Tag Archives: Radio Waves

Radio Waves: FCC Warn Extremists Using Radio, ARRL Statement, Historic Radio Tirana Building, and Bob’s Replica Broadcast Studios

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 Pete, Bill, Trevor R. and Steve Reardon for the following tips:


Blocked from social media, extremists discuss turning to radios to plan attacks, FCC warns (CNN Business)

The US government is warning that groups could rely on radio equipment as an alternative to social media to plan future criminal activities.

In a stark warning Sunday, the Federal Communications Commission’s enforcement bureau said people coordinating or conducting criminal activity over radio waves are breaking the law.

“The Bureau has become aware of discussions on social media platforms suggesting that certain radio services regulated by the Commission may be an alternative to social media platforms for groups to communicate and coordinate future activities,” the FCC said in its warning Sunday. “Individuals using radios in the Amateur or Personal Radio Services in this manner may be subject to severe penalties, including significant fines, seizure of the offending equipment, and, in some cases, criminal prosecution.”

The FCC licenses certain signals for people to broadcast over radio waves. Those messages are generally protected by the US Constitution’s First Amendment. But the FCC reminded radio licensees and operators that it is prohibited to transmit “communications intended to facilitate a criminal act.” People are also not allowed to encode their messages to obscure their meaning from law enforcement.

The laws governing airwaves apply to amateurs broadcasting with personal ham radios, which can reach long distances. But they also apply to people using Citizens Band (CB) radios commonly used for communication between truckers — or even walkie-talkies.

In the wake of the January 6 Capitol riots, Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR) and other mainstream social networks have become more vigilant about policing people who use their platforms to plan or incite attacks. They have booted off several high-profile radicals and thousands of groups and users who the platforms say engage in harmful conspiracy theories and other violence or hate speech.[]

ARRL on the Purpose of Amateur Radio (ARRL News)

For over 100 years amateur radio and ARRL — the National Association for Amateur Radio® — have stood for the development of the science and art of communications, public service, and the enhancement of international goodwill. Amateur Radio’s long history and service to the public has solidified the well-earned reputation that “Amateur Radio saves lives.”

Amateur Radio Operators, due to their history of public service, their training, and the requirement that they be licensed by the FCC have earned their status as a component of critical communications infrastructure and as a reliable resource “when all else fails.”

Amateur Radio is about development of communications and responsible public service. Its misuse is inconsistent with its history of service and its statutory charter. ARRL does not support its misuse for purposes inconsistent with these values and purposes.[]

Historic Radio Tirana Building Looks Set to Be Demolished (Exit News)

The doors and windows of the historic Radio Tirana building were removed in the middle of the night during the weekend, while Albanians stayed inside due to heavy rains.

The Villa is a second category monument and was the first media institution in the country. It was built in 1938 by the Kollciu family as a house for two of the brothers. Completely symmetrical in its design and layout, it was built in the Italian neoclassical style that was popular at the time.

It was later seized under the order of King Zog and was the base for Radio Tirana until 1965. It was then used by the Institute of Anthropology and Art until the previous owners took it back. It has since been left to decay and is in a bad state of disrepair.

It stands over four floors including a basement. It features two main entrances, columns, a hallway with marble tiles, wooden framed windows and metallic balustrades.

As it was abandoned, a few members of the Roma community were living there.

Despite it being a cultural monument, the removal of these fixtures signals that demolition could be imminent. It lies just off Rruga Kavajaes and occupies prime Tirana real estate.[]

N.S. radio enthusiast turns basement into replica studio (CBC Nova Scotia)

There’s no denying Bob Cooke’s passion for radio. The Lower Sackville man used to work in the business back in the mid-1970s and now, it’s likely he has the largest collection of radio gear in Canada. CBC’s Colleen Jones reports.


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Radio Waves: Old Goats Are Going Away, Pack Accused of Fraud, Post-Brexit Radio Imports, and a TV Drama About Murder of G0HFQ

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 Dennis Dura, Ronald Kenyon, Michael Guerin, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Commentary: “The Old Goats Are Going Away” (Radio World)

Broadcasters need to act to refill our ranks before the dial goes quiet

I see trouble ahead in our business in the shortage of qualified broadcast engineers.

I am not speaking of IT people. I am speaking of the guy in a T-shirt and jeans who gets to the transmitter, looks for the problem, reads the schematic, crawls inside the box and replaces R-16, R-17, C-232 and Q-4, and the music again blares forth.

We are losing those guys every day, and they are being replaced by the guy who walks into the site, looks at the box, grabs his cell phone, calls BE or Nautel to find which board to pull, and ships it back while waiting for a loaner to get the rig going.

I never thought of myself as an old-timer. Starting in the business in 1963, old-timers were the guys I learned from, mostly World War II graduates. They knew everything about audio and RF. I wished I knew a tenth as much as they did.

My first real bit of engineering was converting a 50 kW FM station to stereo in 1963. No one listened to FM then, I think there were 10 FM radios in the city and five were in Cadillacs owned by mob hit men.

