Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Summer shortwave sojourn

This is an extracct from my column Long Medium and Shortwave Broadcast Matters, first published in Radio User September 2011,  PW Publishing: www.radiouser.co.uk  


I can understand the feelings of unease, to put it mildly, that we are all experiencing when we hear of so many broadcasters giving up shortwave, and often for all the wrong reasons.

Despite this I still feel there is still so much to be heard and so many signals to detect. I really can’t see a future where the High Frequency bands are bereft of broadcast stations with both interesting programmes to hear and a decent quality signal. Call me naive or blinkered but I remain optimistic.

Looking at the logs in this column each month [see the magazine itself] also reminds me that there are no shortages of exciting DX opportunities right now. Whether you are a DX newbie or an old hand these logs are a good place to start a journey around the bands. I always enjoy comparing what I can hear to others’ findings, and invariably discover a new frequency or time slot that I don’t usually tune to.

Either way, in the meantime I am making the most of what is out there on the bands. I feel pleased with the balance I have managed on these long summer evenings between socialising and relishing the delights of shortwave. I have been enjoying the Manchester International Festival, its fringe event and the Manchester Jazz festival, as well as being fortunate enough to be regularly wining and dining in town. http://mancunianwave.blogspot.com/

Balancing that out have been some quieter evenings where I enjoy settling down with some famous names of the broadcast bands. If the signal is proving to be a tricky one to pull in then I’ll use a radio such as my trusty Sony 7600D, Sony SW100E with an indoor antenna, or my newest addition, the Tecsun PL380 . Where the signals are clear, which many have been for much of my summer evening listening, I prefer the deeper sound from the larger speakers on my 1970s Prince and Fidelity radios. I am often checking on eBay for other vintage radios that take my fancy but my apartment is small and as much as I love radio, I am wary of crowding every nook and cranny with a set. One in, one out, may be a policy I have to adopt in the near future.

Anyway, here’s a typical shortwave summer evening, preferably with me sitting by an open window open watching passersby in the street below, and a cool drink to hand. At 1900 UTC I’ll tune to 11610kHz for Radio Netherlands from Kigali in Rwanda. 7425 and 15495kHz are also in operation at this time, with 7425 and 11610kHz continuing for two hours until a 2100 UTC sign off.

A programme which has maintained high standards for many years is The State We’re In, with Jonathan Groubert. Not only does it have a clever title, it features some clever people and stories to make your hair stand on end. One of these concerned FBI undercover Bob Hamner whose exploits including talking his way out of being caught with a recording device while having dinner with a Mafia gang. Another featured Anas Aremeyaw who is an investigative journalist from Accra in Ghana. He is also a household name there despite the fact that very few people know what he looks like. He has successfully disguised himself as a white man and a woman in his time. The Bridges with Africa programme on Thursdays is a lesser known but equally rewarding listen, with music and features covering the full range of the arts, including contemporary dance.


Do write to them at P.O. Box 222, NL-1200 JG Hilversum, The Netherlands. Or you can find their various Facebook pages and comment there, or via their website: http://www.rnw.nl/  

As the Dutch national anthem (The Wilhelmus) fades I’ll turn to 15330kHz at 2000 UTC for an hour of Radio Canada International. 15235 and 17735kHz are the other frequencies at this time, with all three emanating from the Sackville transmitter site in New Brunswick, and the SIO varying from 323 to 444 at best. Although aimed at Africa the signal is perfectly acceptable in the UK.

The Link is a 60 minute feature programme traversing tremendous variety. I especially enjoyed their coverage of the child-friendly Montreal jazz festival, and they cover Canadian musical talent as well as international. Madison Violet are a folk and pop duo of Brenley MacE8uachern and Lisa MacIsaac who I recommend. Adam Karch is another good musician, whose blues recordings include Cotton Fields and Crossroad Diaries. Contact the programme and the station by writing to The Link, Radio Canada International, P.O.Box 6000, Montreal, H3C 3A8, Canada. Or you can simply email info@rcinet.ca  

All India Radio, as I mentioned in the June column, is a favourite station of mine. The intelligent and independent commentaries, exotic Hindustani music and the unique acoustics of the studio make it a pleasure to turn to 7550kHz any time between 1745 and 1945 UTC and 2045 to 2230UTC. Other shortwave frequencies include 7400, 7410, 9415, 9445, 11580 and 11670kHz. You can write to them post at The General Overseas Service of All India Radio, Broadcasting House, Parliament Street, New Delhi, India. Or there is a reception report form you can complete online at http://www.allindiaradio.org/recepfdk.html


