Friday 24 December 2010

December 2010 Radio Advent blog 24

Christmas Eve and radio-wise there will be millions tuning to BBC radio and television with good reason. The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is the Christmas Eve service held in King's College Chapel started in 1918 and has been covered by BBC radio since 1928.

You can read about the service and download a service booklet at:  

The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 on 24 December at 1500 UTC  
It is also broadcast at 1400 UTC on Radio 3 on Christmas Day  , and at various times on the BBC World Service:  
It is also on BBC 1 and BBC 2 tv and you can find it on the Listen Again facility at BBC i-player for seven days aftrwards.

I first heard it in 1989. I remember that Christmas well, as the most politically momentous year of my life to date drew to a close. The Berlin Wall had been torn down six weeks earlier, eastern Europe was becoming free, the peace protestors of east and west had finally been vindicated, and even the apartheid regime in South Africa was having to relent. Sadly democracy in China was still to come, and we still wait today, whilst ruthless western capital of so many kinds, from services to products, greedily makes inroads into the Chinese markets with scant regard to using this to help secure soem kind of democracy for the people.

Tuning into Radio Bucharest’s looped and live announcements when the station was seized by the people after the revolution which overthrew the despotic Ceausescus. Hearing the impassioned pleas and gasps of the taste of freedom live on air (in the pre-internet age remember) was breath-taking.

On a lighter note I remember preparing for Christmas in Surrey, watching Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday for the first time- which was a film that endeared me to Jacques Tati and remains a favourite. And then tuning into Radio 4 or the World Service as the day darkened and cooking and present preparations took place all around. The haunting sounds of the carols from Kings hit me and I realised why it had become such an important starting point to so many people’s Christmas across the globe.

I wish you a peaceful Christmas and a brave 2011.

Thursday 23 December 2010

December 2010 Radio Advent blog 23

Glogg (Swedish mulled wine), See Radio Sweden's Advent calendar, for 15 December

Scandinavian radio is often entertaining and informative. The main international shortwave broadcaster in English is of course Radio Sweden, their 60 Degrees North programme is one of the best on the air (and the Internet), and at this time of the year often contains fascinating glimpses into winter celebrations across the Nordic countries: 

For the local radio scene try the Swedish northern coastal city of Lulea for Radio Norrbotten:  and Rix FM:

In the far north of Norway Radio Tromso is at: whilst on the north-eastern border with Finland in Karajsok, NRK Sami radio broadcasts for the Lappish (Sami) community. Maybe this is Santa's local radio station?:

As well as covering the northern part of Norway and Sweden, Lapland extends into Finland. Lapin Radio in Rovaniemi, with a photo gallery of celebrations in the studios, is at:  

Just south of the Arctic circle in Tornio is a radio station called Radioaktiivenen, (Finnish for Radio Active), complete with studio webcam:  

Finally from the frozen north why not try national radio on the Faroe Islands, which comes from the capital Torshavn and is online. Ras 2 is at:  and Utvarp Foroya is at:  There are links in English including travel information and maps, ferry timetables should you fancy a winter break with a difference at:  

Wednesday 22 December 2010

December 2010 Radio Advent blog 22

There is special place in my heart for the British DX Club, BDXC, of which I have been a member since the 1990s and general editor of the monthly bulletin “Communication” since 2005. I also run the BDXC Audio Circle, a monthly programme available on mp3, CD or audio cassette. Full details including logs, news, downloads frequency guides, social events and DXpeditions, plus the important membership details are at:  

From Finland, Mika Makelainen publishes reports on the DXpeditions to Lemmenjoki in Finland's Arctic North. Imagine how deep and crisp the snow is laying there as you read this!

2010 DXpedition in Finnish and English: and  
Check out the details at the ever excellent DXing Info website:
2009 DXpedition

Tuesday 21 December 2010

December 2010 Advent Radio blog 21

A fascinating look back at Christmas radio during the Cold War from a VoA, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty versus Radio Moscow, Berlin, Kiev, Tashkent etc. perspective, at this great newly launched historical blog, not long up and running and wowing many of us:

Monday 20 December 2010

December 2010 Advent Radio Blog 20

If it is not easy to escape to the shortwave sets in your radio shack, the chances are that you will have a medium wave radio in the kitchen. Some of my most treasured winter DXing and programme listening has come from evenings spent in the warmth of the kitchen, whilst baking Christmas goodies, writing cards and wrapping presents.

