Shortwave DX log for evening of Sunday 16 July 2017

Logged via Tecsun PL-380 in NW London (currently UTC+1) via long wire antenna.

I’m still getting to grips with SINPO ratings and this Android app for logging; until now I’ve used a notebook and pen and rather fuzzier ratings like ‘fair but some interference’. But the app provides a decent, fast, offline schedule lookup, and the built-in logging function does 90% of what I would want it to.


17715Khz 1933 16 JUL – RADIO EXTERIOR ESPANA (SPAIN)  in SPANISH from NOBLEJAS. SINPO = 32332.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 1353KM from transmitter at Noblejas. Local time: 2033.

15490Khz 1934 16 JUL – BBC (UNITED KINGDOM)  in HAUSSA  from ASCENSION ISLAND. SINPO = 43433.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 6684KM from transmitter at Ascension Island. Local time: 2034.

15390Khz 1934 16 JUL – RADIO EXTERIOR ESPANA (SPAIN)  in SPANISH from NOBLEJAS. SINPO = 32333.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 1353KM from transmitter at Noblejas. Local time: 2034.

15140Khz 1935 16 JUL – RADIO SULTANATE OMAN (OMAN)  in ARABIC from THUMRAIT. SINPO = 22322.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 6031KM from transmitter at Thumrait. Local time: 2035.

13740Khz 1935 16 JUL – RADIO FRANCE INT. (FRANCE)  in FRENCH from ISSOUDUN. SINPO = 42332.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 569KM from transmitter at Issoudun. Local time: 2035.

13695Khz 1935 16 JUL – ALL INDIA RADIO GOS (INDIA)  in ENGLISH from BANGALORE). SINPO = 21221.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 8011KM from transmitter at Bangalore). Local time: 2035.

13640Khz 1935 16 JUL – ALL INDIA RADIO GOS (INDIA)  in ARABIC from BANGALORE). SINPO = 53333.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 8011KM from transmitter at Bangalore). Local time: 2035.

12050Khz 1936 16 JUL – DANDAL KURA (NIGERIA)  in KANURI from ASCENSION ISLAND. SINPO = 32432.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 6684KM from transmitter at Ascension Island. Local time: 2036.

11945Khz 1936 16 JUL – MWV RADIO FEDA (MADAGASCAR)  in ARABIC. SINPO = 31221.  Received at London, United Kingdom. Local time: 2036.

11930Khz 1937 16 JUL – BSKSA HOLY QURAN (SAUDI ARABIA)  in ARABIC from RIYADH. SINPO = 43433.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 4955KM from transmitter at Riyadh. Local time: 2037.

11895Khz 1937 16 JUL – CHINA RADIO INT. (CHINA)  in CANTONESE from KASHI (KASHGAR) (XINJIANG). SINPO = 53433.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 5807KM from transmitter at Kashi (Kashgar) (Xinjiang). Local time: 2037.

11850Khz 1937 16 JUL – RADIO ROMANIA INT. (ROMANIA)  in SPANISH from TIGANESTI. SINPO = 54555.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 2097KM from transmitter at Tiganesti. Local time: 2037.

11820Khz 1937 16 JUL – BSKSA HOLY QURAN (SAUDI ARABIA)  in ARABIC from RIYADH. SINPO = 54554.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 4955KM from transmitter at Riyadh. Local time: 2037.

11790Khz 1938 16 JUL – ADVENTIST WORLD RADIO (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)  in FULANI from MEYERTON. SINPO = 21311.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 9062KM from transmitter at Meyerton. Local time: 2038.

11695Khz 1938 16 JUL – CHINA RADIO INT. (CHINA)  in FRENCH from CERRIK. SINPO = 44544.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 1938KM from transmitter at Cerrik. Local time: 2038.

11660Khz 1939 16 JUL – BBC (UNITED KINGDOM)  in HAUSSA  from ASCENSION ISLAND. SINPO = 32322.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 6684KM from transmitter at Ascension Island. Local time: 2039.

11590Khz 1939 16 JUL – BROTHER STAIR (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)  in ENGLISH from SOFIA-KOSTINBROD. SINPO = 54544.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 2027KM from transmitter at Sofia-Kostinbrod. Local time: 2039.

9940Khz 1942 16 JUL – TRANS WORLD RADIO (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)  in LINGALA from MANZINI/MPANGELA RANCH. SINPO = 44544.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 9172KM from transmitter at Manzini/Mpangela Ranch. Local time: 2042.

9870Khz 1942 16 JUL – BSKSA 1 (SAUDI ARABIA)  in ARABIC from RIYADH. SINPO = 43433.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 4955KM from transmitter at Riyadh. Local time: 2042.

9820Khz 1943 16 JUL – MWV NEW LIFE STATION (MADAGASCAR)  in RUSSIAN. SINPO = 43443.  Received at London, United Kingdom. Local time: 2043.

9810Khz 1943 16 JUL – IRIB VOICE OF I.R.IRAN (IRAN)  in ENGLISH from SIRJAN. SINPO = 34544.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 5171KM from transmitter at Sirjan. Local time: 2043.

9745Khz 1944 16 JUL – CHINA RADIO INT. (CHINA)  in ESPERANTO from URUMQI (XINJIANG, CRI). SINPO = 54544.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 6159KM from transmitter at Urumqi (Xinjiang, CRI). Local time: 2044.

9730Khz 1944 16 JUL – CHINA RADIO INT. (CHINA)  in PORTUGUESE from KASHI (KASHGAR) (XINJIANG). SINPO = 54444.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 5807KM from transmitter at Kashi (Kashgar) (Xinjiang). Local time: 2044.

9710Khz 1945 16 JUL – NHK RADIO JAPAN (JAPAN)  in ENGLISH from SANTA MARIA DI GALERIA. SINPO = 53434.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 1416KM from transmitter at Santa Maria di Galeria. Local time: 2045.

9685Khz 1945 16 JUL – RADIO CAIRO (EGYPT)  in RUSSIAN from ABIS. SINPO = 14211.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 3358KM from transmitter at Abis. Local time: 2045.

9675Khz 1945 16 JUL – BSKSA RIAD (SAUDI ARABIA)  in TURKISH from RIYADH. SINPO = 53333.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 4955KM from transmitter at Riyadh. Local time: 2045.

9635Khz 1946 16 JUL – VOICE OF TURKEY (TURKEY)  in FRENCH from EMIRLER. SINPO = 32322.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 2866KM from transmitter at Emirler. Local time: 2046.

9555Khz 1946 16 JUL – BSKSA 1 (SAUDI ARABIA)  in ARABIC from RIYADH. SINPO = 33333.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 4955KM from transmitter at Riyadh. Local time: 2046.

9500Khz 1947 16 JUL – RADIO ROMANIA INT. (ROMANIA)  in ROMANIAN from GALBENI. SINPO = 54454.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 2015KM from transmitter at Galbeni. Local time: 2047.

9480Khz 1947 16 JUL – CHINA RADIO INT. (CHINA)  in FRENCH from CERRIK. SINPO = 55555.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 1938KM from transmitter at Cerrik. Local time: 2047.

9460Khz 1948 16 JUL – VOICE OF TURKEY (TURKEY)  in TURKISH from EMIRLER. SINPO = 54433.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 2866KM from transmitter at Emirler. Local time: 2048.

7445Khz 1948 16 JUL – BBC (UNITED KINGDOM)  in ENGLISH from TALATA VOLONONDRY. SINPO = 32221.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 9030KM from transmitter at Talata Volonondry. Local time: 2048.

7415Khz 1949 16 JUL – CHINA RADIO INT. (CHINA)  in CZECH from URUMQI (XINJIANG, CRI). SINPO = 32222.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 6159KM from transmitter at Urumqi (Xinjiang, CRI). Local time: 2049.

7385Khz 1949 16 JUL – CHINA RADIO INT. (CHINA)  in ALBANIAN from KASHI (KASHGAR) (XINJIANG). SINPO = 43433.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 5807KM from transmitter at Kashi (Kashgar) (Xinjiang). Local time: 2049.

7265Khz 1949 16 JUL – CHINA RADIO INT. (CHINA)  in ESPERANTO from URUMQI (XINJIANG, CRI). SINPO = 53333.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 6159KM from transmitter at Urumqi (Xinjiang, CRI). Local time: 2049.

6145Khz 1950 16 JUL – KBS WORLD RADIO (SOUTH KOREA)  in FRENCH from WOOFFERTON. SINPO = 32222.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 169KM from transmitter at Woofferton. Local time: 2050.

6070Khz 1951 16 JUL – FROM THE ISLE OF MUSIC (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA) (???)  in ENGLISH from ROHRBACH. SINPO = 32122.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 899KM from transmitter at Rohrbach. Local time: 2051.

