Tag Archives: Voice of America

Radio Marti has cancelled programming at VOA Greenville site

Control room at the Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station near Greenville, NC.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Porter, who shares the following news item from Glenn Hauser’s World of Radio:

Radio Marti has cancelled all programming via Greenville between 0400 and 1000 UTC effective from 2 May. During this period the only transmission left from Greenville is 0600-0630 VOA French on 9885. This may be the beginning of the end for Greenville. (Glenn Hauser WOR)

Thanks for sharing this, Dave. Sad news, indeed. The Greenville site has stared shutdowns in the face a number of times in the past and survived. This year, in particular, could be a challenge with Covid-19 affecting broadcasting budgets across the globe and with the current US administration not showing much love for the VOA.

We’ll follow this closely and post updates when available.

If you’d like to check out photo tours of the Greenville site, click here to read a 2012 article I originally published in The Monitoring Times magazine, and click here for a photo tour published last year.

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Radio Waves: Tribute to Gene Pell, Dangerous AM Demonstration, White House Criticism of VOA, and Essex Online Classes Break Records

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: 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 Troy Riedel, Dennis Dura, and Dan Robinson for the following tips:


Ernest Eugene “Gene” Pell 1937-2020 (Radio Free Europe)

As noted in this obituary published by his hometown newspaper, The Paducah Sun, Ernest Eugene “Gene” Pell, 83, died quietly on April 7, 2020, at his home near Syria, after a 3-year battle with cancer. Pell served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) from 1985-1993, leading the Radios during the peaceful revolutions that occurred in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union from 1989-1992.

In Tribute to Gene Pell

In 1989, we who were privileged to serve in the management of RFE/RL as Gene Pell’s colleagues watched the awesome professionalism of RFE/RL’s broadcasters as peaceful revolution swept from the Baltics to the Balkans, and the Radios helped each country share with others the power – even the slogans – of peaceful protest, and the wisdom of restraint by police and armed forces.

Romania was a tragic exception. Ceaucescu’s regime was doomed by RFE’s broadcast of a recording of the shooting of civilians protesting in Timisoara. As Ceaucescu fled Bucharest, and violence by unknown combatants erupted, Gene ordered a million watts of shortwave power from our transmitter stations across Europe diverted to the Romanian service. Before long, Romanian army commanders seeking to restore calm established phone contact with the service in Munich.

In the immediate aftermath of the liberation of Eastern Europe, and the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Gene saw the need and found the resources to open bureaus across the region and begin on-the-ground reporting by talented local journalists – and local rebroadcasting of RFE/RL programming.

And he persuaded the U.S. government to allow RFE/RL for the first time to broadcast to the former Yugoslavia, during the Bosnian War, with a new, multi-ethnic service led by Nenad Pejic*.

On Gene’s watch, Lennart Meri, Foreign Minister of a newly free Estonia, nominated RFE/RL for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Gene’s leadership was crucial as another struggle soon ensued, this time in Washington, as efforts arose to save the federal government money by shrinking or closing the Radios, on the premise that if Europe was free, why did we need Radio Free Europe (and Liberty)? Support from new democratic leaders across the region, notably from Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel, helped convince a Presidential Commission addressing this question that the Radios’ mission should not end but evolve, as it has.

The views of these freedom leaders were decisive in keeping RFE/RL on the air and positioned to win the enormous multi-media audience it enjoys today. Gene Pell’s vision is alive for future generations.

Two of my closest colleagues, Ross Johnson and Kevin Klose, join me, as I am sure many others would, in saluting Gene for his contribution to a freer world.

— Robert Gillette []

A Dangerous Demonstration of the Power of Radio (Hackaday)

Terrestrial radio may be a dying medium, but there are still plenty of listeners out there. What would a commute to or from work be without a check of “Traffic on the Eights” to see if you need to alter your route, or an update of the scores from yesterday’s games? Getting that signal out to as many listeners as possible takes a lot of power, and this dangerous yet fascinating demo shows just how much power there is on some radio towers.[]

White House Criticism of VOA, Unprecedented in its 78 year History (Public Diplomacy Council)

The Voice of America is the nation’s largest publicly-funded international broadcaster, reaching 280,000,000 multimedia users in 47 languages each week, many of whom access it daily for honest, balanced and accurate world news.