On medium wave it is a treat to hear carols, concerts and other music from around Europe, as well as being very satisfying to be picking up broadcast aimed at a more localised audience. Conditions are best after dark and many an hour can be spent enjoying sounds such as Radio Slovenia from Beli Kriz on 1170 kHz, which includes soothing gospel music in Slovene. VRT Belgium on 1512 kHz is an easier catch.

Deutschlandfunk on 1269 kHz and also 153 long wave has a powerful signal and can capture the essence of the Christmas markets in Germany (you can almost taste the gluhwein), as does Sudwest Rundfunk from Wolfsheim on 1017 kHz, as well as 6030 and 7265 kHz shortwave. Radio Sweden’s medium wave outlet on 1179 kHz supplements their shortwave output in several languages and with Scandinavian music.

For a Spanish twist on the season COPE (1269 kHz) and SER (1026 and 1287 kHz) are amongst the easily heard Iberian stations. And don’t forget French festivities too, by turning that dial to 864 or 1278 kHz for France Bleu in Strasbourg (amongst many other French delights to be heard). Finally, the American Forces Network in Weisskirchen Germany on 873 kHz is likely to be broadcasting lots of goodwill messages, leastways to its troops based in Europe.

Sunday 19 December 2010

December 2010 Advent Radio Blog 19

Whether or not the snow lays deep and crisp and even on Wenceslas Square in Prague, the radio station offers the snowy landscapes of central European life. Radio Prague  with a shortwave schedule at:  

Try 7345 kHz from 0800 UTC, 9880 from 1130, 5930 from 1700, 5930 from 1800 and 2100.

They also have a clever crossword competition online at  

Saturday 18 December 2010

December 2010 Advent Radio Blog 18

Amongst the many shortwave stations that I always make a point of tuning into at this time of year is Radio Canada International (RCI)  . ‘Blink’ is RCI’s Saturday amalgamation of the CBC domestic show ‘The Link’. This connects new immigrants to Canada and Canada to the world, and is where you can ‘‘find out what’s new and exciting on Canada’s cultural landscape’. ‘Maple Leaf Mailbag’ can also be relied upon for a Canadian cultural Christmas. 9740,11845, 15365, 17790 KHz from 1800 UTC.

CBC Domestic can be heard from 1600 to 0000 UTC on 9625 kHz.

CBC Radio 2 Christmas programmes:
and a musical advent calendar at :

Friday 17 December 2010

December 2010 Advent Radio Blog 17

The Classic FM Foundation's Christmas UK appeal helps take the power of classical music to disadvantaged children and adults across the UK.

or to make a donation over the telephone, please call (+44) (0) 207 344 4899 and have your credit or debit card ready. You can post your donation to: The Classic FM Foundation, Classic FM, 30 Leicester Square, London, WC2H 7LA, England.

Thursday 16 December 2010

December 2010 Advent Radio Blog 16

Christmas Tree in Yerevan

The National Public Radio of Armenia (also known as the Voice of Armenia) left shortwave in 2006 and went to an Internet-only service. The nicely accented English, the respectful tone of ‘Welcome dear listeners. This is Yerevan’, and the stop-start strings of their sign-on tune were all a welcome addition (on 9925 and 4820 kHz). Their annual Orthodox Christmas celebrations on our Twelfth Night (6th January) was always a haunting experience. In the meantime a news bulletin in English can be heard online at:  

There is also an interesting blog on Armenia , in English at: 

Wednesday 15 December 2010

December 2010 Advent Radio Blog 15

Radio Romania International boosted its shortwave transmitters a few years back and is a very listenable station these days, from the perspective of both signal quality and content quality. They produce a QSL card each month for reception reports and maintain a presence on Facebook, Flickr and Twitter too:  e-mail to  

Tune in online or on shortwave:  
To Western Europe in English from
06.30 – 07.00 UTC on 7370 kHz
12.00 – 13.00 UTC on 15480 11970 kHz
18.00 – 19.00 UTC on 7415 kHz
21.30 – 22.00 UTC on 7380 kHz

23.00 – 24.00 UTC on 6015 7220 kHz

For instance on 13 December 2010 a feature on border trespasses under the Ceausescu regime (which made the Thatcher dictatorship years in the UK seem like a picnic!)  

