Tag Archives: Radio Waves

Radio Waves: Sealand’s Caretakers, BitCoin & Ham Radio, CW Training, and 50 Years Ago Casey Kasem Started AT 40

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 Tony, Mike Terry,  and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Sealand’s caretakers (Boing Boing)

Sealand is an unrecognized micronation off the coast of England, established in the 1960s and issuer of stamps, passports and occasional offshore business shenanigans (“BECOME A LORD“). But Sealand is also a rotting sea fortress in need of constant maintenance. Atlas Obscura met the two caretakers who spend two weeks at a time doing what they can to keep the statelet running smoothly. Dylan Taylor-Lehman’s feature article is a great introduction to the place, if you’re not familiar with it or its wild history.[]

How Bitcoin Is Like Ham Radio (Coindesk.com)

Understanding bitcoin is difficult. And so we cast around for the perfect metaphor. Bitcoin is email. Digital gold. eCash.

Here’s a new one. Bitcoin is ham radio.

Bitcoin is old-fangled. It takes days to download the Bitcoin blockchain, just like it took forever to download software back in 1994. In an age of instant email and real-time Zelle payments, a bitcoin transfer takes 60 minutes to safely settle. It’s more volatile than gold, a relic of our previous monetary system. Thousands of computers are constantly replicating each others’ work, making it vastly inefficient. And lastly, there’s no privacy. Like a medieval marketplace, everyone can see everybody’s holdings.

All of these features are anachronistic. But they do sum up to something unique. What exactly is that thing?

A ham radio allows its operator, otherwise known as an amateur radio operator, to use certain bands in the radio spectrum to communicate by voice or code. This is an old technology. Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi became the first ham radio operator in 1897 when he transmitted Morse code across Salisbury Plain in England.

It seems odd that something as archaic as ham radio continues to exist in a world with email, Snapchat, iPhone and Facebook. A ham transmission can only be used over a couple of kilometers. No emojis. No video. No gifs. Forget about privacy! Anyone can listen into your radio conversation.

Yet, ham radio is a very active niche. Associations all over the world keep the hobby going. According to the American Radio Relay League, there are some 764,000 ham radio operators in the U.S. Japan has more than a million. The International Amateur Radio Union pegs the global number of amateur radio licensees at 3 million.

Like ham radio, Bitcoin is for hobbyists. I’m not talking here about all of the frenetic speculators who keep their coins at Coinbase. I’m talking about users who can run a full node, use Lightning, securely store their own coins and make frequent transactions with the stuff. This pool of bitcoiners is tiny. It’s probably smaller than the number of active licensed ham radio operators.[]

CW Training Program (Southgate ARC)

In this video Howard WB2UZE and John K2NY of the Long Island CW Club talk to David W0DHG about their CW training program

The club started in 2017 offers over 45 hours of CW classes EACH week, and has grown to over 600 members from all 50 states and 15 countries all over the world.

HRN423 Long Island CW Club

50 Years Ago, Casey Kasem Began Counting Down The Hits On American Top 40 (NPR)

On July 4, 1970, the countdown started. Originally hosted by Casey Kasem, American Top 40 played “the best selling and most-played songs from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Canada to Mexico,” as he stated on the first program broadcast 50 years ago as of tomorrow.

On any given week, American Top 40 could feature a ballad, next to a country song, next to a funk song, next to a rock song. The show became a national obsession but 50 years ago, it was considered a risky idea.

“You remember, at the end of the ’60s, Top 40 was not the most popular format,” Casey Kasem told NPR in 1982. “And here we were coming along with a show called American Top 40, and people said, ‘You must be nuts!’ “[]


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Radio Waves: Pack Thanks Interim Leaders, KE4ZXW Moves to Virginia Tech, WWV and WWVH Still Matter, and A New WebSDR in Iceland

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 Tony, Dan Robinson, Michael Bird for the following tips:


USAGM CEO Michael Pack thanks interim heads of agency’s five broadcasting networks (USAGM)

Today, U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) Chief Executive Officer Michael Pack thanked officials who will serve in an interim capacity as the heads of the agency’s two federal organizations and its three public service grantee broadcasting networks.

  • Elez Biberaj, who has led Voice of America (VOA)’s Eurasia Division since 2006, will serve as VOA’s Acting Director.
  • Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, previously Senior Advisor at Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), will serve as OCB’s Acting Director and Principal Deputy Director.
  • Parameswaran Ponnudurai, who has been Vice President of Programming at Radio Free Asia (RFA) since 2014, will serve as RFA’s Acting President.
  • Kelley Sullivan, who has been a Vice President at Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) since 2006, will serve as MBN’s Acting President.
  • Daisy Sindelar, who has been with RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty (RFE/RL) for nearly two decades, will serve as RFE/RL’s Acting President.

