Posts tagged ‘Bremen’

Saturday, May 19, 2018

East-West Relations: “Not the Partner” (1)

The Economist‘s title story on March 3 this year was about “how the West got China wrong”. In some more detail, the same edition explored as to how China is “not the partner you were looking for”.

As a public, we seem to have a tendency to categorically idealize and devalue relationships – even between nations and civilizations. This is how Max Frisch, a late Swiss author and playwright, put cooling love affairs into an exemplary gloomy dialog:

“You are not,” says the disappointed he or she, “who I thought you were.” (“Du bist nicht”, sagt der Enttäuschte oder die Enttäuschte, „wofür ich Dich gehalten habe.”)

Now, I’m not thinking of West-East relations as a love affair, and Max Frisch was describing the feelings of individuals. But the quote applies all the same (even if Frisch would certainly disapprove of putting it into this East-West context). Propaganda shapes “collective identities”, and according to Jacques Ellul, it offers man “a remedy for a basically intolerable situation” – the impossibility of grasping “the world’s economic and political problems”.

Both Western and Chinese narratives about a disappointing relationship are beginning to take shape. Both are top-down propaganda – people at the grassroots, this blogger included, can only draw information from mainstream and alternative media, blogs (which frequently turn newspaper steaks into hamburger meat without changing the substance), and individual contacts. That’s no great competition for propaganda – rather, it’s part of it. I don’t claim to be able to escape from it, either. I’m experimenting. I’m still blogging because it’s fun.

During this summer, I might try to depict “how the West got China wrong”, and “how China” (or uncertain shares of  Chinese public opinion, anyway) “got the West wrong”. It may also be interesting to speculate about how we will continue to get each other wrong, or which of the mainstream narratives, if either of them, will prevail – or how they may have to take realities into account in order to prevail.

____________

Related

The Primacy of Politics, June 13, 2010

____________

Advertisements
Monday, December 25, 2017

Shortwave Logs, December 2017: Germany’s annual Public-Radio High-Frequency Broadcast

“Gruß an Bord” is one of the oldest programs1) carried on German public radio, and the only one among these that is still broadcast on shortwave. Once a year, that is. The program starts at 19:00 UTC and runs through 23:00 UTC, i. e. Midnight central European time (see table there).

Christmas Eve on Sunday was that one night a year when a public German-language radio broadcaster returns to shortwave: “Gruss an Bord” is a program where sailors’ relatives and friends send greetings to their loved ones on board, wherever on the seven seas they may be2).

From Norddeich Radio to Deutsche Welle

“Gruß an Bord” first went on air in 1953. Back then, according to Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR, northern German radio), coastal radio station Norddeich Radio beamed the wistful messages across the seas.

It hasn’t been aired every year since, according to an NDR press release of 2009, which provides no notes about at which times there had been interruptions.

Some time after its inception, Germany’s public foreign broadcaster Deutsche Welle must have taken the task of broadcasting “Gruss an Bord” internationally, while NDR has always been in charge of the content.

Haus der Schiffahrt (House of Shipping Companies), Leer (archive)

Norddeich Radio has been defunct since the 1990s, and Deutsche Welle terminated their German-language broadcasts on shortwave in 2011. “Deutschland schafft sich ab” (Germany does itself in), an angry seafarer reportedly wrote in a protest letter.

From Deutsche Welle to Media Broadcast

It appears that the program was limited to VHF/FM and medium wave in December 2011, but in 2012, NDR bought airtime from Media Broadcast, a company that operates the Nauen transmitter station ( a site formerly used by Deutsche Welle). They also coordinate with other broadcasting sites in Europe.

NDR is a public broadcaster operating in the federal states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, and Lower Saxony. (As Bremen was part of the American occupation zone in post-war Germany, the city state runs a broadcasting station of its own, Radio Bremen.)

The first hour – and some of the second – of this year’s broadcast were recordings made earlier in December, at Hamburg’s Duckdalben international seamen’s club (or Seemannsmission), a place operated by Germany’s evangelical church. Some time during the second hour of this year’s program, recordings from Leer, a town in Eastern Friesland, Germany’s far northwest, were broadcast. Leer is only a small town, with some 30 to 35 thousand population, but it is a place with a lot of history, and a navigation school. Probably not least thanks to the latter, Leer is considered the place with the second-largest number of shipping companies in Germany, after Hamburg.

In Leer’s “Kulturspeicher”, the NDR’s Lower Saxony broadcasting house also made some recordings, on December 10, to televise a few minutes of them within the state on December 23, in a 3’19” report. (The video should remain online for a few weeks.)