To most senior VOA officials, past and present, including this writer, an unsigned White House blog on April 9, 1600 Daily, omitted or misstated vital information about the scale and original date of the coronavirus outbreak in mainland China. That blog asserts in a bold headline: “Voice of America spends your money to speak for authoritarian regimes.”

But that attack was just the beginning.

President Trump went even further at his daily news briefing on April 15, largely devoted to the coronavirus. “If you heard what’s coming out of the Voice of America, it’s disgusting”. The President then assailed Congress for failing to take up his nomination of conservative Michael Pack as chief executive of all five U.S. funded multimedia organizations, the U.S.Agency for Global Media, until recently known as the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors.

The USAGM is the oversight body of five overseas multimedia U.S.-funded networks: VOA, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, the Middle East Broadcasting Network in Arabic, and Radio/TV Marti in Spanish to Cuba. Research in approximately 100 countries indicates that collectively, the five networks reach 350,000,000 people abroad every week.[]

Essex Ham Foundation Online Training breaks all records (Southgate ARC)

The Coronavirus outbreak and the RSGB’s introduction of online exams that can be taken at home have led to a surge in demand for free online amateur radio training courses such as that run by Essex Ham

Volunteers from Essex Ham run a completely free online training course for the UK amateur radio Foundation exam.

A record breaking 260 people enrolled on the course that started April 5 with a further 164 waiting to start the next course.

In response to the demand Essex Ham are running an additional course, open to anyone in the UK, starting on April 19.

You can find out more about online training and register to join a course at
https://www.essexham.co.uk/train/foundation-online/

Essex Ham
https://www.essexham.co.uk/
https://twitter.com/EssexHam


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“VOA Launches Rohingya Language Program”

Teachers gather with VOA Learning English instructor at the end of training. (Source: Inside VOA)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors, Eric McFadden and Bruce who share the following item from NPR:

The Voice of America has begun a daily radio show in Rohingya, the language spoken by Muslim refugees who have been forced to flee Myanmar. The program is called “Lifeline.”

Click here to read/listen at NPR.

Also, Inside VOA published the following press release:

VOA Launches Rohingya Language Program

Today the Voice of America’s Bangla language service started a five-day-a-week radio show in Rohingya, the language spoken by Muslim refugees that have fled Myanmar. More than 800,000 people have taken refuge at the Kutupalong camp, one of the world’s largest refugee camps at the Myanmar-Bangladesh border.

Titled Lifeline, the 30-minute radio show, is available through short and medium wave signals. The program focuses on the lives and needs of the refugees, providing them with valuable information on security, family reunification, food rations, available shelter, education and health including vaccinations and water purification. In addition, a daily segment of the program offers the refugees the opportunity to share their stories, extend greetings to their families and learn about the hazards of joining extremists groups. One overarching objective of the broadcast is to counter Muslim extremists’ narratives and recruitment efforts in the camps and inform the Rohingya about the U.S. and the international community’s involvement in the crisis.

“After visiting Cox’s Bazaar and the Kutupalong refugee camp last year, it became obvious to me that we needed to address the informational needs of these people caught in the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world today,” said VOA Director Amanda Bennett. “Providing them with a reliable and authoritative source of news, as well as practical information that will improve their lives, is what the Voice of America does well in various hotspots around the world.”

Prior to launching the Rohingya language program, a VOA Learning English team travelled to the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, in March of this year at the invitation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The VOA instructors offered six days of intensive training on teaching techniques and methods for 100 selected English teachers. The teachers, in turn, will use the acquired knowledge to train another 5,000 of their colleagues in the camps.

Click here to read at Inside VOA.

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From the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive: VOA and BBC on the anniversary of moon landing

Eagle in lunar orbit photographed from Columbia. (Image: NASA)

There are a hundreds of fascinating off-air radio recordings in our Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.

