Tag Archives: Why Radio

BBC: “Meet the girl whose teacher is a radio”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mike Hansgen, who shares this news/media from the BBC World Service:

Could broadcasting school lessons solve Africa’s education crisis? The BBC spoke to a pupil in the Democratic Republic of Congo who is learning through the radio.

Click here to view on the BBC World Service website.

At Ears To Our World we’ve long appreciated the power of radio to spread information in rural and remote parts of the world: it’s effective, accessible and essentially free to the listener. Viva la radio!

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Cyclones fail to stop Yolgnu Radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Phil Brennan, who writes:

I spotted this article in the Australian edition of the Guardian about a local community radio network for Yolgnu people here in the NT:

‘We’re not going anywhere’: how cyclones failed to batter Yolgnu Radio

In 2015, when two cyclones battered the northern coast of Arnhem Land in less than a month, many remote homelands had just two ways to get news: Yol?u Radio or a payphone.

After the radio station’s transmission went down in the storm, some stranded residents used the payphone to contact the station.

“When the cyclone was closing in they would keep coming to the phone and we were like: you mob should be in a shelter now because anything can happen, things flying about and everything,” announcer Sylvia Nulpinditj describes.

“They were calling in every hour, running to the phone box,” production manager Gaia Osborne adds. “They came off all right in the end but they were incredibly worried.”

During Lam, the category-four storm that made landfall first near Elcho Island, Nulpinditj, Osborne and another colleague delivered more than 170 cyclone updates in Yol?u languages, working around-the-clock from the Darwin studio (special characters are used in written Yol?u to render pronunciation more accurately).

“The nature of satellite technology is affected by rain and cloud cover so we were pushing those messages out in every possible way we could,” Osborne says. “There was that much rain hitting Galiwin’ku and in some of those homelands we knew the radio signal would have been knocked out. But there were still people on Facebook.”

Nulpinditj, an award-winning host at Yolgnu Radio for more than six years, says it is a “huge responsibility” as a Yol?u broadcaster, and it can be challenging to work with mainstream organisations, “for example, the Bureau of Meteorology mob”.

Click here to continue reading at The Guardian.

 Interesting that it refers to disaster advice on cyclones. It’s a pity it doesn’t draw the link between that and the closure of the NT shortwave service.

Many thanks for sharing this article, Phil!

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NAB Delivers Radios to Hurricane-Ravished Puerto Rico

(Source: NAB Blog via Richard Langley)

https://youtu.be/NtOpsVDnJzM

I recently had the opportunity of a lifetime. I was asked by my employer – the National Association of Broadcasters – to travel to Puerto Rico to help distribute 10,000 battery-operated radios to people in hurricane-ravaged island and the Virgin Islands.

The idea for the radio hand-out stemmed from a meeting where President and CEO Gordon Smith asked: “What can NAB and our industry do to help?” NAB swung into action, purchasing, shipping and delivering the radios in just 18 days.

I had seen pictures of the devastation in Puerto Rico, but nothing compares to seeing it in person. Most of Puerto Rico remained without power and drinkable water during our visit. Even in the Capitol of San Juan, power came almost exclusively from generators that had to be refilled with fuel or diesel daily by hand, sometimes every four hours. Police directed traffic at intersections.

People wait from six to 14 hours over three days to get tarps to cover the roofs of their houses. It’s common for people to wait in line for three hours to enter grocery stores, where bottled water is sold in rationed quantities. We saw 100-year-old trees uprooted, bringing concrete sidewalks with them and toppling power lines. We saw people living in cars or in tents on the beach. Recovery in areas away from the coast, where mountains and rain forests dominate the landscape, is occurring at a snail’s pace.

[…]People in 25 Puerto Rican municipalities, plus the U.S. Virgin Islands, received radios from our shipment of 10,000 devices. Donations from NAB, the National Alliance of State Broadcasters Associations (NASBA) and multiple U.S. radio companies covered the cost of this project.[…]

Click here to read the full article at the NAB blog.

Many thank, Richard, for the tip! I’m most impressed with how quickly the NAB were able to source those radios and hand-deliver them to those in need.

At Ears To Our World, we’re in the process of doing something similar, though on a much smaller scale. We’re partnering with a Puerto Rico amateur radio club to deliver a number of self-powered radios and flashlights to those in need. If the distribution goes well, and there is still a need moving forward, we will increase the number we distribute.

By many accounts, it could still be weeks or months before electricity is fully restored to the island.

Great job, NAB!

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WAPA Radio: “Radio Voice of Calm in the Storm”

(Source: US News)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Reuters) – News anchorman Luis Penchi has slept about three hours a night since Hurricane Maria turned his radio station into one of the few sources of public information on this battered island.

Working more than 25 hours straight during the height of the devastating storm, the lay Franciscan friar and grandfather has emerged as a light in the darkness for Puerto Rican listeners trapped in a virtual telecommunications blackout.

The powerful storm knocked out electricity, internet, television and cell service for the U.S. territory’s 3.4 million people. When other radio stations went dark, WAPA 680 kept plugging, delivering a 24-hour stream of news, advice, messages and pleas for assistance from listeners desperate to connect with loved ones.

Barefoot and wearing shorts and a wooden crucifix at the San Juan station on Wednesday, the bright-eyed Penchi credited retro technology for helping WAPA power through the maelstrom, along with some divine intervention.

“I believe it was an act of God. This is the chosen station,” the 62-year-old said with laugh.

