NASB NEWSLETTER             www.shortwave.org

 

September 2010

 

IN THIS ISSUE:    

    

 

B10  HFCC/ASBU Conference

 

 

Shortwave Descends on Switzerland

The B10 HFCC/ASBU Conference

 

By Jeff White

 

Our trip to Switzerland began on a troubling note.  As the American Airlines flight was about to take off from the Tampa airport, the pilot noted that one of the engines was not accelerating properly.  Fortunately, he decided that it would be best to abort the takeoff and return to the terminal.  To make a long story short, we ended up arriving in Zurich exactly 24 hours later than planned – on Friday instead of Thursday.  The HFCC/ASBU B10 Coordination Conference would begin the following Monday, August 2, and my wife Thais and I had a lot of preparation to do. 

 

However, Switzerland is a very efficient country where everything works like clockwork, and the conference hotel was no exception.  The people at the Movenpick Zurich-Regensdorf Hotel had everything under control, and HFCC Chairman Oldrich Cip and Secretary Vladislav Cip arrived on time on Thursday (by train from the Czech Republic), so preparations were well underway by the time we arrived on Friday.

 

This was the semi-annual seasonal conference where shortwave frequencies were coordinated on a worldwide basis for the B10 (i.e. winter) season which begins on October 31, 2010 and runs through March 27, 2011.  The NASB co-sponsored the conference along with our longtime associate member Thomson Broadcast & Multimedia, based in Turgi, about 40 minutes northwest of Zurich.  Besides myself and Thais from WRMI, there were several other representatives from NASB members and associate members:  Glen Tapley – NASB Vice President -- from WEWN, Jerry Plummer from WWCR, George Ross and Shakti Verma from Trans World Radio, Ken Lingwood and Stephan Schaa from HCJB, Claudius Dedio and Giuseppe Cirillo of Adventist World Radio, Ludo Maes and Mireya Martinez of TDP in Belgium, and multiple representatives from TDF of France, VT Communications and the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau.  The U.S.-based private shortwave stations attend the HFCC/ASBU conferences as part of the FCC delegation, which was headed by Tom Lucey.

 

This was not the first time the NASB had sponsored an HFCC/ASBU conference.  The first time we hosted the meeting was in Mexico City in February of 2005.  The second time was in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic just a year ago in August of 2009.  At the closing reception and dinner at the edge of the beach in Punta Cana, sponsored by Thomson Broadcast and Multimedia, Thomson's John White suggested that we consider organizing a future HFCC conference in Switzerland near their plant in Turgi. One thing led to another, and by early 2010 we were planning for the B10 Conference in Zurich.

 

We were a bit concerned that attendance in Zurich might be low due to the world economic crisis and the fact that prices in Switzerland are among the highest in Europe.  But we attempted to keep the costs as low as possible under the circumstances, and the turnout was even higher than expected.  The final number of delegates was 112 from about 48 different countries and organizations.

 

Most people arrived in Zurich – or more precisely in the Zurich suburb of Regensdorf, where the Movenpick Hotel is located – on Sunday, August 1, and the B10 Conference began on August 2.  Joseph Troxler, head of Thomson in Turgi, welcomed delegates to Switzerland with a brief explanation of the country's geography, culture and politics.  He explained that Switzerland is a landlocked country geographically divided between the Alps, the central plateau and the Jura mountains.  The country has a population of 7.6 million, who are divided into three main linguistic and cultural regions:  German, French and Italian, with a few valleys where a little-known language called Romansch is spoken.

 

Switzerland is a federal parliamentary democracy.   For any change in the constitution, a referendum is mandatory; for any change in a law, a referendum can be requested,” explained Josef.  “Through referenda, citizens may challenge any law voted by federal parliament and through initiatives introduce amendments to the federal constitution, making Switzerland the closest state in the world to a direct democracy.”  The presidency is a rotating position which changes every year, and he or she doesn't have a tremendous amount of power.  So many Swiss do not even know who the current president is.  (It's a woman at the moment.) 

 

From Geoff Spells' official notes about the opening session: 

 

“[Joseph] followed this with a short overview of the structure of Thomson. He said that the main business of transmission was currently integrated into a company organisation called Grass Valley but noted that there will be changes in this structure soon. He also noted that the well known Thomson name is used within an overall company called Technicolor. Joseph then outlined the product range within the four main manufacturing plants. Joseph said that more information would be available during the factory visit to Turgi planned for Wednesday afternoon.”                      

                  

To officially declare the conference open, the delegate from Sentech in South Africa, Sikander Hoosen, was asked to give a few blasts on a vuvuzela – the loud horn that made so much background noise during the recent soccer World Cup in South Africa – which he had brought with him. 

 

At the opening plenary, Sergio Salvatori of Vatican Radio gave details of the technical procedures to be used during the week. 