5970Khz 1952 16 JUL – CHINA RADIO INT. (CHINA)  in FRENCH from CERRIK. SINPO = 53333.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 1938KM from transmitter at Cerrik. Local time: 2052.

3955Khz 1952 16 JUL – RADIO TAIWAN INT. (TWN)  in FRENCH from WOOFFERTON. SINPO = 54444.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 169KM from transmitter at Woofferton. Local time: 2052.

 

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Shortwave DX log for evening of Tuesday 11 July 2017

Logged via Tecsun PL-380 in NW London (currently UTC+1) via long wire antenna.

I’m still getting to grips with SINPO ratings and this Android app for logging; until now I’ve used a notebook and pen and rather fuzzier ratings like ‘fair but some interference’. But the app provides a decent, fast, offline schedule lookup, and the built-in logging function does 90% of what I would want it to.


17780Khz 1719 11 JUL – BBC (UNITED KINGDOM)  in ENGLISH from ASCENSION ISLAND. SINPO = 32231.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 6684KM from transmitter at Ascension Island. Local time: 1819.

17655Khz 1720 11 JUL – VOICE OF AMERICA (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)  in PORTUGUESE from SANTA MARIA DI GALERIA. SINPO = 42222.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 1416KM from transmitter at Santa Maria di Galeria. Local time: 1820.

15680Khz 1720 11 JUL – CHINA RADIO INT. (CHINA)  in FRENCH from KASHI (KASHGAR) (XINJIANG). SINPO = 44533.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 5807KM from transmitter at Kashi (Kashgar) (Xinjiang). Local time: 1820.

15570Khz 1720 11 JUL – RADIO VATICANA (VATICAN CITY STATE)  in FRENCH from SANTA MARIA DI GALERIA. SINPO = 42132.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 1416KM from transmitter at Santa Maria di Galeria. Local time: 1820.

15520Khz 1721 11 JUL – VOICE OF TURKEY (TURKEY)  in ENGLISH from EMIRLER. SINPO = 33332.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 2866KM from transmitter at Emirler. Local time: 1821.

15435Khz 1721 11 JUL – BSKSA 1 (SAUDI ARABIA)  in ARABIC from RIYADH. SINPO = 55444.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 4955KM from transmitter at Riyadh. Local time: 1821.

15400Khz 1721 11 JUL – BBC (UNITED KINGDOM)  in ENGLISH from ASCENSION ISLAND. SINPO = 53444.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 6684KM from transmitter at Ascension Island. Local time: 1821.

15300Khz 1722 11 JUL – RADIO FRANCE INT. (FRANCE)  in FRENCH from ISSOUDUN. SINPO = 21111.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 569KM from transmitter at Issoudun. Local time: 1822.

15235Khz 1722 11 JUL – CHANNEL AFRICA (SOUTH AFRICA)  in ENGLISH from MEYERTON. SINPO = 44333.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 9062KM from transmitter at Meyerton. Local time: 1822.

15140Khz 1722 11 JUL – RADIO SULTANATE OMAN (OMAN)  in ARABIC from THUMRAIT. SINPO = 43444.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 6031KM from transmitter at Thumrait. Local time: 1822.

13870Khz 1723 11 JUL – CHINA RADIO INT. (CHINA)  in HAUSSA  from KASHI (KASHGAR) (XINJIANG). SINPO = 43333.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 5807KM from transmitter at Kashi (Kashgar) (Xinjiang). Local time: 1823.

13760Khz 1723 11 JUL – CHINA RADIO INT. (CHINA)  in ENGLISH from KASHI (KASHGAR) (XINJIANG). SINPO = 55454.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 5807KM from transmitter at Kashi (Kashgar) (Xinjiang). Local time: 1823.

13730Khz 1723 11 JUL – VOA RADIO ASHNA (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)  in PASHTO from SULAIBIYAH. SINPO = 11111.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 4641KM from transmitter at Sulaibiyah. Local time: 1823.

13710Khz 1723 11 JUL – BSKSA HOLY QURAN (SAUDI ARABIA)  in ARABIC from RIYADH. SINPO = 44433.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 4955KM from transmitter at Riyadh. Local time: 1823.

13640Khz 1724 11 JUL – CHINA RADIO INT. (CHINA)  in RUSSIAN from URUMQI (XINJIANG, CRI). SINPO = 44444.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 6159KM from transmitter at Urumqi (Xinjiang, CRI). Local time: 1824.