The Voice of Russia is available throughout the evenings with 9800kHz at 2200 to 2300UTC from the Russian transmitter at Krasnodar being a late night port of call for me. 12040kHz at 1800 to 2100 UTC is another good option. I also enjoy the Russia Today tv station in English (channel 85 on Freeview). Both have excellent programmes although radio station has the historical pedigree. I am still unsure however about the music played underneath the news bulletins that they introduced late last year. The Musical Tales programme more than makes up for this though, on Sundays at 2030 UTC. You can contact the station by email world@ruvr.ru  or by post to Voice of Russia, 25 Pyatnitskaya St., Moscow, 115326, Russia.


Should I get restless with any of these stations, I will turn to Radio Kuwait on 15540 (from 1800 to 2100 UTC) which has been putting out a 555 SIO here in north-west England of late. It plays a real mixture of musical genres, interspersed with regional and international news. It’s a relay of the domestic station on 96.3 MHz FM and 963kHz medium wave. On shortwave you can also catch Kuwait on 11990kHz. The station address is Radio Kuwait, Safat P.O.Box 193, Kuwait City, Kuwait, 13002.

South Korea’s international broadcaster KBS World is another solid performer with news and lifestyle programmes which leave me feeling I really have learned something. Each time they sign off from a broadcast I reflect on how privileged I have felt to go on a tour of what appears to western eyes and ears to be an exotic far off country. This is a quality which I am sure many of us will agree to be one of the most alluring aspects of tuning to the shortwave and medium wave bands.


I have always found KBS World‘s coverage of what is termed “K Pop” to be an amusing aside from more serious musical styles. I was surprised to read online and in the press that it seems to have become quite widely popular in other parts of the world- a trend that has developed this summer. K Pop, for the uninitiated, is a genre of bouncy, rather fluffy pop music, usually with a catchy hook line or two. The lyrics can be in Korean or English, or quite often just a series of vocal noises. A song that has stuck in my head is “Hot summer” by FX, along with Bo Peep’s “Poppy”. The K Pop programme is hosted by a team which includes Sarah Jun, Angie Park and DJ Young.

Also in the 1800 UTC broadcast on Saturday comes the KBS World Worldwide Friendship programme which starts at ten minutes past the hour. (7325kHz). Other South Korean times include 1600 to 1700 UTC on 9515 and 9640kHz; 2100 to 2130 UTC on 3955kHz; and 2300 to 0000 UTC on 1440kHz mw from Luxembourg. The station email address is english@kbs.co.kr. They also appear to have an English postal address. I have not tried this yet but would be interested to hear if you get responses. KBS World, Unit 93, Kingspark Business Centre, 152-178 Kingston Road, New Malden, Surrey, KT3 3ST. Tel: 020 8605 1331. info@kbsworld.co.uk  

Finally this month, the latest Radio Romania International contest is based on the  2011 George Enescu Festival. This music festival takes place throughout September across Romania. You need to submit answers to the following questions by 30 September, (answers which you can find at the Radio Romania International website http://www.rri.ro/ ):
1. When and where was George Enescu born?
2. Name at least three compositions by Enescu.
3. Name at least three prestigious musicians attending this year’s edition of the festival (soloists, conductors or orchestras).
4. Which edition of the “George Enescu” International Festival is running this year?

You can answer by mail, fax, e-mail, on the Radio Romania International Facebook page, or by the form at: http://www.rri.ro/   The postal address is: Radio Romania International, 60-64, G-ral. Berthelot Street, sector 1, Bucharest, Romania. The email address is: engl@rri.ro  


The times and frequencies for Britain and western Europe are 1100 to 1200 UTC on 15120 and 17510kHz:: 1700 to 1800 UTC on 11735kHz; 2030 to 2100 UTC on 11880kHz; and 2200 to 2300 UTC on 5960 and 7435kHz.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Coffee break at Bush House

First published in the Collectors’ Corner column of the British DX Club’s monthly journal Communication, July 2007. To download  a free sample copy of the journal and to read more about the club and membership please go to: www.bdxc.org.uk


Is collecting coffee cups a mug’s game? Probably not, but it is one of the many offshoots that a radio hobbyist might veer into, quite by chance. Many radio stations give away cups and mugs depicting their logos and frequencies, and it is quite easy to end up with a cupboard full.


The 2005 BDXC visit to World Radio Network in London also saw all attendees receiving a rather nice WRN mug. And if you are visiting BDXC HQ in Caversham you would be very unfortunate not to sup a cup of tea from one of many varied radio station cups that are amassed there.


Other, less celebrated, radio souvenirs might include paperweights. During building renovations in the mid 1980s a popular sales item in the BBC World Information Centre and Shop were paperweights made of chunks of Portland stone from the building, encased in plastic, bearing the legend. “A piece of the BBC. Bush House is being rebuilt.[actually it was being partially repaired and refurbished] This Portland stone came from its walls.” (pictured). This was a supreme piece of recycling / marketing dreamt up by Mike Cronk, (now on the BBC WS Management Board).

When the shop opened, (originally for one year only as part of BBC External Service’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 1982), it stocked a conventional line of merchandise, which in time became quite an esoteric range. BBC pens, diaries, bags, towels, bookmarks, baseball caps and tee-shirts were joined on the shelves by furry insects, umbrellas and golf balls bearing BBC logos.


An over optimistic order of cups created a six foot high pyramid in the stock room: 2,000 white china cups with the BBC crest and “Nation shall speak peace unto Nation” and 2,000 with “BBC World Service-a world of difference.” If you have one of
these it is more of sentimental value rather than a valuable rarity. However, the Dunoon ceramics bone china cups (pictured) with drawings of Bush House were a limited edition.

Monday, 15 August 2011

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Tuning in the longwave bands, Monitoring Times 2002


I wrote this article nine summers ago, for the North American audience who read Monitoring Times www.monitoringtimes.com
It was published in the October 2002 issue. Stumbling across a copy of it in my archive recently, I thought it may be of interest to readers of my blog. Some stations I mentioned remain the same today, some have changed, and some projects never got off the ground...

In Europe radio listeners have an added choice of listening as a number of radio stations use the long wave broadcast band. These stations are mostly domestic and located in European counties, with a couple in North Africa and the Middle East. If there is nothing of interest to be heard on medium wave, short wave or FM, then you can be spoilt for choice by scanning through the 17 allocated long wave frequencies from 153kHz to 279kHz. Long wave broadcast stations can currently be found in 25 countries, covering geographical extremities from the far north-west of Europe in Iceland, down to North Africa in Morocco and Algeria. Eastwards the band is used as far away as Georgia, Jordan and Azerbaijan.




Although long wave reception cannot match the clarity of FM, just as with the rest of the AM band (medium wave and short wave), what it sometimes lacks in sound quality is made up for by the programme content quality and variety. Many of the big boys broadcasting on long wave, such as Germany’s Deutschlandfunk and Luxembourg’s RTL have such strong signals that there is no difficulty in hearing them throughout western and central Europe.


As most of the radio stations are aimed at a domestic audience, they understandably broadcast in the vernacular language. But, just as on short wave, sometimes you don’t need to understand a language to be able to enjoy the atmosphere generated by local music and to form an accurate impression of a station, region or country.

What’s on Tonight?
So, what’s to be heard on a typical tuning across the long wave dial? There are a number of long wave stations that come in loud and strong here in the north-west of England using even the simplest and cheapest of receivers.

A personal favourite of mine is France-Inter, from Allouis in the centre of France, on 162kHz. They have a good variety of music programmes in the evenings, so you can tune into light classical on a Thursday, or jazz at the weekends presented by Julien Delli Fiori. I recently enjoyed a concert entitled Festival Jazz in Marciac that featured Gilberto Gil and Kenny Barron’s Brazilian project. If you can’t receive France-Inter on long wave, try it on the Internet at: http://www.radio-france.fr/

The BBC has always used a long wave transmitter at Droitwich in the English midlands to broadcast one of its domestic stations. BBC Radio 4 has been on 198kHz since the late 1970s, in parallel to its FM frequencies. The long wave programme carries opt-out programming at certain times of the day, such as religious broadcasts, cricket commentary and the shipping forecast, and the BBC World Service is relayed overnight.


