Tag Archives: Shortwave Radio

Radio Waves: Radio Bulgaria’s Polish Service, AM Support, HBCU Radio Preservation Project, Golden Age of Radio Exhibition, and EAS Alert Language

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

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 David Iurescia and NT for the following tips:


When the BNR “spoke” Polish (BNR)

Radio Bulgaria is trying to track down old recordings of its radio programmes

Today, the Bulgarian National Radio’s foreign language service Radio Bulgaria “speaks” 11 languages. Through the years, languages have been added, others have been dropped – something that happened to the Polish-language programmes. They were aired by Radio Sofia, as the Bulgarian National Radio was called then, and by Radio Varna channel in the seaside city of the same name, but today they are rarely made mention of in the history of the BNR.

We were contacted by ham operator Jaros?aw Jedrzejczak from Poland who helped us pick up the missing information, putting an enormous amount of effort into tracing the history of the undeservedly forgotten programmes in Polish.

“Radio is a hobby of mine. When shortwave radio stations started closing down their Polish-language services, I took an interest in their history,” Mr. Jedrzejczak says. “In the Polish weekly “World of radio” I came across an advert for Radio Sofia from 1946, from which I found out it had aired 10-minute broadcasts in Polish from Bulgaria. That was when I started looking for information about Radio Sofia and to listen to these broadcasts. That was 30 years ago.”

Jaros?aw set about tracking down the Polish broadcasts. He got in touch with the first anchors and translators of Radio Sofia and Radio Varna’s Polish-language programmes, their heirs, collected the memories of the first people working at the foreign-language programmes, kept up a correspondence with the BNR. Who were they, who were the people speaking their own language from faraway Bulgaria? [Continue reading…]

Your Phone Has Nothing on AM Radio (The Atlantic) 

Why Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders are teaming up to save the century-old technology

By Jacob Stern

There is little love lost between Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Rashida Tlaib. She has called him a “dumbass” for his opposition to the Paris Climate Agreement; he has called her and her allies “shills for terrorists” on account of their support for Palestine. Lately, though, the right-wing Cruz and the left-wing Tlaib have found a cause they can both get behind: saving AM radio.

In recent years, a number of carmakers—BMW, Volvo, Tesla—have stopped offering AM radio in at least some models, especially electric cars. The problem is that their motors cause electromagnetic interference on the same frequency bands in which AM radio operates, in some cases making the already fuzzy medium inaudible. Carmakers do have ways to filter out the interference, but they are costly and imperfect—all to maintain a format that is in decline anyway. AM radio was eclipsed by the superior-sounding FM in the late ’70s, and the century-old technology can seem akin to floppy disks in the age of Spotify and podcasts. According to Ford’s internal data gathered from some of its newer vehicles, less than 5 percent of all in-car listening is to AM radio. Which is perhaps why Ford decided last year to drop AM from all of its vehicles, not just EVs.

Because so much listening happens in the car, the Ford news seemed like the beginning of the end for the whole medium. But just a few weeks after announcing that decision, the company reneged in response to political pressure. Before Ford’s reversal, Cruz and Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, had introduced the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act, which would require exactly what its title suggests. [Continue reading…note: paywall]

The HBCU Radio Preservation Project (WYSO)

The HBCU Radio Preservation Project is dedicated to honoring and preserving the vibrant history and cultural resource that is HBCU radio.

Nearly a third of the 104 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) have radio stations, and many have been on the air for more than fifty years. Much of the material created at these stations is at risk of being lost. Magnetic tape and other obsolete formats are deteriorating, and with them the primary source material that documents the rich history and diversity of the Black experience through the Civil Rights era and beyond. Present day digital material is also at risk.

The HBCU Radio Preservation Project grew out of a 2019 survey of HBCU radio stations to assess their preservation practices and needs. We collaborated with the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) on a follow up pilot project. With the generous support of the Mellon Foundation, we are now in the implementation phase of the project, partnering over the next four years with WYSO, NEDCC, the Margaret Walker Center at Jackson State University and the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. The goals of the project are to foster an ethos of preservation at HBCU radio stations, to preserve the stations’ audio collections, and to facilitate capacity-building and sustainability through connecting and supporting the stations and the institutional archives on campus.

