Friday, 25 July 2014

EDXC 2014, nice in Nice

Nice in Nice (As the Stranglers sang). Photo: Pete Tomsett

How would you like to round off this summer with a few days in the south of France , talking to your heart's content about all things radio? Well, you can if you attend this year's European DX Conference which takes place from 19 to 22 September. See http://edxcnews.wordpress.com/  for details including registration and accommodation. Their main website is at http://www.edxc.org .


There are conference events for two days in the village of Saint Delmas de Tende then two days 80km down the road in Nice. Presentations and talks about DXing plus excursions to Radio Monte Carlo and beyond. If you want to bring a friend or other half who is not as interested in radio as yourself, there are plenty of non radio sights to see too, with a three countries in one day excursion which visits Ventimiglia in Italy, Monaco and of course, Nice.  See you there!



Saturday, 19 July 2014

Radiograd...


The exhibition of the month for me is at GRAD (Gallery for Russian Arts and Design) in London. 

Work and Play Behind the Iron Curtain shows consumer items from children’s toys, dolls and model Zils, through fizzy pop vending machines (above) to a space age vacuum cleaner, record players, telephones and, of course, radios. 

There are just a couple of radios, a ladies portable transistor and a Red Star Zveda 54, which all good citizens would gather around in the evening in their cramped Stalinist apartment to hear news of bumper harvests and the latest conquests of space.

I am writing more on the exhibition in the Collectors’ Corner feature in August’s Communication- journal of the British DX Club, so I won’t say more here for now, except, do go to GRAD! (Current exhibition is on until 23 August, with Life on the Eastern Front in World War I coming up in September).





Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Deutsche Welle’s World Cup


Deutsche Welle have always given good coverage of major sporting events and for this year’s world cup they have their own competition (KickOff Tip) too, where you have to predict the scores of each game. It should be fun to compare with others’ predictions, presumably Deutsche Welle radio aficionados as much as football fans, around the globe. 

Of course the station, along with Deutschlandfunk, also pushed the boat out in 1972, 1974 and 2006 when Munich, West Germany and Germany respectively hosted summer Olympics and two World Cups. (The West Germany v East Germany World Cup match, 40 summers ago in Frankfurt on 22 June 1974, was, for me, the epitome of any World Cup encounter I have seen, with its political and poignant overtones -forget the oft-quoted USA v Iran game in France 1998- the both Germanies clash was the ultimate political football game in my book).

Tune into English (or 29 other languages) online and/or on shortwave with Deutsche Welle.





Monday, 9 June 2014

Brazil- World Cup and world radio

Extracts from Radio Websites by Chrissy Brand, for Radio User, 2014


Brazil is in the spotlight hosting the FIFA World Cup so it seemed timely to choose a few more radio stations from this vast and diverse country. I covered some Brazilian radio station websites last year in Radio User, but this month’s selection are different. You can also do a search for "Brazil" in the top left hand box of this blog for other Brazilian radio mentions I have made over the years.

Radio Bras was the international station from Brasilia that once graced the bands with English and many other languages. It has been absent a long time from shortwave. To listen to what passes as Radio Bras these days you can go to http://www.ebc.com.br/ (formerly www.radiobras.gov.br ) but specifically http://radios.ebc.com.br/ This will lead you to a range of the state radio stations such as Nacional Amazonia and Nacional Rio de Janeiro. News, features and music. http://radios.ebc.com.br/nacionalrioam

Tune In gives you several options too. They can be entertaining even if you don’t understand the local language. http://tudoradio.com/player/radio/3127-radiobras-5400

There are a number of radio stations from Brazil that can still be heard on shortwave here in the UK, albeit only in the Brazilian-Portuguese language, and at least five spring to mind. These include Radio Difusora Roraima from Boa Vista. If you struggle to pick it up on its tropical frequency of 4875kHz, or if you can hear it but want to correctly identify it, access the station’s website at http://www.radiororaima.com.br/ Available in Brazil on 590kHz medium wave too, it also has a rarely updated Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Radio-Roraima/

Radio Aparacida is a religious station which is broadcast on 5035 and 6135kHz, online at http://www.a12.com/radio-aparecida and with an active Facebook account https://www.facebook.com/radioaparecida Of course there are plenty of other web-based Brazilian radio stations to listen to. One that I especially enjoy is Radio Brasil at http://www.brasilwebradio.com/

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Where are they now?

