Thursday 31 May 2012

Scandinavian Weekend Radio

Scandinavian Weekend Radio from Finland is on air for two weekends in June, that is to say Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd. Then again on Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd for Midnight Sun Radio.

The transmitter is located in the Virrat, Upper Tampere region and can be heard on 1602, 5980, 6170, 11720 and 11690kHz.

The station offers a wide range of music programmes and is staffed by volunteers. Fans can support SWR by buying CDs, T-shorts, tote bags and more at the website shop:

You can send reception reports via traditional mail to SWR Reports, PO Box 99, FI-34801 Virrat, Finland but you’ll need to include two Euros.

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Radio Thailand

Radio Thailand in English is always an interesting and exotic sounding station for us in the UK and is best heard at 1900 UTC on 7205 and 9680kHz. You can try for other English broadcasts from Bangkok at 0000 to 0100 UTC on 15275; 0200 to 0230 on 15275kHz; and 0530 to 0600 on 17770kHz to Europe and Africa.

Friday 25 May 2012

TMS: Test Match rather Special

Test Match Special is back to hopefully uncork another vintage summer. The First Test Match was from Lords last week between England and the West Indies, and the second Test starts at Trent Bridge today.

Listen to the art of radio on Radio 4 (198kHz long wave) and BBC Radio 5 Live Extra (DAB) from around 0930 UTC and also on Line and Length to the West Indies. Online as well at the BBC.

A sign of the times is being able to follow many of the commentators and fellow fans on Twitter. Scorer Malcolm Ashton is at @TMSscorer and other TMS accounts include:

But cricket is secondary to the commentators'observations and talk. Always starting with cricket, it can soon wander off into all realms of wonderment. Henry Blofeld, Blowers, is in fine form, the Old Etonian making a good duo at the mike with chirpy north Londoner Phil Tufnell (Tuffers). A conversation on Matron giving Blowers barley sugars after injections was a classic interlude last week; the social contrast between these two highlights that the class divide in Britain is still very much alive, although often able to rub along side by side in fine fettle.

Aggers (Jonathan Agnew) is a calm public school voice. The former Leicestershire and England bowler leads the commentary charge these days in the TMS Box. Besides him is often the curmudgeonly Geoffrey Boycott, Yorkshire and England stalwart, who could happily have spent all five days of a Test Match grinding out a century, back in the day. His biting comments and commonsense approach to cricket are often obvious but usually true. Sadly missing is CMJ, Christopher Martin-Jenkins who is battling cancer.

The guest commentators in the box this series include the legendary Viv Richards who must be as popular on these shores as his own. As ever when the Windies are touring, Tony Cozier is the Windies' radio voice. A white Barbadian and former cricketer who has been commentating for decades- since 1965 in fact. A typical jolly jape in the commentary box occured on Test Match Special during the 4th England v West Indies Test match in 2007. Cozier began to read out a letter from a Mexican listener called "Juan Kerr" until Aggers stopped him...

Others often covering the cricket include Alison Mitchell, Mike Selvey, Vic Marks, Simon Mann and Michael Vaughan. Hopefully we will also hear Barbadian lawyer and commentator Donna Symmonds who usually makes it into the TMS box on a Windies tour of England.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Egyptian elections today: Oscillate wildly?

Vintage QSL card from the 1950s

Coverage of the elections in full I assume on Radio Cairo’s English service from today and the results' impact over the coming weeks. Either way, if the Cairo broadcasts are technically reliable, you are guaranteed some interesting programmes and music.

Radio Cairo’s current shortwave schedule (until late October 2012)  is:

0200 to 0330 UTC on 9315kHz to the Americas
1215 to 1330 on 17870 to Asia
1600 to 1800 on 15345 to Africa
2000 to 2030 on 15290 to Africa
2115-2245 on 6270 to Europe
2300 to 0030 UTC on 6270kHz to the Americas

Some problems with Radio Cairo audio are illustrated here:
Happy memories of their German service back in 1974 at:
Jah Wobble remembers listening into and being influenced by Cairo on shortwave when growing up:

Friday 18 May 2012

English by radio, Pedagogical Pop and Bush House mice

Extract from my column Radio Websites, May 2012, Radio User, PW Publishing,

Follow the Bush House mice on Twitter for some shrewd and amusing observations of life at the bottom end of a large international broadcaster.  

