MN.03.08.1995 The Radio London Train

About 90 minutes drive east of Amsterdam towards the German border you’ll come to the city of Apeldoorn. If you turn south-east and drive along the Apeldoornse Kanaal you’ll soon come to the village of Eerbeek. In the summer it is still full of campers, people of walking or cycling holidays. The village has a railway station and parked in the siding in the summer of 1995 were two strange looking coaches. They used to ride around in the days of the German Democratic Republic. Now they’re home to a new satellite station called Radio London. Peter Jansen is the director and sitting inside the carriage I asked him to explain the name. The music on the new Radio London though is very different. It is world music. Look at the countries that have a beach looking out onto the Atlantic ocean and you have some idea of the music now being music from Africa and Latin America, reggae, rhythm and blues, and album tracks from the years 1965 to 85. The station later changed its name to Q Radio and moved from the train to a ship in the Ijsselmeer polder before closing down due to lack of funds. But it was fun while lasted.

This programme also has a review of a Grundig Yacht Boy receiver and there is DX news from the late Arthur Cushen MBE.

Direct download: MN.03.08.1995.Radiolondon.mp3
Category:Media Network Archives -- posted at: 11:28pm CEST

MN.01.06.1995. Internet and SWLs in 1995

This show kicks off with the news that ICRC (Red Cross) reorganises in Geneva. Has Lowe Electronics missed the boat with the lack of passband tuning? Roy Sangren of Radio Scandinavia does another test. I think he has a world record in test transmissions.

We then ran a feature on the Internet for Shortwave Radio Listeners. We chatted with Media Network contributor Jim Cutler about his vision of what could happen next. He was spot on. The problem in those days was the speed. 28.8 kb/sec dial-up modem was the standard. We talk to one station experimenting with 8 kb/sec audio. The commercialization of the Internet could be its downfall! Jim was spot on 16 years ago about how VOIP would develop.

We also talked to Vasily Strelnikov, formerly of Radio Moscow World Service and then of Radio 7. He explains how stations are migrating to the “new” FM band. BBC WS used to have English on an AM station in Moscow. 


Direct download: MN.01.06.1995.InternetexplainedforSWL.mp3
Category:Media Network Archives -- posted at: 4:18pm CEST

MN.06.09.1995. PressNow in Bosnia

This programme looked at the activitiee of Press Now in former Yugoslavia and its work to support independent media in Bosnia. In other news Veronica Radio says they will commence test transmissions of their new Newsradio AM station as of September 18th. Look for low power tests between 5 and 17hrs UTC consisting of news bulletins, weather and traffic reports. The Dutch Transmitting Company, NOZEMA expects the delivery of the permanent transmitter in October so that by the middle of next month the station will move to 24 hr operation. The tests on 1395 will also determine whether the expected interference problems with Radio Tirana which uses that channel in the evening are serious enough to warrant a frequency change to another part of the medium. 

There have been problems in the Caribbean with very bad weather and this has affected the island of Antigua, home to the BBC’s relay station for the region. Geoff Spells is a senior engineer for the BBC’s schedule and frequency management unit and he is on the line from Bush House in London. Geoff says that for the moment, at least, BBC Antigua is silent.

We also review of a new book by Nicolas Negroponte, Being Digital.

Direct download: MN.06.09.1995.Pressnow.mp3
Category:Media Network Archives -- posted at: 3:02pm CEST

MN.27.07.1995. Boundless Sound Documentaries

We visit the Radio Documentary Festival in Amsterdam “Boundless Sound”. More than 100 documentaries from all over the world were played and more than 400 people turned up to hear them, not bad when you realise that it was boiling hot outside. There were some great arguments for theatre of the mind from producers who made documentaries in Bosnia during the war. Radio doesn’t try to simplify the situation – it celebrates its complexity. Somehow it is easier to remember great radio programmes than TV shows.

