Tag Archives: Radio History

1961 Film: “Tuning In Radio Sarawak”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Adid, who writes:

Hi Thomas, I just watched this very interesting DX film about RADIO SARAWAK.

It’s a behind the scenes look at radio in the tropics, with great vintage gear.

I don’t think it was FM as it’s was much expensive and coverage is limited. But on the other hand we don’t see the large MW antennas

What do you think?

Click here to view the film at the Imperial War Museum website.

Good question, Adid. The FM band wasn’t widely included on radios until the late 1950s and early 1960s. Since this film dates from 1961, I imagine some of those new transistor/valve radios could have included FM, although I imagine mediumwave was the choice band for regional broadcasts.

Hopefully, an SWLing Post reader can shed some more light on Radio Sarawak’s history! Please comment!

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1921 NY Railroad Storm could have surpassed intensity of 1859 Carrington Event

(Image: NASA)

(Source: Southgate ARC via Eric McFadden)

Scientific American magazine reports new data suggest the 1921 ‘New York Railroad Storm’ could have surpassed the intensity of the famous Carrington Event of 1859

In a paper published in the journal Space Weather, Jeffrey Love of the U.S. Geological Survey and his colleagues reexamined the intensity of the 1921 event, known as the New York Railroad Storm, in greater detail than ever before. Although different measures of intensity exist, geomagnetic storms are often rated on an index called disturbance storm time (Dst)—a way of gauging global magnetic activity by averaging out values for the strength of Earth’s magnetic field measured at multiple locations. Our planet’s baseline Dst level is about –20 nanoteslas (nT), with a “superstorm” condition defined as occurring when levels fall below –250 nT.

Studies of the very limited magnetic data from the Carrington Event peg its intensity at anywhere from –850 to –1,050 nT. According to Love’s study, the 1921 storm, however, came in at about –907 nT. “The 1921 storm could have been more intense than the 1859 storm,” Love says. “Prior to our paper, [the 1921 storm] was understood to be intense, but how intense wasn’t really clear.”

Read the full story at
https://www.scientificamerican
.com/article/new-studies-warn-of-cataclysmic-solar-superstorms/

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Guest Post: Bolivian Mining Radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Martin Butera, who shares the following guest post which was originally published in the June 2019 issue of the British DX Club magazine:


Bolivian Mining Radio

By Martin Butera

Radio Mineras Bolivianas are unique in the world, because they belonged to the unions of mining workers, and were created to defend the interests and the struggle of the workers’ movement.

Mining was fundamental in Bolivia long before the country reached its independence in 1825. When the Spanish conquistadores began to exploit the silver of Potosí in the 17th century they never imagined that there was such a quantity under the “silver mountain”. Bolivia’s exports were mainly based on silver and then tin, until the country’s economy was transformed in the last decades of the 20th century. For three centuries the silver extracted from Potosí was taken to Spain, until the mountain lost its original shape and gradually collapsed. It has been written that six million Aymara and Quechua Indians, plus a considerable number of African slaves, lost their lives in the mines during that period. Potosí was then one of the great cities of the western world. In 1625 it had a population greater than London or Paris, and more churches than any other city in the new world. Although isolated in the altiplano, at an altitude of 4,200 meters, in Potosí the most luxurious goods imported from Europe could be found.

From the independence of Bolivia in 1825 until the mid-1970s, mining continued to be the main economic activity generating income. Silver gradually became less important, but the country became the world’s second tin producer. In the mid-1950s minerals accounted for 70% of exports. A few thousand workers in the mining centres had on their shoulders the responsibility of sustaining the economy of the country and its five million inhabitants. No government could afford to ignore the political opinion of the miners, especially when their unions were reputed to be the most democratic and politically advanced in Latin America.

Station Resistance

The 1980 military coup of General Luis García Meza had triumphed in Bolivia, many citizens who resisted were killed or imprisoned, others escaped into exile. The army managed to completely control the cities. The first military objective was the media: all the radios, television channels and newspapers were closed and when they came to light again, it was under strict military censorship. Actually, not all radio stations …

The chain of approximately twenty stations in the mining districts of Potosí and Oruro, in the Bolivian highlands, continued transmissions under very high pressure. In order to know what was really happening in Bolivia after the coup, people searched the radio for the frequency of La Voz del Minero Radio Animas or Radio Pío XII. Even foreign correspondents based their news radios on mining radios. The army knew, that is why every day the troops came closer to the mining districts, breaking little by little the resistance of the workers who defended their stations with their lives.

