Tag Archives: Radio New Zealand International

The Radio Kitchen: Down Under, Up And Over

The following article originally appeared on The Radio Kitchen blog by Michael Pool, a.k.a. “The Professor.” In an effort to preserve his writings and recordings, we are republishing The Professor’s archived posts in a special collection here on the SWLing Post.

Note that not all of the original links and recordings could be recovered, but the majority have been.

Of course, all of the views and opinions in this article were those of The Professor. 

“Down Under, Up And Over” was originally published on November 30, 2007.


Down Under, Up And Over

by The Professor

When get to fooling around with a shortwave radio I usually don’t have much of an idea of what I might come across, or where the broadcasts I may find will come from. If you happen to be hunting up something originating (or relayed) from a hot nearby transmitter, shortwave listening is almost as predictable and practical as AM or FM  However, the real fun in scanning these forgotten bands is hunting for broadcasts from far-flung regions of the globe. It’s all about surfing those skywaves.

Instead of patiently scanning a SW broadcast band, this particular evening last July, I was quickly scanning several bands with my Degen 1103 looking for something, ah… exciting.

Okay, maybe “exciting” is the wrong word. I was fishing to find some exotic broadcast from far away, and preferably one in my native tongue. I’m sure there are other shortwave listeners who know what I mean. What gets my attention right away when trolling the HF bands is coming across an unfamiliar English language broadcast on a carrier marked by the scars of bouncing off the upper atmosphere a few times. Sure, It’s important that the reception has enough clarity to be understood, but shortwave radio waves from far over the horizon are infused with the sounds of the electrical and magnetic activity surrounding our planet. The audio itself often has an edge, even when listening with agile and fancy receivers. An aquired taste, the sonic anamolies of distant shortwave broadcasts have an inate musicallity, which you may appreciate  once your ears adjust to them. And the last time I heard the clear mutated throb of a strong distant transmitter traversing the globe was last July. I was sitting under the stars in the Michigan countryside when from over eight-four hundred miles away, New Zealand came calling.

RNZI (Radio New Zealand International) doesn’t seem to have any worldwide coverage mandate like CRI (China), the BBC or VOA or something. Their main purpose is as a regional service for the South Pacific. Dotted with a scads of far-flung islands, their broadcast zone actually covers a huge swath of the Earth’s surface. So just by making a point of covering this region well, RNZI is a major player in international broadcasting. (And sadly, I can’t remember when I picked up the BBC World Service as well as I heard New Zealand RNZI that evening.)

From my casual and primitive DXing experience, many powerful shortwave stations from around the world can be picked up from Eastern North America, as long as the signal doesn’t originate from anywhere directly blocked by the massive mountains of the top three quarters of the North American Continental Divide. In other words, with a booming transmitter from the closer sections of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South America are the most likely catches from overseas. Deeper into these zones and continents (and Asia in general) are difficult terrain for DXing rewards from here. That said, with my limited portable equipment I’ve been able to pick up signals from at least three of the major broadcasters from the Southern Orient– India, Australia and New Zealand. I’ve always assumed that these signals ride skywaves over the lower mountains of the Southwest and Central America. But I’m no expert.

I do know that all the overseas states located directly west of the tall Rockies who are serious about reaching US citizens via shortwave rent relay transmitter time from Canada, as well as sites in the Carribean and Europe). In fact, if you happen to come across international broadcasts  from Vietnam, China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan or Thailand on shortwave in Eastern North America, you’re probably hearing a relayed transmission from several hundred miles away. But the recording I’m offering here is of reception from from far across the world. Considering the distance travelled, the reception here is fairly healthy. A little hairy, but practical. And there’s no local RF noise getting in the way. You really can hear the details it if you pay attention.

Radio New Zealand International pt 1 – 9615kHz – 07-07-07 0644 UTC 15:05

(download)

This first bit is an interview with Canadian chemist and author Penny LeCouteur discussing her book about molecules that have changed the world. Of note here– the legacy of how James Cook and ascorbic acid made the south seas safe for European explorers and colonists.