 

After a coffee break, the actual frequency coordination process began.  The NASB sponsored the high-speed Internet service at the conference.  The hotel provided a main Internet connection to the conference secretariat room, and a server in the secretariat was connected to a wireless network in the main conference meeting room with the HFCC/ASBU Intranet content.  Unfortunately, despite extensive tests of the conference Intranet network during the days prior to the conference, there were serious problems when the approximately 100 laptops began using the network simultaneously.  Internet connectivity was sporadic at best.  The hotel's technical staff began working immediately with Vladislav, Gerald Theoret of CBC, Sergio Salvatori and other HFCC personnel to try to find the problem.  The Movenpick chain sent its IT expert to the hotel to work on the matter also.  But after nearly four hours of trying to resolve the matter, it was still not working.  In order to avoid a major problem, the hotel offered to let all conference delegates connect to its wireless Internet directly, so participants were able to upload schedules to the HFCC's duplicate server in Prague.  Vladislav explained that this was not a perfect solution, but it was workable.  As an added bonus, delegates were able to access the wireless connection from their individual hotel rooms also at no cost to them.  Once the Internet issue was resolved, the coordination process for the rest of the week proceeded smoothly.

 

The HFCC/ASBU Conference ran Monday through Friday, August 2-6.  Most of the meeting consisted of the usual uploading of frequency schedules for the B10 season, processing data, producing “collision lists” and negotiating solutions to the collisions between stations.  But on Tuesday afternoon, there was a one-hour DRM session presented by Ludo Maes of TDP, Horst Scholz of Deutsche Welle and Mireya Martinez of TDP.   Ludo began with an overview of the DRM Consortium and an explanation of Digital Radio Mondiale's features, benefits and global receiver strategy.  He explained that state broadcaster All India Radio has recently chosen DRM for the digitalization of its vast mediumwave and shortwave network, including the purchase of five new shortwave transmitters and a 500-watt DRM transmitter for 26 MHz trials.  Russia also announced the introduction of DRM for mediumwave and shortwave transmissions earlier this year.  The Voice of Russia is planning DRM transmissions to the Arab world and Latin America.

                                                   

Next, Ludo Maes had a presentation about DRM monitoring systems.  As he explained, “there are many different systems available for monitoring DRM broadcasts. Each system has its own specific tools, advantages and disadvantages.   For incidental, free of charge monitoring, the data on the DRMrx forum will provide the perfect solution. In case a more dedicated, scheduled monitoring is desired, the Theseus, RFmonitor or IBB DRM monitoring systems will certainly fulfill your needs.”  For more details, you can e-mail Ludo Maes at info@transmitter.org. 

 

The third major part of the DRM presentation was the results of a recent survey of European international broadcasters about multistandard digital radio receivers.  Here is Ludo Maes' background to the survey and summary of the results:

 

A major issue regarding the success of digital radio is the availability of cheap digital radio receivers.  A digital radio receiver can only be produced at a low price if it can be produced in large quantities.  A multistandard digital radio receiver (having the major digital standards onboard) can be sold in every country around the world.  This allows for mass production and minimizes the risk for receiver manufacturers since they can sell the same receiver in any market.  The appearance of multistandard digital radio chipsets is the key.

 

“The intention of the survey was to find out the opinion of radio broadcasters towards the idea of multistandard digital radio receivers.  In this survey, the major European radio broadcasters were contacted, asking them only 2 questions [Do you support the idea that a multistandard digital receiver would be a good step forward for digital radio to become a success?  And, if multistandard digital radio receivers would be available, which standards should be included in your opinion?]  Of the 31 countries contacted, 28 responded to the survey.  The results of the survey can be useful to the radio receiver and chipset manufacturing industry, as well as to the broadcasting unions and the radio broadcasters themselves.  Hopefully this will give confidence to the industry in order to invest in the idea of multistandard digital radio receivers.”

 

The conclusions of the survey:  “Broadcasters are very much in favor of multistandard digital radio receivers.  All of them find it important to have analogue FM aboard, but analogue MW and analogue SW not too much.  DAB+, DRM and DRM+ are considered the most important to be included in a multistandard digital radio receiver, followed closely by DAB and T-DMB.  HD-Radio and other digital standards (like wifi-radio, DVB-H and DVB-T) are considered the least important to be included.”

 

Mireya Martinez of TDP gave a presentation about the plan to create a European International Broadcasters Group to promote the use of DRM.  The idea is to include broadcasters which transmit programs in six primary European languages – English, German, French, Russian, Spanish and Italian.  All in all,” explained Mireya, “English either as a mother tongue or as a second/foreign language is spoken by 51% of EU citizens, followed by German with 32% and French with 28%.”   The presentation included a list of international broadcasters in Europe and a graphic showing in which of the six above-mentioned languages each of these stations transmits. 

