Tag Archives: Voice of America

Radio Waves: State of VOA Broadcast Infrastructure, Amish Weather Radio, 96.7 FM, Australia Calling, and MAME Showcase Gerät 32620 Emulator

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!


Where VOA’s Broadcast Infrastructure Stands Today (Radio World)

Shortwave retains a role in serving particularly difficult-to-reach audiences

Russia’s horrific invasion of Ukraine and its simultaneous blocking of Western media outlets has renewed public interest in shortwave radio broadcasters like the federally funded Voice of America.

Now managed by the U.S. Agency for Global Media or USAGM, VOA’s roots go back to 1941, when the U.S. government leased a dozen commercial broadcaster owned/operated shortwave radio transmitters for the VOA’s predecessor, the U.S. Foreign Information Service. (These shortwave transmitters were previously used by U.S. broadcasters to share content between their AM radio stations.)

The VOA came into being in 1942. It played a major role in broadcasting U.S. news and views to the world during World War Two and the Cold War. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, shifting government priorities, the emergence of platforms competing with shortwave, and budget cuts led to VOA’s language services, broadcasts and programming being reduced.

Today, “USAGM operates transmitting stations around the world, including in the U.S., Africa, Europe and Asia,” Laurie Moy, USAGM’s director of public affairs said in an email earlier this year.

“All of these stations are equipped with multiple shortwave transmitters, and four of these stations have a medium-wave (AM) transmitter each. In total, USAGM’s network consists of about 75 shortwave (ranging from 100 to 250 kW) and medium-wave (ranging from 100 to 1000 kW) transmitters.”

The agency also has access to shortwave and medium-wave transmitters via leases and exchange agreements with other broadcasters.

At present, USAGM produces content in 63 languages, 35 of which are aired on shortwave and medium-wave. VOA itself produces content in 48 languages, 18 of which are aired on shortwave and medium-wave.

“In terms of the agency’s shortwave network, shortwave continues to reach particularly difficult-to-reach audiences, such as in North Korea, western China, Afghanistan and elsewhere,” Moy told Radio World. [Continue reading…]

How do you find out about tornadoes if your religion doesn’t allow TVs or smartphones? (Courier and Press)

If a tornado or flash flood is imminent, most Americans find out about it through a smartphone or a television.

But as the National Weather Service was reminded in the wake of the deadly Dec. 10, 2021 Kentucky tornado, one segment of the population uses neither of those things: the Amish, who shun technology.

As meteorologists studied damage in the days that followed that storm, which killed 80 people and damaged hundreds of homes, they encountered an Amish community in Ohio County, Kentucky, and asked: How do you get severe weather information?

“They basically said they listen for the weather sirens from town,” said Derrick Snyder, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. But as loud as storm sirens are, not everyone is close enough to hear.

A solution may be on the way, as the agency teams with a national radio maker as part of the Weather Awareness for a Rural Nation initiative. Snyder and other meteorologists are part of a project developing weather radios that will be both effective in relaying information immediately, but also acceptable for the Amish lifestyle.

It will be a stripped-down, hand-crank model with absolutely no modern amenities. Continue reading

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Seeking recordings of VOA broadcaster Billy Brown

I received the following inquiry from Neal Lavon via the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive contact form. Check out Neal’s request below and if you have any information or leads that might help him, please comment.

Neal writes:

I am working on a project about a Voice of America broadcaster from 1952-54 named Billy Brown. He was a 16 year-old kid who launched a Pen Pals club by speaking on a Voice of America broadcast to the Near East, particularly Pakistan.

The announcements were so successful they generated hundreds of responses and led to him getting a 15-minute weekly radio program on VOA in English that was later translated into Urdu. The programs were broadcast on Friday nights at 1530 GMT on 17750, 16.90; 15130, 19.30. The relay were TAN 17780 16.87 15230 19.70, and Colombo 15120 19.84. At least, I think those are the frequencies; it comes as close as I can get it.

So far, I have not been able to find any surviving tapes of this broadcast at the National Archives or the Library of Congress. The family does not have any tapes. So I am wondering, hope against hope, if somehow, somewhere, someone in the region or someone else might have a copy of this. I would greatly appreciate it.

Neal Lavon, Takoma Park, Maryland, former VOA Staffer.

