Tag Archives: Sean Gilbert

Sean’s recording of an International Space Station EVA

ISSSean Gilbert, WRTH’s International Editor, recently shared this audio he originally recorded on June 19, 2014. Sean writes:

With all the interest in space and the ISS at the moment, I thought I would share a recording I made on 19 June 2014 @ 1715 UTC. This is from the Russian part of the ISS and the audio (which is in Russian) is of the cosmonauts talking during a spacewalk (EVA as they are known). The person speaking is actually in space, outside of the ISS. The audio begins about 2 mins into the recording and lasts for about 5 mins.

[Listen via the embedded player below, or click here for the MP3 version.]

[…]This was received on 143.625MHz NFM (+/- a few kHz due to doppler shift). Receiver here was a Funcube Dongle Pro + into a 2 element circular polarised turnstile in the attic. Signal was lost at a distance of 2000km (to the East of my location in IO92ma) at 3 degree elevation. Altitude of ISS was 418km above earth. 


The image [above] shows a grab of the signal, exhibiting doppler shift due to the ISS orbit in relation to the earth.

 […]I would be interested to know what they are saying. […]To me this was far more exciting than receiving SSTV pictures from the ISS. I may never hear another EVA – I am just thankful that I found this as it was an announced/schedules EVA.

That is very cool, indeed, Sean! At some point, I must make an effort to venture up to the VHF neighborhood and attempt to hear the ISS.

I hope there’s a Russophone reader out there who can help Sean interpret the EVA dialog! Please comment!

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WRTH update to A15 schedule

WRTH2015(Source: Sean Gilbert, WRTH Facebook Page)

WRTH has released a free update for the A15 schedules file. This PDF contains frequency changes, address etc., updates and some new stations. Please visit www.wrth.com and navigate to ‘Latest WRTH Updates’, choose the link under ‘International Radio’ and select the file you wish to download. The file is also available from our webshop:


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Sean’s A15 Season International Broadcasting Statistics


Many thanks to Sean Gilbert, International Editor at the World Radio TV Handbook, who is kindly sharing some international broadcasting statistics with us again. These statistics were originally posted on the WRTH Facebook group:

Seasonal Language Output Comparison

[F]or the top 19 languages used in international (and Domestic SW) broadcasting. There are 10 seasons worth of data to compare. In those 10 seasons, we have seen an overall drop of 33%, the biggest casualties being Farsi, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, English & Indonesian. Tibetan is usually fairly stable with it’s output being pretty constant over the past 9 seasons – this season, however sees a huge increase in output (+69%), mainly due to the USA hiking output of the language this season. In sheer numbers of data lines (which is how this table has always been generated), English is the biggest casualty, dropping 104 transmission periods per week.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

A transmission period is based on the following data structure:
Shown below are 2 “transmission periods” for WWCR and 1 for WWRB. 2 in English and 1 in Spanish. These transmission periods cover a weeks worth of output on that frequency at that time for that broadcaster.

WWCR 1630-2100 English wcr 100 NAm,Eu,NAf daily 15825
WWCR 2100-2200 Spanish wcr 100 NAm,Eu,NAf daily 15825
WWRB 0100-0400 English wrb 100 NAm daily 3195

So a transmission period could, in reality, be from 5 minutes on a single day to 24 hours, daily, depending on the broadcaster. There are nearly 5000 of these entries in our database for this season (When I started at WRTH back in 2000, there were over 10000 entries). Of these 5000 entries, over 3600 are taken up by just 19 languages. The other 1400 entries share somewhere in the region of 200 languages/dialects and combinations! Although this doesn’t show how many hours a particular language has decreased by, it does show the ongoing trend in International broadcasting by radio.

WRTH2015A15 International Broadcasting Season Facts

There are 191 schedules listed in the International Radio and COTB (Clandestine & Other Targeted Broadcasts) section of the WRTH A15 schedules file.

Who uses the most frequencies? CRI, with a whopping 279 frequencies in use. The next largest station, by frequency use is (probably quite surprising to many of you) Voice of the Iranian Republic of Iran (VOIRI) with 140 (that is half the amount of CRI!). Next is VOA with 126; then RFA at 112; BBC at 110 then Sound of Hope Radio International with 84 and All India Radio at 67.

Below is a list of the ‘Top 20’ broadcasters in terms of frequency usage. If you were to do a study of actual transmitted time, the list would look rather different. I will shortly post a table showing the top languages, by use, and what has changed over the past 10 broadcasting seasons.

  • CHINA RADIO INTERNATIONAL (CRI): 279 frequencies
  • BBG – VOICE OF AMERICA (VOA): 126 frequencies
  • BBG – RADIO FREE ASIA (RFA): 112 frequencies
  • BBC WORLD SERVICE: 110 frequencies
  • ALL INDIA RADIO (AIR): 67 frequencies
  • AWR ASIA/PACIFIC: 52 frequencies
  • RADIO JAPAN (NHK WORLD): 49 frequencies
  • VOICE OF TURKEY (VOT): 43 frequencies
  • KBS WORLD RADIO: 32 frequencies
  • AWR AFRICA/EUROPE: 30 frequencies
  • VATICAN RADIO: 29 frequencies
  • RADIO CAIRO 29: frequencies
  • VOICE OF KOREA (VOK): 27 frequencies
  • FEBC PHILIPPINES: 26 frequencies

63 broadcasters, or so, use just a single frequency.

