Tag Archives: Radio Survivor

Radio Waves: A Perfect CME, FCC Construction Permit Auction, More Music On AM, and Virtual SWL Fest Reminder

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 Eric McFadden, Mike Terry, for the following tips:


A “Perfect Coronal Mass Ejection” Could Be a Nightmare (ARRL News)

A new study in the research journal Space Weather considers what might happen if a worst-case coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth — a “perfect solar storm,” if you will.

In 2014, Bruce Tsurutani of Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Gurbax Lakhina of the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism introduced the “perfect CME.” It could create a magnetic storm with intensity up to the saturation limit, a value greater than the Carrington Event of 1859, the researchers said. Many other spaceweather effects would not be limited by saturation effects, however. The interplanetary shock would arrive at Earth within about 12 hours, the shock impingement onto the magnetosphere would create a sudden impulse of around 234 nanoteslas (nT), and the magnetic pulse duration in the magnetosphere would be about 22 seconds. Orbiting satellites would be exposed to “extreme levels of flare and interplanetary CME (ICME) shock-accelerated particle radiation,” they said. The event would follow an initial CME that would “clear the path in front of it, allowing the storm cloud to hit Earth with maximum force.”

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) has observed CMEs leaving the sun at speeds of up to 3,000 kilometers per second, and many instances of one CME clearing the way for another have been recorded.

The CME’s 12-hour travel time would allow little margin for preparation. The CME would hit Earth’s magnetosphere at 45 times the local speed of sound, and the resulting geomagnetic storm could be as much as twice as strong as the Carrington Event. Power grids, GPS, and other services could experience significant outages.

More recent research led by physicist Dan Welling of the University of Texas at Arlington took a fresh look at Tsurutani and Lakhina’s “perfect CME,” and given improvements in spaceweather modeling, he was able to reach new conclusions.

Welling’s team found that geomagnetic disturbances in response to a perfect CME could be 10 times stronger than Tsurutani and Lakhina had calculated, especially at latitudes above 45 to 50 °. “[Our results] exceed values observed during many past extreme events, including the March 1989 storm that brought down the Hydro-Québec power grid in eastern Canada, the May 1921 railroad storm, and the Carrington Event itself,” Welling summarized.

A key result of the new study is how the CME would distort and compress Earth’s magnetosphere. The strike would push the magnetopause down until it’s only 2 Earth-radii above Earth’s surface. Satellites in Earth orbit would suddenly find themselves exposed to a hail of energetic, and potentially damaging, charged particles.

Other research has indicated that phenomena such as the Carrington Event may not be as rare as once thought. A much weaker magnetic storm brought down the Canadian Hydro?Québec system in 1989.

Scientists believe a perfect CME will happen someday. As Welling et al conclude, “Further exploring and preparing for such extreme activity is important to mitigate spaceweather-related catastrophes.”

In July 2012, NASA and European spacecraft watched an extreme solar storm erupt from the sun and narrowly miss Earth. “If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,” said Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado at a NOAA Space Weather Workshop 2 years later. “It might have been stronger than the Carrington Event itself.”

Click here to read at the ARRL News.

FCC To Auction Off 140 Radio Stations (Radio Ink)

The FCC has announced that on July 27th an auction will be held for 136 FM construction permits and 4 AM’s. In this auction, the 130 FM permits that were previously included in the March 2020 auction, that had to be canceled due to COVID, will be included plus an additional 6 permits. Anyone who applied for stations in the planned 2020 auction must reapply. All applications for the previous auction have been dismissed.

[…]You can see the FM stations to be auctioned off HERE.

The Commission is proposing a simultaneous multiple-round auction format. This type of auction offers every construction permit for bid at the same time and consists of successive bidding rounds in which qualified bidders may place bids on individual construction permits. Typically, bidding remains open on all construction permits until bidding stops on every construction permit.

Get more details from the FCC website HERE.[]

Why There’s More Music on AM Now (Radio Survivor)

by Paul Riismandel

A number of months ago I was scanning around the AM dial late in the evening from my Portland, Oregon abode. I stumbled upon a station playing hard rock, which I thought to be an unusual find. As the AM dial has become mostly the domain of conservative and sports talk, I rarely encounter music that isn’t a bumper or part of some leased-time foreign-language programming.

In fact, at first I thought perhaps the music was a lead-in to just another talk show, but eventually I heard a full set of three songs. The station identified itself as “The Bear,” but curiously gave an FM frequency, not one on the AM dial.

An internet search the next day confirmed that “the Bear” is indeed an active rock formatted station located in Merced, California. Its logo features 105.7 FM prominently, with the 1660 AM frequency tucked in the corner. Yet, the AM signal is actually the primary one – the FM is a 250 watt repeater (translator) station.

Here’s a quick aircheck of the Bear’s station ID, during a break in the syndicated hard rock “Loudwire” program.

Now, AM stations have been permitted to get FM translators for a few years now as part of the FCC’s so-called “AM revitalization” initiative. But mostly I’ve heard sports and news/talk stations get repeated on FM.

I filed away this experience in memory, but kind of considered it a one-off. That was until my recent vacation in the Wallowa Mountains of Northeastern Oregon. Stowed away and social distancing in a mountainside cabin with limited internet and no cable, I spent quite a bit of time scanning the AM and shortwave bands in search of interesting sounds. Continue reading at Radio Survivor…

Register for the 2021 34th “Virtual” Winter SWL Fest!

If you’ve thought about attending the annual Winter SWL Fest, but found it difficult to make the travel arrangements, this year you can get a taste of the Fest by attending virtually.

You’ll find the program below, but click here to view it at the Winter SWL Fest site, and click here to register (only $5 for both days including all presentations and the hospitality room).

The event takes place February 27-28, 2021.