Photo: The radio station door shattered by bullets, during the military coup of Garcia Meza

One of the last mining stations to fall under military control was Radio Animas. This is the transcript of the dramatic final live broadcast:

The troops are approximately five kilometres from Siete Suyos and very close to Santa Ana … so we are preparing to defend ourselves … The number of detainees reaches 31, who have been moved to the city of Tupiza according to the reports that have reached us … This is Radio Animas for all the south of the country … We are in this crucial hour, we are in constant mobilization, women have contributed greatly in the preparation of the defence … We will be to the last comrades, because that is our mission, to defend ourselves …

That was near the end. Minutes later shooting was heard at Radio Animas. The last thing the announcer managed to transmit was a message to the other stations, Pío XII and Radio Nacional de Huanuni, to take the signal and continue with the live broadcasts of the mining chain. Others continued until the army silenced the last one, destroying the equipment and killing those who defended their right to communicate.

La Voz del Minero, Radio Vanguardia de Colquiri, Radio Animas, Radio 21 de Diciembre, Radio Nacional de Huanunison are some of the radio stations created, financed and controlled by the mining workers of Bolivia.

In the Beginning

It all started around 1949, with a station that settled in the mining district of Catavi. During the following 15 years, other districts followed suit: they bought equipment, trained young people from the camps, financed by workers who gave a percentage of their salary to support the radio stations.

The stations started precariously, equipped with the bare minimum. Some managed to obtain international support and became more sophisticated broadcasters, with better equipment and facilities. Several even built an assembly hall next to the station, in order to broadcast the union meetings live. Radio Vanguardia decorated its living room with a large mural that tells the story of the Colquiri mining centre. A scene in the mural depicts the bombing of Bolivian Air Force aircraft in 1967, when the country was subjected to a military dictatorship.

At the beginning of the 1970s there were 26 stations in operation, almost all of them in the mining districts of the Bolivian highlands. At that time, the miners’ unions were still very important, considered as the political vanguard in Latin America.

In times of peace and democracy – which were not the most frequent – mining radios were integrated into the daily life of the communities. They functioned efficiently as alternatives to telephone and mail services. The people of the mining centres received their correspondence through the radio and sent messages of all kinds, which were read several times a day: calls for meetings of the Committee of Housewives, messages from the union leaders about their negotiations with the Government in the capital, messages of love between young people, sports activities, funerals, births and local festivities.

In times of political conflict, trade union radios became the only reliable source of information. While the military attacked newspapers radio and television stations in the cities, the only information available came through the mining radios. All of them joined in the “mining chain” until the army penetrated the mining districts and stormed the facilities, defended to the last by the workers. A movie of Jorge Sanjinés, El Coraje del Pueblo, rebuilds the  army attack in June 1967 in the mining district of Siglo XX and the seizure of union radio.

Click here to view on YouTube.

The mining radios were important insofar as the miners were important in the economy and politics of Bolivia. But also the influence of the miners grew during the decades in which they had at their disposal this powerful means of communication to express their ideas. As the importance of mining declined in the 1980s, trade unions weakened and many of the stations disappeared, at the same time the mines were closed.

Participatory Communication

The radio stations played a preponderant role in strengthening the mining unions in the struggle for unity. All unions were affiliated with the Bolivian Trade Union Federation of Mining Workers (FSTMB), which for four decades (1946 to 1986) was the vanguard of the powerful Bolivian Workers’ Central (COB). It is not simply coincidence that unions and radio stations shared premises in most of the mining districts, and that the union’s Secretary ofCulture was usually the director of the radio station.

The social impact of the radio stations of the mines was also important in the process of construction of a cultural identity in the mining centres and in the surrounding peasant communities. On a daily basis, the mining radios were open to participation. The visits to the stations were very frequent, whenever people needed to express themselves on any topic that affected their lives.