Then the cassette came to an abrupt stop, and the part two of this recording begins with the flip of the the tape. At the onset of this archive the interview is aborted in mid-sentence and a female announcer formally announces that Radio New Zealand International is closing on this frequency. After twice insisting that I “re-tune to six-zero-nine-five kilohertz in the forty-nine meter band” (followed by a clipped “This is New Zealand”), it all sounds so damn official that I felt compelled to follow the instructions. Although I knew that just because RNZI was booming in on 31 meters didn’t necessarily mean it would come in so strong (or might even be heard) on the 49 meter band.

You hear RNZI’s interval signal (the call of the New Zealand Bellbird) after the station ID, and then the signal at 9165kHz goes dead. I then put the tape deck on pause and punch up 6095 kHz on the Degen and release the pause button. And there it was! The call of the Bellbird is quite clear there as well, although a nearby signal is chewing on the edges of the reception a bit.

Radio New Zealand International p2 2 – 9615 & 6095kHz – 07-07-07 0658 UTC 28:55

(download)

Whoever is running the board down there in the South Pacific was a little sloppy that night. After the interval signal the board-op starts to pot up the interview again (which is still running on one of the channels). But the mistake is corrected in a fraction of second, and it’s the news with Phil O’Brien. The lead story, a nationwide “Drunk Drive Blitz” the night before had netted over two-hundred inebriated kiwis on the highways down there. And an update on the aftermath of an unprecedented swarm of tornados that ravaged the North Island a couple of nights earlier.

After the news, it’s the beginning of a program I can barely believe I’m hearing in 2007. A faux flapper-era theme song launches a “nostalgia packed selection of favorites” that will saturate the skies of Oceania for the next four hours. While I love a lotta old music, the whole idea of “nostalgia” can get a little silly. Although I must say that old Joe Franklin used to pull it off with some charm on WOR here in New York City before he gave up the show a few years back. It’s really an approach to radio that’s all but dead here in the states. But apparently not in New Zealand.

As you’ll hear if you brave through this chunk of pulsing and buzzy DX radio, there are a couple of corny numbers to wade through. But I gotta tell you, that sitting outside in the middle of the night with an artifact-drenched AM signal from the other side of the world filling my headphones, it felt reassuringly twentieth-century. Maybe you’ll hear what I mean. And the Paul Robeson and Mills Brothers seemed quite appropriate.

I guess a little nostalgia isn’t so bad.

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Shortwave is an alternative source of news while Internet and phone service to the Kingdom of Tonga are cut

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

Internet and phone service between the Kingdom of Tonga and the outside world was disabled after an undersea cable was cut between Tonga and Fiji.

(Source: Radio New Zealand)

“Tonga’s submarine cable to Fiji was severed on Sunday night, meaning there were no phone or internet services for several days.

Interim satellite links have since been provided but the bandwidth is nowhere near what Tonga needs.

The deputy chief executive of Tonga Communications Corporation, Sione Veikoso, said the company is now providing extra capacity.

[F]ull restoration may be possible within a week but it could take a month.”

Speaking on the Radio New Zealand Pacific program Dateline Pacific (evening edition for 25 January 2019) deputy chief executive of Tonga Communications Corporation, Sione Veikoso said that two cables were cut. Click here to listen to the audio.

I heard the RNZ Dateline Pacific program on RNZI (shortwave), 9700 kHz at 11:13 UTC 1-25-2019.

Thanks for sharing, Dan. Yes, in times like these, shortwave radio makes for an easy, accessible way to get information directly from the source. Radio New Zealand International should be an easy catch in Tonga.

I’m filing this under the tag: Why shortwave radio?

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Video: Dan’s RNZI reception

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Hawkins, who writes:

Thomas, this RNZI transmission is on the new schedule:

Click here to view on YouTube.

RNZI is exceedingly well received at my location. That may have something to do with the following factors.

1. The RNZI antennas were designed, built and are maintained by a contractor located in the San Francisco Bay Area.

2. This contractor has SW receiver locations in the SF Bay Area.

3. I am located about 50 miles away from the SF Bay Area receivers and in-line to the New Zealand signal path.

Then again, maybe not. LOL.

Time: 09:00 10-31-2107 UTC. Frequency: 9765 kHz. Receiver location: Davis, California, USA. Radio:Sangean ATS-909X. Antenna: 83m horizontal loop. Transmission distance: 6,600 miles.