This would have been in the very early days of home recording so I imagine it might be difficult to find audio from Billy Brown’s broadcasts. If you have any leads, please comment. 

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Radio Waves: Shortwave Secret Weapon, Russian Propaganda in Kansas City, Crisis Radio, and Tape Measure Antenna,

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!


Opinion | Our Secret Weapon Against Putin Isn’t So Secret (Politico)

We already know a lot about how to break through the Kremlin’s wall of silence.

As has been so often stated, the war in Ukraine is, in large measure, an information war — a battle for hearts and minds. Some news outlets have been doing a brilliant job by using their own reporters as well as pictures and videos from social media, carefully vetted for accuracy, to show the horror of the assault by Russia, the bravery of the people of Ukraine and the generosity of people everywhere, especially in the neighboring countries which are absorbing millions of refugees.

Tragically, most of this news has been blocked out of Russia itself.

The government has closed down the few remaining independent newspapers such as Novaya Gazeta and the Moscow Times. President Vladimir Putin signed a law that calls for sentences of up to 15 years in prison for people who distribute “false news” about the Russian military. CNN, Bloomberg, CBS, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and German ARD and ZDF have suspended reporting from inside Russia in response. Russia has shut down social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram that some Russians used to access news.

It might seem like Russians have been shut off from all information except Putin-controlled state media — but they haven’t. The West has a lot of practice breaking through the wall of silence the Kremlin has reerected. To win the information war, we need to revamp the tools we already have in our information war arsenal.

Those include Western news services that broadcast into Russia via a range of technologies. The BBC World Service’s Russian broadcasts have played an important role, as have the Russian language services of Germany and France. But perhaps the most important and effective services are the Voice of America (which was created in 1942 to combat German propaganda) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (which was created to combat Soviet propaganda during the Cold War). Both are produced by the United States Agency for Global Media. As a group, these U.S.-funded journalists reach a weekly audience of about 400 million people in 62 languages.

Since the onset of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, both VOA and RFE/RL have recorded record-breaking traffic despite efforts by the Russian government to block access to their programs. Independent digital analytics reports have verified that there have already been more than 1 billion video views of their Russian language content. [Continue reading…]

Low-budget Missouri radio station continues airing Russian state radio programming (Market Watch)

ASSOCIATED PRESS, LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A man who runs a little-known, low-budget radio station in suburban Kansas City says he is standing up for free speech and alternative viewpoints when he airs Russian state-sponsored programming in the midst of the Ukrainian war.

Radio Sputnik, funded by the Russian government, pays broadcast companies in the U.S. to air its programs. Only two do so: One is Peter Schartel’s company in Liberty, Mo., and one is in Washington, D.C. Continue reading

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How VOA’s Communications World Started

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, for the following guest post:


Dan Robinson

How VOA’s Communications World Started

by Dan Robinson

NOTE: This exclusive is being published simultaneously with the North American Shortwave Association (NASWA) journal in its March 2022 edition.

Voice of America recently observed its 80th birthday. Readers may recall that in the mid-1980’s into the 2000s, VOA broadcast a program about communications, but which was in fact designed specifically for shortwave listeners.

Communications World as it was known owed its existence to my efforts in the late 1970’s and into the early 1980’s to persuade VOA managers to put such a program on the air, The story is told in detail here for the first time.

In a SWL career that began in the late 1960’s, I was an enthusiastic consumer of DX programs broadcast by stations at the time, from Radio Netherlands to HCJB and others. I always wondered why VOA wasn’t among them, and I was determined to make some progress on this.

First steps came in 1975 as I was attending The American University and began making contacts at VOA in downtown Washington, DC. This would become a multi-year effort to induce VOA to re-start a DX’ing program. I say “re-start” because I would later learn that VOA once had such a program, but aimed at radio amateurs.

These early efforts included at one point a meeting with the head of a major think tank on K Street in Washington. I can only imagine their reaction when two college age kids (I was accompanied by ace DX’er Taylor “Pitt” McNeil) arrived seeking help in selling a federal agency on a hobbyist show.

I never learned whether anything came from that meeting. In my final two college years, I interned with ABC News, where I observed network operations, including the evening news with Frank Reynolds, and also interned with local station WASH-FM.

