Managing short wave broadcasts from Ascension Island
Radio World reports on the remote Atlantic Relay Station that transmits critical radio broadcasts to millions in Africa and beyond
A six-mile stretch of volcanic rock in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean is home to the BBC’s Atlantic Relay Station.
Now managed and operated by Encompass Digital Media on behalf of the BBC World Service, the stations’ six powerful shortwave transmitters on Ascension Island beam program in a dozen or more languages to some 30 million listeners in north, west and central Africa.
The shortwave transmitters include two 250 kW Marconi BD272 transmitters originally installed in 1966 (and still in daily use) and four 250 kW RIZ K01 transmitters, which are also capable of transmitting in Digital Radio mode.
Read the Radio World story at
(Source: Radio World via Michael Bird)
The nation becomes world’s leading Digital Radio Mondiale shortwave broadcaster in just one year
BEIJING — It appears as if China has jumped into Digital Radio Mondiale shortwave broadcasting with both feet. Some DRM infrastructure has been in place for over a decade, but up until recently had only been sporadically tested.
Just over a year ago, China had no regular DRM presence. Today, it is the world’s largest DRM shortwave broadcaster. China operates the most DRM transmitters in this band and has the most extensive schedule.
The initial broadcasts started in early 2018 from Beijing. Services continued to rollout over the year via various transmitter sites, often on the country’s periphery.
A DRM shortwave transmitter in Beijing targets north China almost 24 hours a day. A second Beijing transmitter targets east China for eight hours a day.
Another transmitter in Ürümqi in the country’s west targets central and east China for 14 hours a day, while a transmitter in Qiqihar, Heilongjiang province (the Manchurian plain), is on more than 11 hours a day and reaches south and southwest China. Dongfang on Hainan Island province is on eight hours a day on two frequencies for both north and southeast China. Finally, the DRM shortwave transmitter located in Kunming in the Yunnan province is on eight hours daily for south China. There is now a DRM network providing nationwide coverage.
By comparison All India Radio has 11.5 hours a day of shortwave time coming from a single transmitter. The Indian broadcaster has as many as three more DRM-capable shortwave transmitters but they are not on air at present. India does operate 38 AM (medium wave) transmitters for its domestic network, however.[…]
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Alan Hughes, who shares this article by WRMI’s Jeff White in Radio World magazine. Besides covering updates in the A19 broadcast season, and Radio Exterior de España’s increased broadcasts, Jeff notes frequencies and updates for the International Radio for Disaster Relief initiative.
For more information about the IRDR, check out the information below taken from this page on the HFCC website:
International Radio for Disaster Relief (IRDR)
Humanitarian Aspects of HFCC Activities
From its infancy since 1920s shortwave radio has been associated with its potential of being a communication tool in emergencies. This use of shortwave radio is still very much present among amateur radio enthusiasts for example, who discovered its long distance properties early in the twentieth century. Amateur radio provides a means of communication on shortwaves and other frequencies “when all else fails”. This role of amateur radio is well recognised, valued and appreciated both by the public and by the world institutions managing and regulating the use of the radio spectrum.
In contrast the huge technical potential of international shortwave broadcasting that operates transmitter facilities tens, or hundred times, more powerful than those of amateur radio, remains almost unused in emergencies. At the moment when local and even regional communication and information networks are needed most, they are destroyed or overloaded and the population suffers from an information blackout. Shortwave radio is capable of remaining the only source of information.
Although the life-saving role of radio broadcasting is widely recognised by the public, and confirmed by surveys conducted after the recent disasters – and even acknowledged by world leaders – no concrete projects have been ever designed and no regulatory framework has been developed.
That is why the HFCC – International Broadcasting Delivery in co-operation with the Arab States and Asia-Pacific broadcasting unions are working on an International Radio for Disaster Relief (IRDR) project that is based on the system of online co-ordination of frequencies managed by the HFCC in accordance with International Radio Regulations.
The HFCC is aware of the humanitarian aspects of international broadcasting. It pointed out in 2012 – as the UNESCO partner for the preparation of the World Radio Day – that terrestrial shortwave radio in particular is still considered as a powerful communication and information tool during emergency situations. Read more >>
Receivers are inexpensive and require no access fees. Shortwave radio is important for people living in remote and isolated regions of the world. It reaches across the digital divide to the most disadvantaged and marginalised societies. This is also in keeping with the Declaration and Action Plan of the World Summit on the Information Society.