Extracts from Radio Websites by Chrissy Brand, for Radio User, 2014. 
Photo is a 1980 Radio Kiev (Kyiv) QSL card of the Ukrainian capital enjoying a halcyon summer.

Where are they now?

It’s time now to trace down some of the international broadcasters who left us in the lurch as they fell away from shortwave over recent years. RTBF or Radiodiffusion Television Belge no longer has an English language service so you will have to make do with French audio at http://www.rtbf.be/ but you can easily translate their webpages into English which will certainly give you a clear idea of what is happening in Wallonia and the French speaking part of Belgium.

Radio Vlaanderen International was the Dutch-speaking counterpart of Belgium’s external broadcasting output. http://www.vrt.be/ The broadcaster’s main network comprises Radio 1, Radio 2, Klara, Studio Brussel and MNM, with no English speaking station, which is disappointing. But there is a button which translates everything at the site into English. Just as I used to, still do in fact, turn the radio dial to find programmes and DX of interest, I also click around on websites in a similar fashion. I was pleased to find a few minutes’ video footage of Belgium TV celebrating its 60th anniversary last autumn. Have a look at http://www.deredactie.be/cm/vrtnieuws.english/videozone_ENG/1.1766789

In recent months you may well have wished that Radio Ukraine International was still available on shortwave. Sadly it’s not but you can read and listen to English from Kiev/Kyiv online at http://www.nrcu.gov.ua/en/157/  The station provides over a dozen different English programmes include, such as Hello Kyiv on Saturdays which airs listener’s letters, Ukrainian Diary (a weekly news round-up), Famous Ukrainians, Panorama and music. On a light hearted note, Sports and Fun is about “sports and activities that turn into passion and people who dare to push the limits”.

Polskie Radio from Warsaw is still very much part of my regular listening at http://www.thenews.pl/1,The-News/65,Podcast where there are several podcasts to subscribe to or choose from. I find that a problem with subscribing to so many podcasts is that they then arrive on your computer quicker than I can actually listen to them, so I end up with a monumental backlog. Back when there were just radio broadcasts to tune to, you either heard it or you missed it, and if you missed it there was no guilt. It’s harder for me to press “delete” when an unheard podcast is sitting on my computer- I want to hear everything that is sent to me but there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. There are a few programmes I try to catch from Warsaw including Dateline Poland, Polish Society and Culture and Central Europe Today.

For me there’s nothing like coming in from work, cooking up a stir fry or chilli and while doing so, tuning into news from Europe, such as Polish Radio’s Central Europe programme or Radio Sweden’s daily news. http://sverigesradio.se/  Perhaps it’s because I associate these programmes with exciting cities that I have visited, coupled with the nostalgia of shortwave listening as a teenager. Maybe the food association is that I was comfortably fed by parental home cooking back then. But somehow listening to these stations on a grey day gives me a cosy and happy feeling.


The Tune In app also provides online radio live or archived from many former shortwave stations, and is worth remembering, especially if you want a quick news or culture fix via your smartphone. http://tunein.com/


Thursday, 29 May 2014

Other radio blogs


Extracts from Radio Websites by Chrissy Brand, for 
Radio User, 2014


Start at http://www.hamradiosecrets.com/ham-radio-blog.html where the above photo came from!

Thomas Witherspoon's blog The SWLing Post is somewhere I am sure you visit at least weekly by now- but you should go more often that that. You should sign up fo rte dialy email notification too. One post that you may have missed, which I found a riveting read, gives an insight into the free radio scene in the USA and Europe. Go to http://swling.com/ and find any entry and you will be enthralled.


The DX Novice blog started strongly enough but like many, it soon faded. Cyberspace is littered with promising projects like this one which lost their way. Maintaining the commitment to a regular blog is hard work but there are some nice posts from 2012 at http://dxnovice.blogspot.co.uk/ where the Romanian DXer whose website it is has posted photos of QSL cards and other goodies they received from stations that year. Just as broadcasters wish to hear from their listeners, bloggers too like to receive feedback to prove that there is an audience reading or listening to them. So it’s always polite to leave an encouraging comment on a blog post.