I remember putting the stereo generator in an eight-foot rack. It took up four feet of the rack and had enough 12AU7s in it to heat the building. It had two outputs, one L+R that went into the phase modulator of the serrasoid exciter and the L–R output that went into the exciter about 200 multipliers later (the crystal frequency was multiplied 864 times).

It was a technical nightmare compared to mono FM. Getting two matched phased phone lines from the studio to the transmitter over three exchanges was another task. But we were stereo most of the time.

The FCC had a rule that if you weren’t transmitting stereophonic program material for more than a certain length of time, you had to shut the stereo pilot off so as not to mislead the 10 listeners by illuminating their stereo beacon. So the pilot on/off was wired into the old Rust remote control so the studio could turn it off when a monophonic recording of a symphony played.

Times changed; we wound up with RF STLs, stereo generators on a single chip, CD players, computers and lots of stuff made in foreign countries that wasn’t worth fixing or whose parts were not available, so when they broke they wound up on a shelf at the transmitter site.[]

Voice of America CEO Accused Of Fraud, Misuse Of Office All In One Week (NPR)

Fresh crises and fresh challenges confront the Trump-appointed CEO of the parent of Voice of America, even with less than two weeks left of the Trump presidency.

To start, the Attorney General of the District of Columbia this week accused U.S. Agency for Global Media CEO Michael Pack of illegally funneling more than $4 million to his private documentary company through a not-for-profit that he also controls.

Then, five recent chiefs of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – appointed under Democratic and Republican administrations – jointly warned President-elect Joe Biden that Pack poses “a long-term threat to the credibility and professionalism of the five networks” he oversees.

And now Pack is now being accused of trying to propagandize the Voice of America by a group of whistleblowers. They take exception to a planned appearance by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at VOA’s Washington headquarters on Monday, just nine days before the Biden administration begins.

Pompeo will soon be out of his job. And it’s expected Pack will be replaced promptly as well. But he has sought to outlast his time in office by burrowing himself and conservative allies into boards that will steer Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks. The not-for-profit broadcasters are all funded by the federal government through USAGM.

Those networks, along with VOA and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, collectively reach more than 350 million people across the world each week. They historically have demonstrated American pluralism by providing balanced coverage of news events and robust political debate, regardless of how it reflects on current government officials. The broadcasters are also intended to serve the citizens of nations which do not allow journalists to operate freely.[]

Radio imports (Southgate ARC)

Now that the United Kingdom has left the European Union, we will see major changes in importing radio equipment.

Definitive information is scarce but imports from the UK can have VAT paid on purchase or depending on the retailer, VAT may have to be paid before delivery. If it comes via An Post, any charges will have to paid before the item is sent out for delivery.

The Post Office employees will not be collecting money at the door. Whether duty is also collected is not very clear, but some sources say that anything originating outside the European Union will attract duty as well as VAT. There may also be a handling charge.

John EI7GL has compiled a list of radio and electronic dealers based in the European Union on his blog page and would welcome any updates you can supply.[]

TV drama about murder of radio ham G0HFQ (Southgate ARC)

On Monday, January 11, ITV will be broadcasting the first of a three part TV drama about the murder in June 1989 of Oxfordshire radio amateur Peter Dixon G0HFQ and Gwenda Dixon who were on holiday in Pembrokeshire

In the November 1989 Radio Communication magazine the RSGB asked:

Did you work GW0HFQ/M ?

As we’ve reported in previous editions of RadCom, Peter Dixon, G0HFQ. and his wife Gwenda were brutally murdered whilst on holiday in South Wales last June. Dyfed-Powys Police have asked us to say that they are still anxious to talk to anyone who had a contact with Peter whilst he was operating in Pembrokeshire as GW0HFO/M on 7 or 14MHz SSB. 28MHz FM/SSB or 144MHz FM. The dates between which they’d like you to check your logbooks are 19-29 June 1989.

Dyfed-Powys Police believe that Peter Dixon had a contact with another mobile station in the area on 28MHz FM on the morning of Wednesday 28 June.

The drama will be shown on ITV at 9pm on Monday, January 11, details at
https://www.itv.com/presscentre/ep1week2/
pembrokeshire-murders

A description of the murder is at
https://www.nickdavies.net/1992/06/27/the-tantalising-mystery-of-a-murder-in-pembrokeshire/

The October 1989 issue of 73 magazine carried a report, see page 13
https://worldradiohistory.com/Archive-DX/73-magazine/73-magazine-1989/73-magazine-10-october-1989.pdf


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Radio Waves: AM TX Sites Now Prized Real Estate, New Leaders for RFE/RL, New EU Cars Will Have DAB, and North Korean Fisherman Pays Ultimate Price for Listening to Radio

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 Tracy Wood, Michael Bird, Michael Guerin, Mike Terry and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


AM Radio Transmitter Sites Now Valuable Real Estate for Logistics Industry (Transport Topics)

The familiar real estate adage “location, location, location” rings true these days for huge tracts on the outskirts of major cities — sites that for decades housed AM radio towers but that today command top dollar as e-commerce fuels rising demand for new warehouses and logistics centers.

