Tag Archives: Radio Free Europe

Radio Waves: Radio Martí, SDRs for Ukraine, Military Morse Code Innovation, and RFE/RL Opens Riga Bureau

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!


Radio Martí news: Migrants land by Keys broadcasting tower promoting Cuban democracy (Miami Herald)

Washington maintains a waterfront radio tower in the Florida Keys to broadcast programming aimed at encouraging democracy and press freedom in Cuba, and on Sunday that area in Marathon was the landing spot for a group of migrants fleeing the island. A boat of 25 migrants arrived on the shores of Sister Creek, home to a Radio Martí transmission station on Sunday morning, said Adam Hoffner, assistant chief patrol agent for U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Miami operations. The landing was one of two known migrant arrivals in the Keys on Sunday, with another 28 Cubans arriving on private property in Key Largo. While the government-run broadcasting agency targets Cuban listeners with Spanish programming, Radio Martí reports typically discourage the kind of voyage that reportedly landed some Cubans on or near Martí property, said Tomás Regalado, the former Miami mayor who also recently ran the agency that oversees Radio and TV Martí. “Historically, the migrant situation was something that was treated as news,” Regalado said. “But with the caveat that it’s a very dangerous trip and not recommended.” [Read more here…]

Ukraine Uses Off-The-Shelf Electronics To Target Russian Communications (Forbes)

A nonprofit organization based in the U.S. is supplying Ukrainian forces with advanced electronic warfare gear assembled from simple off-the-shelf components. The secret is a new technology known as Software Defined Radio (SDR) which can locate Russian radio emitters, from command centers to drone operators. Previously this sort of capability required expensive, high-grade military equipment.

Serge Sklyarenko says his organization, American Ukrainian Aid Foundation, based in New York, is supplying Ukrainian intelligence with a number of the versatile SDR radio kits.

“The beauty of them is they are software defined, meaning they can be reprogrammed in the field to suit a multitude of use cases,” Sklyarenko told me.

In a traditional radio set, the signal from an antenna is processed by dedicated hardware – amplifiers, filters, modulator/demodulators and other components. This means that each radio set is dedicated to one particular type of radio signal, whether it is a 5G cellphone, AM radio, digital television or WiFi. In Software Defined Radio, the only dedicated hardware is the antenna. All the signal processing is carried out digitally with a computer. Simply by changing the programming, an SDR can extract the signal for cellphone, radio, Bluetooth, or any other defined waveform. One device can do everything. [Continue reading…]

Innovation on Morse Code for the US Military (SOFREP)

On January 10, 1991, the U.S. Army Intelligence School Devens (USAISD) introduced the Basic Morse Mission Trainer to the 98H Morse intercept operator and 98D emitter identifier/locator advanced individual training courses. This system revolutionized the training of Morse code copying skills for both students and instructors, reducing course attrition, and turning out better trained operators faster. Continue reading

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60 Minutes Features Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Tracy Wood, who shares a link to the latest episode of CBS’ 60 Minutes which highlights both the mission and work of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.

This episode can be watched on the CBS website by clicking here.

Thank you for the tip, Tracy.

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Radio Waves: Insomnia-Fueled Pirate, Cold War & High-Tech Tactics for Russia, PL-660 Panadapter, Women-Run Radio in Somalia, and Building an SDR Transceiver

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!


Meet the 68-year-old ‘bad-boy nerd’ behind this North Side pirate radio station (WBEZ)

If you’re driving through the greater Ravenswood area and tune your radio dial to 87.9 FM, you might just enter a sort of radio twilight zone. On tap? Old timey, crime-thriller radio dramas, complete with sleuthy melodramatic music, damsels in distress and classic radio sound effects – footsteps, doors slamming, the gun going off.

There are no call letters or DJs, just “audio noir” floating out over a two-square-mile sweet spot on Chicago’s North Side.

It’s all broadcast illegally out of a nondescript two-flat on a residential block. There’s a spindly antenna on the roof, visible mainly from the alley, and a 50-watt transmitter in the upstairs apartment. And there’s Bill, a retired computer and audio engineer who’s been operating this illegal station for some 15 years. He asked us not to use his last name for fear of “FCC prison.”

“People on the lakefront up in the high rises can hear it,” said Bill. “And they used to listen at Lane Tech somewhere on an upper floor. So it gets out a little ways, but not that far.”

Bill got into noir not because it’s gripping radio, but rather because it’s not. He has insomnia, and the plot lines from Dragnet and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar help him fall asleep. [Continue reading and listen to this piece at WBEZ.]

U.S. and Ukrainian Groups Pierce Putin’s Propaganda Bubble (NY Times)

U.S.-backed news outlets and Ukrainian activists use Cold War techniques and high-tech tactics to get news about the war to Russians.

WASHINGTON — Using a mix of high-tech and Cold War tactics, Ukrainian activists and Western institutions have begun to pierce the propaganda bubble in Russia, circulating information about the Ukraine war among Russian citizens to sow doubt about the Kremlin’s accounts.

The efforts come at a particularly urgent moment: Moscow appears to be preparing for a new assault in eastern Ukraine that could prove devastatingly bloody to both sides, while mounting reports of atrocities make plain the brutality of the Kremlin’s tactics.

