Tag Archives: Radio Preservation Task Force

Radio Waves: La TopoRadio Radio, Campaign Promise for ABC Shortwave Restoration, Malahit-DDC Early Review, and “Cordial Cold War” Now Free on Amazon

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 NT, Mark Fahey, and @SAKURARadiochan for the following tips:


Launching La TopoRadio (Radio Preservation Task Force)

The RPTF is pleased to announce the launch of La TopoRadio— the best place on the web to explore historical research about Spanish-language radio. La TopoRadio is an interactive map that lets users discover publications about historic and contemporary stations.

The project supports the goal of the RPTF to bring attention to the multifaceted history of radio in the United States. Spanish-language broadcasters have been part of the nation’s heritage since the dawn of the radio era, but this history is often sidelined in official accounts of radio history. Spanish-language programs continue to grow in popularity and geographic reach even while English-language listenership has declined. [Continue reading at the RPTF website…]

Labour promises $2m shortwave radio restoration (Tescun Radios Australia)

Note: the following was copied from the newsletter of Australian radio retailer, Tecsun Radios Australia.

A controversial decision in 2017 lead to the ABC turning off its domestic shortwave radio service, much to the disappointment and anger of remote listeners. It’s reasoning for turning off the shortwave broadcasts was that it would only affect a small number of listeners and in fact save operating costs of $1.9M, which could be re-invested in providing infrastructure of digital services located in populated regional areas.

Many industry groups were outraged, particularly in remote areas of the Northern Territory where residents had come to rely on the service as their only regular source of news and entertainment.

In February 2011, cyclone Yasi crossed the Australian east coast between Cairns and Townsville, causing enormous damage and knocking out all local communications.

Radio Australia carried ABC Queensland coverage of the storm, which was extraordinary.

[…]The federal Labour party has announced that if elected next year, they will provide the ABC with $2M in funding to re-establish the shortwave funding across the territory. [Continue reading…]

A review of the soon to be released Malahit-DDC portable SDR (RTL-SDR.com)

The Malahit DDC is the latest in portable SDR packages coming out of the Russian designer and manufacturer known as ‘Malahiteam’.  In the past they released the hugely successfull Malhit-DSP. We want to thank Manuel Lausmann for sending us a video and review that comprehensively looks at one of the first Malahit DDC devices that have been received. Manuel writes:

[…]The comparison took into account the results from the DDC versions with two ADC versions – AD9649 and MDRA1A16FI.

1) the sensitivity is about the same, there is no difference.

2) The dynamic range blocking is a big difference in favor of DDC. It is caused by the properties of the radio reception path and not by the difference in the classes of radio receivers. This has the practical advantage that a radio receiver with large antennas can be used under difficult conditions, for example when it is necessary to receive a weak signal in the presence of a strong interfering one.

3) The dynamic range of third order intermodulation is a big difference in favor of DDC. It is caused by the properties of the radio reception path and not by the difference in the classes of radio receivers. The practical advantage of this is the lack of parasitic or false reception channels. [Click here to read the full article and watch the video at RTL-SDR.com…]

Cordial Cold War: Cultural Actors in India and the German Democratic Republic (Amazon.com)

Note that “Cordial Cold War: Cultural Actors in India and the German Democratic Republic” is now free in eBook form on Amazon.com. Here’s the description:

Cordial Cold War examines cultural entanglements, in various forms, between two distant yet interconnected sites of the Cold War—India and the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Focusing on theatre performances, film festivals, newsreels, travel literature, radio broadcasting, cartography and art as sites of engagement, the chapters spotlight spaces of interaction that emerged in spite of, and within, the ambits of Cold War constraints. The inter-disciplinary collection sheds light on the variegated nature of translocal cultural entanglements, at work even before the GDR was officially recognized as a sovereign state by India in 1972. By foregrounding the role of actors, their practices and the sites of their entanglement, the contributions show how creative energies were mobilized to forge zones of friendship, mutual interest and envisioned solidarities.

