Tag Archives: Radio

Free Advice: Stop worrying about solar minimums and just play radio!

Lately we’ve been getting some pretty dismal news about the upcoming solar cycles and the potential for a pretty dismal trend according to some researchers.

We report this news on the SWLing Post because the sun and space weather play an important role in radio signal propagation and one’s ability to snag elusive DX.

After publishing news items like this, though, I always receive a number of emails and comments stating that these trends surely marks the end of all radio fun. After all, if there are no sun spots whatsoever, why bother!?!

Truth is, it’s sort of like saying, “the weather looks lousy, I don’t think I’ll be able to have fun.”

I lived in the UK for several years. If I let the potential for lousy weather stop me from having fun, I’d have never gotten anything done!

The same goes for space weather in our radio world.

A couple weeks ago, I made a Parks On The Air (POTA) activation running 15 watts with the Elecraft KX3 into a simple 20 meter vertical in SSB mode.  Even though propagation was poor, I logged a new contact, on average, once per minute over the course of 30 minutes! It was non-stop!

The GE 7-2990A (left) and Panasonic RF-B65 (right)

I also listened to the Midwinter Broadcast to Antarctica with two portable radios. Propagation was poor and I didn’t even use an external antenna…but I caught the broadcast and had a load of fun hanging out on the Blue Ridge Parkway!

My advice?

As I said in a post last year, use the sunspot low as an excuse to explore frequencies and modes you’ve never used before. Use this as an opportunity to improve your listening skills and the most important part of your listening post or ham station–your antenna system!

I often receive email from people who’ve found the SWLing Post and take the time to write a message to me complaining about the death of shortwave radio: the lack of broadcasters, the prevalence of radio interference and the crummy propagation. They wonder, “is it all worth it?”

My reply?

“Hey…sounds like radio’s not your thing!”

While this same person is moaning and complaining, I’ll be on the radio logging South American, Asian and African broadcast stations.

I’ll be working DX with QRP power, even though everyone tells me that’s not possible right now.

I’ll be improving my skill set and trying new aspects of our vast radio world.

You see: I’ve learned that the complainers aren’t actually on the air. They gave up many moons ago because someone told them it wasn’t worth it, or they simply lost interest. That’s okay…seriously…but why waste time complaining? Go find something else that lights your fire!

While these folks are complaining, I’ll be on the air doing all of the things they tell me I can’t do.

In the words of Admiral David Farragut: “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”

Go out there and play radio!

Spread the radio love

Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) rebranded as U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM)

(Source: BBG/USAGM Press Release)

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22, 2018

John Lansing (Source: BBG)

Effective immediately, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), an independent U.S. government agency that employs thousands of talented journalists, storytellers, and media professionals, is now the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM).

The U.S. Agency for Global Media is a modern media organization, operating far beyond the traditional broadcast mediums of television and radio to include digital and mobile platforms. The term “broadcasting” does not accurately describe what we do. The new name reflects our modernization and forward momentum while honoring our enduring mission to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.

We recognize the overdue need to communicate the evolving, global scope of our work as well as our renewed, urgent focus on the agency’s global priorities, which reflect U.S. national security and public diplomacy interests. USAGM is an independent federal agency that provides accurate, professional, and objective news and information around-the-globe in a time of shifting politics, challenging media landscapes, and weaponized information. Our identity and name will now address these realities.

The decision to change our name was a result of thorough research and extensive consultation with numerous internal and external stakeholders, including the BBG Board of Governors, agency staff and leadership at all levels, the five networks, Congress, the Administration, and interagency colleagues.

As with the BBG, the U.S. Agency for Global Media encompasses five networks: the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Television and Radio Martí), Radio Free Asia (RFA), and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN). These networks collectively reach an unduplicated weekly audience of 278 million people in 59 languages and in more than 100 countries. Insulated by a firewall from political influence, these networks will continue to deliver truth and professional journalism to people living in some of the world’s most closed societies.

