Tag Archives: Winter SWL Fest

Remembering Allan Loudell: “Radio was his life”

(Photo: WDEL)

Tuesday, many of us in the shortwave and DXing community learned about the unexpected passing of our good friend and veteran radio reporter, Allan Loudell.

I got to know Allan via the Winter SWL Fest community. Allan attended every year and was well known for being not only wonderfully good-natured, the sort of guy who is liked by everyone, but also one of the most knowledgeable DXers on the planet. As a mutual friend recently noted, his knowledge of the domestic and international broadcasting scene was very nearly “encyclopedic.”

Dan Robinson (left) and Allan Loudell (right) at the 2020 Winter SWL Fest (Photo source: Dan Robinson)

I made a point of chatting with Allan each year at Winter SWL Fest. This year, we all noticed that he had lost some weight, but otherwise seemed fine and, as usual, in great spirits. He mentioned to me that he had been through months of medical issues and rehabilitation, but believed he was on a positive track. I only wish that might have been so.

It was among my favorite things to do at the Fest––and I got to enjoy this a few times–– to page through albums of QSL cards with Allan that he and other Fest attendees like Dan Robinson brought to share. Allan’s eyes would light up as he turned each page.  Not only did he know each card and each broadcaster, but––if you asked––he could take you on a deeper dive into the nuanced history of each station.

WDEL

Allan interviewing a young lady in the studios of WDEL. (Photo source: WDEL)

Clipped from the February 1994 issue of Pop Communications

As our mutual friend, Tracy Wood, put it: “[Allen] was a giant… radio was his life….and thankfully he shared his passion with us.”

Moreover, Allan was a longtime Delaware radio newsman, having spent 18 years with WILM and most recently 15 years with WDEL.

In a typical year, I make at least a couple of trips through the mid-Atlantic states, and each time I do, I tune to WDEL to hear Allan’s voice.

Yesterday, WDEL posted an announcement about Allan’s passing.

The subtext is plain:  he was a well loved at the station and, indeed, in the community. The station included the following quote from Delaware Governor John Carney:

“I’m very sad to hear that Allan has passed away. I tell people that, in my thirty years of public service, I’ve developed a list––just a personal list of good guys and gals, people that were really good to work with…Allen was one of those guys…He was always very fair…He always covered his subject matter in a way that most reporters didn’t. And he used the radio media as a way of communicating, and having public officials like myself communicating, with the people that I worked for, the people in northern New Castle County. I particularly liked his show DelAWARE, because…he did, in very intense kind of way, various subject matter that got below the surface…”

Governor Carney continues:

“[Allen] was just a really interesting guy and a very real gentleman…and I enjoyed being with him…I know that the people in the WDEL, WILM listening area here in northern New Castle County and, actually, across our state now will miss his programming, will miss him as as a media person, and it’s sad to hear that he’s passed.”

Click here to read the full article at WDEL.

We’re going to miss you, Allan…rest in peace, friend.

Broadcaster tributes

CBS Tribute To Allan Loudell (via WDEL):

Allan Loudell tribute from WDEL’s Peter MacArthur (via WDEL):

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Rescuing the Eton E1 from a sticky situation

I’m back from a week of travels and the 2020 Winter SWL Fest. In short, is was another amazing Fest and so much fun. I hope to write more about it in the coming days, when I have a few moments to catch up and after I shake a nasty bug (chest cold) I picked up.

Although I had no intention of making purchases at the Fest beyond a few raffle tickets, I couldn’t resist snagging an Eton E1 (XM version) at a silent auction from the estate of our recently-departed friend, Tony Pazzola (WB2BEJ). Tim Moody kindly organized the silent auction.

Tony was an amazing friend to all and an avid radio collector, so there were some excellent radios offered up in the silent auction–I could have easily easy bid on each and every one of them! In the end, though, only one really caught my eye: the Eton E1 XM.

A small sampling of the radios from Tony’s estate.

