Tag Archives: Richard Cuff

Radio Waves: Capitol Code, Clay’s Corner, The Buzzer, iHeart Layoffs, and Australian Hams

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, Stana Horzepa, Rich Cuff, and Marty for the following tips:


Capitol Records Building Morse Code (WA1LOU)

This iconic Los Angeles landmark has been emitting secret messages since it opened. However, only those with a keen eye for Morse code can decipher what they say.

It was the former president of Capitol Records, Alan Livingston, who got the idea to have the light on top of the building send out a signal in Morse code. The word chosen for this secret message was “Hollywood.” When the building opened in 1956, Samuel Morse’s granddaughter Leila Morse had the honor of turning the light on.

Read the rest of the story at Atlas Obscura.


Clay’s Corner February 2020 Edition (Northwest Broadcasters)

Some are interpreting this as meaning that – every – AM will be switching to digital leaving a Jillion AM only receivers with nothing to listen to (except for electrical gizmo noise). I give more credit than that to the owners of AM Radio Stations. I would highly doubt if any market would see all of their AM’s go digital. Perhaps in an ownership that had two AM’s it might make sense to have one of each.

[…]Other question is, what will the company that owns HD Radio (EXPERI) want to extract from the owner of an AM station that’s willing to put everything on the line and go all digital?
The bottom line is there appears to be a lot of interest in this proposal. The FCC’s process will likely draw a number of comments, pro and con. This will be an interesting process to watch. I can say one thing, never did I ever dream that we would be debating this issue![]


Seven mysterious sounds science has yet to solve (Popular Science)

The Buzzer

Numbers stations—shortwave radio transmissions of monotone coded messages—are inherently creepy. But call sign UVB-76 has outcreeped them all by playing the same jolting tone from Russia since 1982. Similar broadcasts are useful for sending messages where snoops might intercept digital comms, so “the Buzzer” could simply assist spies. But it plays far fewer words and digits than confirmed espionage outlets, so some suspect it’s a science project that bounces radio waves off the ionosphere to detect solar flares. The most intriguing theory posits that it’s a doomsday device that will go silent should Russia suffer a nuclear attack, thus triggering retaliation.

My theory is that these mysterious sounds are actually the intro to a Pink Floyd song, possibly from their 1969 album Ummagumma. Because the early Floyd albums, before Dark Side of the Moon, are no longer heard on-air, the Russians stole this music knowing we’d never notice. Ooh, gotta go… I hear the black helicopters coming…[]


iHeartMedia laid off hundreds of radio DJs. Executives blame AI. DJs blame the executives. (Washington Post)

When iHeartMedia announced this month it would fire hundreds of workers across the country, the radio conglomerate said the restructuring was critical to take advantage of its “significant investments … in technology and artificial intelligence.” In a companywide email, chief executive Bob Pittman said the “employee dislocation” was “the unfortunate price we pay to modernize the company.”

But laid-off employees like D’Edwin “Big Kosh” Walton, who made $12 an hour as an on-air personality for the Columbus, Ohio, hip-hop station 106.7 the Beat, don’t buy it. Walton doesn’t blame the cuts on a computer; he blames them on the company’s top executives, whose “coldblooded, calculated move” cost people their jobs.[]


Amateur radio skills prove useful during bushfire emergencies (ABC News)

Amateur radio enthusiasts have proved themselves useful during the recent bushfires after traditional telecommunication channels broke down.

Amateur radio, also known as ham radio, is a skill and international hobby whereby enthusiasts use specific radio frequencies to communicate with each other.

In Australia, users must complete an exam to obtain a license through the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

It was volunteers with these skills who were called in to assist during the recent New South Wales bushfires.

Neil Fallshaw is vice-president of WICEN NSW Communications, a group of volunteers with amateur radio licenses who can help in emergency situations.

He said about 30 members provided a temporary radio system in the Bega, Cobargo, Narooma, and Bermagui areas after some of the local radio infrastructure was damaged or had lost power.

“We deployed one of our radio repeaters on the mountains. We put a radio repeater system on that mountain to cover a portion of the south coast,” Mr Fallshaw said.

He said that radio system assisted the NSW Volunteer Rescue Association and Bega Valley Shire Council staff to communicate from bushfire-affected towns like Bermagui and Cobargo.