Whether the mice migrate with the BBC World Service across London to New Broadcasting House is a moot point, but for a tour around the BBC’s swish new offices, studios and meeting rooms go to the following YouTube link  or go to  and look for the W1 tour. Another video of interest here is BBC World Service’s World Have Your Say from Tanzania a couple of years back.

When I was a teenager living in London I used to tune to the BBC World Service on 648kHz. In between the BBC World Service it was always fun to hear the BBC German and French services on that same frequency. Likewise, the BBC English by Radio programmes aired there always amused me, and despite English being my first language, educated me as well. I have found one of the classic BBC English programmes, called Pedagogical Pop, online. This would take a contemporary song and analyse the lyrics, line by line. This is probably more than average BBC Radio 1 listener managed to do.

So head for this Spanish site where you will find Starry Starry Night, Send in the Clowns, Suzanne, Heard it through the Grapevine, I Shot the Sheriff and many more explained in BBC English.

Summer Breeze audio is at  and there’s a transcript of the Ticket To Ride programme at

Wednesday 16 May 2012

A tale of two Koreas

The two Koreas are at it again. A clash of times as usual this season with both broadcasting English at 2100 UTC (2200 BST). KBS World from Seoul in the south is as usual putting out a powerhouse signal from the Skelton transmitter in Cumbria on 3955kHz.

From the north, Pyongyang (1990s QSL above) is also a very good signal at the moment, SIO 444. Last night (15th May) their French transmission was strong until sign off at 2100 UTC on 15245 and 13760 kHz.

Then the English broadcast came on. Classic shortwave – military music, serenades to “Generalissimo Kim Il Sung"- (he’s the one that died in 1994), and is a “hero forever”. A studio announcer then read extracts from websites in Italy, Germany and UK that mentioned North Korea. Next up was a defence of their nuclear arsenal. Then a very informative and pleasant item on bird migration on the islands off of North Korea. I really enjoyed it and drifted off to sleep happily.

Monday 14 May 2012

Out of Africa

Extract from my monthly column Long, Medium and Shortwaves, Broadcast Matters in Radio User, May 2012,   Photo  of an Etón FR360 Solar Link radio.

I was fortunate enough to enjoy a holiday on Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands in February. This Spanish island is just 60 miles off of the western coast of Morocco so I also had the opportunity to try and listen for some African radio signals.

As expected, medium wave saw a proliferation of Spanish stations including the SER and COPE networks. On shortwave there were quite a few services that were aimed at or within Africa which were easy catches. These included Morocco’s Medi Un on 9575kHz, a signal that reaches the UK too. Morocco on 15340kHz was clear as well with some atmospheric local music. I was pleased to receive good reception and music from both Mali (9635kHz) and Mauritania (7245kHz) as they are stations that I enjoy on shortwave back home. From Gabon, Africa Number One was booming on in French on 9580kHz, often with a disappointing mixture of western chart music in English. This did improve when the station spiced things up intermittently with more localised sounds.

The Voice of America is still out in force when it comes to broadcasts to Africa. Their Studio 7 English programmes beam in from 1700 UTC on 12080 and on 15575kHz also in the Shona language. The English service aimed to Sudan, VOA Sudan In Focus, was a regular catch for me on 9790, 11905 and 13635kHz from 1630UTC when I first tuned in, with some interesting information and news about Sudan and South Sudan. This included the use of what I found rather a scary turn of phrase: “speeding up repatriation.”

The Sudan Radio Service on 17745kHz was another English language broadcaster I heard most days from 1630 UTC. This is an American funded station under the auspices of the Education Development Center in Washington D.C. Their Road to Peace programmes are modelled on the BBC World Service. EDC’s Jeremy Groce comments that “The Sudan has no history of independent media” and that until the EDC came along a few years back”radio in Sudan has been used as a propaganda tool by the government or the rebels. It is exciting to be the first source of trustworthy information.”