13630Khz 1724 11 JUL – VOICE OF AMERICA (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)  in PORTUGUESE from MOPENG HILL. SINPO = 22111.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 8536KM from transmitter at Mopeng Hill. Local time: 1824.

13590Khz 1724 11 JUL – VOICE OF AMERICA (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)  in ENGLISH from SANTA MARIA DI GALERIA. SINPO = 43433.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 1416KM from transmitter at Santa Maria di Galeria. Local time: 1824.

13570Khz 1725 11 JUL – CHINA RADIO INT. (CHINA)  in ESPERANTO from BEIJING-MATOUCUN (CRI/CNR). SINPO = 52333.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 8208KM from transmitter at Beijing-Matoucun (CRI/CNR). Local time: 1825.

12055Khz 1725 11 JUL – VOICE OF AMERICA (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)  in SOMALI from SANTA MARIA DI GALERIA. SINPO = 43222.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 1416KM from transmitter at Santa Maria di Galeria. Local time: 1825.

12035Khz 1725 11 JUL – VOA RADIO ASHNA (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)  in PASHTO from UDON THANI. SINPO = 21111.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 9370KM from transmitter at Udon Thani. Local time: 1825.

12025Khz 1726 11 JUL – ALL INDIA RADIO GOS (INDIA)  in HINDI from PANAJI (GOA). SINPO = 21112.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 7565KM from transmitter at Panaji (Goa). Local time: 1826.

11975Khz 1726 11 JUL – RADIO ROMANIA INT. (ROMANIA)  in ROMANIAN from GALBENI. SINPO = 45444.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 2015KM from transmitter at Galbeni. Local time: 1826.

11965Khz 1726 11 JUL – DIMTSE RADIO ERENA (CLA)  in TIGRINYA from SOFIA-KOSTINBROD. SINPO = 43223.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 2027KM from transmitter at Sofia-Kostinbrod. Local time: 1826.

11875Khz 1726 11 JUL – CHINA RADIO INT. (CHINA)  in RUSSIAN from URUMQI (XINJIANG, CRI). SINPO = 44343.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 6159KM from transmitter at Urumqi (Xinjiang, CRI). Local time: 1826.

11860Khz 1727 11 JUL – REP.YEMEN RADIO SANAA (YEMEN)  in ARABIC from RIYADH. SINPO = 32112.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 4955KM from transmitter at Riyadh. Local time: 1827.

11825Khz 1727 11 JUL – CHINA RADIO INT. (CHINA)  in CROATIAN from BEIJING-MATOUCUN (CRI/CNR). SINPO = 44454.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 8208KM from transmitter at Beijing-Matoucun (CRI/CNR). Local time: 1827.

11810Khz 1727 11 JUL – RADIO ROMANIA INT. (ROMANIA)  in ENGLISH from TIGANESTI. SINPO = 54444.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 2097KM from transmitter at Tiganesti. Local time: 1827.

11680Khz 1728 11 JUL – CHINA RADIO INT. (CHINA)  in SWAHILI from XIAN-XIANYANG (SHAANXI). SINPO = 42221.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 8259KM from transmitter at Xian-Xianyang (Shaanxi). Local time: 1828.

11650Khz 1728 11 JUL – CHINA RADIO INT. (CHINA)  in ESPERANTO from XIAN-XIANYANG (SHAANXI). SINPO = 44333.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 8259KM from transmitter at Xian-Xianyang (Shaanxi). Local time: 1828.

11610Khz 1728 11 JUL – DEUTSCHE WELLE (GERMANY)  in FRENCH from MEYERTON. SINPO = 32332.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 9062KM from transmitter at Meyerton. Local time: 1828.

9850Khz 1730 11 JUL – IRIB VOICE OF I.R.IRAN (IRAN)  in GERMAN from SIRJAN. SINPO = 43433.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 5171KM from transmitter at Sirjan. Local time: 1830.

9770Khz 1730 11 JUL – CHINA RADIO INT. (CHINA)  in CANTONESE from XIAN-XIANYANG (SHAANXI). SINPO = 31111.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 8259KM from transmitter at Xian-Xianyang (Shaanxi). Local time: 1830.

9730Khz 1730 11 JUL – VOICE OF VIETNAM (VIETNAM)  in VIETNAMESE from HANOI-SONTAY. SINPO = 32222.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 9205KM from transmitter at Hanoi-Sontay. Local time: 1830.

