Tag Archives: Voice of America

“Voice of America Marks 79th Anniversary”

(Source: VOA News)

Voice of America is 79 years old today [February 1, 2021].

Its 1942 debut was unpretentious — a live, 15-minute shortwave radio broadcast transmitted into Germany from a small studio in New York City.

Now, the U.S.-funded but independent VOA reaches more than 280 million people across the globe each week in more than 40 languages.

Its stories, covering the range of the human existence in the Unites States and countries throughout the world, appear on digital, television and radio platforms and can be accessed on mobile phones and social media. VOA stories are carried on a network of more than 2,500 affiliate stations.

In the first broadcast in 1942, a little more than seven weeks after the United States officially entered World War II, listeners first heard an American patriotic song, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Then, announcer William Harlan Hale said, “We bring you Voices from America. Today, and daily from now on, we shall speak to you about America and the war. The news may be good for us. The news may be bad. But we shall tell you the truth.”

It is a credo that since 1976 is embedded in the VOA Charter, which by law requires the organization to “serve as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news.” It says VOA news must “be accurate, objective and comprehensive.”

VOA is part of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, the government agency that oversees all non-military, U.S. international broadcasting.

VOA’s professional journalists produce dozens of stories every day without interference from the U.S. government.

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Radio Waves: RCI Staff cut in half, DRM Newsletter Notes, and VOA in the Press

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 William Lee, Kris Partridge, Kim Elliott, and Jason Hauser for the following tips:


CBC’s plan for Radio Canada International sees its staff cut in half (CARTT.ca)

By Steve Faguy MONTREAL — This week, the CRTC began a two-week hearing into the renewal of CBC/Radio-Canada’s licences, a process which began more than a year ago. There will be days of questioning, dozens of intervenors appearing, and discussions of everything from children’s programming to the fees for CBC News Network to diversity, local news, online distribution and official minority communities. But one thing that probably won’t be discussed is a service the public broadcaster is specifically required by legislation to provide, relatively few know about, but that the company has seemingly treated like a forgotten stepchild: Radio Canada… [Note this article fades into a Paywall, but William recommends reading more at Fagstein.com]

Digital Radio Mondial Newsletter includes a number of announcements

Successful DRM for FM Simulcast Demonstration in Russia

The Russian company Digiton Systems, supported by DRM Consortium members, carried out a high-power field trial of the DRM standard in the FM band using the simulcast mode.  The trial report in St Petersburg covers the trial that took place from June – December 2019. The trial continues to be on air and its main findings will be collected in a more detailed ITU report.  Read more

The Indian Public Broadcaster Updates on 2021 Plans including digitisation

On the website of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Prasar Bharati (the radio and TV Indian public broadcaster) has today clarified that no AIR station is being closed anywhere in any Indian state, some “fake news” widely circulated recently in the press.

All India Radio (AIR) stressed the importance attached to localism and the news projects included in its 2021-2022 plan. In its press release of January 13th.  Prasar Bharati mentions that it is also moving ahead with its plans to introduce Digital Terrestrial Radio in India. Select AIR channels are already available through Digital DRM technology to the listeners in many cities/regions on an experimental basis. Listeners in these cities/regions can experience the power of Digital Radio through a choice of multiple radio channels available on a single radio frequency in digital mode. Specialised Digital Radio Services available on DRM transmitters include AIR News 24×7 dedicated to news and current affairs, AIR Raagam 24×7 dedicated to classical music as well as local/regional radio services and Live Sports.

AIR Announces Tender for DRM Receivers

All India Radio announced a tender for the supply of DRM receivers.  More here

DRM FOR EDUCATION DURING COVID-19 AND BEYOND

DRM offers a solution for tackling the global disruption in education at a local level. DRM not only provides audio but also multimedia services consisting of Journaline text services, slides, graphics, and images simultaneously.  In this article published by Broadcast Cable & Satellite, a much-respected Indian publication, Yogendra Pal (Hon Chair, DRM India Platform) and Ruxandra Obreja (DRM Consortium Chair), set out the benefits of DRM technology in facilitating distance learning for all.  Read more 

DRM Providing Distance Learning Without the Internet

In the Fourth Quarter Broadcast Technology publication published by the IEEE, Thimmaiah Kuppanda and Alexander Zink, Fraunhofer IIs, explain how DRM and Journline technologies rise to the challenge of providing distance learning solutions where there is no internet availability.  Read more

Article published reproduced with permission from IEEE

How DRM Contributes to UN Sustainability Goals

In the latest edition of the ETSI magazine, Lindsay Cornell (BBC & Chair of the DRM Technical Committee), sets out how DRM (the only open digital radio standard) delivers substantial energy savings and gives access to remote communities.  Read more

Dxers Diary New Programme Launched on KTWR

Arun Kumar Narasimhan from Chennai in India has been producing and presenting a new short programme called “DXERS DIARY”.  From Sunday January 3rd he was on air presenting a 5-minute weekly DX programme in KTWR’s DRM broadcast (13800 Khz at 10.26 UTC) every Sunday. The programme is designed to make it easy for listeners to contribute to the advancement of the DX hobby.  The programme will include listeners’ logs, band scans from across the world and news and information on frequency changes by various radio stations. Listeners can send logs, bandscans and reception reports about DXERS DIARY to our email to dxersdiary@gmail.com.

