I’m very honored to be featured with my good friend Wlodek (US7IGN) in a short radio documentary on BBC Radio 4 today.
Wlodek is long-time reader and subscriber here on the SWLing Post and QRPer.com. Wlodek lives in Kiev, Ukraine and we keep in touch these days over email. Like me, he is passionate about field radio work and before the Russian invasion, you’d often find him in nearby forests experimenting with some pretty impressive field antennas.
Sadly, when Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, it very quickly brought an end to all of that for Wlod. Not only were amateur radio operators not allowed to transmit under the state of emergency, but it’s no longer safe to venture into nearby forests.
Radio producer, Cicely Fell, learned about our love of all things field radio and put together an audio piece that airs today on BBC Radio 4:
From the forests of North Carolina, USA to the city of Kyiv, Ukraine – two ham radio enthusiasts seek each other out and a voice from the past prompts a dialogue on listening between a rabbi and a radio producer.
I’m very honored to have been interviewed by John Walsh who produces the excellent program Wireless on Flirt FM in Ireland. John reached out to discuss the relevance of the shortwave radio medium, particularly through the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Here’s the show description:
In the April 2022 edition of Wireless, we look at the part of the radio spectrum called shortwave, consider its importance in the past and continued relevance in a digital world. Founder of the SWLing blog Thomas Witherspoon discusses the historical development of shortwave, including its heyday during the Cold War, and explains how it continues to be used today, for instance to evade Russian internet censorship during the Ukrainian war. The programme also remembers Irish pirate shortwave operators of the 1980s as featured on our related site Pirate.ie.
John is a true kindred spirit and devoted radio enthusiast. I would encourage you to subscribe to his monthly Wireless episodes via your favorite podcast player; here are links to iTunes, Spotify, and Stitcher.
In addition, John is the one of the founders and curators of Pirate.ie which is a brilliantly documented archive of pirate radio stations in Ireland. I highly recommend checking it out!
I’m honored to have been interviewed by Frank Howell (K4FMH) for the ICQ Amateur / Ham Radio Podcast. The interview was posted as a podcast this weekend.
If you’re not familiar, the ICQ podcast is posted every fortnight and runs about 1.5-2.5 hours or so depending on news items and features. Here’s the description of this episode (#322):
In this episode, Martin M1MRB is joined by Chris Howard M0TCH, Martin Rothwell M0SGL, Ed Durrant DD5LP, Frank Howell K4FMH and Bill Barns N3JIX to discuss the latest Amateur / Ham Radio news. Colin M6BOY rounds up the news in brief and this episode’s feature is – Passion of Shortwave Listening with Thomas Witherspoon K4SWL.
Last week, I had the honor of speaking with Eric Klein and Jennifer Waits on the excellent Radio Survivor podcast. It’s rare that in one show I get to spread so much shortwave radio love–thanks for making that happen Radio Survivor:
Perhaps you are like me and you have wished that you could go back in time and spin a radio dial and just listen to and browse the full radio spectrum from another time and place. Our guest on the show, Radio Anthropologist Thomas Witherspoon, is building a website for just such a thing. It’s called the Radio Spectrum Archive and it is not magic, it uses a piece of technology called a software defined radio that makes recording a full spectrum of Shortwave, AM and even FM radio (if you have the computing power to handle the load) a very real possibility. Thomas Witherspoon is also the primary contributor to The Shortwave Listening Post (www.swling.com) so we are going to learn a few things about the wonder that is shortwave radio on planet earth.
It’s easy to dismiss radio as little more than background noise while we drive. At worst you might even think it’s just another method for advertisers to peddle their wares. But in reality it’s a snapshot of the culture of a particular time and place; a record of what was in the news, what music was popular, what the weather was like, basically what life was like. If it was important enough to be worth the expense and complexity of broadcasting it on the radio, it’s probably worth keeping for future reference.
But radio is fleeting, a 24/7 stream of content that’s never exactly the same twice. Yet while we obsessively document music and video, nobody’s bothering to record radio. You can easily hop online and watch a TV show that originally aired 50 years ago, but good luck finding a recording of what your local radio station was broadcasting last week. All that information, that rich tapestry of life, is gone and there’s nothing we can do about it.
Or can we? At HOPE XII, Thomas Witherspoon gave a talk called “Creating a Radio Time Machine: Software-Defined Radios and Time-Shifted Recordings”, an overview of the work he’s been doing recording and cataloging the broadcast radio spectrum. He demonstrated how anyone can use low cost SDR hardware to record, and later play back, whole chunks of the AM and shortwave bands. Rather than an audio file containing a single radio station, the method he describes allows you to interactively tune in to different stations and explore the airwaves as if it were live.[…]
The ABC has turned off its shortwave radio transmitters, leaving Australians in remote areas without easy access to lifeline radio
OTTAWA — On Jan. 31, state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corp. shut down its shortwave radio transmitters; ending both international broadcasts of Radio Australia and the ABC’s domestic service in Australia’s Northern Territory. The transmitters were located at ABC broadcasting facilities at Katherine, Tennant Creek, and Roe Creek (Alice Springs).