The show felt a bit as if it was from a different era, trade magazine website Radioszene noted four years ago. That’s hard to deny, when you look at the cozy arrangements captured by the NDR cameras.

But then, even in 1979, Werner Bader, head of Deutsche Welle’s German programs at the time, observed that

A minority keeps criticizing, sometimes wittingly, that the two programs [“Gruß an Bord” and “Grüße aus dem Heimathafen”, another sailors’ program] were unctuous. But a majority advocates to carry them forward.
(Eine Minderheit kritisiert immer wieder, in beiden Sendungen gebe es Rührseligkeiten, und sie tut es manchmal auch geistreich witzig. Aber die Mehrheit plädiert für das Wunschkonzert und die “Grüße aus dem Heimathafen”.)

The Audience: families, the wider public …

“Gruß an Bord” is aired by a public broadcaster, and at the same time, it is about family – two rather different target audiences. An NDR editor interviewed in the December 23 report from Leer, tries to match the two:

If this is about feelings, the broadcast is still needed. If someone says that most of the German ships have been equipped with internet for a year now, and that families can skype or text each other, or use Whatsapp – but then, people may sit alone in their bunk, on Christmas Eve, before and after their meals, that’s not the same as if you join everyone else in the mess deck, listening to this broadcast together.
Wenn es um Gefühle geht, dann braucht man die Sendung noch. Wenn jetzt jemand sagt, die deutschen Schiffe sind seit einem Jahr weitgehend mit Internet ausgerüstet, und dann können die Familien miteinander skypen und sich eine SMS schicken oder per Whatsapp kommunizieren, aber da sitzen vielleicht die Leute allein in ihrer Koje am Heiligen Abend, vorm Essen, nach dem Essen, bekommen ihre Whatsapps, das ist ja nicht so, als wenn  man gemeinsam in der Messe sitzt und dann vielleicht gemeinsam diese Sendung hört.

Or as put by an (apparent) senior sailor in a television report from the Hamburg event, the program is

special, because you get the impression that – even if you can be reached by email, smartphone etc. -, the public is aware of you.
Das Besondere an der Sendung ist, dass man eben tatsächlich den Eindruck hat, dass man – auch wenn man über Email, Handy erreichbar ist, trotzdem auch im Bewusstsein der Öffentlichkeit ist.

… and the friends of the high frequencies

I recorded all of the program, and listened to some of it. It remains a reverend institution, and worth listening to. But I think I liked the final twenty-five minutes best. There, letters and emails were read out from an ordinary broadcasting studio – well-structured and carefully thought out messages, rather than improvised talk into microphones.

I have no idea how many people listen to the programs, and where. But when listening to the mails and letters being read out, you realize that a substantial share (if not the majority) of those who listen to the shortwave transmissions must be shortwave aficionados, rather than seafarers:

Bernd Ottenau from Ottenau sends greetings to all members, honorary members and friends of the Radio Taiwan International listeners’ club Ottenau, as well as the international shortwave programs’ German-language editorial offices.
(Bernd Ottenau aus Ottenau grüßt herzlich alle Mitglieder, Ehrenmitglieder und Freunde des Radio Taiwan International Hörerclubs Ottenau, sowie die deutschsprachigen Redaktionen der internationalen Kurzwellenprogramme, und wünscht gesegnete Weihnachten sowie ein gutes neues Jahr 2018.)

A thing Germany has in common with countries like China, India, or Japan are its pasttime associations, and its shortwave listeners’ associations not least. They, too, may be an explanation as to why a radio institution like “Gruß an Bord”, allegedly from a different era, remains on air – at least once a year.

The 6155 kHz relay transmission from Armenia – offering the best signal among all the sites rebroadcasting “Gruß an Bord” – goes off air a few seconds after 23:00 UTC. CPBS Beijing emerges on the same frequency, informing me that it’s the eighth day of the lunar calendar’s  eleventh month today.

____________

Notes

1) The “Hafenkonzert” is even older – see Related underneath – “Soundscrapes of the Urban Past”
2) Then again, maybe not exactly on all the seven seas. The Pacific Ocean isn’t among the target areas stated by NDR.

____________

Related

Soundscrapes of the Urban Past, 2013

____________

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Zis is like Zed

So much to write about.

 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

An Election Observation by the Way

6080 kHz would be a great frequency to listen to the Voice of America‘s (VoA’s) election coverage – if the Voice of Turkey wouldn’t start to interfere with their English program, at 04:00 a.m. UTC. That drowns VoA completely.