Across Europe at the moment several laboratories are working to try and squeeze more audio into a smaller space without hearing the difference. Philips DCC digital compact cassette and the Sony Minidisk system are examples of this. In fact the system doesn’t record everything the microphone picks up but only what the ear will detect when the recording is played back. If a loud noise masks a quieter one, then the quiet sound isn’t recorded. Of course its important that there are international standards for this technique and these have been set by so-called Motion Picture Experts Group, or MPEG. All this is very important for the development of digital audio broadcasting.

Later in 1995 at the Funkausstellung in Berlin, RFI, BBC, DW and Radio Netherlands hope to demonstrate how three international radio broadcasts can be squeezed into one DAB channel, very important if international radio is going to compete in the long term when medium wave loses its popularity. Harald Prop, is senior engineer at the Frauenhofer Institue for integrated circuits in Erlangen, Germany where they compress and decompress audio all day in the hope of getting an even better sound out of a lower bit rate. We also look at stations that supply their programme schedules in Braille. Arthur Cushen refers to the Ontario DX Association. Chris Greenway of BBCMS looks at developments in Lithuania. 



Direct download: MN.27.07.1995.Boundless.mp3
Category:Media Network Archives -- posted at: 7:49pm CEST

MN.20.04.1995. Receiver Survey & Web Launch

This edition marked the start of Radio Netherlands presence on the World-Wide Web (21st April 1995) after three years of experimenting with MCI-Mail and participation in bulletin board systems like FIDONET. As Director of Programmes at the time, I remember suggesting as the URL to the head of IT at the time.

We chat with Esmail Amid-Hozour, head of Grundig North America. I think you would be hard put to find someone who has more enthusiasm for AM broadcasting, and shortwave in particular. He was very clever in putting shortwave portables in airline catalogues and Sharper Image. There’s also a visit to the BBC World Service shop in Bush House (long since gone) and a report on Lowe receivers designed and made in Matlock, Derbyshire. Still love those long URLs.

I suppose we really covered the birth of Adam Curry’s love affair with the web, well before podcasting. Then it was called and you could download software to listen to radio stations, like a station in Melbourne, Florida. These days Adam’s devoted himself to producing with John C Dvorak. Haven’t time’s changed?

We also celebrated the 10th anniversary of NDXE, the station that had a listeners club but never built the transmitter. This was a global radio station that claimed it would broadcast on shortwave in stereo. 


Direct download: MN.20.04.1995.mp3
Category:Media Network Archives -- posted at: 4:33pm CEST

MN.21.08.1995. Great Explanations - Victor Goonetilleke

I co-hosted the show with Victor Goonetilleke who was passing through Hilversum on his way back to Sri Lanka.

With recent discussion in January 2011 about funding of the BBC World Service, this flashback to a conference in September 1995 is rather topical.

Sam Younger was the Managing Director of BBC World Service in 1995 and he questioned whether it is desirable for public broadcasters to work with commercial operations, especially in television. He predicted that the growth of international TV would have a major impact on radio transmissions. He also warned against certain types of sponsored programmes.

The programme also contains the voice of the late Pete Myers who explains the reason for ending the run of the Happy Station programme. A nice cup of tea was one of the standard tunes that recurred in the Happy Station programme hosted by Eddy Startz, first on PCJ in 1928, and after the war when broadcasting resumed, Happy Station was a station within the station, Radio Netherlands. Last Sunday saw the last transmission of entertainment in English under that programme title. Pete Myers is one of the four hosts of the show during its 67 year run. Before the recording started he explained why the entertainment will continue, but not under the title of Happy Station. 

Direct download: MN.wk38.1995.victor.mp3
Category:Media Network Archives -- posted at: 4:15pm CEST

MN.10.08.1995.Radio Vlaanderen Internationaal - Belgian External Broadcasting

This programme was made just after Radio Vlaanderen Internationaal celebrated its official 50th anniversary with a great listener get together in Brussels and a visit to the shortwave transmitting centre in Wavre. What a great celebration it was of Belgian external radio broadcasting.