Look no further than the $51 million sale of a five-acre parcel in Queens, N.Y., where an AM radio station will eventually abandon its existing tower and transmitter site, and move it.

New York radio station WFME’s owner, Nashville, Tenn.-based Family Radio, sold its AM transmitter site to Prologis, a San Francisco developer that specializes in building warehouses for companies looking to expand final-mile capability.

This property is situated near the Long Island Expressway, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, and La Guardia and JFK airports. The spot’s current value as a logistics hub far outstrips its importance to a broadcast outlet that didn’t register in New York’s most recent radio ratings book.

“Long term, we see this as a strategic move that adds to our growing footprint of high-quality logistics space that offers quick and easy access to consumers.” said Jeremiah Kent, Prologis senior vice president of value added investments. “In one of the most densely populated markets in the world where demand for logistics real estate is high and land is scarce, Prologis is well-positioned to respond to the acceleration of e-commerce and consumers’ expectation for same- and next-day delivery services.”

The rising value of these locations is being driven by changing consumer habits and rapid technological evolution. Sites on the edge of town that in radio’s heyday were cheap and plentiful can now house vital links in a supply chain propelled by technology that was hard to imagine back in AM’s early days.[]

USAGM CEO Names New Leaders for RFE/RL, OCB (VOA)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Agency for Global Media announced that former VOA journalist Ted Lipien will return to run Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, the current acting director at the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, will become director.

The appointments follow USAGM CEO Michael Pack’s December 9 announcement that former Voice of America director Robert Reilly would return to lead that network.

Lipien joined VOA in 1973 and worked as the chief of the Polish language service and later as a senior news and marketing executive until 2006. For 10 years, Lipien worked in Munich and Prague as the Eurasia regional marketing director, helping VOA and RFE/RL place programs on stations across the region. In an announcement sent to staff, he recalled listening to Radio Free Europe while growing up in communist Poland.

“I’m honored, and humbled, to be entrusted with helping this storied organization continue to break the hold of censorship and give voice to the silenced,” he wrote.

Since leaving U.S. broadcasting, Lipien has been a vocal critic of VOA’s and USAGM’s previous leaders. He has also defended Pack’s tenure as CEO, saying Pack has focused on correcting long-running issues of bias and mismanagement at the networks.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is a nonprofit multimedia broadcasting organization funded by U.S. Congress grants. Based in Prague, it serves as a surrogate media source in 27 languages, mostly in places where a free press remains either banned or not fully established.

Jeffrey Scott Shapiro has been with the Office of Cuba Broadcasting since July 2017. In announcing Shapiro’s new position, Pack cited his deep connections to local communities in South Florida and his track record in producing objective news.

“Transmitting objective news and information to the island plays a critical role in moving toward a free Cuba, and it is a privilege to be a part of such an important mission,” Shapiro wrote in a published statement.

The Office of Cuba Broadcasting oversees Radio and Television Marti, based in Miami, Florida. The network provides news, information and analysis to the people of Cuba via satellite television and shortwave radio, as well as flash drives, DVDs and text messages.

Pack was confirmed by the Senate as CEO in June with a three-year term and fired several news executives upon his arrival. He later declined to testify before a House of Representatives panel examining his decisions at the agency, including his decision to fire the heads of RFE/RL, Radio Free Asia and OCB, and replace their boards. The then-director of VOA, Amanda Bennett, resigned two days before Pack joined the agency.

Last month a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting Pack and other USAGM officials from interfering with the editorial independence and First Amendment rights of journalists at VOA and other networks they oversee. The ruling still allows Pack to appoint leaders of those news networks to oversee them.

The November 20 court order prohibits the CEO and other defendants from communicating directly with journalists at the networks without the consent of their directors. The order is part of a lawsuit filed by five USAGM officials whom Pack placed on administrative leave in August. The suit accuses Pack and his political appointees of unlawful actions and of violating the First Amendment and a statutory firewall set up to ensure editorial independence. Pack has said the lawsuit is “without merit” and that all of his and his team’s decisions and actions are “correct and lawful.”

Earlier this month, a federal office set up to protect whistleblowers ordered USAGM to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by its own top officials.[]

All new car radios to have digital terrestrial radio (Southgate ARC)

From today, people purchasing new passenger vehicles across Europe will be able to benefit from the advantages of digital radio – greater choice, clearer audio and enhanced data services.

Article 113, Annex XI in the EECC states that “Any car radio receiver integrated in a new vehicle of category M* which is made available on the market for sale or rent in the Union from 21 December 2020 shall comprise a receiver capable of receiving and reproducing at least radio services provided via digital terrestrial radio broadcasting”.

The regulation applies to all EU member states – regardless of the status of DAB in each country.

Despite the impact of Covid-19, Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Denmark have already introduced laws mandating digital terrestrial radio in cars and other countries are expected to follow shortly.

In the first half of 2020, over 50% of new cars sold in Europe included DAB+ as standard – a number that is expected to reach 100% by the end of 2021 as DAB+ adoption continues to grow across Europe.

More information and regular updates on the EECC directive and its implementation across Europe is available on the WorldDAB EECC factsheet.