An exception to the “needing feedback” rule is Gough’s legacy website in Australia which is no longer updated. The radio and computing sections will be of interest to readers, including sounds of HF radio, QSL cards, and readings of Gough's 2009 letter to China Radio International, comparing off air and studio recordings. http://goughlui.com/legacy/ It must be rather satisfying to call time on a website and leave it as a legacy. I wonder how much interest this will be to computing historians in a few short internet years?

Garth Mullins states he is a "writer, broadcaster, activist, 3 chord propagandist". I am unsure what the latter is but his website at www.garthmullins.com gives enough clues to his other passions. Based in Vancouver he received the Jack Mullins Journalism award in 2013 for the best features story on radio (http://www.jackwebster.com/dinner/video.php?id=704) This was for his CBC radio piece "The Imaginary Albino". I won't give away any spoilers here so you can hear the programme for yourself at http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/episodes/2013/02/18/the-imaginary-albino

Other interesting documentaries by Garth and colleague Lisa Hale can be found at http://www.garthmullins.com/p/radio.html This includes information on El Salvador underground station Radio Venceremos and an interview with Elizabeth Hay, author of Late Nights On Air, a book about radio in Canada. http://www.elizabethhay.com/?book=late-nights-on-air  The book, published in 2007, is now on my holiday reading list, having read this synopsis: "Harry Boyd, a world-weary, washed-up television broadcaster, has returned to a small radio station in the remote reaches of the Canadian North. There, in the golden summer of 1975, he falls in love with a voice on air".

Ruud Brand (no relation to me) is a Dutch DXer and his YouTube channel is packed full of entertaining DX DAB and FM catches. https://www.youtube.com/user/RBrDX



Monday, 5 May 2014

The joy of shortwave


Extracts from my Broadcast Matters column, Radio User,  May 2014 

Photo of a vintage radio at the Grand Canyon. 

I appreciate the benefits of high tech life, such as my tiny Sony smartphone and its ability to read newspapers, emails, blogs and books from the palm of my hands. I can watch videos, tv, listen to radio and view the world through people’s instant photos (and add my own snapshots too) through Instagram. But I always also appreciate the charms and variety that my 30 year old Sony shortwave radio can deliver to me - and I can’t imagine that ever changing. Even a simple scan of the bands can still bring you a cacophony of international sounds and opinion. I was pondering over this thought in early spring as the B-13 schedules concluded.

Two half hour sessions, one in mid evening and another soon after dawn again illustrated to me the amazing array of information and entertainment that us DXers and shortwave listeners are privileged to hear. It’s a shame that so much of the world misses out on the experience of hearing voices and instruments from faraway lands. Even at shortwave’s peak in the 1970s and 1980s Jo and Joe Public were blissfully unaware of the delights on offer if they would only turn off the telly and its diet of dull soap operas and unfunny sitcoms. 

Well, their loss is our gain. I started by catching up with the news from the Voice of Vietnam on 9730kHz. I am omitting the times I heard these stations as they all changed schedules on 30 March. It’s just to give a flavour of a typical session of shortwave listening. The Hanoi broadcaster seems unable to let a day pass without mention of the Vietnamese People’s Army and this time was no exception. Mention of a chairman of a political party hosting a banquet painted a vivid picture for me, and I was pleased to hear that for the first time Vietnam had attended the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. 

Deutsche Welle on 9800kHz was carrying updates and vox pops of the worrying situation in South Sudan where displaced people are hungry and in need of supplements and stability. An antidote to this depressing news came in the form of folk music from Radio Tirana. Sometimes I find it a little twee sounding but this time it was the style of folk that I like the most, haunting female vocals and melodies (akin to Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares - "The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices", that came to UK (and global) prominence on the crest of the World Music wave back in the late 1980s). The music put me in a relaxed state of mind and enabled me to enjoy the profile programme which featured two painters. One of these artists was renowned for painting more pictures of Albanian medieval hero Skanderbeg.  It seems to me that Skanderbeg is to Radio Tirana what the Vietnamese People’s Army is the Voice of Vietnam- ubiquitous.

Next on my dial was another station specialising in hero-worship- the Voice of Korea on 7570kHz. They were extolling the visit of a Russian delegation who had come to Pyongyang to celebrate the 65th anniversary of one organisation or another.

