Tag Archives: RCI Cuts

Radio Waves: Hams Monitor Mars Spacecraft, Open Letter to Strengthen RCI, Pirate Radio Adverts, and WBBR QSL Update

Photo from the RCI Sackville transmitter site in 2012, a few months prior to its closure.

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 Mike, Troy Riedel, David Iurescia, and Bob Janney for the following tips:


Ham Radio Signals From Mars (Spaceweather.com)

Ham radio operators are doing something that until recently only big Deep Space Networks could do. “We’re monitoring spacecraft around Mars,” says Scott Tilley of Roberts Creek, British Columbia, who listened to China’s Tianwen-1 probe go into orbit on Feb. 10th. The signal, which Tilley picked up in his own backyard, was “loud and audible.” Click to listen:

The signal Tilley received from Tianwen-1 is dominated by a strong X-band carrier wave with weaker side bands containing the spacecraft’s state vector (position and velocity). Finding this narrow spike of information among all the possible frequencies of deep space communication was no easy task.

“It was a treasure hunt,” Tilley says. “Normally a mission like this would have its frequency published by the ITU (International Telecommunications Union). China did make a posting, but it was too vague for precise tuning. After Tianwen-1 was launched, observers scanned through 50MHz of spectrum and found the signal. Amateurs have tracked the mission ever since with great accuracy thanks to the decoded state vector from the probe itself.”[]

Open letter to PM, Ministers calls for international service to be strengthened, not cut (RCI Action Committee)

The following open letter was sent February 15, 2021 to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau, and Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault asking them to maintain the integrity of Canada’s Voice to the World, Radio Canada International (RCI).

Thirty-two signatories, including former Prime Minister Joe Clark, former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations Stephen Lewis, author-composer-songwriter-film director Richard Desjardins, author Naomi Klein, and actor Donald Sutherland, ask that the CBC/Radio-Canada policy announcement of December 3, 2020 be blocked, as well as any changes to RCI, until RCI staff, along with an assembled group of qualified people outside CBC/Radio-Canada, can propose a plan to rebuild the international service.

The signatories say the plan should devise a form of financial and editorial autonomy for RCI. And outline a path to follow to restore the international mandate and effectiveness of Radio Canada International in the context of today and the future.

For more information, please contact Wojtek Gwiazda, Spokesperson, RCI Action Committee, wojtekrciaction@gmail.com

If you would like to help us please consult this page:

What you can do – Comment vous pouvez nous aider

http://rciaction.org/blog/what-you-can-do/

Click here to read the Open Letter.

Prominent Canadians rally to save Radio Canada International one more time (Toronto Star)

OTTAWA – A group of prominent Canadians is calling on the CBC to rethink its decision to significantly cut staff and rebrand the globally focused Radio Canada International to focus on domestic news.

Wojtek Gwiazda, spokesman for the group trying to save RCI, says the CBC is planning to cut 13 full-time staff and three contract jobs from a staff of about 20.

They’ve sent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a letter signed by 32 prominent Canadians, including former prime minister Joe Clark, former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations Stephen Lewis, author Naomi Klein and actor Donald Sutherland asking for the decision to be reversed.

Gwiazda says the new CBC policy will focus almost exclusively on producing programming for ethnic communities and the ethnic media inside Canada, instead of directing programming to an international audience.

Gwiazda says the move is a violation of the Broadcasting Act and order-in-council that created RCI in 1945.

In the December memo to RCI staff, the CBC said it was “modernizing” the news service for the 21st century by offering more translated CBC content in new languages such as Punjabi and Tagalog, which is spoken in the Philippines.

“By becoming more relevant, more visible or more widely available in the languages spoken by the largest number of new Canadians, the new offering will allow Radio Canada International to better connect and engage with its target audience. RCI will also make all this content freely available to interested ethnic community media,” says the CBC statement.

RCI is used to fighting for its survival since the CBC cut its shortwave radio service in 2012, which severed the broadcaster from its Chinese audience, said Gwiazda.[]

Save and rave! How a compilation of pirate radio adverts captures a lost Britain (The Guardian)

Fashion boutiques, shop-fitters and others advertised alongside raves on early 1990s pirate radio. Now, a new compilation is rediscovering a slice of the underground

ave you got that record that goes ah-woo-ooo-ooh-yeah-yeah?” It’s a scene familiar to anyone who spent time in a hardcore rave record shop in the 1990s – a punter asking for a tune they’ve heard on pirate radio or at a rave but they don’t know the title of, so they mimic the riff or sample hook hoping someone behind the counter recognises it.

