Thursday 26 July 2012

BBC World Service Letterbox, Hugh Tattersall & Margaret Howard

Margaret Howard took over BBC World Service's Letterbox programme from Hugh Tattersall. Here they are, looking suave and glamorous and cracking open a bottle to celebrate the programme's 10th anniversary in 1975. The theme tune was a lovely piece of Bach
There is  a comprehensive post about Ms Howard at Andy Walmsley's Radio jottings blog plus a 1981 episode of Letterbox to hear: 

which includes an engaging 2010 Vimeo interview carried out by Jonathan Marks

Sunday 22 July 2012

Radio Havana, now and then

Extract from my monthly column Long, Medium and Shortwaves, Broadcast Matters in Radio User, July 2012,   

David Grenfell sent me some cards he received from Radio Havana Cuba in 1971. He would be happy to sell this set of four Radio Havana 10 year anniversary cards should any collectors be interested (one is illustrated above) and you can contact him at:

Having recently enjoyed the two 2008 epic films Che, I can vouch for the accuracy of some of the cards’ cartoons of camouflaged, beret-wearing revolutionaries ;-)

A quick look at Radio Havana’s 2012 summer schedules in English. If you have the energy to pull the European night shift, which is aimed to the Americas in their evenings, tune in from 0100 to 0700 UTC daily on 6000 and 6050kHz, and from 0500 to 0700 UTC on 6010, 6050, 6060 and 6125kHz.

Then in the European evenings from 1900 to 2000 UTC on 11760kHz and from 2300 to midnight UTC on 5040kHz.

Radio Havana also broadcast varied programming that includes news, music and features in eight other languages: Arabic, Creole, Esperanto, French, Guarani, Portuguese, Quechua and, of course, Spanish. Their email address is

Friday 20 July 2012

Radio Q99.5, Budapest

Extract from my monthly column Long, Medium and Shortwaves, Broadcast Matters in Radio User, July 2012,  

From Northampton Radio User reader Howard Barnett asked if Radio Budapest is making a comeback. I fear that this is merely wishful thinking, as Hungary left shortwave and closed its English service five years ago, and as far as I am aware is sadly not making any return.

Magyar Radio in Hungary does have six channels but none in English nor any that are easy to catch in the UK. You will have to listen online in Hungarian or in the minority languages spoken in Hungary:  Look for the Union flag symbol for the English translation of the Hungarian website.
However, commercial FM station Radio Q99.5 in Budapest does air an hour of English each week. “Talking Music with the English Guys” can be heard online and is on Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons:   Click on Online Adas (Listen live) in the top right hand corner of the screen. 21.00 (CET) on Thursdays and 15.00 (CET) Saturdays. On Facebook at: 

Monday 16 July 2012

Radio Free Asia's Summer Olympics QSL card

Radio Free Asia's 45th QSL card starts a new series of cards that recognise the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) relay sites used for RFA broadcasts. The first is from IBB’s Tinian relay site and confirms all valid RFA reception reports from April to July 2012.
However they are also issuing this Panda with bearskin hat QSL for a special Summer Olympics QSL card for reports covering July and August.
If you hear Radio Free Asia in one of their nine Asian languages (Mandarin, Tibetan, Burmese, Vietnamese, Korean, Laotian, Khmer, Cantonese, and Uyghur) you can email the station at  
The website's at : or you can even go old school and write to them at Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA.

Friday 13 July 2012

Buy a piece of BBC WS history - The Bush House auctions

The BBC World Service may have left Bush House for Broadcasting House but it has left an awful lot of kit behind. This is all up for auction, and is an amazing array of broadcasting equipment and ephemera, all starting at very low prices.

Phase 1 of the auction is open now and has televisions, studio desks and chairs, video and sound recording equipment, tape decks, microphones, office furniture, prints, photos and paintings, even old studio clocks – some of these would make a great momento for the BBC World Service fan and a useful addition for many smaller radio stations or technical buffs looking for bargains and a piece of history.

Some of the 1,500 Phase 1 items are expected to sell for over £10,000 but the minimum bid for each lot is just £10. Phase 2 of the auction is in Sept which includes complete studios. See you at the virtual auction, I have bid on a few things already...

Visit the online auction at  

Thursday 12 July 2012

Bye Bye and thank you Bush House

The final BBC broadcast from Bush House was today's 1100 GMT World News bulletin. Now the last of the stragglers at Bush join their BBC World Service colleagues over at the new extension to Broadcasting House, a couple of miles across London.

Thank you Bush House for your hospitality and for being a wonderful building that housed and aired millions of memories and momentous events for seven decades from 1940 to 2012.

This photo is in the BBC Bush House canteen in 1972 where three members of staff were photographed for the 1973 External Services Audience Research calendar.
"Assistant for Language Services and Latin American clerks: Elizabeth Witts, Julia Olalla and Gilberto Ferraz".

1973 shares the same dates and days as 2012 (from March, 2012 being a leap year) so you can use this as a desktop wallpaper calendar for July and August - talk about reusing, 39 years later!

Friday 6 July 2012

Adventist World Radio annual Wavescan DX contest

Extract from my Long, Medium and Shortwave Broadcast Matters column in Radio User, July 2012.

A station showing no signs of deserting shortwave is Adventist World Radio who are running their annual Wavescan DX contest throughout July. Entitled “Listen to AWR” you need to tune into as many different AWR shortwave locations as possible.

Send one reception report for each AWR shortwave location along with a photocopy of any AWR QSLs you have from the past five years. Times and frequencies of AWR include 1800 to 1830 UTC to Africa every day on 3215 and 3345kHz, and 1830 to 1900 UTC on 11840kHz.

Return postage in the form of currency notes in any international currency, or mint postage stamps, or IRC coupons would be welcome as would be a self-addressed return A5 envelope. Prizes are a Jerry Berg radio history book and a World Radio TV Handbook 2013.

In addition, there will be AWR souvenirs and radio curios for many participants. All AWR reception reports will be verified with a special AWR QSL card.  The address is Listen to AWR DX Contest, Box 29235, Indianapolis, Indiana 46229, USA.

Monday 2 July 2012

Sporadic E, RBI Radio Berlin International

That strange summer phenomenon of Sporadic E has brightened up a wet summer in the UK so far. There have been some excellent Sporadic E FM catches from hundreds of miles away and on a regular basis too. See the British DX Club's Communication and the Beyond the Horizon column which had 8 pages of SpE logs this month.

Here's an article from Radio Berlin International's DX club bulletin in 1986 on Sporadic E.

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