I do love RNZI–thanks for sharing, Dan. Indeed, since the demise of Radio Australia on, RNZI has become the voice of the Pacific on shortwave. Amazing signal!

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RNZI becomes the voice of the Pacific

(Source: Asia Radio Today via Mark Little)

As Radio Australia cuts shortwave services, RNZI becomes the voice of the Pacific

Radio New Zealand International (RNZI) continues to serve people across the Pacific region, delivering essential day to day news and information and providing a vital lifeline in times of natural disaster, as Radio Australia closes its international shortwave transmission service to Papua New Guinea and the Pacific.

Emphasising the importance of RNZI’s 25-year relationship with New Zealand’s Pacific neighbours, RNZ CEO, Paul Thompson said: “Remote parts of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu who may be feeling the loss of the ABC can rest assured RNZI will continue to provide independent, timely and accurate news, information and weather warnings as well as entertainment to its Pacific listeners.”

Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s decision to switch off its shortwave services as a money saving measure has already drawn criticism and protests from a number of groups in Australia.

Read more at: http://www.asiaradiotoday.com/news/radio-australia-cuts-shortwave-services-rnzi-becomes-voice-pacific © Radioinfo.com.au

In truth, RNZI has always done a fabulous job of covering the Pacific islands with news and information. I’m happy to hear they plan to stick around.

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RNZI “continues to serve people across the Pacific region”

(Source: RNZ Press Release via London Shortwave)

Press release: Following the ABC’s decision to cut shortwave radio transmission in the Pacific, Radio New Zealand International wants to reassure our listeners that we are committed to our Pacific broadcast partners.


Radio New Zealand International (RNZI) continues to serve people across the Pacific region, delivering essential day to day news and information and providing a vital lifeline in times of natural disaster.

RNZ CEO, Paul Thompson, has confirmed that there will be no reduction in Radio New Zealand’s commitment to its Pacific broadcast partners. His reassurance comes as Radio Australia closes its international shortwave transmission service to Papua New Guinea and the Pacific.

Paul Thompson has emphasised the importance of RNZI’s 25 year relationship with New Zealand’s Pacific neighbours.

“Remote parts of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu who may be feeling the loss of the ABC can rest assured RNZI will continue to provide independent, timely and accurate news, information and weather warnings as well as entertainment to its Pacific listeners.”

RNZI has been broadcasting since 1990 to the Pacific and is regarded as the authoritative voice of the Pacific. It can be heard across the region and has proven to be a vital lifeline during times of disaster. In 2007 RNZI was named international Radio Station of the Year by the Association for International Broadcasting (AIB).

RNZI broadcasts timely cyclone and tsunami warnings via shortwave and can continue to be heard should local broadcasters go off-air due to a cyclone or other disaster.

Paul Thompson said the essential nature of Radio New Zealand’s role in the Pacific has been regularly underlined by the positive feedback to RNZI following cyclone and tsunami alerts.

“A Vanuatu villager has told our reporter Koroi Hawkins that he knew to take shelter during Cyclone Pam just because of the warnings broadcast on RNZI. At times like this we are the essential voice of the Pacific ” See attached photograph.

RNZI’s coverage of the aftermath of Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu in 2015 won RNZI reporter Koroi Hawkins a silver medal at the prestigious New York Festival Radio Awards in 2016.

RNZI broadcasts in digital and analogue short wave to radio stations and individual listeners across the Pacific region.

Around twenty Pacific radio stations relay RNZI material daily, and individual short-wave listeners and internet users across the world tune in directly to RNZI content.

The RNZI signal can sometimes be heard as far away as Japan, North America, the Middle East and Europe. RNZI also provides rich content for online users through our website

How to listen to RNZI

For further information contact:

Walter Zweifel, RNZI News Editor +644 474 1432

walter.zweifel@radionz.co.nz

Adrian Sainsbury, RNZI Technical Manager, +644 474 1430 adrian.sainsbury@radionz.co.nz

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RNZ: ‘Thousands’ in Solomon Islands affected by ABC shortwave cut

(Source: Radio New Zealand via London Shortwave)

The ABC ends its short-wave service to the region from 1pm Solomon Islands time and says it will focus on FM and online services.

Ruth Liloqula said people from Choiseul to Malaita and as far south east as Tikopia tuned in to the ABC because the signal was stronger than that of the country’s public broadcaster SIBC.

Ms Liloqula who works with Transparency International says the ABC has been very valuable for the country and a good way to get her message across.

“We are very very mindful of the fact that the SIBC media here is owned by the government. I mean they don’t ask the questions that they need to ask for obvious reasons. I mean we do get asked those tough questions by ABC and that gives us the opportunity to talk about the issues that affect this country.”

Ms Liloqula said after the recent earthquake people in the bush in Choiseul only knew there was no tsunami by listening to the ABC.[…]

Continue reading at Radio New Zealand’s website…

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End of Radio Australia shortwave service, Mark compares final moments

This morning, I woke up, tuned to 9,580 kHz and all I heard was static.

Other than when the Shepparton transmitting station has been silenced for maintenance in the past, 9,580 kHz is one of the most reliable frequencies I’ve ever know on shortwave. Radio Australia has met me there every morning I’ve listened since I was eight years old.

I feel like I’ve lost a dear friend and certainly a staple source of news on shortwave radio. I know I’m not alone–a number of readers have shared similar sentiments this morning.

Archiving Radio Australia’s final days on the air

Listening to Radio Australia on 12,065 kHz with the Titan SDR Pro.

Since the beginning of the year, a few of us have been making a concerted effort to thoroughly archive Radio Australia’s final days on the air. Mark Fahey, London Shortwave, Richard Langley, Rob Wagner and I (to name a few) have been making both audio and/or spectrum recordings.

At 0100 UTC on January 31, 2017, we heard the “Waltzing Matilda” interval signal for one last time. As I understand it, the crew at the Shepparton site left the transmitter on a few extra seconds extra so their famous interval signal would be, in essence, the final sign-off.

Our friend and contributor, Rob Wagner, from Mount Evelyn, Australia, posted an excellent recording/video of the final minutes earlier today.

Due to propagation and the time of day when the shut down happened, I was unable to make a recording, so I’m pleased others could.

Mark compares shortwave and satellite feeds

Mark Fahey’s Wellbrook Mag Loop antenna.

I’m grateful to friend and contributor, Mark Fahey, who lives near Sydney, Australia, and was also able to record the final moments of Radio Australia as well. Mark recorded the shortwave service and RA satellite feed simultaneously.

Mark shares the following recordings and notes:

Recording 1

This is RA’s final few minutes on shortwave – it was recorded on 17840kHz.
The file picks up the regular program ending, then into a Promo for RA “Pacific Beat” (a Pacific current affairs program), then the classic RA Interval Signal then the transmitter clicks off and the void is heard.

Click here to download the MP3.

Recording 2

The file starts at exactly the same time as the first file, but in this example we are monitoring the Network Feed from Intelsat 18 at 180.0 degrees east (above the equator right on the international date line). This satellite feed is the way Radio Australia gets to the network of FM Transmitters they have scatted around the Pacific Region (which is why they feel they don’t need shortwave anymore for – most populated areas of Radio Australia’s target area now is covered by a network of Radio Australia FM transmitters).

Click here to download the MP3.

Some differences to the first file – Radio Australia is produced in FM quality stereo, though of course DXers only ever heard it in shortwave quality mono. So this network feed is in stereo and has a wider dynamic range that what DXer’s are familiar with from Radio Australia. At the end of the Pacific Beat Promo, Radio Australia goes straight into News, the closing of the shortwave service was not an event that would have been noticed for the typical listeners of RA who now listen via FM in Pacific capitals and major towns.

Thank you Mark for your comparison–I’ve never heard RA so clearly. Only you would’ve thought to simultaneously record the satellite feed! It gives the moment that much more context.

A number of SWLing Post contributors have been sharing recordings this morning. I will plan to collect these and put them on the Shortwave Archive in the near future.

Moving forward

Though senator Nick Xenophon says he will introduce legislation to Parliament to force the ABC to reinstate its shortwave radio service, we have to assume we’ve heard the last of Radio Australia and ABC on shortwave. (With that said, I understand Xenophon is a determined fellow.)

Rest assured: if Xenophon’s legislation gains traction, we will post updates!

No doubt, Radio New Zealand International’s shortwave service has just become that much more important in remote Pacific Islands. Click here to view RNZI’s schedule.

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