Friday, November 30, 2012
Thursday, November 29, 2012
The 1980's, as predicted by the British sci-fi series UFO.
And remember the jingle company that did a great spoof on radio in 1983 by inventing the punk country format? Listen to the first part of this edition of Media Network.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Monday, November 26, 2012
I was fortunate to visit the island in 1989, 20 years after it was built, to make a radio profile of the work there. You can listen here.
I don't deny I had a lot of fun making that particular programme. It is March 1989 and I realise there is nothing in the RNW archive about the great work that goes on at the relay stations and the story of how the satellite changed an entire industry. I combined it with reportages on the other ABC islands. Curacao was nice, but the beauty on Bonaire, especially under the water, was spectacular. I remember meeting a great Aruban engineer working at the station who actually swam to work. This programme was made before the admin building in Kralendijk was closed and the building expanded for the DRM capable transmitters.
I think all of us who worked at Radio Netherlands can be thankful for that extra boost the relay station gave to our programmes. Without it, the signal - and the impact - would never have been as strong, especially in the America's and West Africa. Thank to all the engineering crews in the background - not only keeping the place running for 18 hours a day but also to the Frequency managers back in Hilversum who made sure we were always on the best spot on the dial. It was a small station (only 2 300 kW transmitters at the time) but with huge influence.
Wonder if you have special memories of listening to the station? It certainly had several stories during it lifetime, including surviving fires and rats.
Local newspaper on Bonaire captured the antennas at the Radio Netherlands Bonaire transmitter site being destroyed. I see other reports from the island that the diesel generators have been donated to the island for a symbolic US$1.
Sunday, November 25, 2012
Or something like it.
Saturday, November 24, 2012
I think this is one of the most useful TED talks every recorded. Simple, effective and easy to implement. I think a lot of broadcasters need to look at this question - why on earth are they still on the air? Glad they solved the rubbish sound at the beginning. A wireless mike on low batteries is always a disaster because the signal gets interfered with from all the mobile phones in the room on standby.
And this is the last in the series of programmes on Propaganda Past and Present. Remember it was made in 1982, probably at the height of the popularity of international radio broadcasting when the Cold War was still very much alive. This edition contains the voice of Bernard Bumpus, who was head of audience research at the BBC External Services. Gerard Mansell, then the Managing Director of BBC World Service points out that the French external service had big plans for expansion by 1985.
We also hear from the late Nevil Gray who worked for Deutschlandfunk in Cologne before joining Radio Netherlands. He recounts a tale of how a programme he made for DLF was taken off the air and rebroadcast by East Germany, but then out of context.
Probably the best air safety instruction video ever made. A pleasure to watch. Probably the most expensive - but was it worth it? You bet! They made a collectors item out of something as mundane as an airline safety film. Now that's brilliant.
This first half of this edition looked at the start of Radio Netherlands in 1947 and the challenges it faced in the questions surrounding Indonesia at the time. Was it an instrument of government propaganda?
The second half of this episode looks at clandestine broadcasting across Africa, illustrated with unique off-air recordings from the late Richard Ginbey.
At the time, Richard was based just outside Johnannesburg, but had managed to collect many off-air clips from a multitude of stations. (Some people may recall he ran a monthly media programme on Radio Portugal in the 1970's). This includes the Voice of Namibia, Polisario Front - Voice of Free Africa, and the various stations targeting the warring factions in Angola. I believe the recordings of the Zimbabwean clandestines haven't been heard for years.
I wonder if anyone recognises the music used by the Voice of Truth (20 minutes into the programme). It sounds like a film score, but although I have tried various services like Shazam, still don't know the title. Be careful - it is very very catchy and even 30 years later I can hum the melody. Wish I knew where it came from!
Check out this episode!
This edition of Media Wars looks at how governments often make a mess of the message they are trying to put across. We started with Radio South Atlantic, which was run by the British MOD. Gerard Mansell talks about British clandestine radio during the Suez Crisis. It was the Voice of Britain (Sharq-el-Adna) and came from the mediumwave transmitter near Limassol in Cyprus. When this programme was made there was no Wikipedia entry as there is today.