Women in Broadcast Technology

The DRM Chair, Ruxandra Obreja is featured in a profile in IEEE focusing on “Women in Technology”.  Read more 

DRM SW Recordings Brazil, China and India

DRM shortwave recordings to Brazil broadcast by Radio Romania, China National Radio and recording received on the road in India.

Voice Of America White House Reporter Reassigned After Questioning Pompeo (NPR)

Voice of America White House reporter Patsy Widakuswara was reassigned Monday evening just hours after pressing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on whether he regretted saying there would be a second Trump administration after President-elect Joe Biden’s victory was apparent.

Pompeo had appeared at the U.S. government-owned international broadcaster’s headquarters in Washington on Monday to make an address. He did not address last week’s assault on Congress by a mob filled with President Trump’s avowed supporters in his remarks, nor was he asked about it in a congenial question-and-answer session by VOA’s new director, Robert R. Reilly. To date, Pompeo, a steadfast Trump ally, has not substantively addressed the attack on the U.S. Capitol at all.

As Pompeo walked out of the VOA building, giving a thumbs up to a man with whom he exchanged remarks in the crowded foyer, Widakuswara lobbed several questions. She asked what he was doing to repair the reputation of the U.S. around the world. She finally asked: “Mr. Secretary, do you regret saying there will be a second Trump administration?” Pompeo did not acknowledge the questions.

She tweeted out videotaped footage of that exchange, which showed a throng of people around. Contemporaneous audio obtained by NPR shows she then turned to press Reilly: “Mr. Director, why did you not ask any of the questions that we wanted to know about?”

He asked who she was, and Widakuswara identified herself as a Voice of America White House reporter. An irate Reilly can be heard saying, “You obviously don’t know how to behave,” adding, she wasn’t “authorized” to be there to ask questions.

Widakuswara: “I know, but I am a journalist, and I am paid to ask questions.”[]

Voice of America journalists demand resignation of top officials, protest sidelining of two staffers (NBC News)

“It is not out of order for VOA journalists to ask questions of U.S. government officials. It is our job,” the journalists wrote in a letter.

WASHINGTON — A group of Voice of America journalists has signed a letter demanding the resignation of the director of VOA and his deputy, accusing them of using the network “to stage a propaganda event” for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and for the “sudden and unexplained” reassignments of the chief news editor and White House correspondent.

The journalists said the actions of VOA Director Robert Reilly and Deputy Director Elizabeth Robbins violated the network’s decades-old charter, which states that the U.S.-funded outlet does not speak for the U.S. government, according to the letter obtained by NBC News.

Reilly and Robbins were recently installed by President Donald Trump’s appointee, Michael Pack, who runs the parent agency that oversees VOA, the U.S. Agency for Global Media.

The letter was sent to Pack, Reilly and Robbins and has so far been signed by two dozen journalists from the VOA’s staff of about 1,000.

At the network’s headquarters in Washington on Monday, Pompeo delivered a speech carried live on VOA, extolling the virtues of America’s free press and accusing the service of having overly negative coverage of the U.S. in the past. The broadcasters’ reporters were barred from asking questions and outside media were not allowed to attend, according to the letter and journalists who spoke to NBC News.

Pompeo “used this opportunity to attempt to direct VOA journalists to cease critical coverage of the United States,” and Reilly, who was on stage with the secretary of state, “did not challenge him — a disservice to our international audience,” the letter said.[]


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Radio Waves: Old Goats Are Going Away, Pack Accused of Fraud, Post-Brexit Radio Imports, and a TV Drama About Murder of G0HFQ

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 Dennis Dura, Ronald Kenyon, Michael Guerin, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Commentary: “The Old Goats Are Going Away” (Radio World)

Broadcasters need to act to refill our ranks before the dial goes quiet

I see trouble ahead in our business in the shortage of qualified broadcast engineers.

I am not speaking of IT people. I am speaking of the guy in a T-shirt and jeans who gets to the transmitter, looks for the problem, reads the schematic, crawls inside the box and replaces R-16, R-17, C-232 and Q-4, and the music again blares forth.

We are losing those guys every day, and they are being replaced by the guy who walks into the site, looks at the box, grabs his cell phone, calls BE or Nautel to find which board to pull, and ships it back while waiting for a loaner to get the rig going.

I never thought of myself as an old-timer. Starting in the business in 1963, old-timers were the guys I learned from, mostly World War II graduates. They knew everything about audio and RF. I wished I knew a tenth as much as they did.

My first real bit of engineering was converting a 50 kW FM station to stereo in 1963. No one listened to FM then, I think there were 10 FM radios in the city and five were in Cadillacs owned by mob hit men.

I remember putting the stereo generator in an eight-foot rack. It took up four feet of the rack and had enough 12AU7s in it to heat the building. It had two outputs, one L+R that went into the phase modulator of the serrasoid exciter and the L–R output that went into the exciter about 200 multipliers later (the crystal frequency was multiplied 864 times).