4960 kHz, also from the VoA’s Sao Tome and Principe relay, offers an acceptable alternative, provided that you live in the countryside and have some outdoor wire in the air.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Shortwave Logs, August 2016: Radio Ukraine International

1. Radio Ukraine International

Once upon a time, there was a broadcaster named Radio Kiev, or Kiev Radio – a foreign broadcasting station from the Ukrainian Soviet Republic.

Maybe you won’t even know there was such a thing like Radio Kiev. But you might do an online search and find that Radio Kiev was a shortwave broadcaster, the official foreign broadcasting station of the Soviet Republic of Ukraine, and that after World War 2, in 1962, Radio Kiev went on air in English, probably for the first time in its history, and that they added German in 1966, and Romanian in 1970. There had been shortwave broadcasts in Ukrainian, addressing the Ukrainian diaspora, since November 1, 1950. All this information can be found on Wikipedia.

Radio Kiev QSL, 1985

A bluesy QSL card from Kiev, confirming reception of a shortwave broadcast in German, on December 8, 1985.
Click picture for Radio Ukraine International (formerly Radio Kiev).

I listened to Radio Kiew every once in a while, during the second half of the 1980s, the dying days of the Cold War, and I remember hardly anything of the program content – I usually listened to the programs in German. On certain holidays, they opened their broadcasts with “the Ukrainian state anthem”, which struck me as odd – but then, Ukraine had a foreign broadcaster of their own, so why not an anthem.

In all other respects, the message was similar to that from Radio Moscow, Radio Kiev’s sister station: the achievements of the Soviet Union, the harmony between the Soviet nationalities, etc. – although I have no idea if Radio Kiev covered foreign affairs, too, as Radio Moscow did. Even the modulation from Kiev sounded similar to Moscow, something which, in Radio Moscow’s case, was later attributed to the use of two microphones pointing towards the presenter, giving it a characteristic echo as there was a phase difference between the sound captured by the mikes.

There are no Radio Kiev files in my sound archive, but I did keep the QSL cards: one showing a melancholic city scene, crumbling building facades and an apparently indestructible tram with olive-green varnishing. I have no idea where the photo was taken; there is no English-language description on the reverse side (see picture above). Other cards presented a Monument to participants of the January armed uprising in 1918 in Kiev who died fighting for Soviet power, a Monument to heroes of the Great October Socialist Revolution who gave their lives for Soviet power, the “Sputnik” international youth tourism bureau, a Monument to Ivan Kotlyarevsky, outstanding Ukrainian writer, Vladimir Street – Taras Shevchenko State University is in the foreground, and the October Palace of Culture.

You probably had to be a somewhat selective listener:

Radio Kiev’s DX program will keep busy with the preparations for the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow from now. The DX program will be broadcast from 19:00 to 19:30 on every first and third Friday in the German-language broadcast, and the English-language DX program can be listened to on Wednesdays from 20:50 to 20:57,

Weltweit Hören, a West German shortwave hobby magazine, noted in June, 1978.

Radio Kiev was succeeded by, or renamed into, Radio Ukraine International (RUI) in 1992, a bit more than half a year after Ukraine’s Supreme Soviet had approved the Declaration of Independence, and three months after a referendum that voted in favor of independence.

Seven and a half years after RUI’s inception, in September 1999, the broadcaster’s last active shortwave transmission site near Lviv had to be closed down, as its operation, including spare part imports from Russia, had become unaffordable, Radio Berlin Brandenburg reported at the time. [Correction, Sept 3, 2016: the last big transmission site went off the air, according to RBB, in September 1999 – the Brovary site, with four 100-kw-transmitters, remained available, apparently until December 2010, when all shortwave broadcasts were terminated, according to Wikipedia.]

In December 2015, Ukrainian parliament passed legislation that prescribed – and limited – public funding of public enterprise, which will be tasked to fulfill functions of foreign broadcasting broadcasting, of RUI.

It’s probably no great liability for the state budget: Instead of shortwave transmitters, RUI counts on the internet, with livestreams and podcasts. and, according to the standard announcement at the beginning of each German program, on satellite (Astra 4 A).

The signature tune has remained the same throughout the decades, from the 1980s to now. And the program languages seem to reflect unchanged foreign-policy priorities: in Ukrainian, English, German, and Romanian.

