Tuesday 25 December 2012

Three Wise (radio) Men

Photo: CB

Some not-to-be missed Christmas editions of all -year round excellent radio shows. 

Conjuring up the spirit of Christmas we have:

  • Bob Zanotti’s Switzerland in Sound  week-in,  week-out Bob journeys around Switzerland meeting people in fascinating places.
  • Keith Perron’s Happy Station Show (The former Radio Netherlands show revived a few years back by PCJ Media on line and on shortwave). Plus a wise woman, Paulette MacQuarrie joins Keith on New Year’s Day, and each week on PCJ’s Media Network Plus show.
  • A Prairie Home Companion- Garrison Keillor’s Christmas cheer ... 

Plus a wonderful look at harsh winters past, the frozen Thames and snow for three months (1947, 1962/3 and circa 300 years ago) in BBC 4 Extra’s 90 minute extravaganza entitled Frost Fair (recorded at Somerset House in London, -which is where I took the above photo).

And see my monthly guest post at Smitten by Britain for a tour of London’s lights.

Monday 24 December 2012

Have yourself a merry little DX

Have yourself a merry little DX,  
Let your dial be light, 
from now on interference will be out of sight. 

Have yourself a merry little DX, 
may your logs be bright,
from now on it cannot be a silent night. 

Have yourself a merry little DX,
Hear what the stations say, 
from now on pick up signals from far away. 

Here we are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.

Through the years 
We all will be together,
If the fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the antennae
And have yourself a merry little Christmas- try! 

with apologies to Garland, Martin & Blane.

Saturday 22 December 2012

Ghost of Christmasses past BBC WS

A look back at when BBC World Service was as much an entertainment service reflecting the UK's tastes, as much as it was a news channel. Since the advent of BBC 4 Extra (formerly BBC7) 11 years ago, and the shift to focus on news, plus the short-sighted dumping of shortwave for the Internet (instead of using both), light entertainment is hard to find on BBCWS, although The Strand and World Book Club are honourable exceptions.

We all hear and read of people bemoaning the BBC World Service’s lack of entertainment programmes these days, but if you tune to their service for Central Africa on Saturday nights you will hear the BBC's Top of the Pops programme, presented by Kim Robson. It is strange to hear an old format with the names and sounds of today's pop music scene, but lovely to hear on shortwave. My favourite feature of the show is by far when they look at the charts in another country, such as Brazil or Ecuador. Try their 12095kHz frequency from 2130 UTC or online at the BBC service for Africa.

In regular BBC WS programmes this week Heart and Soul is interesting, delving into the roots of Protestantism in Germany, and Christmas eve at 1500 UTC, as ever, is the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College Cambridge.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Radio Pridnestrovie

Extract from my column Long, Medium and Shortwave Broadcast Matters, published in Radio User December 2012

For new DXers I am going to give an example of a reception report this month and the reply. For old hands I hope the content will be of interest too. This is what I wrote in my emailed reception report to Radio PMR (Radio Pridnestrovie):

I continue to enjoy Radio PMR on shortwave. I have some recent reception reports and questions for you. 23 August on 9665kHz at 2050 UTC with a SIO of 544. Programme content included the last ten minutes of your English programme, with three lovely pieces of music to finish with. A child singing then a ballad with a man singing which was very melancholic. Then a ballad sung by a woman which had a wonderful ending with piano and keyboards. After the time pips the French broadcast started at 2100 UTC.

5 August on 9665kHz at 2030 UTC with SIO of 454. English broadcast including a request for people to send stamps and envelope when they write. Station announcement of “Radio Pridnestrovye on the air.” Local music.

26 June on 9665kHz at 2025 UTC with a SIO of 544. A Slavic language then English from 2030 UTC. News of “a remarkable holiday, the friendship of the Slavs celebrated on 25 May”. A feature on the monument of unity hosted by Belarus this year and a piece on 1992 events in Pridnestrovye, “Moldova and Romania wanted to unite and destroy the Pridnestrovye Moldovan Republic.”