*Motor vehicles with at least four wheels designed and constructed for the carriage of passengers

https://www.worlddab.org/news

North Korean fisherman publicly executed for listening to foreign radio (The New Daily)

A North Korean fishing boat captain has been publicly executed for listening to banned foreign radio stations while at sea.

The man, only known by his surname Choi and said to have been in his 40s, was killed by firing squad in front of 100 boat captains and fisheries executives, according to a Radio Free Asia report.

Choi, who owned a fleet of more than 50 ships, is thought to have been turned in by a crew member after they turned against him.

According to the RFA report, Choi ultimately confessed to authorities and was charged with “subversion against the party”.

“In mid-October, a captain of a fishing boat from Chongjin was executed by firing squad, on charges of listening to Radio Free Asia regularly over a long period of time,” a North Korean law enforcement official told RFA.

“They publicly shot him at the base in front of 100 other captains and managers of the facility’s fish processing plants. They also dismissed or discharged party officials, the base’s administration and the security officers who allowed Choi to work at sea.”

The network said the fishing boat captain began his habit of tuning into foreign radio stations, including RFA, while serving as a radio operator in the military. He had listened to RFA – a US-government funded network that broadcasts in Korean – for 15 years.

“The security authorities decided then that the time to re-educate him had long past, so they executed him by firing squad,” the source said.

“It seems that the authorities made an example out of Choi to imprint on the residents that listening to outside radio stations means death.”[]


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Radio Waves: Ted Lipien Named Head of RFE/RL, The American Radio Archives, Drive-Thru Ham Tests, and VOA Broadcasts to Displaced Communities in Africa

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 Ted Lipien, Josh Shepperd, Ronnie Smith, and Gary Butterworth,  for the following tips:


Ted Lipien returns to U.S. international broadcasting as head of RFE/RL December 18, 2020 (USAGM)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Michael Pack, CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), announced today that veteran civil servant Ted Lipien is returning to U.S. international broadcasting as CEO and President of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

“Few people have a greater understanding than Ted of the multifaceted operation and mission of U.S. international broadcasting,” said CEO Pack. “Ted is an ardent and captivating advocate of democracy who will excel at sharing America’s founding principles and ideals with the world.”

“When I was a teenager in Communist Poland, I would listen to Radio Free Europe to find out what the government was not telling me,” said Mr. Lipien. “It had an enormous impact on my life, and on the lives of millions of others. I’m honored, and humbled, to be entrusted with helping this storied organization continue to break the hold of censorship and give voice to the silenced.”

Mr. Lipien has dedicated virtually his entire career to U.S. international broadcasting. He joined Voice of America (VOA) in 1973 and served as the network’s Polish Service Chief for 12 years, from 1981 to 1993, including the Solidarity labor union’s struggle for human rights and democracy in Soviet-communist-ruled Poland. From 1993 to 2003, he served as the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ Eurasia Marketing Specialist and Director, first in Munich and, later, in Prague. Mr. Lipien then rejoined VOA, serving as Eurasia Division Director from 2003 to 2005 and Acting Associate Director from 2005 to 2006. He has interviewed a number of eminent public figures, including Cardinal Karol Wojty?a (Pope John Paul II), Lech Wa??sa, George H.W. Bush, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Czes?aw Mi?osz.

In 2008, after leaving the federal service, Mr. Lipien founded Free Media Online, a non-governmental organization committed to supporting free media worldwide. His pro-media freedom work has been noted in a variety of national publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post. His articles have appeared in National Review, Washington Times, and Washington Examiner. Mr. Lipien earned his bachelor’s degree in international relations with distinction from George Washington University.

RFE/RL, headquartered in Prague, is a non-federal network funded by the United States Congress through USAGM. Daisy Sindelar, who had been serving as Acting President of RFE/RL since June 2020, is returning to her former role as the network’s Vice President and Editor-in-Chief.[]

On the Radio: The Library’s Special Research Collections to become home to the American Radio Archives (UC Santa Barbara)

The American Radio Archives, one of the world’s largest and most valuable collections of radio broadcasting will soon become part of the UC Santa Barbara Library’s Department of Special Collections.

Established by the Thousand Oaks Library Foundation (TOLF) in 1984, the archive is one of the first in the state and includes original recordings of Winston Churchill, as well as broadcast photographs, radio and television scripts, books and film dated as early as 1922.

“It is critical that such a wonderfully curated collection documenting the golden age of radio is preserved and accessible, said Thousand Oaks Mayor Claudia Bill-de la Peña. “UCSB has one of the largest collections of performing arts records, sound recordings and broadcast recordings on the West Coast as well as a state-of-the-art audio laboratory, making it our first choice and a natural fit for the American Radio Archives.”

The collection was established in 1984 and grew significantly with the purchase in 1987 of radio memorabilia from the estate of Rudy Valleé, one of the nation’s most popular singing bandleaders and personalities. Valleé documented his career, which took off in the1920s, through an extensive array of journals, photographs and original pieces of advertising.