 

For example, 14 out of the 46 European international broadcasters transmit in Spanish.  But only one out of the 14 international broadcasters which transmit in Spanish is using the DRM standard.  “This means that there are still 13 potential international broadcasters in Spanish which have the possibility to broadcast in DRM,” said Mireya.  “The proposed strategy is to get in contact with those 13 international broadcasters and encourage them to broadcast in DRM.”

 

Eleven of the 46 international broadcasters are currently transmitting in DRM:  BBC, Deutsche Welle, Radio Romania International, the Voice of Russia, Radio Prague, Polish Radio, Vatican Radio, RTL Luxembourg, Radio France International, Radio Exterior de España and RAI from Italy.  Six of these stations broadcast DRM programming in English, five in German, three in French and Italian, two in Russian and one in Spanish. 

 

The Wednesday, August 4, coordination activities ended early so that all of the delegates could take part in a tour sponsored by Thomson Broadcast & Multimedia.  Three large buses took the group from Regensdorf to the Thomson plant in Turgi, some 45 minutes away.  The delegation was broken up into five groups to visit five different parts of the vast multi-building campus of the plant.  The five tour divisions were:

 

1)      An overview of antennas and masts and a look at the rotatable curtain antennas.

2)      An overview of the M2W mediumwave transmitter family, a presentation of the 10-kilowatt M2W transmitter, an explanation of the DRM Skywave product line, and a live demonstration of the new DRM application called Diveemo.

3)      RF applications for scientific and medical installations, including an innovative RF amplifier system for cancer therapy which is being used in Europe.

4)      An overview of the Thomson shortwave transmitter line, a presentation of the 250/500 kilowatt shortwave transmitter, and a PSM modulator.

5)      Historical information about Turgi, presented by recently retired Thomson employee Sally Welter (see sidebar story), whose presentation received applause from the group of visitors.

 

After the plant tour, the buses left for a castle in Bottstein, a small town just a few kilometers from the German border.  Joseph Troxler explained that the Bottstein Castle was originally a fort, back in the days when Switzerland was divided into factions.  Nowadays it serves as a hotel, restaurant and banquet hall.  As the weather was warm and dry, a pre-dinner cocktail reception was held in the courtyard of the castle.  The dinner itself was inside, and was served with local wine produced in the Bottstein area.  After a salad, everyone had a choice of veal milanese with noodles, fried salmon with potatoes or Swiss dumplings known as “spatzle” with mixed vegetables.  For dessert, there was a Swiss chocolate mousse with pineapple ice cream.  For entertainment, Bob Bartz of Far East Broadcasting played a few folk songs on his guitar.  Feet were tapping to Bob's rendition of John Denver's “Country Roads, Take Me Home.”

 

Back in Regensdorf on Thursday, the frequency coordination process continued.  On Thursday afternoon was the Plenary Meeting.  Horst Scholz reminded everyone that the A season conference alternates between Asia and the Arab countries, so the next HFCC/ASBU conference in February of 2011 will be in an ASBU country, although the exact location has not been decided yet.  There was also no host yet for the B11 meeting in August of next year. 

 

Geoff Spells reported on ITU working groups, DRM work going on in the CEPT (European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations), a CEPT report on the future of terrestrial broadcasting, and fears that PLT (powerline transmission) interference on the HF bands could be much worse than currently expected.  Gerald Theoret reported on the Group of Experts meeting which took place during the HFCC Conference.  The main topic at this meeting was how to deal with future Internet connectivity problems such as those experienced on Monday of this week.

 

Oldrich Cip reported on the two most recent Steering Board meetings in Prague and Zurich.  “We followed up on our discussions in Kuala Lumpur on the future of shortwave radio and the HFCC,” he said.  “We've all accepted the fact that there are changes in distribution platforms.  But the Internet cannot completely replace wireless radio and TV.  There will be a combination.  We want to motivate members in initiating this debate and provide facts for those who are threatened with reductions of shortwave broadcasting.”  Oldrich said the HFCC is going to open a new area of the hfcc.org website called “Broadcasters and Listeners” or something similar. 

 

Oldrich noted that the HFCC global database is the best source of information for shortwave listeners, but the data is still not accurate enough, so steps need to be taken to make it more accurate.  He pointed out that a decision was made at the last HFCC/ASBU conference in Kuala Lumpur to continuously update the global database and make it available to the public as of the B10 season.  “Our urgent task is to make the database 100% accurate,” he said.  Organizations will be able to upload their schedule information along with their frequency requirements.  There will be details on frequencies, times, languages, antennas, etc. in PDF format. 

 

“Shortwave and Internet will not be fighting each other, but complementing each other,” explained Oldrich.  “We are facing critical developments in reducing the budgets of shortwave stations.  We can't reinstate stations to the 'glory days' of earlier years, but we should maintain them at reasonable levels.” 

