Tag Archives: VOA Site B

VOA exhbition: “a fascinating look at early shortwave radio”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, George Herr, who shares the following item from the LA Times:

Long before cell towers started sprouting up everywhere, the federal government commissioned telecommunication companies to build five massive fields of shortwave radio antennae. The structures, which reached up to 450 feet, were located in out-of-the-way places in California, Ohio and North Carolina. Each was designed to bounce radio waves off the ionosphere, allowing federally produced programming to be transmitted all over the globe.

The U.S.’ international radio broadcaster Voice of America was born during World War II. It expanded during the Cold War. As technology advanced, its programs were carried via television and digital platforms. Today it is part of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, providing news and information in 50 languages to a weekly audience of 275 million.

Its early years are traced in a fascinating exhibition at the Center for Land Use Interpretation in Culver City. “Voice of America: The Long Reach of Shortwave” takes visitors back to the predigital world, before our political leaders began tweeting their innermost sentiments and policy decisions. Back then, international audiences were addressed more formally, via carefully scripted programming.

[…]The antennae are the stars of the show. They appear in photographs, in videos and on touch-screen monitors. Arranged in grids, arcs and asymmetrical arrays, they resemble high-tech fishing nets, impossibly spindly bridges, supersized spirit catchers and otherworldly telephone poles. Sculpturally impressive, they make Land Art look fussy, precious and small.

All but one of the five transmission stations have been abandoned. The most haunting component of the exhibition is a three-minute video documenting the destruction of the antennae. In sequence after sequence, little puffs of smoke appear before the towering antennae yield to the tug of gravity and topple to the earth in seemingly slow motion. Some crash into others, causing them to fall like skyscraper dominoes. It’s a sad ballet that marks the end of an era.

A pair of touch-screen slideshows is also bittersweet. It takes visitors on a virtual tour of Transmission Station B (the only one still functioning) and Transmission Station A (its twin). Both are near Greenville, N.C. To see the up-and-running station alongside its vandalized, disused doppelganger is to glimpse a living world next to a dying one.

Both are ours.

Click here to read the full story at the LA Times.

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Macon Dail receives the BBG Gold Medal Award

I’m incredibly proud of my friend, Macon Dail, who was recently awarded the Gold Medal Award from the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

Post Readers might recall that Macon is the Chief Engineer at the Edward R. Murrow Broadcasting Station in Greenville, North Carolina and was featured in our 2012 tour of the transmitting site.

Here’s the announcement:

Macon M. Dail, Jr., Chief Engineer, Edward R. Murrow Broadcasting Station (Greenville, NC) has been nominated and selected to receive the Broadcasting Board of Governor’s (BBG) most prestigious award – The Gold Medal.

The Gold Medal Award is utilized by BBG to recognize extraordinary employee contributions to the mission and goals of the agency during the past year. The nomination was made by Dail’s peers.

Dail’s nomination is the first time in the station’s more than 50 year history that a station employee has been awarded the Agency’s highest honor.

The awards ceremony [was] held in Washington, DC on November 1, 2017 at the Wilbur J. Cohen Federal Building Auditorium at 2:00 pm.

Bravo, Macon!

Not only are you an invaluable engineer, but you’ve also become an amazing ambassador for one of the largest active shortwave transmitter sites in the world. This award was very well-deserved.

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Edward R. Murrow Shortwave Transmitting Station: wallpaper images

VOA-site-B-Wallpaper-MainBuilding2

On April 1st, I spent the bulk of the day at the Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station outside of Greenville, North Carolina. Prior to my visit, I asked if SWLing Post readers had any requests or questions I could address while there.

I printed all of your inquiries and made sure they were addressed during my visit. I also took a lot of photos!

I had hoped to have a post published the following week with all of the photos and responses properly curated, but frankly, I haven’t had the spare time to do it yet. I’ve simply had too much travel and too many projects on my plate since that site visit (not to mention cramming for the Extra exam!).

I’m working on a draft of the post now and Macon Dail (WB4PMQ), the transmitting station’s Chief Engineer, is helping me with captions and responding to your questions.

Wallpaper

One reader asked if I could snap some photos that could be used as wallpaper on his computer. This morning, I selected eleven images and cropped them to fit a widescreen monitor.

I tried to pick images that would work well as a background/wallpaper–meaning, they’re not too busy (visually). Some are abstract close-ups.

Click on any of the images on this page to enlarge–then simply save the image to your computer to use it as you see fit.

I hope you enjoy!

