Tag Archives: Why Shortwave

Radio Waves: Why BBC WS Shortwave Matters, WTWW to Russia/Ukraine, Radio 5 to BBCWS, Finns Stock Up on Radios, and Asheville Radio Museum’s Amazing Volunteer

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!


Why the BBC World Service’s New Ukrainian Shortwave Service Matters (The Rand Blog)

n March 2, the BBC World Service announced that it was restarting four-hour daily shortwave transmissions in English to Ukraine. The decision to resume Ukrainian shortwave broadcasts came after Russian forces began to deliberately target Ukrainian communications equipment, including the Kyiv television tower.

Why do these four-hour daily transmissions matter so much when the world supposedly has moved away from radio and adopted social media and the Internet? Isn’t shortwave an obsolete, century-old technology that harkens back to memories of World War II and the Cold War?

Despite its age, shortwave remains an enduring tool in the global fight against disinformation. In part, this is due to its unique broadcasting qualities. FM and broadcast television can only travel to just beyond the horizon. But shortwave can travel vast transcontinental and transoceanic distances. It accomplishes this feat by bouncing between the ionosphere and the earth—over mountains, skyscrapers, and digital firewalls.

It’s this last obstacle that’s most important here. Russia is demonstrating that it can destroy Ukraine’s television and FM broadcasting infrastructure. It can use hackers and such Kremlin-affiliated subversive agencies as the Internet Research Agency to take down or otherwise block Internet sites of Western and Ukrainian media agencies seeking to provide accurate information about the conflict. Cellphones only have limited range; they need towers to transmit longer distances. Russia has demonstrated that it can shut down cellphone communications in areas of Ukraine it has captured or is shelling, including nuclear power plants.

What about satellite reception? In theory, satellite reception can break through these issues. Last week, Starlink CEO Elon Musk sent “a truckload of satellite dishes” to Ukraine to provide “space Internet service.” But Russia can identify the satellite signals, seek to jam them, and locate those who have the dishes in Ukrainian areas now under its control.

This leaves shortwave, the venerable analog signal infamous for how it fades in and out as each wave is received. Shortwave cannot be hacked. It cannot be bombed or otherwise destroyed because it is being transmitted from far outside Ukraine. Shortwave is notoriously difficult to jam, despite Russia and China’s best efforts. The shortwave signal is always drifting slightly, making it difficult to precisely focus jamming equipment. The shortwave signal can also be more powerful than that of the jammer, effectively overriding the interference.

Shortwave only works if people listen. Fortunately, many Ukrainian families likely still have old, often cheap Soviet-era shortwave sets in their basements that can be powered by batteries or wall sockets. They are usually small and can be easily hidden from prying eyes. Some can even fit in a pocket. Shortwave radios can also be brought in as nonlethal aid. [Continue reading…]

Lebanon radio station tunes broadcast to Ukraine and Russia (WVLT)

LEBANON, Tenn. (WSMV) – Right now, the people of Ukraine need positive messages. One Lebanon family found a way to give them that with what they do best – a radio broadcast.

We all know there’s AM and FM radio, but there’s also shortwave radio. It’s listened to on a small device the size of a phone. While it may not be common in the U.S., radio personalities said it’s how people in Europe listen to radio continents away.

From the comfort of his home, Ted Randall brought comfort to those who need it most.

“We are broadcasting to the Ukraine and Russia,” Randall explained. “We are playing American rock and roll because our email responses have been saying, ‘please, no news, we are tired of hearing the news.’” [Continue reading…]

BBC Radio 5 Live suspends overnight programmes temporarily (RadioToday via Southgate ARC)

Overnight shows at BBC Radio 5 Live have been temporarily suspended due to a shortage of staff at the station’s MediaCity HQ.

BBC World Service will be rebroadcast instead until at least April 4th 2022.

Weekday overnight presenter Dotun Adebayo tweeted yesterday saying there will be no shows through the night until further notice, with a reply coming from weekend overnight host Hayley Hassall confirming the news.