“They normally use just mobile phones, but the mobile phones in the area were down because of fire damage,” Mr Fallshaw said.[]

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USAGM’s Chief Executive John Lansing resigns

John Lansing (Source: BBG)

(Source: VOA News via Richard Cuff)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Agency for Global Media’s Chief Executive John Lansing said he will be leaving his post at the end of the month.

Lansing, a veteran government broadcast and cable television executive, was named four years ago by U.S. President Barack Obama to be the first chief executive of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which oversees the Voice of America, Radio and Television Martí, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and Middle East Broadcasting Networks.

Lansing made his mark at the agency early on by championing a free press.

“Despite some very dark moments, we have not been silenced. We will continue to report the truth. We will continue to find new ways to get independent reporting and programming to global audiences who rely on it,” he said this year on World Press Freedom Day.

USAGM board Chairman Kenneth Weinstein said in a statement, “John has put USAGM on solid footing to advance our mission to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy. … The Board is very grateful for, and deeply impressed by, the results achieved during his tenure.”

Lansing has boosted the networks’ global weekly audience by more than 100 million and expanded the agency’s use of platforms from encrypted live broadcasting to shortwave radio to push content into countries that jam or ban American programming.

Under his watch, the agency also created Current Time, a network broadcasting news, features and documentaries for Russian speakers in 2017. Polygraph and Faktograph are websites aimed at combating a stream of disinformation by Russia state-controlled media. A new Persian-language service, VOA365, also started broadcasting earlier this year.

In a statement released late Thursday, Lansing said he would be starting a new position at chief executive at National Public Radio, a publicly funded nonprofit membership media organization based in Washington.

Lansing acknowledged challenges ahead for the agency with countries such as Russia, China, North Korea and Iran trying to control information and spread their influence throughout the world.

“Please keep abiding by the highest standards of professional journalism. Please keep fighting for press freedom. Please keep telling the truth. The world needs you now more than ever,” he concluded in his statement to employees.

Weinstein said in his statement, “It is the Board’s top priority to find the best individual to run USAGM upon John’s departure.”

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Wellington Brewery’s UVB-76 Imperial Stout Series

(Source: Canadian Beer News via Richard Cuff)

GUELPH, ON – Wellington Brewery has announced details of a second annual set of bourbon barrel-aged imperial stouts that are due for release later this month.

UVB-76 (11.9% abv) takes its name from a mysterious shortwave radio station that broadcasts a repeating buzz tone that is occasionally interrupted by a voice in Russian that includes many names in its messages.

The series debuted last year with four beers released as part of Wellington’s 2017 DecemBEER promotion. For 2018, two of last year’s versions – Roman (straight bourbon barrel-aged) and Mikhail (Mexican hot chocolate style with cinnamon, cocoa, vanilla, and spicy chillies) – will be returning, and will be joined by two new variants – Nikita (Neapolitan style with vanilla beans and strawberry) and Alexei (coffee).

The beers can be pre-ordered now via Wellington’s online store, and will be released at the brewery on Saturday November 24th with a launch event that will feature eight further versions available exclusively on draught. For more details, see the full event announcement.

Click here to read the full article.

Thanks for sharing this, Richard! This isn’t the first time a Canadian brewer featured a radio brew–remember Short Wave West Coast Pale Ale? Fantastic!

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Registration open for 32nd Annual Winter SWL Fest!

David Goren (left) and Richard Cuff (right) during the Shindig live broadcast at the Winter SWL Fest.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor (and SWL Festmeister–!) Richard Cuff, who writes:

Announcing a radio-related event that might interest folks here:

Registration now available for 32nd Annual Winter SWL Fest, to be held February 28th – March 2nd, 2019 at the Doubletree Suites Philadelphia West hotel in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. Even though the Fest has its roots in shortwave, our theme is now “Radio In All Its Forms.” We believe we’re the largest remaining gathering of radio enthusiasts left, and we hope you can join us!

We’re sticking with the formula that’s worked for the past two years: Formal events will begin roughly midday Thursday, February 28th, with the concluding banquet and raffle Saturday evening, March 2nd. It will be a while before the forum topics for the 32nd Fest are fleshed
out, but the program for 2018 is available as a reference for you to see what to expect.

You can register online and pay via PayPal at the website, http://swlfest.com; if you’re “old school” you can download and print off a paper registration form at the site and send in via Postal mail.

Do try and have your hotel and event registrations finished by January 25th; the special rate for Fest hotel rooms expires about that date, and rooms will likely be more expensive or even unavailable after that. Event registration fees also increase as of that date.