Tony took amazing care of his radios, but his Eton E1 XM suffered from what all of those models eventually do: a sticky chassis.

Back in the day (roughly 2009 to 2013) Eton/Grundig covared a number of their radios models with a rubberized coating that unfortunately breaks down over time and becomes tacky or sticky to the touch.

I think this E1’s sticky coating put off potential bidders.

It was particularly nasty–if you picked up the radio, you had to immediately wash your hands.

The E1’s starting bid on Friday was $200–quite fair considering this unit is fully-functional and comes with all software, cables, manuals and a SiriusXM radio antenna. By Saturday, the starting bid had been decreased to $150. I resisted putting in an offer, but after seeing that it didn’t sell after all bidding had ended, I couldn’t resist. That E1 needed a good home, right? Plus the proceeds go to Tony’s family.

The sticky coating didn’t scare me. If you’ve been an SWLing Post reader for long, you’ve no doubt read our numerous posts about cleaning off this mess. There are a number of solutions, but I’ve heard the most positive long-term results by employing a de-greasing product called Purple Power (click here to read archived posts). Indeed, it’s the solution Eton Corporation recommends.

On the way home Monday, I stopped by a big box store and grabbed a bottle of Purple Power.

Tony still had the original plastic film on the large backlit display.

Sporting a pair of nitrile gloves, I grabbed a bunch of paper towels and a few cotton swabs, then started the cleaning process. I spent the better part of an hour carefully going over the entire body of the E1and trying to remove residue in every crevice without allowing the Purple Power solution to creep under buttons.

In short?  I’m very pleased with the results and am now a solid believer in Purple Power.

As others have reported, Purple Power breaks down the sticky residue and allows it to be removed with a cloth or towels with very little scrubbing. Indeed, the process was much easier than I anticipate.

Now I have a super-clean Eton E1 XM to put on the air!

Now I have no excuse to finally remove the sticky residue from both my Grundig G6 and G3!

So far, I’m loving the Eton E1. It is, no doubt, a benchmark portable. Of course, another motivation behind snagging this E1 is so that I can compare it with the Eton Elite Satellit once it eventually hits the market.

Do you have an Eton E1?  What are your thoughts about this receiver? Please comment!


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Shortwave Shindig live stream tonight via the Wave Farm

David Goren hosts the annual Shortwave Shindig at the Winter SWL Fest

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Goren, who notes that the Winter SWL Fest Shortwave Shindig will stream live via the Wave Farm this evening.

The Shortwave Shindig will begin on February 28, 2020 at 9:15 pm EST (or February, 29 at 2:15 UTC).

The stream link will be accessible at the Wave Farm website, but only when the show is live.

To listen to the Shortwave Shindig live, simply click on this link to view the Shindig page at the Wave Farm Website.

You can also access the Shortwave Shindig live stream by clicking on the “Listen” link at the top left corner of the Wave Farm website. Note the stream link will only appear and play when the show is live.

Here’s a description of the 2020 Shortwave Shindig from the Winter SWL Fest website:

ANNUAL SHORTWAVE SHINDIG – David Goren

Come join our informal and popular late night hang as David Goren and friends celebrate the short wavelengths with stories, songs, and vintage sounds.

Shortwave Shindig Opening Ceremonies
2115 – 2200
Our resident folk music laureate Saul Broudy opens the show with old radio favorites and specialties from his vast repertoire followed by a revue of shortwave sounds in popular culture and specially commissioned works.

Meet the Archivists
2200 – 2245
Our panel of radio archivists Thomas Witherspoon, Mark Fahey and David Goren share rarities from their archives including some gems from the recently rescued collection of the late Michael Pool aka The Professor.

NYC FM Pirate Radio Update
2245 – 2330
A sneak peek at a major update to the Brooklyn Pirate Radio Sound Map and related news and discussion about urban pirate radio in the U.S.

Mercy! So Much Noise
2330-????
Tom Miller aka Comrade Squelch and David Goren weave a dense mix combining live radio with archival air checks.