A relic of pre-Shazam life, the ritual is preserved in an advert for Music Power Records aired on the pirate station Pulse FM in 1992. Nick Power, owner of the north London shop, recalls that no matter how mangled the customer’s rendition, “nearly always, you’d be able to identify the exact record they were looking for”. In the advert, Power plays the roles of both sales assistant and punter, pinching his nose to alter his voice. Almost 40 years later, the comic skit commercial has been resurrected alongside others on two volumes of London Pirate Radio Adverts 1984-1993, by audio archivist Luke Owen. Power is pleasantly bemused by this turn of events: “I can’t see there’d be a demand for radio ads, but there’s got to be someone out there who’s interested enough to buy it. I don’t see it being a platinum release, though!”

Released via his label Death Is Not the End, Vol 1 is available digitally at a name-your-price rate and for £7.50 as a limited-edition cassette tape – an echo of the format on which pirate listeners captured transmissions of hardcore and jungle. Back then, most fans pressed pause when the ad break started, which means that surviving documents of the form are relatively scarce. But what once seemed ephemeral and irritating has acquired period charm and collectability.[]

Reception Reports & QSL Cards for WBBR-AM (via Bob Janney)

Good Day Dxers and SWLers

We are pleased when we receive requests to confirm reception of Bloomberg radio station WBBR-AM New York 1130 kHz 50 Kw DA-N. We enjoy reading those reports and listening to recordings of your reception from WBBR-AM. We are responding by e-mail to all reception reports as quickly as we can. Following the email response we will mail our QSL Card to the DX’er or club that provided us with the reception report.

Please note that my colleague in New York City, Mr. Michael Lysak has become quite busy with radio program and reporter scheduling so, in the future could you please ask everyone to direct their reception reports to:

Bob Janney WB3EBN
WBBR-AM Transmitter Site Technician
E-mail 8rwjanney54@bloomberg.net

If you are in touch with other radio clubs would you please advise those clubs to send requests for our QSL card to Bob.

Thanks 73 & good DX


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Radio Waves: RCI Staff cut in half, DRM Newsletter Notes, and VOA in the Press

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 William Lee, Kris Partridge, Kim Elliott, and Jason Hauser for the following tips:


CBC’s plan for Radio Canada International sees its staff cut in half (CARTT.ca)

By Steve Faguy MONTREAL — This week, the CRTC began a two-week hearing into the renewal of CBC/Radio-Canada’s licences, a process which began more than a year ago. There will be days of questioning, dozens of intervenors appearing, and discussions of everything from children’s programming to the fees for CBC News Network to diversity, local news, online distribution and official minority communities. But one thing that probably won’t be discussed is a service the public broadcaster is specifically required by legislation to provide, relatively few know about, but that the company has seemingly treated like a forgotten stepchild: Radio Canada… [Note this article fades into a Paywall, but William recommends reading more at Fagstein.com]

Digital Radio Mondial Newsletter includes a number of announcements

Successful DRM for FM Simulcast Demonstration in Russia

The Russian company Digiton Systems, supported by DRM Consortium members, carried out a high-power field trial of the DRM standard in the FM band using the simulcast mode.  The trial report in St Petersburg covers the trial that took place from June – December 2019. The trial continues to be on air and its main findings will be collected in a more detailed ITU report.  Read more

The Indian Public Broadcaster Updates on 2021 Plans including digitisation

On the website of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Prasar Bharati (the radio and TV Indian public broadcaster) has today clarified that no AIR station is being closed anywhere in any Indian state, some “fake news” widely circulated recently in the press.

All India Radio (AIR) stressed the importance attached to localism and the news projects included in its 2021-2022 plan. In its press release of January 13th.  Prasar Bharati mentions that it is also moving ahead with its plans to introduce Digital Terrestrial Radio in India. Select AIR channels are already available through Digital DRM technology to the listeners in many cities/regions on an experimental basis. Listeners in these cities/regions can experience the power of Digital Radio through a choice of multiple radio channels available on a single radio frequency in digital mode. Specialised Digital Radio Services available on DRM transmitters include AIR News 24×7 dedicated to news and current affairs, AIR Raagam 24×7 dedicated to classical music as well as local/regional radio services and Live Sports.