I enjoy finding out more about your history and culture, and like much of the Pridnestrovye folk music. Because of listening to Radio PMR on shortwave I am now thinking of travelling to your country one day. What sights and places would you recommend I visit please? If you issue QSL cards I would very much like to receive one if at all possible. My best wishes to all at Radio PMR, Chrissy Brand.

About a month later I received a very nice e-QSL and an appreciative email to me. 

“We have received your message and are very glad to learn that our programme is listened in England. We appreciate your detailed description. 
Please kindly find enclosed e-QSL. It is very important for us to learn that the Radio Pridnestrovie has found our listeners and raised your interest. We have received letters from all over the world and your report is really very useful and important for our technical department. We will be glad to get new letters from you soon. 
Feel free to express your opinions and wishes regarding our programmes. There are many interesting sights and places here, please tell, what season are you going to travel to our country? With Kind Regards, Editorial staff of the Radio Pridnestrovie”.
 Their email address is radiopmr@inbox.ru .

Tune in on shortwave today. The British DX Club gives the current English schedule as 
7290kHz at 1800-1815 UTC (Mon-Fri), 2000-2015 (Mon-Fri) and 2200-2215 (Sun-Thur).

Monday 10 December 2012

2012 Personality of the year

BBC Radio 4’s Today programme used to run an opinion poll for Person of the Year. Radio 4’s PM has given a New Year’s award too. I don’t listen to either these days so not sure if they still do. 

There are countless awards dished out each December and January by the media, But not that many are facilitated by shortwave stations. Radio Romania International’s annual personality of the year poll is a notable exception. Nominate through the form at www.rri.ro , or by email to engl@rri.ro

The 2011 award was justifiably given to all the citizens who rose against the regimes in their  in Northern Africa and the Middle East, in the Arab Spring.

My vote for 2012 is a toss-up between sky walker Felix Baumgartner for his leap from the edge of space back to earth and Frances O’Grady, the first female leader of the British TUC. 

Thursday 6 December 2012

Red Wall, dreams & music with Radio Bulgaria

I highly recommend this online broadcast from Radio Bulgaria 5 December 2012- highly informative, interesting and also festive. 
"Events and Developments takes a look at the 7th annual meeting between the Bulgarian government and the business which went under the motto “The Big Questions for 2013”. 
Next on the programme it’s RB’s Nature and Environment - in the spotlight today the paradise for orchids in Bulgaria which is found at the Red Wall biosphere reserve, the largest out of 4 biosphere reserves in the Rhodope Mountain which marks its 50 anniversary in 2012.
A little further into the programme – we bring you an interview with a former member of RB’s staff, Diana Dinolova, who is now living and working in France, talks about her books, films and dreams.
In the second half of RB’s daily show – your 30 minutes of Bulgarian music with the best from Nelly Rangelova’s repertoire and the singer’s recent concert in Sofia. 
These are the items coming up on Radio Bulgaria’s program today as we add another touch to a unique panorama of stories and views from this part of the world!"

Saturday 1 December 2012

Short story Part 1: Through the Airwaves

Back in the late 1990s I wrote a short story. Titled Through the Airwaves it was loosely based on a road trip I made in the USA in the first snows of autumn (or Fall as they say over there). 

It somewhat inevitably had a radio theme, and I was pleased when it won Short Story of the month in April 1999 at The Quill.com. The Quill was a US short story website which has long gone, but back in those early internet days was an invaluable writing resource.

I used an old Apple Mac to write it and the floppy discs have also long gone. All I had left was a printed version, which I have scanned in for you to read. It's over 5 digestable parts which I shall post over the next 5 days. Enjoy!

Through the Airwaves by Chrissy Brand (c) 1999

continues on 2 Dec 2012

Thursday 29 November 2012

Chestnuts and truffles on Radio Romania International

Radio Romania International is still up there with a comprehensive schedule, aiming English all over the world. Obviously the frequencies aimed to Europe will be the easiest catches but some of the other frequencies are worth checking as well. 

Bucharest starts each day by talking to North America’s east coast from 0100 to 0200 UTC on 6145 and 7340kHz; to North America’s west coast from 0400 to 0500 on 6130 and 7305kHz and to India at the same time on 15220 and 17870kHz; to Australia from 0630 to 0700 UTC on 21600kHz. The first broadcast of the day to western Europe is at noon for 30 minutes on 15460 an 17530kHz.

Africa meanwhile gets a full hour from 1200 UTC on 17765 and 21570kHz. There’s then a long gap until 2130 UTC when 7310 and 9435kHz carry 30 minutes to North America’s east coast. The main broadcast to western Europe is quite late at 2300 until midnight UTC on 6015 and 7220kHz, which is the same time that Bucharest puts out its call in English to Japan, on 9530 and 11810kHz.

Quality and engrossing programmes which are easy enough to tune into. Regular readers will vouch for this and any doubters should just tune in. Radio Romania International for instance, even in some of its duller sounding programmes can have some nice surprises. 

For example Business Club has covered truffle and chestnut cultivation, Society Today could include anything but a feature on getting old while staying active was good. Inside Romania again covers anything from kite festivals to eco houses. 

All That Jazz does what you would expect, Romanian without tears is a three minute sound bite of learning the lingo, and Travellers' Guide is constantly excellent, be it in a luxury casino or on the country’s oldest railway.

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Albania and Germany in English

News of two winter shortwave schedules. Starting in Albania where English from Radio Tirana is aimed at Europe from 2200 to 2300 UTC on 7465kHz and to North America from 0330 to 0400 UTC on 6100kHz. 

Other languages and frequencies to follow include their Italian service at 1900 UTC on 6040kHz, French at 1930 on 7465kHz and German at 2130 UTC on 7465kHz. 

Deutsche Welle meanwhile continues to broadcast solely from the Kigali transmitter site in Rwanda. English to Africa (but also heard in Europe) is on from 0400 UTC right through until 2200 UTC. A wide range of ever changing frequencies are in use: 5905, 7285, 9420, 9470, 9655, 11800, 12045, 12070, 13780, 15275 and 17800kHz.

Sunday 25 November 2012

RCI & Under the Pavement

Here are two diverse but (in my mind) equally enthralling online radio station tips for you.

Under the Pavement is a weekly show on community station ALL FM. You can hear their cloudcast at Mixcloud. www.mixcloud.com/underthepavement  

Branded as anarchy on the airwaves, Under the Pavement presenters David and Spike have a blend of music and chat, covering grass roots activism and an eclectic range of alternative music.

Across the pond, Radio Canada International may have been unceremoniously booted off of shortwave by Prime Minster Stephen Harper and the CBC, but The Link programme is hanging on for a 30 minute weekly online show. 

You can listen or download at www.rcinet.ca/english/web-radio/ and also subscribe to a daily cyber magazine full of Canadian news.

Saturday 17 November 2012

Beatwolf, Smiths, Quiet KYOT and Wazobia

Some selections from my November 2012 Radio Websites column in Radio User magazine.
Beatwolf Radio is an independent online station broadcasting from Salford Quays and headed up by former Smiths drummer Mike Joyce. There’s an interesting mix of new, often well thought through, music to be heard there. The station follows a “no playlist, no party line” approach so there is plenty of variety aired. http://beatwolfradio.com 

Radios Online is a useful portal showcasing the biggest as well as some of the smaller stations in UK radio. The obvious BBC and local commercial stations are there but you can click through to regional stations that you might normally miss out on. It’s well worth a few random clicks to see where it leads you. www.internetradiouk.com 

Quiet Music is another channel on Mixcloud that I would recommend. You can also find it at http://quietmusic.com/qm-plus Nick Francis is the man behind this weekly three hour show that previously was on Phoenix radio station KYOT for 17 years until 2011. www.mixcloud.com/quietmusic A tranquil merging of ambient, cinematic, acoustic soundtracks, jazz and quiet music will sooth your battered ears. Nick is currently Music Director at Seattle and Pacific north–west station KPLU www.kplu.org and Jazz 24 http://jazz24.org 

Radio Wazobia is a Nigerian station that broadcasts in Pidgin English at times, to try and unite and establish a common language for the 150 different languages that can be heard in Lagos. www.wazobiafm.com

Monday 12 November 2012

BBC Children In Need DAB Radio & BBC 90th

Earlier in 2012 Radio 4’s flagship programme Today, hosted a competition to design a new radio. This was inspired by the programme moving into the New Broadcasting house. Listeners were invited to design a skin (outer cover) for a limited edition DAB Radio, which is being sold to raise money for BBC Children in Need. 

The brief asked people to reflect the great traditions of radio but also represent broadcasting in a contemporary way. Some impressive design skills surfaced although the ones I liked best did not win. There is a glimpse into some of the designs and the judging process here. www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18635356

See also the Children In Need blog posts, especially the 31 July 2012 post, at www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/childreninneed Examples of the many varied designs submitted can also be seen from a link there, or at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9721000/9721446.stm

They retail from Tivoli at £199: http://tivoliaudio.co.uk/cin/ 

On Wednesday 14th November, BBC hits its 90th birthday. Suffice to say that the “BBC is attempting an ambitious first, bringing together around 60 our stations (network, local, national and international) for a single remarkable moment – a three-minute piece of history broadcast simultaneously around the UK and the world. At its heart will be an idea that explains radio’s success: listening to each other.” 

Wednesday 7 November 2012

DX Window on Denmark

Extract from my monthly Radio Websites column in Radio User, September 2012, www.pwpublishing.ltd.uk 
Who remembers Radio Denmark’s DX Window programme? Bradley Allen in Whitstable asked me for information on it, even though he didn’t ever get to hear it himself.

It was first on air on Sundays way, way back in November 1967, ran for two years and verified over 3,000 reception reports. There is a look back at it in the Shortwave Central blog (look for 23 May 2008): http://mt-shortwave.blogspot.co.uk/2008/05/nostalgic-look-at-dx-window.html  

The programme included Radio Denmark’s English Service secretary Susanne Jackson who helped compile the programme presented by DJ Christian Flagstad, Anker Peterson and others. There is a short audio extract at a 1989 edition of Media Network, which you can hear at the Media Network Vintage Vault (posted in February 2012), at: http://jonathanmarks.libsyn.com/webpage/2012/02  

DX Window went onto become a printed newsletter and most recently, as you’d expect, an online version, the Danish Shortwave Club website has more information on the radio programme and its current formats. www.dswci.org  

Monday 5 November 2012

Re-used November & December desk calendar, BBC WS

As 1973 shares the same dates and days as 2012 I thought it'd be fun to post some of the calendar girls and boys from the BBC External Services Audience Research Calendar from 1973.  

Here to round off the calendar, modelling November and December we have the Arabic Service's Walid Moussa and Raymond Micallef, perusing a souvenir edition of a newspaper that commemorated the 1972 Tutankhamen exhibition in London.

Thursday 1 November 2012

BBC WS Take it or Leave it Quiz

My favourite BBC quiz (way back when) was Take it or Leave it presented by Michael Aspel. I felt one of a select bunch who tuned in to the BBC World Service to hear employees of major companies take part in this novel game show.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Banns Radio from Copenhagen

Banns Radio from Copenhagen every Saturday is a quality programme that probably gets ignored by far too many people. It’s the only English language radio show from Denmark and has been running for many years now, starting back in 1996. 

It reminds me of the old Radio Norway and Radio Finland shortwave stations, with its round up of national news and then a look at cultural events in all the other Nordic countries. 

Give it a listen at www.euroword.dk or via the World Radio Network, live or on demand. www.wrn.org

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Radio Tirana notes

You may have missed the email address for contacting Radio Tirana. The Albanian station’s Drita Çiço informs us that we can contact her and the rest of the English service at radiotiranaenglish@live.com 

They have been issuing a nice range of QSL cards which depict potential holiday locations, in addition to their long standing QSLs in pen and ink of traditional rural folk. These certainly makes me seriously consider a trip there myself, it being one of a handful of European countries I have yet to set foot in

You can best hear Radio Tirana with English to Europe from Monday to Saturday on 7465kHz at 2000 UTC. Tune in for 30 minutes of varied programmes which include a press review, In Focus, Around Albania, Mosaic of the Week and Albanian Outstanding Personalities Profile. 

 heard some gripping programmes throughout the summer evenings such as one on the contagious diseases of the 1930s which did for many Albanians, including a prominent author.  The back story to the nation’s emblem of the double headed black eagle and its prominence in the resistance to the Ottoman Empire was another feature I felt privileged to hear.

Each Tuesday their Mailbag programme includes reception reports. These are from all continents, but Asia and South America seem most prevalent. Maybe it’s time to write to them yourselves to represent listeners in the UK and Europe. Every Radio Tirana broadcast these days seems to finish off with a selection of local easy listening music, which I find quite soothing. If you miss the 2000 to 2030 UTC broadcast, well, it is repeated a few hours later at 0130 UTC on the same frequency, 7465kHz, aimed at North America.

You can always listen online as well, or, for some classic archive recordings, search at YouTube and you won't be disappointed...

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Radio craft and Traidcraft

Photo: Chrissy Brand

You can't spend countless years tuning around the tropical shortwave bands without wondering and worrying about the everyday lives of people in the countries that you listen to. Whether you are tuned to Malaysia or Malawi, Brazil or Bangladesh, India or Indonesia, you know that the chances are your lifestyle is more comfortable than theirs.

I've always been a supporter of buying ethically, locally produced goods where the makers get a fair price. The items in the photo above came to me in different ways. The basket was made by oppressed southern Africans during  the apartheid era- from discarded telephone wires; the tablecloth came from a batik shop I visited in Kota Bharu; the bangle is from a UK shop specialising in Third World goods; the joss-stick holder from a local Buddhist centre.

Traidcraft online sell goods such as these, and much more (some lovely handbags for example). They don't just specialise in trinkets and gifts though, they stock various types of organic food  too: Biscuits and cakes, coffee and tea, fruit juices, muesli, fruit and nut snacks, organic jams and peanut butter.  We should all think Traidcraft rather than use the multinational high street supermarkets, be it for mass catering or individual shopping.

So, as I relax with a pot of Traidcraft Tanzanian leaf tea, I tune the tropical bands slightly guilt-free. I have been picking up Radio Clube do Para from Belem in Brazil quite well in the European evenings on 4885kHz; Radio Nacional from Bata in Equatorial Guinea on 5005kHz; RTV in Djibouti on 4780kHz and Tajik Radio on 4765kHz. Bliss...

Tuesday 25 September 2012

From Broadcasting House in Lagos

How about catching up with the Voice of Nigeria over your cornflakes, from 0500 to 0700 UTC? (0600 to 0800 British Summer Time).

Simply tune your kitchen portable shortwave radio to 15120kHz, where on weekdays you can hear Scope, Moving On, News about Nigeria, Africa and the World, Insight and Newsfile.

On Saturdays at 0505 UTC is a 25 minute programme of listeners’ letters, From Our Correspondents at 0630 UTC and Weekend Rendezvous from 0645 UTC. Sundays starts with This week on Voice of Nigeria and finishes with a 30 minute sports show, Talking Sports.

The same frequency of 15120KHz beams a signal to Europe and North Africa for four continuous hours from 1700 to 2100 UTC, with the main course being the weeknight programme Broadstreet. A review of the African Press is on most days at 1845 UTC, followed by Landmarks.
Other programmes of note in the evening from 1915 UTC include Mondays’ Beyond the Poverty Line, Women and Development and Our Environment. On Tuesdays are In Vogue and The Villa, Just a Chat on Wednesdays, and Nigerian popular Music and Time for Highlife on Fridays and Saturdays.

Highlife is that West African genre of music with horns and guitars often led by up-tempo keyboards. I am sure you will recognise the style when you hear it, even if you didn’t know its correct name.

Do tell the station what you think of their signal quality and their programme content by an email to info@voiceofnigeria.org .
There is a fascinating piece in Nigerian station broadcasting Pidgin English in today's Guardian www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/24/nigeria-pidgin-scatter-brain-swagger?INTCMP=SRCH

Wednesday 19 September 2012

The cruellest cuts...but Canada & Netherlands linger on

Some good news follows half way down, it's not all complete doom and gloom!

It’s a sad and familiar tale to DXers. A right wing government is elected and makes sweeping cuts of public services. A few pound, euro, or dollar signs on a budget sheet are spotted by a misinformed minister who knows little and appreciates still less of the worldwide reputation an external radio service has built up over decades. “Let’s cut here” he or she thinks. And the act is done. BBC World Service had a massive cut a couple of years ago with its funding taken away from the Foreign Office and being forced to share the ever shrinking pot that comes from the domestic BBC television licence fee instead.

This summer Radio Canada International and Radio Netherlands were dealt even heftier blows. The effective closure of these two stations amounts to cultural vandalism. The massive Canadian government cuts led to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation sweeping aside Radio Canada International.

Radio Netherlands were dramatically cut by the Dutch government. A world famous international broadcaster, one of the most respected broadcasters for 65 years, was disgracefully axed at the end of June. I hope the September general election in the Netherlands will lead to some saner thinking.
The station say the closure was “a result of steep budget cuts imposed by the Dutch government and a concomitant change in focus. Providing the world with a realistic image of the Netherlands, as we have proudly done since 1947, will no longer be one of our statutory duties."

Its programmes such as Earth Beat and The State We're In were (are!) first class. In the former, Marnie Chesterton and her team look at the footprint we’re leaving on our planet. A typical programme would look at people who turn every bit of green space of town (ditches, roundabouts, abandoned car parks) into glorious edible gardens where the fruit and vegetables are free for all.

Marnie said to me during the station’s last week on air: “It’s really weird how everyone seems to have collectively shrugged and accepted this fate. It hasn’t even sunk in yet, but last week, I went to New York to pick up an award for the show, which proves that we’re doing something right… and yet, we’re being shut down.”

Radio Netherlands will a new format and is going to concentrate on “free speech” stories. By this it means aiming at countries that have a low press freedom ranking. But if this is via the internet and not traditional radio then the chances are the internet will be blocked or turned off in those countries. Anyway, there is a long statement about this at www.rnw.nl/english/article/faq-free-speech  

But some good news!

Greg Kelly of The State We're In (which itself won six medals at the same 2012 New York Radio Festival) emailed me to say that the show is carrying on through broadcast partners and their website and podcasts. I am now a regular listener and reader at their webpage www.rnw.nl/english/dossier/thestatewerein

Greg was considerably buoyant, signing off that “Our ultimate fate is yet to be decided but we’re not quite done yet…”

Also Earth Beat and The State We're In can still be heard online at WRN The World Radio Network: www.wrn.org

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has asked what is left of Radio Canada International to plan a couple of programmes a week online, and you can of course always listen to the domestic CBC services online, but old RCI favourites are gone.

I just hope that there are ways and means of getting some of the quality programmes of both stations back on the air, or at the very least a sensible sized service online, in the future.

Radio Canada's The Link is now online, albeit for a mere 30 minutes a week instead of the previous 7 hours a week on the airwaves, but it's lovely to still be hearing the familiar voices of Marc, Lynn and Wotjtek at: http://www.rcinet.ca/english/web-radio/

Beginning September 22, 2012 PCJ Radio will present Radio Canada International's The Link in a series of special broadcasts targeting the Caribbean and East Asia. The dates are September 22, 29, October 6, 13.
To The Americas on 9955 kHz  at 0300 UTC
To the Pacific on 5860kHz at 1400 UTC

Adapted from my monthly Long Medium and Shortwaves Broadcast Matters column in Radio User, September 2012 www.pwpublishing.ltd.uk  

Monday 17 September 2012

The Voice of Turkey's Anatolian delights

Extract from my monthly Long Medium and Shortwaves Broadcast Matters column in Radio User, September 2012 www.pwpublishing.ltd.uk  

Radio User reader Bradley Allen reports hearing TRT Voice of Turkey on 9785kHz with its DX Corner programme which began at 1844 UTC on a Saturday. He asks if the programme is aired in any other languages.