The prominence of the Valleé collection attracted numerous celebrities and radio historians from around the world who gravitated toward the American Radio Archives. Among them were such luminaries as Norman Lear, Carl Reiner, Ron Howard, Ray Bradbury, Norman Corwin, Edward Asner, Walter Cronkite, Janet Waldo, Candice Bergen and William Shatner.

When Norman Corwin — dubbed America’s poet laureate of radio — donated his career files in 1990, it further increased esteem for the archives and generated significant interest among radio aficionados. As a result, many noteworthy collections were donated to TOLF, including, among others, those of radio station KNX-CBS; radio actor and radio historian Frank Bresee, who hosted “The Golden Days of Radio”; comedian Red Skelton; Carlton Morse, the creator of the long-running radio soap opera “One Man’s Family”; radio and television writers Milton and Barbara Merlin; and Allin Slate, a pioneer of the sports talk show format on KABC radio in Los Angeles.[]

Oregon ARRL VEC Testing Group Offers Testing from the Comfort of Your Car (ARRL News)

The coronavirus pandemic has made life difficult for everyone. On the plus side, however, it’s prompted creative solutions to work around the various roadblocks the pandemic has imposed. Volunteer Examiners in Grant County, Oregon, affiliated with the ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) put their heads together to overcome the adversity and hold a safe and secure exam session. Current health regulations in Oregon precluded both indoor and outdoor gatherings. Nonetheless, the Grant County Amateur Radio Club, the local ARES Group, and the Grant County Emergency Radio Infrastructure Coalition (ERIC) combined forces to offer five candidates the chance to obtain their first license or to upgrade their existing license, all from the comfort of their vehicles.

“Many amateur radio clubs have experimented with exams via the internet,” said Steve Fletcher, K7AA, who is the ARES Emergency Coordinator for Grant County. “In eastern Oregon, with the cooperation of the County Roads Department, we chose to hold a ‘drive-up’ exam session on Saturday, December 12. Under the circumstances, we used four ARRL VEs for the exam instead of the required three.” Wheeler County ARES loaned Stuart Bottom, K7FG, to help as the third required Amateur Extra-class Volunteer Examiner.

Fletcher reports three new Technician licensees and two new General-class radio amateurs resulted from the session.

Required ARRL VEC forms contained pre-printed data — including the FCC Registration Number (FRN) — were given to the candidates on a clipboard. Each candidate took the exam in the front seat of their own vehicle. Cell phones, papers, and anything not required for the exam were removed.

“Everyone dressed warmly, and most candidates had their heaters running,” Fletcher reported. A camper owned by Ronda Metler, KB5LAX, and a communications van owned by Fletcher served as sites to check results and sign forms.

The Grant County Roads Department loaned its parking area for the exam session.[]

On International Migrants Day, VOA Expands Broadcasts to Displaced Communities in Africa (VOA Press Release)

As the world observes International Migrants Day on December 18, Voice of America continues to enhance its operations to serve the growing refugee populations in Africa. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, reports that, in just the past few weeks, 50,000 Ethiopian refugees have joined the world’s 80 million forcibly displaced people, including more than 18 million in sub-Saharan Africa.

Recognizing the deteriorating conditions in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region in recent weeks, VOA rapidly added existing Tigrigna-language radio broadcasts to existing VOA FM radio stations in the Libyan cities of Tripoli and Misrata. These newscasts reach not only the newly displaced civilians, but also Eritreans in both cities who arrived prior to the current exodus and still have ties to the crisis-affected area. Newly created “micro sites” deliver digital content in TigrignaAmharic, Afan Oromo and English from VOA regional reporting teams.

In Kakuma, Kenya, site of one of the world’s oldest refugee camps, VOA launched a new FM station to provide both refugees and the local community with news, music, and educational content in English, Swahili, and Somali. For the Dadaab refugee complex near Kenya’s border with Somalia, a new VOA station offers local residents and refugees a mix of VOA English and Somali language content that airs in Somalia and Djibouti.

“VOA is committed to providing vital news and information to underserved populations worldwide, including refugees and other forcibly displaced persons,” said VOA Director Robert Reilly. “In particular, as the only international broadcaster with a presence in Kakuma, VOA serves as a critical lifeline for individuals in this region with access to few other reliable media resources.”

VOA’s efforts to reach at-risk refugee populations expanded exponentially in 2017 in south Asia and Latin America. VOA’s Bangla language service began broadcasting in Rohingya to reach refugees in Kutupalong, the world’s largest refugee camp. Nearly one million ethnic Rohingya, who fled persecution in neighboring Myanmar, inhabit the site. When Venezuelans began to flee President Nicolás Maduro’s regime, the VOA Spanish language service significantly increased its coverage of this unfolding crisis for audiences all across the region.