Both the cricket and the Shipping Forecast have become two great British radio institutions. The Shipping Forecast carries thrice-daily reports from the Metrological Office on conditions at sea. It has a gently lilting theme tune called Sailing By, evoking the waves and motion of the sea (incidentally a different version of the same tune is used in the maritime programme Seascapes, heard on RTE1 Radio Telefis Éireann, on 567kHz medium wave. Have a listen via www.radio1.ie/infocenter/ ).


Although aimed at fishermen and trawlers at sea off of the British Isles, France and Northern Spain, many a landlubber tucked up in bed listens with fascination to the mystical language used. Strange sounding sea areas include Rockall, North Utsire, Dogger and Sole are followed by a forecast ‘easterly veering northerly, 5 or 6, wintry showers, good’.


Cricket commentaries are also broadcast on BBC Radio 4 long wave. International matches (Test Matches) last for up to 5 days, (and there might still not be a winner!) and the ball-by-ball commentary is just as popular with cricket aficionados as those with little knowledge of the game. The best broadcasting comes when rain has stopped play, and English gentlemen commentators discuss the merits of chocolate cake sent to them by listeners, and observe all aspects of the gentile side of English life, from spotting buses to charity balls. Such is its place in English culture that even former Prime Minister John Major spoke out against proposed cuts in the service when he was in office. www.bbc/radio4


From Kalundborg, Denmark you can hear Danmarks Radiok's first programme on 243kHz, and on medium wave 1062kHz. Like BBC Radio 4 this has opt-outs for weather and religious programming. It also carries more unusual programming such as Fish Prices and gymnastics. If your Danish language skills let you down then you can always listen out for some of the light classical music often broadcast in the evenings. www.dr.dk/p1


If you can receive the Danish station at your location you will be hard pressed to hear TRT Erzurum Radio and TRT-4 from Turkey, on that same 243kHz frequency. The 2 other longwave frequencies used by the Turks also clash with stronger signals at my western European listening post. TRT 4 uses 162kHz, as do France Inter and Radio Bashkortostana in Russia. TRT 1 competes on 225kHz with Radio Polonia, which has English and German news at 1000 UTC. So for a tantalising Turkish taste I use the Internet instead http://www.trt.net.tr/


On 216kHz Azerbaijani Radio 1 broadcasts in Azeri from Gyandza. However its 500 KW signal is swamped in the U.K by Radio Monte Carlo’s news and music format. This comes via Roumoules, Plateau de Valensole, France with a 1400 kW directional antenna. http://www.rmc.mc/ TWR (Trans World Radio) 0200 to 0300 UTC and Radio Evangile also use the frequencies for half hour segments when Monte Carlo is off the air, which is overnight European time.


Germany has a major presence on long wave. At the top of the dial on 153kHz comes Deutschlandfunk. Deutschlandradio programmes out of Cologne are broadcast under the historical name of Deutschlandfunk and are mostly news and talk format, with Berlin programming under the name of Deutschlandradio on 177kHz with a music format. Deutschlandfunk from Aholming can be found on 207kHz any time of day or night. http://www.dradio.de/

There is also an independent commercial station in Germany called Europe 1 on 183kHz. This broadcasts in French from the south-west German town of Saarlouis or Saarbrucken, close to the French border. It can usually be relied upon to play some interesting music in the European evenings or American afternoons. http://www.europeinfos.com/

The tiny country of Luxembourg, sandwiched between France, Belgium and Germany may have a population of well under half a million, but it packs a strong radio punch. A 2000 KW transmitter pumps out programming in French 24 hours a day on 234kHz. http://www.rtl.fr/  


Eastern European
Eastern European stations also have a strong presence on longwave. Romania Actualitata broadcast 24/7 from the Transylvanian city of Brasov on 153kHz, as do Radio Yunost in Taldom (just north of Moscow), with youth music and programmes.


The Czech Republic has a music station called Cesky Rozhlas 1 on 270kHz, and a website at http://radiozurnal.cro.cz/  


From Sofia, capital of Bulgaria you might strain to catch the 60 KW of Radio Horizont broadcasting the Bulgarian parliament on 261kHz.

Other long wave stations are not as fortunate at the rich ones in western Europe. At the time of writing Georgia’s Gruzinskoye Radio on 189kHz in Tbilisi is unable to afford to use the 500 KW transmitter, and it is only used occasionally for events such as President Edward Shevardnadze’s weekly address to the nation. It is also scheduled to carry a daily 30 minute VoA relay in Georgian. www.geotvr.ge/radio_erti/

Politics are also at the forefront of a station set up by the Voice of Russia, namely Radio Chechnya Svobodnata (Radio Free Chechnya) on 171kHz. This broadcasts predominantly in Russian with a couple of Chechen broadcasts each day. They have a bi-lingual website in Russian and English. http://www.chechnyafree.ru/


Amongst other ex-Soviet republics now doing their own thing on longwave are: Belarus (White Russia) with Belaruskaye Radio on 171 and 279kHz and Ukraine from Kiyev (Kiev) on 207kHz.

The long and short of it
I haven’t been able to tune in two other stations on 189kHz, namely Iceland’s Ríkisútvarpið Radio 1 and 2. They share the frequency, with Radio One broadcasting documentaries and classical music, and Radio 2 covering pop music and current affairs. For a taste of what you are missing you can hear them live in Reykjavík via audio streaming at http://www.ruv.is/


Norway fits a lot of programming onto its 153kHz frequency, with Norsk Rikskringkasting national programming (NRk 1 and NRK 2), sharing the frequency with regional stations NRK Finnmark in VadsØ, NRK IngØy and Radio Norway International. www.nrk.no/p1 www.nrk.no/p2


Moving south to Italy, if you are in the vicinity of Sicily then you can hear one of the lowest powered long wave stations. RAI (Radiotelevisione Italiana) Radio 1 is on 189kHz, from Caltanissetta with just 10KW. www.radio.rai.it/radio1/


In the Middle East Radio Jordan can be heard in Arabic on 207kHz, transmitting from Al Karanah, south-east of the capital Amman. http://www.jrtv.com/


Some stations that you are unable to pick up on long wave or the Internet also broadcast on shortwave. Amongst these are 177kHz Deutschlandradio from Berlin on 6005kHz and Deutschlandfunk from Aholming on 207kHz and 6190kHz.


The two North African long wave broadcasters can also be heard on shortwave. Morocco’s Radio Mediterranee Internationale broadcasts in Arabic and French on 171kHz and 9575kHz, from Nador in north-east Morocco. A second, all-Arabic Moroccan station is Radiodiffusion-Television Marocaine on 207kHz.


Radio Alger International used to be an easy catch before Atlantic 252 used its 252kHz frequency in the 1980s. It broadcasts in French, English, Spanish and Arabic on 252KHz and primarily in Arabic on 153kHz.


Armenia’s Radio 1 and the Voice of Armenia use 234kHz for multi-lingual broadcasts, including their English transmission. TWR and Radio Polonia are others who broadcast on short wave as well as long wave.


Current developments
The 252kHz frequency has seen a lot of change during the past 12 months. Atlantic 252 was a joint venture from RTE (Radio Telefis Éireann) and Radio Luxembourg which broadcast from the late 1980s to the end of 2001, from Trim, County Meath, Ireland, with a transmitter at Clarkestown, and a London office. Its format was music aimed at an 18 to 34 year old age group. http://www.atlantic252.com/


However it was replaced by sports station Teamtalk 252 whose parent company Teamtalk Media Group bought Atlantic 252 in December 2001. After a series of test transmissions early in 2002, Team Talk 252 came on air in March. Many radio professionals and enthusiasts were doubtful that the station could survive, as sports in the U.K were already well covered by BBC Radio 5 and TalkSport. The latter two were well established and also had the advantage of medium wave frequencies, whereas coverage of the Teamtalk long wave frequency was patchy in some parts of the target area of the U.K and Ireland. http://www.teamtalk.com/


Perhaps the biggest concern of the sceptics was that the programme content had no actual live sports rights, and consisted mostly of phone-ins and reports from sporting venues. During the soccer World Cup in Korean and Japan in the summer, Teamtalk (and TalkSport for that matter), had no rights to actually commentate live from the matches. Instead, both stations had a commentator in the studio describing matches off the television, with an artificially generated soundtrack of the crowd.


Both stations had to publicise that this was how they were covering the World Cup. I can’t imagine many listeners tuning in when they could receive real live match coverage from BBC radio just along the dial. It certainly did not help Teamtalk’s cause, and the station went off air at the end of July, with over 370 people in danger of losing their job. A plus side of the stations short life was that Teamtalk donated Atlantic 252's 9000 strong CD library to a good cause; the U.K Student Radio Association.


As to the future, as I write (August) 252kHz is relaying the Magic radio network, a pop music format. Other rumours as to its future include UBC Media, owners of Classic Gold and digital service Oneword, broadcasting Oneword on the frequency, and Chris Cary wanting to bring back Radio Nova on 252, a station that ‘changed the face of Irish radio in 1981’.




Next year [2003] on long wave
Cruisin' 216 the AMazing AM is the working name for a new commercial radio station being developed in Norway these past seven years by Northern Star International Broadcasters AS. Personally I think the name Northern Star is a more distinctive branding. It is due to come on air in 2003 on 216kHz and will cover Scandinavia & Northern Europe, broadcasting a ‘mature’ music format, in English. Programmes will include Norwegian and Scandinavian music, international news and weather reports and Northern Lights Christian programming. http://www.northernstar.no/


There is also a second long wave commercial station set to come onto 279kHz later next year.[2003] The Isle of Man International Broadcasting plc (IMIB) will broadcast from the Isle of Man, which is an island dependency of the British Crown located off the north west coast of England, in the Irish Sea. The station working title is MusicMann 279 . This will target Britain and coastal western Europe, and primarily an audience of women aged 25 to 55. There are also plans to make it available on short wave , satellite and the Internet. http://www.longwaveradio.com/

There will be a wide range of music and a news service. The approximately 50 strong workforce is expected to be mostly female and recruited from island residents. There are a number of celebrity presenters in the pipeline, such as rock keyboardist and showman Rick Wakeman. Paul Rusling, Chief Executive of IMIB told me ‘The station will have a Christian ethos and not include profane lyric content music etc. in output. We are also most likely to carry a bit of evangelical programming - Very likely to be The World Tomorrow and one or two selected others’.


Paul is also excited by the transmitter ‘being a CFA (Cross Field Antenna) atop a platform, and one of very modern design’ Developed by engineers Professor Maurice Hately and Dr Fathi Kabbary, it has been used in its initial format by the Egyptian Radio and TV Union since 1994. It is small, stays in tune, does not require constant adjustment and has a much reduced induction field around it, thus reducing interference. This transmitter will be located offshore, and the studios will be in the town of Ramsey.


Conclusion
So as you can see, (and hopefully one day you might be able to hear), the long wave broadcast band in Europe is crammed full of varied and often interesting programmes. Certainly there are many frequencies where 4, 5 or even 6 stations are broadcasting at the same time, albeit it from different parts of the continent. Long wave is a useful part of the spectrum for broadcasting signals over distances, and many a French holiday maker in Spain might be grateful to hear a radio station from home; likewise an Englishman in Bordeaux might still be able to pick up the Saturday afternoon play whilst he sips a glass of claret in his farmhouse.


It is rare for a new longwave station to come on air, but if things go according to plan, there could be 2 English speaking ones within the next few months. Either way, the community of long wave broadcasting is thriving and worth investigating further, either with a long wave receiver or via the Internet. Happy hunting.


References.
Herman Boel’s European Medium Wave Guide also contains details of long wave broadcast stations at http://go.to/emwg
British DX Club
www.bdxc.org.uk

In this article we will look at a selection of the radio stations currently heard on long wave, along with recent information on some stations hoping to hit the airwaves in 2003.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Radio Websites August 2011

First published in Radio User PW Publishing: www.radiouser.co.uk

Chrissy Brand looks at a wide range of websites with a radio connection. Amongst the websites this month she investigates Family Radio’s end of the world proclamation, shudders at the thought of climbing a transmitter tower and prepares for some summer radio reading, e-book style.