VOA-site-B-Wallpaper-MainBuilding VOA-site-B-Wallpaper-HighVoltage VOA-site-B-Wallpaper-Curtain-Closeup VOA-site-B-Wallpaper-Curtain-Antenna VOA-site-B-Wallpaper-Continental-Transmitter VOA-site-B-Wallpaper-BluePrints VOA-site-B-Wallpaper-AntennaFarm VOA-site-B-Wallpaper-Antenna VOA-site-B-Wallpaper-1 VOA-site-B-Wallpaper-TX-Mimic-Panel

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Any requests? Heading to the Edward R. Murrow transmitting station…

VOA-Greenville-Curtain-Antennas

I’m planning to visit the Edward R. Murrow transmitter station for a few hours on Friday (tomorrow). This will be my third trip to the station and I’ll be hanging out with the chief engineer, Macon Dail. I plan to take more photos–especially of some recent transmitter upgrades.

Any questions/requests?

If you like, I would be happy to ask Macon any technical/engineering questions you may have about the site and post his replies here on the SWLing Post next week.

Additionally, if you have something specific you’d like me to photograph, please ask and I’ll attempt to do so. The only areas I’m not allowed to photograph are those dealing with site security.

Please comment with your questions and requests no later than tomorrow morning!

In case you’re not familiar, the Edward R. Murrow transmitter site is the last BBG shortwave broadcasting site on US soil. Click here for a photo tour I posted a few ago.

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Breaking news: OIG Report on the Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station

Fullscreen capture 3182016 51138 PM

I’ve just received a copy of the Office of Inspections (OIG) report on the VOA transmitting station in Greenville, NC. The full OIG report is now in the public domain as a PDF.

Here are a few highlights…

A summary of what OIG found:

  • The Broadcasting Board of Governors Special Committee on the future of shortwave broadcasting issued the report “To Be Where the Audience Is,” in August 2014. It concluded that the demand for shortwave broadcasting is declining in most of its audience markets. The report referred to transmission to Cuba twice, but fell short of recommending to close any Broadcasting Board of Governors shortwave transmitting stations.
  • The Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station reports to the Office of Cuba Broadcasting and Office of Technology, Services, and Innovation. The dual reporting structure has not affected operations negatively.
  • Administrative operations for the Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station were effective, except in management of human resources. Specifically, the station
    manager’s position description was outdated and the performance evaluations record keeping did not comply with Federal regulations.
  • The Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station had effective internal controls processes in place. The Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station management were
    cognizant of internal controls and provides effective oversight of operations.
  • The Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station complied with the Broadcasting Board of Governors and applicable Federal regulations for contracting, property management, and safety. The Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station complied with the Broadcasting Board of Governors review processes for unliquidated obligations and the purchase card program.
  • The security and emergency preparedness at the Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station met the Interagency Security Committee, Office of Security, and Office of
    Technology, Services, and Innovation policies and standards. The employees participated in emergency drills and complete required insider threat training
    annually.
The Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station's mail building, located in the center of the 2800 acres campus. (Click to enlarge)

The Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station’s mail building, located in the center of the 2800 acres campus. (Click to enlarge)

Regarding the future of the station:

BBG has not evaluated the return on investment of the Station’s operations to determine its effectiveness in advancing the U.S. international media strategies. The BBG’s Special Committee report refers twice to transmissions to Cuba but falls short of recommending to close any BBG shortwave transmitting stations. Congress continues funding the Station’s budget even though on February 1, 2010, the BBG FY 2011 budget request proposed the closure of the Station.

Futhermore, in FY 2011, the Senate Committee on Appropriations asked BBG to submit a “multiyear strategic plan for broadcasting to Cuba to include an analysis of options for disseminating news and information to Cuba and a report on the cost effectiveness of each.”

The Office of Management and Budget’s Global Engagement Resource Guidance for FY 2015 and for FY 2016 address the need to modernize U.S. International media by “transitioning away from the use of shortwave radio where this platform is ineffective, toward more widely used media platforms like mobile, television, and the internet.” The United States International Broadcasting Act, Public Law 103-236, Section 303(a)(1) and (7) states that BBG has the responsibility to “be consistent with the broad foreign policy objectives of the United States” and “to effectively reach a significant audience.” Section 305(a)(7) states the Board is also authorized to “ensure that all broadcasting elements receive the highest quality and cost effective delivery services.” Given BBG’s limited resources and changes in technology as well as the significance of Cuba to U.S. national security objectives, BBG risks missing an opportunity to engage with Cuban audiences in a digital media environment.

Recommendation 1: The Broadcasting Board of Governors should prepare a written
cost/benefit evaluation of the Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station to determine its
efficiency and effectiveness for continuing, reducing, or eliminating operations. (Action: BBG)

The full report:

Click here to download the full report as a PDF.

For a little context, this is the same station I’ve visited multiple times and even posted a photo tour of (click here to view) several years ago.

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