Tag Archives: Shortwave Radio Audio Archive

Keith discovers a Radio Bougainville recording on the Shortwave Archive: “A 50-year old tape takes me back”

We’ve published thousands of off-air recordings on Shortwave Radio Audio Archive over the past decade. They’re freely available for everyone to search and download.

For those of us who work on the archive, it’s a pure labor of love. We are not compensated for the time and effort we put into running and curating it, although we use Patreon and Coffee Fund contributions to help pay for the site and online archives.

Quite frequently, our recordings are discovered and are intensely meaningful to individuals. Listening to radio recordings has an amazing ability to summon up memories and moments in time.

We recently discovered the following article on the blog PNG Attitude written by Keith Jackon. Keith has kindly given us permission to post it in its entirety here on the SWLing Post. Thank you, Keith, and we’re pleased this recording was so relevant to you:


A 50-year old tape takes me back

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – It had dropped into my Twitter feed via @Laselki, the account of the Lebanon-based Arab Amateur Radio Network, and @Stret_Pasin, a valued supporter and one of my 8,700 Twitter followers.

It had originated in Ontario, Canada, from the historic village of Ancaster close by the US border and Niagara Falls.

It was a fleeting recording of a shortwave broadcast.

Map showing location of Ancaster, Canada

A broadcast from Radio Bougainville transmitted 51 years ago on 21 October 1971, which had travelled 13,300 km to Ancaster and been recorded.

Then saved on a cassette tape until, for some reason, recently retrieved and shared.

“Sound is a bit crackly,” wrote @Stret_Pasin, “but this will bring back memories of Radio Bougainville.”

Truer words never were tweeted.

When you link to the brief recording here (scroll down to the black audio bar), you will pick up in rapid succession the sound of chanting to the famous Bougainville kaur flute, then an announcer’s voice and finally a snatch of Bougainville string band music.

Click here to listen on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.

I thought I recognised this sequence as the pre-recorded station identification put to air each time the station’s transmitters were fired up at Toniva, just south of Kieta, from a switch in the main studio down a ladder beside my house.

But the more I listen to it, the less convinced I am of its provenance.

All I can say for sure is that anything the captured snatch of radio was broadcast at about 12 noon on Bougainville on 22 October 1971.

This was at a time when Radio Bougainville usually broadcast for 11 hours a day in three separate sessions: 6 am – 9 am, 12 noon – 2 pm and 4 pm – 10pm.

In a small town in Canada it was late morning the day before, and a young Dan Greenall was tuning his Hallicrafters shortwave radio seeking out distant stations he would register as finding in the ether.

Even in our modern digital age, there are shortwave junkies who ferret out remote radio stations and seek QSL cards: written proof of reception. (One issued by Radio Bougainville in 2016 is pictured here.)

QSL reception confirmation from NBC Bougainville, 2016

’I heard this at such time on your station; tell me it is true.” And we’d check the log and return a QSL postcard. Yes, you had indeed heard our station.

Collecting these cards became popular with radio listeners 100 years ago and continues to this day

Dan had been doing just that 51 years ago when he happened upon a distant signal struggling through heavy interference to be captured by his outdoor copper wire aerial and delivered to the sturdy Hallicrafters S-52 receiver.

Keith’s appointment to manage Radio Bougainville was greeted by this headline in the Bougainville News

Dan has written for the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive:

“The morning of 21 October 1971 provided some of the best reception of Papua New Guinea stations in the 90 metre band that I ever experienced.

“These stations were rare visitors to my headphones but I was able to make a couple of short recordings of two PNG stations that morning, and they have survived to this day on that same audio cassette (now 51 years old).

“This one of Radio Bougainville begins with a local chant followed by announcement on the hour. The station ran 2.5 kw and their signal made it over 13,300 km to my receiver that day.

“Audio quality is passable considering the recording was made using an open mic to the speaker of the Hallicrafters S-52.”

Technical data:

Broadcaster: Radio Bougainville
Date of recording: 21/10/1971
Starting time: 1100
Frequency: 3.322.5 MHz
Receiver location: Ancaster, Ontario, Canada
Receiver and antenna: Hallicrafters S-52 using a longwire antenna

When I linked to the thin signal that had managed to land so far away so long ago, I was momentarily overcome with emotion.