We will be able to serve all 29 HBCU radio stations through the project. Our replicable model will serve not only HBCUs, but ultimately any college radio station—and tribal stations, rural stations, and other public and community stations. [Continue reading…]

Golden Age of Radio in US (DPLA)

Tuning into the radio is now an integrated part of our everyday lives. We tune in while we drive, while we work, while we cook in our kitchens. Just 100 years ago, it was a novelty to turn on a radio. The radio emerged at the turn of the twentieth century, the result of decades of scientific experimentation with the theory that information could be transmitted over long distances. Radio as a medium reached its peak—the so-called Radio Golden Age—during the Great Depression and World War II. This was a time when the world was rapidly changing, and for the first time Americans experienced those history-making events as they happened. The emergence and popularity of radio shifted not just the way Americans across the country experienced news and entertainment, but also the way they communicated. This exhibition explores the development, rise, and adaptation of the radio, and its impact on American culture.

Explore Exhibition here

FCC Report 2/18: Should Stations Be Required To Offer EAS Alerts In The Language Of Its Programming? (Radio Insight)

The commission is opening a comment period for a proposed rulemaking for a “simplified multilingual alert processing approach for EAS alerts through which pre-scripted alerts that have been pre-translated into non-English languages can be initiated by alert originators for distribution to the public by the TV and radio broadcasters, cable service providers, and other services that make up the EAS public alert distribution system.” Among the topics the proposal seeks comments are whether stations should be required to transmit alerts in the language of the program content it carries, whether stations should also be allowed to transmit templated alerts in languages that do not correspond to the content offered on the station or whether to limit it to the language that corresponds to the station’s programming.

The proposal would see alerts offered in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Haitian Creole, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese along with English and ASL. The FCC noted that the preliminary 2023 national EAS test revealed that already 2% of EAS participants transmitted alerts in Spanish, while 0.1% did so in other non-English languages. [Continue reading…]


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Guest Post: Bob’s conundrum with the Radio Data System (RDS)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bob Colegrove, who shares the following guest post:


A Conundrum with the Radio Data System (RDS),
or Why I Set the Clock Manually

By Bob Colegrove

There’s an old story about a man who owned two watches.  One watch ran but lost a minute every hour.  The other watch didn’t work at all.  He always wore the watch that didn’t work, because as he said, “At least it will have the correct time twice a day.”

First off, a couple of caveats.  This is not a definitive description of the Radio Data System (RDS).  I leave that to much more knowledgeable sources.  One detailed description is at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_Data_System.  Second, my experience described here is confined to the Eton Elite Executive and the XHDATA/SIHUADON D-808.  Other radios may operate differently.

I have surrounded myself with several multiband travel radios over the past year and enjoy them very much – each for different reasons.  Besides listening, I like to push buttons to see what happens.  The manuals?  At best they occasionally provide a clue.  I read them, eventually filling in the blanks on my own.

XHDATA/SIHUADON D-808

Basic RDS

What is RDS? RDS is a system which enables an FM station to transmit various fields of information such as date, time, call letters, frequency, and program information in text form.  The call letters are useful, but if you have a digital radio, you already know the frequency.  The name of the song and artist are particularly helpful if the DJ won’t tell you.  As for the date and time, well, I’ll get to that.

RDS is an international standard and Radio Broadcast Data System (RBDS) is the official name used for the U.S. version.  So why don’t we in the States just call it RBDS?  Probably because our radios aren’t made here.

Eton Elite Executive

The XHDATA and Eton allow the user to display four of the several fields comprising the RDS standard.  They each step through the same sequence, indicating a similar or possibly the same demodulator chip.

PS and RT seem to be freeform fields with stations providing whatever information they want to share.  Often the call letters and frequency are contained here, along with program content.  Clock Time (CT) is not displayed per se, but is used to set the radio time, and is included as part of the DATA field.  DATA is important; it has four elements, which should provide the listener with an indication of the call, day, date, and time being received by the radio.  The international RDS standard omits the call letters.