CEO Pack sent, in part, the following message to staff:

“The experience of these talented men and women, their knowledge of the networks, and their commitment to the standards of journalism will allow us to launch into the next exciting chapter of our agency. Dr. Biberaj, Mr. Shapiro, Mr. Ponnudurai, Ms. Sullivan, and Ms. Sindelar will serve critical roles in allowing our networks to become higher performing and to more effectively serve our audiences. For their willingness to step up and help lead this effort, I am deeply appreciative. I am excited to serve alongside them as well as with all of you.”

Virginia Air & Space Center Ends Relationship with Ham Radio (ARRL News)

Virginia Air & Space Center (VASC) Executive Director and CEO Robert Griesmer has advised that the Center’s amateur radio station exhibit will be discontinued, effective July 1, when the Center, in Hampton, Virginia, reopens. VASC is the official visitor center for NASA’s Langley, Virginia, facility. The KE4ZXW display station was shut down on March 13. It was to be out of the VASC by June 30. A main feature of the exhibit was the ability to communicate with amateur radio satellites and with the International Space Station.

Randy Grigg, WB4KZI, of the VASC Amateur Radio Group said the station’s equipment would be relocated. “Thanks to all who have supported KE4ZXW during the last 25 years, especially the volunteer operators who manned the station during that time,” Grigg said. “To the many visitors we have met and school groups that have stopped by and talked with us about ham radio, communications, satellites, and STEM Program related subjects, thank you!”

On June 30, it was announced that the Virginia Tech Amateur Radio Association (K4KDJ) in Blacksburg will be the new host for the KE4ZXW Amateur Radio Demonstration. — Thanks to Randy Grigg, WB4KZI, and Ed Gibbs, KW4GF[]

Why WWV and WWVH Still Matter (Radio World)

Last year was one of both celebration and uncertainty for WWV, the station adjacent to Fort Collins, Colo., that transmits automated time broadcasts on the shortwave bands.

On the plus side, it marked the 100th year of WWV’s call letters, making the site, operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, one of the world’s oldest continually operating radio stations.

On the negative side, WWV and its sister time station WWVH in Hawaii nearly missed this centennial. That’s because NIST’s original 2019 budget called for shutting down the pair, along with WWVB, the longwave code station co-located next to WWV, as a cost-saving move.

Fortunately, these cuts never happened, and WWV, WWVH and WWVB seem likely to keep broadcasting the most accurate time from NIST’s atomic clocks, at least for the immediate future. (No further cuts have been threatened.)[]

Another Shortwave WebSDR operational in Iceland (Southgate ARC)

On June 27, a new KiwiSDR web software defined radio became operational in Iceland

A translation of the IRA post reads:

The new receiver is located in Bláfjöll at an altitude of 690 meters. It has for the first time used, a horizontal dipole for 80 and 40 meters.

The KiwiSDR receiver operates from 10 kHz up to 30 MHz. You can listen to AM, FM, SSB and CW transmissions and select a bandwidth suitable for each formulation. Up to eight users can be logged into the recipient at the same time.

Ari Þórólfur Jóhannesson TF1A was responsible for the installation of the device today, which is owned by Georg Kulp, TF3GZ.
Bláfjöll: http://blafjoll.utvarp.com/

The other two receivers that are active are located at Bjargtångar in Vesturbyggð, Iceland’s westernmost plains and the outermost point of Látrabjarg and at Raufarhöfn. Listen at:
Bjargtångar: http://bjarg.utvarp.com/
Raufarhöfn: http://raufarhofn.utvarp.com/

The IRA Board thanks Ara and Georg for their valuable contributions. This is an important addition for radio amateurs who are experimenting in these frequency bands, as well as listeners and anyone interested in the spread of radio waves.

Source IRA https://tinyurl.com/IcelandIRA

KiwiSDR Network
http://kiwisdr.com/public/


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Radio Waves: Tallest Structure in Italy, Suggestion to Save AM, Online Radio Exams in Australia, and a Letter From Friends of ABC

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 Paul Evans, Mike Terry, and Michael Bird for the following tips:


The tallest structure in Italy is a remote radio transmitter in Sicily. (Atlas Obscura)

WHEN TALKING ABOUT THE TALLEST structures in the world, one often thinks of skyscrapers above modern cities, but radio transmitters in remote locations also reach dizzying heights.

