Sunday, 31 July 2011

An exotic air

First published as part of "Long, Medium and Shortwave Broadcast Matters" in Radio User, PW Publishing, June 2011, www.radiouser.co.uk 

If I have a summer evening indoors then I find a good way to relax is to tune to the General Overseas Service of All India Radio (AIR) at 2045 UTC (1945 BST).

I sit in my favourite chair sipping a cup of Darjeeling, and am transported to the very country where that tea originates from.

7550kHz is a good frequency which usually guarantees an all 4 or even all 5 SIO. The other frequencies at this time are 9445 and 11670kHz. You can also catch a two hour broadcast to Europe earlier in the evening at 1745 to 1945 UTC on 7550 and 11670kHz.

You can contact them by post at GOS AIR, Broadcasting House, Parliament Street, New Delhi, India. There is a reception report form you can complete online at http://www.allindiaradio.org/recepfdk.html  



A recent broadcast was typical, starting with a news summary then one of the station’s intelligent commentaries. This was on the challenges faced by India from the Somali pirates. A programme of Hindustani classical music followed, then a programme on Indian pop music.

Next a feature that I think had the unlikely title of “Persons spaces and things”. There was then an interview with an archaeologist before closing at 2230 UTC. An hour and three quarters of sheer shortwave quality.
I enjoy All India Radio due to its uniqueness- the ambience in the studio does not seem to have changed for as long as I have been listening (and that is more decades than I care to admit).

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Some Summer shortwave schedules



First published as part of  "Long, Medium and Shortwave Broadcast Matters" in Radio User, PW Publishing, June 2011, www.radiouser.co.uk 

A reminder that the British DX Club (BDXC) "Broadcasts In English" guide for the A-11 shortwave season  covers all English broadcasts from end of March to end of October 2011, in UTC time format, with frequencies and target areas, along with other useful information. A handy A5 guide it’s easy to take away with you on your summer travels too. Available from BDXC (BIE), 10 Hemdean Hill, Caversham, Reading, RG4 7SB. It costs £2.50 in the UK for a paper copy (cheques to British DX Club) and it is also available as a pdf version for the same cost. More details at http://www.bdxc.org.uk/


Radio Bulgaria have a range of music and entertainment, DX and listener programmes for your delectation over the summer months. With an audience that stretches from Denmark to New Zealand, Peru to the UK you can contact them by post at English Section, Radio Bulgaria, Sofia, Bulgaria or by e-mail to english@bnr.bg  

They are easily heard on 7400 and 9700kHz at 1730 UTC and 5900 and on 7400kHz for an hour from 2100 UTC. The “Answering your letters” programme does what you would expect, compiled by Rossitsa Petkova. It's nicely seasonal too, way back at Eastertide I heard about the Paschal celebrations in Bulgaria, and how to prepare the special sweet bread called kozunak.

Radio Romania International’s summer schedule for western Europe is quite straightforward, with a morning broadcast on 15210 and 17510kHz from 1100 to 1200 UTC. In the evenings you can tune in on 11735kHz from 1700 to 1800UTC and a half hour from 2030UTC on 11880kHz. You could also try their broadcasts to the east coast of North America for an hour from midnight UTC on 7385 and 9580kHz.


To follow Japan’s post earthquake progress you can turn to NHK Radio Japan at the following times for Europe and Africa until the end of October. 0500 to 0530 UTC on 5975 and 11970kHz and 1400 to 1430 on 21560 kHz.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Mediterranean summer shortwave sounds

Photo: Chrissy Brand: Dorset flag at Lyme Regis beach

First published as part of my monthly column "Long Medium and Shortwave: Broadcast Matters" in Radio User, PW Publishing, July 2011 www.radiouser.co.uk  


Mediterranean sounds
The Mediterranean is a region that northern Europeans quite understandably flock to from May until October. Whether you take a portable radio on your holidays or prefer to tune to the sounds of the Mediterranean from your radio shack, here’s a round-up of some of the English broadcasts you can hear.


Albania is an up and coming tourist destination these days, although I am not sure that their radio station always reflects this. Broadcasting form two transmitter sites in Shijak and Fllake you can hear English to western Europe from 1430 to 1500 UTC on 13625kHz; 1845 to 1900 UTC on 7520 and 13735kHz; 2000 to 2030 UTC on 7465 and 13735kHz. Incidentally, if you fancy hearing Radio Tirana in its mother tongue there are two Albanian broadcasts to western Europe, at 0630 to 0800 UTC on 1458kHz mw and 2030 to 2200 on 9860kHz.


Radio Portugal has been heard easily on shortwave for many years and I often enjoy the music they play on their Portuguese programmes. They send QSL cards too, although recently announced a temporary suspension of shortwave. If you want check on this progress or to see if anyone else jumps into their place, the frequencies allocated to RDP in the current season include 7420, 9715, 9820, 11850, 11905,11940, 11995, 12020, 12060, 13755, 15160, 15180, 15295, 15560, 17575, 21655 kHz. Their address is RDP Internacional, Av. Marechal Gomes da Costa, 371849-030, Lisboa, Portugal.


Syria is still very much in the news and you are not alone if you have been tuning to state broadcaster Radio Damascus to follow developments. Radio Damascus is keen to hear from its listeners. You can write to them at Radio Damascus, P.O. Box 4702, Damascus,


Syrian Arab Republic or send your comments by e-mail to radiodamascusenglish@yahoo.com  Before you can write you’ll need to be able to hear them.

Their English schedule is currently a one hour evening broadcast to Europe on 9330kHz and the irregularly used 12085kHz to North America. Programmes start with a lively Syrian song and a full schedule check with some technical details not given by other stations. There is a surprisingly friendly feel about the station, with the announcers introducing themselves and the technicians on duty, and jovial programme handovers that are more akin to the BBC World Service hour long newscasts.


Once the music finishes the evening proper commences in the form of a news bulletin, complete with a military signature tune. News, as you would expect is from the regime’s point of view and includes sentences such as “The victims and martyrs defending the homeland.”, “the imprisonment of rioters.” and “attacks by arms smuggling groups terrorising the locals and forcing the army to intervene.” Current day news from Palestine as well as historical features on the neighbouring country certainly pull no punches about the Syrian regime’s support of Palestine in their struggle with Israel.


However, I must say I greatly enjoy the music on Radio Damascus- to my British ears it has a very exotic sound, with Middle Eastern instruments and vocals. Musical instruments you will hear coming together to form hypnotic pieces include the oud, rabab, nev, violin and the tableh, or goblet drum. The weekly “From Our Literature” programme with its strange echoes and western classical music background rounds off an interesting hour of programmes.


Mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands are always a popular place to soak up some sunshine and sangria, and I find this is often reflected in the broadcasts of Radio Exterior de España. Reader Geraint Gill heard them in English on 9665kHz at 1920 UTC but there was bad co-channelling with Radio Rossi in Russian on this frequency at that time. You might have better luck if I give the full schedule. If you are burning the midnight oil then the 0000 to 0100 UTC broadcast on 6055kHz to the Americas might be a good place to start. Next up are weekday afternoons with a short news bulletin from 1435 to 1438 UTC on 5970, 11815, 15585, 17595, 17755, 21540 and 21610kHz. We are well served in the evenings however, with an hour long broadcast from 1900 to 2000 UTC on weeknights using 9665 and 11610kHz.

On Saturdays and Sundays this is an hour later and just on 9560kHz. The station states that “The English Language Broadcast of Radio Exterior de España has been on the air since 1944. Our daily broadcasts seek to inform listeners about goings-on in Spain, as well as offer a Spanish perspective on world events. News, sports and weather, presented live, are followed on weekdays by a variety of different programmes on subjects ranging from art and culture to history, politics, and the latest trends.”


The Voice of Turkey is another station that still faithfully transmits its English language programmes into the ether. They are always a good catch and you can be entertained for a good hour or so each night. From the Emirler transmitter you can hear them from 00300 to 0400 UTC on 6165 and 9515kHz. A lunchtime listen is always a nice way to break the day from 1230 to 1330 on 15450 to Europe and the Americas. You may not be able to catch the 1630 broadcast to Asia on 15520kHz but the 1830 to 1930 UTC to Europe on 9785kHz should present few problems. There is a 2030 to 2130 UTC broadcast on 7205kHz for Asia and Australasia, then one for Europe and the Americas from 2200 to 2300TC on 9830kHz. This has been logged by Geraint Gill with a 555 SIO so a good one to aim for.


Programme-wise The Voice of Turkey airs its “DX Corner” on alternate Saturdays but that is just one of many diverse and high quality programmes. “Hues and colours of Anatolia” is one such example, covering history and folklore. I only have to hear its jaunty theme tune to be transported on dusty trails across ancient parts of Turkey.

The Letterbox programme is well received by its listeners and correspondents write from as far away as USA, Italy, Bangladesh, Indonesia, China and India. They are also plagued with many begging letters, or rather begging emails, that they mention on air. I know all stations get these but I don’t know of any that mention them on air!

So why not give the Voice of Turkey something more interesting to talk about in their listeners’ programme, and drop them a line with your brickbats and plaudits, plus your reception reports and questions about Turkey. Email them at englishdesk@trt.net.tr  or write to Voice of Turkey, PO Box 33306443, Yenişehir, Ankara, Turkey.