It was a technical nightmare compared to mono FM. Getting two matched phased phone lines from the studio to the transmitter over three exchanges was another task. But we were stereo most of the time.

The FCC had a rule that if you weren’t transmitting stereophonic program material for more than a certain length of time, you had to shut the stereo pilot off so as not to mislead the 10 listeners by illuminating their stereo beacon. So the pilot on/off was wired into the old Rust remote control so the studio could turn it off when a monophonic recording of a symphony played.

Times changed; we wound up with RF STLs, stereo generators on a single chip, CD players, computers and lots of stuff made in foreign countries that wasn’t worth fixing or whose parts were not available, so when they broke they wound up on a shelf at the transmitter site.[]

Voice of America CEO Accused Of Fraud, Misuse Of Office All In One Week (NPR)

Fresh crises and fresh challenges confront the Trump-appointed CEO of the parent of Voice of America, even with less than two weeks left of the Trump presidency.

To start, the Attorney General of the District of Columbia this week accused U.S. Agency for Global Media CEO Michael Pack of illegally funneling more than $4 million to his private documentary company through a not-for-profit that he also controls.

Then, five recent chiefs of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – appointed under Democratic and Republican administrations – jointly warned President-elect Joe Biden that Pack poses “a long-term threat to the credibility and professionalism of the five networks” he oversees.

And now Pack is now being accused of trying to propagandize the Voice of America by a group of whistleblowers. They take exception to a planned appearance by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at VOA’s Washington headquarters on Monday, just nine days before the Biden administration begins.

Pompeo will soon be out of his job. And it’s expected Pack will be replaced promptly as well. But he has sought to outlast his time in office by burrowing himself and conservative allies into boards that will steer Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks. The not-for-profit broadcasters are all funded by the federal government through USAGM.

Those networks, along with VOA and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, collectively reach more than 350 million people across the world each week. They historically have demonstrated American pluralism by providing balanced coverage of news events and robust political debate, regardless of how it reflects on current government officials. The broadcasters are also intended to serve the citizens of nations which do not allow journalists to operate freely.[]

Radio imports (Southgate ARC)

Now that the United Kingdom has left the European Union, we will see major changes in importing radio equipment.

Definitive information is scarce but imports from the UK can have VAT paid on purchase or depending on the retailer, VAT may have to be paid before delivery. If it comes via An Post, any charges will have to paid before the item is sent out for delivery.

The Post Office employees will not be collecting money at the door. Whether duty is also collected is not very clear, but some sources say that anything originating outside the European Union will attract duty as well as VAT. There may also be a handling charge.

John EI7GL has compiled a list of radio and electronic dealers based in the European Union on his blog page and would welcome any updates you can supply.[]

TV drama about murder of radio ham G0HFQ (Southgate ARC)

On Monday, January 11, ITV will be broadcasting the first of a three part TV drama about the murder in June 1989 of Oxfordshire radio amateur Peter Dixon G0HFQ and Gwenda Dixon who were on holiday in Pembrokeshire

In the November 1989 Radio Communication magazine the RSGB asked:

Did you work GW0HFQ/M ?

As we’ve reported in previous editions of RadCom, Peter Dixon, G0HFQ. and his wife Gwenda were brutally murdered whilst on holiday in South Wales last June. Dyfed-Powys Police have asked us to say that they are still anxious to talk to anyone who had a contact with Peter whilst he was operating in Pembrokeshire as GW0HFO/M on 7 or 14MHz SSB. 28MHz FM/SSB or 144MHz FM. The dates between which they’d like you to check your logbooks are 19-29 June 1989.

Dyfed-Powys Police believe that Peter Dixon had a contact with another mobile station in the area on 28MHz FM on the morning of Wednesday 28 June.

The drama will be shown on ITV at 9pm on Monday, January 11, details at
https://www.itv.com/presscentre/ep1week2/
pembrokeshire-murders

A description of the murder is at
https://www.nickdavies.net/1992/06/27/the-tantalising-mystery-of-a-murder-in-pembrokeshire/

The October 1989 issue of 73 magazine carried a report, see page 13
https://worldradiohistory.com/Archive-DX/73-magazine/73-magazine-1989/73-magazine-10-october-1989.pdf


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Radio Waves: AM TX Sites Now Prized Real Estate, New Leaders for RFE/RL, New EU Cars Will Have DAB, and North Korean Fisherman Pays Ultimate Price for Listening to 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 Tracy Wood, Michael Bird, Michael Guerin, Mike Terry and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


AM Radio Transmitter Sites Now Valuable Real Estate for Logistics Industry (Transport Topics)

The familiar real estate adage “location, location, location” rings true these days for huge tracts on the outskirts of major cities — sites that for decades housed AM radio towers but that today command top dollar as e-commerce fuels rising demand for new warehouses and logistics centers.

Look no further than the $51 million sale of a five-acre parcel in Queens, N.Y., where an AM radio station will eventually abandon its existing tower and transmitter site, and move it.