Italy is famous for its many architectural marvels built over the millennia, but its tallest building (a sleek, modern structure in Milan) is only 758 feet tall. The title of the tallest overall structure goes to a radio transmitter on the Sant’Anna hill near the town of Caltanissetta, in Sicily. (In between the two are a number of transmitters and power plant chimneys.) This antenna has a height of 938 feet, and was built by the national public broadcasting company, RAI, between 1949 and 1951. At the time it was also the tallest structure in all of Europe, until 1965 when a transmitting station in the United Kingdom was inaugurated.[]

Here’s a suggestion for how to save AM radio (Los Angeles Daily News)

Last week, I wrote a little about streaming audio and how, with the use of smart speakers, smartphones, and plain old computer streaming, the possibility of internet radio essentially replacing traditional broadcast radio.

This week I want to travel to both the past and one of broadcast radio’s possible futures, spurred on by the ideas presented last week, my absolutely illogical love of AM radio, and a letter to the editor that I read online at radioworld.com.

AM radio broadcasting is almost a century old in the United States – numerous stations in Los Angeles, including KHJ (930 AM), KFI (640 AM) and KNX (1070 AM) will celebrate 100 years of broadcasting in two years. That’s an impressive feat, especially considering the technology is essentially the same as it was in 1922.

As I mentioned last week, digital HD Radio, considered for a time as the savior of both AM — due to higher fidelity — and FM — due to potential higher fidelity and extra stations — just hasn’t made the impact many had hoped. For various reasons, many AM stations have turned off the HD signal, even while FMs continue to use it, and consumers don’t seem all that interested in either. But as I said last week, with smart speakers, what’s the point? And a related question comes up: is broadcast AM radio just a dead technology?

Christopher Boone thinks he has the answers. No, AM is not dead. But if you really want to improve it, bring back a technology that already “failed” … AM stereo.[]

Online remote exam sessions in Australia (Southgate ARC)

VEA (Volunteer Examiners Australia) is pleased to advise we are currently able to perform online remote exam sessions for both AMC and ARRL VE Examinations.

VEA has AMC Level 3 examiners that can conduct remote online examinations.

Also, the ARRL VEC has entrusted us by extension the FCC, to be examiners for FCC-issued license via remote online examinations, a volunteer examiner, must ensure the exam conducted fairly and that there is the same level of integrity as there would be for an in-person examination.

Candidates need to be aware there are conditions and eligibility in registering to do an ARRL online remote examination, e.g. living in a remote location, or the candidate is physically impaired to attend an exam session.

VEA does run bi-monthly AMC and ARRL VE exam sessions during the year,
so if you are interested, visit our website www.vea.org.au complete the online registration form.

VEA currently have AMC and ARRL VE examiners in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia.

VEA looks forward in supporting the ham radio community in providing this valuable service to both AMC and ARRL VEC.

73 from Peter VK3FN

Wireless Institute of Australia[]

An open letter to the Prime Minister from ABC Friends and supporters (ABC Friends)

Posted in Latest news from ABC Friends on 28 June 2020

ABC Friends have written an open letter to the Prime Minister in the wake of the recent staff and funding cuts.

Dear Mr Morrison,

I write on behalf of many angry Australians who want to know why your government continues to undermine Australian public broadcasting with ongoing funding cutbacks at the same time as the commercial media sector is favoured.

Your recent statement that “there have been no cuts to the ABC” sadly reminds us of Tony Abbott’s similar bold election promise in 2013, yet this was followed by major cutbacks in his first Budget as Prime Minister. Clearly in our current media environment there are facts and ‘alternative’ facts, it all depends on the presenter and the audience.

Many of us are more inclined to rely on information from your ABC Board Chair, Ita Buttrose, who said in her 2019 Forward to the Annual Report – “our task has been made harder by the imposition of the three year indexation freeze which comes on top of a $50 million a year cut now embedded in our base.”

We see the recently announced Five Year Plan as a brave attempt by the Managing Director, David Anderson, to live within your governments funding allocation, but obviously further staff cuts and downgrading of ABC services and programs is an inevitable outcome of reduced funding.

We all appreciate that governments rely on a degree of political spin to make their decisions seem more palatable, but do you seriously expect the community to believe that an ABC Managing Director would deliberately retrench so many staff and downgrade services and programmes if the ABC Budget was adequate?

We expected more of your leadership because you have a responsibility to act on our behalf, as ABC shareholders to enable the ABC to fulfil parliamentary approved obligations under its Charter. The Federal Government acts as caretaker of all our national institutions and in this regard the ABC ranks highly with the Parliament and the High Court in protecting the interests of all Australians.