Or winter holidays in Bran:  

Monday 13 December 2010

December 2010 Advent Radio Blog 14

Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion (PHC)- one of the many great things about this variety show is that it is always seasonal- so the current broadcasts will be very festive. So stock up with powdermilk biscuits and ketchup at Ralph’s Pretty Good grocery store and settle down with Darlene, the Norwegian bachelors and friends at the Sidetrack Cafe, along with the other English majors, for some Tales from Lake Wobegon. And if you are lucky some snowy trail tales from Dusty and the lives of the Cowboys too. And round it off with a festive mystery for Guy Noir, private eye.
You can listen to archives going back a fair few years at the PHC website:  

Here in the UK, BBC Radio 7 is broadcasting its hour long versions of what is a two hour show on National Public Radio in the States. A 2009 Christmas show is on BBC7 on Saturday 18th December at 0500 UTC, repeated 12 hours later at 1700 BST. Also a good start to Christmas proper with a BBC7 1400 UTC show on 24th December, repeated on 0500 UTC broadcast on 25th December:  

There is always audio and reading material based on the shows and even DVDs of some. For instance a digital download of a PHC Christmas (2 CDs worth ) for around £20. At the  online shop  

Memorable Christmas moments collected from live broadcasts of A Prairie Home Companion®

Selections include music from the Hopeful Gospel Quartet and Anonymous 4; Garrison Keillor singing the Danish carol "Det Kimmer Nu," a hilarious "Twelve Days of Christmas" with sound-effects maestro Tom Keith, and a special Christmas edition of The News From Lake Wobegon®. 3 hours on 2 CDs.

And the above with books at the PHC outlet  
“The Garrison Keillor Christmas Collection gathers together Garrison Keillor's new holiday classic, A Christmas Blizzard along with A Prairie Home Christmas and A Christmas Companion. A Christmas Companion is a Christmas novella in which a man discovers a liking and appreciation for the holiday season after becoming stranded at a North Dakota airport in a blizzard. A Prairie Home Christmas and The Christmas Companion both gather highlights from Christmas shows from the past 20 years. Each features songs, stories and sketches designed to make any holiday gathering memorable and enjoyable."

December 2010 Advent Radio Blog 13

From my Radio Websites column, two years ago in December 2008, in Radio User, PW Publishing Ltd:

Green Greetings this Christmas

Are you are one of the thousands who have vowed not to send Christmas cards this year for environmental reasons but are donating to charity instead? But still wanting to send something festive to friends? There is an easy, relatively environmentally friendly way to send a Christmas greeting to friends without the cards clogging up the postal system. An email greeting with a link is an answer. Try this Deutsche Welle Christmas animation of an igloo complete with satellite dish. Seasonal greetings in many languages, set to atmospheric music, rounds off the perfect salutation:   

There is a choice of e-cards to send over at Radio Prague, from a gang of art-gazing Santa Clauses to a historic lamp-lit wintry street. Simply choose your card, type a greeting and the recipient’s email address:  

If you are looking to buy a radio that has eco-friendly credentials then the Ethical Consumer Store believe they have plenty to choose from at their website:

These include Roberts’ “solarDAB” radio. This costs around £80, comes in festive green or red and is billed as the “world's first solar powered DAB radio. This stylish and compact portable radio has a solar panel integrated into the top of the unit which absorbs direct sunlight in order to power the radio. solarDAB is ideal for use in gardens, conservatories, greenhouses, on suitable windowsills, or away from home while camping, fishing, at the beach, or anywhere that you wish to listen to the radio away from conventional power sources.”

There are a selection of other mp3 players, wind up radios and Roberts radios too, at:  

Sunday 12 December 2010

December 2010 Radio Advent blog 12

Dave Michuda “distant transmissions flicker and fade, there's a drift on the signal...a ghost in the phase “

Low Light mixes blog at:  

With some amazing 90 minute long downloads merging ambient music with shortwave Interval signals and Ids, plus atmospherics. Wonderful stuff for someone like me who loves chill out and ambient music and shortwave radio. A treat for dark winter afternoons and evenings.