As we looked back in the archives we discovered Belgium has been active on shortwave for much longer than 50 years. Jacque van der Sichel, then director of RVI, has researched into the history and explains that Belgium’s appearance on the dial actually goes back 58 years. Just before the German invasion, the Belgian National Radio had been planning to upgrade the facilities in Ruiselede to improve reception of its programmes in other parts of the world. In fact, with war in Europe, the new high power facilities were moved to Africa, in the Belgian colony of Congo, now Zaire. Frans Vossen, media producer at the English department of Radio Vlaanderen Internationaal takes up the story. It's a shame that nothing seems to be left on line of these radio programmes from Brussels. 

Direct download: MN.10.08.1995.RVI.mp3
Category:Media Network Archives -- posted at: 3:30am CEST

MN.21.06.1995 Lichtenstein & Isle of Man Plans

In this edition:

Chris Greenway of BBC Monitoring reports on RFE-RL moves from Munich to Prague.

Paul Rusling has an idea for a longwave radio station from the Isle of Man (Atlantic 252 for grown-ups) and Wolf Harranth reports on plans to revive a radio station in Lichtenstein.

In other news here in Holland the PTT, quote media and the De Telegraaf newspaper have launched internet access for the general public. You pay 20 dollars a month for 6 hrs access. Meanwhile in London the BBC is in talks with Compuserve with the view to providing news and information to customers of this American online news provider. And in Israel, English programmes on shortwave are being cutback again as from July 1st. But the 19 hrs UTC transmission is being restored to a full half hour. However the feature programmes will not come back because Israel radio is closing its English features department at the end of June 1995.

This week European Digital Radio changed its name to Radio E, ready for a test DAB launch in late August. Thats a group of stations including the BBC, RFI, Deutsche Welle and Radio Netherlands. Does this mean there’s a trend away from individual international broadcasters. You see smaller stations clubbing together and larger ones starting to talk more and more about their own region. There is always a danger than when public money is tight policy makers simply want to broadcast news about their own country, saying that regional news from other parts of the world is too costly to collect. It was a point that our correspondent Victor Goonetilleke raised at the EDXC conference a few weeks back.

Direct download: MN.21.06.1995_Lichtenstein.mp3
Category:Media Network Archives -- posted at: 7:17pm CEST

MN.23.11.1995 Baygen Freeplay Wireless Test

I remember this edition of the programme well because we had one of only ten prototypes made of the Baygen Clockwork Wireless. I bought it in South Africa from the factory. This is rare because it's in grey and the first model issued to the public was actually in black. The spring inside is actually the same spring used in a car safety-belt. Other news from the script...

We also had some e-mail recently asking about "real audio" which was featured at the Towards 2000 interview. This was the way to get live audio from a radio station not through the airwaves but by using an Internet connection and a 14.4 modem. The quality achieved is telephone quality at best, but it appears things are improving. So let’s pick up the satellite telephone and cross to Lou Josephs in Boston, USA who has an update on Real Audio.

The BBC World Service transmitter in Hong Kong, which broadcast news of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Mandarin to China, is to be dismantled before the Chinese authorites take over the colony in 1997. Asiasat2 was succesfully launched into space. It went up from a site in Xichang in south-western China powered by a Chinese Long March 2F rocket. It was a tense time because of recent failures of the Chinese launch vehicle. When Asiasat 2 becomes operational, somewhere late January 96, it will be the most powerful and versatile satellite in Asia, with a lot of capacity to send radio and television pictures right across the continent. Germany’s Deutsche Welle Television is planning to start digital radio and TV transmissions in the course of 1996. Other partners are expected to join them. Already Portugal has announced that they plan to use the satellite for their international television service too.

Direct download: MN.23.11.1985.mp3
Category:Media Network Archives -- posted at: 12:35am CEST

MN.04.04.1996. Endangered Sounds Project

This was one of the first shows to also be broadcast on mediumwave via the 1440 kHz Radio Luxembourg transmitter. These are some of the items mentioned in the programme.