Chair of the ABC Board, Ita Buttrose has consistently tried to work with you and your Communications Minister, Paul Fletcher, to get a realistic re-assessment of the ABC Budget to meet the demands of a changing media environment and national emergencies. Yet these genuine efforts by both Board and Management have been repeatedly ignored. Furthermore, there has been a quite calculated misrepresentation of budgetary analysis since 2014 assuming that official promotion of fake news will provide an effective distraction from the reality of past and current government decision making, which has resulted in an ongoing 10% budget reduction.

Over the past six years the ABC has been the target of funding cuts, various enquiries, political attack and even a police raid. You can not be surprised that Australians are outraged about the latest announcement this week which will culminate in further job losses, valued services and Australian content. You regularly advocate protection of jobs and your COVID-19 employment protection initiatives are admirable. Yet successive Coalition administrations have caused the loss of 1250 ABC professional staff.

Can you explain to us why you are so determined to downgrade the ABC, which is a valued national treasure supported by over 80% of Australians? We understand that you are regularly lobbied by the Murdoch American News Empire and other commercial media interests, which are ideologically opposed to public broadcasting. Furthermore, we know that some members of your cabinet are members of the Institute of Public Affairs, which advocates privatisation of the ABC. However, ABC Friends would respectfully remind you that, as Prime Minister, your first loyalty is to the Australian people and our public institutions.

As a national organisation we have been overwhelmed by expressions of public concern about the way the ABC is being treated. So many comments express ongoing frustration that many of our elected representatives seem incapable of recognising the ABC as an essential public service on which Australians depend. We have received hundreds of letters and comments which we will be collating for public release, but here is just one example to offer you some insight into how Australians feel about the continued assault on the ABC.

“I am shocked, then saddened, then disgusted, then outraged by the governments attack on the ABC. The Federal Government should be creating jobs instead of destroying high quality ‘clever country’ jobs. Prime Minister Morrison led a government that was unique in bringing together differing interests across Australia to benefit the nation and lead us out of disaster. But now? The attack on the ABC is a fundamental attack by the Morrison Government on its claim to govern in the national interest.”

We urge you to reconsider your government’s responsibilities to the ABC by conducting immediate meaningful negotiations with the Ms Buttrose and Mr Anderson to plan a way forward to restore ABC funding. This discussion should include a commitment in the October Budget to recognise ABC staff and services as essential in post COVID-19 planning .

We look forward to a fresh approach to public broadcasting policy and can assure you such commitment will be very much welcomed by the Australian public.

Yours sincerely,

Margaret Reynolds
National President
ABC Friends

P.O.Box 3620
Manuka ACT 2603[]


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Radio Waves: Deep ABC Cuts, Ham Radio Saves a Life, SDR Academy Updates, and a new free e-magazine from RASA

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 Michael Bird, Alexander von Obert, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Up to 250 ABC jobs to go, ABC Life brand scrapped, flagship radio news bulletin dumped to tackle $84 million budget cut (ABC News)

The ABC will axe up to 250 jobs and cut programming as it deals with budget cuts of $84 million.

Managing director David Anderson said a flagship radio news bulletin would go, the ABC Life lifestyle portal would be rebranded, and programs would be reviewed as part of a major overhaul of the national broadcaster.

There will also be cuts to travel and to spending on television productions, as the organisation moves to become more relevant to more Australians and better reflect community diversity, he said.

Mr Anderson said the redundancies and savings would affect every division across the ABC.

“We anticipate we may farewell as many as 250 colleagues through this process,” he told staff in a briefing.

The News division is set to lose about 70 staff, the Entertainment and Specialist division 53 staff and the Regional and Local division 19.

Mr Anderson said there would be changes to executive staffing, but did not offer any details.

And he said the organisation would aim to have 75 per cent of its content-makers based outside its Sydney headquarters by 2025.

The ABC had already flagged that it would shed about 250 jobs due to a three-year funding indexation pause announced by the Federal Government in 2018.

Mr Anderson said the flagship 7:45am radio news bulletins would end, and be replaced by a five-minute bulletin at 8:00am. A 10-minute bulletin at 7:00am will remain.