Friday 10 December 2010

December 2010 Radio Advent blog 11

Jazz FM’s Virtual Christmas competition starts from 13 December 2010, at:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas by joining Jazz FM at the Barbican in London on Saturday 18th December for Christmas Swingtime. Guest singers Jacqueline Dankworth and Graham Bickley (above) will deliver a Christmas special as part of The Raymond Grubbay Christmas Festival 2010.

Meanwhile Sarah Ward and Helen Mayhew’ s Dinner Jazz, weekdays from 1900 UTC and Claire Anderson’s Late Lounge from 2200 to 0100 UTC weeknights remain two of the finest programmes on the air, anywhere. They are like a Christmas present all year round.

December 2010 Radio Advent Blog 10

Some links to radio bloopers, ancient and modern, as published in The Media Guardian on 7th December 2010:

including the on-air laughter of  disbelief at some of the corrupt expense claims that British MPs were making in 2009:

"Not only did revelations about MPs' inflated expenses claims become one of the biggest stories of the year, it also – unintentionally – provided one of the most memorable radio moments of 2009 as Davis suffered a fit of the giggles over Sir Peter Viggers's £1,645 duck house. "Evan, just shush... it's serious stuff," admonishes co-presenter Sarah Montague – also suppressing giggles."

Thursday 9 December 2010

December 2010 Radio Advent blog 9

Some festive radio links you might care to try- Internet radio stations with Christmas themes:  

A list at: with  radio and internet Christmas stations including some in Germany, Poland and Switzerland

A favourite of mine is the Soma FM Christmas lounge channel, along with others in San Francisco. The space shuttle mixed with ambient music is quite something:  

Wednesday 8 December 2010

December 2010 Radio Advent blog 8

Radio Slovakia International started broadcasting in 1993, the year it broke away from the Czech Republic and ended Czechoslovakia as an entity. It is leaving shortwave at the end of 2010 but retains internet and satellite broadcasts.

National radio is from Slovensky Rozhlas, part of the group who bring us Radio Slovakia on shortwave. Their QSL gallery is worth a look, covering all the cards issued by the station in their ten years of existence. The 2002 set of Czech radios is especially creative:

The Tatra mountains in Slovakia don't make it into the Top 100 Snowboarding and Ski resorts guide, but they have long provided good skiing. Starý Smokovic is one such ski town, and from there an hour on a narrow gauge railway takes you from 1025 metres up to Strbske Pleso at 1355m, which was a top ski resort in the 1930s. The Grand Hotel there can be seen at: and they have a Facebook page.

There is an outlet of Lumen Radio in Strbske Pleso:
Many moons ago as independence dawned on Slovakia, I bought an Olympia radio in the small Prior Department store in Strbske Pleso for 880 Slovak crowns (£19). The box said it was made in Taiwan, the radio's label stated India. Either way, this mw, sw, lw, and fm receiver served me well as a robust pocket portable for ten years, before its demise.

Local radio in the area may inform you of weather conditions on the ski slopes. Radio Expres 96.5 , Radio Zet 84.5 and Radio Frontinus 104.6 cover the region:

National station Radio Twist became Radio viva and also has outlets in the Tatra regions towns of Kosice and Zilina:    Another popular national station that has been running for nearly two decades is Fun Radio. Western European pop merges with eastern at:  Both stations have live webcams so you can see what's going on in the studio.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

December 2010 Radio Advent blog 7

Some thoughts of mine from 2003-2004: Festive listening- Christmas 2003.

As ever there was a good selection of programmes over the Christmas and New Year period. The first programme to set the festive mood for me was Garrison Keillor's weekly variety show, coming from New York.
It had the usual blend of folksy singers and groups, with some nice seasonal tunes. There were some poignant, and some just downright funny, reminiscing of Christmas past in the Keillor household. Poverty and a church collection for the family when Garrison was a child, and the year that he managed to burn the turkey to a frazzle, and set the tree ablaze with hundreds of candles. Tall tales or not it is magical stuff.

Christmas songs and tales from Lake Wobegon wound off a great show. With a choice of hearing the show in the UK on the World Radio Network, BBC Radio 7 or the Internet I plumped for the middle option, 'watching' the show on BBC 7 via Freeview digital tv. That was on the Saturday night before Christmas, and I heard sections of the repeat in the small hours on my bedside radio.