VOA FM Frequencies

Existing in Libya: Tripoli (106.6 MHz); Misrata (99.1 MHz)

New in Kenya: Kakuma (99.9 MHz); Dadaab (106.7 MHz)


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Radio Waves: Hammarlund Legacy, FM Radio Using Arduino, VOA Report on Bias, ARISS SSTV Event, and Geminids

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 Trevor, Dan Robinson, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Ham radio operators honor legacy of Mars Hill company (Citizen Times)

During the 1950’s and ’60’s, when the Hammarlund Manufacturing Company had a factory just west of Mars Hill College, the town could have been considered a world center of advanced electronic technology. With a company motto of “Quality Without Compromise,” almost 90% of American WWII wartime military electronic equipment employed Hammarlund capacitors. They also built U.S. Navy search radar installed on aircraft carriers, battleships and cruisers.

Hammarlund was one of the three leading brands of radio communications equipment at the time, along with Hallicrafters and Collins Radio. These three companies dominated in providing state of the art electronics equipment to the U.S. military, large and small corporations, and to private individuals who had the means and taste to own the very best.

Hammarlund Radio initially operated out of New York City starting in 1910, in the early days of radio. They began consolidating all of their operations in Mars Hill in 1951, in a newly constructed facility that spread out to over 100,000 square foot on Hammarlund Drive — now named Hickory Drive. The site employed hundreds from around the area and their work lives on today. []

FM Radio From Scratch Using An Arduino (Hackaday)

Building radio receivers from scratch is still a popular project since it can be done largely with off-the-shelf discrete components and a wire long enough for the bands that the radio will receive. That’s good enough for AM radio, anyway, but you’ll need to try this DIY FM receiver if you want to listen to something more culturally relevant.

Receiving frequency-modulated radio waves is typically more difficult than their amplitude-modulated cousins because the circuitry necessary to demodulate an FM signal needs a frequency-to-voltage conversion that isn’t necessary with AM. For this build, [hesam.moshiri] uses a TEA5767 FM chip because of its ability to communicate over I2C. He also integrated a 3W amplifier into this build, and everything is controlled by an Arduino including a small LCD screen which displays the current tuned frequency. With the addition of a small 5V power supply, it’s a tidy and compact build as well.[]

2016 Report Confirmed Problem of Political Bias At Voice of America (USAGM Watch)

by Dan Robinson

Trump USAGM CEO Michael Pack Was Attacked For Attempts to Focus on Problem

It was May of 2016 and Amanda Bennett was only a few weeks into what would become a nearly four year stint as director of the Voice of America, among the “plum” jobs in Washington, D.C.

Bennett was just getting her feet wet, and at the time was dependent on a group of longtime embedded VOA managers that she would at one point describe as a “fantastic leadership team.”

She had received fair warning, from former VOA employees and extensive reporting by the independent watchdog website BBG and USAGM Watch, of disturbing issues at VOA, located in what has long been one of the most dysfunctional of federal agencies.

Some VOA journalists were using their taxpayer-funded positions to engage in self-promotion and campaign for political causes, a fact little known to most Americans. VOA’s website and digital operations were plagued by failures in breaking news coverage, and inaccuracies in content.

Both VOA and what was then called the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) were increasingly seen by U.S. lawmakers as moribund. A Republican-led and eventually bipartisan effort in Congress proposed major restructuring – there was little patience left on Capitol Hill where the agency was increasingly considered to be “broken,” “rudderless,” and “worthless.” President Obama signed the reform legislation in December 2016 to create a powerful agency CEO position and to make the BBG Board purely advisory.[]

ARISS Slow Scan TV event (Southgate ARC)

An ARISS Slow Scan TV (SSTV) event is scheduled from the International Space Station (ISS) for late December. This will be a special SSTV event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of ARISS.

The event is scheduled to begin on December 24 and continue through December 31.

Dates are subject to change due to ISS operational adjustments.

Dave, AA4KN
ARISS PR

The Geminids – a reminder (Southgate ARC)

The Geminids are a prolific meteor shower caused by the object 3200 Phaethon, which is thought to be a Palladian asteroid with a “rock comet” orbit. This would make the Geminids, together with the Quadrantids, the only major meteor showers not originating from a comet.

They are the biggest meteor shower of the year, and normally occur between 4 December – 17 December.

The peak is expected on 14 December.

Expect FM “pings” and hopefully interesting dx opportunities.

Mike


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Radio Waves: RIP Phil Erwin, Federal Watchdog Targets Pack, Eclipse Festival of Frequency Measurement, and VOA testing DRM

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 Dave Zantow, Michael Guerin, Eric McFadden, and Dan Robinson for the following tips:


The voice of Phil Irwin will be greatly missed (Rappahannock News)

Where wasn’t the presence of Phil Irwin felt in Rappahannock County?

A constant of virtually all proceedings of the Rappahannock County community and government, cherished innkeeper of Caledonia Farm – 1812, founding member of the Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection, regional director of the Virginia Farm Bureau, committee member for both Rappahannock County Farmland Preservation and the Agricultural Forestal District, Rappahannock tourism advisory member — for 25 years chief of morning broadcasts for Voice of America (VOA) — Irwin was found dead Thursday at his working cattle farm north of Washington.

“What a contribution Phil made to our county over his many years here,” Huntly friend Ralph Bates reacted upon learning of Irwin’s death. “He will live in our memories as we drive and see how well our viewshed and environment has been protected because of his commitment and work.”

