Bad news for SW broadcasting

Several months ago, I participated in a survey of shortwave listeners by the Broadcasting Board of Governors. According to their website, “The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is both the name of the independent federal agency that oversees all U.S. civilian international media and the name of the board that governs those broadcasts. The BBG’s mission is to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.

Today, I got the following:

Greetings from the Broadcasting Board of Governors.  Our Special Committee on the Future of Shortwave Broadcasting, formed by the Board last fall and led by Governor Matt Armstrong, today released its report assessing current and projected use of shortwave radio as a platform for programming by U.S. international media.

Thank you for your contributions to this effort.  Many people from a variety of perspectives provided ideas and views, which broadened the committee’s understanding of the issues involved.

The report is now online here http://www.bbg.gov/wp-content/media/2014/08/SW-Committee-Final-Report.pdf, along with a fact sheet, which is posted here http://www.bbg.gov/wp-content/media/2014/08/SW-Report-fact-sheet.pdf.

We hope you find these items informative.

For any questions, please contact us at ShortwaveCommittee@bbg.gov.

I don’t have time to go over it in detail, but the fact sheet contains the following:

Main findings

  • USIM must optimize delivery by audience/market. While there is still a critical need for shortwave in key countries, it is a medium of marginal and continuously declining impact in most markets.
  • Even in countries with currently significant levels of shortwave usage, audiences will migrate to other platforms as they become more accessible.
  • The Committee recommends that BBG take an aggressive approach to reduce or eliminate shortwave broadcasts where there is either minimal adience reach or the audience is not a target audience based on the BBG’s support of U.S. foreign policy.
  • Evidence suggests that availability of high-quality content on preferred platforms is primarily responsible for the declining use of shortwave. AM and FM radio, podcasts, and mobile streamingare more widely used for audio consumption.
  • Shortwave users generally have viable alternative means of accessing USIM content. Top target demographics are unlikely to use shortwave exclusively or at all.
  • The BBG has found no evidence that shortwave usage increases during crises. Audiences continue to use their existing platforms (TV, FM, and the Internet) or seek out anti-censorship tools including online firewall circumvention, private chat software, flash drives, and DVDs to access content.
  • Shortwave is a relatively expensive platform to operate and maintain.
  • Digital shortwave, or Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM), is unlikely to become an established mass media distribution methodology in enough of the BBG’s current or future markets to justify the costs.
  • The Committee supports almost all of the shortwave broadcast reductions previously approved by the Board under sequestration and the implementation of the FY14 Operating Plan. However, given current situations in Ukraine and other nearby states with large Russian-speaking populations, the Committee recommends revising the FY14 Operating Plan and ensuring that shortwave broadcasts in Russian to Russia and the Caucasus be continued at current levels, subject to re-evaluation during FY16 budget formulation processes.

From my Twitter feed: SDR, SWL, kits

sdrsharp's avatarsdrsharp @sdrsharp
You want more and better rtl-sdr tools? Consider helping this initiative from Kyle Keen indiegogo.com/projects/a-mon…

 

UlisK3LU's avatarUlis K3LU @UlisK3LU
Western radio broadcasters tuning out (excellent article on the demise of #shortwave broadcasters) via Straits Times shar.es/LgFv9

 

wa1gov's avatar#hamradiopic.twitter.com/oaBaj00Ady

From my Twitter feed: SDR, KX3 news, IoT

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Designing a truly portable SDR goo.gl/fb/zCsyPI #shortwave #swl #dx

 

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Elecraft Says It’s 2 Weeks Away! #hamradio fb.me/3xncqJtBg

 

iot4all's avatarInternet of Things @iot4all
Pinoccio: Mesh All The (Internet Of) Things hackaday.com/2014/07/15/pin… via @hackaday #IoT #IoE

From my Twitter Feed: Hamvention record, SW radio

N2NKW's avatarN2NKW
@hamvention I sure will if I can get a working radio. Did you know #hamvention in 1960 pressed a 45rpm record? youtube.com/watch?v=lOqe0o…

 

SWLingDotCom's avatarSWLing @SWLingDotCom
Another solution for whole-house shortwave goo.gl/fb/HKiw9#shortwave#swl#dx

 

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New post: [Balint]‘s GNU Radio Tutorials bit.ly/1i5LYHv

 

MW0IAN's avatarIan @MW0IAN
XMEGA-A3BU Xplained | AD9850 DDS controller firmware   kd1jv.qrpradio.com/XMEGA/XMEGA.htm

From my Twitter feeds: Smith chart, inkjet PCBs, SW books

imabug's avatarimabug @imabug
Smith chart antenna-theory.com/tutorial/smith…

 

make's avatarMAKE @make
Inkjet-printed circuits being shown at #sxsw. More to come. pic.twitter.com/ohLNzedwSk

 

hamrad88's avatarTom Stiles @hamrad88
TRRS #0252 – Books for Shortwave Listeners: youtu.be/rBFLkHP8RiU?a via @YouTube

From my Twitter feed: deep-space signals, making PCBs, SWL skeds

VoiceOfHamRadio's avatarVoice of Ham Radio @VoiceOfHamRadio
Radio Amateurs Receive Rosetta Spacecraft Signals from Deep Space zite.to/1nxMq2L via @Zite

 

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hackaday @hackaday
New post: [CNLohr] Demos His Photoetch PCB Process bit.ly/1a8TQpm

 

QSLRptMT's avatarGayle Van Horn @QSLRptMT
Still looking for winter shortwave schedules to compliment your listening ? Details at: mt-shortwave.blogspot.com

From my Twitter feed: spy tech, signal sampler, SWL guide

maximus_freeman's avatarmaxp @maximus_freeman
Interesting bit of RF engineering leaksource.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/nsa-an… (cc @kb6nu)

 

dangerousproto's avatarDangerous Prototypes @dangerousproto
Variable RF signal sampler goo.gl/f7vIMM

 

hamrad88's avatarTom Stiles @hamrad88
TRRS #0212 – Shortwave Listen Guide – eBook: youtu.be/RJxclPd1bLk?a via @YouTube

Halloween a pirate radio holiday. Who knew?

Yesterday evening, maxp tweeted:

maximus_freeman's avatar
maxp @maximus_freeman
Halloween: Pirate Radio’s holiday swling.com/blog/2013/10/h… #swl #swling h/t @SWLingDotCom
Who knew? Having just watched The Numbers Station and then hearing the CW numbers station 10115.5 kHz, I was ready to listen for some pirates.
There were a bunch of them on, too, in the MHz or so just below the 40m band. The first one that I heard was on 6925 kHz. I didn’t write down the details, though. Tuning up the band, I logged Wolverine Radio (GO BLUE!) on 6945  kHz USB. They were playing Alice Cooper’s “No More Mr. Nice Guy.”
Tuning downband, I logged XFM Radio on 6870 kHz, AM and then a Spanish-language station on 6880 kHz. Unfortunately, the station wasn’t strong enough to really get a good ID.
The strangest station I logged had to be the CW station on 6933 kHz. Here’s what I copied:
KPZL KPZL PUZZLE RADIO VAMPIRES ROAM ON HALLOWEEN NIGHT GHOSTS AND WITCHES GIVE US A FRIGHT BUT SCARIEST OF ALL AND SEETHING WITH SPITE IS THE WINGNUT FROM THE RADICAL RIGHT PUZZLE THIS…
What followed after that was a series of five-character code groups. Apparently, you were supposed to try and decode the rest of the message.
I gave the dial another spin tonight and logged a couple of different stations. There was a Slavic-language station on 6925 kHz LSB, My New Underpants on 6950 AM, and an Asian-language station on 6970 USB.
It’s interesting that the pirates use AM, USB, LSB, and even CW! I guess that’s to be expected. It is pirate radio, after all.
For more information, including loggings, check out:

From my Twitter feed: dB, SW, SSTV

EDNcom's avatarEDN.com @EDNcom
Engineers refer to measurements in dB all the time. Here’s a refresher on decibel basics. edn.com/design/test-an…

 

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Jeff Davis @ke9v
Radio World: Shortwave Efficacy to Be Pondered at BBG radioworld.com/article/shortw…

 

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AMSAT-UK @AMSAT_UK
ISS Amateur Radio Slow Scan TV Active wp.me/p2Mn4x-4Yk #amsat #hamr #iss #sstv

Numbers stations, revisited

I have written about numbers stations before (Uno, Dos, Tres…On the Internet – 11/26/12), but thanks to the guys on the Glowbugs Google Group, I now have some more information:

  • The Numbers Station. Released earlier this year, this movie starts John Cusack. Here is the IMDB description: A disgraced black ops agent is dispatched to a remote CIA broadcast station to protect a code operator. Soon, they find themselves in a life-or-death struggle to stop a deadly plot before it’s too late.

    It’s currently available for streaming on Netflix, and I watched it tonight. It’s kind of violent (lots of people get shot), but it’s a decent thriller.

  • ENIGMA 2000. This group’s website describes the group as “a UK based online group, whose aims are to bring together listeners and enthusiasts who monitor and gather information on ‘Number Stations’ and other related radio transmissions. Through our Yahoo Group monitors can share their logs, discuss frequencies, thoughts and opinions on this most emotive subject.”

    Jim, K6FWT, notes, “These folks are SERIOUS enthusiasts. I have heard that they surpass many intelligence services with their thoroughness. You can get in up to your eyeballs if you  don’t watch it.”