By 1979, my contacts at VOA had led me to part-time work in its English to Africa, Worldwide English, and central news divisions. In 1980, I was formally sworn in as a full-time VOA news writer. My objective was to become a VOA foreign correspondent, which I would achieve in 1983. But putting VOA back on the board, so to speak, with a SWL program remained high on my priority list.

A pilot for the show needed to be produced. It needed a name. What came to mind was something containing the word communications, to have wider appeal. So, there it was: the VOA Communications Magazine.

My time in VOA’s central news operation included work on all three shifts over 24 hours. On the side, I set about putting together a script for VOA Communications Magazine – conceptualizing what elements would go into it. By 1983 – just before I departed for Nairobi as VOA’s new East Africa correspondent – we were ready to record the pilot.

The show began by recognizing World Communications Year, and a message noting that we would cover SW hobby news, international broadcasting developments, satellites and computers, news about receivers and antennas, along with letters from listeners.

WRNO New Orleans had gone on the air on shortwave. I thought that would make an interesting segment. Shortwave broadcasting had not yet started its downward slide. Stations remained on the air in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Transmitter manufacturers still had customers. New stations were coming on air.

I served as host of the Communications Magazine pilot. Bob Arnold, who was doing science reporting for VOA at the time, voiced a roundup of broadcasting news. Included were some of my personal recordings, including Voice of Kenya and Radio Mozambique.

In the news, Kenya was reported planning international broadcasting (we now know this never happened). Ghana was expanding domestic radio. The U.S. was helping Liberia expand rural radio. We noted ELBC and ELWA, and played a recording of ELWA.

Iran was installing what were expected to be the world’s most powerful transmitters. There was news from Singapore, and a recording of Radio Singapore. Malaysia planned two 500 kw transmitters. I noted existing domestic Malaysian stations, and included a recording of Radio Malaysia Sarawak.

Arnold reported on the explosion of the production, distribution and storage of information, including an interview with Wilson Dizard, then with Georgetown University.

Dipping into the mailbag I read letters and reception reports from VOA listeners in Denmark, Sweden (one of whom used a Grundig 3400 receiver), Australia (who used a Panasonic RF-2800), and Japan (who used a Kenwood R-1000).

My interview with Joseph Costello of WRNO concluded the pilot, and began with a recording I had made of a WRNO test transmission. Costello pointed to “a couple of thousand pieces of mail per month,” and surprising response from New Zealand and Australia, though WRNO’s signal was beamed northward.

Private shortwave stations were granted to reflect the culture and lifestyle of the United States, Costello said. By partially simulcasting WRNO-FM, listeners heard about life in New Orleans, with coverage of the Jazz and Heritage Festival, and progress reports on Mardi Gras. WRNO was considering a morning Spanish service beamed to central and south America

Doug Flodin of Drake-Chenault discussed the purpose of KYOI. And we reported on other shortwave broadcasters preparing to go to air, including Radio Miami International, and KNLS from Alaska.

Based on my pilot for VOA Communications Magazine, VOA green lighted what would become Communications World, hosted first by Gene Reich, who later would join Worldspace, the satellite radio pioneer that filed for bankruptcy in 2008, and later by Kim Elliott.

This is the first time I have told the in depth story of how Communications World came into being, which likely never would have existed had it not been for my efforts to bring this kind of program to Voice of America. The full 1983 pilot for Communications World is available on the Internet Archive and below:

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Carlos’ Shortwave Art and recordings focused on the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor and noted political cartoonist, Carlos Latuff, who shares his radio log art, this time along with shortwave recordings taking a look at the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


China Radio International and the Voice of America:

Carlos notes:

Excerpts from news bulletins of Voice of America (USA) and China Radio International about the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war on February 24, 2022.
Shortwave broadcasts listened in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Radio Romania International

Carlos notes:

Part of Radio Romania International news bulletin, 17800 kHz, broadcasting in English.
– United Nations and influx of refugees due to war in Ukraine.
– US and other countries to sanction Russian banks. Broadcast listened in Porto Alegre, Brazil, February 27, 2022, 12h02 pm (UTC).

Click here to view on YouTube.

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Radio Waves: RTUK Demands License, Finding MH370 via Signal Disturbances, Massive Collection of Antique Radios, and Free Tech License Class

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!