Radio Cairo offered some variety on 9900kHz although their eternal failure to modulate their signal correctly meant it was all but impossible to hear what the female presenter was saying, even although it was in English. My patience was rewarded however with some rather good music which sounded like a tango, Egyptian-style. The quirks of shortwave stations can throw up these unlikely aural combinations which are always rather special to my ears.  All of the stations so far had given a fair to good signal strength (that is to say a 3 or 4) and the next stop on my audio voyage came in with an excellent signal strength (a 5). 

The General Overseas Service of All India Radio on 11670kHz gave a gripping talk on the celebration of language- with the speaker stating he felt it to be humankind’s greatest achievement. The very fact that I was hearing this on the radio seemed testament to the fact. It was a positive note to turn in for the night on.

Awaking early on a Saturday morning, with an hour to myself before heading off on a canal walk, I spent a happy half hour in the company of several continents, courtesy of my bedside radio. I started off with good old Radio Romania International, always a strong signal and often with a programme that is worth listening all the way through to the end. In today’s case the feature on Romanian-German relations wasn’t enough to keep me tuned to the full broadcast, although I did learn that Germany was Romania’s largest trading partner and that relations between the two nations were “as good as possible.”

From 21600kHz I tuned down to 15120KHz to join the Voice of Nigeria’s breakfast time show. It was concentrating on the booming local economy and banking sector too much to keep me interested. So skipping onto 15595kHz I heard the heavenly sounds of a choir, live from a church it seemed. A voice proclaiming in the long dead Latin language followed and it didn’t take a DXpert to identify this as a mass from Vatican Radio. I kept popping back to this in between other broadcasts as it was rather addictive in some ways. 

But next I leapt several continents to find myself with the Saturday evening broadcast from Radio New Zealand International. It’s rather incongruous to be sharing someone’s Saturday night when you haven’t yet risen for Saturday breakfast, but it’s another example of what makes international broadcasting so appealing to me. The music request show included a 66th wedding anniversary request for a price by Handel and an 18th wedding anniversary request for some Van Morrison.

I then turned to Radio Australia on 15415kHz who were reaching half time in an Aussie Rules match where the defending champions Hawthorn Hawks were romping their way to a 48 point victory over Brisbane Lions. After a burst of ABC news I looked in on Radio Cuba Havana’s 6060kHz frequency. Their round up of South American news included an item about Bolivia and an election poll from Brazil. Finally, I was entranced by some enticing North African music interspersed with a news item in French, which I guess was RFI, on 17860kHz.

So there we have it, in my eyes a simple short session or two with a basic radio can give you so much enjoyment and entertainment as well as an eye opening glimpse of the world around us. 


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Radio Caroline (North) at 50


It was exhilarating to go aboard the Lightship Planet in Liverpool this week, the host boat for Radio Caroline North’s month-long RSL (Restricted Service Licence). Nicely rigged out with Caroline insignia and slogans and a 30m mast, the ship was proving popular with radio anoraks and the public in general.

It’s moored there in Canning Dock usually anyway, as a café and bar, but it was the first time I had boarded a free radio /pirate radio/offshore radio ship, which meant a lot to me. Ok, I know it’s all legal this time around but let me have my daydreams please.

I was too young to know of Radio Caroline and the other 1960s offshore stations at the time but fully appreciate that they changed the face of radio in the UK and beyond forever. At the time there was no radio choice other than the 3 BBC radio stations (Home, Light and third Programme)- rather too staid for most of the youth of the day, and only Radio Luxembourg on 208 in hours of darkness with any pop music at all- and that was all pay per play by the big record companies. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of websites and accounts of the offshore days, so if this is all new to you, just look them up for far better details than my scant post here.

Radio Caroline North on 87.7 MHz (and streaming online at) this time around was playing old school , music,  Leonard Cohen, Pink Floyd, some 60s rock and roll I didn't know but the spirit of free radio was alive: technical problems persisted too, with the generator periodically cutting out, and a host of workmen lugging on massive wooden table tops and legs to refurbish the ship’s entertainment areas for when it reverts to being just a café and bar once Caroline North has gone.