Christmas carols from Kings College Cambridge ushers in Christmas for many around the globe. DAB station One Word played a selection of carols from Kings as fillers in its programming over the festive season. BBC Radio 4 also looked at the history of the broadcast in a half hour production.

Christmas Day, 0715, some lovely music on Radio Prague, in Czech, choirs singing. I didn't find much else on shortwave at the time, but with children eager to get at those stockings, time was at a premium. I seemed to miss out slightly on shortwave at Christmas this year, probably distracted by my first Christmas with DAB Digital Radio. You can't beat shortwave though and the variety and multilingual, multi cultural programming. I wish it got a wider press.

Tony Hawk's 12 Days of Christmas was on BBC 7. I assume it was first aired on Radio 4 in 2002. A very inventive and funny 30 minutes, with Tony trying to get hold of all of the things mentioned in the song to give his girlfriend for Christmas. Ornothologist and ex-Goodie Bill Oddie was on hand to help with some of the many feathered birds required. The Nine Ladies Dancing came courtesy of a dance agency, providing Madonna, Britney Spears and Christina Aquilera lookalikes. A trip to the House of Lords managed to get some of the less senile peers actually leaping, in turn for a donation to charity.

The Masterson Inheritance had two Christmas editions on BBC 7. This improvised show from the mid 1990s with Paul Merton, Josie Lawrence et al, is often a bit hit and miss, but the 'Stuffing of the Mastersons', set in Victorian times, worked well, intertwining Dickensian myth and post modernist humour.

A marathon 3 hour session on the morning and evening of 27th and repeated again at dawn on the 28th had James Follett talking about some of his radio plays, Men, Martians and Machines, with examples being broadcast (BBC7 again). His work was new to me and the Earthsearch series was especially chilling. The storyline in summary is: Earth has disappeared when the grandchildren of astronauts on a space ship launched from earth try to return home. The guardian angels (on board computers) want to gain control of the earth, but the four grandchildren, raised by the angels, and now adults, rebel. Series Two sees them colonise a planet called Paradise, which doesn't live up to its name for long.

Monday 6 December 2010

December 2010 Radio Advent blog 6

Adapted from my December 2003 websites column for Radio Active, with some additions:

Winternet radio

It's the time of year when department stores and radio station play a selection of hoary chestnuts in the form of Christmas pop songs. If you have had too much Mistletoe and Wine or can't stomach another rendition of “Last Christmas”, then join me now on a tour of some alternative wintry Internet radio stations, in countries that are guaranteed a white Christmas.

It's back to Switzerland first to Swiss Radio International in Bern. Their shortwave broadcasts ceased with energy being transferred to their web output. I'm not alone in bemoaning the loss of the station and favourite programmes of the past like Swiss Shortwave Merry Go Round, but time moves on, and there is a good selection of all things Swiss on the website at:  

N.B Swissinfo with Bob Zanotti can now be heard at  )

For local radio in Switzerland, and a mixture of traditional Alpine music and Swiss pop, try Radio Suisse Romande (RSR) Couleur 3:

and Radio delle Swizzeria Italiana (RSI):  They also have a 2010 advent calendar at:  

Sunday 5 December 2010

December 2010 Radio Advent blog 5

Classic FM ask "How much will the 12 Days of Christmas cost you this year? Seriously, a financial services company calculates the cost each year. They ring ballet companies to see how expensive dancing ladies are, and check retailers for geese and jewellers for gold rings. (Clue: French hens and turtle doves have soared in price this year)":

And check out their new Silent Nights CD:  

There is also a BBC 4 radio programme by Tony Hawks which comically explores this and is repeated on BBC 7 each Christmas- one of the audio great treats over the festive period. Keep an eye out at BBC7 and:

Saturday 4 December 2010

December 2010 Radio Advent blog 4

It’s back to LBC and Steve Allen again. Every year since 1947 the people of Norway have sent a Christmas tree to Trafalgar Square in London, as a thank you for the British help in World War II.

Personally I think they should stop this until Britain stops polluting their forests and fjords with acid rain, as I wrote to the Norwegian Embassy in 1983.