We also looked at the mystery surrounding the Radio Euzkadi transmitter tower and how the Voice of the Basque Underground faked the picture on their QSL card. You can also hear some rare recording of the anti-Russian station NTS which operated from Bavaria in Germany. While Portugal was under a dictatorship, there were no less than two clandestine stations broadcasting to the country, one from Algeria. There are also examples of black propaganda beamed into China. They originated from Soviet Union. Remember Sparks? (Note I am aware of a few tape drop outs around 20'00 into the programme).
Friday, November 23, 2012
This is Episode 3 out of 6. It was my first attempt at making a documentary series on a subject that really fascinated me - and the audience to Media Network. We always had a lot of response when we mentioned "pirates" or "clandestine" stations. It was something you didn't hear on other public broadcasting stations out of Europe.
Pim Rijntjes explains some ways round the "dreary" Sunday programming that was invented in the Dutch East Indies. The programme draws the parallel with the Falklands Malvinas Conflict in 1982. There was also a Dutch equivalent to the British Forces Broadcasting Services operating from Indonesia. Pim Rijntjes explains the secret of the time signal pips. They sounded official but had little to do with time keeping. Sietze van der Werf explains the Dutch position of New Guinea and what they saw as subtle support by the Indonesian department of Radio Australia.
Remember this programme was originally broadcast at the time of the Falklands Conflict in April 1982.
Check out this episode at Libsyn!
Monday, November 19, 2012
Not sure I understand the line saying that Iran has accused UK technicians of jamming in Bahrain? Were they working on behalf of the UK government? Is this just a way to make the story look more "balanced". I think it confuses an otherwise useful animation. Pity the BBC has worked out that allowing others to embed would be rather useful to get the word out.
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Haven't yet found the time to complete this project. But seeing as radio propaganda is topical at the moment, check out this video with Wolf Harranth.
This Second edition of Media Wars looks at the rather unique situation that Dutch broadcasters found themselves in at the end of the Second World War in the Dutch East Indies, today's Indonesia. It's ironic that Pim Rijntes was one of the first broadcasters at Radio Netherlands and took part in the last Dutch language broadcast on May 11th 2012. Interesting to contrast the different cultures. Love the story about how the year of 1947 started a little late. And how the technicians for the Dutch broadcasting network were lent to them by the opposition Radio Republik Indonesia. The programme also contains the voice of the late Gerard Mansell who talks about the challenges the BBC faced with credibility in Norway during the 2nd World War.
Check out this episode!
Coincidently, BBC Radio 4 is broadcasting a programme about revolutionary radio, which also contained a lot of propaganda of course. 11 UTC on Monday 19th November 2012. I think I recognise one of those clips from Radio Prague in 1945 shouting for help in English. It was on one of the Radio Prague propaganda records put out in the late 1970's. You can hear how I used the same clip here in a programme I made in 1988.
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Go Pro are really disrupting the broadcast industry because their tiny HD cameras capture stuff in places where others fear to tread. And Go Pro just has to make good stuff. The audience of users does the rest. Makes me feel sorry for some of the others in the broadcast industry who seem to be in total denial that their industry is going through meteoric change. The title of the International Association of Broadcast Manufacturers' annual conference seems to sum it up.
“Adapt or Die? Creating a profitable future through business innovation”
Another Media Network flashback from the archive of programmes that I used to host on Radio Netherlands.
In 1982 I decided to gather some of the interviews I'd made with international broadcasters who had been at the start of it all. It was my first attempt at making a documentary. Bearing in mind the equipment we had was rather rudimentary (it was all recorded on 1/4 inch UHER's), the final result isn't all that bad. It was broadcast in the course of 1982, basically as I found time to make them. The research was the challenge...no wikipedia being available at the time. The scripts were typed on a typewriter with carbon paper between the sheets to make copies for the engineer. I remember that quite often the letter O would punch holes ever time it was tapped. Thirty Years after the series was first broadcast, it is time to put it back on the wireless (web). In fact, the recordings lasted longer than Radio Netherlands English Radio Service.
This first edition relies heavily on the input from Bernard Bumpus, who was the Head of BBC International Audience Research at the time, as well as Gerard Mansell, then the Managing Director of BBC External Services. I remember chasing him around London in order to grab the interview, ending up at his home in Golders Green. I remember having a huge argument with the cab driver who wouldn't give me a receipt for the trip.
Check out this episode!