Former Washington Mayor John Fox Sullivan recalled “a good man and such a part of the Rappahannock fabric. His love for this county, and commitment to it, was unmatched.”[]

Federal watchdog finds ‘substantial likelihood of wrongdoing’ by Trump appointees overseeing Voice of America (NBC News)

The federal watchdog’s findings mark the latest rebuke of the Trump-appointed CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, Michael Pack.

WASHINGTON — A federal watchdog agency has found “a substantial likelihood of wrongdoing” by Trump administration appointees who oversee the Voice of America and other U.S.-funded media outlets.

The finding from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, an independent government agency charged with safeguarding federal employees’ rights, marks the latest rebuke of Michael Pack, who President Donald Trump appointed to run the U.S. Agency for Global Media, the parent agency to VOA and other broadcasters.

A federal judge last month ordered Pack to stop interfering in the newsrooms of VOA and other media outlets and found that he had jeopardized the First Amendment rights of journalists that his office had targeted for investigation. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and press freedom groups have blasted Pack over his actions since he took over in June, accusing him of undermining the broadcasters’ editorial independence and defying congressional authority.

After reviewing allegations from current and recent employees, the Office of Special Counsel wrote to the whistleblowers Wednesday saying it had demanded Pack and the U.S. Agency for Global Media conduct an investigation into the allegations.[]

The December 2020 Eclipse Festival of Frequency Measurement (HamSCI)

Changes in ionospheric electron density caused by space weather and diurnal solar changes are known to cause Doppler shifts on HF ray paths. For example, see Figure 7 in Boitman et al., 1999. HamSCI’s first attempt at a measurement of these Doppler shifts was during the August 2017 total solar eclipse. We plan a careful measurement during the 2024 eclipse. As part of the WWV centennial, 50 stations collected Doppler shift data for the original Festival of Frequency Measurement, demonstrating the value of volunteer participation in collecting this data. During the June 2020 Eclipse Festival, we enlisted participants around the globe and experimented with different data collection protocols. This winter, we request that all amateur radio stations, shortwave listeners, and others capable of making high-quality HF frequency measurements help us collect frequency data for the December 14 total eclipse.[]

USAGM, VOA Testing Innovative Digital Radio Platform (Inside VOA)

A few weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of the world, broadcast engineers in Greenville, North Carolina, launched a test of digital radio signals. The U.S. Agency for Global Media began aiming a digital broadcast at Cuba and Latin America, which included Office of Cuba Broadcasting and Voice of America content.

With this 2020 test, VOA embarked on a new phase of global innovation on a platform called Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM), a versatile digital signal not well known in the U.S., but the only one that can cover the entire spectrum: shortwave, mediumwave and longwave, as well as VHF (FM). As digital radio emerged in the 1990s, VOA was among the first broadcasters testing a signal that promised to even out shortwave radio signals that often faded in and out and were marred by static.

VOA tested the DRM signal in the 1990s at the agency’s Morocco transmitter site, one of five facilities opened in a period of expansion in the previous decade. However, other digital signals became the standard in various markets around the world. The U.S. standard audio digital platform is called HD.

Around the world, as other digital radio platforms were adopted, DRM was held back by the marketplace. Nobody was making commercially available receivers.

By the end of the 1990s, VOA innovation focused more on television, the platform that promised larger audiences, even in some places in the world where shortwave dominated. By the early 2010s, the rallying cry became “Digital First,” as VOA strived to attract readers for its language service websites and began tapping into the growing audiences on new social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

By 2020, however, DRM had come full circle.

“You’re no longer limited to just reading the news or playing music,” says Gerhard Straub, supervisory director of the USAGM Broadcast Technologies Division.

Straub, along with Gary Koster, Broadcast Radio Technician and transmitter expert and Macon Dail, Chief Engineer at the Greenville Transmitting Station, set up the test broadcast in February of this year, not long before the COVID-19 pandemic grounded global travel. The trio put up a DRM signal with Radio Marti and VOA audio along with scrolling text messages and rotating images.

Engineers have received reports of a clear signal as far south as Brazil.

The USAGM test, says Straub, is “coasting along” in the pandemic, but additional content will be added when technicians can travel again. Straub says the VOA signal was taken off in the initial test to concentrate on the OCB digital content and to keep the signal robust. Now that there is good reception data, he noted, the digital bit rate can be increased and VOA content added back into the test in 2021.

Because DRM operates at lower power, more radio stations and digital signals can be broadcast on a single transmitter. The platform is starting to grow in countries of interest to Western international broadcasters. DRM signals will soon cover all of China, though its government is expected to attempt to control the stations accessed by its citizens. India built 39 transmitters and, more importantly, 2.5 million vehicles already are equipped with DRM radios. Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil and North Korea all have nascent DRM operations.

Religious broadcasters, who sometimes target audiences similar to those sought by Western governments, are experimenting with the technology. For example, a missionary group, TWR.org, sent the Bible’s Gospel of Mark from Guam to Cambodia via DRM shortwave.