I had known those sounds so well from too many early mornings wondering whether the breakfast announcer would arrive in time to open the station.

A recording something like that told me he’d arrived, fired up the transmitter and was ready to begin proceedings.

Through the static of 51 years – two-thirds of my life – came a once-familiar sequence of bamboo flute / announcer / stringband, transporting me back to a time when I was young and in my first management job which, bad bits and all, I was enjoying as if born to it.

Keith Jackson at the time of his appointment to Radio Bougainville

They were tough years for the people of Bougainville, especially in the villages around Kieta and its hinterland.

Bougainville Copper had started to dig the ore that produced great quantities of copper, gold and silver on alienated land amidst an alienated people.

Despite the volatile social and political climate, I had enjoyed the challenge of Bougainville.

I felt I’d been made for it and that it was making me.

And I enjoyed working with talented station staff, most from Bougainville, like Tom Kathoa, Sam Bena, Perpetua Tanuku, Justin Kili, Aloysius Sahoto, Aloysius Nase and Aloysius Rumina – most now gone from our midst. That’s what 51 years does.

And that simple recording – made so long ago and so far away – brought it all rushing back.

You can read more about my Bougainville years here in Brink of Secession.

So thanks to Dan Greenall, the Arab Amateur Radio Network and @Stret_Pasin for giving me a free ticket to fly back more than half a century. I really enjoyed the trip.

Read this full article and check out Keith’s website PNG Attitude here.

Also, a very special thanks to Dan Greenall and all of our contributors on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive. 

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Inches Per Second: Bob’s massive collection of archived reel to reel recordings

Very recently, Bob Purse reached out to me through the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive. Bob is the owner and curator of the excellent Inches Per Second audio archive and blog.

Bob’s archive is all about sharing what essentially amounts to lost and found sound: reel to reel recordings he’s discovered at thrift stores, estate sales, in junk piles, etc.

One of Bob’s shelves chock-full of reel to reel recordings

Bob describes his passion for collecting these recordings in this post on WFMU’s blog.  I can say that he’s truly a kindred spirit as we both love taking recordings that would otherwise be lost forever and making them freely available online for everyone to enjoy.

Bob has kindly offered up the off-air shortwave radio recordings he’s collected and digitized over the years. We’ll be slowly adding these to the SRAA.

Many thanks, Bob, for sharing your recordings with the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.

Post readers: I would highly recommend checking out Bob’s numerous recordings and notes on Inches Per Second!

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Cities and Memory Shortwave Transmissions released to mark World Radio Day!

We at the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive are truly honored to have been a resource for this incredible and diverse sound project organized by Cities and Memory.

We encourage you to explore the creative work from over 120 artists and composers.

A great many of these remarkable dynamic works draw on a wide array of recordings from the SRAA; the resulting compositions and soundscapes are rich with sonic textures, evocative collages of sound and memory, which emerge into further sources of inspiration.

Our profound thanks to Cities and Memory––and all of the participating artists––for this truly brilliant collection:


 

13 February 2022

UNIQUE ARCHIVE OF SHORTWAVE RADIO COMPOSITIONS LAUNCHED TO MARK UNESCO WORLD RADIO DAY

To mark UNESCO World Radio Day on 13 February, a unique collection of compositions built from eight decades of shortwave radio recordings is being released.

Shortwave Transmissions, a project by one of the world’s biggest sound projects Cities and Memory in collaboration with the Shortwave Radio Archive, sees more than 120 artists remix and recompose iconic shortwave recordings to create brand new compositions reflecting on and celebrating our relationship with radio.

 

The project can be explored in full at https://citiesandmemory.com/shortwave and features:

  • Recordings from the mysterious spy radio and “numbers stations” around the world
  • Coverage of world-changing events such as 9/11, the invasion of Kuwait, Kennedy’s assassination, Tiananmen Square protests, the death of Fidel Castro and many more
  • Rare international recordings from North Korea, Saudi Arabia, St. Helena, the Falkland Islands and Antarctica
  • Recordings covering a huge period of time from 1934 through to the present day
  • Space travel documented including the Sputnik, Apollo and Challenger missions
  • Recordings of famous voices such as Winston Churchill and King George V
  • Station IDs, interval signals and final broadcasts from radio stations
  • Stuart Fowkes, founder of Cities and Memory, said:

“Shortwave radio is one of the most fascinating sonic worlds – each recording is a unique time capsule capturing vital moments in world history as well as the thrill of pirate radio, clandestine radio stations, secretive number stations and military and spy radio.

