meant to counter China’s territorial claims.

WCRW omitted that side of the story.

The admirals are holding the talks, the announcer said, “amid the tension the U.S. created this week.”

Read the full article at Reuters online…

Spread the radio love

The vital role of radio in North Korea

North-Korea-Propaganda

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Ulis, who recently shared a link to this story in the DailyNK.

Here’s an excerpt:

In the case of loudspeaker broadcasts, which roiled the North, eventually leading to artillery fire, it can only be heard 25km into the North from the demilitarized zone, but in the case of radio broadcasts, many North Koreans can gain access, which is why it’s believed to a play a larger role in psychological warfare.

“After listening to the radio, I naturally found myself comparing things with the reality in North Korea,” Chae Ga Yeon (50), a North Korean defector who used to enjoy tuning into radio broadcasts, told Daily NK on Wednesday. “Having learned about things that are different from state propaganda, I took on a more critical way of thinking toward the state, and I started to realize Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are not gods as the state claims. They started to look like average human beings,” she said.

“People who have tuned into broadcasts like these don’t keep the information to themselves. They share it with others,” Chae explained. “This makes other people listen in on the broadcasts as well, and they start being more critical against the state that is blocking out the information.”

Kim Seong Yeob (45) is another escapee who also tuned into these broadcasts. “North Korean broadcasts are not interesting since all they do is focus on idolization, so I enjoyed listening to South Korean broadcasts since they would share different news stories and air radio dramas as well,” Kim said. “Then I came to open my eyes to the false propaganda and developed this desire to learn more about society in North Korea and study it,” he recalled.[…]

Experts believe these broadcasts can expedite change in people’s awareness in North Korea. Given that state dominance over information is the control mechanism used over North Koreans, they believe information from outside can deal a severe blow to the North Korean system.

Click here to read the full article at the DailyNK…

Daily NK and Unification Media Group will post a series of nine articles on the effects of broadcasts to North Korea. Check the DailyNK website for updates.

As we mentioned in a previous post, the BBC has announced plans to broadcast to North Korea in the near future via shortwave. Bloomberg Business reports, however, that these broadcasts may never happen due to the potential for political backlash.

To follow all of our North Korea posts, bookmark this tag.

Spread the radio love

Shortwave Radio Recordings: Voice of Korea

North-Korea-Propaganda

Many thanks to Frank, a contributor at the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive, for this recording of the Voice of Korea’s English language service.

Frank recorded VOK from his home in Europe on June 10, 2015 on 13760 kHz, starting at 21:00 UTC, using a Kenwood R-5000 receiver and a Wellbrook ALA 1530+ antenna.

Click here to download the recording as an MP3, or simply listen via the embedded player below:

Remember, you can subscribe and download the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive collection (free!) as a podcast via iTunes or the SWAA RSS feed.

Spread the radio love