The RDS information transmitted by any given station may not contain all the fields identified above, including the time.  For example, stepping through the fields you may encounter “NO PTY,” “NO PS,” “NO RT,” or “NO DATA.” Consequently, you may tune in to a station broadcasting RDS and wait a long time for the radio clock to synchronize, which it never does.  The display of any content in the DATA field is probably the best clue whether CT is being transmitted.

It is interesting that the Eton is programmed for the US RBDS system, whereas the XDATA follows the international RDS system.  For the international system on the D-808:

  • “DATE” replaces “DATA” in the display.
  • The call letters are omitted from the DATE field.
  • The terms in the PTY field differ; for example, WRBS, 95.1 MHz, the PTY element displays “SOCIAL” instead of “RELIGIOUS MUSIC.”

International PTY RDS term on the XHDATA

US PTY RBDS term on the Eton

The Conundrum

The mischief all began when I got my XHDATA D-808 and tried to program the clock to automatically update using the RDS information off FM stations.  Minutes seem to display correctly, but try as I might, I couldn’t get the hours to register properly.  Then I bought an Eton Elite Executive.  It also has the RDS feature, so I tried again.  It appeared to work OK for a day or so.  Then the hour indication started to misbehave.  In addition to the clock, the Eton allows programming of time zones and day of the week.  I determined that the erroneous indication did not appear to be related to GMT, EST, 12-hour or 24-hour format settings.  In theory, if you try to set your radio to GMT or some other time zone, the RDS time from a local station should override it.

When I tested the radios side-by-side, the DATA field was fraught with problems on both radios.  Several local RDS stations containing CT were monitored.  The whip antenna was extended a tad, as the information may not reliably register with some otherwise clear audio signals.

  • When tuned to the same station, there were occasional inconsistencies between the two radios, presumably receiving the same exact information from the station.

 

  • Sometimes the hour would not advance on the XHDATA after minutes transitioned from 59 to 00.
  • Curiously, both radios might exhibit the correct date and time during the day, then at 1900 EST, several stations on both radios prematurely advance to the next day and date, and the hour would display incorrectly, completely unrelated to local hour.  Minutes may or may not be correct.  1900 EST happens to be 0000 GMT.  Are some station clocks running on GMT?

RDS content obviously requires some attention at the station.  In the end, they are responsible for the information going out.  In fairness, with all that goes on in a studio and limited staffing, RDS content may not be a priority.  As an example:

  • Call letters in the DATA field for local WMZQ read KZQK, which is not assigned.

Conclusions

There are two main factors which may impinge on the accuracy of a radio clock when set automatically by the RDS:

  • Accuracy depends on the station transmitting it correctly.
    • With RDS set to the AUTO mode, there is a good chance that the clock will be updated repeatedly as the radio is tuned among various stations – not necessarily to the correct time.
      • For the Eton, the clock would reset each time when changing stations between WTOP (correct time) and WPRS (incorrect time).
      • For the XHDATA, the clock would reset each time when changing stations between WTOP (correct minutes) and WPRS (incorrect minutes).  In both cases, the displayed hour remained 00.
    • There is still the unexplained premature update of day and date by some stations observed on both radios.
  • Correct time depends on the radio’s RDS demodulator to interpret the incoming data.

Trivial?  Perhaps, but you may want to reconsider and program the clock manually, particularly if you depend on the alarm function of the radio to get to work on time.

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Results: Top 10 DX of the Year 2023

Many thanks to SWling Post contributor, Istvan, who writes:

Dear Thomas,

2023 Contest results now with more details in the “Score database”:
http://www.topdx-radioclub.com/top10dx.html

Certificates can be downloaded here:
http://www.topdx-radioclub.com/certificate-2023.html

Thank you very much in advance!
All the best,
Istvan

Thank you for sharing the results and, most importantly, hosting this contest! Readers, note that you can click on the image above to open a larger version.

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Kim Elliott: Why We Need “Shortwave 2.0”

Many thanks to a number of SWLing Post contributors who share the following article written by our friend Kim Elliott for Radio World:

Why We Need “Shortwave 2.0”

by Kim Andrew Elliott

Debate about the future of shortwave broadcasting focuses on the correct observation that shortwave listening is no longer a mainstream activity in most of the world.