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WRTH 2015 to ship in December


Sean Gilbert, WRTH International Editor, just posted the following information on the WRTH Facebook group:

“WRTH 2015 will be published, as usual, in early December. This will be the 69th Annual edition! Even though both International and Domestic SW is declining there is still a lot to be heard out there on those broadcast bands, so don’t consign the SW receiver to the attic (to gather dust) just yet.

There is a mix of over 200 languages and dialects to get stuck in to, plus the Clandestine broadcasters are always around from politically troubled areas.

Some of these are low powered or broadcasting to a different part of the world and can be a tough challenge to pick up.

All the details you need to stand the best chance of catching these, or any of the other broadcasters (be it LW, MW, SW or FM), can be found in WRTH.

You will soon be able to reserve your copy of the 2015 edition and be one of the first to receive it. Check the WRTH website for pre-ordering details. If the 2014 edition is still showing, try again in a few days time.”

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Sean crunches the language numbers

Sean Gilbert, International Editor at WRTH, writes:

I have completed my season-on-season analysis of the top 18 languages used by SW broadcasters. I chose 18 because it is the number we use in our bargraph file (odd number I know, but 18 just fits nicely and it is difficult to find many more colours that are sufficiently different from one another to be easily distinguishable in print).


If you study the image [click to enlarge], you can see the how the output of various popular languages is declining with each passing season. There are a few surprises, like the 15% increase in German output this season over B13 (but the bigger picture is that it has reduced by nearly one half since B10 -when I first started this analysis). English output has been cut by over 1/3, Spanish, Russian, Farsi, Indonesian, Portuguese and German have all reduced by about 50% from B10.

A couple of languages, however, stand out as being fairly static – Chinese and Tibetan. Chinese (that is mainly Mandarin and Cantonese dialects) has reduced by a mere 5.7% since B10, and Tibetan output by less than 1%.

There can be no doubt that International Shortwave Broadcasting is in its ‘twilight years’ now, but there is still a goodly amount of different programming to listen to, from a large number of stations.

To emphasise that point, for the A14 season, we have the full schedules of 196 international and clan/target broadcasters in our A14 schedules pdf file (which can be downloaded for free from the WRTH website).[…]

I may, at some point in the future, delve in to my archives and see if I have any usable data that will allow me to go further back with this study.

Many thanks to Sean Gilbert and the WRTH for making this analysis available!

You can pick up your copy of WRTH at Universal Radio or Amazon.com.

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WRTH 2014 Summer (A) season available for download

wrth-2014(Source: Sean Gilbert, WRTH)

The WRTH Editorial team is pleased to announce that the A14 International broadcast season schedules are now available for free download from the WRTH website, navigate to: http://www.wrth.com and follow the links.

The file is in PDF format and will require the free Adobe Acrobat reader (http://www.adobe.com).

Included in the 76 page, 3MB, file are the full summer ‘A’ Season broadcast schedules for International and Clandestine & Other Target broadcasters and DRM, Selected language broadcasts. Also a by frequency listing of the above schedules and a table of sites and site codes used.

We hope you find this a useful accompaniment to the printed WRTH edition.

Please feel free to pass this information on and/or repost on social media as you wish.

73, and good listening!
Sean D. Gilbert, International Editor –

WRTH (World Radio TV Handbook)
On behalf of the WRTH Editorial team.

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Sean crunches language numbers: Tibetan shows increase

Sean Gilbert, International Editor for the World Radio TV Handbook (WRTH), posted the following information on WRTH’s Facebook page. He has kindly given permission to share this on the SWLing Post.

WRTH2013Sean writes:

“I have just been looking at the reductions in SW/MW output by international broadcasters and SW output by domestic broadcasters (where possible) in a language-by-language form. I have been keeping records of the top 19 languages used by broadcasters, since the B10 season, and I can see a reduction in output on 18 of those 19 languages. The only language to show an increase is Tibetan.

The languages that have suffered the most reduction (since the B10 season) are:
#1 German (-53%);
#2 Russian (49.6%);
#3 Farsi (-48.8%);
#4 Spanish (-45.7%);
#5 Portuguese (-43.7%);
#6 Indonesian (-36.9%);
#7 French (-32%);
#8 English (-31.2%);
#9 Arabic (-28.5%)
#10 Vietnamese (-22.5%)

This is based on the schedules we use in WRTH and, as the data is processed in the same manner each season, this does give a reasonable portrayal of the situation.

In contrast to this, Chinese is only down by -5% and Korean 1.1%, while Tibetan is UP 7.3%. The Far East languages, to be fair, tend to have a much slower decline than the more Westerly languages.

The table below shows the top languages in order of popularity (i.e. frequency of use). Chinese is the language that stands out as being the one with a noticeably slower decline. This is borne out when you tune the SW broadcast bands! I will fill in the B13 data after WRTH has been published.”

Language Chart

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