Tag Archives: Voice of America

Radio Waves: Sculptor Honors Fern Blodgett Sunde, Pack Removes VOA Editorial Independence, KDKA Centennial, and Tracking Murder Hornets with Wireless Tech

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 Fred Waterer, Phillip Novak, Guy Atkins, Dan Robinson, and Eric McFadden for the following tips:


Sudbury sculptor’s latest work honours Fern Blodgett Sunde (CBC)

‘The wave she touches symbolizes the wave of social change that came for Canadian women in the storm of war’

A sculptor from Sudbury has unveiled his latest life-sized bronze statue in honour of the first woman to work as a wireless radio operator.

Canadian Fern Blodgett Sunde served on a Norwegian merchant ship, during WW II’s Battle of the Atlantic.

Tyler Fauvelle’s statue of Sunde also honours all Canadians who served during that time — and it was unveiled in Cobourg earlier this month, where Sunde grew up. Fauvelle’s work includes more than a dozen public art bronze monuments, four of which are military-themed.

“Fern’s clothing is very typical of what she wore as she carried out her duties as a wireless operator aboard the Mosdale,” Fauvelle said.

“The headphones slung around her neck symbolize her work and her profession. The pin on her lapel commemorate the sisterhood of Sparks who followed her to sea. The wave she touches symbolizes the wave of social change that came for Canadian women in the storm of war.”

In 1943, she was awarded the Norwegian War Medal, the first woman ever to receive the honour.

“It was a privilege to create this lasting tribute to Canadians of a monumental generation, the men and women who fought and supported a necessary war,” Fauvelle said.

“Thousands didn’t live to see the peace that their sacrifice bought, and they were on my mind as I sculpted the clay.”[]

U.S. Agency Targets Its Own Journalists’ Independence (NPR)

A regulatory “firewall” intended to protect Voice of America and its affiliated newsrooms from political interference in their journalism was swept aside late Monday night by the chief executive of the federal agency which oversees the government’s international broadcasters.

Michael Pack, a Trump appointee who assumed leadership of the U.S. Agency for Global Media in June, wrote that he acted to eliminate policies that were “harmful to the agency and the U.S. national interest.” And Pack argued they had interfered with his mandate “to support the foreign policy of the United States.”

Pack has already come under fire for revelations that his senior aides investigated the agency’s journalists for bias against President Trump and pushed for their dismissals and reassignments, in seeming violation of the rules he has now rescinded, effective immediately.

“The key to the credibility of any news organization is editorial independence and adherence to the professional standards of journalism,” said David Kligerman, whom Pack suspended as the agency’s general counsel in August.

Kligerman was the chief author of the regulation which Pack just killed. It was supported by the agency’s bipartisan board, which was dissolved upon Pack’s confirmation. Kligerman is also among a group of a half-dozen whistleblowers who have come forward to challenge Pack’s actions since he arrived in June.

“The firewall protects the networks by insulating their editorial decisions from political interference,” Kligerman said. “That is what differentiates the Voice of America and the other USAGM-funded networks from the state-sponsored propaganda of Russia, China, Iran and others.”[]

Also see: VOA Reporter Apologizes for Halloween Tweet That Sparked Wave of Anti-Trump Comments (BBG Watch)

 

KDKA Centennial-The birth of Commercial Radio (Southgate ARC)

November 2, 2020 marks the centennial of radio station KDKA going on the air for the first time. Their first broadcast, considered by many to be the birth of commercial broadcast radio, was to report the election results of the Harding-Cox presidential race. KDKA has been on the air continuously ever since.

To celebrate this historic milestone, Pittsburgh area amateur radio operators, also known as hams, will take to the airwaves with a series of special event stations. Their goal is to contact as many other ham radio operators across the United States and around the world. They will be celebrating the centennial of KDKA for the entire month of November.

KDKA originally began operations in 1916 as an amateur radio station, call sign 8XK, operated by Dr. Frank Conrad, Assistant Chief Engineer of Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company. During World War I, amateur radio operations were ordered to be suspended because of national security concerns. After the war, the operators reorganized the station as a commercial AM radio station. The first transmissions of KDKA were from a makeshift studio on a roof of the Westinghouse K Building in East Pittsburgh.