Many thanks, David, for sharing this info!  I look forward to participating in the Shortwave Shindig once again!

Viva la radio!

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Registration open for 32nd Annual Winter SWL Fest!

David Goren (left) and Richard Cuff (right) during the Shindig live broadcast at the Winter SWL Fest.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor (and SWL Festmeister–!) Richard Cuff, who writes:

Announcing a radio-related event that might interest folks here:

Registration now available for 32nd Annual Winter SWL Fest, to be held February 28th – March 2nd, 2019 at the Doubletree Suites Philadelphia West hotel in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. Even though the Fest has its roots in shortwave, our theme is now “Radio In All Its Forms.” We believe we’re the largest remaining gathering of radio enthusiasts left, and we hope you can join us!

We’re sticking with the formula that’s worked for the past two years: Formal events will begin roughly midday Thursday, February 28th, with the concluding banquet and raffle Saturday evening, March 2nd. It will be a while before the forum topics for the 32nd Fest are fleshed
out, but the program for 2018 is available as a reference for you to see what to expect.

You can register online and pay via PayPal at the website, http://swlfest.com; if you’re “old school” you can download and print off a paper registration form at the site and send in via Postal mail.

Do try and have your hotel and event registrations finished by January 25th; the special rate for Fest hotel rooms expires about that date, and rooms will likely be more expensive or even unavailable after that. Event registration fees also increase as of that date.

Links to an e-mail discussion group and our Facebook group appear on the right of the Fest website, if you have any questions or want to learn more about the event from those who have been there before.

Thank you, Rich!  You can count on my attendance! I look forward to the Winter SWL Fest each year!

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A recap of the 2018 Winter SWL Fest

The DoubleTree hotel where the Winter SWL Fest is held.

Last week, I attended the 31st annual Winter SWL Fest in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. This was the ninth year in a row I made the pilgrimage to join my radio friends and family–it was certainly a ‘Fest to be remembered!

I made the trip by car, leaving Monday, February 26 and spent two nights in the DC area so that I could visit friends.

On Tuesday, I met with my buddy (and SWLing Post contributor) Dan Robinson and we headed over to the National Capital Radio and Television Museum in Bowie, MD.

The NCRTV Museum.

NCRTV’s Brian Belanger gave us an excellent private tour of the museum, allowing me an opportunity to snap even more photos of this beautiful museum (you might recall the photo tour I posted in 2015). I will plan to post the new photos soon.

Dan Robinson (left) and Brian Belanger (right) checking out a number of early 1900s receivers.

Wednesday morning, I picked up my friend Mark Fahey (also an SWLing Post contributor) at a Metro stop in Maryland. Mark had just flown into DC from Sydney, Australia, the previous day.

Knowing Mark is a huge fan of all things aviation, we made our way to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport. This was my fourth visit to the museum, but Mark’s first. He had a blast and, like me, is sure to return in the future!

A small selection of aircraft at the Udvar Hazy Center.

View of the new Dulles Airport from the former ATC tower at the Udvar Hazy Center.

We left the museum by 2:00, to avoid serious DC traffic, and arrived in Plymouth Meeting, PA by dinner time.

Like last year, the Winter SWL Fest took place over a Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The schedule was jam-packed and covered the full spectrum of radio.

Here’s the program with descriptions:


Winter SWL Fest Forums

Thursday, 1 March 2018

THE IBERIAN BROADCASTING SCENE with Tracy Wood

1300 – THE IBERIAN BROADCASTING SCENE – Tracy Wood

Our own “fiestero” reflects on his trips to Spain, Portugal and Gibraltar experiencing the complicated radio scene there. From longwave to DAB, community radio to big national networks–even foreign language FM stations–it’s true that the Spanish dial remains impressive. Included are slides from his tour and interview at Madrid’s Radio Exterior de España highlighting their amazing audio vault. He’ll also reflect on DX climbs at the Rock of Gibraltar (UK) and Veleta, the third highest peak in Spain (11,142’). Bring your own sangría.