The most innovative in the experience of mining radios in Bolivia is community participation. The characteristics of this participation constituted a revolutionary event in the 1950s, as they still are today. Very few experiences of participatory communication have reached a level of total appropriation of a means of communication in terms of technology, day-to-day management, content and service to the community.

One of the most interesting aspects is that of training. The mining stations gave rise to new generations of journalists. The training was usually done locally, with the support of other organizations. Some journalists and broadcasters who began their professional activity in the mining radios later became well-known radialistas when emigrating to the cities.

The end of mining radio stations

Although the mining radios were oriented by the ideology of the unions, this did not represent an obstacle to participation insofar as they reflected the will of the workers. In the positions of responsibility of the union, leaders of different political parties were elected, but none of them intended to break the  sense of unity that was reflected in the radio programmes.

The real challenge of the mining radios was political repression, the same one that affected the mining class as a whole. Some stations were destroyed by the army six or seven times in the course of their existence. Several chose to preserve the traces of resistance on their walls: the bullet impacts received. Again and again, destroyed equipment was replaced by new equipment purchased with the contribution of the workers. Impoverished but worthy, they offered one day of their salary to their station.

Martin Butera with mining radio journalist (La Paz, Bolivia)

From the technical point of view, the mining stations suffered material deficiencies. The equipment of most of them was very elementary, although sufficient to carry out the work. When equipment was damaged it was repaired by local technicians who lacked the necessary replacement parts but were abundant in creativity. The low capacity to pay salaries to producers made the quality of programming low, especially in terms of educational content.

What finally caused the mining radios to end in the 1980s was the abrupt change in the country’s economy. Traditional mining ceased to be central in exports and the cost of producing tin was higher than the international price. The government closed state mines; workers moved to cities in search of employment, leaving ghost camps behind. The influence of the unions decreased, and few stations survived the transition to the new century.

On 28 August 2017, the Ministry of Mining presented a decoration to the directors of the mining radios that are still in force. The award also recognized the “high level of awareness of workers to convey their ideals against the editorial position of the commercial media that did not take into account these struggles.”

The Bolivian government recognized the mining radios for their contribution to the democratic political history, the defence of human rights and their consequences in defence of the working class and workers.

“One of the disastrous actions was when several military radios intervened in the military coup, the equipment was destroyed, many journalists and journalists were imprisoned, because the network of mining radios constituted a whole subversive network of communication for revolution and liberation. , that is why this type of media is important, “said the current Minister of Mining, Cesar Navarro Miranda, when he offered the tribute.

Likewise, he indicated that the political participation from the chain of mining radios in dictatorial processes was decisive for the return of democracy and that is why they constitute a political and democratic history, thanks to the sacrifice of the workers. Among those that stand out: Radio 21 December, National de Huanuni, Vanguardia de Colquiri, 16 March of the Bolívar mine, Ánimas and Chichas de Siete Suyos, among others. The event was nuanced with musical participation achieving great emotion among the participants.

One of the few survivors

On 24 June Huanuni National Radio will be 60 years old. The historic National Radio of Huanuni, one of the first miner-union radios in Bolivia, recognized for its active participation in the country’s social struggles, is ready for its re-launch with a powerful team and state support.

Now with a modern FM equipment (and on 92.5 MHz), it will be a witness to the new Huanuni radio that emerged to the ether in the 1950’s and was a faithful witness of the struggle of the mining unions and the popular classes.

Respondent since its birth, Radio Nacional de Huanuni became the inseparable companion of the workers of this mining centrw who bled tin for the benefit of the great powers and the so-called “tin barons”.

Since then, the union radio station has written an unprecedented story in Bolivia, as an inseparable companion of the workers’ struggles and vanguard of the resistance of the miners against totalitarian regimes between 1964 and 1982.

Also as a school of Bolivian broadcasting, by the passage of the brightest speakers and budding journalists by their microphones. Because of the station’s irrefutable identification with the social movements it suffered several attempts to silence its voice, through dictatorial governments that destroyed equipment and assassinated several miners.