See also this website: 
“One early answer to industrial air pollution was to build very tall chimneys. Unfortunately all this does is push the polluting gases up into the clouds allowing emissions to float away on the wind. The wind carries the pollution many hundreds of miles away where it eventually falls as acid rain. In this way Britain has contributed at least 16% of the acid deposition in Norway. Over ninety percent of Norway's acid pollution comes from other countries. The worst European polluters re Germany, UK, Poland and Spain. In 1994 each of them produced over a million tons of sulphur emissions. Governments have since admitted that acid rain is a serious environmental problem and many countries have taken steps to reduce the amount of sulphur and nitrogen emissions, but they are still a problem”.

But anyway, this year LBC breakfast legend Steve Allen was invited to Oslo’s outskirts to choose the tree:  

While in Oslo, he recorded a show - Steve Allen's Christmas Adventures - which will be on LBC over the festive period.

Friday 3 December 2010

December 2010 Radio Advent blog 3

Listen out for The Happy Station Christmas show with Keith Perron and guests from Taipei, Taiwan. Listen on shortwave or online.

Details at  and  as well as Facebook.

Get any requests in now. It will include a rendition of Winter Wonderland with Keith and the NHK Japan’s Symphony Orchestra directed by Tadaaki Otaka.

Thursday 2 December 2010

December 2010 Radio Advent blog 2

Radio New Zealand’s Sugar & Spice

Faeries Sugar and Spice want your help for Christmas Morning. “We'd like your thoughts on what you'd like to hear to get your day off to the right start... fables, stories, drama, music or perhaps updates from stories you've heard during the year.”

Send your ideas to  or write to Christmas Morning, Radio New Zealand National, PO Box 123, Wellington, New Zealand. More at:

Wednesday 1 December 2010

December 2010 Radio Advent Blog 1

A Christmas treat in the shape of a radio related blog for each day of December up to Christmas Eve. But no promises I can manage 24 consecutive days though...

We start in London with the 2008 LBC Advent calendar at:

There is an LBC Steve Allen 2010 advent calendar as well:

“Steve Allen is helping you count down to Christmas with his very own Online Advent Calendar. Every day, he'll reveal an exclusive photo, audio clip or video... anything to help you enjoy the countdown to 25th December".

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Radio Websites November 2010, first published in Radio User, PW Publishing

First published in Radio User, PW Publishing

Chrissy Brand looks at websites with a radio connection. This month she picks a selection of sites bringing radio personalities and hardware from the past to a 21st century audience, along with some innovative uses of Morse code and an homage to Bakelite.

Reliving yesterday today

We start off this time with thoughts on a project for you on these long autumn evenings. Why not go back to days of yore and construct a valve wireless? The following website might inspire you:  There are some beautiful animations of a valve radio’s workings and a radio dial, compete with World War II news bulletin from Alvar Liddell. This is a fine example of taking web technology and using it to recreate some history and maybe spark some interest amongst younger generations too.

If the mention of Alvar Liddell has got you reminiscing, then there are many references to him online. A gallery of famous voices can be matched to faces at the Whirligig website, specifically at:  Look closely for the link to an interesting potted biography by Alvar’s son.

There are all sorts of unusual recordings at the You Tube channel of one Atlantic 1952. Amongst the less esoteric are Alvar Liddell reading the news of King Edward VIII’s abdication in 1936, with a period Phillips radio providing the images. There is also coverage of a 1938 McMichael 386 radiogram being put through its paces. It cost £21 when new and the woods used include walnut, sycamore and macassa ebony. Lovingly restored a few years ago and now on show to the world:  

Back to the construction of a valve wireless, and the Old at heart website tells a nice story of a grandfather and grandchild talking of this: The entre website is written in a similar tone, with grandfather showing junior all manner of domestic gadgets from eras past, with the occasional photos to click on to illustrate the point. Vintage telephones, pianola, tape decks, and early computers are included:  

A blog I recently found is packed full of interesting radio observations and notes. The Radio Time traveller blog is by an inhabitant of Avon, in New York state, at:  It’s a blog “about radio and radio DXing, antennas, opinions, reviews - basically all things concerning radio. My particular emphasis is mediumwave and mediumwave DXing. I hope to bring some interesting articles, ideas, and facts to these pages, not just dry reception reports.” There are plenty of reviews of radio magazines from days gone by as well.