New York radio station WFME’s owner, Nashville, Tenn.-based Family Radio, sold its AM transmitter site to Prologis, a San Francisco developer that specializes in building warehouses for companies looking to expand final-mile capability.

This property is situated near the Long Island Expressway, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, and La Guardia and JFK airports. The spot’s current value as a logistics hub far outstrips its importance to a broadcast outlet that didn’t register in New York’s most recent radio ratings book.

“Long term, we see this as a strategic move that adds to our growing footprint of high-quality logistics space that offers quick and easy access to consumers.” said Jeremiah Kent, Prologis senior vice president of value added investments. “In one of the most densely populated markets in the world where demand for logistics real estate is high and land is scarce, Prologis is well-positioned to respond to the acceleration of e-commerce and consumers’ expectation for same- and next-day delivery services.”

The rising value of these locations is being driven by changing consumer habits and rapid technological evolution. Sites on the edge of town that in radio’s heyday were cheap and plentiful can now house vital links in a supply chain propelled by technology that was hard to imagine back in AM’s early days.[]

USAGM CEO Names New Leaders for RFE/RL, OCB (VOA)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Agency for Global Media announced that former VOA journalist Ted Lipien will return to run Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, the current acting director at the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, will become director.

The appointments follow USAGM CEO Michael Pack’s December 9 announcement that former Voice of America director Robert Reilly would return to lead that network.

Lipien joined VOA in 1973 and worked as the chief of the Polish language service and later as a senior news and marketing executive until 2006. For 10 years, Lipien worked in Munich and Prague as the Eurasia regional marketing director, helping VOA and RFE/RL place programs on stations across the region. In an announcement sent to staff, he recalled listening to Radio Free Europe while growing up in communist Poland.

“I’m honored, and humbled, to be entrusted with helping this storied organization continue to break the hold of censorship and give voice to the silenced,” he wrote.

Since leaving U.S. broadcasting, Lipien has been a vocal critic of VOA’s and USAGM’s previous leaders. He has also defended Pack’s tenure as CEO, saying Pack has focused on correcting long-running issues of bias and mismanagement at the networks.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is a nonprofit multimedia broadcasting organization funded by U.S. Congress grants. Based in Prague, it serves as a surrogate media source in 27 languages, mostly in places where a free press remains either banned or not fully established.

Jeffrey Scott Shapiro has been with the Office of Cuba Broadcasting since July 2017. In announcing Shapiro’s new position, Pack cited his deep connections to local communities in South Florida and his track record in producing objective news.

“Transmitting objective news and information to the island plays a critical role in moving toward a free Cuba, and it is a privilege to be a part of such an important mission,” Shapiro wrote in a published statement.

The Office of Cuba Broadcasting oversees Radio and Television Marti, based in Miami, Florida. The network provides news, information and analysis to the people of Cuba via satellite television and shortwave radio, as well as flash drives, DVDs and text messages.

Pack was confirmed by the Senate as CEO in June with a three-year term and fired several news executives upon his arrival. He later declined to testify before a House of Representatives panel examining his decisions at the agency, including his decision to fire the heads of RFE/RL, Radio Free Asia and OCB, and replace their boards. The then-director of VOA, Amanda Bennett, resigned two days before Pack joined the agency.

Last month a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting Pack and other USAGM officials from interfering with the editorial independence and First Amendment rights of journalists at VOA and other networks they oversee. The ruling still allows Pack to appoint leaders of those news networks to oversee them.

The November 20 court order prohibits the CEO and other defendants from communicating directly with journalists at the networks without the consent of their directors. The order is part of a lawsuit filed by five USAGM officials whom Pack placed on administrative leave in August. The suit accuses Pack and his political appointees of unlawful actions and of violating the First Amendment and a statutory firewall set up to ensure editorial independence. Pack has said the lawsuit is “without merit” and that all of his and his team’s decisions and actions are “correct and lawful.”

Earlier this month, a federal office set up to protect whistleblowers ordered USAGM to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by its own top officials.[]

All new car radios to have digital terrestrial radio (Southgate ARC)

From today, people purchasing new passenger vehicles across Europe will be able to benefit from the advantages of digital radio – greater choice, clearer audio and enhanced data services.

Article 113, Annex XI in the EECC states that “Any car radio receiver integrated in a new vehicle of category M* which is made available on the market for sale or rent in the Union from 21 December 2020 shall comprise a receiver capable of receiving and reproducing at least radio services provided via digital terrestrial radio broadcasting”.

The regulation applies to all EU member states – regardless of the status of DAB in each country.

Despite the impact of Covid-19, Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Denmark have already introduced laws mandating digital terrestrial radio in cars and other countries are expected to follow shortly.

In the first half of 2020, over 50% of new cars sold in Europe included DAB+ as standard – a number that is expected to reach 100% by the end of 2021 as DAB+ adoption continues to grow across Europe.

More information and regular updates on the EECC directive and its implementation across Europe is available on the WorldDAB EECC factsheet.

*Motor vehicles with at least four wheels designed and constructed for the carriage of passengers

https://www.worlddab.org/news

North Korean fisherman publicly executed for listening to foreign radio (The New Daily)

A North Korean fishing boat captain has been publicly executed for listening to banned foreign radio stations while at sea.