Friday, November 16, 2012
This programme kicks of a series of nostalgic episodes about radio broadcasting. In 1997 we visited Wim Stuiver, a radio enthusiast whio built a private museum inside a farmhouse near the Dutch town of Diever.It was one of the best collections I've ever seen, telling the story of the early days of radio. Wilm had not only restored each piece to working order, he also knew the history behind each of the set. Sadly the museum no longer exists. Although a foundation was set up to try and preserve the collection in the Plantron in Dwingeloo, in the end the money ran out at everything was sold off for a song. The display cases are now in the Archeological Museum in Diever. I'm guessing this is the only radio programme that was made there in quite such detail. Happy Memories.
Check out this episode!
Fascinated the discover there is such a body as the Audio Branding Academy. Although, I expect more from the trailer than just nice photos of Oxford. Wonder where radio fits in?
I note discussion in the US radio trade press concerned that Porsche has launched a new model including a car radio that no longer has AM (medium-wave) on it. Actually, this is no something new. The web is full of fixes and complaints that AM reception is not what it used to be. Actually, nothing has happened at the AM transmitter sites, except that in some cases stations are operating with reduced power to save on the expensive transmitter running costs.
The problem is that all kinds of devices in the car are generating low levels of radio frequency interference right next to the antenna trying to pick up a relatively weak signal from a few hundred km away. And whereas these devices were often shielded with metal to prevent the noise getting out, metal is being replaced by plastic which lets the noise through. The results are horrible to listen to, especially with the engine running. The AM radio in many cars also has a rather narrow AM bandwidth filter, which makes the station sound as though the announcers are wearing clothes-pegs on their noses. I used to enjoy listening to BBC Radio 4 on longwave. But that stopped when I replaced the car and discovered the radio in the new hybrid Toyota had no longwave coverage. Mediumwave coverage was not an enjoyable experience. AM is on the way out, that's crystal clear to me. I note in the US quite a few local tourist information stations operating in national parks or low power stations giving traffic info. They operate on 1610 kHz. Wonder how that information is going to be delivered in the future?
If you're curious about the history of this place, then check out a previous posting on this blog. There were 17 masts at the site, the highest of which 103 metres.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Imagine if Lord Patten had stayed inside Broadcasting House while Entwistle resigned infront of the cameras outside. That's a bit like the way the Bureau of Investigative Journalism is operating at the moment. There are trustees statements on the site, accompanied by a banner which looks more like a funeral card. The Bureau has indeed done fine work in the past. It seems to have underestimated the power of Twitter. But its formal manner of addressing the website visitors doesn't match the tone and tenacity with which it tackles other topics.
I thought the interview afterwards on Radio 2 in the Science Museum rather lacked passion. An interview which went out on the Today programme was much better.
Update: I embedded the link above but got a lot of complaints that the BBC embedded player keeps starting automatically. So I have removed it. If you want to hear the interview, try this link.
It's clear that Damon knows the station playing the Swedish Rhapsody is a cold war spy numbers station which many shortwave listeners will recognise. Did quite a few programmes about this sort of stuff myself.
The new BBC Listener Archive project is bursting with passionate collectors who understand how to mix and remix the medium like no other. Always better than the professionals, in my experience.
I am equally impressed with what the audience out there is up to with video. There are whole channels dedicated to 'amateurs" making their own versions of movie trailers. Many of them often turn out to be better than the "original".
Have a look at watchthetitles.com. You'll find things like this trailer for the film Pablo, about the life and times of legendary title designer Pablo Ferro. Premieres at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, January 2012
Are these amateurs a threat to professionals? No. These are the new generation of digital entrepreneurs. Learn. Listen and Embrace.
Toy Boats - A Sydney Tilt-shift Time-lapse from Nathan Kaso on Vimeo.
Follow the time codes below for a breakdown of where the different elements for Damon Albarn's piece marking the 90th anniversary of BBC Radio come from.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
This would be a great theme for the BBC Listeners Archive Project. Enjoyed listening to the first in the series on BBC Radio 2 at 22 hrs UTC on November 14th.
A week on from the successful Listeners’ Archive open days, and the boxes of cassettes and reels of tape (and one minidisc!) are starting to arrive at our digitisation centre at the BBC’s historic Maida Vale studios. We’re enormously grateful to listeners and colleagues across the BBC for their help with the project to date.
|Acting DG Time Davie Opens the Radio 2 programme from the Science Museum at 1700 today|
The 3 minute piece will be played out starting at 1733 GMT on all BBC domestic stations today. BBC Press release says:
More than 55 BBC radio stations will come together for Radio Reunited – the first attempt at a simultaneous broadcast since what was then the British Broadcasting Company was formed in 1922. Each BBC station will play the composition, entitled 2LO Calling - a combination of specially written music, iconic sounds from radio’s past and present, and messages to the future from listeners around the world. The broadcast will be hosted by BBC Radio 2’s Simon Mayo, who will present his show from the Science Museum, now home to the original 2LO transmitter on which the first broadcast was made. It is estimated that the historic broadcast has a maximum potential reach of around 80 million listeners world-wide.
However, Kim Andrew Elliott notes that the BBC Arabic service will take part in the celebration at 1733. It was the first foreign language service of the BBC, starting in 1938.
|22 Jun 1938, London, England, UK --- D. Stephenson, Arabic Sub Editor of the BBC, consults with H.M. Da Souki, relief translator and announcer of the BBC Arabic service.|
What happened to Idzerda?
I note though that the Science Museum in Kensington, where the old 2L0 transmitter is located, hasn't heard of the Dutch pioneer who broadcast music programmes from the Hague and who even got the Daily Mail as a sponsor. Their website says that broadcast entertainment began in the USA. I would submit that it actually started in the Hague.
The Dutch public broadcaster VPRO set up a programme called Studio Idzerda which is named in his honour.
Swiss Federal Railways has declined to confirm the figure of SFr20 million ($21.09 million), reportedly paid by Apple to settle a patent dispute for use of the Swiss company’s iconic clock design in iPad and iPhone devices.
The settlement was reached in talks held between Apple and the Federal Railways in October, following the appearance of the clock face as part of the new iPad operating system, introduced in September.
“Both parties agreed not to reveal any further information on the extent of the agreement or any other details. That has not changed,” Federal Railways wrote in an email reponse to swissinfo.ch.
The Federal Railways’ well-known clock was designed in 1944 by Swiss electrical engineer and designer Hans Hilficker. Today the image is widely licenced. The watchmaker Mondaine received the exclusive rights to sell copies and watch versions to customers who wanted a replica of the design.
Mondaine was reportedly unaware of the deal the railway company had struck with Apple until after it had been agreed upon. However, Mondaine told swissinfo.ch that they are happy the design is now being seen around the world via Apple products.
“We’re proud that Apple has joined the club of good taste,” a Mondaine spokesperson said.
Apple’s new mobile operating system iOS6, introduced in September, has the Swiss station clock on the iPad to represent its first internal timekeeper, which can also serve as an alarm clock.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
WBLI Parody of PSY's Gangnam Style reflecting the growing frustration on Long Island.
Jim Cutler reports how the Long Island Power Authority have installed an automated response machine to advise customers of the power reconnection situation following Hurricane Sandy. He's still without power so phoned for an update. Someone has failed to set the machine up properly so it has become extremely funny. Which wasn't their intention.
An automated voice reads you back your address when you call LIPA to report your power is still out.
The computer generated voice says specific things like: "Crews are continuing to work in your area 24 hours a day to restore power in Old Brookville. As of 11:30pm over 124 men and women are working in your area...."
And now the good part: The voice continues reading what must be NOTES on the bottom to the live operators when they're open during the day: "If the customer is hostile stick to the talking points. Take a deep breath and understand that the customer is probably upset..." the automated voice continues is it's strange almost human accent, "You don't have to take abuse, refer to supervisor. Keep assuring the customer that help is coming. Refer to talking points. Goodbye."
Reminds me of David Pogue of the NYT speaking in 2006.
Monday, November 12, 2012
Jim Cutler shared this great production, especially when you realise how it was made.
Good for Tim. That interview was indeed over.
I'm very disappointed that the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London doesn't appear to realise that the reputation and future of the whole organisation is on the line. And this would be the time to communicate with the public and with the industry. Putting up a statement on the home page and taking down the explanation of a tweet by the editor of the Bureau does not inspire confidence in anything else they are doing now. I've found their way of working to be transparent in the past, living up to their tag line of putting investigative journalism back on the front page.
So why do we have to read this in the Guardian?