Ham radio clubs participating in the centennial special event include the North Hills Amateur Radio Club in Pittsburgh, which is planning to operate from II-VI Incorporated located in Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, the former KDKA transmitter site from 1931 to 1939. One of the original tower piers still stands on the property to this day. Another operating location is being planned at the Westinghouse Lodge in Forest Hills, located about ten miles east in suburban Pittsburgh, which was the former KDKA transmitter site from 1923 to 1930.

Other Pittsburgh area ham radio clubs planning operations include the Panther Amateur Radio Club in addition to a joint operation planned between the Steel City Amateur Radio Club and the Wireless Association of South Hills. Outside of Pittsburgh, other ham radio clubs planning operations are The Skyview Radio Society in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, which will operate from their clubhouse, in addition to the Butler County Amateur Radio Public Servce Group in Butler, Pennsylvania, and the Washington Amateur Communications Radio Club in Washington, Pennsylvania. Individual radio amateurs will also be operating from their home stations. In addition, there is a small group of ham radio operators planning portable field operations from South Park in suburban Pittsburgh.

“More than one hundred years ago, many experimenters started delving into a new technology known as wireless, or radio,” said Bob Bastone, WC3O, Radio Officer for the Skyview Radio Society in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. Bastone explained that many of those early pioneers were radio amateurs. “One hundred plus years later, many amateur radio operators are still contributing to wireless technology while also serving their communities and enhancing international goodwill. Congratulations to KDKA Radio, also known in the early years as amateur radio stations 8XK, 8ZZ, and W8XK.”

Bastone said that the special event stations will exchange post cards, called QSL cards, with hams who confirm radio contacts with them.
A commemorative QSL card has been produced with artwork designed by the graphic arts department at KDKA Radio. “We amateur radio operators look forward to contacting thousands of other hams around the world to celebrate this huge milestone in the commercial broadcasting industry,” said Bastone.

The KDKA amateur radio special event stations, operating with call signs K3A, K3D, K3K, and W8XK will be set up at several locations in Pennsylvania during November, inviting the public to come visit while observing the required social distancing protocols. “The special event stations will also help demonstrate ham radio to our communities while our volunteers practice operating skills and station readiness,” said Robert Mente, NU3Q, Emergency Coordinator for the Allegheny County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES). He and his fellow volunteers log many hours each year providing public service and practicing their emergency communications capability. The group provides communication services for The Pittsburgh Marathon, Race for the Cure, the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, the Great Race, and the American Diabetes Tour de Cure in addition to providing communication support for the American Red Cross and the Pittsburgh National Weather Service office.

For more information about the KDKA centennial and a schedule for the ham radio special event stations including locations, operating frequencies, and how to obtain a commemorative certificate, visit www.kdka100.org and www.qrz.com/db/w8xk. Information is also available in the Special Events Station section both on the ARRL website and in QST Magazine.

We wish to thank II-VI (pronounced two-six) for the use of their corporate facilities in Saxonburg, PA, on the very site where KDKA used to broadcast from for most of the 1930s. II-VI is a global leader in engineered materials and optoelectronic components. For nearly 50 years, they have manufactured innovative products for applications in the industrial, communications, aerospace & defense, life sciences, semiconductor capital equipment, automotive, and consumer markets. Learn more at ii-vi.com.

ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio® in the US, has information on becoming a ham radio operator:
www.arrl.org/what-is-ham-radio
.

Tracking Murder Hornets with Wireless Tech (Multiple Sources via Guy Atkins)

Here is a story a lot of people in my state have been following for a few weeks. It culminated last Saturday with the identification of a nest of so-called “Murder Hornets”. The big break in finding the nest came recently when a radio-tagged hornet led researchers to the actual hive or nest.

https://www.geekwire.com/2020/uw-researcher-put-tiny-tracking-technology-giant-hornets-help-state-deal-murderous-pest/

This link from our local paper shows the hornet eradication in action. Check out the alien-like protective suits! https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/scientists-remove-98-murder-hornets-in-washington-state/

[Check out] the picture of the hornet next to the ruler, to see the size of these nasties: https://www.geekwire.com/2020/using-radio-trackers-scientists-finally-locate-murder-hornet-nest-washington-state/


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Radio Survivor: “Inside the ‘Little Known’ Voice of America and the U.S. Agency for Global Media”

View of the Capitol Building from the roof of VOA headquarters on Independence Avenue.