From the southernmost country of the continent Channel Africa proved to be a reliable source of news and entertainment on 15235kHz with the daily Africa Digest programme. Many of the rest of the regular international broadcasters are also still heard throughout Africa. I heard the familiar voices of Radio Taiwan’s friendly presenters bemoaning the conditions at an Apple i-phone factory in the region, on 15690kHz from 1700 UTC; NHK Radio Japan still struggling to come to terms with last year’s Tsunami on 21560kHz from 1400 UTC; TRT The Voice of Turkey from 1730 UTC on 11735kHz, as polite as ever “Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, in today’s programme...”; The Voice of Russia powerful on 17805 and 21805kHz from 0800 UTC and Radio Netherlands on 5955kHz.

It was reassuring, from the point of view of a tourist abroad, to hear the BBC World Service clearly and on a wide range of frequencies. Morning, noon and night on shortwave with SIOs ranging from 222 to 555, on 13790, 15310, 15400 and 17830kHz kept me up to date and made me feel rather envious of some of the choices people living in Africa still have..

The Christian Voice African service proved a reliable station with some surprisingly interesting and varied programme content, 17695kHz with a selection of Christian pop music and other features such as Kickstart and Project Washington. Religious stations, especially Christians were to be found aplenty. Brother Stair’s strange rants on were simple to hear on the Overcomer Ministry on15190kHz on everything from Mitt Romney to “Chinese lies.” WYFR Family Radio on 7245kHz; and the ever reliable signal of Vatican Radio African Service on 13735kHz at 1730 UTC with a 433 SIO.

There were doubtless more exotic sounds to be heard but I just tuned in for the odd spare moments between sightseeing and exploring, enjoying the sunshine and the fine food of this lovely island. One station I could not identify which often played an exciting mix of Afrobeat music on 11750kHz and I usually caught it for 15 minutes or so around 1730 UTC before putting on the glad rags for a pre-dinner drink and a stroll along the seafront.

I have a friend who is currently doing Voluntary Services Overseas in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. Another friend spends some of her annual leave every tear travelling to African countries to help build schools and community centres. Last year she was in Cameroon and this year it will be Malawi. These strong willed women asked my advice for a radio to take with them to be able to keep in touch with international events and just to provide entertainment via local radio.

I suggested to them a Trevor Bayliss inspired wind-up and solar powered radio. They obviously would best be served by a model that covered shortwave and medium wave as well as the FM band. The Eton FR360 Solar Link costs about £50 and I think should hold up to all conditions. It’s solar, wind up and battery powered and has AM, FM and a good range of the key shortwave bands. It’s a rugged looking little monster but aesthetics go out of the window when you are trying to protect against scorching heat, desert storms, wind and anything else that sub-Saharan Africa can throw at you.

Sunday 13 May 2012

World Radio TV Handbook Summer A12 updates

From Sean D Gilbert, WRTH International editor:

The WRTH (World Radio TV Handbook) Editorial team is pleased to announce that the Summer/A12 season broadcasting schedules file is now available to download, free of charge, from the WRTH website - click on  and follow the link "Latest PDF Updates".

The 86 page file is approximately 4500kB in size and contains the following information:

  • Summer / 'A' Season broadcasting schedules for over 200 international and Clandestine/Target stations;
  • Frequency listing of the above stations to facilitate band scanning;
  • Broadcasts in English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish;
  • International DRM broadcasts.
Please feel free to pass this information on so that we may reach as many SWLs, DXe's and professionals as possible. For contact details, transmitter sites and much more, please refer to the printed WRTH, which is available to order from the website. We hope you find this a useful accompaniment to the printed WRTH. On behalf of the publisher and editorial team at WRTH, happy listening!