German-language podcasts are available at the Funkhaus Euskirchen Website radio360.eu. And a half-hour English-language program is relayed by the American shortwave broadcaster WRMI, every morning at 02:00 hours UTC (previously 23:00 UTC), on 11580 kHz. From about March to October, the program can usually, but not every time (see logs underneath), be well heard in northwestern Germany.

WRMI appears to be interested in reception reports concerning the Radio Ukraine relays. Reports can be sent to radiomiami9@cs.com.

____________

2. Recent Logs

International Telecommunication Union letter codes used in the table underneath:

ARG – Argentina; ARM – Armenia; AUT – Austria; BOT – Botswana; CLN – Sri Lanka; D – Germany; EQA – Ecuador; G – Great Britain; INS – Indonesia; LTU – Lithuania; MLA – Malaysia; SVN – Slovenia; TIB – Tibet; TUR – Turkey; TWN – Taiwan; USA – United States of America.

Languages (“L.”):

? – not recognized; E – English; F – French; G – German; M – Malaysian; N – Dutch; R – Russian.

The table underneath might appear messy unless you click the headline of this particular post – or it may remain invisible unless you click “continue reading”.

read more »

Friday, May 20, 2016

Shortwave Logs, April/May 2016: Okeechobee and the World

The Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival was going to “put Okeechobee on the map, worldwide”, organizers of the event were quoted in September last year.

But listen, toffee-nosed little startup: Okeechobee, Florida, has been on the world map for decades. WYFR, a religious shortwave broadcaster, operated transmitters there from the late 1970s to 2013, and relayed Radio Taiwan International (initially “Voice of Free China”) broadcasts to the Western hemisphere.

QSL Card, RTI Taipei, Taiwan

The easier way to get a QSL card confirming Okeechobee:
write to Radio Taiwan International (Spanish service)

Even the end of the world (and of all world maps, for that matter) was announced from Okeechobee. Granted, the studios were based in California, but anyway.

The WYFR transmission site was bought by WRMI, another broadcaster in Florida, in 2013, less than half a year after WYFR had ceased operation. WRMI’s broadcasting schedule looks like a who-is-who of European broadcasters who abandoned shortwave in recent years, and who now re-appear on WRMI. The schedule looks pretty complicated to me, but if you switch on your radio somewhere in northern-central Europe during the second half of the night, you are likely to hear some of them on 11580 kHz: Radio Ukraine International from 23:30 to 23:59 UTC, and then Radio Slovakia, for example.

Later in the night (or early morning), it will be  Ralph Gordon Stair, a usually ill-tempered preacher. So to quite a degree, the transmission site has remained religious, because Stair buys tons of airtime, via satellite and shortwave – from WRMI not least.

Stair considers himself a prophet and shows some interest in the future of Donald Trump,  New York City, and US-North Korean relations.*)

Whichever way you look at it, Okeechobee is likely to remain on the world map. Until doomsday, anyway.

===============

The A-16 broadcasting season started on March 27 (and will end late in October). The following is a list of some of my listening logs during the past few weeks, in northern Germany.
International Telecommunication Union letter codes used in the table underneath:

ALB – Albania; ARG – Argentina; AUS – Australia; D – Germany; KRE – North Korea; KOR – South Korea; NZL – New Zealand; PHL – Philippines; SVNSlovakia Slovenia; USA – United States of America.

Languages (“L.”):

C – Chinese; E – English; F – French; G – German; K – Korean. The table underneath might appear messy unless you click the headline of this particular post – or it may remain invisible unless you click “continue reading”.

read more »

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Blogroll, Syria Peace Conference, Etc.

1. Blogroll

Only some of the (formerly) many links on the masthead to the right have worked in recent months. So I’ve made up my mind and built an extra page – Blogroll, see »there.

2. Syria Peace Conference

The good news is that “regime change” is not a terribly easy business anymore. In the long run, that could serve global peace rather well.

The bad news is legion.

But peace is always possible, as demonstrated in the picture underneath. (Looks kind of contrived, but whoever arranged this, it wasn’t me.)

Two bottles of Statesman

Give peace a chance – hug a Statesman

3. Else

No big blogging activities here recently, but I wrote a blog in German this weekend, about political rituals in China ahead of Spring Festival.

 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

So much to Blog, but Time is scarce

Lots of work. Not so much that I wouldn’t even read, to listen, or to take a few notes anymore, but blogging doesn’t work at the moment, even though there’s so much I’d like to translate and to write about. Might find more time next week, or in early February. Either way, there’s always time for a seasonal photo or two:

Bremen

Bremen rampart, near Central Station …

countryside

… and countryside.

Tags: ,
%d bloggers like this: