NASB NEWSLETTER www.shortwave.org
IN THIS ISSUE:
NASB-DRM USA 2008 Annual Meeting, Part II
IBB Greenville Showcased at NASB-DRM USA Annual Meeting
At this year's NASB-DRM USA Annual Meeting in Cary, NC, Walter Konetsco, Deputy Manager of the IBB's Greenville transmitting station, presented a video about the facility, which is about an hour's drive east of Raleigh, NC. The video was produced by Rick Williford, who was also present.
The IBB transmitter facility is located about 20 miles southeast of Greenville on a plot of approximately 2700 acres. It has 41 antenna arrays. Greenville is the last remaining domestic transmitting facility in the IBB network. It provides transmissions to Cuba, Latin America and Africa for the Voice of America and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio Marti), and to the eastern seaboard of the United States for Radio Thailand. It was dedicated in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy.
In 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the Office of War Information. In 1942 – 17 days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor – the first broadcast of the Voice of America went on the air in German. Throughout World War II, the VOA 's broadcasts were carried on leased facilities of private shortwave stations in the U.S. Eventually the VOA was placed under the control of the State Department. As the Cold War escalated, Russia began jamming the VOA in 1948. VOA's transmitting facilities were beefed up to cover a worldwide audience and to combat the Russian jamming. This expansion program was called “the Ring Plan”and it gave birth to the VOA relay stations in Morocco, Greece, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Okinawa and North Carolina (which was also known as “Baker East.”)
Construction of Baker East began in the early 1950's, but the McCarthy investigations caused the abandonment of the facilities in 1953. In 1959, Congress appropriated funds to continue the construction. The plan was for the Greenville facility to be composed of three separate sites – two transmitting and one receiving station. In 1953, President Eisenhower created the U.S. Information Agency, which was tied administratively to the State Department but operated independently with direct presidential oversight. The U.S. International Broadcasting Act signed by President Clinton brought all of the government's international broadcasting services under the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). In 1998 the USIA was abolished and the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) was established. The IBB oversees all civilian international broadcasting, including Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Marti), and the Voice of America radio and TV. VOA currently broadcasts in 45 languages to an estimated worldwide audience of 115 million per week.
The Greenville transmitter site has nine transmitters – eight 250-kilowatt and one 50-kilowatt that is currently being retrofitted for DRM testing. The station broadcasts over 90 hours per day of programming, 60% of which is for Radio Marti. Twenty-nine employees staff the site 24/7.
Greenville was designed as two identical and independent transmitter sites – Site A and Site B. These two sites, near Bear Grass and Black Jack, NC, were fed by the receiving station – Site C – near Farville, NC. Technical advances forced the closure of the receiving site in 1995. In 2005, Site A began to be phased out. It is now mothballed, and only Site B remains on the air.
Site B includes antennas designed to reach far-off locations like Prague and Moscow, but the majority of the current transmissions are beamed to Cuba, Latin America and Africa. It airs VOA broadcasts in Creole, English, Hausa and Portuguese to Latin America and West Africa. The BBC uses Greenville for relay transmissions in English and Spanish to Latin America, and Radio Thailand uses the site to reach the eastern U.S. There are three receive-only TVRO satellite dishes to receive programming. BBC feeds are downlinked from PanAmSat. Eighteen Scientific Atlanta receivers pick up the programs from the three satellite dishes. Orban Optimod audio processors are used.
The transmitters at Site B are one Brown Boveri (BBC) 500 kilowatt unit, three Continental 420A 500-kilowatt transmitters, three GE 250 kilowatt units, one AEG Telefunken 500 kilowatt, and one Continental 617 50 kilowatt unit. All of the 500-kilowatt transmitters are currently being operated at 250 kilowatts.
The transmitters are routed to an antenna switch bay. There are 50 miles of transmission lines connecting the transmitters to the antennas. The master control room is the heart of the center. It provides all audio patching, antenna switching and monitoring of the transmission facilities.
The transmitters can be divided into two groups – those installed under the 1963 project, and those installed as part of the modernization plan in the 1980's. The GE 250-kilowatt transmitters were part of the original equipment, manufactured in 1961. They have been the “workhorses” of the station, and they still play an important pat in the Greenville operation. The can cover 6-21 MHz and they have been modified various times over the years, including the installation of solid state amplifiers. The Continental 420's were made in the late 1940's and are run at half-power – 250 kw. The Continental 617A was used to relay programs overseas in single sideband.
In the mid-1980's, Greenville was selected as a location for testing of different models of modern shortwave transmitters. Four transmitters were purchased from leading manufacturers – an AEG Telefunken and a Brown Boveri, which were full production models; and a Marconi and a Continental model 420B, which were prototypes. The AEG and the BBC are currently in use at Site B. The other two were installed at Site A, which is mothballed. The BBC and AEG transmitters use pulse step modulation techniques.
The 41 antennas are located in an arch around the transmitter building. They cover from 3 to 305 degrees azimuth, although the most used azimuths are 90 to 236 degrees, from Africa to Central America. There are 16 curtain antennas which operate from 9.6-11.7 MHz, 20 rhombics which operate from 6.1-26 MHz and from 3 to 286 degrees, two log periodics which operate from 4-10 MHz for communications and program relays that are inactive, one TCI curtain antenna that was originally installed for testing for the global IBB network, and two simple dipoles which operate on 6 MHz at 10 and 174 degree azimuths.
Three-phase commercial power is supplied by the local electrical company, and there's a diesel generator which can be used in case of a commercial power failure. The site has a complete machine shop for the fabrication of small parts. Greenville maintains a large parts inventory, including many high-power tubes and capacitors that are becoming obsolete. There is a major water conditioning system for transmitter cooling requirements.