This volume situates actors from the Global South as mutual co-shapers of the cultural Cold War, therein shifting its Euro-American and Soviet epicenters to Non-Aligned India. Going beyond official state channels of international political dialogue, it locates cordiality in the micro-histories and everyday experiences of interpersonal engagements, bringing to focus a hitherto underexplored chapter of India–Germany entanglements.

Click here to view on Amazon.com.


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Radio Preservation Task Force announces partnership with the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive and Radio Spectrum Archive

I’m honored to announce that the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive and the Radio Spectrum Archive are now partners of the Radio Preservation Task Force.

Click here to read the official press release.

To say that I’m enthused would be an understatement:  the Radio Preservation Task Force has, as of today, officially partnered with the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive and Radio Spectrum Archive.   

When I learned that the Library of Congress’s National Recording Preservation Board created the Radio Preservation Task Force (RPTF) in 2014, I became an enthusiastic contributor early on, having started a modest preservation project myself only a few years prior.  Then, a partnership like the one created today would have been one of dreams.

As many of you here know, I’m not only passionate about technologic innovations in our radio space, but also preserving our past.

Shortwave Radio Audio Archive

It was in 2012, in response to a round-table discussion at the Winter SWL Fest, that I created the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive (SRAA). Many of us in the radio community were concerned about the number of original, made-from-home, off-air shortwave radio recordings (airchecks) that we knew were in existence, yet were simply disappearing with the passage of time. We were well aware of members of our community who had either passed away or downsized, and many of their recordings––some of pivotal world events––were being tossed out by well-meaning loved ones or friends who simply didn’t understand their relevance. In addition, many of these recordings were captured on magnetic tape, which becomes brittle with time; we knew these recordings were literally turning to dust.  I felt I had to do something.  The SRAA was that something.

Fortunately for me, the SRAA’s mission has really resonated within our radio community. Today, we have thousands of off-air recordings, all freely available to everyone. The recordings can be downloaded directly from the archive, but many listeners simply subscribe to the SRAA Podcast and receive each recording automatically, as it is published.

Turns out, the archive also attracts the interest of individuals outside of our radio world including historians, musicians, and filmmakers. Indeed, the archive has even been reviewed in The Wire Magazine by a music critic as an audio resource for electronic musicians. At time of posting, the SRAA is the inspiration for artists in the latest Cities and Memory project Shortwave Transmissions.

The archive is not, nor has ever been, monetized; it has no commercial sponsorship, and is completely funded by its contributors. It is free and open to everyone.

I’m exceedingly grateful to our many contributors who continue to unearth absolutely amazing off-air recordings. Our SRAA contributors are true champions of preserving our radio heritage in a space that will long outlast us.  We’ve taken measures to ensure that multiple archivists have full access to the site, so its existence isn’t dependent on any one individual. We also actively seek organizations and educational institutions who can house redundant copies of the Archive.

And still it grows.

Radio Spectrum Archive

Compared with the SRAA, the Radio Spectrum Archive (RSA) is still in its infancy.  But it, too, is growing, and the reason for this steady and growth is the existence of its contributors and other supporters.

Of course, while audio recordings––like those in the SRAA––are relatively small (often between 2 – 120 MB), spectrum recordings are larger by orders of magnitude.

As you might imagine–even in 2021/2022–it is not a simple task to digitally archive and share/move 20GB to 2 TB collections. We are incredibly fortunate in that the Internet Archive supports the RSA and gives us valuable real estate on their servers to preserve and share recordings.

With time, this collection will grow and become a resource for everyone. Our hope is that we may even be able to built a web interface (much like those used by Web SDRs) to play back recordings without having to physically download them.

My wholehearted thanks…

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the many contributors from within our radio community. Thank you all so much for being a part of a movement that archives our amazing, and amazingly diverse, radio history. You have made this possible.

Finally, I’m so grateful to the Radio Preservation Task Force––not just for this empowering partnership and what it means to us today, but for the future potential it represents.  It’s clear that we’ve only just begun.