According to the ABC news release that announced the shutdown on Dec. 6 — less than two months before it took place — “The move is in line with the national broadcaster’s commitment to dispense with outdated technology and to expand its digital content offerings including DAB+ digital radio, online and mobile services, together with FM services for international audiences.”
[…]The majority of ABC audiences in the Northern Territory currently access ABC services via AM and FM and all ABC radio and digital radio services are available on the Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) satellite service.”[…]
Today is World Radio Day, a time “to remember the unique power of radio to touch lives and bring people together across every corner of the globe,” UNESCO reminds us. As shortwave radio listeners, we understand this power of information without borders.
Here are a few ways you can celebrate World Radio Day 2015…
Ears To Our World (ETOW)
In Belize, ETOW works with visually impaired children through our partner and friends at the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired. Photo by ETOW volunteer/supporter, David Korchin (K2WNW). Click to enlarge.
Of course, at my non-profit, Ears To Our World, we celebrate the unique power of radio everyday as well.
Indeed, we’re in the process of preparing at least another 100 radios for Sierra Leone, where children are receiving education over the airwaves as schools have been closed in an effort to stop the spread of Ebola.
If you can get on the air today, there are a few events happening around the world you might be able to catch:
Alexanderson Alternator Station SAQ
Alexanderson alternator in the SAQ Grimeton VLF transmitter.
SWLing Post reader, Greg (VA7BC), passes along this announcement from the ARRL:
“The World Heritage Grimeton Radio SAQ in Sweden plans to fire up its Alexanderson alternator on 17.2 kHz on the occasion of UNESCO World Radio Day, Friday, February 13. The station will begin tuning at 1430 UTC, and a message will be transmitted at 1500 UTC.
A message with a theme of “peace” has been put together by more than 200 citizens of Varberg, Sweden, via the “Varberg Calling for Peace” project.
SAQ will not be issuing QSL cards nor post a list of reports, but it will accept brief listener reports. The Grimeton site’s Amateur Radio station SK6SAQ will be active, using a special event World Radio Day call sign — 7S6WRD. Frequencies: 7035 kHz or 14,035 khz, CW, and 3755 kHz SSB. QSL to 7S6WRD via SM bureau.“
“On Friday 13 February 2015, participating broadcasters around the globe will devote at least half-an-hour of their programming to the WRD 2015 themes “Innovation and youth in radio”.
The main organisers, the European Broadcasting Union, in partnership with the ABU and other broadcasting unions, will also offer three short optional pre-recorded radio features devoted to Radio and Youth, Radio and Innovation and the History of Humanitarian Use of Radio: UN Radio.
The segments can be used whole or in part in a time slot of each station’s choice. Most of the features will also be available with scripts in French, Russian, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese, thanks to the UN.
Speeches by UN personalities will also be available ready to use on air, plus a one-hour rights-free concert live from Geneva by the UN Jazz Orchestra will be made available.
Organisers say that, as this will be a relay following the world’s time zones, there will be a succession of radio stations each handing over to the next participant throughout the day.
To give listeners around the world the chance to follow this special WRD program, the broadcasts will be put on an Internet stream, coordinated via the EBU in Geneva.
“The ITU International Amateur Radio Club station in Geneva will use the special call 4U0ITO to mark World Radio Day on Friday, February 13
The ARRL report this event also marks the kickoff for the International Telecommunication Union 150th anniversary.
International Amateur Radio Union President Tim Ellam, VE6SH, will inaugurate special call sign 4U0ITU at 0900 UT. He will be accompanied by ITU Secretary General Houlin Zhao, other elected officials and VIPs.
The IARC will use the 4U0ITU call sign until the World Radiocommunication Conference 2015, November 2-27.
World Radio Day commemorates the first broadcasts of UN Radio in 1946.”
Send listener reports to your favorite shortwave broadcasters
Many of your favorite shortwave broadcasters will dedicate a portion of their programming to World Radio Day.
This is the perfect day, as a listener, to let your favorite broadcasters know you’re listening! Send in a proper QSL report–mention the time, frequency and type of programming you heard. Give the broadcaster a proper signal report as well (click here to read about the universally accepted SINPO code). Broadcasters love to hear about any insight you pulled from their news items or reports–the more detail, the better. And thank them for broadcasting over shortwave.
You can typically find contact information on the broadcaster’s website. If you have any difficulty, please comment and I, or another reader/contributor, will try to help.
Happy World Radio Day!
It’s been fun to see how World Radio Day has grown over the years. I believe it’s a wonderful reason to celebrate all that we love about radio.
To celebrate World Radio Day 2013, UNESCO asked me to record why I believe radio is relevant today. Here was my response: