Posts tagged ‘shortwave radio’

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Fond Memories and Grinding Teeth: AM Closures in Australia and France

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Radio Australia leaves Shortwave by End of January

Radio Australia is signing off with the end of January, if things keep going in accordance with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation‘s (ABC) schedule. A press release on December 6 quoted the head of ABC’s radio section as saying that

“While shortwave technology has served audiences well for many decades, it is now nearly a century old and serves a very limited audience. The ABC is seeking efficiencies and will instead service this audience through modern technology.”

20161209_radio_australia_message_received

There are people in Australia who disagree. There are others who support the decision. In an interview with Richard Ewart, co-host of Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat, former Australian High Commissioner to Fiji and the Solomon Islands, James Batley, defended the closure of shortwave transmissions to the Pacific, but came across as somewhat unprepared for that role:

Batley: The shortwave transmissions have had a very long and distinguished history. But I suppose I can’t help thinking now that … I guess this is a thing of technology really overtaking that form of broadcasting. And it’s a very different world these days, than sort of the heyday of shortwave broadcasting in past decades. But it’s a pity, because I guess we’ve all got fond memories of tuning in to Radio Australia by shortwave radio in the past.

Ewart: Isn’t one of the key elements of this decision, though, that the risk that it may pose, particularly during times of emergency? We’ve seen two huge cyclones strike in the Pacific over the last couple of years, and during an emergency like that, a shortwave broadcast could be a life-saver.

Batley: Yeah, look, I think the whole media and communication scene has really changed pretty dramatically, over several decades, in the Pacific, and there are now … I think there are more options available for public broadcasters, for governments’ communities, to access information. So I certainly … you know … there will be some people who still listen on shortwave, but I think it is a diminishing audience. I think you’d have to say that. And certainly, people of my acquaintance, fewer and fewer people would use shortwave radios.

Ewart: But what about those who continue to rely on shortwave, particularly, for example, in rural areas of Papua New Guinea, the numbers, we understand, are pretty high for those who can’t access digital technology. They would rely, still, on shortwave to get any sort of broadcast coming out of Radio Australia.

Batley: Yes, look, I don’t actually know the numbers. I’m not sure what the figures are. […] But like I said, I think there are a lot more options available these days, for governments, for broadcasters. And I think there is a sense in which shortwave may be a technology that’s been, perhaps, superseded.

Ewart: Our understanding is that accurate figures are in fact being gathered by the ABC right now, which makes me wonder why would they make this decision if they don’t already have that information. Could it be a little bit precipitate?

Batley: Well, look, it’s not for me to question the management’s decision on this. I’m not sure what considerations they may have taken. I don’t know all those numbers.

[…]

Wavescan, Adventist World Radio‘s (AWR) media magazine, compiled a number of voices and programs from Australia, New Zealand, and the Asia-Pacific region in December, including the a/m interview with James Batley. It starts in the ninth minute of the podcast dated 18/12/2016 (currently available for download).

In an interview with ABC, Batley said that the money saved by abandoning shortwave broadcasts should be re-invested in a more robust FM transmitter network and increased regional content. The issue was also touched upon in the a/m Radio Australia interview. The shutdown is said to save some 2.8 million Australian Dollars a year.

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France Inter no longer on 162 kHz

This January 1rst must be a happy day for controllers at Radio France: the demise of longwave broadcasts on 162 kHz is said to save the broadcaster six million Euros per year, Sud-Ouest, a French regional newspaper, wrote on Friday. The longwave broadcasts ended last night, around midnight. During 2016, Radio France had already saved seven million Euros, also according to Sud-Ouest, thanks to switching off the medium wave transmitters carrying France Bleu and France Info programs.

Some five to seven percent of the audience, or some 500,000 people, had still been listeners to the longwave broadcasts, writes Sud-Ouest, suggesting that teeth were grinding among the more nostalgic listeners.

The end of the longwave broadcasts also marks the end of the meteorological service being carried to adjacent and more distant waters, writes the paper. They had been part of the daily programs, every evening after the 20-h journal, and had been dropped on FM much earlier, in 2009.

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Related

France Inter / RFI history, May 31, 2014

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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.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

RAE suspends Foreign-Language Broadcasts until October 5

No foreign-language programs will be broadcast by RAE (Radiodifusión Argentina al Exterior) from September 19 to October 5, according to an announcement by the German service last Friday. The reason given was that planned changes would be implemented during this period.

Indeed, only Spanish continuity announcements were to be found on 11710.6 kHz shortwave and RAE’s internet livestream this (Monday) morning.