The man, only known by his surname Choi and said to have been in his 40s, was killed by firing squad in front of 100 boat captains and fisheries executives, according to a Radio Free Asia report.

Choi, who owned a fleet of more than 50 ships, is thought to have been turned in by a crew member after they turned against him.

According to the RFA report, Choi ultimately confessed to authorities and was charged with “subversion against the party”.

“In mid-October, a captain of a fishing boat from Chongjin was executed by firing squad, on charges of listening to Radio Free Asia regularly over a long period of time,” a North Korean law enforcement official told RFA.

“They publicly shot him at the base in front of 100 other captains and managers of the facility’s fish processing plants. They also dismissed or discharged party officials, the base’s administration and the security officers who allowed Choi to work at sea.”

The network said the fishing boat captain began his habit of tuning into foreign radio stations, including RFA, while serving as a radio operator in the military. He had listened to RFA – a US-government funded network that broadcasts in Korean – for 15 years.

“The security authorities decided then that the time to re-educate him had long past, so they executed him by firing squad,” the source said.

“It seems that the authorities made an example out of Choi to imprint on the residents that listening to outside radio stations means death.”[]


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Radio Waves: Ted Lipien Named Head of RFE/RL, The American Radio Archives, Drive-Thru Ham Tests, and VOA Broadcasts to Displaced Communities in Africa

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 Ted Lipien, Josh Shepperd, Ronnie Smith, and Gary Butterworth,  for the following tips:


Ted Lipien returns to U.S. international broadcasting as head of RFE/RL December 18, 2020 (USAGM)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Michael Pack, CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), announced today that veteran civil servant Ted Lipien is returning to U.S. international broadcasting as CEO and President of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

“Few people have a greater understanding than Ted of the multifaceted operation and mission of U.S. international broadcasting,” said CEO Pack. “Ted is an ardent and captivating advocate of democracy who will excel at sharing America’s founding principles and ideals with the world.”

“When I was a teenager in Communist Poland, I would listen to Radio Free Europe to find out what the government was not telling me,” said Mr. Lipien. “It had an enormous impact on my life, and on the lives of millions of others. I’m honored, and humbled, to be entrusted with helping this storied organization continue to break the hold of censorship and give voice to the silenced.”

Mr. Lipien has dedicated virtually his entire career to U.S. international broadcasting. He joined Voice of America (VOA) in 1973 and served as the network’s Polish Service Chief for 12 years, from 1981 to 1993, including the Solidarity labor union’s struggle for human rights and democracy in Soviet-communist-ruled Poland. From 1993 to 2003, he served as the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ Eurasia Marketing Specialist and Director, first in Munich and, later, in Prague. Mr. Lipien then rejoined VOA, serving as Eurasia Division Director from 2003 to 2005 and Acting Associate Director from 2005 to 2006. He has interviewed a number of eminent public figures, including Cardinal Karol Wojty?a (Pope John Paul II), Lech Wa??sa, George H.W. Bush, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Czes?aw Mi?osz.

In 2008, after leaving the federal service, Mr. Lipien founded Free Media Online, a non-governmental organization committed to supporting free media worldwide. His pro-media freedom work has been noted in a variety of national publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post. His articles have appeared in National Review, Washington Times, and Washington Examiner. Mr. Lipien earned his bachelor’s degree in international relations with distinction from George Washington University.

RFE/RL, headquartered in Prague, is a non-federal network funded by the United States Congress through USAGM. Daisy Sindelar, who had been serving as Acting President of RFE/RL since June 2020, is returning to her former role as the network’s Vice President and Editor-in-Chief.[]

On the Radio: The Library’s Special Research Collections to become home to the American Radio Archives (UC Santa Barbara)

The American Radio Archives, one of the world’s largest and most valuable collections of radio broadcasting will soon become part of the UC Santa Barbara Library’s Department of Special Collections.

Established by the Thousand Oaks Library Foundation (TOLF) in 1984, the archive is one of the first in the state and includes original recordings of Winston Churchill, as well as broadcast photographs, radio and television scripts, books and film dated as early as 1922.

“It is critical that such a wonderfully curated collection documenting the golden age of radio is preserved and accessible, said Thousand Oaks Mayor Claudia Bill-de la Peña. “UCSB has one of the largest collections of performing arts records, sound recordings and broadcast recordings on the West Coast as well as a state-of-the-art audio laboratory, making it our first choice and a natural fit for the American Radio Archives.”

The collection was established in 1984 and grew significantly with the purchase in 1987 of radio memorabilia from the estate of Rudy Valleé, one of the nation’s most popular singing bandleaders and personalities. Valleé documented his career, which took off in the1920s, through an extensive array of journals, photographs and original pieces of advertising.

The prominence of the Valleé collection attracted numerous celebrities and radio historians from around the world who gravitated toward the American Radio Archives. Among them were such luminaries as Norman Lear, Carl Reiner, Ron Howard, Ray Bradbury, Norman Corwin, Edward Asner, Walter Cronkite, Janet Waldo, Candice Bergen and William Shatner.

