Tag Archives: William Lee

Radio Waves: Capitol Code, Clay’s Corner, The Buzzer, iHeart Layoffs, and Australian Hams

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, Stana Horzepa, Rich Cuff, and Marty for the following tips:


Capitol Records Building Morse Code (WA1LOU)

This iconic Los Angeles landmark has been emitting secret messages since it opened. However, only those with a keen eye for Morse code can decipher what they say.

It was the former president of Capitol Records, Alan Livingston, who got the idea to have the light on top of the building send out a signal in Morse code. The word chosen for this secret message was “Hollywood.” When the building opened in 1956, Samuel Morse’s granddaughter Leila Morse had the honor of turning the light on.

Read the rest of the story at Atlas Obscura.


Clay’s Corner February 2020 Edition (Northwest Broadcasters)

Some are interpreting this as meaning that – every – AM will be switching to digital leaving a Jillion AM only receivers with nothing to listen to (except for electrical gizmo noise). I give more credit than that to the owners of AM Radio Stations. I would highly doubt if any market would see all of their AM’s go digital. Perhaps in an ownership that had two AM’s it might make sense to have one of each.

[…]Other question is, what will the company that owns HD Radio (EXPERI) want to extract from the owner of an AM station that’s willing to put everything on the line and go all digital?
The bottom line is there appears to be a lot of interest in this proposal. The FCC’s process will likely draw a number of comments, pro and con. This will be an interesting process to watch. I can say one thing, never did I ever dream that we would be debating this issue![]


Seven mysterious sounds science has yet to solve (Popular Science)

The Buzzer

Numbers stations—shortwave radio transmissions of monotone coded messages—are inherently creepy. But call sign UVB-76 has outcreeped them all by playing the same jolting tone from Russia since 1982. Similar broadcasts are useful for sending messages where snoops might intercept digital comms, so “the Buzzer” could simply assist spies. But it plays far fewer words and digits than confirmed espionage outlets, so some suspect it’s a science project that bounces radio waves off the ionosphere to detect solar flares. The most intriguing theory posits that it’s a doomsday device that will go silent should Russia suffer a nuclear attack, thus triggering retaliation.

My theory is that these mysterious sounds are actually the intro to a Pink Floyd song, possibly from their 1969 album Ummagumma. Because the early Floyd albums, before Dark Side of the Moon, are no longer heard on-air, the Russians stole this music knowing we’d never notice. Ooh, gotta go… I hear the black helicopters coming…[]


iHeartMedia laid off hundreds of radio DJs. Executives blame AI. DJs blame the executives. (Washington Post)

When iHeartMedia announced this month it would fire hundreds of workers across the country, the radio conglomerate said the restructuring was critical to take advantage of its “significant investments … in technology and artificial intelligence.” In a companywide email, chief executive Bob Pittman said the “employee dislocation” was “the unfortunate price we pay to modernize the company.”

But laid-off employees like D’Edwin “Big Kosh” Walton, who made $12 an hour as an on-air personality for the Columbus, Ohio, hip-hop station 106.7 the Beat, don’t buy it. Walton doesn’t blame the cuts on a computer; he blames them on the company’s top executives, whose “coldblooded, calculated move” cost people their jobs.[]


Amateur radio skills prove useful during bushfire emergencies (ABC News)

Amateur radio enthusiasts have proved themselves useful during the recent bushfires after traditional telecommunication channels broke down.

Amateur radio, also known as ham radio, is a skill and international hobby whereby enthusiasts use specific radio frequencies to communicate with each other.

In Australia, users must complete an exam to obtain a license through the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

It was volunteers with these skills who were called in to assist during the recent New South Wales bushfires.

Neil Fallshaw is vice-president of WICEN NSW Communications, a group of volunteers with amateur radio licenses who can help in emergency situations.

He said about 30 members provided a temporary radio system in the Bega, Cobargo, Narooma, and Bermagui areas after some of the local radio infrastructure was damaged or had lost power.

“We deployed one of our radio repeaters on the mountains. We put a radio repeater system on that mountain to cover a portion of the south coast,” Mr Fallshaw said.

He said that radio system assisted the NSW Volunteer Rescue Association and Bega Valley Shire Council staff to communicate from bushfire-affected towns like Bermagui and Cobargo.

“They normally use just mobile phones, but the mobile phones in the area were down because of fire damage,” Mr Fallshaw said.[]

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Canada: National Research Council official time signal turns 80

(Photo credit: @chuttersnap)

(Source: CBC via William Lee)

In the 1930s, it helped sailors properly set their instruments for navigation.

It allowed railway companies to be punctual, and helped Canadians set their watches with precision every day.

Today, if you’re a CBC Radio aficionado, you may recognize its repeated beeps over the airwaves every day just before 1 p.m. ET.

To many, the National Research Council official time signal is a fixture of Canadian society. And on Nov. 5, the longest running segment on CBC Radio turns 80 years old.