Oddities
You will doubtless have heard about the end of the world predictions from Family Radio in May. The BBC World Service interviewed the man behind the claim, Harold Camping, who stuck to his guns and said who he had taken five years of intense study of the bible to reach this prophetic claim. To watch video footage of this elderly man in action, along with other items including two fascinating informal 20 minute home video tours of their California studios and offices, go to http://www.bibleandscience.com/otherviews/camping.htm  You can read about and hear WYFR, who have been on shortwave since 1973, but on the US radio dial for longer, at http://www.familyradio.com/


The Online Engineer is a long running website that I have only just stumbled upon at http://www.theonlineengineer.org/  Another Californian based operation, they host video tutorials, applications, basic to expert information and a blog, to name but a few parts of the website. The reassuring strap line of “We Know Broadcasting” and “Nuts and bolts” give confidence even to someone with very little engineering knowledge like myself. Their blog will be of interest to some readers http://www.theonlineengineer.org/TheOLEBLOG/  Of course they also have links to their social media pages, including Twitter, Facebook and a You Tube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/TheOnLineEngineer  


Their You Tube channel used to host the most terrifying video I have ever seen, that of an engineer climbing an 1800 ft tall transmitter tower, but for some reason (copyright?) it is not there anymore. Mark Palmer of the British DX club managed to track it down however at the Merwix channel http://www.youtube.com/user/merwix  where it is hosted, or click the following to get there directly.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2A_h2AjJaMw&feature=share  Called “Tower climbers working” watch it if you dare. It is not for the fainthearted.


Perhaps also not for the fainthearted are the English programmes of Radio Ukraine International. They are now only available online, with an audio stream at http://89.187.1.165/NRCU4 Or you can listen via the website in several languages at http://www.nrcu.gov.ua/  


More mainstream perhaps, but not to be forgotten about are the following three BBC World Service podcasts, which between them offer entertainment, education and even enlightenment: The Strand, Discovery and Science in Action. Many more excellent podcasts free for you at http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/worldservice  


Blogs and podcasts
Radio User reader and Air Traffic controller Tony Roper writes a good blog which includes some of his radio listening habits and technical information, at http://atcmanch.blogspot.com/  Tony also has a website celebrating his aviation photos http://www.rogdabbit.co.uk/  


Robin Emery is another Radio User reader who posted the following information to the Radio User Yahoo group. You can click to join the group at the foot of the Radio User home page. http://www.radiouser.co.uk/  “Today I discovered a new video podcast on the TWiT network called "Ham Nation", a programme dedicated to ham radio. It's hosted by Bob Heli and is aired live each Tuesday at 2300 BST / 2200 UTC. The programme is available after transmission via the TWiT website if you are unable to catch the live show. Here is the link to the show: http://twit.tv/hn/  You can watch TWiT live 24/7 at http://live.twit.tv/ . An enjoyable view or listen.”


I certainly second that. TWiT Tv is a channel with many interesting podcasts and netcasts all with a solid identity and a robust feel to the site. “You'll find over 15 different shows here, all covering some aspect of technology. As the network expands new hosts and participants are added all the time. You can learn more about a show by clicking its name on the left side of this page. You can listen to any show by pressing play on the player built into each show's page. If you like a show you can subscribe to it using iTunes or other netcast/podcast programs.”


Robin also has his own website at http://www.radiorobin.com/  and its an internet radio station that pays tribute to the music and television shows of the of the 1980s. Robin also has a YouTube channel which includes a review of the free BBC News smartphone app. http://www.youtube.com/user/robinjuste76  


Helmuth W Kump had a great world band blog at http://worldbandblog.blogspot.com/  Although not having any entries for some time there is plenty of archive material that deserves to be read and enjoyed. Also the 21 February 2010 entry has a good set of links to websites that cover the contents of Passport to World Band Radio, which sadly ceased with the 2009 edition. http://worldbandblog.blogspot.com/2010/02/ replacing-passport.html Helmut is also an amateur radio operator KT3L, It would be nice to see his blog spring back to life soon.


Books
German DX club ADDX (Assoziation Deutschsprachiger Kurzwellenhörer) based in Mönchengladbach has its website at http://www.addx.de/  Although in German, you can navigate easily enough to the sections. For instance the QSL card gallery, which has dozens of examples new and old from around the world. They have also instigated a very useful service, that of reproducing radio publications on CD. A few years back, in collaboration with the World Radio TV Handbook, they digitised all editions of the WRTH from 1947 to 1970. These cover two CDs and more details are at the following link http://www.addx.de/Service/CDreprint.php  