Somerset sounds

One of the places I visited during the summer whilst passing through Somerset was the Bakelite Museum at Orchard Mill in Williton. Situated off the beaten track in a large old barn, it has a handy tea shop next door and also a 17th century water mill. Pop your entrance fee in the honesty box and wander amongst the hundreds, if not thousands, of Bakelite items, from cups to coffins, - I kid you not (they didn’t catch on due to Bakelites’ high heat resistant properties!), and of course a fine selection of Bakelite televisions and radios (more on these later). Sadly the museum website appears to be redundant but there are plenty of excellent reviews of it elsewhere. My favourite is at the “Nothing to see here” website: specifically at the entry for April 2008:  

This website suggests all kinds of intriguing places to visit that are overlooked by the masses and the tourist boards. Run by Anne, the site links up with her Flickr (the photo posting and sharing website) page. A lovely set of photos of the contents of the museum:  

An easier way is to click to:  This is the home page of photographer Anne’s “I like” Flickr page, with dozens of exciting folders to peruse. These contain photos of jukeboxes, and visits to cafés and classic museums amongst many others (e.g. The Laurel and Hardy museum in Cumbria and the Radar museum at RAF Neatishead).

Of the Bakelite museum Anne writes “…Stepping in the door is like walking into a 1950s home. There are cookers, toasters, washing machines, and irons interspersed with smaller items like banks, clocks and egg cups. It is bright and resilient, in the spirit of the times. If the museum had ended here I would have gone home happy, but there's more. Next, a room of televisions, gramophones, radios and telephones is like a mini Design Museum. Plus a colourful display of elegant bowls and vases made from Bandalasta (also known as LingaLonga), a coloured, marbled variation of Bakelite which first saw light in 1925…”

Still in Somerset and just a couple of miles from the Willliton Bakelite museum is the Washford Radio Museum, It has an exhibition of vintage radios at Tropiquaria zoo, in the old transmitter hall of the BBC's Washford transmitting station:  

Going Dutch

Jonathan Marks maintains the Radio Netherlands Media Network archive vault:  I have mentioned it before and it is such a great resource I am sure I shall be pointing you to its many riches again in the future. 

My current favourite is a vintage Media Network show from 1998 about Bakelite. Jonathan comments that “Bakelite was an early form of plastic which brought radio to the people. When radios were first manufactured in the first twenty years of last century, they looked more like an experiment in a physics laboratory than something which was designed to entertain. Then some firms started using a thermosetting phenol formaldehyde resin for their cases, formed from an elimination reaction of phenol with formaldehyde, usually with a wood flour filler. It was developed in 1907–1909 by Belgian chemist Dr. Leo Baekeland.” To find this show amongst the many gems at the site, go to the entry for 15 September. Other uploads include Cuban clandestine stations and a 1986 slide show about European and Asian radio.

If you fancy an autumnal weekend away then Amsterdam is always a lively culturally charged city. And if you time it well you could take in the annual Radio Day. On Saturday 13 November the 33rd Radio Day is being held from 1100 to 1700 (central European time) at the New Hotel Casa 400, Eerste Ringdijkstraat 4, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Considered a must for offshore radio experts and enthusiasts, it usually has about 350 people attending. Topics for 2010 include a Radio 390 reunion, 40 years of Radio North Sea International, Radio Mi Amigo and many well known personalities from these famous offshore stations. See:  


The rather odd sounding Promo machine website is one of many price comparison websites, although t is quite different from most of its rivals:

Take the following section on half a dozen unique new uses of Morse code for instance, at:

It may provide you with some early ideas for your Christmas present list. Starting with a wrist watch, which at the press of a button, will relay the current time by way of Morse code through an in-built speaker. More on it at:  

Also a Morse code blanket, complete with coded messages; a Morse keyboard which fits into the USB on your computer; a Morse RSS reader “A beautiful telegraph sounder that, when connected to a computer, can cleverly, but pointlessly, clack out any chosen RSS feed in Morse code.”; a Morse leather arm guard, and, last but less practical than you might think, a Morse code clock.

Finally this month I guide you, tongue in cheek, to the last page of the internet at:  

Once upon a time: to smartphones and podcast apps

Once upon a time, many years ago, when I was a child, I used to dream of owning a magic book that would contain every comic strip, poe...