  • Sony Corporation is celebrating its 50th anniversary at the moment. This is reflected in major efforts to get MiniDisc going, major campaigns to boost the switch to 16 by 9 format televisions, plus home entertainment enhancements such as Prologic. As far as shortwave receivers is concerned Sony continues to invest in the travel market. The latest offering is a portable receiver called the ICF-SW-40 which combines digital tuning with the feel of an analogue tuning knob.
  • We looked at the growth of Sky Radio, and Dutch consumer electronics companies are reporting a growth in the sales of the 16 by 9 letterbox format television sets. Most of it is in the top end of the market amongst the larger screen TV. The Dutch Facilities company NOB, which follows the market reports that about 100,000 wide-screen TVs will be sold in the course of 1996.
  • The Dutch pubcaster VPRO wants to set up an archive of endangered sounds. Kees Slager says it started when they looked into the archives at broadcasting house looking for sound effects and discovered many distinctive sounds had been wiped. They couldn't find any sounds of Dutch soldiers on parade, a mechanical hand-driven sewing machine or the sound of metal dustbins being collected early in the morning by the refuse collector. The VPRO programme OVT which specialises in historical subjects has now called on listeners to collect endangered sounds and send them in. I recall the BBC World Service doing a similar thing in 2009.
  • The British DX Club has just published the fourteenth edition of its publication Radio Stations in the United Kingdom.The Dutch consumer association, the consumentenbond has just published the results of an extensive survey into rechargeable batteries.
  • A fire at a receiver manufacturing plant in South Africa has delayed the European launch for Nethold slightly, but the marketing plans continue. Mark Cutten is director of Demand Video at Nethold. We asked him to explain why there's such a push to satellite TV.
  • Radio and TV Hong Kong will again appear on shortwave briefly to cover the China Sea Race. We got in touch with the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club for the details.
Direct download: MN.wk14.1996.VPRO.mp3
Category:Media Network Archives -- posted at: 10:49am CEST

Video Tribute to BBC 648

Been cleaning up a video archive and came across video I shot in Ordfordness in 2003. It turns out to be topical because the BBC will cease using 648 kHz which originates from there as from March 27th 2011. This video will never be shown on TV - it is designed for those of us in radio who enjoy the details of high-frequency engineering. This video over on my video vault, therefore, is unanashamedly detailed. There are frequent references to a BBC transmitter site in Crowborough Sussex. This was the home of the most powerful transmitter in the world during the 2nd World War, nicknamed Aspidistra after the song by Gracie Fields.

On this site you can also listen to a couple of Media Network episodes which explain more about this famous transmitter.

Category:Media Network Archives -- posted at: 12:07am CEST

MN.28.12.1995 Rhodesia - Answering Back From Francistown

I met the late Harold Robin a couple of times at his home in Tunbridge Wells, UK. He was a brilliant Foreign Office engineer who built the wartime Aspidistra transmitter famous for its clandestine work out of Crowborough. Have a listen to the programmes Wartime Deception on this site and you'll see what I mean.

Although his work during the war is well documented in books like "The Black Game"by Ellic Howe, I think we managed to capture the other stories from later in his life. For instance, how he invented the "Picolo" modulation system as used by the diplomatic service to communicate text over shortwave between embassies. He also built the BBC Overseas relay station in Oman, and the external service of UAE Radio from Dubai. This edition, recorded after Christmas in 1995, looked at the story of the British response to the declaration of independence by Ian Smith in, what was then, Rhodesia. Harold talks about setting up a mediumwave transmitter in a matter of weeks in the town of Francistown, in the Bechuanaland Protectorate, now called Botswana. Thanks also to Colin Miller for some of the recordings of the RBC. It seems that one of the two transmitters was sent to Cyprus after the World and Rhodesia operation ended, the other ended up in Ordfordness for some experiments on 648 kHz. You might also want to check out the video of Margaret Howard, who refers to a special programme transmitted over this MW sender. It was called the World and Rhodesia and was more of a UK government editorial than any programme the BBC would make. The programme concept didn't work although it seemed to have taken the British government a couple of years to find out. Harold refers to staying in the Tati Hotel River Lodge, about 8 kms outside of Francistown. Sure enough, it's still there.

Direct download: MN.28.12.1985.Rhodesia.mp3
Category:Media Network Archives -- posted at: 7:01pm CEST






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