9660Khz 1731 11 JUL – RADIO VATICANA (VATICAN CITY STATE)  in ENGLISH from TALATA VOLONONDRY. SINPO = 21112.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 9030KM from transmitter at Talata Volonondry. Local time: 1831.

9500Khz 1731 11 JUL – RADIO ROMANIA INT. (ROMANIA)  in ROMANIAN from GALBENI. SINPO = 43222.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 2015KM from transmitter at Galbeni. Local time: 1831.

9470Khz 1731 11 JUL – CHINA RADIO INT. (CHINA)  in RUSSIAN from XIAN-XIANYANG (SHAANXI). SINPO = 21111.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 8259KM from transmitter at Xian-Xianyang (Shaanxi). Local time: 1831.

9460Khz 1732 11 JUL – VOICE OF TURKEY (TURKEY)  in TURKISH from EMIRLER. SINPO = 44333.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 2866KM from transmitter at Emirler. Local time: 1832.

9435Khz 1732 11 JUL – CHINA RADIO INT. (CHINA)  in CROATIAN from KASHI (KASHGAR) (XINJIANG). SINPO = 43433.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 5807KM from transmitter at Kashi (Kashgar) (Xinjiang). Local time: 1832.

9425Khz 1733 11 JUL – VOICE OF KOREA (DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF KOREA)  in RUSSIAN from KUJANG. SINPO = 11111.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 8601KM from transmitter at Kujang. Local time: 1833.

9400Khz 1733 11 JUL – BIBLE VOICE (UNITED KINGDOM)  in PERSIAN from SOFIA-KOSTINBROD. SINPO = 32212.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 2027KM from transmitter at Sofia-Kostinbrod. Local time: 1833.

7445Khz 1733 11 JUL – BBC (UNITED KINGDOM)  in ENGLISH from TALATA VOLONONDRY. SINPO = 11111.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 9030KM from transmitter at Talata Volonondry. Local time: 1833.

7380Khz 1733 11 JUL – CHINA RADIO INT. (CHINA)  in GERMAN from CERRIK. SINPO = 42332.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 1938KM from transmitter at Cerrik. Local time: 1833.

5970Khz 1734 11 JUL – CHINA RADIO INT. (CHINA)  in GERMAN from CERRIK. SINPO = 43423.  Received at London, United Kingdom, 1938KM from transmitter at Cerrik. Local time: 1834.

The BBC World Service Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast

Phew. Just a couple of hours after walking home from work on what I think must’ve been the warmest day of the year, I was settling down to listen to a most unusual radio programme.

Just as it was mid-summer’s day here yesterday, in Antarctica (and elsewhere southern) it was midwinter.

Stranded for months in nocturnal eternity, the staff of the British Antarctic Survey get a rather special gift from the BBC. On this day, the scientists, engineers and other support staff traditionally give each other gifts, have a big meal, and get rather merry.

But they also tune in to a special BBC World Service broadcast directly pointing at them. And I mean literally: the Beeb utilises three shortwave transmitter sites around the world, points them south, and broadcasts a special one-off half hour programme directly to Antarctica in the hope that the bases will pick it up.

Shortwave audiences may be shrinking as time and technology move on, but this show deliberately only has a target audience of 50 or so. I’m not sure how long it’s been going on, but it seems to be something of a tradition.

The show features a bit of music, some messages of support from the great, the good and the weird, and primarily plays messages from family and loved ones of the intended audience. I imagine it provokes scenes of joy, tears, merriment and embarrassment to all listening in. The show was presented this year by Cerys Matthews of 6 Music.

As a shortwave listener, this kind of special broadcast is especially interesting. Because although the target audience is the bottom of the globe, the nature of the broadcast meant that other listeners could attempt to pick up the signal as it made its way south.

I was very pleased to get good reception from two of the transmitter sites: Woofferton in England, and Ascension Island, a dot in the South Atlantic. Signals from Dhabbaya in Abu Dhabi eluded me.

I usually get good reception from all three sites, and even though in theory they were all directing their signal south, I was still able to pick up Ascension almost as strong as I was Woofferton.

Shortwave radio has fascinated me for 15 years or more, and it continues to. For every ten relays of China Radio International you have to wade through, there’s always an oddity popping up. And the variations in the atmospheric conditions mean that every listening session is different somehow.

