Sunday, 6 March 2011
Broadcast Matters: Long, Medium and Short wave. March 2011
with Chrissy Brand, published in RadioUser March 2011, PW Publishing Ltd
Chrissy Brand brings you a selection of the best from the broadcast bands with news and readers’ logs. This month she proves that there is still plenty of diversity and quality to be heard on the bands, from Taiwan Fisheries Service radio to the news from Zambia; North American medium wave catches and some of the regular giants of shortwave.
Good news on shortwave
Radiodifusion Argentina al Exterior (RAE) was reported to be closing on shortwave, but the good news is that it will remain on air. The proposed closure (which was expected as last month’s issue went to press) was not strictly due to financial pressures that have applied to other stations leaving the bands, but rather for technical reasons. Their 100kw shortwave transmitter at General Pacheco near Buenos Aires, contained PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyl), a refrigerating material used for electric circuits which had recently been banned by the Argentinean authorities (It is banned in Europe and North America) However, government funding has been allocated for either treating the transmitter, or to use another one, so make the most of this and try tuning to RAE’s English service at 1800 UTC on weekdays on 15345 kHz. The station can be contacted by email at these two addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com (the latter was set up when rumours of a closure began).
Such instant communication means are a far cry from its founding days in April 1949 by President Juan Peron, when the radio station was known by another acronym: SIRA (Servicio Internacional de la República Argentina). After the 1955 coup RAE replaced SIRA and these days it broadcasts in French, German, Japanese, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese as well as English.
Radio Mexico International was relaunched in January and plans to add English, French and some indigenous South American languages to accompany its current Spanish broadcasts in due course. Mexico was previously on shortwave until 2004. Monitoring Times Shortwave Central and Radio Netherlands’ Media Network reports that “a special radio station was launched in 2009 to mark the 200th anniversary of Mexican independence. Now the technical base of this channel has become the basis for the resumption of the new Radio México Internacional.” The signals will mostly be heard in the Americas and are carried on 5985 and 9705kHz from 1300 to 1700 UTC and 2000 to 0500 UTC.
Also aimed mostly at the Americas is the resurrection of Radio Slovakia International, which left shortwave at the end of last year. This is due to an agreement with Radio Miami International (WRMI) which relays many other programmes and stations such as the PCJ Happy Station Show and Adventist World Radio’s Wavescan. A transmission slot for Radio Slovakia’s English broadcast has been found from 0130 to 0200 UTC, and is aired Tuesdays to Saturdays on the WRMI frequency of 9955 kHz. There is a special QSL card being issued for these Radio Slovakia relays, and reports can be posted to Radio Miami International, P.O. Box 526852, Miami, Florida 33152, USA, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org But it’s unlikely to be heard in Europe as it is on a beam of 160 degrees aimed at the Caribbean and Latin America.
The British DX Club report that in Africa the Zambian National Broadcasting Corporation is back on shortwave, reported on frequencies of 5915kHz in local languages and 6162kHz n English. Try tuning in from 1700 UTC for Newsreel in English, which is part of their 0250 to 2200 UTC English broadcast, on 6162kHz. The station address is ZNBC, Mass Media Complex, Alick Nkhata Road, P.O. Box 50015, Lusaka, Zambia.
Radio Free Asia has brought out a new QSL card. The current one is its 35th and will be issued for correct reception reports until 31 March. It features the Chinese Year of the Rabbit which commenced in February. The station has been logged recently on the following frequencies and times by members of the British DX Club: 5860kHz at 1500 UTC in Korean, 7490 and 9875kHz at 2130 in Chinese, 11590kHz at 1215 in Tibetan. You can email reception reports to email@example.com or write to Reception Reports, Radio Free Asia, 2025 M. Street NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036, USA.
Readers’ Reports: Medium Wave
Paul Barnett from Loughborough reports that conditions for MW transatlantic DX were very good around the turn of the year. He pulled in a quite a few Canadian and American stations which included CTFR all news radio in Toronto on 680 kHz just after midnight.
Other catches included CFZM 740 from Toronto, which is known as Zoomer Radio and is perhaps the only remaining adult standards formatted station in North America that broadcasts on a 50,000-watt clear channel signal. A good one to listen out for. Paul also caught WWZN 1510 from Boston, which describes itself as a progressive new voice. Its all-talk format has three strands: 1510 Revolution Radio is standard talk radio by day, sports coverage is called 1510 The Zone and overnight (local time) carries religion, known as 1510 Victory Radio. Pete writes that he has not “been lucky enough to hear any signals on the extended MW band as yet though.” This is the 1610 to 1700 kHz stretch of the band. He did however hear Anguilla’s Caribbean Beacon on 1610 kHz. This religious station is owned by the University Network in the USA and is on-air with talk, music and preaching 24 hours a day.
Paul signs off with information on the receivers he used which were “a Sony ICFSW55 and my 25 year old Sony ICF2001D with its 32 memories, wow! It just goes to show how technology has moved on since then.”
Tim Bucknall has sent in a lot of impressive mw logs for use in this column. This month I will just look at some of the Asian catches. The logs are actually a joint effort, as they were made by John Faulkner in Skegness on a Perseus, which he passed onto Tim for analysis. The Perseus is a software defined receiver used in conjunction with a personal computer. Logs include these South Korean stations: KBS 2 from Namyang on 603 kHz at 1500 UTC, KBS 1 from Gungneung on 864kHz at 1400 UTC, CBS from Seoul on 837kHz at 1500 UTC and KBS 1 from Jinju on 1098kHz at 1500 UTC. A Voice of America broadcast with the familiar Yankee Doodle Dandy signature tune was picked up emanating from Poro Point in the Philippines on 1170kHz at 1700 UTC, and on 1143kHz at 1500 UTC BEC3, the Taiwan Fisheries Service from Baisha was heard with a clear identification albeit a weak signal. One of the interesting stations yet to be identified, but which could possibly be Radio Thailand, was on 891kHz at 1500 UTC, where an Asian station above Radio Netherlands was heard with a pan pipe version of “Whiskey in the Jar.” Tim also got some huge signals from China including 1521kHz at 1500 with China Radio International from Urumqi in China which was “almost as strong as local BBC Lincolnshire!”
Simon Rudd in Stretford has also had an ear out for medium wave signals and his catches include Deutschlandfunk on 756 and 1269kHz, the Voice of Croatia from Zadar on 1134kHz in Croat, Dutch stations Radio 5 from Zeewolde on 747 kHz and Radio Maria Nederland on 675 from Lopik, and Radio Algerienne in Arabic on 531 kHz.
Readers’ Reports: Short Wave
Richard Cooke was pleased to receive his 2011 Voice of America calendar in the post but surprised to also receive four late QSL cards for reports he had sent to VOA back in June 2010. He also had his calendar from Radio Taiwan International arrive early in the year.
A QSL card from Radio Cotton Tree News from late October popped onto his door mat six weeks later and as Richard comments “it pays never to give up on these far flung small stations.” Cotton Tree News is a partnership between the NGO Fondation Hirondelle and the University of Sierra Leone, funded by the European Union and the Governments of Germany and Ireland. It broadcasts in FM in Freetown Sierra Leone and on shortwave too- try 15220kHz, with a range of programmes such as Earth Talk, and Focus on Education.
Vic Prier in Devon found propagation to improve at the end of 2010 with a variety of stations coming in from Africa, “not all of them identifiable but better than it was at the beginning of the month with just noise.” He also updates us with some views on the receivers he uses. “I find the Ten Tec SDR receiver is boring so I set it up to watch a particular frequency via the spectrum analyser and use the Fairhaven to trawl through the bands. I dread the day when the Fairhaven goes ‘phutt’ for I have yet to see a receiver that I can afford with so many facilities built on, with 12 reception modes plus 6 sub modes and no less than 26 VFOs. The one thing I do hate about it is the horrid little multi function push buttons suitable for a 5 year old’s tiny fingers but not mine. I can push two buttons at the same time with one finger!”
Fred Wilmhurst in Northampton has sent in a set of logs showing the breadth of the stations out there if you are patient. He picked up Radio Taiwan International on their reliable 3965kHz at 1800 UTC, a signal which booms in via Issoudon in France and is my own regular six o’clock mealtime accompaniment. You can contact Taiwan with your views on their programmes and reception reports on a form at their website www.english.rti.org.tw. At the time of writing the station is gearing up for Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations.
Radio Australia on 9475kHz at 1530 with a 444 SIO, Radio Pakistan at 1100 on 15100 kHz and the Voice of Greece (in Greek) with a 555 SIO on 9420kHz at 1905 were amongst the other logs from Fred. He also heard Radio PMR, the rather enigmatic station from Moldova. He heard them at 2050 UTC on 6240kHz clearly with a 455 SIO in English. If you pick them up remember to drop them a line. Radio PMR is currently asking for listeners to send correspondence via ordinary mail, and not giving their email address on air, which I must say is rather a refreshing change. They do however request a self-addressed envelope when you write and presumably an International Reply coupon is also required. Radio PMR, Rozy Lyuksemburg 10, MD-3300 Tiraspol, Moldova.
Owen Rutherford in London reports that Moldova’s neighbour Romania are always an easy catch. See the logs for various frequencies. He adds that he was amused to hear that Radio Romania International’s personality of the year for 2010 was split- 33 ways! The Chilean miners rescued last October won the radio station’s annual award.
Simon Rudd in Stretford has sent me many pages of excellent logs that would fill a column all on their own, so I am selecting a few. Simon was delighted to pick up Iran’s state broadcaster VOIRI, the Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in German. It was swamped at first by a China Radio International broadcast but that signed off on the hour, leaving VOIRI German to identify itself with clear station IDs and references to Iran. English from Iran was picked up by Vic Prier and Lindsey Branigan from 2000 UTC on 6010kHz and these evening broadcasts are a nice shortwave staple these days. Simon also enjoyed three hour log broadcast from the Voice of Nigeria, which he describes as “fascinating.” Tune into 15120 kHz. He has also enjoyed some weekend DXing to the sounds of free radio station Mersey Alternative Radio on 1314kHz with broadcasts up until midnight, and HCJB Global on 15440kHz.
Thanks as always to all contributors and readers.
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