First published in Radio User, PWP May 2011 www.pwpublishing.ltd.uk/
Chrissy Brand looks at a wide range of websites with a radio connection. This month she covers some offbeat musical programmes, sounds of Syria, blogs from the Far East and more.
A date for your diary is the annual National Vintage Communications Fair on Sunday 15 May 2011. Held on the outskirts of lovely Leamington Spa it is “an antique-type collectors fair specialising in early technology and featuring thousands of rare and collectable items such as early radios, television receivers, gramophones, telephones, classic valve hi-fi and all manner of electrical and mechanical antiques & collectables.”
I have visited a few times and always had an enjoyable (and sometimes expensive!) day out. More details are at http://www.nvcf.org.uk/
Musical mystery tours
I am a great one for hunting down and enjoying all kinds of esoteric music and programmes online, and I am glad to discover I am not alone. Let me introduce you to Andy Preece’s World of Pop website, which has more to it than you might think from the name alone. Its guide to international music shows is very useful but there is even more to discover. http://www.andypreece.co.uk/music/
Amongst his preferences are BBC Radio 3’s Early Music show, which is more about early musical instruments than the time of day it is aired. www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006tn49 Another BBC programme he recommend is Radio Foyle’s Electric Mainline. This is a weekly alternative show promoting unsigned bands and new talent, presented by Stephen MacCauly. www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/radiofoyle/programmes/electric/ But these are just the tip of a very large iceberg of Andy’s tastes. You really need to explore it for yourself, but who could resist clicking on links such as The Britney Spears Guide to semiconductor physics. http://britneyspears.ac/lasers.htm Or the Saw Lady, which is Natalia Paruz’s website, promoting her musical talents with the Austrian pitched cowbells, English hand bells and, yes, a carpenter’s saw. It’s not a spoof, as she has played with orchestras and at venues around the world. http://www.sawlady.com/
Whilst following the crises in Japan I stumbled across this rather good Japanese music website, which is helpfully written in English, being based in Denver, Colorado. It is called “Japan A Radio” but is not somewhere to turn to for the latest news from Japan. However it is a good place to visit for the Japanese pop classical and chart music. If you are intrigued by the sound of acts such as Ayumi Hamasaki, Kirito and Hikaru Utada then click your way over to http://www.japanaradio.com/
Perhaps more familiar sounds will be heard when you go to the rather ominous sounding Delicious Agony website. This internet-only radio station concentrates on progressive rock music and was established over ten years ago. http://deliciousagony.com/
Syria is the latest country to hit the headlines as I write this and the state broadcaster
Radio Damascus can be heard on shortwave and via a website at http://www.radio-damascus.net/ with podcasts and QSL cards. There is also a Yahoo group for listeners at http://www.radio-damascus-listeners-club.tk/
If you want to hear more stations from Syria I recommend the always excellent and regularly updated Live Radio Net. This website has links to thousands of broadcast radio stations (rather than internet-only stations) from all around the world and is the perfect place to start an online audio odyssey. Just head for http://www.live-radio.net/ and click your way to the continent and countries you want to hear.
Syrian Stations you can hear are Al Madina FM (The City FM) with Arabian pop and oldies http://www.almadinafm.com/ ; Arabesque with a variety format at www.arabesque.fm/ , Rotana Style with music and talk http://rotanastyle.com/rotana/ and Sawt el Shabab (Sound of the young). You can support and promote the Live Radio Net website by buying badges and sew on patches too.
Books and blogs
A book that recently came my way is entitled Hitler’s Radio War. Written by Roger Tidy, it is a very good read and has had me enthralled as a bedtime read for the past couple of weeks. It certainly has led to some strange but vivid nightmares, in black and white, about propaganda radio stations. With background to all the strange stations that were on air and the miscellany of ex-patriots and disaffected prisoners of war who became the on-air talent, it is gripping stuff.
It covers stations such as Workers Challenge and the New British Broadcasting Station and presenters like Rita Zucca (Axis Sally) and Joe Scanlon. There are also useful explanations and definitions, including this: “The Second World War expert Sefton Delmer identified three types of radio propaganda: black, white and grey. ‘White’ stations such as the BBC and the RRG [German state broadcaster of the time] were open about their allegiance; ‘black’ stations pretended to represent one side while surreptitiously serving another; and ‘grey’ stations – probably the most subtle of all-typically made no claims about their origin.”
Published by Robert Hale earlier this year it has a recommended retail price of £20 but if you search online you can get it cheaper. http://www.halebooks.com/
Amongst the blogs I have been reading this past month are these fine five, which include three from Asia. We start with Md. Azizul Alam Al-Amin in Bangladesh who writes a Radio Listening blog and peppers it with good photography, insight and information on international radio. Still in his 30s he is also published regularly in the radio press around the world. http://sw-radio.blogspot.com/
TL Beyel in Malaysia runs a blog with a south-east Asian perspective ”dedicated to the bona fide radiohead.” It’s a glimpse into what stations can be heard in that part of the world and beyond, both nowadays and in the past. The blog is amply supported by a good QSL gallery and a nostalgia section which includes a wonderfully atmospheric piece on stations picked up in the USA in the 1970s.
I’ll include a taster for you here and leave you to read the entire blog. “Aside from KFML, another great station was KVOD. With its transmitter located high atop Ruby Hill in Denver, announcers John Wolfe and Gene Amole introduced me to the classical music world of Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Rossini et al. I remember especially well Amole broadcasting in Larimer Square. He called his segment In The Square at Café Promenade and birds twittered in the background while he chatted up his audience. ...These guys had panache, and were just as classy as the music they played for their listeners. In the Seventies, both AM and FM radio listeners in Denver had a choice of non-English speaking stations too. The city’s diverse ethnic demographics created a niche radio market for Spanish, Greek and German programming. Daily broadcasts over KBNO, Denver’s first Spanish language station, served a sizeable Hispanic community and provided a voice for Hispanic music artists. On Sundays, an hourly Greek language programme opened and closed its show with a lively bouzouki rendition of Zorba the Greek. Aside from topics of interest to the Hellenic community, listeners heard Greek pop music and commercials for The Athenian restaurant. Gunter Auerbach hosted Musical Greetings from Germany on Sundays as well.” http://shortwavedxer.blogspot.com/2010
As a big fan of Radio Taiwan International I complement my listening to their shortwave broadcasts by subscribing to their blog, called Hear in Taiwan It offers a tantalising glimpse into life in Tawain , from grocery shopping and 24 hour bakeries in downtown Taipei to remote villages. The posts are short and succinct yet manage to conjure up vivid imagery and tastes for me. http://blog.rti.org.tw/english/
“From the Radio Shack” is the name of a blog in Sweden. To be more exact it is a group of some radio enthusiasts who share a DX shack in Hälsingland, 350 kms north of Stockholm. I like the fact that anyone who happens to be there will post a blog of their findings, be they humdrum or rare. For example “A sunset opening towards Peru about 22.30 UTC and good signals from some Puerto Rico and later on Colombian stations. But at our dawn and sunrise it was a great disappointment. Nothing from the Andes, nothing from the West Indies. Nothing from North America. The only remaining station in the morning was Radio Vibración (and a week signal from Puerto Cabello).” www.radioenthusiasts.blogspot.com/
Nathan Morley is a journalist based in Cyprus and contributes to radio stations as diverse as Vatican Radio and LBC. His blog can be a good read and is at the Cyprus Mail newspaper