As Russia presents a sanitized version of the war, Ukrainian activists have been sending messages highlighting government corruption and incompetence in an effort to undermine faith in the Kremlin.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a U.S.-funded but independent news organization founded decades ago, is trying to push its broadcasts deeper into Russia. Its Russian-language articles are published on copies of its websites called “mirrors,” which Russian censors seek out in a high-stakes game of whack-a-mole. Audience numbers have surged during the war despite the censorship. Continue reading

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Radio Waves: Trend in Tropical Bands, AM Drive Time and EDT, RTI Russian Service, and Feedback from RW Guest Commentary

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!


Trends in Tropical Bands Broadcasting (EDXC)

EDXC co-founder Anker Petersen has published the latest Trends in tropical bands broadcasting and Domestic Broadcasting Survey.

Anker writes: “Since the Danish Short Wave Club International published the first annual Tropical Bands Survey in 1973, I have registered which stations are active, based upon loggings from our members and other DXers around the world. Here is an updated status outside Europe and North America, where Clandestine and Pirate stations are not included.”

Both of the documents are available at the DSWCI website, to study and enjoy. Click on the two blue boxes on the left side of the website for the current versions, and also to look back over previous versions. Hopefully, these will also encourage more DXers to listen regularly to the Tropical Bands. [Click here to read the original post…]

Universal Power-Up Time For AMs Seen As One Potential Fix For Proposed Clock Change. (Inside Radio)

Talk in Washington about making Daylight Saving Time permanent may bring cheers from people who hate the “spring forward” and “fall back” disruption to their body clocks. But it has the potential to upend radio stations, especially during the darkest winter months. New Jersey Broadcasters Association President Paul Rotella is urging the bill’s sponsor to consider adding some protections for AM radio into the bill.

“If this legislation is adopted, many if not most, AM stations will lose an hour of morning drive with no or reduced power and no one seems to be addressing the issue,” said Rotella in a letter to Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Permanent daylight-saving time would mean that AM daytime-only stations and AMs with directional signals would not be at full power until after 9am in some parts of the country.

Rotella says such a move would mean that these stations would lose most of their critical morning drive daypart when a lot of ad revenue is made. The upside is the change would give AMs more time during their afternoon drive, when some stations need to power down before 5pm during the winter months. But many AM owners have said that the amount of money they would make from an extra hour of broadcast time during the afternoon would not make up for the losses they would suffer in the morning. [Continue reading…]

Letters from Ukraine – Taiwan Insider (RTI English via YouTube)

[What RTI’s Ukrainian listeners are saying]

RTI’s Russian broadcasts are reaching Ukraine, and the Ukrainian people are talking back. The head of RTI Russian tells Insider what listeners are saying and how RTI is supporting Ukraine from Taiwan. Continue reading

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Radio Waves: A Second Golden Age, RFE Popular in Russia, Station Helps Ukrainian Refugees, Symbol of Normalcy, Saving Wax Cylinders, and Antarctic Post Office Opportunity

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!


Is radio in a second golden age? Here’s what the first looked like. (MSN / Washington Post)

On. Oct. 30, 1938, America was rocked by shocking news: Aliens had been spotted crash-landing outside Grover’s Mill, N.J. Additional sightings were soon made across the Northeast, including reports of Martians unleashing poisonous gas on Manhattan and burning onlookers alive with ray guns. Periodically, the breathless news reports would be reduced to static.

Listeners reacted in real time; many of them flooded the streets wearing gas masks and wet towels over their faces. Stores were raided, bridges and expressways were inundated with traffic, and pregnant women reportedly went into early labor.

Of course, the alien invasion never actually happened. The news bulletins were part of a live Halloween program a young producer and a cast of talented actors were presenting over the radio. The producer was 23-year-old Orson Welles, and the name of the episode was “War of the Worlds.” The H.G. Wells-adapted story had been produced for radio as part of Welles’s regular Sunday night broadcast, “The Mercury Theater on the Air” — a program that had hitherto been largely ignored, as it was up against a wildly popular variety show starring comedians Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.

Only this Sunday was different, as millions of Americans who had tuned in to listen to Bergen and McCarthy changed their dials when the duo introduced a guest opera singer. “No one was in the mood for opera that night, and much of the country stumbled onto Welles’s broadcast by mistake, not knowing the news bulletins they heard were part of a radio drama,” explained Carl Amari, a syndicated radio host and the founder of Radio Spirits, a large distributor of classic radio programs. [Continue reading…]

The Kremlin tries to stifle Radio Free Europe — and its audience surges (Washington Post)

As the U.S.-funded broadcaster is forced to shut most of its Russian operations, its Web traffic indicates that Russian people are eagerly consuming its stories

Radio Free Europe, the U.S.-funded operation that got its start by piping American-flavored news through the Iron Curtain in 1950, could see big trouble brewing for its Russian operation in recent years.

The Kremlin kept putting the screws to its Russian-language broadcasts, throwing up ever more regulatory hurdles. But it was in late 2020 that the hammer really came down. The “media regulator” demanded that every broadcast, digital story and video carry an intrusive disclaimer at the top stating that what followed was the product of a foreign agent.