(Source: Radio Survivor)

Over the past few months, there’s been a flurry of media attention focused on the United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM). Some reports describe it as a “little-known” agency and, in fact, it may seem mysterious to many in the United States, since it oversees international broadcasting programs all over the world, including Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

USAGM has been in the news following the appointment of new CEO Michael Pack, subsequent personnel changes, and even a congressional hearing on September 24. This week we explore the history of USAGM and talk about some of the recent changes at the organization. We are joined on the show by Jane Curry (Professor of Political Science at Santa Clara University), Mark Pomar (National Security Fellow at Clements Center for National Security at University of Texas, Austin) and Brandon Burke (Associate Archivist at the Hoover Institution Archives). Jennifer Waits and Eric Klein host this week’s episode.

Click here to read the show notes and listen to this podcast at Radio Survivor.

Click here to subscribe to the Radio Survivor podcast on iTunes.

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Radio Waves: Possible Radio & TV Closures in Canada, Bauer closes stations in England and Wales, WWJ at 100 years, VOA staff fear political agenda by Pack, and latest issue of The Communicator

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 Adid, Joel, Michael Bird, and Mike Terry, for the following tips:


Canadian radio stations and TV outlets risk closure (Southgate ARC)

As many as 40 local television outlets and 200 Canadian radio stations could be forced to close in the next three years as the financial pressures faced by media companies intensify under the COVID-19 pandemic, suggests a new study from an industry advocacy group.

The Canadian Association of Broadcasters issued a report on Wednesday warning of potential closures and widespread job cuts as private TV and radio broadcasters face a cumulative projected revenue shortfall of up to $1.06 billion by the end of 2022.

Most vulnerable are the country’s AM radio stations, the report said, as well as other independent private radio and TV operations in smaller markets across the country.

The study, titled “The Crisis in Canadian Media and the Future of Local Broadcasting,” was commissioned by the CAB, which represents the majority of private broadcasters in Canada, and conducted through Winnipeg-based independent media economics consultancy Communications Management Inc.

More here:
https://www.boundary
creektimes.com/business/media-study-says-hundreds-of-canadian-radio-stations-tv-outlets-risk-closure/

Bauer closes dozens of regional radio stations in England and Wales (The Guardian)

Replacement of stations with single national outlet described as act of ‘breathtaking cultural vandalism’

Dozens of regional radio stations have been replaced by a single national outlet, in the latest blow to an industry that has seen deep cuts in recent decades.

Outlets across England and Wales owned by Bauer Media – ranging from Wolverhampton’s Signal 107 to York’s Minster FM and Salisbury’s Spire FM – will now broadcast under the single brand Greatest Hits Radio.

Critics said the move was the death knell for traditional mid-sized commercial radio stations, with only a handful of truly independent local radio outlets remaining.

Most of the outlets affected had their own locally employed presenters and management and their own studios in the towns and cities they served. Now, most of the stations on the new network will carry national programming for 20 hours a day.[]

Born at The News: WWJ radio celebrates 100 years since launch as nation’s first commercial broadcaster (Detroit News)

For a behemoth that now dominates the local AM radio dial, its beginnings were surprisingly humble.

One hundred years ago Thursday, WWJ radio — Detroit’s very first station — was born when Detroit News publisher and radio enthusiast William E. Scripps had a 200-watt transmitter set up in a corner of the sports department. (Today? It’s 50,000 watts.) WWJ will air a special show, “WWJ at 100, a Century of News,” at 7 p.m. Thursday to celebrate.

WWJ wasn’t just first in Detroit. Depending on how you slice things, it was the first commercial broadcaster in the U.S., though when it went on the air that Aug. 20 a century back, it was probably picked up by only a few dozen households in possession of what was, at the time, shockingly high-tech radio equipment.

Asked where he’d locate WWJ in American broadcasting history, Specs Howard, founder of the School of Media Arts in Southfield that bears his name, said without hesitation, “Oh, right near the top.”

One-time WRIF program director Fred Jacobs, now head of Jacobs Media Strategies in Bingham Farms, agreed, saying, “It’s really been a remarkable run, especially in a world where brands come and go.”[]

At Voice of America, Trump Appointee Sought Political Influence Over Coverage (KPCW)

At the Voice of America, staffers say the Trump appointee leading their parent agency is threatening to wash away legal protections intended to insulate their news reports from political meddling.

“What we’re seeing now is the step-by-step and wholescale dismantling of the institutions that protect the independence and the integrity of our journalism,” says Shawn Powers, until recently the chief strategy officer for the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which oversees VOA.