After the video, Adil Mina of Continental Electronics pointed out that the director of the Office of War Information in 1942 later went on to found Continental in Dallas.
Walt Konetsco mentioned that “there's some interest in the B Site for WWV, because they're looking for a facility on the East Coast.” The A and B sites are identical in terms of transmitters and antennas. Konetsco said that tours of the A Site are tightly controlled since 9/11, but exceptions may be made for international broadcasters who make advance arrangements.
The Delano (California), Kavala (Greece) and Tangier IBB transmitter sites were recently closed. IBB still has relay stations in Sao Tome (a small island off the west coast of Africa), Botswana, Kuwait (which is in a buildup operation with emphasis on the Middle East), Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Philippines, the Mariana Islands and Germany, although the German site has been decreased.
RF Exposure Measurements at Shortwave Facilities Worldwide
Summary of presentation at 2008 NASB-DRM USA Annual Meeting
Matt Folkert of duTreil, Lundin and Rackley in Sarasota, Florida has worked together with Steve Lockwood of NASB associate member Hatfield and Dawson in Seattle, Washington on a long-term joint venture between the two companies to measure RF (radio frequency) exposure at the worldwide transmitter sites of the Voice of America/IBB.
Matt's first contact with shortwave was in the late 1970's when he was an engineering student at the University of Michigan. He had an idea to do a short-term mission trip, and his church was supporting HCJB engineer John Stanley and his wife Ruth. So in his late teens, Matt went to Ecuador to work at HCJB. He went there three times over three years, then graduated and took a job at the Voice of America in 1984. At VOA, he met Dr. Don Messer in the engineering department. Matt worked at the VOA for a few years, then moved to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty for 10 years. In the late 1990's he went to the engineering consulting firm of duTreil, Lundin and Rackley. Designing directional antenna systems for domestic mediumwave stations. Matt's future partner Steve Lockwood was doing similar work at Hatfield and Dawson in Seattle.
Matt and Steve first met while working together on a proposed IBB facility in Israel that was never completed. “We lived in Israel during the first Gulf War,” said Matt. “Scuds were sent into Israel then. Our families got out on the last evacuation flight, but Steve and I stayed. I stayed at his house where we had a sealed room with gas masks. A number of times we were together when the alarms went off.”
Down in Ecuador, John and Ruth Stanley were living in a house at HCJB's shortwave transmitter site in Pifo. HCJB's Don Spragg and Charlie Jacobson also lived on site at times. The houses in Pifo were built in the 1950's and were located in front of the major lobes of some of HCJB's curtain antennas. “When you turned off the light switches,” said Matt, “the incandescent bulbs continued to glow. John has to shield his 12-inch black-and-white TV in a box to be able to watch his favorite TV program, 'The Green Hornet,' because of the RF. Those were the days before there was a lot of concern about what happens to someone who was exposed to high RF fields.”
Matt and Steve's recent project with VOA/IBB was to try to characterize how strong the RF fields were at most of the IBB relay stations, find out where the strongest fields were located, and report any recommendations they might have as a result of these findings. The scope of the work was to determine the maximum permissible exposure levels at all IBB transmitting facilities. They could only do a sampling at each facility because modern VOA antennas have many different slewing positions, both horizontally and vertically, plus different frequencies that are used with each antenna. That means there are a lot of possible combinations and scenarios, so they looked at the current broadcast schedule for each facility and measured representative frequencies and patterns.
The team was tasked to conduct safety seminars and develop safety plans for each station. Each station has a large staff that had to be trained. The site visits began in 1998 and extended over a 10-year period until 2008. Matt became involved in 2001. He travelled to IBB sites such as Greenville, Rhodes, Kavala, Kuwait, Morocco, Sao Tome, the Philippines, Botswana, Sri Lanka, Germany and Thailand. During those 10 years, computer technology changed quite a bit, and Folkert said it's much easier to model antennas now with faster computers.
As for what they found and recommended, “one of the recommendations was that you don't put picnic tables under the dipoles for your workers to eat their lunch,” said Matt. “All of the radio stations designed by the VOA that we surveyed have adequate distances in front of the curtain antennas to protect from any kind of overexposure to particularly the general public which might have housing close to the site.”
In making their determinations, Matt and Steve used both U.S. and European radiation standards. The two are fairly similar, although the magnetic field for the European standard is more stringent. Two maximum levels were calculated – one for station workers and another for the general public.
Overall, the findings were as expected. Transmitter halls have shielded enclosures. “We certainly didn't find high readings in the transmitter buildings,” he said. “In the control room, where they're shielded to begin with, there's very little RF there.” Coaxial transmission lines have no radiation. “Things don't really start to get interesting until you transition from the [coaxial] transmission lines to the open wire [transmission lines], and that's when you start to find [high] fields.” The “hot spots” they found were under open wires and in front of curtain antennas.
“All in all,” said Matt, “there were really no surprises. The high fields were where you'd expect them to be. It's important for the people working there to know where the hot spots are. With adequate signage and instruction, all of these sites are very safe. As a general rule, if you have at least 100 meters in front of the curtain antennas – which all of these VOA sites have – you're safe from any overexposure condition.”
If visitors are on site, Folkert recommends showing them antennas that are off the air at the time. And station engineers should not work on antennas that are adjacent to any antenna that's on the air.
Summary of presentation by Tim Ayris at NASB-DRM USA Annual Meeting
Tim Ayris had only been working at VT Communications for two months at the time of the NASB Annual Meeting this year. But he is no stranger to shortwave radio. He previously worked for many years at World Radio Network in London, and before that at the Associated Press.
Ayris explained that many people know VT Communications because of their transmission services for the BBC. The company was formed in 1997 when the British government privatized the BBC's transmission business. In 2001 it was acquired by the VT Group. VT operates in a number of markets, including broadcasting, defense and security. VT Communications has a staff of 800 and operates 31 transmitter sites. From 1997 until a few years ago it was known as Merlin Communications. But after it was bought by the VT Group, the name was changed to bring it more into line with the group's other businesses.
VT is a one-billion pound company with 13,000 employees. The group has a half dozen divisions, including extensive operations in the United States, working with the Department of Defense and NASA. The history of the company is in defense and shipbuilding.
As for VT Communications, Ayris explained that “we're more than just those guys that do shortwave for the BBC.” VTC does project management. It has a large engineering team, and it operates and manages a variety of sites around the world. “We're the people who can run those sites on your behalf,” he said.
VTC's HF sites in the UK include Skelton, Wooferton and Rampisham, plus other sites for the defense and security side of the business. It also has a wide array of transmitter sites around the world, including partner sites with which they have third party supplier agreements.
VT has major contracts with the BBC and more recently Deutsche Welle. “That was a good win for us,” remarked Ayris. He says Deutsche Welle has been very happy with their services over the past couple of years. Other clients include SW Radio Africa, the Sudan Radio Service, the IBB and other shortwave broadcasters. They transmit just under 1000 hours of programming per day.
But VT Communications can do a whole range of engineering services at any part of the transmission chain. It has built some of the BBC sites from the ground up. At the Ascension Island site, VTC provides power for the whole island. It operates the European Space Agency's tracking station in French Guiana.
After securing the recent shortwave contract with Deutsche Welle, VTC decided to invest in upgrading equipment, including DRM capabilities. A lot of re-engineering work has been going on at Wooferton and Skelton in the UK and partner site Moosbrunn in Austria. A new 250-kilowatt DRM-capable RIZ transmitter has been installed at Wooferton.
Last year, VT Communications moved its headquarters to a new building in London, occupying two-thirds of the second floor. Very significantly, VT Communications has invested five million dollars in a new media management center and global media distribution network, “to give us some independence from BBC Bush House,” explained Ayris. “Everything that came through Bush House had to have the permission of the BBC. This gives us more flexibility, to be quite independent, to work for certain clients that were possibly problematic for the BBC.”
The network includes an MPLS fiber network that connects all of the VT sites around the world and some of the partner sites such as NASB member LeSEA Broadcasting in South Carolina. It may expand to include the CBC Sackville site as well. “It connects them with us, and it can also connect them with each other,” said Ayris. VTC has a satellite distribution network that can be used by other organizations who want to send content to their own transmitter sites.
“We also recognize that broadcasters today are offering, and have to offer, multi-platform opportunities to listeners,” said Ayris. “So part of the investment in the media center was to be able to offer broadcasters access to a whole range of different platforms – mobile and static. Broadcasters can send content by streams, audio files or fiber. We can archive it, do streaming, podcasting and mobile broadcasting to PDA's.”
VT Communications has also been a big supporter of DRM. “As an orgaization,” said Ayris, “we're very positive about DRM. We certainly salute the pioneering work of Dr. [Don] Messer, Peter Senger and John Sykes as well, and the support that Deutsche Welle has given DRM for the past 10 years. We're also pleased that [the DRM Consortium] has moved to the BBC. I certainly feel that there's a renewed energy about DRM, and it's great to come here and hear some of the stories of DRM usage.
“One of my main concerns about DRM is that we need to create a story about DRM, particularly for receiver manufacturers. They need to know who's the market, how many are they going to be able to produce and sell. So I would simply ask you that if you are developing DRM, and you are developing niche markets, let the DRM Consortium know what you're doing. They can sell that story, package that story up and tell the world about the positive news, positive developments that are coming out of DRM.
“I also see niche opportunities for DRM. In Europe there are something like two million Somalis, woefully under-served for radio broadcasting and radio services. And I think something like a DRM service for Somalis, whether it's a public or commercial operation, would be absolutely perfect for that kind of community, particularly in Europe where we have a large mobile population – people moving around, people coming and going – I think something like DRM is perfect.”
Ayris explained that VT has also done DRM demonstrations for the British Royal Navy and the British Coast Guard about the possibilities of sending encrypted data by DRM to ships at sea. “They were hugely successful. They were very impressed,” said Ayris. “Hopefully we will be able to develop that application as well.”
Initial Plans Announced for 2009 NASB-DRM USA Annual Meeting
Join us for the 2009 annual meetings of the NASB and DRM USA
in "Music City"-- Nashville, Tennessee, known as the capital of
country music. Shortwave broadcasters, shortwave listeners, equipment
manufacturers, consultants and anyone with an interest in shortwave radio is invited to take part.
The meetings will take place at the Holiday Inn Express in downtown Nashville, near an area known as "The District." All of the downtown tourist attractions are within easy walking distance of the hotel, as well as stores, restaurants and entertainment centers. No rental car is needed. Just take a taxi or a shuttle from the Nashville airport to the hotel downtown.
Corporate sponsors will offer lunches to meeting participants on Thursday and Friday, May 7 and 8. The Thursday lunch will be sponsored by the meeting hosts themselves, World Christian Broadcasting and WWCR. Meals will showcase some of the regional specialties of Southern cuisine. Media Broadcast of Germany will sponsor the Thursday coffee break.
Thursday morning will feature talks and discussions about DRM – Digital Radio Mondiale – the future of shortwave. On Thursday afternoon, there will be a sightseeing tour of the Nashville area. The highlights of the tour will be stops at WWCR's studio and transmitter facility and at the headquarters of World Christian Broadcasting, which operates shortwave station KNLS in Alaska and is building a new station on the island of Madagascar, just off the coast of Africa. The bus tour will end early Thursday evening with a dinner sponsored by VT Communications at The Factory, a refurbished factory building in the historic suburb of Franklin, which has been converted into a shopping mall and entertainment complex. For those who still have energy left after the bus returns to the hotel downtown, there is a multitude of nightlife within easy walking distance in The District.
Friday morning at the NASB annual meeting will be filled with talks and presentations about various aspects of shortwave radio. After the Friday lunch, the NASB annual business meeting will take place, where members and non-members alike can discuss the association's future plans.
Many people will undoubtedly want to make a vacation out of their visit to Nashville, so they can stay up to three days before and after the meetings at the same special hotel rate. Nashville is full of world-class tourist attractions, such as the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, which includes the historic RCA Studio B. There's also the Grand Ole Opry, which began as a weekly radio broadcast of country music in 1925, and continues today as the world's longest-running radio show (on WSM 650 AM), in a large auditorium open to the public.
Other attractions in Nashville include The Hermitage (home of President Andrew Jackson), the Parthenon (a full-scale replica of the famous Greek temple), the Ryman Auditorium (where music's brightest stars -- such as Elvis -- have performed, and you can produce your own music CD in a famous recording studio) and The Upper Room Chapel and Museum, which features international Christian art including a life-size woodcarving of The Last Supper.
The meeting location, the Holiday Inn Express at 920 Broadway Street, is a newly-renovated hotel, ideally situated in the heart of downtown, near Music Row, numerous restaurants and Nashville's nightlife, with names like Stockyard Restaurant, Jack's Bar B Que and the Wildhorse Saloon. Breakfast is included in the $125 daily room rate (single or double occupancy, same rate), and the hotel offers free wireless Internet service. Guest rooms have mini-refrigerators and flat-screen plasma TV's. The hotel has a swimming pool, fitness center and a newly-renovated amphitheater where the DRM USA and NASB meetings will take place. For those who will be driving, the Holiday Inn Express charges $14 per day for parking, but a vehicle is not really needed for those who fly in. There's a flat rate of $22 for taxis from the airport to downtown hotels, or you can take a Gray Line shuttle bus for $12 one-way or $18 round-trip.
There's no cost to attend the NASB-DRM USA annual meetings, thanks to NASB members and associate members who are sponsoring various functions. But you must pre-register in order to attend, and space is limited. So we suggest you register as soon as possible. Just send your name and e-mail address to and ask to be registered for the NASB Annual Meeting. Plan to arrive by Wednesday afternoon or evening (May 6) as the meetings begin early on Thursday, and they will end at about 5:00 p.m. Friday. But feel free to come early or stay late to enjoy all of the attractions that Nashville has to offer.
Hotel Reservation Details
The Holiday Inn Express at 920 Broadway in downtown Nashville is already accepting reservations for hotel rooms during the 2009 NASB Annual Meeting. The rate is $125.00 per room for single or double occupancy (plus local taxes). You can guarantee your reservation with a credit card, and your reservation can be canceled without penalty until three days prior to arrival. To make your reservation, call toll-free (in the U.S.) +1-888-465-4329, and be sure to mention that you are part of the National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters meeting in order to get the special conference rate.
Population: 1.5 million in the Nashville metropolitan area
Weather: The average daily high temperature in May is 77 degrees Fahrenheit/25 Celsius. The average daily low is 57 F/14 C.
Location: 50% of the U.S. population lives within 700 miles of Nashville. Sample distances are 246 miles from Atlanta, 187 miles from Birmingham, 478 miles from Chicago, 662 miles from Dallas, 288 miles from Indianapolis, 922 miles from Miami, 811 from Philadelphia, 575 from Pittsburgh, 540 from Raleigh and 671 from Washington, DC. Interstate highways 65, 40 and 24 all intersect in Nashville.
Airport Info: Nashville International Airport (code BNA) served over 9.6 million passengers in 2006. Sixteen airlines provide 400 daily arrivals and departures to 90 markets, including 48 nonstop. Sample flight tiems are: Boston 2.5 hours, Cincinnati 1 hour, Kansas City 1.5 hours, Los Angeles 4 hours, Minneapolis 2 hours, New York 2 hours, Seattle 4.5 hours, Frankfurt 9.5 hours, Montreal 3.5 hours, Paris 10 hours, Toronto 2 hours. Major airlines serving Nashville are Air Canada, American, Continental, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Midwest Express, Northwest, Southwest, United and US Airways.
2009 Preliminary Agenda
Thursday, May 7, 2009 – DRM USA annual meeting
9:00 am - Welcome remarks from World Christian Broadcasting and WWCR
9:05 am - Welcome remarks from Adil Mina, Jeff White, Mike Adams of USA DRM Group
9:15 am – Seminars on various aspects of DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale)
10:30 am - Coffee Break, sponsored by Media Broadcast
11:00 am – Continuation of DRM Seminars
12:00 pm - Lunch at Holiday Inn Express, sponsored by World Christian Broadcasting and WWCR
1:00 pm - Break
1:30 pm - Bus leaves hotel for sightseeing tour, visiting WWCR studio/transmitter site and World Christian Broadcasting headquarters in Franklin
6:00 pm - Dinner at The Factory in Franklin, sponsored by VT Communications, followed by free time at The Factory mall
9:00 pm - Bus returns to the Holiday Inn Express. The rest of the evening is free to explore The District.
Friday, May 8, 2009 – NASB Annual Meeting
9:00 am - Welcome remarks from Jeff White and Mike Adams
9:15 am - Panel Discussion: The State of Shortwave Listening and Broadcasting in Europe
10:00 am – Presentation, to be announced
10:30 am - Coffee Break
11:00 am – Additional NASB presentations, to be announced
12:00 pm - Lunch
1:15 pm - NASB Business Meeting
2:30 pm - Coffee Break
3:00 pm - NASB Business Meeting continues
4:00 pm - NASB Business Meeting ends, conference ends. Brief closed meeting of the NASB Board.
Sponsorship Opportunities for 2009 NASB-DRM USA Annual Meeting
The following items/events are still open for sponsorship at the 2009 NASB-DRM USA Annual Meeting in Nashville:
Friday morning coffee break
Amphitheater Meeting Room rental
Sponsorship prices range from $250 to $800. If your organization is interested in sponsoring (or co-sponsoring) any of the above-listed items, please contact Jeff White () as soon as possible, to take advantage of pre-meeting publicity.
We thank VT Communications, Media Broadcast, World Christian Broadcasting and WWCR for their sponsorship commitments.
HFCC B08 in Moscow
The B08 conference of the HFCC will take place August 25-29 in Moscow. The NASB's official representative there will be Glen Tapley of WEWN. At press time, we know that George Ross of KTWR will also be at the conference.
NASB members who need assistance with any frequency
coordination matters may contact Glen at:
USA Shortwave Ownership Survey
NASB Board member Bill Damick of Trans World Radio is coordinating the project of a possible NASB shortwave ownership and use survey in the USA. He sends the following request:
“What I’d like to request is that the NASB members submit suggested questions that we might include on such a survey so that we can pass them on to Bob Fortner as he considers how to shape the questionnaire and what cost might be associated with such an effort. We can’t promise that all of them would be included, but I do encourage everyone to ask most anything they might be interested in. As a starter, I’d suggest the following:
Radio ownership – broken down by type of receiver (AM/FM/SW)
Radio use (AM. FM. SW) [% who listen daily/weekly/monthly/less]
Number of hours per week SW is listened to
Is the SW listener also an amateur radio operator?
How many years listening to SW?
What type of SW receiver used [portable, table-top, professional]
SW stations usually listened to [prompted and unprompted]
Listening to foreign media via the Internet [how often and which sources]
Please think creatively on the questions you’d like answered. Thanks for your help.”
You can send suggested questions to Bill Damick at: .
Miscellaneous Shortwave Broadcasting News Releases
Crisis Broadcasting – A Global Concern
News release from VT Communications
We cannot stop disasters happening, but by implementing effective emergency communications after they strike we can ensure information is communicated to minimize the effects. The collapse of communications infrastructure is one of the crippling first effects of most natural and man-made disasters. This makes it harder to inform the public about what they have to do to survive and where to go to receive much needed aid, and keep in touch with the outside world. VT Communications (VTC) now offers bespoke broadcasting solutions that can restore communications and ultimately play a part in saving lives in the critical time immediately after a disaster strikes - anywhere around the world.
VTC’s Solution - VTC provides a multi-phased solution to re-establish communications infrastructure and ensure critical messages are delivered to your target region.
Short Wave Radio Broadcasting - VTC can rapidly transmit messages into the disaster area over short wave radio from 40 transmitter sites across the globe.
Flyaway and Mobile Communications Platforms - VTC can provide scalable solutions for on-the-ground production, communications and localized broadcasting. This ranges from a basic self-contained production and transmission unit in a suitcase, up to a more robust multiple flight-case solution or customised vehicle allowing you to produce, communicate and transmit programming from across the crisis area over longer periods of time.
Managed Infrastructure - VTC can expertly design, re-build and operate permanent communications infrastructure once the crisis is over.
VTC is trusted by its customers, which include disaster relief and international peacekeeping organisations, the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the BBC, to provide bespoke communication solutions that meet their communication requirements in an ever-changing world.
Extra Capacity to Zimbabwe
VT Communications is offering short-term, ad hoc capacity on its global SW network for broadcasters requiring extra transmissions into Zimbabwe during the current crisis there. VT Communications currently delivers daily programmes into this country and the wider region for a number of broadcasters including SW Radio Africa.
The company has a number of available slots that would suit daily 30-minute and 60-minute programmes for Zimbabwe including:
0300-0400 UTC (5-6 am local time) 250 kW, Ascension transmitter
0500-0700 UTC (7-9am local time), 100 kW, Southern Africa transmitter
0800-0900 UTC (10am-11am local time), 250 kW, Ascension transmitter
2000-2200 UTC (10pm – midnight local time), 250 kW, UAE transmitter
Please ask about the availability of time slots outside the above list.
This is part of VTC’s service which offers broadcasters extra capacity to rapidly increase their transmission capability to cover major regional and world news stories and events.
If you require extra capacity into Zimbabwe during this period, please contact your designated VT Communications’ Account Manager or Tim Ayris, VT Communications' Business Development Manager for Broadcast: or telephone: +44 (0)7515 333 142
“Shortwave's Retreat has Slowed,” says The Economist
Several people sent us copies of an article in the June 19, 2008 issue of The Economist which mentioned some of our NASB members. Here are some excerpts from the article:
Propaganda, news, curiosity and even espionage were the fuel of short-wave radio broadcasts. Readers of a certain age may recall the thrill of hearing a crackly, venomously worded broadcast from far away, such as the Voice of Free China denouncing the communist bandits on the mainland, or Radio Peace and Progress in Moscow deriding the imperialist hullabaloo about human rights. The huge advantage of short-wave was that such material was simple to send and hard to stop. Thanks to their high frequency and short wavelength, even low-powered signals can bounce off the ionosphere halfway round the world; anyone can listen. Jamming them—a favourite Soviet tactic, still practised by China today—is an expensive and patchy business.