In the days and hours since the storm broke, the Spanish-language station has become a cornerstone of news, sending out bulletins across the devastated U.S. territory about relief efforts, road conditions and missing people. In the words of one of its owners, Carmen Blanco, WAPA turned into the unofficial “voice of the government” about the hurricane.

[…]Inside are echoes of an earlier age that for now is the norm in Puerto Rico. With power limited to the station’s generator, there is no air conditioning. Electronic frills have been reduced to the minimum. At the reception area, a woman wrote messages for broadcast on a typewriter.

Anchor Penchi credits such old-school resourcefulness for the station’s durability. He said WAPA stayed on the air because it had maintained its old analogue broadcasting capacity alongside its digital equipment.

Payam Heydari, an expert in radio technology at the University of California, Irvine, said basic analogue equipment tends to provide robust transmission over long distances. In comparison, he said, digital technology is highly dependent on electricity to power the relays needed to carry a signal.

“Therefore as soon as power goes down, so do the relays” on a digital signal, Heydari said.[…]

Continue reading this full article at US News and World Report…

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CNN: “Ham radio operators are saving Puerto Rico”

NASA/NOAA Satellite imagery showing the impact on Puerto Rico’s electrical infrastructure

(Source: CNN)

(CNN)The phone call from the Red Cross came in late Friday night, just as the full scale of Hurricane Maria’s calamity began taking shape.

“We need 50 of your best radio operators to go down to Puerto Rico.”
In the days after the worst storm in three generations hit the American island — and for many more to come — public electrical, land-line and cellular communication systems showed few signs of life. And radio networks used routinely by police officers, power company workers and other first responder still were down.

Yet, a key mode of communication — one not reliant on infrastructure vulnerable to strong winds and flooding — still crackled: the “ham” radio.

Answering the phone that night in Connecticut was the emergency manager for the American Radio Relay League, the group’s CEO said. For more than a century, this group has served as a hub for amateurs licensed to operate the dependable, if archaic, medium known as ham radio and eager to pitch in when disaster strikes.

When the Red Cross made its latest appeal for heroes, these were the people it had in mind.

Continue reading the full article at CNN online…

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Puerto Rico: This radio station stayed on the air even though it lost its roof

(Source: The Miami Herald)

SAN JUAN
Normally, Rubén Sánchez would not interrupt a live interview with as prominent a newsmaker as Gov. Ricardo Rosselló.

But Wednesday was anything but normal.

Less than an hour after Hurricane Maria plowed into Puerto Rico, Rosselló was updating Spanish-language radio listeners by phone on the Category 4 storm’s destructive path when host Sánchez suddenly interrupted.

The studios of Univision’s WKAQ-AM (580) had become “vulnerable,” Sánchez said, his voice tinged with tension. He and his broadcast colleagues would have to abandon the premises — and fast.

“Stay safe,” Rosselló said, urging them to seek shelter in an internal hallway.

Finding refuge — and a safe place to keep broadcasting — turned out to be complicated. The station and a handful of others became vital listening posts for Puerto Ricans starved of information Wednesday as their electricity went dark and their cellphones silent. Several news outlets continuously reported online, but relatively few people on the island could click.

[…]“A few of the offices exploded,” he said, describing how Maria shattered street-facing office windows and forced itself into the building, in the Guaynabo neighborhood west of San Juan. “It even changed the smell of the environment, and the temperature in WKAQ.”

The on-air staffers scrambled, making their way into the studios of a sister station, WKAQ-FM (104.7), known as KQ-105. But even that proved insufficient. Moments later, News Director Jaime Cosme grabbed the microphone to say they were devising a makeshift studio deeper in the building — a structure that, until Wednesday morning, the station had considered a “bunker.”

Sánchez likened the scene to a grenade blast. “It was a bunker,” Sánchez said. “We could see the sky because the roof blew off.”[…]

Click here to read the full article at The Miami Herald…

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Al Jazeera: In the internet age, radio still rules the world

ETOW-Uganda-Radio

Teacher and student with Ears To Our World radio in rural Uganda (2010)

(Souerce: Al Jazeera)

The United Nations cultural agency UNESCO has marked World Radio Day by calling for more freedom of expression and wider access to information in times of emergencies and disasters.

While digital technology dominates the modern means of transmitting information, UNESCO said on Saturday that radio remains the primary source of information for most people in the world.

“Radio still remains the medium that reaches the widest audience worldwide, in the quickest possible time,” the UNESCO statement said.

According to the UN, an estimated 44,000 radio stations broadcast to at least five billion people, representing 70 percent of the population worldwide.

“Radio is a platform that allows people to interact, despite different educational levels, so somebody may be illiterate but still be able to call in a show to give a testimony and participate in radio, Mirta Lourenco, a UNESCO spokesman, told Al Jazeera.

“This is not the same if the person wants to read a newspaper.”

[…]In developing countries, an estimated 75 percent of households have access to a radio, making it an essential and reliable part of disaster and emergency response, UNESCO said.

In India, the biggest advantage of radio is that it is cheap, making it accessible to 99 percent of the population, Dilip Cherian, radio commentator at Radio One India, told Al Jazeera’s Jane Dutton.

The arrival of mobile phones has changed the consumption habits of millions, but many come with built-in radio chips and this has helped keep the radio industry effective, more than 120 years after the first radio broadcast.

[…]”It’s very local, very community-driven, so people feel that they can really relate to presenters and the conversations on the radio,” Amy O’Donnell, a spokesman for the aid organisation Oxfam, told Al Jazeera.

“It’s actually a very participatory mechanism in local communities for people to have their say and have their voices heard.”

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