Like the one perpetrated in 1967 in the ferocious massacre of San Juan when military forces razed all their equipment and looted their nightclub when the radio accompanied and encouraged a mining protest against the government of President René Barrientos Ortuño.

www.radionacionaldehuanuni.com

Documentaries

First documentary about one of the most important historical experiences of participatory communication: the radio stations of the mining workers of Bolivia. Made in 1983 for UNESCO by Eduardo Barrios and Alfonso Gumucio Dagron, in 16 mm.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Voices of the Socavón Two Argentines produced a documentary that highlights the struggle of mining radios in Bolivia during the dictatorships. Voces del Socavón, a production made by Argentine filmmakers Julia Delfini and Magalí Vela Vázquez and is about the radio La voz del minero from the Siglo XX mine in Potosí, which was the first station financed and controlled by workers, and a pioneer in America Latina

The voices of the tunnel tells the story of Bolivia’s mining radios, led by La Voz del Minero, and its role in the workers’ union struggle during the second half of the 20th century. The protagonists of this story, union leaders, women of the Housewives Committee, miners and announcers, relate the historical events they went through in search of the Bolivian workers’ revolution. The

film links the culture within the mining camps, accompanied by the poetry and stories of the famous Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano, in what is one of his last interviews.

Here you can see his trailer https://youtu.be/HUM40UGEQTA

Mining Radio Stations Today

Currently of the more than 20 mining radios that operated in the country of Bolivia, only three of them are on air. These are Radio Nacional de Huanuni (Huanuni- Oruro), Radio Vanguardia (Colquiri- La Paz) and Radio 16 de Marzo (Bolívar-Oruro).

National Radio of Huanuni (Huanuni-Oruro), that used to transmit by short wave, is on FM (94.5 MHz) and online: www.radionacionaldehuanuni.com/

Photos of Radio Vanguardia’s building and transmitter:

Radio Vanguardia of Colquiri, owned by the mining workers of that district, currently has a new transmitter on medium wave 1270 kHz with a power of 3 kW and an FM transmitter, 98.3 MHz with a power of 1 kW. The AM signal can be heard in the remotest corners of the department of La Paz and even nationwide.

About the author

Martín Butera is a journalist, documentary maker and founding member of Radio Atomika 106.1 MHz (Buenos Aires, Argentina) www.radioatomika.com.ar

Photo: Martín Butera visiting, Radio Club La Paz Bolivia CP1AA

Martín Butera

He is an Amateur Radio operator with more than 29 years of experience, and has participated in DXpeditions throughout South America, with the Argentine radio callsign LU9EFO and Brazilian callsign PT2ZDX.

It is to collaborate for the newsletter of the British Dx Club (United Kingdom).

Martin is Argentinian, born in the city of Buenos Aires capital. He currently lives in Brasilia DF, capital of Brazil

About the The British DX Club

This guest post by Martin Butera was originally published in the June 2019 issue of “Communication” magazine of the prestigious The British DX Club. It is now available for free from the club site http://bdxc.org.uk/, remembering that like this report many other very interesting ones can be downloaded.

We congratulate Martín Butera for this interesting report, as well as his editor Chrissy Brand.

If you would like to be a member of the Briitish DX Club, you can find information here http://bdxc.org.uk/apply.html


`Thank you for this fascinating look at the history of Bolivian Mining Radio, Martin!


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Lavina Shaw: History of a Canadian railway brass pounder

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Eric McFadden (WD8RIF) who shares the following post by James Wade (WB8SIW) from the QRZ.com forums:

The CBC recently interviewed Lavina Shaw, Past International President of the Morse Telegraph Club. In this biographical documentary, Lavina talks about her experiences working as a railroad and commercial telegrapher as well as her experiences as a woman working in a man’s world. Like many telegraphers of her era, Lavina had a front-row seat to history.

In addition to railroad and commercial operations (telegrams, cablegrams), the telegraph was widely used in a variety of applications such as stock brokerage operations, commodities and board of trade work, press operations, and so forth. Even the telephone company used Morse telegraphy extensively for its internal operations well into the post war era.

Radio amateurs in general, and CW operators in particular, will undoubtedly find this video interesting, not just for the human interest content, but for its insights into the antecedents of radiotelegraphy.