Sean D. Gilbert,

International Editor - WRTH (World Radio TV Handbook)

Thursday 10 May 2012

DX Antwerp's Saturday 12th May broadcast

DX Antwerp's special event and 30th anniversary shortwave broadcast and open days. On May 19 and 20th, DX Antwerp vzw (the only DX and shortwave listeners' club in Belgium) will be having their annual open day.

This year they also celebrate their 30th anniversary and on Saturday 12th May are airing a special anniversary shortwave broadcast as below.

A special QSL card has been designed for this occasion. Send a report by email to .  Updates via

Target areas, times and frequencies.

To India from 0430-0530 UTC on 17880kHz via Issoudun in France, AM mode.

To Western Europe, 0800-0900 on 9680 via Issoudun, AM.

To Western Europe, 1200-1300 on 6015 via Issoudun but in DRM.

To North America (east), 1400-1500 on 17880 via Montsinery in French Guiana, AM.

To India, 1530-1630 on 15775 via Issoudun but in DRM.

To North America (west), 1700-1800 on 21680 via Montsinery in French Guiana, AM.

To North America, 2000-2100 on 17875 via Montsinery in French Guiana, AM.

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Interval Signals online

Extract from my column Radio Websites, May 2012, Radio User, PW Publishing,

I have been asked about online sources for interval signals and have come up with the following half dozen recommendations to start with.

Dave Kernick is considered by most to have the world’s leading website for interval signals and although I have featured it before it is worth reminding readers of.   You navigate the site by country in the left margin. A dark green background and yellow font has a rather therapeutic effect that often entices me to stay for “just one more click” and before I know it an hour has gone by and I have satisfied my need for a dose of those wonderful, sometime eclectic, rarely dull, interval signals. Dave keeps the site updated too, you just click on the “what’s new” button. Darfur Radio in South Sudan, West Coast Radio in Ireland, Fantasy Radio in Devizes, Kazoo FM in Bhutan, if it has an aircheck, jingle or musical identification the chances are you will find it here.

Also of note is the Interval Signal Database is at  The fact that it is a database allows you to search for a particular signal, which can be an advantage. It is “a collection of audio clips of foreign radio stations, with identification announcements in various languages, signature tunes and jingles, and of course interval signals.” There is also a useful list of the ITU country codes, in both English and German.

On we go to Russia where the Irkutsk DXers’ society has a section of their website dedicated to interval signals. Current and historic sounds are there, preceded by an introduction from Deutsche Welle’s signature tunes booklet. “Signature tunes and interval signals are generally composed of relatively short but catchy sequences of notes, which are very easily recognizable. These melodies have two functions complementing one another - they are both signature tunes for a specific broadcaster as well as fillers. Thus, they serve as a musical means of identification of a station, besides the spoken announcements.” From Austrian Shortwave Panorama to Angolan clandestine station VORGAN.

Continuing eastwards we arrive in Japan at the Interval Signal Library  This is a range of interval signals from stations heard in Japan, from Alaska via Ghana to Vanuatu.

The Shortwave Listening Post blog is a wonderful resource for all aspects of the hobby. With daily updates it’s one that I subscribe to and each evening as an email drops into my in box I eagerly anticipate what the new post will cover. Last summer they ran a piece about interval signals which you can find at  It also contains an entertaining blooper of a German continuity announcer having to leave the bulletin to close a door to outside noise, before returning to read the schedule details. After that, head for the home page where you be enthralled with news and views, receiver information and more.  

There are of course many recordings on YouTube of interval signals. Searching there will lead you on a varied and highly entertaining journey I daresay. To start with, check out the Polish Radio Warsaw interval signals video at Ray Flute’s channel. There are other radio gems here too, such as some clips of Iain Lee on Absolute Radio.  

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Your desk top calendar for May & June...1973

1973 shares the same dates and days as 2012, from March onwards anyway, 2012 being a leap year.

I thought it might therefore be fun to post some of the calendar girls and boys from the BBC External Services Audience Research Calendar from 1973.  Here, modelling May and June we have Doris Whitaker of the French Service and Edith Clark from the German Service.

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...