When Norman Corwin — dubbed America’s poet laureate of radio — donated his career files in 1990, it further increased esteem for the archives and generated significant interest among radio aficionados. As a result, many noteworthy collections were donated to TOLF, including, among others, those of radio station KNX-CBS; radio actor and radio historian Frank Bresee, who hosted “The Golden Days of Radio”; comedian Red Skelton; Carlton Morse, the creator of the long-running radio soap opera “One Man’s Family”; radio and television writers Milton and Barbara Merlin; and Allin Slate, a pioneer of the sports talk show format on KABC radio in Los Angeles.[]

Oregon ARRL VEC Testing Group Offers Testing from the Comfort of Your Car (ARRL News)

The coronavirus pandemic has made life difficult for everyone. On the plus side, however, it’s prompted creative solutions to work around the various roadblocks the pandemic has imposed. Volunteer Examiners in Grant County, Oregon, affiliated with the ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) put their heads together to overcome the adversity and hold a safe and secure exam session. Current health regulations in Oregon precluded both indoor and outdoor gatherings. Nonetheless, the Grant County Amateur Radio Club, the local ARES Group, and the Grant County Emergency Radio Infrastructure Coalition (ERIC) combined forces to offer five candidates the chance to obtain their first license or to upgrade their existing license, all from the comfort of their vehicles.

“Many amateur radio clubs have experimented with exams via the internet,” said Steve Fletcher, K7AA, who is the ARES Emergency Coordinator for Grant County. “In eastern Oregon, with the cooperation of the County Roads Department, we chose to hold a ‘drive-up’ exam session on Saturday, December 12. Under the circumstances, we used four ARRL VEs for the exam instead of the required three.” Wheeler County ARES loaned Stuart Bottom, K7FG, to help as the third required Amateur Extra-class Volunteer Examiner.

Fletcher reports three new Technician licensees and two new General-class radio amateurs resulted from the session.

Required ARRL VEC forms contained pre-printed data — including the FCC Registration Number (FRN) — were given to the candidates on a clipboard. Each candidate took the exam in the front seat of their own vehicle. Cell phones, papers, and anything not required for the exam were removed.

“Everyone dressed warmly, and most candidates had their heaters running,” Fletcher reported. A camper owned by Ronda Metler, KB5LAX, and a communications van owned by Fletcher served as sites to check results and sign forms.

The Grant County Roads Department loaned its parking area for the exam session.[]

On International Migrants Day, VOA Expands Broadcasts to Displaced Communities in Africa (VOA Press Release)

As the world observes International Migrants Day on December 18, Voice of America continues to enhance its operations to serve the growing refugee populations in Africa. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, reports that, in just the past few weeks, 50,000 Ethiopian refugees have joined the world’s 80 million forcibly displaced people, including more than 18 million in sub-Saharan Africa.

Recognizing the deteriorating conditions in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region in recent weeks, VOA rapidly added existing Tigrigna-language radio broadcasts to existing VOA FM radio stations in the Libyan cities of Tripoli and Misrata. These newscasts reach not only the newly displaced civilians, but also Eritreans in both cities who arrived prior to the current exodus and still have ties to the crisis-affected area. Newly created “micro sites” deliver digital content in TigrignaAmharic, Afan Oromo and English from VOA regional reporting teams.

In Kakuma, Kenya, site of one of the world’s oldest refugee camps, VOA launched a new FM station to provide both refugees and the local community with news, music, and educational content in English, Swahili, and Somali. For the Dadaab refugee complex near Kenya’s border with Somalia, a new VOA station offers local residents and refugees a mix of VOA English and Somali language content that airs in Somalia and Djibouti.

“VOA is committed to providing vital news and information to underserved populations worldwide, including refugees and other forcibly displaced persons,” said VOA Director Robert Reilly. “In particular, as the only international broadcaster with a presence in Kakuma, VOA serves as a critical lifeline for individuals in this region with access to few other reliable media resources.”

VOA’s efforts to reach at-risk refugee populations expanded exponentially in 2017 in south Asia and Latin America. VOA’s Bangla language service began broadcasting in Rohingya to reach refugees in Kutupalong, the world’s largest refugee camp. Nearly one million ethnic Rohingya, who fled persecution in neighboring Myanmar, inhabit the site. When Venezuelans began to flee President Nicolás Maduro’s regime, the VOA Spanish language service significantly increased its coverage of this unfolding crisis for audiences all across the region.

VOA FM Frequencies

Existing in Libya: Tripoli (106.6 MHz); Misrata (99.1 MHz)

New in Kenya: Kakuma (99.9 MHz); Dadaab (106.7 MHz)


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Radio Waves: Hammarlund Legacy, FM Radio Using Arduino, VOA Report on Bias, ARISS SSTV Event, and Geminids

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 Trevor, Dan Robinson, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Ham radio operators honor legacy of Mars Hill company (Citizen Times)

During the 1950’s and ’60’s, when the Hammarlund Manufacturing Company had a factory just west of Mars Hill College, the town could have been considered a world center of advanced electronic technology. With a company motto of “Quality Without Compromise,” almost 90% of American WWII wartime military electronic equipment employed Hammarlund capacitors. They also built U.S. Navy search radar installed on aircraft carriers, battleships and cruisers.