Voice of America’s mission is a form of soft diplomacy: to embody democratic principles through fair reporting and to replace a free press in countries where there is none. VOA and its four sister networks together reach more than 350 million people abroad each week.

Since taking office in June, Pack has upended the agency. In a podcast interview last week with the pro-Trump website The Federalist, Pack said he had to take action because many executives and journalists were disregarding the agency’s ethical standards.

“My job really is to drain the swamp, to root out corruption and to deal with these issues of bias, not to tell journalists what to report,” Pack told host Chris Bedford. Pack has declined NPR’s repeated and detailed requests for comment.

But it appears that Pack is, in fact, interested in influencing which stories get told, and how. The senior news editor who oversaw VOA’s standards and practices was reassigned to a corporate position earlier this summer and has since played no role in guiding coverage or scrutinizing stories flagged as problematic.[]

The Communicator – September-October 2020 now on-line (Southgate ARC)

This issue over 100 Pages Of Projects, News, Views and Reviews…

Amateur Radio News from the SW corner of Canada and elsewhere.
You will find articles, profiles, news, tips and how-to’s.

https://ve7sar.blogspot.com/2020/08/the-communicator-magazine-september.html

Clicl here to download the issue (PDF).


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Dan Robinson takes critical look at USAGM as Pack enters scene

Dan Robinson is a former White House correspondent for the VOA.

SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, has recently written a series of opinion articles for the BBG-USAGM Watch website. Dan worked 34 years with the Voice of America, most recently serving as the senior White House correspondent from 2010 to 2014 before his retirement.

Dan’s Op-Ed pieces (in five parts at time of posting) take a critical look at the USAGM as Michael Pack CEO takes charge.

Click here to view all of Dan’s articles at USAGM-BBG Watch.

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Radio Waves: Maritime Mobile Net Assists, Voice of Ambiguity, Promising Solar Cycle 25 Prediction, and the Future of Ham Radio

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 Rich Smith, Kim Elliott, and Pete Eaton for the following tips:


Maritime Mobile Service Network Comes to the Aid of Vessel in Distress (ARRL News)

The Maritime Mobile Service Net (MMSN) on 14.300 MHz came to the assistance of a sailing vessel on June 25. MMSN control operator Steven Carpenter, K9UA, took a call on 20 meters from Ian Cummings, KB4SG, the skipper of the Mystic Lady, then some 40 miles east of Florida. Cummings reported that his engine had failed as he was attempting to return to his home port of Stuart, Florida. He not only had insufficient wind, but a strong current was carrying the vessel out to sea.

Cummings had been unable to reach any station via his VHF marine radio, since he was too far from the coast. Assisting in the call was Robert Wynhoff, K5HUT, also an MMSN net control operator. Cummings said his vessel, with one passenger on board, was drifting northwest toward the South Carolina coast.

“A major concern was that the vessel was heading directly towards a lee shore,” the MMSN reported. “Lee shores are shallow, dangerous areas which are a hazard to watercraft. Vessels could be pushed into the shallow area by the wind, possibly running aground and breaking up.”

Carpenter contacted Cummings’ family, who had already called the Sea Tow marine towing service. Sea Tow advised Carpenter to tell the captain to head closer to shore by sailing west, if possible. Carpenter told Cummings that if he was unable to get nearer to shore, he would notify the US Coast Guard, which was already monitoring the situation.

As the MMSN reported, “The Mystic Lady was able to make some headway, but it was very slow. Members of the MMSN made additional calls via landline to the captain’s family as to the ongoing status of those on board. The family was concerned but relieved that communication was established and that all were well.”

Several hours later, the captain advised that the wind had picked up, allowing him to head close enough to shore for Sea Tow to reach the vessel and take it back to port.

The Pacific Seafarers’ Net, which monitors 14.300 MHz from the West Coast after the MMSN secures at 0200 UTC, kept in touch with the Mystic Lady into the night while it was under tow.

The tired, grateful captain later messaged the net, “A million thanks to everyone last night who helped rescue us on 14.300. Everyone chipped in as we drifted north in the Gulf Stream 60 miles headed to a lee shore. The MMSN net control and several others stayed with us for hours, phoned people, and were immensely helpful. The situation on board was dangerous. We are now safely under tow home. You folks are amazing!”