Terry Lennaine rounding off "The Afternoon Cruise" programme

The gift shop was well stocked with a range of t shirts, stickers, key rings, 50th anniversary pens, CDs and a mini library’s worth of offshore radio books and it was great to look around the production rooms and studio. Some rather lovely polished wooded sleeping quarters too.

I realised that my era of Caroline was the mid 1980’s version on medium wave, playing plenty of album tracks and a firm favourite of mine in my car, as I drove around London suburbs or on day trips to the Brighton coast. I hadn’t heard Caroline on a real radio, over the airwaves, for the best part of 30 years; so it was a joyful trip home from Liverpool to Salford hearing Emily Play, Brass in Pocket and some lesser known but quality music on Carl England’s The Beat Goes On.


Of course, nowadays this type of music is far removed from the cutting edge, but the spirit of pirate radio continues, with today’s youth playing sounds that the dull commercial stations and BBC steer away from or have no idea of. I was tuned to free radio station Mixology, based in the Manchester area on  101.4 MHz at the weekend, and it’s stations like this and another Manchester station Buzz 88 that carry the future of free radio. Hand in hand are the long time established free radio stations such as Merseyland Alternative Radio and the shortwave pirates in the 48 metre band.

Links: 



Monday, 3 March 2014

Appealing apps

Extracts from my Radio Websites columns, Radio User, 2014


There are two smartphone apps that I have become reliant on. TV Catch up and Tune In Radio. TV Catch up has enabled me to watch television on my phone, be it wrapped up warm in bed on a winter’s night or sitting in the shade of a balcony on a summer evening (and pretty much everywhere else in between too).  http://www.tvcatchup.com/android.html   and http://www.tvcatchup.com/ plus on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tvcatchupcom

It offers around 50 television channels and although the app is called “catch up” that’s a slight misnomer, as it is actually live broadcasts that you watch. No matter, I have enjoyed the regular BBC output plus other Freeview channels such as Quest tv (Freeview channel 38)-I imagine many readers are fans of Drew Pritchard the Salvage Hunter on this channel? http://www.questtv.co.uk/shows/salvage-hunters/  and http://www.drewpritchard.co.uk/

TV Catch up, best of all for me, offers the two channels Euro News (which has now been replaced by an English speaking China station) and NHK Japan. Broadcasting in English, by regularly watching a combination of both you can keep informed on news stories and features from Europe and Asia that the mainstream tv stations seem to neglect http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/tv/genre/ and  http://www.euronews.com/news/streaming-live/

The Tune In app, which I mentioned a couple of years back, now offers 70,000 radio stations, and even more than that http://tunein.com/. The more I play around with this app the more I discover. You start by doing the obvious searching for a radio station by title, country or genre. Local FM from Papua New Guinea or Bolivia, the news from New Zealand or a feature from Fiji?  Or if you prefer, just the mainstream UK and US local radio fare. 

That is all incredible enough and is, dare I say, the closest that the modern generation is going to get to the DX thrill us long timers enjoy on analogue platforms. You can also search by typing the name of a show, drama, musician or a subject matter and up comes one, sometimes dozens, of programmes for you to hear there and then. 

ROK is a British based drama and comedy station along the lines of BBC Radio 4 Extra with the unlikely URL of http://pumpkinfm.com/ and there is plenty of old time US radio drama as well- by station or show. Anyone fancy a dramatic evening with Philip Marlow or Sam Spade? http://tunein.com/radio/Philip-Marlow-p63667/ and http://tunein.com/radio/Adventures-Of-Sam-Spade-p195403/

The World Radio Network (who celebrated 21 years in 2013) has a nifty widget to download for your computer desktop which enable you to stay tuned to their fantastic and varied relayed output of stations around the world. It’s at http://www.wrn.org/listeners/, or if you prefer, it can be found streaming live on Tune In. 

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

UNESCO World Radio Day, Thursday 13 February


This year’s UNESCO World Radio Day is Thursday 13 February.


There will be live programmes form Paris on a variety of networks and stations including Radio France Internationale, Radio National de Espaňa, Radio Orient,  China Radio International, WYNU New York.


I expect any radio station of note will also be marking the day with some quality themed programming covering this, so listen out on Radio Sweden, BBC World Service, Radio Romania International, All India Radio etc. 