1415 — MORE CHEAP FUN WITH RTL/SDR – Dan Srebnick

Dan follows up last year’s presentation by telling you what he got wrong. (!?)

You CAN decode FM IBOC, thanks to a researcher who figured out the protocol. We’ll hear how that works, along with a look at how to decode amateur APRS packet and display weather alerts on a map, and how to decode NextGen ATC on the cheap, without having to feed data to Flight Aware. We’ll also give you some ideas on how to make use of a Raspberry Pi with the RTL stick, providing yet another source of cheap radio fun.

1530 — THE GOLDEN AGE OF ANALOG TV DXING…IS NOW! — Rich McVicar

TV DXing via sporadic e-skip and tropospheric propagation, from an historical perspective in the 50s-80s when there were many analog DX targets available in North Americ, to today’s low VHF (Channels 2-6) scenario. Few US stations are using those channels now making DOUBLE-hop e-skip reception possible, something very few experienced before 2009 but a number of us in the northeast US and Canada have observed quite a few times now. Instead of new states and provinces, we’re logging new countries! Includes video clips of single hop vs. double hop and equipment and technique tips.

MORE CHEAP FUN WITH RTL/SDR with Dan Srebnick

1645 – TERMINATED LOOP ANTENNAS – Jef Eichner

This popular series resumes with Jef covering terminated loop theory and construction, along with some new (and old) toys for show and tell. Time permitting, he will start on loop phasing techniques.

 

2030 – THE 1st ANNUAL? WINTERFEST TRIVIA QUIZ – Sheldon Harvey

How well do you know radio? AM, shortwave, utilities, transmitter sites, station names, call letters, frequencies, interval signals, radio personalities, program names, and more, we’ll have questions from all categories. In the end we will crown the first Winterfest Trivia King (or Queen!). The quiz is open to anyone with the courage to participate.

Friday, 2 March 2018

0830 – HOW DO SMART SPEAKERS CHANGE YOUR LISTENING HABITS? – Rob deSantos

We will examine the impact of “smart speakers” on the listening experience. What can you do and what can’t you do with these systems? The internet radio and international radio still live but they live inside the speaker. Bring your own personal experience and questions to share. Included will be the presenter’s personal use and testing of systems such as Amazon Alexa and Sonos and compare the cost and benefits to using these as alternative listening sources as well as their limitations.

0945 – THE ANNUAL SCANNER SESSION – Tom Swisher

Back to Basics – Programming Strategies for the new generation scanners. Have the newer generation scanners got you stumped? This year we’re going back to basics, and will discuss programming strategies, tweaks and tips for the newer digital-capable scanners. We’ll also give a few nods to some of the software packages out there that can make this task easier.

1100 – THE ANNUAL PIRATE SESSION – George Zeller

A review of Pirate Radio news during the past year and the announcement of the new class of inductees to the North American Pirate Radio Hall of Fame. Time permitting, a discussion of the NASWA Pirate Radio Report column also is planned.

It’s quite a coincidence every year that the ‘Fest hotel is chock-full of pirate radio broadcasts. If one were to know such things… (Note I had to illuminate this flyer with a flashlight!)

1330 – TIME SHIFTED TUNING WITH SPECTRUM ARCHIVES – Thomas Witherspoon

We will take a look at both shortwave radio audio archives, what has been done since our 2010 Winter SWL Fest forum, and what collections have been preserved. We will also dive into the concept of radio spectrum archiving, noting the challenges and amazing benefits to future historians, media specialists, anthropologists and—yes–radio enthusiasts too. Imagine a digital library full of recordings you could load on a web-based application and tune through as if it were live radio–a time traveling WebSDR! We’ll live demo spectrum recordings dating back to 1986.