The end of the cold war, deregulation and new technology made short-wave look out of date. The propaganda war between east and west abated. Poor countries liberalised their broadcasting regimes, turning information famine into abundance. New stations, transmitting on crackle-free FM, soaked up listeners. Many started partnerships with international broadcasters who had previously used short-wave. Satellite-television news from stations such as CNN provided powerful competition in meeting the needs of the news-hungry. Broadband Internet connections and even mobile phones can be used to listen to a plethora of radio stations. But short-wave's retreat has slowed. Though the BBC's World Service uses around 15 different technologies to reach its listeners, short-wave is still king: latest figures, published last week, show 105m of its 182m-strong global audience still listen that way, the majority of them in Africa. In Nigeria the short-wave audience even grew slightly last year. That's not going to change soon: the BBC is upgrading its transmitters on Ascension Island (to be powered, greenly, by a new wind farm). Mike Cronk, a BBC bigwig, says the business case was “compelling”. As competition for slots on the spectrum has eased, private broadcasters are moving in, notably American-based religious ones such as Assemblies of Yahweh, Adventist World Radio and the Fundamental Broadcasting Network. Short-wave also stays useful after natural disasters or political crises. Foreign broadcasters such as Voice of America have been stepping up their short-wave offerings to Zimbabwe in recent weeks.
News from the International Broadcasting Bureau
John White from Thomson Broadcast informed us that Marion Hales, a long-time employee and “RF guru” at the IBB, passed away on July 19, 2008 in Washington, DC. Marion had attended NASB annual meetings in the past. “He was a good friend and a fun guy to have on a visit,” remarked John White.
Shortwave Radio Store in Miami
Glenn Hauser forwards to us the following inquiry from Antonio Louzada, a shortwave listener in Brazil:
“I'm Brazilian. I will go to Miami in September and I would like know a list of stores that sell radios for shortwave listening. I would like buy a radio like a JRC 545 or Icom IC-R75 or Drake 8. If you have any electronic address please send to me.”
Unfortunately, there are very few if any places in Miami that sell high-end shortwave receivers of the type Antonio is looking for. We can recommend one dealer that sells amateur radio transceivers from Icon, Kenwood, etc. They do sell some shortwave receivers as well, and they can special-order them. You might also be interested in using one the transceivers they sell as a receiver. We would suggest that you contact them by e-mail before you come here to see which radios they have in stock, and which ones they might be able to special-order. Their contact information is:
YV-5 Communications, Inc.
2271 WEST 80 ST. • Suite 8
HIALEAH, FL 33016 USA
Phone (305) 8228630 • Fax (305) 8268662
Their web page is
They do a lot of export business to Latin America.
There is also a large amateur radio store in Orlando, Florida called Amateur Electronic Supply. You might want to check out their website, www.aesham.com.
Radio Free Asia Releases Olympics QSL Card
Radio Free Asia announces its 22nd QSL card that is scheduled for distribution for all confirmed reception reports dated July 1 to August 31, 2008. This QSL card celebrates the XXIX Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China which will be held August 8-24, 2008. The Games have always brought people from around the world together in peace to respect universal moral principles. The card shows the graphic of Radio Free Asia’s pin, as created by RFA’s Brian Powell, which will be used by our reporters at the Games.
Radio New Zealand International DRM on 9890 kHz
NASB Board of Directors member Adrian Peterson of Adventist World Radio forwards the following item from Walter Salmaniw in western Canada about DRM SW reception from New Zealand as heard in Canada:
“Fabulous FM-like reception from Radio National on 9890 at 05:43 with a Canadian icon....Stuart MacLean's Vinyl Cafe! What a surprise. A solid 25 dB SNR. Never thought that the Vinyl Cafe was heard anywhere else but on the CBC! (Walt Salmaniw, Victoria, BC, 2 June 2008)
AWR Announces Winners of Alphabet DX Contest 2008
by Adrian Peterson, DX Editor, Adventist World Radio
Adventist World Radio takes pleasure in announcing the results of
our recent listener contest in our DX program, "Wavescan". Even
though these days "Wavescan" is beamed mostly to listeners in Asia,
yet there was a concentration of entries from listeners in Europe, the
Americas, the South Pacific, and of course, from many countries in Asia itself.
The "Wavescan" DX contest this year invited listeners to make up a list of the QSLs in their collection that illustrate the 26 letters of the English alphabet, one QSL for each letter. Participants were also invited to provide copies of what they considered to be the best five in their list, and also to submit three reception reports on AWR radio transmissions, as well as three radio oriented cards. The world winner will receive a copy of Jerry Berg's first book, "On the Short Waves", and continental winners will receive a copy of either "Passport to World Band Radio" or "World Radio TV Handbook." In addition, curios and souvenirs will also be sent out to many of the entrants in appreciation for their participation.
The world winner for our big "Alphabet DX Contest, 2008" is Gunter Jacob of Passau in Germany. Those of you who have been following our contest results over the years will note that this is now the third occasion in which Gunter has achieved the top honor as world winner in our international DX contest.
The continental winners for the 2008 contest are:
Europe: Uwe Volk - Lehrte, Germany
Asia: Takuji Sahara - Tokyo, Japan
Pacific: Hans Kiesinger Maroochydore – Queensland, Australia
USA: Edward Insinger – Summit, New Jersey
Americas: Ashok Kumar Bose – Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
In addition, we have chosen four entries for recognition in the new category "Honorable Mention," and they are: Christian Ghibaudo – Nice, France; Jose Jacob – Hyderabad, India; Patrick Jeffers – Cheshire, England; and Tony Ashar Depok – Indonesia.
Due to the widespread international interest in this year's contest, Adventist World Radio is giving careful consideration to the possibility of conducting another DX contest next year in our program, "Wavescan".
HCJB Changes Frequency Manager
Vladislav Cip of the High Frequency Coordination Conferece (HFCC) forwards the following message from Allen Graham of NASB associate member HCJB.
to my dear friends in the HFCC and greetings from the Middle of the World! I wanted to say how much I have enjoyed
working with you the past three years that I have served as Frequency Manager
for HCJB. The HFCC is a great experience and there are many great people
In order to dedicate more time to my primary role at HCJB Ecuador, I will be stepping out of the role of frequency management. Horst Rosiak, our International Radio Director, will be taking over as Frequency Manager. This is actually an area he worked in about 15 years ago, so it's not new to him. Although he will not be attending the B08 conference, I hope you get to meet Horst at the A09. His e-mail address is
Have a great B08 conference. All the best from Quito. (Allen Graham, HCJB Global Voice, Quito)
Josef Troxler Named New Managing Director of Thomson Radio Broadcast
from Thomson newsletter
Wilhelm Tschol, Managing Director of the Thomson Radio Broadcast activity, has announced that he will retire from the business in 2009 after more than 45 years of dedication to the company. His successor is Josef Troxler, a longtime friend of the NASB, the HFCC and DRM.
Josef is well known and esteemed by customers all over the world for his technical competence, tireless commitment and complete dedication to the radio broadcast trade. Josef joined the company 20 years ago as commissioning engineer, and since then he has held various management positions in sales and marketing. From July 2006 till the present, Josef led the broadcast antenna activity in Schifferstadt in Germany.
“Radio broadcasting is an exciting business and my enthusiasm for the trade has grown over the years,” says Josef. “During my years as ambassador of the company to conferences and exhibitions, and my engagement in the DRM Consortium, I have come to know and esteem many great individuals, whose technical competence and devotion to the future of radio broadcasting is admirable. I feel honored to have been selected to take over the Radio Broadcast activity and am one hundred percent committed to the future of this media.”
“I have a worthy successor in Josef,” says Tschol. “From the very beginning he gained the experience that leaders need and it was obvious to all of us that he would have a great future. In the meantime he has shown his ability to master even the most challenging tasks. His track at the company is impeccable. Josef is full of energy and enthusiasm and meets every new day with special combination of good humor and determination. I am convinced that Josef will make his contribution to the future of radio broadcasting.”
During his years as commissioning engineer, Josef Troxler travelled with his growing family to sites all over the world, like Jordan, Italy, Vatican State and South Africa, He worked with both medium wave and short wave transmitters. “My family enjoyed traveling and experiencing different cultures, languages and environments. It was a fascinating time in my career and I always enjoyed the close contacts with the customers. In 1991, Josef joined the bid and project department and soon took over the job of Sales Director for Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). During this time, he was instrumental in winning important Radio and TV contracts with leading international broadcasters.
In 2002, Troxler replaced Tschol as delegate in the DRM Consortium. Traveling around in the world in various DRM missions, Josef showed tireless commitment in supporting the DRM movement in Asia, Middle East, Africa and America. Josef was also responsible for the development of the Thomson activities in the field of special applications, where the company offers sophisticated technical solutions for such projects as Synchrotron Light Source Facilities, Cancer Treatment and Fusion Research Centers.
Klaus Gutzer is taking over the lead of the antenna business in Schifferstadt. Klaus has been active in the trade for 15 years and has a comprehensive understanding of the antenna business. “We have the most comprehensive portfolio of any antenna manufacturer in the world today. From design to commissioning and maintenance, our teams have the expertise and engagement that it takes to serve customers well. I am looking forward to leading the team in Schifferstadt and having the opportunity to provide our customers with the most advanced solutions available today, says Klaus.”
“Radio broadcasting technology has gone through a lot of breathtaking changes in the last 40 years and Thomson is at the forefront with important innovations,” says Troxler. We are proud to offer complete and comprehensive systems and our enthusiastic, highly competent teams enjoy the challenge of being pioneers in the industry. I am confident in the future of radio broadcast and DRM and am looking forward to leading the company to continued success.”
Wilhelm Tschol, better known as “Willi”, joined the company in 1964 as a commissioning engineer and showed great talent in mastering complex difficult tasks and complex projects. During his career, Willi has witnessed many technological, political and environmental changes, like introduction of solid-state and digital technologies, fall of the Iron Curtain, end of the Cold War, various energy crises and the growth of the Chinese economy within the global context.
“My career was an interesting and rewarding one. I fell in love with radio broadcasting when I was a boy. I was determined to find out how voices and music could come out of the loudspeaker of my family’s first radio set. After all these years, I am still enthusiastic about the technology and the unique advantages of the AM bands. No other communication media for worldwide coverage is as cost-effective, secure and independent. AM can reach millions of people all over the world using a single infrastructure, especially shortwave.” Tschol was a pioneer in developing the Pulse Step Modulation (PSM) technology, which has been state-of-the-art since its introduction in the 1980’s. He has focused on energy-saving innovations and system optimization since the first energy crisis in the 1970’s. Known and respected all over the world for his creativity, commitment and vision, Willi Tschol has dedicated his lifetime to the advance of radio broadcasting and has a firm belief in the future of this media due to its unique advantages.
Interview with Willi Tschol of Thomson Broadcast
from Thomson newsletter
Willi, when you look back over your 45 years of deep involvement in the broadcast field, which events do you see as being the most significant?