One of our frequent contributors, Tom Laskowski, has digitally converted numerous magnetic tape recordings from his personal collection to share with the archive. Tom made the following recording of the Voice of America on July 20, 1979 at 0500 UTC on the 31 meter band.

Tom notes:

The first 4:30 is from a VOA newscast that aired before the main part of the program.

The main recording was presented on the 10th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. I enjoy listening to this every year on the landing anniversary.

I’ve enjoyed listening to this 10th anniversary presentation as we, today, celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing::

Click here to download this recording.

[Update:] Tom also shares another recording that marks this anniversary:

I thought this might be [another] appropriate file to upload considering we are  marking the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. I recorded this program thirty years ago on July 20, 1989 [5.975 MHz at 0400 UTC] the 20th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Omnibus takes a look back at the historic Apollo mission and how and why it happened:

Click here to download the recording.

Thank you so much for sharing this, Tom!

Readers: Note that you can subscribe to the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive as a podcast via iTunes or by using the following RSS feed: http://shortwavearchive.com/archive?format=rss You can also listen via TuneIn.

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USAGM: questions about journalistic and financial management

(Source: New York Times)

WASHINGTON — The United States Agency for Global Media, the government’s foreign broadcast service, already struggling to clean house after a series of scandals last year at flagship operations like Voice of America and TV Martí, is now being rocked by two new cases that have raised further questions about its journalistic and financial management.

In one, Tomás Regalado Jr., a reporter for TV Martí, which broadcasts into Cuba, and a cameraman for the network, Rodolfo Hernandez, were suspended amid allegations that they faked a mortar attack on Mr. Regalado during a broadcast from Managua, Nicaragua, last year.

That incident surfaced only days after Haroon Ullah, the former chief strategy officer at the global media agency, which operates Martí and foreign-language networks around the world, pleaded guilty on June 27 in federal court in Alexandria, Va., to stealing government property.

A former deputy to the agency’s chief executive, John Lansing, Mr. Ullah admitted to fleecing the government of $37,000 between February and October last year by claiming reimbursements for expensive hotels he did not book, double-billing the government for official travel and forging a doctor’s note to allow him to fly business class. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

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The new problems are unrelated to each other; in the case of Mr. Ullah, the agency said its internal controls flagged the expense fraud. But along with many others over the past two years, the scandals have brought intensified scrutiny and criticism to the agency, formerly known as the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Created during World War II to be an objective, trusted source of information in nations where freedom of the press is under attack, the agency has 3,500 journalists who reach more than 345 million people in 100 countries each week.

The United States Agency for Global Media initiated an investigation into the allegedly faked segment at TV Martí “immediately after these concerns about the footage in question were raised,” the agency said in a statement. “As the agency has made clear, we have zero tolerance for failing to honor clear and universally accepted standards of professional journalism. We also owe it to all involved to conduct a thorough and clear investigation to get all of the facts.”

“I take seriously any breach of professional journalistic standards at any U.S.A.G.M. network. I have asked for a thorough and swift investigation,” Mr. Lansing said in an emailed statement. “I expect all U.S.A.G.M. networks to adhere to truthfulness, fairness and accountability in their reporting.”

Click here to read the full article at the New York Times.

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Photo Tour: The Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station

Yesterday, I posted a photo and asked if you guess where I was when I took the shot.

Those of you who guessed the Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station (formerly, “VOA Site B”) near Greenville, North Carolina, were absolutely correct!

My buddy, John Figliozzi, gave a presentation about NASWA and the Winter SWL Fest at the NASB (National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters) which was held in the Raleigh area, May 9th and 10th. Due to a conflict, I was not able to attend the NASB meeting this year, but I did arrive at the conference hotel late Thursday where I met a handful of attendees. I had previously invited John to join me on the station tour, and he was quite happy to do so!

Macon Dail (WB4PMQ), the transmitting station’s Gold Medal award-winning Chief Engineer, made time to give us a tour Friday, May 10, 2019.