These are sounds to be treasured: all of humanity is truly out there to be listened to at the turn of a dial – and is source material for some extraordinary compositions.”

Taking the world of shortwave radio to an entirely different place, each recording has been reshaped and reimagined as a creative recomposed sound by more than 120 musicians and sound artists, in turn reflecting on current concerns covering everything from climate change to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Shortwave Transmissions is the latest project from Cities and Memory, a global, collaborative network of sound recordists and artists based in Oxford, UK. Previous global sound projects have included #StayHomeSounds (a global mapping of the sounds of the Covid-19 lockdown), Protest and Politics (the biggest ever collection of the sounds of protest) and Sacred Spaces, the first global survey of the sounds of churches, temples, prayer and worship.

It has more than 5,000 sounds on its global sound map covering more than 100 countries and territories, and more than 1,000 worldwide contributing artists since its launch in 2015.

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Radio Preservation Task Force announces partnership with the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive and Radio Spectrum Archive

I’m honored to announce that the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive and the Radio Spectrum Archive are now partners of the Radio Preservation Task Force.

Click here to read the official press release.

To say that I’m enthused would be an understatement:  the Radio Preservation Task Force has, as of today, officially partnered with the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive and Radio Spectrum Archive.   

When I learned that the Library of Congress’s National Recording Preservation Board created the Radio Preservation Task Force (RPTF) in 2014, I became an enthusiastic contributor early on, having started a modest preservation project myself only a few years prior.  Then, a partnership like the one created today would have been one of dreams.

As many of you here know, I’m not only passionate about technologic innovations in our radio space, but also preserving our past.

Shortwave Radio Audio Archive

It was in 2012, in response to a round-table discussion at the Winter SWL Fest, that I created the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive (SRAA). Many of us in the radio community were concerned about the number of original, made-from-home, off-air shortwave radio recordings (airchecks) that we knew were in existence, yet were simply disappearing with the passage of time. We were well aware of members of our community who had either passed away or downsized, and many of their recordings––some of pivotal world events––were being tossed out by well-meaning loved ones or friends who simply didn’t understand their relevance. In addition, many of these recordings were captured on magnetic tape, which becomes brittle with time; we knew these recordings were literally turning to dust.  I felt I had to do something.  The SRAA was that something.

Fortunately for me, the SRAA’s mission has really resonated within our radio community. Today, we have thousands of off-air recordings, all freely available to everyone. The recordings can be downloaded directly from the archive, but many listeners simply subscribe to the SRAA Podcast and receive each recording automatically, as it is published.

Turns out, the archive also attracts the interest of individuals outside of our radio world including historians, musicians, and filmmakers. Indeed, the archive has even been reviewed in The Wire Magazine by a music critic as an audio resource for electronic musicians. At time of posting, the SRAA is the inspiration for artists in the latest Cities and Memory project Shortwave Transmissions.

The archive is not, nor has ever been, monetized; it has no commercial sponsorship, and is completely funded by its contributors. It is free and open to everyone.

I’m exceedingly grateful to our many contributors who continue to unearth absolutely amazing off-air recordings. Our SRAA contributors are true champions of preserving our radio heritage in a space that will long outlast us.  We’ve taken measures to ensure that multiple archivists have full access to the site, so its existence isn’t dependent on any one individual. We also actively seek organizations and educational institutions who can house redundant copies of the Archive.

And still it grows.

Radio Spectrum Archive

Compared with the SRAA, the Radio Spectrum Archive (RSA) is still in its infancy.  But it, too, is growing, and the reason for this steady and growth is the existence of its contributors and other supporters.

Of course, while audio recordings––like those in the SRAA––are relatively small (often between 2 – 120 MB), spectrum recordings are larger by orders of magnitude.

As you might imagine–even in 2021/2022–it is not a simple task to digitally archive and share/move 20GB to 2 TB collections. We are incredibly fortunate in that the Internet Archive supports the RSA and gives us valuable real estate on their servers to preserve and share recordings.