Day 6 host Brent Bambury spoke with Laurence Wall, one of the current voices of the National Research Council time signal, about its origins, its importance, and where it stands in the digital age.[…]

Click here to read the full article and listen to the interview and audio clips.

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Australia: “Whispering to the Asia-Pacific”

(Source: Australian Strategic Policy Institute via William Lee)

Australia gropes and stutters towards a renewed embrace of international broadcasting—the vital need to ‘speak for ourselves’ in the Asia–Pacific.

The latest lurch towards fresh understanding is the silent release of the review of Australia’s media reach in the Asia–Pacific. Note the irony that a report on broadcasting is soundless on arrival.

Behold a classic orphan inquiry, not wanted by either the government or the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, nor particularly desired by the public service. The orphan was created as part of the price to win a Senate vote, and is dumped on the public doorstep without a word of welcome.

The review was completed last December but only released (published on the Department of Communications website) on 17 October. No announcement. No government decisions.

The inquiry matters because it nods towards significant policy failure and the absent-minded trashing of Oz international broadcasting.[…]

Click here to continue reading the full article.

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Radio Survivor podcast highlights “The FCC’s Effort To Decimate Community Media”

Photo by Michael MaasenMany thanks to SWLing Post contributor, William Lee, who shares the Radio Survivor’s Podcast #166: The FCC’s Effort To Decimate Community Media:

The FCC has proposed to de-fund community media through an arcane rule that determines how contributions from cable companies to public-access, educational and government (PEG) stations are counted. Because it’s arcane, the effort is flying under the radar. But we have two community media advocates to help explain what’s at stake.

Martin Jones is the CEO of MetroEast Community Media in Gresham, Oregon, just one of hundreds of PEG stations that would be affected. Sabrina Roach serves on the board for the Alliance for Community Media Foundation, the charitable arm of the group that represents and organizes PEG stations across the U.S. They tell us how proposed changes to the “franchise fee” structure would deprive PEG stations, as well as internet access at libraries and schools, from direct funding. If passed, this would decimate both community media and digital equity in most communities that have it. They also explain what steps we can take to oppose this change.

Listen to the full podcast via the embedded player below, or listen via the Radio Survivor website:

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Are industry bodies the secret sauce for some broadcasting markets?

(Source: RadioInfo via William Lee)

Radio Tomorrow with James Cridland

I’m writing this in London, where the doors are (as I type) just about to open for Next Radio, the radio conference that I run here with my friend Matt Deegan. It’s a positive radio conference with an uplifting feel.

Go to a radio conference in the US or Canada, and there won’t be very many smiling faces. There’s a general feeling in the US and Canada that radio is managing decline. But in other countries, radio is behaving differently.

The UK commercial industry has grown, over the past year, by 5.2%. It’s now a US $887m market.

Australian commercial radio has grown too – over the past year, metro stations growing 3.8% to a US $573m market (and there’s more from the regions, too).

Commercial radio in Finland is growing, too. Their figures are harder to decipher, but July grew by 6.6% over June; and June grew by 17% over May. The market’s comparatively small at about US $93m – but it’s doing better than the UK if you bear in mind Finland’s small population.

These aren’t the stories you hear from the US and Canada; and I’m often asked why.

It’s not an easy answer.

[…]In the UK, commercial radio has an effective industry body, Radiocentre. They promote the medium to agencies, lobby government, and sing radio’s praises. They’re really very good at it.

In Australia, commercial radio, too, has an effective industry body. It’s called Commercial Radio Australia, and they, too, promote the medium to agencies, lobby government, and sing radio’s praises. They’re tenacious and efficient.

And in Finland, their industry body is Radio Media. They lobby government, promote the medium to agencies, and market radio as well: to great effect.[…]

Click here to view the full article at RadioInfo.

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New Zealand invests in free-to-air broadcasts to Pacific

(Source: RadioInfo via William Lee)

NZ gives $10 million for Pacific Broadcasting

While Australia’s ABC is cutting shortwave Radio Australia broadcasts to the Pacific, the New Zealand government has just announced a NZ$10 million grant for an enhanced free-to-air Pasifika TV service across the region.

NZ foreign minister Winston Peters announced the plans at the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru, with the money to be spent over the next three years to improve both quality and access for free-to-air broadcasters.

The expansion of the Pacific Cooperation Broadcasting Ltd service will also include a comprehensive training programme to support broadcasting and journalism across the Pacific, including equipment, internships and cross-regional training.[…]

Click here to read full story.

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Australia: Research shows radio has special appeal to older listeners

(Source: RadioInfo via William Lee)

Dr Amanda Krause, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions and the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne, is currently exploring the listening habits of older Australians.

With the country’s aging population rapidly growing, Dr Krause became interested in the link between listening and wellbeing.

Dr Krause found that people not only have strong preferences for radio programming from talkback to different music genres, but that the listener can also have a strong connection with some presenters.

“I think it is the human connection, that it is the voice.”[…]

Read more at: https://www.radioinfo.com.au/news/radio-older-aussies-it-has-special-place-their-hearts

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