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Radio Survivor: “Inside the ‘Little Known’ Voice of America and the U.S. Agency for Global Media”

View of the Capitol Building from the roof of VOA headquarters on Independence Avenue.

(Source: Radio Survivor)

Over the past few months, there’s been a flurry of media attention focused on the United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM). Some reports describe it as a “little-known” agency and, in fact, it may seem mysterious to many in the United States, since it oversees international broadcasting programs all over the world, including Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

USAGM has been in the news following the appointment of new CEO Michael Pack, subsequent personnel changes, and even a congressional hearing on September 24. This week we explore the history of USAGM and talk about some of the recent changes at the organization. We are joined on the show by Jane Curry (Professor of Political Science at Santa Clara University), Mark Pomar (National Security Fellow at Clements Center for National Security at University of Texas, Austin) and Brandon Burke (Associate Archivist at the Hoover Institution Archives). Jennifer Waits and Eric Klein host this week’s episode.

Click here to read the show notes and listen to this podcast at Radio Survivor.

Click here to subscribe to the Radio Survivor podcast on iTunes.

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Radio Survivor Podcast features “Radio in the Movies”

This week’s episode of the Radio Survivor Podcast is devoted to “Radio in the Movies.” I you like classic films, and our post thread where readers ID actual radios in movies, you’re sure to appreciate this Radio Survivor episode.  Here’s the description:

Portrayals of radio in popular culture provide an interesting glimpse at radio’s role in society. At Radio Survivor, we’ve long been fascinated by radio depictions on both the small and large screen; so it is a treat to dive into this topic with Hemrani Vyas, Programming Coordinator at Turner Classic Movies (TCM). Vyas curated an entire day of radio-themed films for the cable network, focusing on the era of 1930 to 1950. This week we talk about some of the featured films and also dig into a broader discussion about the changing images of radio in the movies.

Click here to view full show notes and listen via Radio Survoivor.

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Talking shortwave and spectrum on the Radio Survivor podcast

Last week, I had the honor of speaking with Eric Klein and Jennifer Waits on the excellent Radio Survivor podcast. It’s rare that in one show I get to spread so much shortwave radio love–thanks for making that happen Radio Survivor:

Perhaps you are like me and you have wished that you could go back in time and spin a radio dial and just listen to and browse the full radio spectrum from another time and place. Our guest on the show, Radio Anthropologist Thomas Witherspoon, is building a website for just such a thing. It’s called the Radio Spectrum Archive and it is not magic, it uses a piece of technology called a software defined radio that makes recording a full spectrum of Shortwave, AM and even FM radio (if you have the computing power to handle the load) a very real possibility. Thomas Witherspoon is also the primary contributor to The Shortwave Listening Post (www.swling.com) so we are going to learn a few things about the wonder that is shortwave radio on planet earth.

Click here to download the podcast audio.

Click here to listen via Radio Survivor.

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Radio Survivor podcast highlights “The FCC’s Effort To Decimate Community Media”

Photo by Michael MaasenMany thanks to SWLing Post contributor, William Lee, who shares the Radio Survivor’s Podcast #166: The FCC’s Effort To Decimate Community Media:

The FCC has proposed to de-fund community media through an arcane rule that determines how contributions from cable companies to public-access, educational and government (PEG) stations are counted. Because it’s arcane, the effort is flying under the radar. But we have two community media advocates to help explain what’s at stake.

Martin Jones is the CEO of MetroEast Community Media in Gresham, Oregon, just one of hundreds of PEG stations that would be affected. Sabrina Roach serves on the board for the Alliance for Community Media Foundation, the charitable arm of the group that represents and organizes PEG stations across the U.S. They tell us how proposed changes to the “franchise fee” structure would deprive PEG stations, as well as internet access at libraries and schools, from direct funding. If passed, this would decimate both community media and digital equity in most communities that have it. They also explain what steps we can take to oppose this change.

Listen to the full podcast via the embedded player below, or listen via the Radio Survivor website:

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Radio Survivor: “Volunteer Radio from Antarctica”

McMurdo Station, Antarctica. (Source: USAP.gov)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mike Hansgen, who shares a link to episode #146 of the excellent Radio Survivor Podcast:

Inspired by an episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, we travel all the way to Antarctica to learn about mysterious community radio station, Ice Radio. Sadly, we learned of Anthony Bourdain’s death on the day that we recorded this episode.

Ice Radio is the latest iteration of a radio station that began more than 50 years ago at McMurdo Station. Our guest Elizabeth Delaquess is a Broadcast Engineer at McMurdo Station in Antarctica, working at both the radio and television stations there. She also shares some tales about her magical encounters with shortwave radio stations while “on the ice.”

Click here to listen via SoundCloud.

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Radio Survivor: Exploring and Preserving the Brooklyn Pirate Radio Scene

Check out this brilliant episode of the Radio Survivor podcast which features our Shortwaveologist friend, David Goren along with John Anderson of Brooklyn College:

(Source: Radio Survivor)

There are more unlicensed pirate radio stations in New York City than licensed stations. The borough of Brooklyn is a particular hotspot. Producer and journalist David Goren has been researching and recording these stations so that their ephemeral nature isn’t lost to history. To help preserve this legacy and make it accessible to a wider audience he’s constructing an interactive map of Brooklyn pirates, due to be released later this year.

David joins us on this episode along with Prof. John Anderson of Brooklyn College, who has been tracking and researching unlicensed radio for two decades. We discuss the unique qualities of Brooklyn pirates, and how they fulfill the needs of communities that are underserved by other media, why it’s important to preserve their legacies, and why the expansion of low-power FM failed to provide sufficient opportunities in cities like New York.

Click here to listen on SoundCloud.

Also, check out the Brooklyn Pirate Radio Sound Map funding page!

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