The changes include:

  • ABC Life will become ABC Local and have a “broader editorial direction”
  • The travel budget will be cut by 25 per cent
  • Spending on external and independent television productions will be cut by $5 million a year
  • The ABC Comedy television channel will be rebranded to cater for a broader array of programs and content
  • Leasing of space at the ABC’s Sydney headquarters will be explored
  • TV and radio broadcast channels will remain, but transmission cuts have been flagged for future years[]

Ham Radio Saving A Life Locally! (Western Massachusetts ARRL)

On Tuesday, June 15, Alden Sumner Jones IV, KC1JWR, was hiking on the southern part of the Appalachian trail in Vermont (it’s also been reported as being on the Long Trail) with his cousins at around 12:30 PM. Alden started feeling light headed, his pulse was racing and the next thing he remembers is waking up with an EMT named Dave, from AMR out of Springfield, MA, who was hiking and saw Alden go down. Alden had suffered seizures. It was later determined that this was caused by low blood sugar. Dave attempted to call 911 on his cell phone. He could connect, but the 911 operator couldn’t understand him. At this point, Alden pulled out his HT ham radio, a BaoFeng.

He made contact through the K1FFK repeater. This repeater is located on Mt. Greylock on 146.91. The repeater is owned and maintained by the Northern Berkshire Amateur Radio Club. The initial call went out just before the Cycle 1 of the Western Massachusetts Traffic Net. Ron Wonderlick, AG1W, took the call. Alden initially asked if the 911 call went through. Ron began an eight hour process of acting as a relay between Alden, the emergency crews and various others.

The Traffic Net was truncated and the frequency was cleared by Peter Mattice, KD2JKV, who also stood by as a backup for Ron. KC1JPU, Matthew Sacco, was also monitoring and after a short consultation with Ron & Peter, proceeded to head to the staging area where the Fire and EMS crews were going to come from.[]

Software Defined Radio Academy 2020 Update (Markus Heller)

Dear ARRL recipients,

this year’s Software Defined Radio Academy is going to take place during the next weekend on June 27 / 28. We have now finalized the programme.

Since we decided very early in March that we’d organize an online strategy, we were not grounded by Corona. Using YouTube and our video conferencing system, we were able to organize a rich SDRA conference with speakers from all over the world.

Since this year’s European GNURadio Days conference in Besancon, France, could not take place either, we were asked to give their speakers a stage. This is the reason why we have a specially strong GNURadio focus.

With such a rich programme, we decided to span the talks over two days and start in the European afternoon, so that we could give our overseas audience a chance to participate live.

The mode is this: Even though all the talks are pre-recorded, the speakers will attend in the video conferencing system and respond to questions that come in through the YouTube channel. This way we can maintain a certain degree of interaction, which is important for any kind of scientific conference.

Here is the programme:
https://2020.sdra.io/pages/programme.html
and here is our YouTube stream URL:
https://youtube.sdra.io

We will start on Saturday 27 at 12:30 UTC+2
and on Sunday June 28 at 13:00 UTC+2.

For those of you who understand German, please note that this year’s HAMRADIO conference will also go online. We have worked hard in the past two months to record 65 hours of talks and discussions. Here is the HAMRADIO programme, which the SDRA is part of:

https://www.darc.de/fileadmin/filemounts/gs/oeffentlichskeitsarbeit/Veranstaltungen/HAMRADIOnline/HAMOnline_Sendeplan.pdf

QTC e-magazine (RASA via the Southgate ARC)

RASA is pleased to announce the release of a new E-magazine for Amateur Radio in Australia.  The magazine, QTC, named after the Q-code “I have a message for you” will be published every two months.

We’ll be renaming our regular email bulletins QTC-Lite and they’ll be aligned with the release of our fortnightly Podcast.

In this first issue of QTC, we have news and updates about regulations, and information on our 60m submission in response to the ACMA’s Consultation paper.  There’s a “Getting started” regular column, with this issue covering HF DX-ing.  There’s also a regular column on how you can deal with QRM and RFI in your shack.  This month we have a feature technical article on 3-Phase Power Converters.

Click here to download the first issue of QTC.


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Radio Waves: Chelmsford Radio at 100 Years, First Broadcast Station Site, Alfred Vail, and News Executives Purged from VOA

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 John Hoad, Bruce Atchison, and David Korchin for the following tips:


Chelmsford celebrates 100 years of radio with a play (Radio Today)

The city of Chelmsford is celebrating its status as ‘the birthplace of radio’ 100 years ago today with a special live stream of a new play about the Marconi Company tests of 1920.

Britain’s first ever radio entertainment broadcast took place on 15 June 1920, and featured two arias by Australian operatic tenor Dame Nellie Melba, one of most famous singers of the late Victoria era. The broadcast from the Marconi Factory was heard all over Europe and picked up as far away as Canada.

To mark the milestone, Chelmsford City Theatre is streaming a radio play The Power Behind the Microphone: The First Live Radio Entertainment Broadcast about the original broadcast, 100 years to the minute at 7.10pm this evening. International opera star Anna Steiger will recreate the concert given by Madame Melba as part of a radio play based on the story of that fateful night and the breakthroughs that made it possible.[]

Site of the World’s First Radio Broadcasting Station (Atlas Obscura)

Three plaques mark the spot where the “forgotten father of broadcasting” worked.

CHARLES “DOC” HERROLD WAS A pioneer. After founding his College of Engineering and Wireless in 1909 inside the Garden City Bank building at 50 West San Fernando Street in San Jose, California, he launched the world’s first radio broadcasting station, which beamed music, news, and notably, advertising to listeners on a regular basis.

Herrold and his team at Station FN, which included his own wife, the world’s first female disc jockey, epitomized the mantra of many a Silicon Valley startup today: “move fast and break things.” His early transmitting devices burned out one after the other, and Herrold had to use a water-cooled microphone. He stole wattage from San Jose’s street car line to power his innovative “Arc Fone” transmitter, and cut a deal with a local store to play records on a Victrola that he would point at the microphone.[]

Morse’s Partner Argued He Invented Famous Code—to No A-Vail (HistoryNet.com)

Alfred Vail came up with dots and dashes, but Patent Office gave credit to Samuel Morse, the better known inventor

In 1887, 18 years after his father’s death, Stephen Vail took up metaphorical arms to claim Alfred Vail’s place as a key figure in communications history. Starting a war of words that would last decades and end with a declaration carved into stone, the younger Vail bombarded newspaper editors with letters. Alfred Vail’s son insisted that his dad had invented the dot-and-dash system used in telegraphy and known to all, and most gallingly to the younger man, as “Morse” code.

Before telegraphy, the United States had been more a collection of outposts than a nation—when a treaty ended the War of 1812, word from peace talks in Europe between Britain and the United States took so long to creep across the Atlantic that two weeks after the signatures on the peace treaty had dried British and American troops were fighting the Battle of New Orleans. Until telegraphy arrived for good in 1844, information traveled no faster than horses could gallop, trains could roll, or ships could sail. News from Boston reached San Francisco and vice versa by traveling aboard vessels that had to round South America’s southern tip. Only dreamers spoke of rails crossing North America or a canal traversing the Isthmus of Panama. []

Trump administration purges news execs from U.S. agency meant to counter disinformation, leaving staff fearing more to come (CBS News)

The overnight purge of top news organization officials at the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM) has raised concern among its federal government employees and reporters that their jobs, immigration status, and editorial independence may soon be at risk following the arrival of new CEO Michael Pack.

Pack, who is a conservative filmmaker and close ally of one-time Trump adviser Steve Bannon, and had just stepped into the job after being confirmed by the Republican-led Senate earlier this month, did not respond to a request by CBS News for comment or explanation.

“Pack uses deep state language. Is Bannon calling the shots?”

A USAGM source said this is the question being pondered by executives and journalists inside the organization now.

Four news division heads were removed from their positions, including Middle East Broadcasting Network chief Alberto Fernandez, who is a former US Ambassador, Radio Free Asia’s Bay Fang, Emilio Vazquez of the office of Cuba Broadcasting, and Radio Liberty’s Jamie Fly. Replacements have yet to be named.

Steve Capus, the former CBS and NBC News executive who had been serving as a senior advisor, was also dismissed. Earlier this week, the top director and deputy director at Voice of America resigned as did the head of the Open Technology Fund Libby Liu, which promotes global internet freedoms.[]


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Radio Waves: RIP Dame Vera Lynn, 1928 London Noises, Repoliticizing VOA, and Shortwave Trading At the Speed of Light

Dame Vera Lynn (1917-2020)

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, Dennis Dura, David Goren, and Kim Elliott for the following tips:


Obituary: Dame Vera Lynn, a symbol of resilience and hope (BBC News)

Dame Vera Lynn, who has died at the age of 103, was Britain’s wartime Forces’ Sweetheart, and remained one of the country’s most potent symbols of resilience and hope.

With songs such as We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover, she inspired both troops abroad and civilians at home during World War Two.

As Britain’s cities came under attack, her wistful songs, with their messages of yearning and optimism, were heard in millions of British homes.

And 75 years later, the country turned to her once again as it faced another stern test.[]

Click here to read our SWLing Post tribute to Dame Vera Lynn from 2015 which includes a recording made from my Scott Marine Model SLRM.