An increase in COVID cases at the station means more staff are off work than usual.

A BBC spokesperson told RadioToday: “Due to increased COVID cases, we have temporarily suspended our overnight programming and will broadcast BBC World Service instead.”

The overnight show usually runs from 1am till 5am.

In other 5 Live news, the station’s new logo has now been uploaded to social media channels, and BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra has been renamed to BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra.
https://radiotoday.co.uk/2022/03/bbc-radio-5-live-suspends-overnight-programmes/

Finns stock up on portable radios after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (YLE News)

One retailer said last week’s sales of battery-powered radios were triple that of the same time last year.

Electronics retailers in Finland have seen increased sales of battery-powered radios in the past few weeks, suggesting that some residents are preparing for the possibility of a coming emergency situation.

Sales of portable radios began to tick up at the electronics chain store Veikon Kone in Sodankylä, shortly after Russia’s deadly invasion of Ukraine, according to shop manager Jukka Haavisto.

“Radio sales rose to an entirely new level than they were,” he explained, adding that battery-powered radios were products that mostly sold in the summer.

“It’s a surprise to everyone and there are already availability issues,” Haavisto said.

Portable radio sales have doubled at the electronics store chain Gigantti, according to the retailer’s sales manager, Sami Kinnunen, who noted that last week’s sales were about triple that of the same time last year.

“We’re selling all kinds of radios, but ones with batteries are the most popular. It can be said that the change is significant, but we’re not talking about sales of thousands, but rather hundreds,” Kinnunen explained, noting that some models have sold out.

A noticeable uptick in sales of radios at electronics retailer Verkkokauppa.com has been seen on a weekly basis, according to the firm’s commercial director, Vesa Järveläinen.

He said the most popular radios were basic FM models that sell for around 20 euros.

“Right now we’re often selling about 100 radios a week, while before the increase the figure was a few dozen or so,” Järveläinen said. [Continue reading…]

Radios restored at Asheville museum, preserving vital part of communications history (WLOS)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — At the Asheville Radio Museum, Tim McVey tunes in an RCA Radiola 20, built in 1927 but still kicking.

“This one still requires that you manipulate two dials to tune it in, and you have another dial here that fine tunes this dial. And this controls the filaments in the tubes,” says McVey, as he tunes the sound of several radio stations with static, down to one station with clear sound.

McVey retired from the FBI and moved from the Washington D.C. area to the mountains a year and a half ago.

“I get giddy thinking about it, because Tim has been such a remarkable addition to the museum,” says Asheville Radio Museum Curator Stuart Smolkin.

Smolkin says McVey has restored some of the most important radios in the museum, built in the 1920’s and 30’s, preserving a vital part of communications history.

“Without radio, we would not have cell phones,” Smolkin explains. “We would not have GPS. We would not have wireless internet routers, or wireless Bluetooth speakers. The list goes on and on.”

McVey tunes in another radio, this one from 1931, sounding great. [Continue reading…]


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RFE/RL Opens Offices In Latvia & Lithuania

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Eric Jon Magnuson, who shares a link to the following press release from RFE/RL:



As War Transforms Media Landscape in Europe, RFE/RL Opens Offices In Latvia, Lithuania

WASHINGTON—Following the forced suspension of RFE/RL operations in Russia on March 6, RFE/RL is pleased to announce the opening of news bureaus in Riga, Latvia and Vilnius, Lithuania. These offices will house teams from RFE/RL’s Russia and Belarus services and the 24/7 Current Time global digital and TV network, and also provide a base for new investigative journalism projects and digital innovation hubs.

Said RFE/RL President Jamie Fly, “These new bureaus will allow RFE/RL to continue to engage with our audiences in Russia and Belarus, despite those government’s best efforts to silence independent journalism. RFE/RL will expand its already-successful efforts to reach Russian and Belarusian audiences with the relevant news they seek, and desperately need. We are grateful to the Latvian and Lithuanian governments for their commitment to press freedom and their support for vulnerable journalists who have had to seek safe haven outside their home countries.”