But don’t expect your local commercial stations Bland FM to bother… it might interrupt a traffic bulletin or the 7th playing that day of an already overexposed artiste…

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Long wave lights up



Extracts from my Broadcast Matters column, Radio User, February 2014


A programme I have been enjoying of late is on 252kHz long wave, which is of course where you will find RTE 1. On Sundays at six comes The History Show, which is packed full of high quality content. Hosted by Myles Dungan and guest, the past is brought to life as historical events from Medieval times to the recent present are explored. Interviews with interesting experts (and sometimes the public) and book reviews make for a gripping programme with good reception. What more could you ask for? A recent fascinating programme was about the MV Kerlogue, which was a small coaster of the Wexford Steamship company that came to fame by rescuing a multitude of German sailors whose ship had been sunk in World War II. Another programme looked at the history of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, first published in 1768 by Edinburgh bookseller Colin MacFarquhar and engraver Andrew Bell.

Graham Smith reports that Ukraine has reactivated its medium wave station on 936kHz. It runs from 0330 to 2200UTC daily, and it is moderately strong at his location. The Czech long wave station on 270kHz is to close at the end of February 2014. Currently the transmitter carries the Radiožurnál channel, and the schedule is 0400 to 2300 UTC from Mondays to Fridays and 0500 to 2300 UTC at the weekends.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Komla Dumor a silent voice - BBC World Service's Network Africa



I wanted to add my brief thoughts to the many who have shed a tear for the untimely passing of BBC WS Komla Dumor.

For many years in fairly recent times (that is 2006-09 and BBC WS programme Network Africa) he was my dawn to breakfast companion, so to say, with my waking to the BBC WS on my bedside radio every morning. His dependable delivery style, humour and fabulous radio voice made the news stories engaging and listenable, no matter how awful or sick the actual stories continued to be. How sad that he too would come to be one of those tragic tales himself as he made the headlines at the weekend.

He will be missed – a voice that echoed from Bush House’s studios and corridors (and later Broadcasting House) across the airwaves and the internet to a waiting world. R.I.P.


As a small tribute I looked back fondly on some of his tweets:

2013: Alice Baxter has gone shopping for her husband. I'm taking over in studio B at broadcasting house


2013: Madiba's fav joke w his son in law involves a trip to W/Africa and a goat. Personal insight from Isaac Amuah


2013: A big thank you to colleagues @BBCAfrica @BBCWorld who have been so supportive 


2011: Lovely Easter Sunday-heading to Bush house listening to Wiz Khalifa..World Today on BBC world service Monday morning


2011: back at Bush House! New schedule for the World Today BBC World Service Radio.Julian Keane is in Nairobi join us from 0300GMT to 0830GMT


Friday, 3 January 2014

QSL cards and reception reports

Extracts from my Radio Websites columns, Radio User, 2014


Howard Barnett picked up a Trans World Radio (TWR) transmission from India in an unidentified language of that country. He doesn’t give a frequency or time, but he would like a postal address and, as they issue QSL cards, you can write to TWR India, PO Box 4310, Delhi 110019, India. Simpler still you can email them at info@twr.in. TWR India broadcast in an amazing array of almost 60 languages and dialects to Asia, many of which are new to me. For instance there’s 15 minutes a week in Awadhi, 15 in Bondo, Haryanvi, KuiMouchi, Tulu and Varli. There is some English to be heard on TWR India as well- far more than 15 minutes a week but last year’s winter schedule for English was only on 882kHz medium wave.  

However this frequency was heard in February by a Finnish DXer surprisingly, see and hear for yourself at http://www.twrbonaire.com/news/view/67/2013/02-02/qsl-request-from-finland  

There are also TWR broadcasts in English to Europe; from 0800 to 0820 UTC on Saturdays and Sundays and a little longer on weekdays, from 0800 to 0850 UTC. All these broadcasts use 7400kHz via Moosbrunn in Austria and 6105kHz from the Nauen transmitter in Germany.
Their European office is in Vienna,  Trans World RadioPostfach 141A-1235 Vienna, Austria. 

Starting in 1952, in total TWR now preach “hope to the world” in an astonishing 230 languages and dialects, which brings them 20,000 listener responses every month. 