Turkey demands Deutsche Welle, VOA and Euronews apply for a licence (Broadband TV News)

Turkish media regulator RTÜK has given three international broadcasters 72 hours to apply for a licence or have their online content blocked.

Voice of America (VOA), Deutsche Welle (DW) and Euronews are including video on their websites and are seen as among the few independent news sources still available in Turkey.

RTÜK published a statement on its website Monday, signalling the start of the 72 hour period.

If the procedure for applying for a licence is underway, a broadcaster can continue on-air for another three months, providing the anticipated licence fee is paid to the regulator in advance. [Continue reading…]

Finding MH370: New breakthrough could finally solve missing flight mystery (60 Minutes Australia via YouTube)

Is the biggest aviation mystery of all time, the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, about to be solved? Yes, if you believe the man you’re about to meet. Richard Godfrey is no crackpot; he’s a respected British aerospace engineer and physicist who says he’s found the doomed airliner. If he’s right, he’ll provide desperately needed answers for the families of the 239 passengers and crew who were aboard the Boeing triple-seven when it vanished eight years ago. But knowing where it is isn’t the end of the story – Richard also has to convince authorities to resume the search that’s already cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Retired electrical engineer, 85, has £15,000 collection of 200 antique radios that he has been building up for 50 years – including one of the oldest sets in the UK (The Daily Mail)

A grandfather-of-five has revealed his impressive antique radio and test instrument collection worth up to £15,000.

Richard Allan, a retired electrical engineer, has spent the last fifty years collecting antique transistor, valve and crystal sets and has now shown off his impressive collection of more than 200 pieces.

The 85-year-old from Norfolk, first fell in love with radios because of his father, Alexander William, who built his own transmitter and spoke to people all over the world through the airwaves.

In fact, Richard’s first – and favourite radio within his collection – is the one his father, a HAM, or amateur radio lover, played non-stop during World War II after purchasing in 1938.

Another notable piece within his collection is an E52b German military radio, captured in a vehicle at Foxhill, Bath, which was where his father worked in the Admiralty. [Continue reading…]

Free online amateur radio Technician license class (Southgate ARC)

The Montgomery Amateur Radio Club in Maryland is offering a free online Zoom amateur radio Technician license class on seven Saturdays from March 19, 2022 through April 30, 2022 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM with an outdoor free test session on Sunday, May 1, 2022 8:30 AM to 11:00 AM.

More information about this Zoom class is at
https://www.marcclub.org/mweb/education/classes/technician.html

This is a great opportunity for you to get your amateur radio license. To learn more about amateur radio, also known as ham radio, go to http://www.arrl.org/what-is-ham-radio

To register for this free class, send an email to [email protected] .

Also, please distribute this announcement to anyone who expresses an interest in getting their ham license and to any newly licensed hams.

Thank you,

David Bern, W2LNX
MARC education committee


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Special Event to Mark VOA’s 80th Anniversary

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Kim Elliott, who shares the following news from the Brightleaf Amateur Radio Club:


VOA 80th Anniversary Special Event

To honor this 80 year commitment, three stations have been invited by VOA to be “special event stations” in the amateur radio bands with the call signs of W3V (VOA in Washington DC), W8O (VOA Museum in West Chester, Ohio), W4A (VOA in Greenville, NC) where the suffix of the calls spell out “VOA“. This event is scheduled to start on February 19th and 20th, from 9am-5pm each day eastern time.[…]

Date

This event will start Saturday February 19th at 9am to 5pm (Eastern Time) and go through to Sunday February 20th at 9am to 5pm, 2022 (Eastern Time).

Bands & Modes

Operating modes will be SSB, CW, Digital (FT8) on 20, 40, 80 meter bands. SSB will start at 14,280 / 7,280 / 3,880 MHz and move up or down to a clear frequency. CW frequencies will be in the CW-General portion of each band. Check DxSpots to find us at a specific time. FT8 will be on the FT8 frequencies on each band as set by WSJT-X software.

QSL

Amateur radio stations that contact the VOA stations will get an electronic QSL card via email from each special event station automatically if their email is correct on QRZ.com. An electronic Certificate will also be sent in PDF format that has contact acknowledgement and information on the stations. Stations that wish to get the paper QSL cards should contact the VOA stations directly and send SASE’s. The cards will be mailed after the event.

Click here to read the full announcement with more details.

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