Hammarlund was one of the three leading brands of radio communications equipment at the time, along with Hallicrafters and Collins Radio. These three companies dominated in providing state of the art electronics equipment to the U.S. military, large and small corporations, and to private individuals who had the means and taste to own the very best.

Hammarlund Radio initially operated out of New York City starting in 1910, in the early days of radio. They began consolidating all of their operations in Mars Hill in 1951, in a newly constructed facility that spread out to over 100,000 square foot on Hammarlund Drive — now named Hickory Drive. The site employed hundreds from around the area and their work lives on today. []

FM Radio From Scratch Using An Arduino (Hackaday)

Building radio receivers from scratch is still a popular project since it can be done largely with off-the-shelf discrete components and a wire long enough for the bands that the radio will receive. That’s good enough for AM radio, anyway, but you’ll need to try this DIY FM receiver if you want to listen to something more culturally relevant.

Receiving frequency-modulated radio waves is typically more difficult than their amplitude-modulated cousins because the circuitry necessary to demodulate an FM signal needs a frequency-to-voltage conversion that isn’t necessary with AM. For this build, [hesam.moshiri] uses a TEA5767 FM chip because of its ability to communicate over I2C. He also integrated a 3W amplifier into this build, and everything is controlled by an Arduino including a small LCD screen which displays the current tuned frequency. With the addition of a small 5V power supply, it’s a tidy and compact build as well.[]

2016 Report Confirmed Problem of Political Bias At Voice of America (USAGM Watch)

by Dan Robinson

Trump USAGM CEO Michael Pack Was Attacked For Attempts to Focus on Problem

It was May of 2016 and Amanda Bennett was only a few weeks into what would become a nearly four year stint as director of the Voice of America, among the “plum” jobs in Washington, D.C.

Bennett was just getting her feet wet, and at the time was dependent on a group of longtime embedded VOA managers that she would at one point describe as a “fantastic leadership team.”

She had received fair warning, from former VOA employees and extensive reporting by the independent watchdog website BBG and USAGM Watch, of disturbing issues at VOA, located in what has long been one of the most dysfunctional of federal agencies.

Some VOA journalists were using their taxpayer-funded positions to engage in self-promotion and campaign for political causes, a fact little known to most Americans. VOA’s website and digital operations were plagued by failures in breaking news coverage, and inaccuracies in content.

Both VOA and what was then called the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) were increasingly seen by U.S. lawmakers as moribund. A Republican-led and eventually bipartisan effort in Congress proposed major restructuring – there was little patience left on Capitol Hill where the agency was increasingly considered to be “broken,” “rudderless,” and “worthless.” President Obama signed the reform legislation in December 2016 to create a powerful agency CEO position and to make the BBG Board purely advisory.[]

ARISS Slow Scan TV event (Southgate ARC)

An ARISS Slow Scan TV (SSTV) event is scheduled from the International Space Station (ISS) for late December. This will be a special SSTV event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of ARISS.

The event is scheduled to begin on December 24 and continue through December 31.

Dates are subject to change due to ISS operational adjustments.

Dave, AA4KN
ARISS PR

The Geminids – a reminder (Southgate ARC)

The Geminids are a prolific meteor shower caused by the object 3200 Phaethon, which is thought to be a Palladian asteroid with a “rock comet” orbit. This would make the Geminids, together with the Quadrantids, the only major meteor showers not originating from a comet.

They are the biggest meteor shower of the year, and normally occur between 4 December – 17 December.

The peak is expected on 14 December.

Expect FM “pings” and hopefully interesting dx opportunities.

Mike


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Radio Waves: RIP Phil Erwin, Federal Watchdog Targets Pack, Eclipse Festival of Frequency Measurement, and VOA testing DRM

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 Dave Zantow, Michael Guerin, Eric McFadden, and Dan Robinson for the following tips:


The voice of Phil Irwin will be greatly missed (Rappahannock News)

Where wasn’t the presence of Phil Irwin felt in Rappahannock County?

A constant of virtually all proceedings of the Rappahannock County community and government, cherished innkeeper of Caledonia Farm – 1812, founding member of the Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection, regional director of the Virginia Farm Bureau, committee member for both Rappahannock County Farmland Preservation and the Agricultural Forestal District, Rappahannock tourism advisory member — for 25 years chief of morning broadcasts for Voice of America (VOA) — Irwin was found dead Thursday at his working cattle farm north of Washington.

“What a contribution Phil made to our county over his many years here,” Huntly friend Ralph Bates reacted upon learning of Irwin’s death. “He will live in our memories as we drive and see how well our viewshed and environment has been protected because of his commitment and work.”

Former Washington Mayor John Fox Sullivan recalled “a good man and such a part of the Rappahannock fabric. His love for this county, and commitment to it, was unmatched.”[]

Federal watchdog finds ‘substantial likelihood of wrongdoing’ by Trump appointees overseeing Voice of America (NBC News)

The federal watchdog’s findings mark the latest rebuke of the Trump-appointed CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, Michael Pack.