FILM SCREENING – “SPECTRES OF SHORTWAVE” with Amanda Dawn Christie

1500 – FILM SCREENING – “SPECTRES OF SHORTWAVE” – Amanda Dawn Christie

An experimental documentary film by Amanda Dawn Christie about the RCI shortwave radio towers in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada. Images captured on film are accompanied by personal stories told by people who lived near the towers. For over 67 years, the Radio Canada International (RCI) shortwave site broadcast all over the world. In 2012, budget cuts necessitated the decommissioning of this site.

**Winner** Prix de la vague – meilleur documentaire (best documentary) international category – FICFA 2016
** Official Selection** Atlantic Film Festival 2016

1945 – THE DXER’S SAMPLER MENU – ONE HOUR, FOUR IRRESISTIBLE SENSATIONS – Mark Fahey

This session presents four appetizer sized topics (each which could easily have consumed a full hour of discussion) in convenient, portion controlled sizes.

Transformation of Marginal & Noisy Tropical-Band Stations into Armchair Quality Reception: A live demonstration of real-time digital enhancement and filtering of shortwave signals.

Interval Signals from the Jungles and Volcanoes: For over 40 years I have been recording Indonesian interval signals and now the collection is complete. These are not noisy, low-fi recordings; every one is a pristine, studio-quality recording that reflects the exotic location and unique culture of each station.

What’s Happening in The Studio: Thousands of radio stations now continuously stream high-definition video of their studios in simulcast to their audio broadcast. We will drop in and discover what is happening behind the microphones.

Radio Soundscapes: Let’s explore the growing selection of what hipsters and eclectic music collectors are listening to.

2130 – THE ANNUAL SHORTWAVE SHINDIG – David Goren

David Goren and friends celebrate the short wavelengths in story, song, and vintage sounds. Saul Broudy, our resident folk song laureate presents an extended set of radio favorites and more. Interdisciplinary artist Amanda Dawn Christie performs using her theremin to trigger sounds and images of the towers at RCI Sackville.

Later in the evening, we’ll feature a specially upconverted segment on FM Urban Pirate Radio including the debut of the Brooklyn Pirate Radio Sound Map.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

0830 – THE VERY STRANGE WORLD OF VHF & UHF MILITARY SATELLITES – Matt Blaze

Most modern satellites are on SHF frequencies, are used for high-bandwidth, global communication, and require special antennas and equipment to receive and track. But there are also constellations of satellites operating on VHF and UHF frequencies, easily received with standard communications receivers and antennas, and what you can hear on them can be very surprising. Originally intended for tactical military use, these birds are largely dominated by pirates, unintended signals, and the occasional legitimate user.

0945 – TRAVEL THE WORLD WITH VIRTUAL DXPEDITIONS – Bruce Churchill

For many of us Shortwave DXing has become more a reminiscing than a listening exercise. Oh, if we could only reprise the ubiquitous Indonesians, Venezuelans, Ecuadorians, Brazilians and Indian regionals! Into this seeming abyss comes the world of remote receivers such as the Perseus, Global Tuner and KiwiSDR networks. In this session we’ll educate, discuss and debate the merits of traveling to virtual DXpeditions through the use of remote receivers around the globe.

1100 – RF OPS AT WORLD EVENTS – Paul Kaltenbach

Take a behind-the-scenes look at network news RF/field operations covering some of the largest stories that have made world headlines in recent memory, as well as a discussion regarding the technological changes that have changed the definition of what real-news is, and is not.

1330 – VOICE OF RFCHOKIA SHORTWAVE TV ROLL OUT – Jeff Murray

Introducing VOR’s 2018 North American Short Wave Television Service including a virtually live, slow scan slideshow broadcast direct from Rfchokia – the apocryphal breakaway republic formerly known as South Pottsylvania. This very special event will be emceed and produced by VOR spokesman/ cartoonist Jeff K1NSS/WPE2GEP, eager to wish Best DX to you and your family.

1500 – SHORTWAVE MEMORIES – Dan Robinson/Skip Arey

Dan and Skip chronicle the personal memories of Fest attendees about what shortwave has meant to them throughout their lives, putting some needed focus on the human side, rather than the more commonly heard mechanical or technical aspects, of the hobby.


Silent Auction

Each year at the Winter SWL Fest, we hold a silent auction with a wide array of donated goods. I donated a box full of gear myself.  All of the proceeds are given to charities–Ears To Our World has been a proud recipient of portions of the Silent Auction proceeds since I first attended in 2009!

Here are a few of the items that were in the silent auction:

Nor’easter and power outage

Of course, what everyone at the 2018 Winter SWL Fest will remember is that Friday morning, we were hit by a “nor’easter”–a storm with strong winds, and driving rain that by noon had turned to snow. Traffic outside the hotel was an absolute mess–and quite treacherous.

It was a little crazy. Right around 2:30–only a minute after my presentation ended, the mains/grid power flickered out.

The hotel staff kept everyone informed with news posts like this one.

Fortunately, the hotel’s backup generator did power one set of outlets in the conference room which fed the projector and amplified speakers, so the show continued…albeit in the dark!

Of course, there are advantages to being in a hotel with little power and much less RF noise–I was able to do some satisfactory MW DXing from my room window. A rare opportunity!

We held the Saturday night banquet in the hotel’s atrium area which was was better lit that the interior conference rooms. It was a very memorable banquet.

All-in-all, the Fest was a massive success. I heard very few complaints about the power outage, only praise for the forums, our guest speaker (Amanda Dawn Christie) and all of those who make the Fest a reality–especially John Figliozzi and Richard Cuff.

If you couldn’t make the Fest this year due to your schedule (or the weather!), please come next year. I promise, you won’t regret it! Dates for the 2019 Fest have already been posted!

Festmeisters Ruch Cuff and John Figliozzi prepare banquet material with flashlights.

Once again, many thanks to Richard Cuff and John Figliozzi for all of the hard work they put into organizing the Winter SWL Fest! You pulled off another great one!

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Third day added to 2018 Winter SWL Fest–!

Art the Winter SWL Fest, my good friends (from left to right): Sheldon Harvey (of The International Radio Report), Tina Shields and Dan Srebnick

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Cuff, who shares the following news:

The feedback from the 30th SWL Fest in March was consistently positive: People enjoyed having the extra day for forums and fun.

We’ve decided to keep the 3rd day for 2018 — so begin making your plans now. The 31st (!) Annual Winter SWL Fest will be Thursday, March 1st through Saturday, March 3rd, at the Doubletree Guest Suites – Philadelphia West in Plymouth Meeting, PA.

We’ll start forums in the early afternoon on Thursday. Details to follow in the months ahead! Registration will begin in the autumn, though we will probably set up hotel registration before then.

Updates will posted at the Fest website, http://www.swlfest.com.

Thanks to all for supporting us in 2017 and all the prior years!

Richard Cuff and John Figliozzi, co-chairs

I think this is absolutely brilliant news!Thanks for sharing, Rich, and I’ll see you at the ’18 Winter SWL Fest!

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Shortwave Shindig rebroadcast via WRMI tonight!

Jess Puglisi of WGXC (Wave Farm) and David Goren at the 2017 Shortwave Shindig live broadcast.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Cuff, for sharing the following details:

Repeat shortwave airing of the Shortwave Shindig on WRMI — Saturday 3/11 0300 UTC, same time as last week; same frequencies (9395 aimed north, 6855 aimed west).

Thanks to David Goren and Jeff White for arranging this!! Will update as on-demand / streaming availability is determined.

David Goren (left) and Richard Cuff (right) during the Shindig live broadcast.

Note that for those of us in North America, the Shindig rebroadcast will take place at 22:00 EST tonight (0300 UTC Saturday) on 9,395 kHz aimed north and 6,855 kHz aimed west from WRMI.

I plan to record the broadcast tonight as propagation was so poor last week, very few listeners could enjoy it.

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