In operation since 1968, the MMSN monitors 14.300 MHz 70 hours a week to assist vessels and others in need of assistance. — Thanks to MMSN Net Manager Jeff Savasta, KB4JKL[]

VOA: Voice of ambiguity (The Hill)

From 1985 to 2017, I was an audience research analyst at the Voice of America. During that time I was preoccupied by the fact that the BBC World Service had a larger audience than VOA. VOA had a larger budget, so money was not the issue.

In audience surveys, I inserted a question asking those who listened to BBC more often than VOA: “why?” The answer provided most often was trustworthiness of the news.

I asked a listener from Burma (now known as Myanmar) why he thought BBC is considered more trustworthy than VOA. He replied that VOA is more closely connected to the U.S. government than BBC is to the U.K. government. I asked how he knows this. He responded that it’s because VOA says so every day.

He was referring to the “disclaimer” at the beginning of the editorials that, by the 1980s, were heard daily on VOA’s English broadcasts: “Next, an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.”

The daily editorial was a requirement handed down by VOA’s parent U.S. Information Agency. The editorials are drafted by the VOA’s policy staff, sent to the State Department for approval and finally broadcast after a sometimes lengthy back and forth.

Michael Pack, the new CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, VOA’s present parent agency, is restoring the editorials to their previous prominence on VOA. In recent years, with diminished radio output, editorials were relegated to VOA’s little-viewed satellite television service and to a website separate from the main voanews.com. The revival of the editorials is a step in the repoliticization of VOA.[]

Newer Solar Cycle 25 Forecast Runs Counter to Consensus (ARRL Newsletter)

Scientists associated with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Maryland, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and other institutions are offering a “bold prediction” on how Solar Cycle 25 will play out. In a paper, “Overlapping Magnetic Activity Cycles and the Sunspot Number: Forecasting Sunspot Cycle 25 Amplitude,” they assert that the next sunspot cycle will be of major proportions. The forecast stands in stark contrast to the consensus of forecasters who predict that the magnitude of the nascent Cycle 25 may not be much different from the current unremarkable solar cycle, which appears to have reach its low point.

“From the dawn of modern observational astronomy, sunspots have presented a challenge to understanding — their quasi-periodic variation in number, first noted 160 years ago, stimulates community-wide interest to this day,” the abstract points out. “A large number of techniques are able to explain the temporal landmarks, (geometric) shape, and amplitude of sunspot ‘cycles,’ however, forecasting these features accurately in advance remains elusive.”

Monthly sunspot numbers since 1749. The data values are represented by dots, and the 12-month running average values are illustrated as a red shaded area. Vertical blue dashed lines signify the magnetic activity cycle termination times that trigger the rapid growth of sunspot activity.

The paper notes that recent studies have illustrated a relationship between the sun’s 22-year Hale magnetic cycle and the production of sunspot cycle landmarks and patterns, but not the amplitude of the cycle.

“Using discrete Hilbert transforms on 270 years of monthly sunspot numbers to robustly identify the so-called ‘termination’ events — landmarks marking the start and end of sunspot and magnetic activity cycles — we extract a relationship between the temporal spacing of terminators and the magnitude of sunspot cycles,” the abstract explains. “Given this relationship and our prediction of a terminator event in 2020, we deduce that Sunspot Cycle 25 will have a magnitude that rivals the top few since records began. This outcome would be in stark contrast to the community consensus estimate of Sunspot Cycle 25 magnitude.”[]

The Uncertain Future of Ham Radio (IEEE Spectrum)

Software-defined radio and cheap hardware are shaking up a hobby long associated with engineering

Will the amateur airwaves fall silent? Since the dawn of radio, amateur operators—hams—have transmitted on tenaciously guarded slices of spectrum. Electronic engineering has benefited tremendously from their activity, from the level of the individual engineer to the entire field. But the rise of the Internet in the 1990s, with its ability to easily connect billions of people, captured the attention of many potential hams. Now, with time taking its toll on the ranks of operators, new technologies offer opportunities to revitalize amateur radio, even if in a form that previous generations might not recognize.

The number of U.S. amateur licenses has held at an anemic 1 percent annual growth for the past few years, with about 7,000 new licensees added every year for a total of 755,430 in 2018. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission doesn’t track demographic data of operators, but anecdotally, white men in their 60s and 70s make up much of the population. As these baby boomers age out, the fear is that there are too few young people to sustain the hobby.