In business life, you have various levels of events: daily business, yearly business results, and then you have long-term aspects with wide-spread, serious consequences. An example is the energy crises in 1973 and 1978. These two events led to important technological innovations in our field, like PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) and PSM (Pulse Step Modulation). The result was a drastic reduction of the number of high power tubes needed for the same transmitter output power and a reshuffling of the broadcast industry. Political changes, like the fall of the Iron Curtain and crises in Middle East, completely changed the broadcast landscape as well. Technological changes like the transition from analog to digital, have reduced the availability of funds for the classical media.
What do you see as the next big impact on the radio business?
At present I see similar trends like we had after the last energy crisis. We have a dramatic increase of energy costs and instability of financial markets. Volatile exchange rates make it difficult to predict business in advance and can change situations over night.
A consequence will be that some market players will disappear and this could lead to a general adjustment of capacity in the broadcast industry again.
Many broadcasters are discontinuing their shortwave services. How do you see the future of shortwave and DRM?
Knowing the special advantages of the AM frequency bands, I see manifold fantastic possibilities to use them. AM transmissions can reach huge target areas and millions of people in a very cost-efficient, uncomplicated, independent and safe way. With the added values of DRM, like simultaneous transmission of speech, music, data and even pictures, broadcasters can create attractive programs which captivate listeners. Looking at the impact of all the risks and changes in the world today, I strongly believe in the continued value of these broadcast services. During the recent natural catastrophes like typhoons and earthquakes, shortwave was again and again the only way to keep in touch with the suffering population. The upcoming new world economic powers, like China, India and Russia, are all committed to shortwave and DRM. This affirms the importance of this media.
Willi, it seems that in spite of all the critical factors you mentioned above, you have a very optimistic view of the future of AM broadcasting.
A media which is so widespread and in use for more than 100 years and which is now on such a high quality level with multi-functions thanks to DRM, will not disappear. In the long run, AM radio will always keep an important place on the media landscape.
DRM Tests in Hannover
from Thomson newsletter
The University of Hannover is planning to test 26 MHz DRM Low-Power Short Wave using the new Thomson TSW 26-300 DRM transmitter. Thomson is providing the transmitter including DRM front-end (Cirro-Stratus) and antenna for the period
of the testing. The use of DRM in the 26 MHz short wave band is an interesting option for small areas like towns or university communities. No larger than a bookshelf, TSW 26-300 DRM enables an amazingly efficient local coverage and can provide listeners in densely populated areas with high-quality DRM contents like music, speech, data or disaster information. Unlike FM coverage, DRM shortwave coverage is not limited to line-of-sight.
On-the-spot Emergency Aid for Sichuan, China from Thomson newsletter
When the earthquake shook Sichuan in May, the local communication infrastructure broke down, cutting off whole parts of the population from their regular source of information. Thomson immediately stepped in and offered to provide the local Sichuan broadcaster with a 10 kW DRM medium-power radio broadcast transmitter of the Thomson M2W line.
Only 3 days after the first quake, the transmitter was ready for dispatching from Beijing to the stricken area, where Sichuan Radio & TV will take it into operation to bridge the communication gap.
Mike, for UKQRM
The NASB has long been involved in efforts to combat Broadband Power Line interference to shortwave signals. Our Secretary-Treasurer, Dan Elyea of WYFR, forwards the following message from Mike of a UK-based group opposed to this type of interference on the shortwave bands.
Dear International Short Wave
I represent a growing on-line group of shortwave users who have come together to defend our right to tune into broadcasts on short wave radio, be it analogue AM or digital over short wave. We are known as UKQRM and extends our greetings to you and your station.
The reason for our existence is the home Internet equipment known as Power Line Adapters. These are currently being supplied by BT (British Telecom) who is one provider (ISP) of Internet connection and home networking equipment. The particular equipment that we are concerned about here in the UK is called BT Vision.
Using power line adapters they set up a network within the home using the mains household wires to carry a radio frequency signal. The frequency used is the whole of the spectrum from 3-30 MHz which of course includes all the short wave broadcast bands. The resulting interference extends hundreds of feet from the house with the equipment and makes listening to short wave radio impossible for anyone within that range.
Please view and listen to this You
Tube video presentation for a classic example.
You will understand that despite all your efforts to send radio programming to the UK much of this will go unheard due to the interference caused by BT Vision power line adapters. These are being rolled out to many BT customers.
My reason for e-mailing you is to ask that you bring pressure to bear on the relevant authorities to have this badly designed equipment banned worldwide!
Connection a radio transmitter to a long length of unscreened wire will always mean it transmits the signal and blocks or jams everything else.
We, your listeners, are trying to fight this here using Ofcom initially (http://www.ofcom.org.uk/ ) but as it is your transmissions we are fighting to hear maybe you can help our cause.
I would be happy to welcome your engineers to our UKQRM group or answer direct e-mails with questions. While there are many other countries in the world suffering this problem we have to concentrate on the UK issue for now. Power line adapters and BPL in general could spell the end of short wave radio.
Adventist World Radio
Assemblies of Yahweh
EWTN Global Catholic Radio WEWN
Family Stations Inc.
Far East Broadcasting Co.
Fundamental Broadcasting Network
La Voz de Restauracion Broadcasting, Inc.
Le Sea Broadcasting Corp.
Radio Miami International
Trans World Radio
World Christian Broadcasting
World Wide Christian Radio
NASB Associate Members:
Comet North America
Continental Electronics Corporation
George Jacobs & Associates
Hatfield and Dawson Consulting Engineers
HCJB World Radio
TCI International, Inc.
National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters
10400 NW 240th Street, Okeechobee, Florida 34972
Ph: (863) 763-0281 Fax: (863) 763-8867 E-mail: email@example.com