Now more than ever, people around the world need access to the truth. USAGM continues to tell the truth, and illuminate the world like no other news organization in the world.

Video: Lansing On USAGM

Click here to view on YouTube.

Learn more about U.S. Agency for Global Media 

For more information

Nasserie Carew

US Agency for Global Media Public Affairs

202-203-4400

publicaffairs@bbg.gov

Spread the radio love

Australia: Research shows radio has special appeal to older listeners

(Source: RadioInfo via William Lee)

Dr Amanda Krause, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions and the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne, is currently exploring the listening habits of older Australians.

With the country’s aging population rapidly growing, Dr Krause became interested in the link between listening and wellbeing.

Dr Krause found that people not only have strong preferences for radio programming from talkback to different music genres, but that the listener can also have a strong connection with some presenters.

“I think it is the human connection, that it is the voice.”[…]

Read more at: https://www.radioinfo.com.au/news/radio-older-aussies-it-has-special-place-their-hearts

Spread the radio love

BBC reporter discovers radio tuning has become a lost art

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors, Michael Taniwha and Mark Hirst, who share this link to a video at the BBC where a reporter quickly discovers that many can’t find BBC Radio 1 or even tune a radio.

Click here to view.

It’s hard for a radio enthusiast to believe, but there is little reason for a millennial, for example, to ever tune a portable radio. Many have only ever connected with radio via their smart phone, computer, or other Internet appliance. Tuning, in a sense, is a foreign concept. And the irony is, me for, tuning is the fun part!

Spread the radio love

Variety: Legacy Radio “Faces a Grim Future”

(Source: Variety)

Traditional Radio Faces a Grim Future, New Study Says

A new study published today by the head of New York University’s Steinhart Music Business Program casts a sobering outlook on the future of terrestrial radio.

In the 30-page report, Larry Miller argues that traditional radio has failed to engage with Generation Z — people born after 1995 — and that its influence and relevance will continue to be subsumed by digital services unless it upgrades. Key points made in the study include:

*Generation Z, which is projected to account for 40% of all consumers in the U.S. by 2020, shows little interest in traditional media, including radio, having grown up in an on-demand digital environment;

*AM/FM radio is in the midst of a massive drop-off as a music-discovery tool by younger generations, with self-reported listening to AM/FM radio among teens aged 13 and up declining by almost 50 percentage points between 2005 and 2016. Music discovery as a whole is moving away from AM/FM radio and toward YouTube, Spotify and Pandora, especially among younger listeners, with 19% of a 2017 study of surveyed listeners citing it as a source for keeping up-to-date with music — down from 28% the previous year. Among 12-24 year olds who find music discovery important, AM/FM radio (50%) becomes even less influential, trailing YouTube (80%), Spotify (59%), and Pandora (53%).

*By 2020, 75% of new cars are expected to be “connected” to digital services, breaking radio’s monopoly on the car dashboard and relegating AM/FM to just one of a series of audio options behind the wheel. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the typical car in the U.S. was 11.6 years old in 2016, which explains why radio has not yet faced its disruption event. However, drivers are buying new cars at a faster rate than ever, and new vehicles come with more installed options for digital music services.[…]

Continue reading at Variety online…

Spread the radio love

Radio: “One of history’s most important inventions”

(Source: CNN)

There are few more important inventions in the history of the world than the radio.

While in recent years it may have become less popular than television or the internet, it could be argued that the radio was the first electronic gadget to play a prominent part in people’s lives.

Radio is where the world first heard Britain declare war on Germany, where Orson Welles accidentally fooled the public into believing a real alien invasion was under way in his “War Of The Worlds” serial and where young people first heard Billy Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock,” spreading popular music around the world.

But it is not just an aural medium. Like all important pieces of technology, design has had an essential part to play in its evolution.[…]

Continue reading the full article on CNN’s website…

Spread the radio love

Rabbit Ears: Millennials discover an amazing (and totally free!) TV “hack”

I find this article intriguing on many levels; what’s more, I find that it’s not really an exaggeration. My comments follow…

(Source: The Wall Street Journal)

Cord-cutters accustomed to watching shows online are often shocked that $20 ‘rabbit ears’ pluck signals from the air; is this legal?