Romania celebrated 85 years of broadcasting in 2013, and the final QSL card of their 2013 series is now available. It’s of a radio studio in in the city of Resita. The series tied in with their anniversary, consisting of Romanian radio buildings, including concert halls, studios. The nicest card of the dozen, in my view was October 2013’s ancient radio office block in the city of Targu Mures. 

Howard heard a station which he believes was from Bangladesh on 15505kHz from 1530 to 1550 UTC. This was probably their Hindu broadcast. Bangladesh Betar can be heard in  English, if you are lucky, at 1230 to 1300 UTC on 15105kHz from Dhaka; 1235 to 1255 and 1530 to 1545 UTC on 4750kHz from Shavar; and from 1745 to 1900 UTC from Dhaka on 7250kHz. Reception reports can be posted to Senior Engineer, Research & Receiving Centre, Bangladesh Betar, 121 Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue, Shabag, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh and emailed to rrc@dhaka.net  

Radio PCJ International from Taiwan (9705kHz at 1330 UTC) issued a Halloween QSL card for those who sent reception reports of the PCJ rebroadcast of War of The Worlds- it features Martians on a lake. Radio Havana Cuba’s Spanish service also issued a commemorative QSL card for the 75th anniversary of the Orson Welles’ classic radio play.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Kitchen radio


A simple swirl along the dial at this time of year brings a host of wonderful variety from European stations. 

For me, baking festive treats in the kitchen and wrapping up last minute presents are made all the sweeter with an ear tuned to some of the following stations’ own festive fare:

Mayak Radio on 549kHz from Russia; Czech Radio from Prague on 639kHz; Croatian Radio on 1134kHz and Magyar Radio 4 from Hungary on 1188kHz are just a few suggestions. At the very least you will surely hear the strong signals from stations in Germany, Spain, France and the Netherlands beaming out on medium wave. They can light up a dark evening as they reach the British Isles too.

I have been tuning into medium wave a lot lately- there’s something about the winter nights that adds to the atmosphere of mw for me- as I listen I picture swathes of historical regions of Europe blanketed in snow. On Saturday nights Deutschlandfunk on 1422kHz airs a play. Even though my understanding of German is weak, I can get a feel of the programme and I can sometimes eke out some of the storyline (especially with some online research and preparation in advance). 

Recent delights from DLF have included a play called Russian Salad which was supposedly set at the BBC in London. A Russian presenter drops dead at the mike during a live broadcast. Chaos breaks out among the editors, less because of the death as how to fill, pardon the pun, dead air. It is determined the presenter was poisoned… Another play was about a trapeze artist from Bristol and another about a gambler who is kidnapped in Hollywood. It’s gripping stuff in any language.

Other medium wave frequencies that I pick up clearly on the car radio as well as on a basic kitchen set include Czech Radio on 954khz. Radio Maria from Lopik in the Netherlands on 675kHz plays a mix of folk and religious music, Dutch station NOR5 on 747kHz from Flevo has news bulletins which you can pick out odd sentences of and translate quite easily. The old Radio Sweden frequency of 1179kHz is used by various stations from Antenne Saar in Germany including Radio France International at 1700 UTC. 

For a selection of French music try France bleu on 864kHz while France Info delivers interesting programmes on 945 and 792kHz among others. BBC Radio Scotland is always an entertaining listen for me and easy to catch on medium wave from here in the north of England on its 810kHz frequency.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

A little Latin

Extracts from my Radio Websites columns, Radio User, 2013

This time we go a little Latin with some Argentinean and Brazilian radio stations, dip into some blogs to review logbooks and radios new and old, and finish off with a wide selection of readers' website tips. She finishes off in a time machine to the 1950s.

Stations and shows
I've long been a big fan of shortwave stations Radiodifusión Argentina al Exterior (RAE), the international radio and online service of Radio Nacional Argentina. But it's not always easy to hear on shortwave so the World Radio Network online option is something I turn to at www.wrn.org/ Other options include the RAE website at http://rae.radionacional.com.ar/  

and there are two sites for the wonderful Latin Jumpstart music programme; on Facebook and Soundcloud https://www.facebook.com/LatinJumpstart and https://soundcloud.com/latinjumpstart Latin Jumpstart is presented by Fernando Farias, DJ G Mega, Melanie Henderson every Friday evening at 11.30pm on the RAE channel of Argentina's Radio Nacional. www.radionacional.com.ar/vivo/4-rae