The annual edition of the World Disasters Report of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) issued in October 2013 stressed again that with only 6 percent of people in low-income countries using the internet in 2011 the digital divide is still stark, and access to low cost media technology is really the key.
The HFCC is a strong advocate for incorporating terrestrial broadcasting permanently on the disaster risk reduction agendas of the ITU and other UN agencies and institutions. It submitted two documents for the ITU-R Working Party 6A November 2013 meeting:
Both documents are annexes in Section 8 of the ITU-R Study Group 6 Report BT.2266 “Broadcasting for public warning, disaster mitigation and relief”. The report can be downloaded via this link.
A workshop was held during the November 2013 meeting addressing these issues. The web site of the Emergency Broadcasting Workshop can be accessed here. The web site also contains copies of all the presentations that were made at the workshop, and a Video interview with Christoph Dosch, Chairman of ITU-R Study Group 6 (Broadcasting service)
The HFCC has applied for membership in the CDAC (Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities) Network in keeping with the conclusion of the debate on emergency communication during the Bratislava B13 Conference. Read more >>
The HFCC is staying in touch with the Information and Communication Sector of the UNESCO agency on the preparation of the World Radio Days that are celebrated each year on February 13th.
Humanitarian aspects of terrestrial broadcasting were also on the agenda of the Global Kuala Lumpur conference in January 2014. Read Opening Remarks.
Many thanks to a number of SWLing Post contributors who’ve shared a link to this excellent article by Denny Sanders in Radio World Magazine about the history of the Zenith Transoceanic:
Zenith Trans-Oceanic Radio in War and Peace
This iconic portable receiver was known for durability and quality
They say necessity is the mother of invention. Nothing proves this more than the story of how the iconic Zenith Trans-Oceanic portable radio receiver came into existence.
Commander Eugene McDonald (1886–1958), the founder of Zenith Radio, was a stickler for quality and insisted that any Zenith product represented cutting edge technology and design integrity.
He was also an accomplished yachtsman. During his many ocean voyages, he constantly was frustrated with the inability of any portable commercial radio set to perform reliably at sea. In about 1939, he ordered the Zenith R&D department to come up with a rock-solid, portable AM receiver sensitive enough to pull in signals from great distances. He insisted that the radio be a multi-band unit including shortwave, marine and aircraft bands.
The Zenith crew came up with a gem: the Trans-Oceanic, a gorgeous piece of engineering housed in a robust and dramatic cabinet designed by the brilliant Zenith industrial designer Robert Davol Budlong.[…]
(Source: Radio World via Mike Hansgen)
LONDON — The BBC World Service, available on radio, TV and online, is part of one of the largest news organization in the world, the BBC.
The weekly reach of the World Service on all platforms accounted for 269 million (up from 246 million in 2015–16).
[…]Large numbers of the BBC’s audience still need international radio broadcasts.
[…]Right from its late ’90s inception, the development of Digital Radio Mondiale was fully supported and enhanced by the BBC World Service. DRM was seen as an efficient replacement for the analog AM transmissions. When we consider scarcity of spectrum for new uses and appreciate the characteristics of the radio broadcast bands, we recognize the tremendous properties these continue to offer broadcasters to deliver programs over sometimes very large distances and areas or in difficult terrain.
[…]The BBC is keen to exploit DRM in order to deliver, to key markets, BBC content free of gatekeepers in a form that can be accessed easily.
For that to be possible, the multi-standard receiver chip is required, and manufacturers must appreciate and act on this global market potential.
(Source: Radio World via Bill Patalon)
When a prominent radio engineer passed along word to Radio World that he’d sought a quote from the manufacturer on a new transmitter but was told the company had discontinued the model and was assessing its AM line, we sought to learn more.
Chief Product Officer Rich Redmond replied: “Recent changes in the long-term availability of critical components from our suppliers, including several last-time buy notices, have caused us to take proactive steps to ensure we can meet our continued support obligation of our AM products,” he said.
“To safeguard our ability to offer an ample supply of spare components — and to secure the ongoing field support of our AM transmitters — GatesAir has taken the responsible step of suspending new AM transmitter sales, and will instead focus on supporting existing customers’ transmitters with our available components.”[…]
Ampegon says it is about to deliver and install its first rotatable shortwave high-power array antenna on the North American continent.
The system, which will be installed WBCQ in the United States, is designed for the transmission of shortwave signals of up to 500 kW, the high-power antenna offers different radiation patterns, an antenna gain of up to 23 dB and uses a technology characterized by a single-shaft structural design.