The station does broadcast in about 35 languages, so I would be fairly sure that many of these carry a version of DX Corner. If you know for sure please do contact me.

Some DX Corners can also be heard as podcasts, as can many other of the excellent programmes such as From Our Correspondents (a popular programme title at many stations) and The Legends of Anatolia via www.trtenglish.com  

Bradley also mentioned extremely good reception of Turkey on 15450kHz at 1235 UTC with a maximum 55555 SINPO, with their Letterbox programme. The Voice of Turkey can be emailed at englishdesk@trt.net.tr  and I know that they really do appreciate your letters or emails, especially as they are marking 75 years of broadcasting in 2012.

The schedule in English is 6165 and 9515kHz from 0300 UTC for an hour; then it’s 15450kHz for an hour from 1230 UTC. This is my lunchtime listening of choice, if I am around and I tune in over a bowl of salad and a sandwich.

Ankara returns in the early evening at 1630 UTC on 15520kHz but this time aiming at the Middle East and Asia. In Europe you are best waiting for the hour from 1830 UTC on 9785kHz. At 2030 they are on 7205kHz but I have not heard this broadcast myself as it is aimed at Asia and Australasia.

If you are awake and still alert you can round off the day at 2200 UTC on 9830kHz with an hour to Europe and the Americas.

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Zurich International Radio Festival

It would be nice to head off to the third International Radio Festival at the Schloss Sihlberg in Zurich from 12th-15th September 2012.

It brings together over 30 ground breaking radio stations from around the world, presenting more than 50 unique music radio shows live on-air, and broadcasting such shows to a worldwide audience.

Stations represented include those such as Hoxton FM, Rundfunk FM and Samuel Vuillermoz' Destination Switzerland programme  He is co-founder of the Swiss Music portal MX3.ch.

Find out more at: www.internationalradiofestival.com  and: https://www.facebook.com/internationalradiofestival  

Saturday 8 September 2012

We Funk Radio in Montreal

Extract from my monthly Radio Websites column in Radio User, September 2012, www.pwpublishing.ltd.uk  

We Funk Radio is a station that I listen to when the sun is shining, and find it’s a good soundtrack for a sunny summer afternoon.

It’s been online for 16 years now, with Montreal DJs Professor Groove and DJ Static playing hip-hop, funk and soul from all eras.

They suggest you “tune in any time and experience hip hop’s roots and future along with the rich legacy of funk, soul and jazz.” www.wefunkradio.com  

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Humid late summer nights on shortwave

Extract from my monthly column Long, Medium and Shortwaves, Broadcast Matters in Radio User, September 2012, www.pwpublishing.ltd.uk  

If I have a quiet summer’s evening at home a typical post sundown pattern of listening for me covers a variety of stations. It’s usually around 2000 UTC (2100 BST) that I might settle down with a pot of Earl Grey and tune around the bands. We are still a little spoilt for choice and although there may be some signals that I identify and then move swiftly on from, there are many that I linger with, enjoying the programme content.

There have been two stations in the 60 metre band that have fought for my attention from 2100 to 2200 UTC over the past few months. First up from the horn of Africa is Channel 1 of Radiotelevision de Djibouti on 4780kHz. It plays some exciting local music using instruments such as the tanbura, bowl lyre and oud. In between the music the languages of Afar, Arabic and Somalia can be heard. The best signal that I have coaxed out of my radio with its simple telescopic aerial is a SIO 353. For me, a station like this demonstrates the magic of shortwave listening.

At the same time just along the band is the Voice of America. Not a great catch perhaps, but the fact that this transmission comes via Sao Tome, an African island off of Equatorial Guinea, makes it a little more exciting. There is usually a music programme on at this time, on 4940kHz, for instance on Saturdays we have Music time in Africa. This is a lively request show with some eclectic music that runs until Voice of America signs off at 2100 UTC. You can contact the programme by email musictime@voanews.com  

A more mainstream broadcaster in the 1900 to 2100 UTC time slot is the Voice of Russia, a steady signal on 12040kHz, usually a 444 SIO. Ever since they revised their style a year or two back, there is a more energetic feel about the station from the music bed underneath news items and trails through to actual programmes themselves.
I enjoy the In Focus and Press Review programmes which deal with serious issues, but to juxtapose that are items such as beach football. Russia recently defeated the Netherlands 2-1 on a Moscow beach to qualify for the 2013 Beach Football World Championships. Music and history often combine to make a must listen programme. A case in point being opera singer Fyodor Shalyapin (1873 to 1938). His rendition of the Volga Boatmen song is well known globally but a few minutes of this show made me realise there was more to him than that.

I often turn to All India Radio in the evenings for some interesting commentaries on world situations and the Indian Press Review gives a different perspective too. Interspersed with a healthy mix of classical Hindustani music I am left with a warm glow that only shortwave can bring. 7550 and 11670kHz are good frequencies.

Saturday 1 September 2012

Your retro desk top calendar for Sept & Oct #BBCWS

BBC External Services Audience Research Calendar 1973

A team from BBC External Services South European Services in 1972. The two women on the right look very cool in their groovy attire, the four on the left wear floral outfits typical for the middle aged worker of the era.

Regular readers know the drill. 1973 shares the same dates and days as 2012 (from March as 2012 is a leap year) so you can use this as a desktop wallpaper calendar for September and October 2012- talk about reusing, 39 years later!

Thursday 30 August 2012

Positively Prague

Radio Prague is a station from the past that I still turn to a few times a week for an entertaining daily programme in English, with local news and views and a chance to learn a word or phrase of the Czech language as well.

They now have a monthly quiz too (I recently won a small repro retro radio) and still issue QSL cards, despite being an online only radio station. The series of 2012 QSL cards features Czech artists.

You can listen to Prague live or on demand at: www.radio.cz/en and also via the wonderful World Radio Network at: www.wrn.org where there are many more ex-shortwave stalwarts in English awaiting your pleasure. Plus some that were not on air in English in the first place such as Radio Algeria and Radio Banns from Denmark.

The QSL pictured is of Toyen. Radio Prague state that her "real name was Marie Čermínová. 'Toyen' was a nickname invented by Czech poet Jaroslav Seifert. She was a representative of Czech and international surrealism. She spent most of her life in Paris and was part of the circle around Paul Eluard and André Breton".

Friday 24 August 2012

Radio Romania remains resistant

August 2012's QSL card is of an inn in Poseşti-Pământeni, Prahova, (1860)

Extract from my monthly column Long, Medium and Shortwaves, Broadcast Matters in Radio User, August 2012, www.pwpublishing.ltd.uk  

Radio Romania International continues to do a far better job than many of its broadcasting brethren. In addition to shortwave broadcasts in many langauges that are reliable in signal and entertaining in content, they now also have their programmes online, just two hours after the first broadcast goes out over the air. Just as with much of the BBC i-player, the Radio Romania International broadcasts remain online for a week. www.rri.ro

English from Bucharest is on seven times every day, starting at midnight UTC for an hour to America on 9700 and 11965kHz; then to Asia and the Americas from 0300 for an hour on 9645 11795 and 11895kHz.

Early risers in Europe can catch the broadcasts at 0530 to 0600 UTC on 9700 17760 and 21500kHz, with some of those frequencies also aimed to Australia. An hour from 1100 is aimed to Europe and Africa on 15210, 15430, 17510 and 17670kHz. Then its the drivetime slot of 1700 to 1800 on 11740kHz to Europe, 2030 to 2100 on 11880, 13800 and 15220kHz to Europe and the Americas, and finally for Europe and Asia on four frequencies of 7435, 9540, 9790 and 11940kHz.

After all the effort that they put in do make sure you contact them with your questions, comments or suggestions. The email address is eng@rri.ro  and the postal address is Radio Romania International, General Berthelot street, no. 60-64, 010165, Bucharest, Romania.

With a monthly QSL card as well (the 2012 series features vineyard properties), Radio Romania International remain a beacon of light and hope as the lights appear to go out on many other sw international broadcasters across Europe.

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