AIR Announces Tender for DRM Receivers

All India Radio announced a tender for the supply of DRM receivers.  More here

DRM FOR EDUCATION DURING COVID-19 AND BEYOND

DRM offers a solution for tackling the global disruption in education at a local level. DRM not only provides audio but also multimedia services consisting of Journaline text services, slides, graphics, and images simultaneously.  In this article published by Broadcast Cable & Satellite, a much-respected Indian publication, Yogendra Pal (Hon Chair, DRM India Platform) and Ruxandra Obreja (DRM Consortium Chair), set out the benefits of DRM technology in facilitating distance learning for all.  Read more 

DRM Providing Distance Learning Without the Internet

In the Fourth Quarter Broadcast Technology publication published by the IEEE, Thimmaiah Kuppanda and Alexander Zink, Fraunhofer IIs, explain how DRM and Journline technologies rise to the challenge of providing distance learning solutions where there is no internet availability.  Read more

Article published reproduced with permission from IEEE

How DRM Contributes to UN Sustainability Goals

In the latest edition of the ETSI magazine, Lindsay Cornell (BBC & Chair of the DRM Technical Committee), sets out how DRM (the only open digital radio standard) delivers substantial energy savings and gives access to remote communities.  Read more

Dxers Diary New Programme Launched on KTWR

Arun Kumar Narasimhan from Chennai in India has been producing and presenting a new short programme called “DXERS DIARY”.  From Sunday January 3rd he was on air presenting a 5-minute weekly DX programme in KTWR’s DRM broadcast (13800 Khz at 10.26 UTC) every Sunday. The programme is designed to make it easy for listeners to contribute to the advancement of the DX hobby.  The programme will include listeners’ logs, band scans from across the world and news and information on frequency changes by various radio stations. Listeners can send logs, bandscans and reception reports about DXERS DIARY to our email to dxersdiary@gmail.com.

Women in Broadcast Technology

The DRM Chair, Ruxandra Obreja is featured in a profile in IEEE focusing on “Women in Technology”.  Read more 

DRM SW Recordings Brazil, China and India

DRM shortwave recordings to Brazil broadcast by Radio Romania, China National Radio and recording received on the road in India.

Voice Of America White House Reporter Reassigned After Questioning Pompeo (NPR)

Voice of America White House reporter Patsy Widakuswara was reassigned Monday evening just hours after pressing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on whether he regretted saying there would be a second Trump administration after President-elect Joe Biden’s victory was apparent.

Pompeo had appeared at the U.S. government-owned international broadcaster’s headquarters in Washington on Monday to make an address. He did not address last week’s assault on Congress by a mob filled with President Trump’s avowed supporters in his remarks, nor was he asked about it in a congenial question-and-answer session by VOA’s new director, Robert R. Reilly. To date, Pompeo, a steadfast Trump ally, has not substantively addressed the attack on the U.S. Capitol at all.

As Pompeo walked out of the VOA building, giving a thumbs up to a man with whom he exchanged remarks in the crowded foyer, Widakuswara lobbed several questions. She asked what he was doing to repair the reputation of the U.S. around the world. She finally asked: “Mr. Secretary, do you regret saying there will be a second Trump administration?” Pompeo did not acknowledge the questions.

She tweeted out videotaped footage of that exchange, which showed a throng of people around. Contemporaneous audio obtained by NPR shows she then turned to press Reilly: “Mr. Director, why did you not ask any of the questions that we wanted to know about?”

He asked who she was, and Widakuswara identified herself as a Voice of America White House reporter. An irate Reilly can be heard saying, “You obviously don’t know how to behave,” adding, she wasn’t “authorized” to be there to ask questions.

Widakuswara: “I know, but I am a journalist, and I am paid to ask questions.”[]

Voice of America journalists demand resignation of top officials, protest sidelining of two staffers (NBC News)

“It is not out of order for VOA journalists to ask questions of U.S. government officials. It is our job,” the journalists wrote in a letter.

WASHINGTON — A group of Voice of America journalists has signed a letter demanding the resignation of the director of VOA and his deputy, accusing them of using the network “to stage a propaganda event” for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and for the “sudden and unexplained” reassignments of the chief news editor and White House correspondent.

The journalists said the actions of VOA Director Robert Reilly and Deputy Director Elizabeth Robbins violated the network’s decades-old charter, which states that the U.S.-funded outlet does not speak for the U.S. government, according to the letter obtained by NBC News.

Reilly and Robbins were recently installed by President Donald Trump’s appointee, Michael Pack, who runs the parent agency that oversees VOA, the U.S. Agency for Global Media.

The letter was sent to Pack, Reilly and Robbins and has so far been signed by two dozen journalists from the VOA’s staff of about 1,000.