London street noises 1928 (Sound and History)

THERE ARE NO BBC radio recordings surviving from before 1931, so the job of representing the 1920s falls to this curiosity from the Columbia Graphophone Company. It’s a 12” 78rpm disc made in 1928 in association with the Daily Mail newspaper.

It seems likely that the disc was somehow tied in with a Daily Mail campaign over urban traffic noise. The commentator on both sides of the disc is a man named Commander Daniel and he doesn’t approve of everything he hears in the city streets.

The recordings were made from single, static locations in Leicester Square and Beauchamp Place on Tuesday 11th and Thursday 20th September respectively. Columbia probably used a recording van equipped with a disc-cutter.[]

Repoliticizing Voice of America (The Hill)

When Michael Pack takes over as the first politically-appointed CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, his first task will be to comprehend the bewildering array of international broadcasting entities under the USAGM. This includes two government agencies: Voice of America and Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí), and four government funded corporations: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting Networks (the Arabic-language Alhurra and Radio Sawa) and the anti-censorship Open Technology Fund. Within this structure are broadcasting outlets that straddle two entities, such as the Russian-language Current TV. All told, the entities distribute content in 61 languages.

When past that hurdle, Pack must then decide if he wants to maintain the journalistic independence of USAGM’s entities, or if he wants to move them towards advocacy of the administration’s policies.[]

Companies Pitch Shortwave Radio to Shave Milliseconds Off Trades (Bloomberg)

High-frequency traders will famously do almost anything to get the latest market data and send their buy and sell orders a few milliseconds ahead of the competition. They blasted through mountains to build the most direct fiber-optic routes possible between exchanges in a competition that transformed global markets and was made famous by Michael Lewis’s book Flash Boys. Soon, pinging light through glass fiber at more than 124,000 miles per second wasn’t fast enough—the glass slows things down—so traders moved on to microwave transmitters that send signals through the air.

But that has problems, too. Microwaves travel only roughly as far as the eye can see before they peter out and need a signal boost. Now two rival market telecommunications companies have signed a pact that they say will give traders more access to experimental wireless signals which can travel across oceans.

To do that, signals need a longer wavelength—known as a shortwave rather than microwave—that bounces between the water and atmosphere. It’s an imperfect solution. The waves can handle only a fraction of the data that fiber can, carrying about a kilobit per second vs. gigabits. And some signals can be lost.

Raft Technologies Inc., a startup based in Tel Aviv, says the trade-offs are worth it. Raft says it can send data over shortwave from Chicago to Frankfurt in 31.4 milliseconds, which it says is about 4.5 milliseconds faster than the best available fiber route. That’s an eternity in an industry that tends to measure improvements by the thousandth of a millisecond. The company says the signal is about 85% reliable, compared with 100% for fiber. Clients can use a fiber line in parallel as a fail-safe measure.[]


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Radio Waves: Free Foundation License Course, More Titanic Radio, CQD, and ARRL Field Day Waivers

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, Mark Hist and Ulis Fleming for the following tips:


Register now for free Amateur Radio Foundation Online training course (Southgate ARC)

The next free amateur radio Foundation Online training course run by volunteers from Essex Ham starts on Sunday, June 7

The Coronavirus outbreak and the RSGB’s introduction of online exams that can be taken at home has led to a surge in demand for free online amateur radio training courses such as that run by Essex Ham.

These courses have been very popular and early registration is advised. 313 people took the course that started on May 3 and a further 235 are on the course that started on May 17.

You can find out more about online training and register to join a course at
https://www.essexham.co.uk/train/foundation-online/

Essex Ham
https://www.essexham.co.uk/
https://twitter.com/EssexHam

US court grants permission to recover Marconi telegraph from Titanic wreckage (ARS Technica)

But NOAA is fiercely opposed to the controversial salvage mission.

When RMS Titanic struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912, crew members sent out numerous distress signals to any other ships in the vicinity using what was then a relatively new technology: a Marconi wireless telegraph system. More than 1,500 passengers and crew perished when the ship sank a few hours later. Now, in what is likely to be a controversial decision, a federal judge has approved a salvage operation to retrieve the telegraph from the deteriorating wreckage, The Boston Globe has reported.

Lawyers for the company RMS Titanic Inc.—which owns more than 5,000 artifacts salvaged from the wreck—filed a request in US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, arguing that the wireless telegraph should be salvaged because the ship’s remains are likely to collapse sometime in the next several years, rendering “the world’s most famous radio” inaccessible. US District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith concurred in her ruling, noting that salvaging the telegraph “will contribute to the legacy left by the indelible loss of the Titanic, those who survived, and those who gave their lives in the sinking.”

However, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is fiercely opposed to the salvage mission. The agency argues in court documents that the telegraph should be left undisturbed, since it is likely to be surrounded “by the mortal remains of more than 1500 people.” Judge Smith countered in her decision that the proposed expedition meets international requirements: for instance, it is justified on scientific and cultural grounds and has taken into account any potential damage to the wreck.[]

Why Titanic’s first call for help wasn’t an SOS signal (National Geographic)

When RMS Titanic set sail in 1912, it was blessed and cursed with the latest in communication technology—the wireless telegraph. In the last hours after Titanic hit an iceberg, radio messages sent from the storied sinking ship summoned a rescue vessel that saved hundreds of people, but also sowed confusion with competing distress calls and signal interference. More than 1,500 people died that fateful night.

Now, a recent court ruling may pave the way to the recovery of Titanic’s telegraph, designed by Guglielmo Marconi, a telecommunications pioneer and 1909 Nobel Prize winner in physics who invented the first device to facilitate wireless communications using radio waves.

[…]Despite the limitations of the Marconi telegraph—and the fact that it wasn’t intended to be used as an emergency device—Titanic was outfitted with a radio room and a Marconi-leased telegraph machine. Two young Marconi-employed operators, chief telegraphist Jack Phillips and his assistant Harold Bride, sent Morse code “Marconigrams” on behalf of Titanic’s well-heeled customers 24 hours a day during its maiden voyage in April 1912.

Both Marconi’s technology monopoly and the torrent of personal messages conveyed through Titanic’s telegraph proved fatal on that April night. Phillips was so overwhelmed by a queue of incoming and outgoing guest telegrams —one Titanic passenger wanted to “notify all interested” about an upcoming poker game in Los Angeles—that he didn’t pass on messages about the ice threatening Titanic’s ocean environs. When a nearby vessel, SS Californian, telegraphed that it was already surrounded by ice, Phillips testily responded “Shut up! I am busy.”

Once Titanic hit the iceberg, Phillips tone shifted and he used the Marconi distress signal: “CQD.”[]

Temporary Rule Waivers Announced for 2020 ARRL Field Day (ARRL News)

With one month to go before 2020 ARRL Field Day, June 27 – 28, the ARRL Programs and Services Committee (PSC) has adopted two temporary rule waivers for the event:

1)      For Field Day 2020 only, Class D stations may work all other Field Day stations, including other Class D stations, for points.

Field Day rule 4.6 defines Class D stations as “Home stations,” including stations operating from permanent or licensed station locations using commercial power. Class D stations ordinarily may only count contacts made with Class A, B, C, E, and F Field Day stations, but the temporary rule waiver for 2020 allows Class D stations to count contacts with other Class D stations for QSO credit.

2)      In addition, for 2020 only, an aggregate club score will be published, which will be the sum of all individual entries indicating a specific club (similar to the aggregate score totals used in ARRL affiliated club competitions).

Ordinarily, club names are only published in the results for Class A and Class F entries, but the temporary rule waiver for 2020 allows participants from any Class to optionally include a single club name with their submitted results following Field Day.

For example, if Podunk Hollow Radio Club members Becky, W1BXY, and Hiram, W1AW, both participate in 2020 Field Day — Hiram from his Class D home station, and Becky from her Class C mobile station — both can include the radio club’s name when reporting their individual results. The published results listing will include individual scores for Hiram and Becky, plus a combined score for all entries identified as Podunk Hollow Radio Club.

The temporary rule waivers were adopted by the PSC on May 27, 2020.

ARRL Field Day is one of the biggest events on the amateur radio calendar, with over 36,000 participants in 2019, including entries from 3,113 radio clubs and emergency operations centers. In most years, Field Day is also the largest annual demonstration of ham radio, because many radio clubs organize their participation in public places such as parks and schools.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many radio clubs have made decisions to cancel their group participation in ARRL Field Day this year due to public health recommendations and/or requirements, or to significantly modify their participation for safe social distancing practices. The temporary rule waivers allow greater flexibility in recognizing the value of individual and club participation regardless of entry class.

ARRL is contacting logging program developers about the temporary rule waivers so developers can release updated versions of their software prior to Field Day weekend. Participants are reminded that the preferred method of submitting entries after Field Day is via the web applet. The ARRL Field Day rules include instructions for submitting entries after the event. Entries must be submitted or postmarked by Tuesday, July 28, 2020.

The ARRL Field Day web page includes a series of articles with ideas and advice for adapting participation this year.[]


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