The future of shortwave broadcasting — “Shortwave 2.0” — will not involve any revival of those large audiences. Instead, it will be an activity of communications enthusiasts and professionals. They would comprise a reserve corps able to relay information to larger populations in their countries when newer media are blocked or otherwise become unavailable.

The beginning of the end of “Shortwave 1.0” was described in “Shortwave Broadcasting Begins Its Long Slow Fade,” an article I wrote in the 1995 World Radio TV Handbook. I noted the elimination, in the post-Cold-War media environment, of shortwave broadcasts in some languages, as well as some entire transmitting sites, e.g. Trans World Radio on Bonaire and Far East Broadcasting Company in California (KGEI). In my (then) role as audience research analyst at the Voice of America, I listed examples of declining shortwave audiences.

The really big chunk fell from the shortwave glacier six years later, when BBC World Service ended its English broadcasts to North America. In the following years, other international broadcasters followed, first dropping shortwave to North America, and eventually to other parts of the world. The aforementioned 1995 World Radio TV Handbook listed 27 European countries with English broadcasts on shortwave to North America. Now only Radio Romania International has shortwave English to North America.

The exodus from shortwave (for both international and domestic broadcasting) was due to competing media, including relays on FM stations in the target country, satellite broadcasting (mostly television) and, especially, the internet.

For the audience, internet content is easier and more reliable to receive. It also allows content to be received on demand, and text or video in addition to the audio to which shortwave was restricted. As an audience researcher, I could see in the datasets that audiences for international media were migrating from radio to internet-based media. [Continue reading at Radio World…]

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“If Memory Serves Me Right, . . .”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bob Colegrove, who shares the following guest post:


If Memory Serves Me Right, . . .

By Bob Colegrove

The radio in my ’61 Ford Falcon came with memory.

Memory features on portable radios have become increasingly popular in recent years.  I would say the subject ranks up there with antennas and batteries in many discussion groups.  Memory is really a matter of convenience; that is, the quick and easy recall of favored frequencies.

Mechanical Memory

Memory-capable radios are nothing new.  My very first multi-band radio was a Howard Radio Company Model 308 radio-phonograph console.  It was manufactured sometime in the late 1930s and came with four memories.  These were in the form of pushbuttons, which when pressed, quickly accelerated rotation of the variable capacitor to frequencies of local interest.  The radio even came with a set of call letter stickers for AM stations all over the country.  Memory in car radios goes back almost as far.  It was convenient when you were driving.

During daylight hours it wasn’t hard to find stations in the nearby radio listening area, so you could just twirl the tuning knob in the usual manner until you got to the desired station.  In lieu of push buttons, my mother marked the dial of her kitchen radio with red fingernail polish, WXLW, WIBC, WIRE, WFBM, WISH.  At night it was quite another problem, when the great ionosphereic mirror in the sky began to reflect radio signals from hundreds of miles away.  That’s when the buttons really became useful.  Being a mechanical system, you had to be careful; a hard press of a button would cause the mechanism to overshoot the frequency.

Digital Memory

The digital age brought with it the capability of adding electronic memory to the product, as well as much more precision.  My next experience with radio memory came in the mid-eighties with the Sony ICF-2010.  This radio has a matrix of 8 x 4 = 32 dedicated keys on the front panel, each key recalling one stored frequency.  Further, in the case of SW, the single-sideband and bandwidth settings can be saved.  I found the feature very useful and managed to keep many of the 32 memory locations occupied a good deal of the time, honestly never giving much thought to the need for more memory.

Memory matrix on the Sony ICF-2010.  In conjunction with the SHIFT key,
many buttons have a secondary function for scanning or band selection.

But today’s small multiband portables do not have the available real estate for a large matrix of memory buttons on the front panel.  It’s now done with a sequence of key presses or possibly rotation of the tuning knob.  Since the Sony ICF-2001/2010, there has been a race among manufacturers to include more and more memory capacity in their radios.  “If you build it, they will come.”  Below is a sample of the total memory locations in some popular portable radios.

I am reminded of a passage in Life on the Mississippi in which Mark Twain speculated about the continual shortening of the Mississippi River due to new channels flooding across its bends.  According to his extrapolation, in 742 years Cairo, Illinois will be joined with New Orleans.  Similarly, we may soon reach the point where memory capacity of a multiband radio exceeds the total number of available channels.  But memory is cheap these days.  I suppose it’s already on the chip, so why not make it available and tout it as a feature?