At the network’s headquarters in Washington on Monday, Pompeo delivered a speech carried live on VOA, extolling the virtues of America’s free press and accusing the service of having overly negative coverage of the U.S. in the past. The broadcasters’ reporters were barred from asking questions and outside media were not allowed to attend, according to the letter and journalists who spoke to NBC News.

Pompeo “used this opportunity to attempt to direct VOA journalists to cease critical coverage of the United States,” and Reilly, who was on stage with the secretary of state, “did not challenge him — a disservice to our international audience,” the letter said.[]


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Wojtek Gwiazda retires from RCI

Wojtek’s final appearance on the Link in RCI’s remaining studio, with Lynn and Marc on Friday May 1, 2015 © Leo G- RCI (Source: RCI)

Wojtek’s final appearance on the Link in RCI’s remaining studio, with Lynn and Marc on Friday May 1, 2015 © Leo G- RCI (Source: RCI)

My friend, Wojtek Gwiazda, who has been a host and journalist for Radio Canada International–and an integral part of the RCI Action Committee–has retired.

Click here to listen to an exit interview with Wojtek on RCI’s The Link.

Also, check out this page and audio from the RCI website.

Wojtek: here’s wishing you the best in your retirement!

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Remembering Radio Canada International’s final shortwave broadcast

The transmitter building of Radio Canada International, Sackville, NB.

The transmitter building of Radio Canada International, Sackville, NB.

I spent the summer of 2012 in an off-grid cabin on the eastern coast of Prince Edward Island, Canada. That summer, I listened as two of my favorite shortwave broadcasters left the air within weeks of each other: Radio Netherlands Worldwide and Radio Canada International.

I was able to not only listen to the final broadcasts of Radio Netherlands, but also record them. I wrote a post about that memorable experience.

Ironically, though I was only a geographic stone’s-throw from the RCI Sackville transmitter site, I struggled to hear any Sackville signals as my location was too close for skywave propagation and a little too far for ground wave. Though I paid a visit to the transmitter site only two days prior, I was unable to hear or record RCI’s final broadcast.

Unlike RNW’s final broadcasts, RCI’s ended without fanfare and quite abruptly. This week, I heard a recording of that final RCI broadcast for the first time. My friend, Rajdeep Das, recorded it on June 24, 2012 in Kolkata, India. Rajdeep has kindly shared his recording with the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive and here on the SWLing Post.

This is a short 10 minute recording, beginning at 1550 UTC, June 24, 2012 on 11,675 kHz. Listeners will note that the broadcast ends abruptly during the mailbag program–obviously the Sackville transmitters were turned off prematurely.

Click here to download the recording as an MP3, or simply listen via the embedded player below:

While we’re talking about RCI, I would also like to thank @LeedsRadio, @UKDXer and Al Holt for sharing the following brilliant QSLs and pennant:

UK-DXer-RCI-QSL

Source: @UKDXer via Twitter

LeedsRadio-RCI-NorthQuebecService-QSL

Source: @LeedsRadio via Twitter

Al-Holt-RCI-QSL

Source: @grovekid2 (Al Holt) via Twitter

 

Thanks for the stroll down memory lane!

SWLing Post readers should note that Rajdeep Das has a DX blog you should visit. I’ve added Rajdeep’s site to our blog roll. Thanks again, Rajdeep!

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Sackville Tribune-Post reports on dismantling of RCI site

Radio Canada International's Sackville, New Brunswick shortwave transmitter site. (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Many thanks to Ken Reitz for sharing this:

(Source: Sackville Tribune-Post)

A piece of local history is slowly disappearing as crews dismantle the former Radio Canada International transmission towers on the marsh near Sackville, N.B.

The towers, erected prior to the Second World War, were declared obsolete in October 2012 after the CBC ended its shortwave service because of changing technology and the use of the Internet and satellite radio.

When no use was found for the facility the decision was made to have the towers dismantled.

“It’s really sad to see it coming down, there are so many great memories working there,” said former manager David Horyl, who spent more than 35 years working at the facility on the marsh. “It’s really going to change the look of thing over there. It’s quite a landmark.”

[Continue reading…]

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Thoughts after the Canadian RCI/CBC Senate hearing

CBC-RCI-HearingLast night, I listened to a live stream of the Canadian senate hearings regarding last year’s Radio Canada International cuts to shortwave radio. CBC president Hubert LaCroix and RCI director Michelle Parent met remarkably little criticism or resistance in the hearing, and it appears the report to the senate will be nothing short of cheerleading for the CBC. Indeed, the hearing’s tone overall was one of self-congratulation.