With time, this collection will grow and become a resource for everyone. Our hope is that we may even be able to built a web interface (much like those used by Web SDRs) to play back recordings without having to physically download them.

My wholehearted thanks…

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the many contributors from within our radio community. Thank you all so much for being a part of a movement that archives our amazing, and amazingly diverse, radio history. You have made this possible.

Finally, I’m so grateful to the Radio Preservation Task Force––not just for this empowering partnership and what it means to us today, but for the future potential it represents.  It’s clear that we’ve only just begun.

Thank you––thank you––thank you, all.

Thomas Witherspoon

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Cities and Memory: “Remix and reimagine the world of shortwave radio”

I’m absolutely chuffed to announce that the excellent Cities and Memory sound project has partnered with the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive for an all-new take on the soundscape of cities, and YOU are invited to be part of it.

From Cities and Memory:

Open call – remix and reimagine the world of shortwave radio

Shortwave radio is one of the most fascinating sonic worlds – capturing vital moments in world history as well as pirate radio, clandestine stations, secretive number stations and military and spy radio, all of humanity is there to be listened to at the turn of a dial.

We’re delighted to have teamed up with The Shortwave Radio Archive to present 100 incredible recordings from the history of shortwave radio all over the world for artists to remix and reimagine.

Shortwave Transmissions is our latest global project, and we’re calling for sound artists and musicians to get involved by reimagining shortwave radio recordings from across the world.

Here’s how to get involved:

    1. Email us to let us know you’re interested – and we’ll send you the database of recordings to choose from.
    2. Let us know your top two choices, and we’ll allocate one of those sounds to you to work with.
    3. Create your composition – it must contain some elements of the original recording in some form, but otherwise is a completely free composition (music, sound art, radio art, composition, narrative storytelling – everything is valid!).
    4. Submit your composition – the final deadline will be Sunday 14 November.

There are some incredibly rich recordings to work with as source material – here is just a sample selection:

    • Recordings from the mysterious “numbers stations” around the world
    • Coverage of world-changing events such as 9/11, the invasion of Kuwait, Kennedy’s assassination, Tiananmen Square protests, the death of Fidel Castro and many more
    • Rare international recordings from St. Helena, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, the Falkland Islands and Antarctica
    • Recordings covering a huge period of time from 1934 through to the present day
    • Space travel documented, including the Sputnik, Apollo and Challenger missions
    • Recordings of famous voices such as Winston Churchill and King George V
    • Station IDsinterval signals and final broadcasts from radio stations

Compositions will be presented in the Shortwave Transmissions project in late November and to thousands of listeners across the Cities and Memory podcast, and a selection of compositions will be chosen for an accompanying album release

Sound artists and mixers, jump in to the Archive and see what you can unearth from the depths of our audio. We hope you’ll want to part in what we believe will be one of the most intriguing projects we’ve launched; in partnership with Cities and Memory, there’s no doubt it can be.  We look forward to your contributions!

Click here for full details at Cities and Memory.

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SRAA: Remembering September 11, 2001 through off-air recordings

Today marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11; a day where we honor all of those who were lost, their families/friends, and all of those who who served during and after the attacks.

This morning, I’ve been listening to a number of off-air shortwave radio recordings made on September 11 and 12, 2001. Many thanks to the amazing contributors at the SRAA who shared these with us over the years. For this radio enthusiast, these recordings brings back memories even more vividly than video coverage.

Recordings:

If you have off-air recordings of 9/11coverage that you would like to share, please contact us at the archive.

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Radio Tirana memories: Who was the voice of “goodnight dear listeners”–?

I just received the following comment from Richard Levenson posted with this off-air recording of Radio Tirana on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive:

Lots of fond memories listening to Radio Tirana, Albania going back to the late 1950’s. Their broadcasts back then were loaded with anti-West propaganda and more. Their interval signal is a classic to SWL people. Always remember the female announcer on the station. Her sign-off phrase was “and goodnight dear listeners.” This came after much in the way of negative propaganda. When she would say her sign off you got the idea she was tucking you into bed for the night. It had that quality and sincerity to it. Love to know who this person was or if she is still alive. Give you an idea how much SWL I did since around 1953 to present day.

Thank you for your comment, Richard! If you can identify this announcer with Radio Tirana, please comment with details!

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