In Riga, RFE/RL plans to establish a multimedia hub that will host Russian Service and Current Time staff displaced from Russia. The Latvian capital will also house a new, Russian-language investigative journalism unit and a digital innovation hub designed to counter disinformation and develop strategies to circumvent online censorship across delivery platforms. The Vilnius news bureau will primarily host displaced Belarus Service journalists forced to flee after the flawed 2020 elections, as well as a new reporting team being set up by Current Time to serve the needs of the network’s Russian-speaking audiences in Belarus.

RFE/RL’s impact during the first two weeks of Russia’s war on Ukraine demonstrates the appetite within Russia and Belarus for a credible, uncensored alternative to Kremlin media about the full scope of the conflict. Between February 24 and March 16, the number of views of RFE/RL videos on YouTube from Russia tripled to nearly 238 million, while the number of visits, page views, and unique visitors to its websites from Russia rose by 34 percent, 51 percent, and 53 percent respectively. As for Belarus, the number of RFE/RL videos viewed via YouTube from inside the country quadrupled (to 22.4 million), and the number of visits (+158%), page views (+148%), and unique visitors (+110) to RFE/RL websites from Belarus has also increased dramatically.

RFE/RL deeply appreciates the support of the governments of Latvia and Lithuania for RFE/RL’s mission and for the establishment of these new bureaus. The people of Latvia and Lithuania have for decades been enthusiastic consumers of RFE/RL programming—both of RFE/RL’s Latvian and Lithuanian services that operated from 1975 to 2004, and more recently of Current Time programming. RFE/RL President Fly visited Vilnius and Riga this past January, in part to attend the Lithuanian premiere of the award-winning, Current Time-commissioned film “Mr. Landsbergis,” about Lithuania’s struggle to restore its independence.

RFE/RL’s Russian Service is a multiplatform alternative to Russian state-controlled media, providing audiences in the Russian Federation with informed and accurate news, analysis, and opinion. The Russian Service’s websites, including its regional reporting units Siberia.Realities and North.Realities, earned a monthly average of 12.7 million visits and 20.6 million page views in 2021, while 297 million Russian Service videos were viewed on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

Current Time is a 24/7 Russian-language digital and TV network led by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA, that caters to Russian-speakers worldwide. In addition to reporting uncensored news, it is the largest provider of independent, Russian-language films to its audiences. Despite rising pressure on Current Time from the Russian government, Current Time videos were viewed over 1.3 billion times on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram/IGTV in FY2021.

Labeled an “extremist organization” by the Belarus government, RFE/RL’s Belarus Service provides independent news and analysis to Belarusian audiences in their own language, relying on social media platforms such as Telegram, Instagram, and YouTube, as well as mirror sites and an updated news app to circumvent pervasive Internet blockages and access disruptions.

About RFE/RL
RFE/RL relies on its networks of local reporters to provide accurate news and information to more than 37 million people every week in 27 languages and 23 countries where media freedom is restricted, or where a professional press has not fully developed. Its videos were viewed 7 billion times on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram/IGTV in FY2021. RFE/RL is an editorially independent media company funded by a grant from the U.S. Congress through the U.S. Agency for Global Media.

Click here to read  this announcement at RFE/RL.

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CBS Miami features WRMI and the “Shortwaves for Freedom” campaign

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dennis Dura, who shares the following article from CBS Miami:

Shortwave Radio Signal From Florida Cow Pasture Reaches Russia Carrying Latest News (CBS Miami)

Click here to view on YouTube.

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A massive shortwave radio antenna sits in a cow pasture north of Lake Okeechobee in Central Florida.

“We have 14, 100,000-watt transmitters and 23 antennas beaming to all parts of the world,” said Jeff White, the general manager of Miami-based WRMI.

The multi-signal station is said to be one of the largest shortwave radio operations in the world.