Feeling in need of some Brazilian music as well I turned to Streema to start my journey to the land of the samba and so much more. http://streema.com/radios/country/
Brazil offered me a good choice. Radio Paqueire at http://streema.com/radios/Radio_Paiquere_FM and www.paiquerefm.com.br/ was a good start, playing as it did some Brazilian ballads and tunes to brighten the gloomiest of days.  Nova Brasil FM in Sao Paulo on 89.7 delivered me folk, samba and bossa nova http://www.novabrasilfm.com.br/

Tune In, with 70,000 global stations, unsurprisingly showed me one thousand Brazilian stations, some of which were western rock but most were offering local musical fare. I hasten to add that I am yet to work my way through all 1,000 but would gladly do so if I had time. A little project for the autumn perhaps...Start at http://tunein.com/radio/Brazilian-Music-g137/  I enjoyed Rádio Samba dos Gêmeos at http://sambadosgemeos.com/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sambao.dosgemeos. I kid you not, as soon as I clicked onto the station and the music started streaming, the sun came out! The music was a little too cheesy and mainstream at times for me, but I would persevere. Likewise Rádio Planalto do Oeste AM 1490 www.radioplanaltodooeste.com.br/

Thursday, 24 October 2013

QRM and NZ

Extracts from my Radio Websites columns, Radio User, 2013

Two other recommendations from Ian Brothwell are this video on QRM (interference).
Thilo Kootz DL9KCE, of Deutscher Amateur-Radio-Club (DARC), demonstrates findings when they tested a range of LED lamps. http://www.ukqrm.org.uk/lighting.php. In a different mood, watch a rather nice video of moon rise over Wellington, New Zealand on Mark Gee’s Vimeo channel http://vimeo.com/58385453 

Why not tune to radio from Wellington et al online as you watch, or select from other kiwi stations. A handy guide is at http://www.nzradioguide.co.nz/

Also, I found an interesting "design a radio" NZ competition (see photo above) at 
http://bestawards.co.nz/entries/interactive/category/interactive-marketing/radio-new-zealand-sounds-like-us-competition-website/

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Tape Recording Magazine

Extracts from my Radio Websites columns, Radio User, 2013

Ian Brothwell was going through some old magazines that came from the house of a relation and found a copy of 'Tape Recording Magazine' from April 1967. (the issue above dates from 1966).

The April 1967 cover shows a lady listening to a Van der Molen cassette recorder, which it looks a neat unit. The magazine says that the left speaker is actually removable from the unit - it is in a box inside the left side of the cabinet behind a dummy grille - for improved stereo separation.

The caption to the cover reads: "The attractive lady is none other than ballerina Amina Hanafy. Well known for her work with Covent Garden Opera, Sadler's Wells and Carla Rosa Opera, she listens with professional interest to the sound produced by one of the latest cassette machines, the Sonic 8. Designed and made in this country by Van der Molen, it is based on the Philips Compact Cassette mechanism and offers full stereo record and play-back facilities. The left-hand speaker can be stored within the cabinet when not in use, but is provided with a long extension cable to ensure adequate separation from the right-hand channel for stereo reproduction. Impressed by the smart, modern appearance of the equipment, Amina loves the simplicity of cassettes." The Sonic 8 cost 49 guineas.


So far, so good. I guessed that Amina was in her thirties and I wondered what she was doing today. I did a search and found this. www.thenational.ae/arts-culture/the-heir-hunters-the-remarkable-story-of-joyce-amina-hanafy Hmmm. I wasn't expecting that end to her story. Copies of Tape Recording magazine sometimes appear for sale on eBay, in fact there were half a dozen from the 1960s the week I wrote this, all starting at £2.99.

If you would like to buy copies of all Tape Recording magazine plus two other similar British journals from the same era, head to the Australian website http://www.bassboy.com.au/getreel/tapemags3.htm  where you can buy electronic versions of Amateur Tape Recording, The Tape Recorder (becoming Studio Sound in late 1970) and Tape Recording Magazine. 

At 190 Australian dollars that might seem expensive but it probably isn’t, although I am always unsure about copyright issues here. Having said that I did buy some DVDs a few years back containing about 25 years worth of the satirical US Mad magazine. Maybe it’s a grey area.