As a result of this large memory capacity, recalling a saved station can quickly become a problem.  First, if you have band-specific paging, you must ensure you are on the appropriate band.  On page memory radios, it requires that you first recall the page number and button on the number pad where you have saved the frequency.  In any event, you navigate through the stored locations mentally correlating location numbers with frequencies.

There is no standard by which manufacturers implement memory.  On the Skywave SSB 2, D-808, and ICF-SW-7600GR, the number pad defaults to memory tuning.  For direct frequency tuning, you must first press FREQ on the SSB 2 and D-808.  The Tecsun radios on the other hand have toggling VF and VM modes, and you best be careful which one is active.  To recall memory on the PL-330, you can either spin the tuning dial to the channel or key the channel on the number pad if you can remember it.

To directly enter a frequency Sony ICF-SW7600GR, there are two extra key presses:
DIRECT before the frequency and ENTER after.

At this point I must ask, at what point does it become more convenient just to directly key in a 4- or 5-digit frequency?

One of the things to remember about radio memory, even the old push-button kind, is that it stores frequencies not stations.  If another shortwave station is broadcasting on a frequency you saved, that may be what you will hear when the frequency is recalled.  With some extra effort, the Sangean ATS-909X will allow you to record a memo (i.e., station call or name) with frequencies you have stored.  Just remember, this may not be the station you thought you saved.

As an aside, the C. Crane Skywave SSB 2 can scan the first page of AIR band storage (10 frequencies).  If you don’t have 10 frequencies of interest, simply duplicate some of them to fill out the page.  This is also a good way to prioritize a favored frequency.

ATS

If you use the auto tune system (ATS) the computer searches and memorizes all detectable signals for AM, SW, FM or possibly AIR – each band separately.  When it’s done, you’ve caught a net full of fish, and are then confronted with a memory bank full of frequencies, many of which you may not be interested in, but must tune through in much the same way as with conventional tuning.  Finally, there is no easier way to destroy a meticulously hand-programmed memory page than to hold a button down too long and inadvertently activate ATS.  How do I know that?

Keep in mind, ATS requires a broad-band antenna to keep the playing field level during the scan.  The whip is generally all I need.  In the dense population of FM stations along the US East Coast, a completely retracted whip is often best.  I find the Tecsuns best for adding or deleting frequencies after the ATS scan.

Enhanced Tuning Mode

Tecsun has introduced ETM in recent years.  It is interesting and useful.  The most recent incarnation is called Enhanced Tuning Mode (ETM+), and the manufacturer has dedicated 3 ½ pages of the PL-330 manual to explain it.  In essence, it operates on each band much like auto tuning storage (ATS), but protects whatever you have in the radio’s main memory, and allows you to store time-specific sets of frequencies in separate ETM pages.  This expands the total memory to whatever extent on-air stations are detected during each time period.  I haven’t been able to put a number on it.

This Tecsun PL-330 display indicates the radio captured 45 frequencies
on an ETM scan of international broadcast bands made during the 00 UTC hour.

ETM is a quick way to find out what’s currently on SW international broadcast bands.  ETM logs SW broadcast stations to memory and reports the total number of stations captured at a given time (think of it as a separate page).  The total number could be used to determine SW reception conditions by comparing it with a previously calculated average for the same period.  For AM and FM, the feature can be used to store stations at a travel location without affecting main storage.  Regardless of how you use ETM, there is a learning curve, as well as a need to be continually alert to what you are doing.

Virtual ETM

For any other radio with page memory, you can still have many of the advantages of ETM, as well as avoid the likelihood of accidentally wiping out your carefully programmed frequencies.  Here’s how.

ATS on most radios begins saving frequencies on the lowest numbered page.  Note that the lowest page on the SSB 2 is 1, while it is 0 on the D-808, and the first station on each page is at button 0 (bottom).  My experience in the highly congested AM and FM bands on the US East Coast is that an ATS scan will likely take up no more than four or five pages of memory.  Likewise, ATS for SW is limited to AM stations on the international broadcast bands and will not require many pages, even at night.  By manually programming your favorite frequencies beginning on the sixth page of a 10-page memory arrangement they will likely be out of reach of an ATS scan and your manually-saved frequencies will still be there when you want them.