WRMI stands for Radio Miami International and worldwide coverage means it can easily send signals into Ukraine and Russia.

Shortwave is old school technology, think of World War II or the Cold War, as American-produced news beamed behind the iron curtain. Now, during the invasion of Ukraine, Russia has shut down journalism as we know it.

Kate Neiswender, one of the guiding lights behind funding news programming for Russian audiences, said, “they were going to pass a law making journalism essentially illegal, facing a 15-year criminal penalty.”

Neiswender and fellow former journalists formed a fundraiser to beam news into Russia, where state-controlled media, at best, does not tell the true story of the invasion and many Russian citizens have no clue about the severity of the invasion.

“This is a journalistic pursuit more than anything else,” said Neiswender. [Continue reading at CBS Miami…]

Click here to read our previous post about Shortwaves for Freedom and contribute to the campaign here.

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Radio Waves: Colorado Inmate Radio, Experimental Radio News 4, BBC World Service to Ukraine, DIY Radio, and When the World Tuned to Shortwave

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!


Inmate-produced radio station streams beyond prison walls (NBC News)

Inside Wire, available 24/7 to incarcerated people in Colorado and to online listeners around the world, is said to offer a chance for prisoners and those they harmed to heal.

LIMON, Colo. — Herbert Alexander stares at the sound waves jumping on the computer screen in front of him, his shaved head partially covered by headphones. He’s editing a short audio feature on incarcerated fathers, a subject with which he is intimately familiar.

His two sons will soon hear his voice and his story because Alexander, 46, an inmate at Limon Correctional Facility, is preparing a segment for Inside Wire: Colorado Prison Radio, billed as the first radio station to be produced inside a prison and available to the world outside.

Other radio stations created in prisons generally air only within the walls of their lockups, but Inside Wire, which premiered March 1, reaches all 21 prisons in the state and beyond, online and by app, making the first of its kind in the country, organizers said.

“In spaces where isolation continues, this medium can cut through that,” said Ryan Conarro, general manager and program director of Inside Wire and creative producer for the University of Denver Prison Arts Initiative, which oversees the program in partnership with the Colorado Department of Corrections. [Continue reading at NBC…]

Experimental Radio News 4 (Experimental Radio News)

This issue of ERN includes novel aeronautical experiments, life-detecting radars and non-wearable health monitoring, the latest on those mysterious shortwave trading stations and more.

Click here to read a wide variety of topics in Experimental Radio News 4.

BBC World Service resurrects shortwave broadcasts in war-torn Ukraine (TPR)

The BBC has resurrected an old school way of broadcasting in order to reach people in the crisis area of Ukraine: Shortwave radio. What is shortwave, and why has the BBC decided to begin using it again? Continue reading

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Today, Explained: Podcast episode focuses on the power of shortwave radio

Many thanks to our friends at Radio Survivor who share this most recent episode of Today, Explained with Noel King:

The BBC is bringing back shortwave radio broadcasts to counter censorship and disinformation in Russia and Ukraine. Professor D.W. Stupples explains.

This episode was produced by Victoria Chamberlin, edited by Matt Collette, engineered by Efim Shapiro, fact-checked by Laura Bullard, and hosted by Noel King.

Transcript at vox.com/todayexplained

Click here to visit Today, Explained at Vox.

Click here to listen to this episode on Megaphone.

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Radio Waves: RNZ & TVNZ Merging, Tech Keeping Ukrainians in Touch, Solar Storms Documentary, and Aspidistra

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!


RNZ and TVNZ to merge (RadioInfo)

New Zealand’s Minister for Broadcasting and Media Kris Faafoi has announced the government’s decision to create a new public media entity by merging RNZ and TVNZ.

According to Faafoi, ensuring New Zealanders continue to have access to reliable, trusted, independent information and local content sits at the heart of the decision.

“The public media sector is extremely important to New Zealanders in providing them with high quality, independent, timely and relevant media content,” Faafoi said.