“You have to stop thinking of it as radio, because it’s not,” says USAGM’s Straub. “We are now broadcasting digital data. Just like we broadcast digital data on the internet, we can broadcast digital data over shortwave without being hampered by an internet firewall that maybe limits what we can send to a particular country.”

Reason enough, Straub believes, for VOA to continue leading innovation in a new-again technology.[]


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Radio Waves: Arecibo Failure Caught on Video, Heathkit Employee Reminisces, Radio at 100 Series, and FCC to Require Email on Applications

Arecibo Observatory’s 305-meter telescope in November 2020 (Credit: University of Central Florida)

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 Ned Wharton, Pete Eaton, Zack Schindler, and Dave Zantow for the following tips:


NSF releases footage from the moment Arecibo’s cables failed (ARS Technica)

Today, the National Science Foundation released video taken at the moment the Arecibo Radio Observatory’s cables failed, allowing its massive instrument platform to crash into the dish below. In describing the videos, the NSF also talked a bit about the monitoring program that had put the cameras in place, ideas it had been pursuing for stabilizing the structure pre-collapse, and prospects for building something new at the site.

A quick recap of the collapse: the Arecibo dish was designed to reflect incoming radio radiation to collectors that hung from a massive, 900-ton instrument package that was suspended above it. The suspension system was supported by three reinforced concrete towers that held cables that were anchored farther from the dish, looped over the towers, and then continued on to the platform itself. Failure of these cables eventually led to the platform dropping into the dish below it.

[…]The video of that collapse comes from a monitoring system put in place in the wake of the cable failures. Due to the danger of further cable breaks, the NSF had instituted no-go zones around each of the three towers that supported the cables. With no personnel allowed to get close enough to inspect the cables, the staff started monitoring them using daily drone flights, one of which was in progress during the collapse. In addition, a video camera was installed on top of the visitor’s center, which had a clear view of the instrument platform and one of the support towers.

Continue reading full article.

Heathkit: An Employee’s Look Back (Electronic Design)

Lessons of a successful electronic business—an interview with Chas Gilmore, former Heath executive.

For those of you who do not know or remember, Heath Company was the largest kit company in the world. Heath designed and put practically every type of electronic product into kit form. Its products, called Heathkits, were exceptionally popular and many are still in use today.

Over the years, Electronic Design has published many Heathkit-related articles and blogs. Recently, I had a chance to talk with Chas Gilmore, who was a Heath executive. For those of you who fondly remember Heathkit and miss its products, here’s a look back at this amazing company and the lessons it offers.

Chas, what was your affiliation with Heath?

A recent physics graduate, I joined Heath in 1966 as an engineer in the Scientific Instruments department. This was a new group designing laboratory instruments supporting the Malmstadt/Enke, Electronics for Scientists program. The kit business was making great strides.

The audio department was about to introduce the AR-15 FM receiver/amplifier. It had rave reviews, putting Heath in the top tier of the Audio/HiFi market. At the same time, the Ham (amateur radio) department was updating the phenomenally successful SB-line of an HF SSB receiver, transmitter, and transceiver, and modernizing the popular $99 single-band SSB transceiver line[]

Radio at 100 & Roots of Radio Series (Radio World)

Zack writes:

Found this interesting series at Radioworld called “Radio at 100”. It is 29 different articles about the history of broadcasting in the USA. A lot of your readers might enjoy these;
https://www.radioworld.com/tag/radio-at-100

Another great series at Radioworld that your readers might be interested in “Roots of Radio”:

https://www.radioworld.com/columns-and-views/roots-of-radio

ARLB038 FCC to Require Email Addresses on Applications (ARRL Bulletin 38 ARLB038)

Amateur radio licensees and candidates will have to provide the FCC with an email address on applications, effective sometime in mid-2021.

If no email address is included, the FCC may dismiss the application as defective.

The FCC is fully transitioning to electronic correspondence and will no longer print or provide wireless licensees with hard-copy authorizations or registrations by mail.

A Report and Order (R&O) on “Completing the Transition to Electronic Filing, Licenses and Authorizations, and Correspondence in the Wireless Radio Services” in WT Docket 19-212 was adopted on September 16. The new rules will go into effect 6 months after publication in the Federal Register, which hasn’t happened yet, but the FCC is already strongly encouraging applicants to provide an email address.

When an email address is provided, licensees will receive an official electronic copy of their licenses when the application is granted.

The Report and Order can be found in PDF format online at, https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-adopts-electronic-licensing-report-and-order

Under Section 97.21 of the new rules, a person holding a valid amateur station license “must apply to the FCC for a modification of the license grant as necessary to show the correct mailing and email address, licensee name, club name, license trustee name, or license
custodian name.” For a club or military recreation station license, the application must be presented in document form to a club station call sign administrator who must submit the information to the FCC in an electronic batch file.

Under new Section 97.23, each license will have to show the grantee’s correct name, mailing address, and email address. “The email address must be an address where the grantee can receive electronic correspondence,” the amended rule will state. “Revocation of the station license or suspension of the operator license may result when correspondence from the FCC is returned as undeliverable because the grantee failed to provide the correct email address.”
NNNN
/EX[]


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