The travel benefit also applies to virtual ETM.  An ATS scan performed at a different location using the lower pages will quickly put you in touch with local stations in that area and preserve your manually saved frequencies at home.

As an aside, I would also suggest that sideband frequencies be kept together on separate pages, as the SSB function must be engaged separately to detect them.  With SSB engaged, the C. Crane Skywave SSB 2 will recall the saved LSB or USB mode, but you may have to switch from one to the other on the XDATA D-808.

Example of virtual ETM for D-808 on the shortwave band.
Skywave SSB 2 would be similar.

Virtual ETM is not perfect.  This method does not provide all the time-specific paging that the Tecsun PL-330 has.  Also, there is a danger if your radio has an auto-sorting feature which might be inadvertently activated.  Lock the buttons on your radio when you turn it off or pack it up.

Conclusion

Apart from simply listening to the radio, it’s still entertaining to press buttons and see what they do – something like an electronic Rubic’s Cube.  I will go as far as to put a half dozen favorite AM and FM stations into memory.  I may enter a DX frequency or two I want to check out periodically.  That said, there are a limited number of storage locations beyond which memory ceases to be convenient, and for me the number is well short of what is generally available.

On the other hand, ETM or virtual ETM opens some useful possibilities if you take one of these small portables on travel or want to do a quick scan to see what’s currently on shortwave.

No radios were harmed in the preparation of this blog.

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An interview with Glenn Hauser

Glenn with his wrist-mounted altazimuth DX-398 for MW direction-finding.

By Jock Elliott, KB2GOM

Since he was in grade school, Glenn Hauser has had the itch to receive broadcasts at long distance, and that interest, continuing throughout his lifetime, has led him to become one of the most respected authorities in the world of radio.

SWLing: How did you get started in radio?

GH: I started with TV DXing, trying to pick up Albuquerque 100 miles away, but often getting sporadic E skip stations more than 1,000 miles away. I also started tuning around medium wave. I was 8 or 9 years old.

SWLing: How did you get started with shortwave radio?

GH: In 1954, the family moved to Oklahoma City. By 1957, I acquired a Hallicrafters S-38E and was listening to shortwave using a longwire antenna, sending off for QSL cards. I was still doing TV DXing.

Then in 1961 the family moved to Enid, better for TV DXing, away from all those local stations, also radio DX. I acquired a Hammerlund HQ160, which was quite an improvement.

SWLing: Were you professionally involved in radio?

GH: In college, I worked on the campus radio station and also at a classical music station, KHFM. My BA was in broadcast journalism. After college, I continued to work on classical musical stations as programmer and announcer. I was very interested in foreign languages, learned phonetic schemes of various languages and learned to pronounce them. Radio Budapest was particularly helpful with Hungarian, which some announcers find difficult. I spent my professional career working for classical music stations.

I spent a year in Thailand, working for the American Forces Thailand Network. I was a newsman on the air in 1969 and 1970.

I had the HQ160 and a small TV in a footlocker, and in my spare time, DXed TV from as far as South Korea and the Philippines and medium wave from Europe.

After four years in the USAF, I resumed classic music radio, notably at WUOT, Knoxville.

By then I was contributing to various DX programs on SW stations, clubs, and eventually started my own program World of Radio. You can find out when to hear my program on the Schedules page at www.worldofradio.com . One of the main places to hear it is on WRMI in Florida. I was SW columnist for Popular Electronics, and later, Monitoring Times. Also published my own magazines, Review of International Broadcasting, and DX Listening Digest; at first on paper, then online.

SWLing: How did you get involved in logging SW radio stations?

GH: It was a natural outgrowth of enthusiasm for hobby; I was a regular contributor to DX Jukebox on Radio Netherlands (monthly) and Radio Canada International’s DX/SWL Digest (weekly).

SWLing: What sort of equipment do you use?

GH: A JRC NRD 545 and an Icom R75 for shortwave and medium wave. For antennas, I use a Wellbrook loop, a 100-foot random wire oriented east-west outside, and some shorter random wires inside the house. It is noisy where I live, and I’ve been trying to get the local electric company to fix line noise radiation.