St. Petersburg summer nights

It’s worthwhile tuning to the Voice of Russia as they cover the summer cultural festivals in St Petersburg. The White Nights festival celebrates the long light evenings in the city at this time of year. Programmes such as Music and Musicians with presenters Olga Fyodorova and Olga Shapovalova provide over 45 minutes of interesting material, just one of many musical programmes. See also: http://www.saint-petersburg.com/weather/summer.asp

Try the following times: 0600 to 0700 UTC on 1323kHz mw and 15405kHz; 0700 to 0900 UTC on 1251, 1323 and 15405kHz; 1400 to 1500 UTC on 1251, 4975 and 11500kHz; 11985 and 12040kHz should see you through the rest of the afternoon and evening, then at 2200 UTC try 9800kHz.



You can contact the station by email world@ruvr.ru  and by post to Voice of Russia, 25 Pyatnitskaya St., Moscow, 115326, Russia. If you go to the contact page on their website you can even print out a Freepost envelope to send a letter free of charge. Although not sure why yu would do this - if you can communicate by email then surely you would, or you would write a traditional letter and just post it. Anyway... http://english.ruvr.ru/

Friday, 8 July 2011

Radio Websites July 2011

First published in Radio User  http://www.radiouser.co.uk/  
Chrissy Brand looks at a wide range of websites with a radio connection. This month she chooses some lesser known stations, looks at the Seattle radio dial, hears some suitable summer sounds, picks some podcasts and finds curious cameras down under.



Are you looking to get away from it all to somewhere you can appreciate stunning scenery and wildlife, and also enjoy unrivalled radio reception? If so, then Lapland awaits you. DX veteran Mika Makelainen, informs us that the Aihkiniemi cabin in northern Finland, built last summer by DXers is now available to rent out. It is equipped with kitchen, bathroom, bedroom for two and a radio room, plus an array of one km long Beverage antennas. Check it out at www.dxing.info/dxpeditions/aihkiniemi_dx_cabin_for_rent




Radio near and far
Domino records is an international record label with an interesting blend of global musical artistes. In June they ran a one week radio station on an RSL (restricted service licence) in London. www.dominorecordco.com/uk/news/  A week of live, independent and international radio was promised and hopefully there will more in the future, as their ethos certainly is a deserving case for a longer licence. The radio station online, which hopefully will continue regardless of the RSL, is at http://dominorad.io/  "In the spirit of such stand-alone broadcasting giants as Radio Caroline, The Peel Show, Rinse FM, The World Service and Women's Hour - and dispensing with such orthodoxies as play lists and compliance - Domino Radio featuring non-stop twenty four hour music, conversation and good times."


IRIN Radio is a station I recently stumbled across on one of my forays into the great unknown that is the worldwide web. http://www.irinnews.org/radio.aspx  They “give a voice to vulnerable communities and provide them with information to make better-informed decisions about their own lives. IRIN Radio produces high-quality programming in local languages on humanitarian issues, ready for broadcast by local stations. The service also provides hands-on training to journalists, developing their production and reporting skills, allowing local radio to serve communities more effectively.” Weekly podcasts are available in English and they make for an educational listen to people’s lives in countries such as Somalia and Uganda.


Whilst on the subject I read a very interesting report on a Rwandan radio station, Radio Salus, at the UNESCO website. Set up with UNESCO and EU funding it is listened to by almost two third of the Rwandan population in addition to a big audience also in neighbouring Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo. The article is a few years old but interesting nonetheless, at http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.phpURL_ID=23502&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html

Or you can search under the “themes” drop down menu for “radio” at http://www.unesco.org/  or put “Radio Salus” into the search box there. Salus is derived from the Latin word "salut", meaning salvation. (left).

Onto Israel next with a retrospective visit by Trudy and Miko Schwartz. Their travels in Israel many decades ago are presented tin several parts. Part 3 includes some fascinating black and white photos of Jerusalem broadcasts in World War II. www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3878149,00.html  It’s part of the “Y Net news Israel at your fingertips” website. http://www.ynetnews.com/  


Australian spies
Radio Australia carried a fascinating feature on an espionage museum in the middle of nowhere. The ABC Rural reporter programme is a unique piece of radio that always fascinates me. If you don’t hear it directly on Radio Australia or World Radio Network, you can get an audio link via the website http://www.abc.net.au/rural/programs/  ABC Radio's Bush Telegraph is another programme worth tuning into or clicking on a link for. The Spy camera museum I referred to is located in the small town of Herberton in northern Queensland. It may be a long way to travel in person but you can manage a virtual visit by going to http://www.spycameramuseum.com.au/  