Dan Sisco has discovered a technology that allows him to access half a dozen major TV channels, completely free.

“I was just kind of surprised that this is technology that exists,” says Mr. Sisco, 28 years old. “It’s been awesome. It doesn’t log out and it doesn’t skip.”

Let’s hear a round of applause for TV antennas, often called “rabbit ears,” a technology invented roughly seven decades ago, long before there was even a cord to be cut, which had been consigned to the technology trash can along with cassette tapes and VCRs.

The antenna is mounting a quiet comeback, propelled by a generation that never knew life before cable television, and who primarily watch Netflix , Hulu and HBO via the internet. Antenna sales in the U.S. are projected to rise 7% in 2017 to nearly 8 million units, according to the Consumer Technology Association, a trade group.[…]

Carlos Villalobos, 21, who was selling tube-shaped digital antennas at a swap meet in San Diego recently, says customers often ask if his $20 to $25 products are legal. “They don’t trust me when I say that these are actually free local channels,” he says.[…]

Almost a third of Americans (29%) are unaware local TV is available free, according to a June survey by the National Association of Broadcasters, an industry trade group.[…]

Read the full article in The Wall Street Journal.

Obviously, this WSJ article draws our attention to the fact that those who were raised in the Internet age (and in that of cable and satellite TV) who were never exposed to over-the-air (OTA) television,  never even realized it existed. For those of us who grew up with silver rabbit ears sprouting out of the TV set, it seem incredible that this technology should be unknown to many. I love how the WSJ frames OTA TV as a “hack.” I suppose to some millennials, it is just that. And a fully-legal one, at that. Who knew?

The move from analog to digital TV broadcasts seems to have confused a lot of people, too. Indeed, one of my family members approached me a few years ago complaining about the rising costs of satellite TV. Though she was raised in the era of OTA TV, she had no clue that a simple, inexpensive set of rabbit ears would deliver no less than eight TV stations with multiple sub-channels, most of which originate from a large city sixty miles away.  And of course, she was delighted to re-discover this was possible.

One of my younger friends was gobsmacked to find that a $20 set of rabbit ears delivered higher-definition TV than the signal from his $200+/month satellite subscription. He has a very large flat-screen TV and loves live sports. Some of his favorite games are available on the major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) all of which are easy catches with a set of rabbit ears where he lives. My $20 suggestion changed his world…and saved him (big) bucks.

And of course, Post readers, many of whom are radio geeks, are all about grabbing signals out of the air!

Perhaps shortwave radio is an a more extreme example of of forgotten (yet fun) technology, since it’s well-removed from popular culture now. After all, you can walk into any big-box retailer to pick up an antenna for your TV, but in such environments, shortwave radios are truly an endangered species.

I receive a phenomenal amount of inquiries from people of all ages who have only recently discovered shortwave radio. Many are self-described hackers, as well as preppers, pirate radio enthusiasts, travelers, off-grid buffs, and listeners who’ve recently discovered the strange and inexplicable world of numbers stations.

Shortwave radio has become an “underground” pursuit for many of these people––and somehow remains a well-kept secret, despite my role as a public and highly-vocal evangelist for the medium.

Still, in a world where we must assume any “connected” device monitors our viewing/listening habits, our movements, and not to mention, our personal preferences, I would say, yes––there is definitely “underground” appeal to all things over-the-air. It’s less complicated, inexpensive, accessible, provides anonymity, and often of higher quality…admirable attributes, in my world. Not to mention (unless you are a radio pirate, of course), it’s perfectly legal.

So, young media hounds, allow me to introduce you to a “secret” hack you might like, too––  shortwave.  Have a listen…but take care:  you, too, may find yourself drawn in to the mysterious and alluring world of the free and nearly forgotten airwaves.  Enjoy…!

Spread the radio love