But even more so, special events like the BBC’s Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast can’t fail to intrigue me and I was so pleased to be able to ‘take part’ this time.

My trusty Tecsun PL-380 continues to do sterling work with the aid of the bundled long wire antenna draped out of the window across the balcony. I’m pleased to get pretty decent reception in my ground floor flat in NW London, despite masses of sources of interference, lack in height, and being surrounded by buildings.

The reception quality of the Midwinter Broadcast was less good than I’m used to, but this is to be expected as the signals were directed in a particular way and it was just nice to pick them up on their way.

I made some very sloppy recordings of the broadcast for the SWLing Post blog, and they’re online here. The show itself can be heard in much higher fidelity online here.

Radio Australia shortwave shutdown

Radio Australia now no longer broadcasts via shortwave.

Others have covered the news in more detail – in particular, highlighting the shortsightedness of shutting down an affordable service used by remote communities in northern Australia and on Pacific islands.

For me it’s just another inevitable step down the path shortwave seems to be going. There’s still plenty to be heard on shortwave – and a decent array of international sources to intrigue and fascinate. But as each service – usually a country – shuts down their shortwave transmitters, the service becomes of narrower and shallower interest. You need only tune around the wavebands these days to see how prominent China Radio International has become. (Receiving broadcasts direct from as far away as China is still exciting, but it gets less so when they’re repeated via transmitters closer to home.)

The Radio Australia shutdown reminds me of the fact that Radio Canada International shut down its own shortwave services in 2012. This was a long time after I started playing with my first shortwave radio, but RCI became a favourite of mine for its science show, its news and culture magazines, and most of all its correspondence show where they’d read out letters(!) and emails from listeners around the world. I signed up to receive the RCI’s programme schedule by post, and was delighted to also receive other merchandise including little plastic pennants with the station’s branding.

As of today, Radio Australia has gone the way of Radio Canada International, and many others. I didn’t listen to Radio Australia much – had never really been able to, to be honest. But on the rare occasions that it came through clear enough to make out, it was nothing less than a thrill. That the signal had made its way however far from Shepparton, and via however many bounces off the surface and atmosphere of the earth to make it into my little plastic receiver… Amazing.

I’ve had mixed successes tuning the shortwave bands since moving house last September. A new building festooned with insulation, cabling and new sources of radio noise is a bit less conducive to shortwave listening than a third floor flat near the top of a hill, as was my previous accommodation.

But I’m glad I was able to take a short recording last May, of reception of Radio Australia during a DXpedition just a little further up the hill to the top of Hampstead Heath. My own little souvenir of something becoming ever rarer.

 

Tapesponding, tape recorder clubs, podcasting and beyond

Frank and Kathleen Ross, c.1925

Tapesponding is the rather forced moniker given to the hobby of, simply, corresponding by tape. People would post tape back and forth between themselves, or possibly amongst a group of people, each recording a segment for the next listener to hear and then add to.

Tape recorder clubs incorporated tapesponding in their repertoire, but also indulged in creating field recordings, documentaries, and other such audio output. Sort of do-it-yourself radio.

I’ve recently stumbled upon the above phenomena and I’m enthralled. Regular readers will know I’ve got a bit of a thing for radio and field recordings and such like, and the discovery of all this has really captured my imagination.

For me, the most significant attractor to audio and radio is the personalisation of the medium. When you’re reading written words, they can only convey so much. But, being humans, we can get so much more from the intonations and delivery of the words we use. Beyond the spoken word, the ambient sounds in a recording can lend an awful lot to the listening experience. One needs only to think of the importance of foley artists – those geniuses who add ‘sound effects’ to film soundtracks to further convince us that what we are seeing is real, however subtly.

Some examples of the types of audio that I have stumbled upon lately include an episode of This American Life, that fabulous series from Chicago Public Radio. In Accidental Documentaries, the first act tells the story of a “recorded letter” sent from a family to their son away at medical school. The family members each give a rundown of the minutiae of their daily lives to the son, and the whole package tells a lot more than the speakers perhaps intended. As is often the way with these things, the tapes ended up in a secondhand shop and the rest is history. The episode is available to stream online.

On from there, Radio New Zealand‘s long-running Spectrum featured a story about a tape recording club from Rotorua, and with members all over the world, all exchanging tapes in a circular tapesponding loop. This episode of Spectrum is available on RNZ’s website in MP3 and OGG formats.