Links to an e-mail discussion group and our Facebook group appear on the right of the Fest website, if you have any questions or want to learn more about the event from those who have been there before.

Thank you, Rich!  You can count on my attendance! I look forward to the Winter SWL Fest each year!

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Why shortwave radio makes an idea “a powerful weapon”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Rich Cuff and Mike Hansgen who share the following Op Ed piece from the Sydney Morning Herald:

Warning: put down any power tools and ensure you’re not operating heavy machinery before you read the next sentence. We’ve been outflanked!

Of course, unless you’re completely benighted or under some sort of strange, personal news blackout that prevents you even glancing at the front pages of newspapers, you’ll probably have already realised that China is extending and developing its relations with our close Pacific neighbours. This was, after all, only to be expected. Beijing and Taipei have long recognised the value of these countries’ votes in the United Nations; it’s not much of a step from there to glance at the map and recognise the islands’ have other significance as well. As China began expanding its international reach it was only natural it would similarly strengthen other relationships, including defence links.

[…]Nature abhors a vacuum and so, as we’ve been demonstrating less and less interest in this region, others have occupied the space.

The clearest example of this has been the strategically idiotic, fiscally-driven and wilfully blind destruction of Canberra’s lone voice in the region, the (once vital) ABC shortwave service, Radio Australia.

Sure, the internet’s better than a crackly radio signal. But simply to access the net requires computers and bandwidth, neither of which are readily available to the audiences in the South Pacific. And even if someone can manage to obtain a connection, the next problem is finding services, particularly news and information ones, that are relevant to your situation.

Someone in Apia (Samoa) is unlikely to be transfixed by events in Adelaide (South Australia) unless, of course, it’s their Seven’s team playing at the oval. Similarly a person in Buka (Bougainville) is likely to be bored by reports from Belgrade or Bulgaria, although not information about BHP Billiton. RA provided an independent, reliable news service specifically dedicated to the needs of its audience. Critically, it offered a vital, secure and trusted way of connecting islanders to their capitals and, through that, to the world.

The big advantage of shortwave services was that they could be heard; were relevant; and formed a starting point for a community. But as far as the ABC was concerned the broadcasts were nothing more than a big bag of money to raid in order to boost its domestic budget.[…]

Read this full article at The Sydney Morning Herald.

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“Shortwave radio evolves into an IoT network”

(Source: Maritime Digitalisation & Communications via Richard Cuff)

KNL Networks is building a mesh network of base stations on ships for securely transmitting operational and machinery data to shore

Shortwave radio can be used for data transmissions from ships to shore and between vessels as an alternative, or even complementary, service to satellite communications.

This is a long way from shortwave radio’s use for voice communications at sea, but KNL Networks has developed this technology to generate a data transportation network. It has built a mesh of multiple base stations and terminals on ships to provide a backbone for internet-of-things (IoT) solutions.

The dedicated IoT network is combined with military-grade security, pole-to-pole coverage and affordable pricing to make maritime IoT connections smarter, said KNL Networks chief executive Toni Linden.

He explained to Maritime Digitalisation & Communications that this shortwave radio network does not have the complexity or issues of satellite communications and can be scaled through simple vessel additions. “We have reinvented shortwave radio so that it is fully digital and automatic,” he said.[…]

Click here to read the full article.

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Marketplace: “Time may be up for timekeeping radio stations”

Photo taken in 2014 of the sign above WWV’s primary 10 MHz transmitter.

(Source: Marketplace via Richard Cuff)

The Trump administration wants to shut down two shortwave radio stations that broadcast time signals from the nation’s master clock.

The administration’s budget proposal would eliminate nearly $27 million in funding from the National Institute of Standards and Technology for the two stations. WWV, based in Fort Collins, Colorado, has been transmitting one rock-steady pulse per second for more than 80 years. Its sister station, Hawaii’s WWVH, has been extending the time signal across the Pacific for nearly 70 years. WWV is also the world’s longest continuously-broadcasting radio station. (NIST doesn’t stream the stations online because signals are often delayed as they stream over the internet. But you can hear the stations by calling (303) 499-7111 for WWV or (808) 335-4363 for WWVH . There are also online recordings of the stations’ gentle announcements.)[…]

Click here to read the full story and listen to the program audio.

If you feel strongly about keeping the atomic clock signals on the air, I urge you to contact your local representatives,and sign this White House petition.

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