Wednesday, April 16, 2014

If Radio Requests were like a business

I know some radio stations who are actually sound like they are slave to their own automation. Gremlins have more parodies on radio over on Soundcloud.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

MN.28.11.1991. Antenna Special & VOA Botswana

Following a promo about a documentary on Pearl Harbour, we start a news edition of the programme. There are updates on Radio Caroline running aground, Radio Moscow reduces the output in its English servive due to budget cuts, Radio Luxembourg fixes the last day for English broadcasts on 208 metres, 1440 kHz. Radio Baghdad may resume programmes in English to Europe and North America. We then had calls about radio receivers from Madrid and answered questions about directional antennas. We worked with Mike Villard of SRI Research in Calfornia to produce a pamphlet Reducing Skywave interference. Victor Gooneilleke has an extensive South Asia radio report. VOA's Bill Whitacre reports on how they are restoring coverage to Africa after the loss of their relay station in Monrovia, Liberia. Two shortwave transmitters will beam North-West from Botswana (pictured). Mike Bird rounds off with propagation news.

This episode is hosted on the Media Network vintage vault

Is radio still connected with the car and social media?

Is broadcast radio still relevant in the connected car? I think it is, but other audio sources are available. I tend to use a iPad mini for on demand audio/video, thanks to a brilliant app called Downcast. It doesn't care whether it is audio or video. It all goes into the same database, instantly sorted so I can listen again - and again.

So how are others looking at audio on the move? Trevor Dann found a number of interesting people at Radiodays Europe.

Kim Wilde, radio presenter speaking in Dublin

Kim Wilde is an international pop icon and radio presenter. To date she has sold over 10 million albums and 20 million singles around the world in a recording career spanning more than thirty years.

Fewer people know that Kim is also a successful radio presenter. She has hosted her own market-leading show on Magic105.4 in London for over five years, and has recently launched a brand new radio show, The Kim Wilde 80s Show, especially produced for an international audience. Terrific voice. What a nice person!

Where is radio going?

Despite a rather upbeat piece on yesterday's World Business Report ( BBC World Service) I cannot see the digital radio standard DRM taking off in India. It has been tried in Europe, Brazil, China, Russia - it's a technological solution to a problem that only radio engineers seem to understand.

I think I've worked out how the BBC World Service made that shortwave montage in the piece below. You got to the website Interval signals on line and click Alaska and Andorra. Pity that the recording from AWR via Andorra dates back to 1981.

More than eighty years ago, the BBC began transmitting its first international radio broadcasts - on what was then known as the Empire Service. These days of course, we call it the World Service. What made the first international broadcasts possible was shortwave - a set of radio frequencies which allowed signals to travel very long distances - even if the end results could sound a little bit, well, odd. These days, though far fewer broadcasters focus on shortwave. Here at the BBC, even, our transmissions have been heavily cut back. Instead, we use the internet, as well as relying on local FM broadcasters. But could shortwave - or a version of it - be about to make a comeback? Here's Mark Whittaker with news of what could be a radio revolution. And you may like to know that the BBC is already broadcasting in digital short wave for 5 hours a day to India and India's domestic radio station is currently building one digital medium wave transmitter every two weeks. A new wave of cheaper DRM receivers are expected to be on the market in the coming months.

To get a feeling of how radio markets are changing, have a look at some of the excellent, short but sharp interviews conducted by Trevor Dann at the recent RadioDays Europe convention in Dublin, Ireland. 

Very interesting point about radio sales in the UK, from BBC Director of Radio, Helen Boaden.Radio sales are falling, while the sale of smartphones and tablets are booming. Time spent listening to radio are going down in all age groups -- especially among the 15 to 30 year olds. These are "iceberg" challenges coming slowly towards us where we can see the top, but do not know quite how deep the problem may be, she says. Sales of radio sets in the UK are down by a staggering 54%. Radio is in direct competition with all other media in the fight for attention.

And news that there are DAB+ trials going on in the UK.

and let's not forget the role of radio in difficult countries. I get the impression that after completely opening up, the situation in Myanmar is not as good as it was a year ago.

Reel to Reel will never die....

Funny how we get stuck with images. Like a floppy disk to indicate saving a file. Or a humungus reel to reel tape machine to indicate that we're really recording the song. At least they still seem to be around at the Disney studios even in 2014.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Gigantic Collection of Nostalgia

This is a re-issue of a file first published in 2012, but which was buried on another website. Following comments on Facebook, I have re-released it.

This is what you get if you take three production CDs that I used in the Media Network studio from 1995-2000 and fire them off one by one. It turns into 85 minutes of nostalgia with the daft jingles and promos we made to parody international broadcasting in the nineties. Ised the Dalet Workstation to make most of these - because it was the only way to do multirack mixes at Radio Netherlands. Before that we made jingles in the studio using complicated mixes of bit of tapes spliced together using razor blades. Was it efficient? No. Was it fun. Yes.

Radio Netherlands had a broadcast licence to use commercial music, so that made it possible to make these kind of jingles. We weren't trying to make any money out of the montages. We tended to use new music, the idea being that new music would pop up on commercial stations later and that might trigger some people to ask "Where have I heard that before?". My thanks to the voice talents of Jim Cutler, Lou Josephs, Diana Janssen, Dennis Powell, Peter Barsby, Peter Spinks, George Wood, Gene Reich, the late Paul Holmes (before he was famous in New Zealand), Spike Milligan (who was trapped in a studio during a news bulletin), Pete Myers, and Kenny Everett (broadcasters prayer). I wrote the other scripts. Enjoy. 

MN.29.03.1984. AFN Soesterberg

Back in 1984, many of us in Hilversum bought an NTSC compatible TV. That wasn't easy because it had to be specially ordered, ordinary TV's only had PAL. The reason was to be able to watch the TV programmes from the American Forces base at Soesterberg, around a 20 minute drive from Hilversum.
In this edition of the programme, I went down to Soesterberg to find out how it all worked and why it was in NTSC. The programme also carries a report from Rolf Lovstrom about why the US military wants a radio station in Norway, and there's a profile of other Hyperlocal radio stations like London Greek Cypriot radio in London.
The programme includes an interview with Hans Bakhuizen who had been looking at shortwave as a back-up plan incase of a nuclear war that wiped out satellites. Ironically, that is exactly what happened to the Radio Netherlands transmitter site in Flevoland.
This edition also includes an African media report from Richard Ginbey and an interview with David Hermges, Head of the English Section at Austrian Radio, later renamed as Radio Austria International.

This episode is hosted on the Media Network vintage vault

MN.31.05.1984.Red Cross Profile

This edition of Media Network from 30 years ago looked at how the International Committee for the Red Cross set up its communications system based on ham radio equipment. We witness the launch of the satellite network Music Box and Bob Chaundy scans the bands to see what's been audible in Hiversum.

This episode is hosted on the Media Network vintage vault

Sunday, April 13, 2014

MN.15.05.1986. Hoaxes, Satellite Dishes and More

With every major disaster there are always those willing to set up a hoax, often to attract attention to themselves. Nowadays Facebook, Twitter, Liveleaks and Tumblr are popular as well as countless parody sites. Back in 1986, the only electronic outlets were traditional radio and TV stations. We look back at the hoaxes surrounding Chernobyl. Bob Horvitz looks at the Over the Horizon Radar proposals in the USA. We investigated an early 1.5 metre home satellite dish called Patronix. It wasn't easy.

This episode is hosted on the Media Network vintage vault