Cameras from around the world are featured, with some used for aerial surveillance and others disguised as pocket watches, including the 1904 Ticka Watch camera used by Scotland Yard and the US Police. The website blog is a good read with photography related tales. Herberton itself is well worth a virtual tour via the historic mining site http://www.herbertonhistoricvillage.com.au/links  


Radio for all
I have mentioned some of the Radio 4 All podcasts before but as I’m always dipping into this website see what is new I thought I would share some findings http://www.radio4all.net/  

Also known as the A-Info Radio Project, it started way back in 1996 when “grassroots broadcasters, free radio journalists and cyber-activists provided found a way to share radio programmes via the Internet. Their mission statement is “to support and expand the movement for democratic communications worldwide. We exist to be an alternative to the corporate and government media which do not serve struggles for liberty, justice and peace, nor enable the free expression of creativity. The archived material is available to anyone who wants it free of charge.”

It’s a very worthwhile and useful website and resource, that although may not have the bells and whistles of some similar sites, certainly enables the individual to hear a wide range of non-mainstream radio and views. There are lots of ways to find podcasts on this site, and searching by topic gives you a staggering choice. Just work your way around until there’s a podcast you like the sound of. I enjoy The Sunrise Ocean blender, Radio Curious, Radio Free Kansas, Latin Waves and Mellow Madness, amongst many others.


At the other end of the spectrum we have Carmarthenshire Community Radio at http://www.cvcradio.co.uk/  The station gets out and about and has film reviews in a programme called “Good Film Hour”. Local music also makes it an interesting online listen with rather a laid back relaxed atmosphere to it all. This is probably due to the less pressurised time slots that many stations have. Community radio can allow people to voice their views in the time that they need.


Also relaxed but in a different way is Frisky Radio, which is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/friskyRadio  and http://www.friskyradio.com/  

Online for a decade now and with over 90 exclusive shows hosted by artists from bedroom DJs to international superstars they aim to “deliver cutting-edge dance music fuelled by our passion for the genre both online into your living rooms and offline on the dance floor.” It may not sound like they’ll be your cup of tea but some of the music is very lively, thoughtful and listenable. It’s always good to tick another box in the “genres of music I know something about” category.


Performing a similar role is Dance Radio at http://www.danceradio.gr/  This Greek online stations plays a blend of laid back music that you often hear emanating from restaurants and bars on Greek Island resorts. There are three formats to choose from: tech house, chill out and trance and they are all the kind of sounds that you can enjoy whilst sipping a cocktail at a Mediterranean beach bar- for me it generates an instant sunshine feeling.


If you are more of a traditionalist in your musical tastes, then try these 100 popular jazz standards at http://www.jazz24.org/jazz100.html  
Thousands of people voted for the quintessential Top 100 jazz songs of all time. If you like and know jazz you will find yourself disputing some of the choices, and if you don’t know much jazz then it’s a perfect introduction. Along with the list you can listen to some of them and even see performances of all one hundred. It’s a thoroughly entertaining way to while away an hour at a time. It just illustrates once again, for me at least, how radio and the internet dispense the need for 99% of what is aired on television. The main website http://www.jazz24.org/  is also good for day to day listening to world class jazz music.


KEXP in Seattle was recommended to me via a friend’s Facebook thread, and a very good station it is too. http://kexp.org/  All sorts of sounds for and from the Pacific North West coast that gave us the grunge scene in the early 1990s. There are playlists and podcasts of the day, and all in all I embarked upon an enjoyable new music experience.


Seattle certainly sounds like a lively city and the station is involved, from its presence at the Memorial holiday weekend through the summer festivals. Other Seattle stations I have tried out and want to return to in time include many I found at the community web portal for the area. http://www.therainiervalley.com/radio_web_sites.html  


This has an early web feel to it and the vintage radios scattered around helps maintain the sense that a diehard radio buff has a large hand in this fine effort. KKNW is a local news station at http://www.newschannel1150.com/  Puget Sound Public radio from KOUW at http://www.kuow.org/  and live streaming of Native American programming at http://airos.org/AIROS_Live_Stream  

Finally for this month, I know I’ve banged on about the Bratislava Radio building over the years, but I was surprised when it came up in conversation at an interview I had this week for a BBC web project. The upside down pyramid casts a long shadow, and I was delighted to watch its construction on YouTube at the following channel www.youtube.com/user/jaffarski  There amongst almost 100 historic videos of all manner of Slovakian live is a four minute clip called Bratislava - Stavba obrátenej pyramídy (1976).


Don’t forget to let me know of any websites you recommend- just drop an email to me at chrissylb @ hotmail.co.uk