The decision to cut RCI in this manner is a prime example of a few officials with all-too-limited knowledge making decisions in the absence of experts’ input.  The business decision seemed to them essentially sound, and yet the impact of the decision has far-reaching negative consequences–for Canadians and as well as the rest of the world–that these officials may never fully comprehend.

Notes from the hearing:

  • All but one senator patted CBC and RCI management on the back for becoming more innovative in the wake of devastating budget cuts; only one suggested that such innovation could have been achieved prior to them
  • No one asked if the CBC explored the possibility of scaling back shortwave services without closing the Sackville, NB transmitter site and eliminating shortwave broadcasts altogether, which would have been a much better use of funds as well as maintaining foreign relations and domestic security
  • Hubert LaCroix basically suggested that people living in oppressed regions could gain access to RCI via mobile platforms (sadly, this is not the case)
  • When asked how cuts to shortwave have effected their listenership and demographic, LaCroix basically shrugged his shoulders and pointed out how difficult it is to judge how many people listen on shortwave.  (My response: What areas of our world lack a power grid infrastructure? Fully 1/4 of our planet.  These are the underserved who rely heavily on shortwave)
  • No one inquired about the impact upon their Chinese audience, as RCI’s website is blocked in China; meanwhile, shortwave continues to be comparatively impermeable to firewalls and is untraceable in restrictive countries

Monsieur LaCroix made it clear that the primary CBC mandate is to be a creative, innovative media force within Canada. For him, and most of CBC management, Radio Canada International must have felt like a leech to their dwindling budget. Were I in his position, with limited information and a mandate to protect his main “client” set (Canadians living in Canada)–I might have made the same decision.   And yet…it was the wrong one.

What would have solved the problem in the first place?  Radio Canada International should have been its own entity, with its own budget to manage, however modest–and if anything, funded through the foreign office rather than the domestic public news/entertainment body. After all, what RCI accomplished on shortwave was far more humanitarian and diplomatic in nature.

I’ve written at length about the RCI cuts and will not go into them further on this post. But I do believe RCI Sackville could have been a more efficient and productive operation if it employed some sensible changes. Sackville had just finished installing a (paid-for) technology infrastructure to remotely operate the entire transmitter site. Moreover, Sackville management told me they had planned to cut their staff to a skeleton crew (of three people, if memory serves), only to be there if something mechanical on site needed service. These new adjustments were not even tried.

Additionally, using a market model, RCI/Sackville could have offered their relay services to more broadcasters at competitive (even market) rates. Their hourly rate to broadcast on shortwave was simply too high, thus potential customers sought more efficient cost-effective transmission sites. Sackville was never given the tools to become a self-funding operation like so many private broadcasters have become.

Sackville’s infrastructure was an incomparably valuable resource in which many millions in taxpayer money was already invested and paid in full; sadly, these cuts have destroyed this investment.  The Sackville site, moreover, had the potential of a sleeping army, both in foreign affairs…and in Canadian security.  But it’s gone.  Simply because a few politicians doing their near-best didn’t have all the relevant information.

RCIFor what it’s worth

RCI still has some great talent on board. Canadian expats living abroad, and those  who are connected to the web, can still enjoy RCI via the website or on mobile platforms. That is an audience that may actually expand through a social media presence–something they could have done more effectively prior to the budget cuts last year.

I was also encouraged to hear that there is a serious effort to distribute RCI’s online audio content–free of charge–to broadcasters in local radio stations around the world. This is very positive: FM, though not as accessible as shortwave in Africa, has a strong community following and stations are appearing everywhere. I hope RCI has a dedicated employee whose sole focus is to identify and build connections with these local outlets for their content.

Barring a takeover or drastic re-organization, it sounds like Radio Canada International over shortwave is now destined for the history books. To honor this history, I sincerely hope the new RCI innovates and penetrates new markets. And I hope RCI employees, many of whom have long memories, find challenge and renewed confidence going forward. We certainly appreciate all of the years during which they graced the shortwaves, and wish them all the best.

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Spectres of Shortwave: RCI Sackville documentary seeks support

1-IMG_2274Last year, we mentioned that a documentary film featuring the RCI Sackville transmitter site was in the works. Fortunately, artist/film maker Amanda Dawn Christie, is on track for production of Spectres of Shortwave. Though the film has already received $70,000 in cash funding and $17,500 in services, they need an additional $10,000 to cover incidentals, so they’ve launched an indiegogo campaign.

Consider helping them along the way with even a modest contribution by visiting their indiegogo campaign page.

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