Here in the town, my property is limited in space for antennas. I’ve been known to hook on to a wire fence in the country as a de facto Beverage antenna.

SWLing: How many hours a day do you monitor?

GH: It varies. Because of my program and my logging reports, I have made myself a nexus for information, so a lot gets sent to me. As a routine, I am always tuning around at bedtime, as well as various times during the day. At random times, I may do a band scan to see what’s happening.

SWLing: What are you most memorable moments listening to SW?

GH: Certainly one was October 4, 1957, hearing Sputnik on 20 megahertz.

SWLing: Any tips, tricks or advice you would care to offer to SWLs or DXers?

GH: Become as well informed as possible by participating in groups such as https://groups.io/g/WOR . Be aware of various references online such as the big 3 SW frequency listings, Aoki, EiBi, and HFCC, among those linked from my homepage http://www.worldofradio.com . In addition, scan the radio bands until you are familiar with what’s there, so you can notice something new or different.

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Midway Island Radio Terminal 1971: Digging up the past and a mystery signal…

Many thanks to SWLing Post and Shortwave Radio Audio Archive contributor, Dan Greenall, who shares the following post:


Midway Island Radio Terminal 1971 – digging up the past

It was a brief “military style” transmission on approximately 14.85 MHz shortwave, logged sometime during 1971. And I still had a recording of it!

Recording:

I wondered if there was any chance of confirming what exactly I had heard way back then, so I recently decided to try a little bit of detective work. My first contact was with Nick England, K4NYW, who runs a “hobby” website about U.S. Navy communications in the 1950’s and 1960’s. He was good enough to put me in contact with a Midway navy vet, Charles E. “Chuck” Kinzer, who writes:

“…it could be a “long count” test for one of the transmitters at the Naval Communication Unit transmitter site where I worked.

When I was there (1966-1968) they installed two log periodic fixed antennas, one pointing generally east (Washington DC) and the other generally west (toward Vietnam).

Each was connected to an AN/FRT-39 10 KW transmitter. And for the most part, always connected to the same two transmitters. (We had an antenna patch panel and could mix and match most any transmitter to most any antenna.) It is my understanding that they were used by the Security Group on Eastern Island (one of the two Midway Islands which are Sand and Eastern). They were set up for single sideband voice. (Most of the other AN/FRT-39s were set up for multiplexed TTY tones on both sidebands with suppressed carrier. 16 channels on each sideband.)

From time to time, they would tell us they wanted to do a “long count” and we would set the power level of one of the transmitters. As they did the count, we would set the power level of the peaks of the voice close to the maximum transmitter power. You could see the various meters flail up and down to near maximum along with the voice. This would be mainly the “PA Plate Current”, “PA Plate RF”, and PA Output” meters on the 10 KW final.

We couldn’t hear the voice, just see the meter activity. It would help if the person knew the frequency. If it was NOT an amateur radio frequency, it might have been one of those long count tests on one of those Navy transmitters. ….”over 50 years ago” sounds reasonable for that exercise. I assume the usage of that particular transmitter/antenna setup lasted to the end of the Vietnam war, at least.

Incidentally, when this was first set up, we had instructions to put X transmitter on Y antenna and so forth when they started testing the two new antennas. They would ask to do a “long count” test where we would set the power levels. Then shortly after they would start shouting into the microphone raising the power level too high and the transmitter would trip off. We asked them exactly what they were trying to do and, for secrecy I guess, they would not tell us. After a while, they figured out they were using the two antennas backwards. For example, they were trying to transmit east off the back side of the west facing antenna. These were VERY good antennas and very little power was wasted in the envelope going backwards.

I don’t know if this helps. Rather amazing that there is a recording existing like this. You never know what is going to pop out of the woodwork.”

Chuck later added that he might ask someone else for a little help. In the 1970’s, I used to own a guide to utility stations by Joerg Klingenfuss, that had lots of great frequency information, but sadly, I decided to part with it a number of years ago.

Please listen to the audio file of the transmission above from 1971, maybe some readers might weigh in with their thoughts on this? Please feel free to comment.

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