“Basically, it was like telling our audience to go away,” said Jamie Fly, the CEO of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, as the organization has been known since a 1976 merger.

That labeling would interfere with the private nonprofit’s mission at a core level. So, Fly told me, “we refused to comply.” [Continue reading…note that this content might be behind a paywall for some readers.]

New radio station helps Ukrainian refugees adapt in Prague (AP)

PRAGUE (AP) — This is Radio Ukraine calling.

A new Prague-based internet radio station has started to broadcast news, information and music tailored to the day-to-day concerns of some 300,000 Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in the Czech Republic since Russia launched its military assault against Ukraine.

In a studio at the heart of the Czech capital, radio veterans work together with absolute beginners to provide the refugees with what they need to know to settle as smoothly as possible in a new country. Continue reading

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RFE/RL Opens Offices In Latvia & Lithuania

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Eric Jon Magnuson, who shares a link to the following press release from RFE/RL:



As War Transforms Media Landscape in Europe, RFE/RL Opens Offices In Latvia, Lithuania

WASHINGTON—Following the forced suspension of RFE/RL operations in Russia on March 6, RFE/RL is pleased to announce the opening of news bureaus in Riga, Latvia and Vilnius, Lithuania. These offices will house teams from RFE/RL’s Russia and Belarus services and the 24/7 Current Time global digital and TV network, and also provide a base for new investigative journalism projects and digital innovation hubs.

Said RFE/RL President Jamie Fly, “These new bureaus will allow RFE/RL to continue to engage with our audiences in Russia and Belarus, despite those government’s best efforts to silence independent journalism. RFE/RL will expand its already-successful efforts to reach Russian and Belarusian audiences with the relevant news they seek, and desperately need. We are grateful to the Latvian and Lithuanian governments for their commitment to press freedom and their support for vulnerable journalists who have had to seek safe haven outside their home countries.”

In Riga, RFE/RL plans to establish a multimedia hub that will host Russian Service and Current Time staff displaced from Russia. The Latvian capital will also house a new, Russian-language investigative journalism unit and a digital innovation hub designed to counter disinformation and develop strategies to circumvent online censorship across delivery platforms. The Vilnius news bureau will primarily host displaced Belarus Service journalists forced to flee after the flawed 2020 elections, as well as a new reporting team being set up by Current Time to serve the needs of the network’s Russian-speaking audiences in Belarus.

RFE/RL’s impact during the first two weeks of Russia’s war on Ukraine demonstrates the appetite within Russia and Belarus for a credible, uncensored alternative to Kremlin media about the full scope of the conflict. Between February 24 and March 16, the number of views of RFE/RL videos on YouTube from Russia tripled to nearly 238 million, while the number of visits, page views, and unique visitors to its websites from Russia rose by 34 percent, 51 percent, and 53 percent respectively. As for Belarus, the number of RFE/RL videos viewed via YouTube from inside the country quadrupled (to 22.4 million), and the number of visits (+158%), page views (+148%), and unique visitors (+110) to RFE/RL websites from Belarus has also increased dramatically.

RFE/RL deeply appreciates the support of the governments of Latvia and Lithuania for RFE/RL’s mission and for the establishment of these new bureaus. The people of Latvia and Lithuania have for decades been enthusiastic consumers of RFE/RL programming—both of RFE/RL’s Latvian and Lithuanian services that operated from 1975 to 2004, and more recently of Current Time programming. RFE/RL President Fly visited Vilnius and Riga this past January, in part to attend the Lithuanian premiere of the award-winning, Current Time-commissioned film “Mr. Landsbergis,” about Lithuania’s struggle to restore its independence.

RFE/RL’s Russian Service is a multiplatform alternative to Russian state-controlled media, providing audiences in the Russian Federation with informed and accurate news, analysis, and opinion. The Russian Service’s websites, including its regional reporting units Siberia.Realities and North.Realities, earned a monthly average of 12.7 million visits and 20.6 million page views in 2021, while 297 million Russian Service videos were viewed on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

Current Time is a 24/7 Russian-language digital and TV network led by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA, that caters to Russian-speakers worldwide. In addition to reporting uncensored news, it is the largest provider of independent, Russian-language films to its audiences. Despite rising pressure on Current Time from the Russian government, Current Time videos were viewed over 1.3 billion times on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram/IGTV in FY2021.

Labeled an “extremist organization” by the Belarus government, RFE/RL’s Belarus Service provides independent news and analysis to Belarusian audiences in their own language, relying on social media platforms such as Telegram, Instagram, and YouTube, as well as mirror sites and an updated news app to circumvent pervasive Internet blockages and access disruptions.

About RFE/RL
RFE/RL relies on its networks of local reporters to provide accurate news and information to more than 37 million people every week in 27 languages and 23 countries where media freedom is restricted, or where a professional press has not fully developed. Its videos were viewed 7 billion times on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram/IGTV in FY2021. RFE/RL is an editorially independent media company funded by a grant from the U.S. Congress through the U.S. Agency for Global Media.

Click here to read  this announcement at RFE/RL.

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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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