Wanting to know more, I had a bit of a hunt on the web and found a great little site with some more information about the history of some of these tape recording clubs in the UK. Mark Vernon’s Meagre Resource website features brief histories of three different clubs, explaining that – again – his original interest was sparked by finding some tapes at a car boot sale. Vernon appears to have had a long and involved interest in radio and audio production, and he has made several programmes on the subject, featuring recordings from these sorts of tapes. Samples are available on his site, and a couple of the programmes themselves can be streamed at Sound and Music (and they are extremely well put together, and very entertaining!).

*****

All of this caught my imagination, and got me wishing I could have been involved in such a project. And then it occurred to me that, not only was I involved in one, I actually instigated it.

Running from December 2006 to August 2007, ‘my’ modest little podcast was created with the help of other members of a messageboard I have long frequented. The board was originally in support of Scottish band Biffy Clyro, and more recently as an off-shoot of the official board, populated by friends who met eachother there.

The Biffy Board Radio podcast was a simple idea, and has some parallels with the way Phyll Moore of Rotorua, and no doubt countless others, ran their tape clubs. With me as the ‘presenter’ and editor, I asked for those interested to record some vocals of them chatting and introducing a few songs, and for them to email me the recording, along with the songs they picked. Ostensibly it emerged out of the trend often found in online  communities of music fans wishing to spread the word about songs they love (or, more pessimistically, to brag about their wide-ranging and eclectic tastes!).

But more than that, I think it helped to connect our rather disparate collective in a way that the continuous, interwoven conversations of a messageboard can only go so far to do. Those unique elements of sound recordings again – accents, intonation, laughter – it was those elements that really brought to life some of the people we had never met.

The brief was simple, and there was more than enough interest and activity to fill nearly 20 hours of podcasts (albeit primarily with music). Friendships were bolstered through the podcast too – particularly my own, with a chap from Denmark who I’ve become good mates with, and we’ve both visited eachother more than once.

Listening back to the podcasts now and then really makes me smile. They were made with the absolute best possible intentions, and it is infectious hearing people tell jokes and introduce songs they are in love with. In this culture of sticking up a rapidshare link to an entire album with little personal input, it was the vocal introductions, whether with a biography of the artist, description of the artwork, or simply a back story on the announcer’s love affair with them, which really told you what you wanted to hear.

The production quality was rarely perfect; I was mixing together recordings from various sources in a mixture of Garageband and Audacity, whether they were from built-in computer mics or digital cameras. Some voices came through booming and distorted, others needed amplifying to make them audible. But the spirit was always there. And some of the music we played was fantastic. In later episodes, we even had a snappy jingle, cobbled together by my talented friend (and soon-to-be-housemate!) John Tucker.

As much for me as anyone else, the entire project is archived online, with all the completed episodes free to stream or download.

The whole project has provided me with lots of happy memories. Occasionally, the question of starting a second wave of podcasts is posed. However, for better or worse, the project existed at a time when our sub-community existed within a larger space, amongst strangers, and the podcast was just one of many ways of us keeping in touch and maintaining a collective identity. Board stalwart Chris Campbell went the distance in creating a Biffy Clyro fansite (amusingly entitled Biffier than thou) and, in doing so, created an unofficial messageboard.

When the official board went down for an extended period, many of the core members migrated across to this offshoot board, and have stayed there ever since. The board is still loosely linked to Biffy, but the unspoken vibe is that of a collection of ‘real life’ friends all just hanging out. In many ways, this newer board is just the natural progression of our social group as we have grown up, and is a close sibling to projects such as the Biffy Board Radio podcast.

*****

Finally, mention should be made on the subject of Audioboo – a cracking service that enables the user to record instant audio blogs which get sent to their twitter accounts and blogs. Big users of it include Stephen Fry and Documentally (the former helped put it on the map, the latter does it very well indeed, amongst others). The ease of use tends to lead to very natural, conversational descriptions of the recorder’s environment, often including ambient sounds and other voices. As a listener, if the subject is of interest, it really adds to your experience of following a topic of conversation or an event.

My biggest problem is that the service is largely tied to an iPhone app. Although I’m sure if I had an iPhone myself, I wouldn’t complain! However, restriction to the iPhone means you can generally expect fairly high audio quality, as audio recording is one thing all generations of iPhone do nicely.

Video is one thing people are getting more into, but if the likes of Audioboo can get people thinking about audio recording more often, then I’m all for it.