The Morse Telegraph Club is a non-profit historical and educational association dedicated to preserving the history and traditions of telegraphy and the telegraph industry. MTC members and chapters demonstrate telegraphy at historical events, design and construct historically correct museum exhibits and conduct presentations on the history of telegraphy. MTC also publishes an excellent quarterly journal entitled “Dots and Dashes, which includes articles on telegraph history and first-person accounts of telegraph industry employees.

Click here to view on YouTube.

For more information on MTC membership, please contact James Wades (WB8SIW).

Thanks, Eric, for sharing this fascinating piece about Lavina Shaw!

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The Audimeter: A 1939 solution for measuring radio audiences

Photo showing off the inside of an Audimeter, a device for measuring what people were listening to on radio (Photo: February 1945 issue of Radio-Craft via Gizmodo)

(Source: Gizmodo)

[…]The February 1945 issue of Radio-Craft magazine included an article titled “Radio Audience Meter” which looked at the machine that was revolutionizing audience measurement. First installed in homes on a trial basis in 1939, the Audimeter was placed next to a family’s existing radio.

The article included photo cutaways that showed how the Audimeter worked. Back in those days, radios had dials. Fitted with a series of gears, the Audimeter was a standalone device connected to a radio. It had an arm that moved whenever the radio dial was turned. So whenever the radio station was changed, the Audimeter’s arm would swivel along a long tape that was slowly rolling inside this gadget. The tape inside was about 100 feet long and three inches wide and reportedly lasted for about a month of recording.

The market researchers would collect the tapes by visiting each house monthly and shipping the tapes to a plant in Chicago. Once there, the tapes were processed by dozens of laborers feeding the tapes into tabulation machines.

“The Audimeter made it more scientific,” Buzzard noted about the measuring device. “They got automatic readings.”

And words like “scientific” and “automatic” were all the rage for gadgets of the 1940s, even if by today’s standards there was quite a bit of legwork involved.[…]

Click here to read the full story.

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2019 Marks the 100th Anniversary of Radio in the Netherlands

Former RNW headquarters in Hilversum, Netherlands (photo coutesty: RNW)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill (WD9EQD), who shares the following:

Hi Thomas,

You probably already know this, but 2019 is the 100 anniversary of radio in the Netherlands

Jonathan Marks of the Media Networks programs has a nice article about some of the history of radio Netherlands:

View at Medium.com

Click here to view.

There’s also the Media Networks Vault where you can listen to many of the original Media Networks programs:

https://jonathanmarks.libsyn.com/

For real Radio Netherland Fans, from the archives, there is an eight part audio series on the 50th anniversary:

Click here to read.

The Internet Archive is probably an easier place to down load the eight part series [we’ve also embedded each audio file below]:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

Part 6:

Part 7:

Part 8:

Click here to listen via the Internet Archive.

Fascinating Listening.

Thanks so much for sharing this, Bill! Indeed-these are some amazing resources to explore the rich history of radio in the Netherlands!

 

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Book Review: “Radio Reader: Essays in the Cultural History of Radio”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Kolesar, who shares the following review:

Just finished another excellent read: Hilmes and Loviglio’s collection “Radio Reader: Essays in the Cultural History of Radio.”

Very little scholarship exists about the cultural impact of radio in America, and this volume explores the history highlights (long partial list): the initial fight over the nature of broadcasting in the 1920s and 30s (educational vs. commercial), stratification of programming and channels with regards to representation of women, people of color, and gays during the Depression, WWII, and the pre-televison era, the discovery of the teenage market in the 1950s that led to the Top 40 format, the commerical Underground radio movement of the 60s, the creation of NPR and the associated decimation of student-run university stations, the rise of commercial (in everything but name) religious broadcasting and and its corrupting effects on the religious experience and political discourse, the 1980s male-dominated talk radio genre as an effort to roll back feminism, the 1996 Telecom bill and the creation of LPFM and the proliferation of pirate radio as responses to it, and finally, the digital radio future and its public service obligations.

For those who love the medium, this is a great reminder of why we work in it, how it’s succeeded and yet failed to live up to its potential, and what the future may hold as new technologies enter the audio landscape.

Thanks, Dave—sounds like this collection spans a wide variety of radio cultural histories. I did some searching and found that, of course it’s on Amazon.com, but also available used on a number of sites including Barnes and Noble.

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