Thank you––thank you––thank you, all.

Thomas Witherspoon

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Report from the 2017 Radio Preservation Task Force meeting

SWLing Post readers might recall that, last year, I had the distinctly great honor of presenting at the 2017 Radio Preservation Task Force meeting at the Library of Congress.

Several readers have asked me to share my experiences at the conference, so I’ll note the conference highlights here.

I attended all three days of the conference. The first day (Thursday, November 2) was held at the Woodrow Wilson Center and focused on Cold War broadcasting. It goes almost without saying that this was absolutely fascinating.  I learned a great deal. One of the day’s recurrent discussion themes, for example, focused on the keen awareness of those inside the Iron Curtain that they had been regularly subjected to propaganda.  In other words, the Cold War somehow created very discerning news listeners savvy enough to separate fact from fiction quite skillfully––an ability that many fear may (unfortunately) be eroding among today’s media audiences.  

That afternoon, SWLing Post reader, Phil Ewing, took me on an amazing tour of NPR’s new headquarters [thanks SO much, Phil!].


Later that afternoon at NPR, I attended an event celebrating NPR’s founding father and mission creator, Bill Siemering.  Bill and I co-presented at the Winter SWL Fest in 2011, and I admire him greatly both as a journalist and as an individual; I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to be at this event held in his honor.

Friday and Saturday sessions were held at the Library of Congress and were equally riveting as they covered nearly every aspect of radio preservation.

Here’s our panel just a minute before the forum began.

I was on the Digital Curation panel along with Charles Hardy (West Chester University and National Council on Public History), Jonathan Hiam (New York Public Library), Matt Karush (George Mason University and Hearing the Americas), Elena Razlogova (Concordia University) and Mark Williams (Dartmouth College and Media Ecology Project).

The discussion was dynamic, and to my pleasure, our Radio Spectrum Archive was quite the hit. The sincere interest in this project was beyond encouraging.  Indeed, after my presentation, I wasn’t able to address all of the questions from those in the audience because there were so many in line to speak to me about it; eventually the LOC had to re-arrange the room for a televised event, the 50th anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act.

But there’s more.  And it’s a great ending to our story, which is really only a beginning: via Alex Stinson with the Wikimedia Foundation, I was introduced to the Internet Archive team last month, whom, to our profound delight, has wholeheartedly agreed to support the Radio Spectrum Archive by giving us nearly unlimited space to store our massive collection of spectrum files.

In a word?  This conference was brilliant. There simply couldn’t have been a better outcome for the Radio Spectrum Archive and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Many thanks to the entire RPTF team, especially Director, Josh Shepperd, for putting this spectacular event together.

I’ve been invited to a couple other archive conferences as a result of the RPTF meeting, and I’ll give these some consideration.  Regardless, I know this: I’ll make room in my schedule for the next RPTF conference. No way am I missing it!

And at the next conference I look forward to speaking to each one of those people with whom tight scheduling prevented my speaking at this one. After all, it’s this kind of enthusiasm that assures the Radio Spectrum Archive’s future.

If you’d like a more in-depth report of the RPTF conference, check out this article in Radio World (via Richard Langley). If you’d like to learn more about the Radio Preservation Task Force, check out their website by clicking here.

Many thanks to my buddy, Bennett Kobb, who also gave me a tour of the brilliant LPFM station, WERA (96.7) in Arlington, VA–what an incredibly dynamic station and staff!

Ulysses E. Campbell (left) and Bennet Kobb (right) in the studios of WERA.

I’d also like to thank my friend Kim Elliott for generously hosting me during the multi-day event. Even modest accommodation in the DC area is very expensive–no doubt, Kim’s hospitality made the conference a reality for me. Thanks again, Kim!

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Shortwave Archives, Spectrum Archives and the Radio Preservation Task Force meeting

This week, I’m looking forward to participating in the three day Radio Preservation Task Force meeting in Washington, DC.

The Radio Preservation Task Force (RPTF), a project of the National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress, will be held on November 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, 2017 at the Library of Congress, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the University of Maryland.