“But we know the media landscape is changing and the sector is having to adapt to increased competition, changing audience demands and ways of accessing media, falling revenue, and new and emerging digital platforms. We need public media which is responsive to these changes and can flourish.

“RNZ and TVNZ are each trying to adjust to the challenges, but our current public media system, and the legislation it’s based on, is focused on radio and television.

“New Zealanders are among some of the most adaptive audiences when it comes to accessing content in different ways; like their phones rather than television and radio, and from internet-based platforms. We must be sure our public media can adapt to those audience changes, as well as other challenges that media will face in the future.”

“The new public media entity will be built on the best of both RNZ and TVNZ, which will initially become subsidiaries of the new organisation. It will continue to provide what existing audiences value, such as RNZ Concert, as well as better reaching those groups who aren’t currently well served; such as our various ethnic communities and cultures,” Faafoi said[…]

Read more at: https://radioinfo.com.au/news/rnz-and-tvnz-to-merge/ © RadioInfo Australia

Technologies old and new keep Ukrainians in touch with the world (The Economist)

Battery radios and satellite internet both have jobs to do

In communist Eastern Europe a shortwave radio was a vital piece of equipment for anyone wanting to stay ahead of the censors. Stations such as the bbc World Service, Radio Free Europe and Voice of America broadcast news, entertainment and rock-and-roll across the Iron Curtain.

After the cold war ended, shortwave radios gave way to television and the internet, and the broadcasts were wound down. But on March 3rd, in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the bbc announced their return. The World Service has begun nightly news broadcasts into Ukraine and parts of Russia (see map). Continue reading

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“Shortwave radio in Ukraine: why revisiting old-school technology makes sense in a war”

Many thanks to a number of SWLing Post contributors who’ve shared the following article from The Conversation:

Shortwave radio in Ukraine: why revisiting old-school technology makes sense in a war (The Conversation)

Shortly before access to the BBC News website was reportedly blocked in Russia a few days ago, the BBC announced that it was resuming the broadcasting of the BBC World Service via shortwave radio for four hours per day. It said that this was to ensure that people in parts of Russia and Ukraine can access its news service.

In a world with near-ubiquitous adoption of mobile phones, the use of early 20th century radio technology might seem unusual. But it makes sense for a number of practical reasons.

Shortwave radio is an old variant of what many people may remember as “AM” analogue radio, operating on low frequency radio waves to deliver audio services. Shortwave radio is far simpler than modern digital TV or telecommunications services: receivers are widely available (or can be built from spare electrical parts), and it works across long distances.

Traditional broadcast TV and radio fundamentally differ from modern internet-based services. Like Freeview TV received over an aerial, traditional broadcast radio services don’t require you to transmit anything to be able to receive a service. It’s transmitted once, and anyone with a receiver can listen or watch.

When someone uses a shortwave radio receiver, there’s no lasting trace of them using it. This makes it hard for an occupying force to find those listening to (perhaps banned) overseas media.

Conversely, when you browse the internet or use a mobile app, your device is requesting the content you wish to receive, and it’s being sent directly to your phone. This bi-directional communication means that when you browse the internet, various entities like your internet provider are able to see that you visited certain websites.

Internet-based services can also become overloaded, either as a result of high demand, or due to malicious attacks flooding a service with requests, aiming to make it unavailable.

There are a number of other technical reasons why shortwave radio can be very useful in crisis situations. Since it uses lower transmission frequencies, the signals can travel much further than TV or mobile phone signals – thousands of kilometres, rather than kilometres or tens of kilometres.

This means the BBC can broadcast from outside into a conflict zone without needing local physical infrastructure. And since low frequencies are used, the signals propagate better through buildings and the environment. If you’ve ever experienced poor mobile phone signal in the centre of an old building, you’ve experienced the challenges of radio propagation. Low frequency signals reach into buildings and basements better, even when transmitted from far away, which might be useful for people who are taking shelter.[…]

Click here to read the full article.

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