“It’s the $60,000 question: How do we get the kids involved?” says Howard Michel, former CEO of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). (Since speaking with IEEE Spectrum, Michel has left the ARRL. A permanent replacement has not yet been appointed.)

This question of how to attract younger operators also reveals deep divides in the ham community about the future of amateur radio. Like any large population, ham enthusiasts are no monolith; their opinions and outlooks on the decades to come vary widely. And emerging digital technologies are exacerbating these divides: Some hams see them as the future of amateur radio, while others grouse that they are eviscerating some of the best things about it.[]


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Radio Waves: RIP Dame Vera Lynn, 1928 London Noises, Repoliticizing VOA, and Shortwave Trading At the Speed of Light

Dame Vera Lynn (1917-2020)

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 Tracy Wood, Dennis Dura, David Goren, and Kim Elliott for the following tips:


Obituary: Dame Vera Lynn, a symbol of resilience and hope (BBC News)

Dame Vera Lynn, who has died at the age of 103, was Britain’s wartime Forces’ Sweetheart, and remained one of the country’s most potent symbols of resilience and hope.

With songs such as We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover, she inspired both troops abroad and civilians at home during World War Two.

As Britain’s cities came under attack, her wistful songs, with their messages of yearning and optimism, were heard in millions of British homes.

And 75 years later, the country turned to her once again as it faced another stern test.[]

Click here to read our SWLing Post tribute to Dame Vera Lynn from 2015 which includes a recording made from my Scott Marine Model SLRM.

London street noises 1928 (Sound and History)

THERE ARE NO BBC radio recordings surviving from before 1931, so the job of representing the 1920s falls to this curiosity from the Columbia Graphophone Company. It’s a 12” 78rpm disc made in 1928 in association with the Daily Mail newspaper.

It seems likely that the disc was somehow tied in with a Daily Mail campaign over urban traffic noise. The commentator on both sides of the disc is a man named Commander Daniel and he doesn’t approve of everything he hears in the city streets.

The recordings were made from single, static locations in Leicester Square and Beauchamp Place on Tuesday 11th and Thursday 20th September respectively. Columbia probably used a recording van equipped with a disc-cutter.[]

Repoliticizing Voice of America (The Hill)

When Michael Pack takes over as the first politically-appointed CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, his first task will be to comprehend the bewildering array of international broadcasting entities under the USAGM. This includes two government agencies: Voice of America and Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí), and four government funded corporations: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting Networks (the Arabic-language Alhurra and Radio Sawa) and the anti-censorship Open Technology Fund. Within this structure are broadcasting outlets that straddle two entities, such as the Russian-language Current TV. All told, the entities distribute content in 61 languages.

When past that hurdle, Pack must then decide if he wants to maintain the journalistic independence of USAGM’s entities, or if he wants to move them towards advocacy of the administration’s policies.[]

Companies Pitch Shortwave Radio to Shave Milliseconds Off Trades (Bloomberg)

High-frequency traders will famously do almost anything to get the latest market data and send their buy and sell orders a few milliseconds ahead of the competition. They blasted through mountains to build the most direct fiber-optic routes possible between exchanges in a competition that transformed global markets and was made famous by Michael Lewis’s book Flash Boys. Soon, pinging light through glass fiber at more than 124,000 miles per second wasn’t fast enough—the glass slows things down—so traders moved on to microwave transmitters that send signals through the air.

But that has problems, too. Microwaves travel only roughly as far as the eye can see before they peter out and need a signal boost. Now two rival market telecommunications companies have signed a pact that they say will give traders more access to experimental wireless signals which can travel across oceans.

To do that, signals need a longer wavelength—known as a shortwave rather than microwave—that bounces between the water and atmosphere. It’s an imperfect solution. The waves can handle only a fraction of the data that fiber can, carrying about a kilobit per second vs. gigabits. And some signals can be lost.

Raft Technologies Inc., a startup based in Tel Aviv, says the trade-offs are worth it. Raft says it can send data over shortwave from Chicago to Frankfurt in 31.4 milliseconds, which it says is about 4.5 milliseconds faster than the best available fiber route. That’s an eternity in an industry that tends to measure improvements by the thousandth of a millisecond. The company says the signal is about 85% reliable, compared with 100% for fiber. Clients can use a fiber line in parallel as a fail-safe measure.[]


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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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