And now, on to the photo tour of this remarkable facility.  My inclination is to caption each photo…but I know if I attempt this, I won’t post this gallery for several months!  Instead, I’ll roughly divide the photos by the various sections of the site. Note, however, that there are more than one hundred photos in this detailed post––to decrease its length, some of the photos have been placed in clickable thumbnail galleries. Those of you who receive the SWLing Post as an email digest, I would strongly encourage you to view this post directly on our website, so all of the gallery images will appear.

Enjoy!

Station entrance, lobby, and library

The Front Lobby

In this photo, Macon is showing John one of the notebooks, which is chock-full of reception reports from listeners. This notebook, as you can see, is prominently displayed in the front lobby.

We found our friend Rich D’Angelo in the stack of reception reports.

In a mezzanine above the control room, there is a space that houses a library, a presentation/classroom area, and even a small workout/fitness room.

View into the control room from the mezzanine.

Control room

     

Transmitters

 

Tubes glowing in the active GE transmitter!

Very high voltage in this power room for the GE transmitters.

Installing new transmitters

Macon and his team are in the process of installing modern transmitters sent from other IBB sites. As you might imagine, this is a tedious process, and requires highly-skilled technicians.

 

 

Power

Antenna switching bay and feed lines

In this photo, we’re looking straight down a 50 kW feed line in conduit which leads to the switching bay. Normally, this would not be accessible, but this line is being built for a new transmitter.

The antenna switching bay is truly massive…

Antenna farm

View from the observation tower

Wow, what a tour…

John and I enjoyed our in-depth tour of the Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station! The staff, as always, were incredibly welcoming and accommodating.

I believe this was my fourth tour; nonetheless, I still discovered new things, and it’s no wonder. The staff of the station are constantly upgrading, updating, and tweaking the performance of their equipment. This is the reason their signals are always full-fidelity and crystal-clear on the air.

I’m simply amazed by all they accomplish.  Keeping this station running is certainly a labor of love.

Of course, this won’t be my last visit to the station.  I fully intend to return, if not later this year, at least next, to check out the new transmitters in operation.  Stay tuned! To this active VOA station.

Click here to read an article about my first visit to the Murrow Transmitting Station.


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“VOA Learning English Team Trains Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh”

(Source: VOA News via Michael Bird)

Anna Matteo of Learning English teaches Rohingya teachers

VOA’s Learning English program is bringing its decades’ long expertise of teaching foreign audiences the English language to refugee camps in Bangladesh. Learning English is VOA’s multimedia source of news and information for millions of English learners worldwide.

At the end of March, a VOA Learning English team travelled to the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, to train 100 English teachers using a range of multimedia materials. The training program includes follow-up virtual classroom sessions, as well as VOA Learning English content accessible at the camp’s learning centers and though mobile devices.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees invited VOA to provide six days of intensive training on teaching techniques and methods for selected teachers. The teachers, in turn, will use the acquired knowledge to train another 3,000 of their colleagues in order to provide English lessons for refugees in the camp. The refugees requested this training during a visit by VOA Director Amanda Bennett at the Cox’s Bazar camps last year.

Rahma Rashid Toki, one of the selected teachers, told the VOA Learning English team he was ready to quit on the first day of training. By the end of the course, Toki commented: “When I came to the first day of training, I felt nervous. I decided I will not continue. Already I had applied to leave. But my P.O. (personnel officer) would not accept my application to leave. He said to me that this training is important and necessary. Now that the training is finished, I realize it’s really important for me and my students!”

Francis Nath a UN Education Associate at Cox’s Bazar who assisted with the training, said “you can see the [teachers’] level of English competency improve dramatically by the second day.”

VOA’s Learning English service uses clear and simple vocabulary to teach American English on radio, television, Internet, and mobile.

Learning English began as Special English, which VOA launched in 1959. Special English newscasts and features were a primary fixture of VOA’s international shortwave broadcasts for more than half a century. In 2014, the line of products was expanded to include more English teaching materials, and the service became known as Learning English.

Click here to read this story at VOA News.

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