If according to schedule, the foreign-language broadcasts would be back on the air on Thursday, October 6, 2016.

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Related

» RAE – How to listen anyway, July 13 / Sept 8, 2016

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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.

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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 »

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Radio Argentina al Exterior: How to listen anyway

[Update, September 8, 2016: rae.com.ar may be compromised or attacking – be careful, and don’t enter without reliable virus-detecting software. http://www.radionacional.com.ar/ – see picture below – appears to be alright.]

[Update, July 15, 2016: RAE’s website appears to be back online. The morning shortwave broadcast in English at 03:00 UTC was also quite readable.]

Argentina’s foreign radio, Radio Argentina al Exterior (RAE) broadcasts in Spanish, Portuguese, English, German, French, Italian, Japanese, and Chinese, on 11710,5 kHz during the second half of the night (UTC), and on frequencies from 15343,7 to 15345 kHz during daytime and until midnight.

Unfortunately, modulation on shortwave is currently bad, and much of what is said is hardly understandable.

To add to the trouble, the radio station’s official website is currently under maintenance.

However, the foreign radio livestream can be found on Radio Nacionalhttp://www.radionacional.com.ar/

A dropdown menu can be found on the website’s top-right, and you can choose RAE from there:

Radio Nacional / Radiodifusión Argentina al Exterior livestream

Provided that RAE is on the air or livestream (which isn’t the case 24 hours a day), the station can be heard, usually in good quality.

Podcasts of the station’s English and German services are available on the Radio 360 website.

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.

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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 »

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

NHK: “Suddenly off the Air”

An NHK broadcast suddenly went off the air across mainland China on Tuesday morning during a report on the Panama Papers,

reports Radio Japan.

The World Premium channel by Japan’s public broadcaster lost both its video and sound shortly after a newscaster began reporting on offshore firms set up by relatives of current or former leaders of the Chinese Communist Party.

The program was interrupted again when it touched on the efforts of Chinese authorities to rigidly control information about the leaked financial documents.

The authorities appear to be censoring reports on the story by both domestic and foreign media.

The NHK states a CTV-Satellite TV Program Co., Ltd. as an operator in China, with a Beijing area code in its phone number. While Radio Japan, NHK’s foreign broadcasting service, offers programs in Chinese (including shortwave broadcasts), NHK Premium is bilingual (Japanese and English), according to Wikipedia.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Beijing: Foreign Experts wanted to avert more PR(C) Disasters

Life’s hasn’t been nice to China Radio International (CRI). The propaganda juggernaut hasn’t been mentioned in the nation’s chairman’s new year addresses in recent years (as had been a time-honored custom during previous decades), it had been described as a bottomless pit of waste by Keith Perron (a former CRI presenter himself), and the international broadcaster’s borrowed-boats strategy probably caused some chuckles in the industry, too. Other “international” media outlets from the Middle Kingdom aren’t really effective either. Whenever they catch attention, it’s for anchors losing it, or similar not so-work-related reasons – at least in Western countries.

CRI’s German service is a brilliant example of how propaganda on a foreign audience simply can’t work. On the past two Sundays, they broadcast the same edition of their “listeners forum”, with just one listener quoted there (maybe he was the only one who wrote in), and later on, a “report” on electrical power supply in Tibet (also the second time on two consecutive Sundays). That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any listeners – some actually appear to be listening religiously, and Beijing’s propaganda is in no position to abandon these early Christians. But it appears to be a small flock. And given the truthful (and therefore highly unpleasant) representation of Beijing’s attitude towards Tibet, for example, it can’t be a big audience.

If you, as a government or collective dictatorship, can’t bring yourself to destroy some quarters of the state-owned industrial sector (as prescribed by the neo-liberal foreign press), you certainly cannot break an unsinkable aircraft carrier with thousands of jobs up, either. But you can still do two things. Measure number one is to keep the ineffective bathing tub*) in your coastal waters, while venturing into international waters with some international expertise. That, at least, appears to be on Xi Jinping‘s mind – Xi is the guy who hasn’t mentioned CRI in his new-year addresses.

And while the foreign expertise is going to work for you, you can kick all those foreign correspondents out who treat China unfairly. That would be measure number two. In fact, measure number two has been practiced for ages.

(On a private note, I’m not sure if putting lipstick on the pig will really make the pig look nicer, or more convincing. But then, the pig has little to lose – and I’m going to watch the experiment with some curiosity.)

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Note

*) Given the wide range of languages and target areas, there may be CRI brances which are a success story, in terms of feedback from the audience, etc.. But I haven’t heard of them yet.

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