I’ve been invited to serve on the RPTF Material & Digital Curation panel where I’ll have an opportunity to talk about our work with the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive and a new project I’ve been working on: the Radio Spectrum Archive.

The Radio Spectrum Archive

For several years, I’ve been championing the concept of archiving radio spectrum recordings.

As many of you know, through the use of software defined radios (SDRs), we can record not just one individual broadcast from one radio station at a time, but we can record an entire broadcast band, all at once. Each recording can easily contain dozens of stations broadcasting simultaneously. Later, via an SDR app, recordings can be tuned and listened to as if they were live. We believe spectrum recordings will be valuable material for the future historian, anthropologist, enthusiast, etc.

Screen shot of the RSA homepage.

I’ve published a new website for the Radio Spectrum Archive and I encourage you to check it out as it outlines our mission, goals and challenges. I also include a video demonstration using a spectrum recording from 1986 (originally recorded on a HiFi VCR!).

Note that the website is a work in progress, there are still sections to add including bios of our spectrum archive team.

Click here to check out the Radio Spectrum Archive website.

Though I didn’t mention this in my Patreon campaign post earlier this week, the Radio Spectrum Archive is yet another important radio project you are supporting with your pledge. This week, for example, extra funds help me with travel expenses associated with the RPTF conference (many thanks to a kind friend who is hosting me at his home for four nights, saving me several hundred dollars!).

If you have the means and would like to support the SWLing Post, the Shortwave Radio Index, the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive, and the Radio Spectrum Archive please use the link/button below to become a Patron. If you’d like more details or support options, check out this recent post.

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And to all of you who have supported us through Patreon and with one time gifts: thank you, thank you, thank you!

If you’re not in a position to become a patron or coffee fund supporter, no worries! Just enjoy our radio sites and resources!

One more note: Due to travels and a heavy workload over the next couple of weeks, please allow extra time for replies to correspondence and comments. Thank you so much!

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Radio World: Preserving Podcasts

(Source: Radio World via Richard Langley)

Radio World supports efforts to save our radio and audio heritage, including the work of the Radio Preservation Task Force,?a project of the Library of Congress.

Here is one in a series of guest commentaries about the topic.

Jeremy Morris is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In January 2014, Adam Curry sent a quick tweet out to his 40,000-plus followers with a modest request: “Looking for a full archive of ‘Daily Source Code’ mp3s.” Not just your average media user looking for bootlegged files, Adam Curry was one of podcasting’s first breakout stars in the early 2000s. He was trying to track down one of the first widely popular podcasts, the “Daily Source Code.” But his request was certainly odd; after all Curry was actually the host and producer of the “Daily Source Code,” which ran from 2004 to 2013 (over 860 episodes!).

As Curry lamented on his website: “For a number of [stupid and careless] reasons, I am not in posession of most of these.” [sic]

For those familiar with radio history, this story is probably less surprising. Much of radio’s history has been lost to vagaries of time, be it through the willful ignorance of companies looking to “preserve” only that which could be “monetized,” or the unintentional negligence of hosts, producers and engineers without the foresight, budgets or means to realize that the radio they were making and broadcasting would shape culture for decades to come — culture that media historians, scholars and hobbyists would later want to analyze, research, teach and reference.[…]

Click here to read the full article at Radio World.

Thank you–as Richard knows, podcasting is the distribution method behind our Shortwave Radio Audio Archive. It’s an ideal platform for delivery of recorded broadcasts–listeners subscribe and then maintain their own local copy of the entire archive. Podcasting applications can insure that any new episodes are downloaded automatically.

This year, I will represent the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive at the Radio Preservation Task Force meeting at the Library of Congress. I very much look forward to the event and meeting others in the radio archives world.

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KIRO saves radio history by accident

Crosley-Dial-BlackAndWhiteMany thanks to SWLing Post reader, William Lee, who shared the following story from Mynorthwest.com about how radio station KIRO saved a bit of radio history through “accidental preservation.” Here’a an excerpt:

One of the most important events of the 20th century was World War II. The Cold War that followed and many of the national borders that exist to this day were largely created during that deadly, years-long conflict from the late 1930s to 1945.

An expert speaking at the Library of Congress at the first-ever Radio Preservation Task Force Conference described how one of the most important tools for understanding World War II is available to researchers only because of an “accident” at KIRO Radio more than 70 years ago.

During his keynote address last week in Washington, DC, longtime archivist and librarian Sam Brylawski spoke of KIRO Radio’s role in saving a priceless audio record of American history.

It was a case of “accidental preservation,” Brylawski told the audience of more than 200 radio history scholars from around the US and Canada, that resulted in the creation of a nearly complete archive of CBS news broadcasts during World War II.

“KIRO is the station in Seattle that cut lacquer discs to timeshift,” Byrlawski said, explaining how the scheduling of live broadcasts of CBS Radio’s news coverage was aimed at the Eastern time zone, which was not convenient for West Coast audiences. KIRO, as Brylawski described, violated network radio policies to make recordings of news programs on giant, 16-inch diameter discs, and then play them back a few hours later at times that were more convenient to Seattle-area listeners.

Continue reading the full article and listen to the audio report at Mynorthwest.com…

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Radio Preservation Task Force conference in the press

Shepperd-RPTF-LOC-2

Last week, the Radio Preservation Task Force held a conference which focused on saving America’s radio heritage. I had hoped to attend in DC, but sadly had a conflict in my schedule that weekend.

I’m happy to see that the conference got several mentions in the press.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Patalon, for sharing a link to this article in RadioWorld:

Preservation Conference Highlighted Unique Radio Perspectives

The launch of the first “Save America’s Radio Heritage” conference saw a greater turnout than expected, with a total of roughly 300 attendees over two days in the nation’s capital last week.

The event, held at the Library of Congress and the University of Maryland, focused on the state of radio preservation, but the conference was more than just about the process of preserving historical recordings and other radio documents, but sharing some of America’s unique uses of the medium.

The Radio Preservation Task Force calls itself the first national radio history project of the Library of Congress. It grew out of the Library’s ambitious National Recording Preservation Plan, published in 2012. The task force says radio is “perpetually declared to be a dying medium” but nevertheless attracts dedicated listeners and commercial and public support. The organizers have said radio’s history is a chronicle of culture and a potential trove for historical researchers. The national plan in 2012 specifically called for a symposium to discuss the challenges of preserving American radio broadcasts; last week it was put into action.[…]

Continue reading on RadioWorld’s website…

The conference also caught the attention of APM’s Marketplace:

Task force aims to preserve radio history

A group of librarians, academics, and audio enthusiasts is gathering in Washington Friday for a first-of-its kind conference. The topic: “Saving America’s Radio Heritage.” The meeting is part of a massive effort to preserve recordings going back to the early 20th century.

The effort is not focused on the classic network quiz shows and radio plays of the 1930s through 50s, said Chris Sterling, who chairs the Radio Preservation Task Force at the Library of Congress.

“We’ve pretty much got that stuff,” he said. “What we’re talking about instead is trying to get the local radio voice in America: commercial, educational, college radio, all of that.”

One example is a 1956 interview with Rosa Parks from the Pacifica Radio Archives, recorded after Parks’ arrest for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on an Alabama bus.

Also at PopUp Archive:

http://blog.popuparchive.com/?p=836

And on the CBS Radio Network:

Those of us who work in radio are proud it has such a long and interesting history…

[…]But there’s a problem: Radio, by its very nature, is ephemeral. That makes its history a little hard to document.

A conference going on in Washington, DC is helping to make the airwaves a bit more solid.[…]

Continue reading and listen to the full audio report on the CBS Radio Network.

I hope the RPTF hosts another conference next year as I would like input on archiving AM/MW spectrum recordings–something I suspect few in the field even know exists!

Any SWLing Post readers attend the conference?

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