WASHINGTON — A federal watchdog agency has found “a substantial likelihood of wrongdoing” by Trump administration appointees who oversee the Voice of America and other U.S.-funded media outlets.

The finding from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, an independent government agency charged with safeguarding federal employees’ rights, marks the latest rebuke of Michael Pack, who President Donald Trump appointed to run the U.S. Agency for Global Media, the parent agency to VOA and other broadcasters.

A federal judge last month ordered Pack to stop interfering in the newsrooms of VOA and other media outlets and found that he had jeopardized the First Amendment rights of journalists that his office had targeted for investigation. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and press freedom groups have blasted Pack over his actions since he took over in June, accusing him of undermining the broadcasters’ editorial independence and defying congressional authority.

After reviewing allegations from current and recent employees, the Office of Special Counsel wrote to the whistleblowers Wednesday saying it had demanded Pack and the U.S. Agency for Global Media conduct an investigation into the allegations.[]

The December 2020 Eclipse Festival of Frequency Measurement (HamSCI)

Changes in ionospheric electron density caused by space weather and diurnal solar changes are known to cause Doppler shifts on HF ray paths. For example, see Figure 7 in Boitman et al., 1999. HamSCI’s first attempt at a measurement of these Doppler shifts was during the August 2017 total solar eclipse. We plan a careful measurement during the 2024 eclipse. As part of the WWV centennial, 50 stations collected Doppler shift data for the original Festival of Frequency Measurement, demonstrating the value of volunteer participation in collecting this data. During the June 2020 Eclipse Festival, we enlisted participants around the globe and experimented with different data collection protocols. This winter, we request that all amateur radio stations, shortwave listeners, and others capable of making high-quality HF frequency measurements help us collect frequency data for the December 14 total eclipse.[]

USAGM, VOA Testing Innovative Digital Radio Platform (Inside VOA)

A few weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of the world, broadcast engineers in Greenville, North Carolina, launched a test of digital radio signals. The U.S. Agency for Global Media began aiming a digital broadcast at Cuba and Latin America, which included Office of Cuba Broadcasting and Voice of America content.

With this 2020 test, VOA embarked on a new phase of global innovation on a platform called Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM), a versatile digital signal not well known in the U.S., but the only one that can cover the entire spectrum: shortwave, mediumwave and longwave, as well as VHF (FM). As digital radio emerged in the 1990s, VOA was among the first broadcasters testing a signal that promised to even out shortwave radio signals that often faded in and out and were marred by static.

VOA tested the DRM signal in the 1990s at the agency’s Morocco transmitter site, one of five facilities opened in a period of expansion in the previous decade. However, other digital signals became the standard in various markets around the world. The U.S. standard audio digital platform is called HD.

Around the world, as other digital radio platforms were adopted, DRM was held back by the marketplace. Nobody was making commercially available receivers.

By the end of the 1990s, VOA innovation focused more on television, the platform that promised larger audiences, even in some places in the world where shortwave dominated. By the early 2010s, the rallying cry became “Digital First,” as VOA strived to attract readers for its language service websites and began tapping into the growing audiences on new social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

By 2020, however, DRM had come full circle.

“You’re no longer limited to just reading the news or playing music,” says Gerhard Straub, supervisory director of the USAGM Broadcast Technologies Division.

Straub, along with Gary Koster, Broadcast Radio Technician and transmitter expert and Macon Dail, Chief Engineer at the Greenville Transmitting Station, set up the test broadcast in February of this year, not long before the COVID-19 pandemic grounded global travel. The trio put up a DRM signal with Radio Marti and VOA audio along with scrolling text messages and rotating images.

Engineers have received reports of a clear signal as far south as Brazil.

The USAGM test, says Straub, is “coasting along” in the pandemic, but additional content will be added when technicians can travel again. Straub says the VOA signal was taken off in the initial test to concentrate on the OCB digital content and to keep the signal robust. Now that there is good reception data, he noted, the digital bit rate can be increased and VOA content added back into the test in 2021.

Because DRM operates at lower power, more radio stations and digital signals can be broadcast on a single transmitter. The platform is starting to grow in countries of interest to Western international broadcasters. DRM signals will soon cover all of China, though its government is expected to attempt to control the stations accessed by its citizens. India built 39 transmitters and, more importantly, 2.5 million vehicles already are equipped with DRM radios. Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil and North Korea all have nascent DRM operations.

Religious broadcasters, who sometimes target audiences similar to those sought by Western governments, are experimenting with the technology. For example, a missionary group, TWR.org, sent the Bible’s Gospel of Mark from Guam to Cambodia via DRM shortwave.

“You have to stop thinking of it as radio, because it’s not,” says USAGM’s Straub. “We are now broadcasting digital data. Just like we broadcast digital data on the internet, we can broadcast digital data over shortwave without being hampered by an internet firewall that maybe limits what we can send to a particular country.”

Reason enough, Straub believes, for VOA to continue leading innovation in a new-again technology.[]


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