Talking with the WRTH publisher Nicholas Hardyman recently, I understand the ADDX and WRTH are hoping to digitise editions from the past 40 years to bring the collection up to date. I will keep you updated on this exciting development. As well at the WRTH website they have a Facebook page. They have also started to produce their own CDs with frequency bar graphs which are useful as a supplement to the WRTH which can only print the winter schedules of international broadcasters. Other schedule downloads and updates are also available. http://www.wrth.com/  


Just think of the room you could save on your bookshelves with a three CD set of every WRTH since 1947, although personally I feel there is nothing to beat thumbing through a book in its paper format. It’s one of the reasons why I have been slow to buy Amazon’s Kindle or other e-book reading device. Sony, Samsung and Google are amongst other well known names manufacturing such devices. Wikipedia has an interesting review and comparison of these, including many I had not heard of. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_e-book_readers  


Cost and environmental reasons and the guilt of having yet another electronic piece of kit also play their parts in my hesitancy to buy. But having borrowed a Kindle I can see the attraction, and the ability to carry 250 books at once and download many classics free of charge is a definite plus.

The e-book readers are certainly to be seen everywhere this summer. While on the tube to Wimbledon this past week I saw a man with a Kindle in each of his combat trouser side pockets- his and his girlfriend’s. I just wonder how e-book devices cope with a summer on the beach and by the swimming pool?

If the price comes down to around the £40 mark I would be tempted but in the meantime I am content enough to read publications in pdf or other formats on my laptop. I have just noticed too that Amazon offer a free version of Kindle for your laptop or desktop computers, and presumably tablets too. I have downloaded this and will have some fun over the next few weeks, doubtless reporting back here.


If you are looking to download some free reading material though I recommend this Australian website. The University of Adelaide enables you to download by title, author or subjects, which cover literature, travel and exploration, philosophy, science, history and cookery Most of the publications are classics that are out of copyright but there is bound to be something that you will relish reading. http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/  and you can also interact via their Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/ebooks.adelaide  Another good website for this kind of material is the Open Archive http://www.archive.org/  The search facility enables you to look by media type, be it video or text, or audio, I have found a few interesting volumes of a US publication Broadcasting Stations of the World , from the 1960s and 1970s, which downloaded as a pdf are something to peruse on my laptop. The first quarter century of broadcasting the in the USA by Edward PJ Shurrick was another good find. http://www.archive.org/details/firstquartercent00shurrich  


The website titled 22 words is packed full of weird and wonderful technology with a twist. It is at http://twentytwowords.com/  It includes videos of a robot able to play pool and a new i-phone app which tells you if you are dominating a conversation (the talk o meter) http://www.talk-o-meter.de/e/  Other great robot technology is at the Bot Junkie Gerbil God You Tube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/GerbilGod7  

Friday, 5 August 2011

Radio Canada International- a loyal listener




An example of how easy it is to contact a radio station by email with your heartfelt comments, followed by their equally warm, and fast, response. You can simply email info@rcinet.ca  


Dear friends at RCI


Just a quick line to say how much I enjoy and appreciate RCI on shortwave. After working at a computer most days the last thing I want to do in my own time is to spend the evenings at a computer too, even if it were for listening online.


So shortwave is the best option for me. I can sit in an armchair, on the balcony, or even at the end of the garden and enjoy!


I have been a listener for years and try and listen at least 3 nights a week.


I enjoy all aspects of the Link, especially the more in-depth features and the local music scene, such as the Montreal jazz festival and up and coming musicians like The Stars and Madison Violet. Your programmes make ever keener to spend some holiday time travelling around your vast and varied country.


I tend to listen from 2000 UTC on 15235kHz, although the other two frequencies of 15330kHz and 17735kHz are fine too. Usually a SIO of 344 or 444.


I hope you continue on shortwave for many years to come. Internet and shortwave should be used in tandem, not a case of forsaking the latter for the former.


Best wishes to all at RCI


Chrissy Brand

RCI response, within a few hours:
Dear Ms. Brand


Thank you very much for your e-mail of the 4th. It is truly a pleasure to read!

I've passed it along to our weekday program "The Link," and also to the host of the "Maple Leaf Mailbag, so don't be surprised if you might hear it mentioned on air. I'll also include it in a selection of listeners' comments which is circulated among our staff.


Any comments, good or bad, which you might have about our programming will always be welcome.


Good listening!


Yours very truly,


Bill Westenhaver
Audience Relations/Relations avec l'auditoire
Radio Canada International
http://www.rcinet.ca