 

In his review of financial matters at the Plenary Meeting, Geoff Spells reported that the HFCC had a relatively healthy balance of accounts at the end of 2009.  “The HFCC is solvent, with a cushion in the bank,” he said.  This is due to a recent increase in membership fees, and members responding to the economic crisis by paying any past due amounts.  For 2010 Geoff said that the financial situation looks OK.

 

The registration desk at the HFCC/ASBU Conference was staffed by the NASB – primarily by Thais White of WRMI, who was ably assisted by Judy Tapley, wife of Glenn Tapley of WEWN.  Elena Glutz of Thomson Broadcast & Multimedia also assisted on the opening day, August 2.

 

A popular spot at the registration desk was the NASB display, which featured our 2011 annual meeting which will take place together with the DRM USA annual meeting May 13-16 onboard the Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas cruise ship sailing for three nights from Miami to the Bahamas.  The meeting is open to shortwave listeners, broadcasters and anyone with an interest in shortwave radio.  Conference delegates will enjoy an interesting itinerary which includes stops at Royal Caribbean's private island, CocoCay, and at Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas.  The cruise will include lodging, three meals per day at a choice of restaurants, a wide variety of entertainment and transportation.  This is a perfect opportunity for delegates to bring along spouses and family members, who will have plenty of activities to keep them busy both on the ship and on the islands. 

 

There will be presentations by shortwave broadcasters from the U.S. and other countries on a variety of topics.  Preliminary topics include shortwave broadcasting to Latin America, shortwave listening in the Arctic and a profile of Florida's shortwave stations.  Of course DRM developments will be on the agenda as well. 

 

The Majesty of the Seas accommodates over 2700 passengers and around 1000 crew members who come from around the world.  The NASB cruise rate of US$299.00 is guaranteed for those who register by October 27, 2010 with a deposit of $100.00 per person (i.e. $200.00 per cabin).  The price is per person, based on double occupancy of a standard inside cabin.  More information and a registration form are available on the NASB website, www.shortwave.org.  Click on “Annual Meeting.”

 

 

Conference Opening Remarks by Oldrich Cip. HFCC Chairman

 

Special thanks of all of us go to Jeff White, President of the NASB who has volunteered as the chairman of the preparatory committee and has taken over conference registrations, contacts with the hotel, etc.  I hope that Jeff's fancy for the HFCC will stay also after the conference since he is a great writer and we need more content on the HFCC website.

 

I have only one subject for my usual opening remarks.  It follows up on our discussions in Kuala Lumpur and in the Steering Board recently.  The talking point is simple, but at the same time quite fundamental: The future of international shortwave broadcasting and of the HFCC.

 

The programme delivery modes of audiovisual media are becoming more varied and fragmented.  The digital delivery – so-called broadband – is widely considered as the leading technology for the future.  But there is also other evidence: “Terrestrial broadcasting in many countries is still, and will remain in the future, the main way to guarantee universal access to radio and TV content for fixed mobile and portable devices.  No other single platform can replicate these benefits.” This has been the conclusion of the experts of the European Broadcasting Union in a debate on the radio spectrum policy earlier this year.  According to that report the maximum benefit for both broadcasters and viewers would be the combination of terrestrial transmissions and Internet with the aim of offering the full range of benefits of both technologies.

 

Unfortunately there is no such in depth debate yet in international broadcasting.  In the present rush to embrace new digital platforms, decision makers have been moving funding from shortwave broadcasting.  Yet they are frequently unaware of the properties of the individual platforms and even of the existence and needs of different segments of their audience.

 

It would be futile to believe that the HFCC alone will be able to keep shortwave delivery in the forefront of options but we are certainly in a position to provide vital information about shortwave broadcasting and about its merits both for those who will carry on listening to shortwaves in combination with other delivery modes – and to those who consider shortwave listening as their hobby, and also to broadcasters who need facts and information for their effort to keep shortwave programmes on the air.

 

We decided in Kuala Lumpur earlier this year that the public version of the global database of shortwave broadcasting that we manage will be continuously updated.  There is no such unique pool of schedule information anywhere else.  We have to see to it that the data are 100% accurate and in a format suitable for listeners.

 

Broadcast bands are allocated internationally and a programme offered in a shortwave band is in a much more unique position than a programme placed on the Internet where there are huge numbers of stations and other attractions.  The availability and quality of shortwave delivery is independent of the number of listeners.  New technologies frequently incur additional costs and do not provide coverage in some locations.  Shortwave delivery is free-to-air and free of any charges.

 

Most of our regular and associated members are interested in how shortwave technology develops in the future, and what is the current state of digitization that could introduce such a dramatic improvement in sound quality.  We are ready to collect and publish on the web all information that will help create a balanced and stable system of programme delivery where the distribution platforms do not compete but complement each other.

 

We are ready to promote shortwaves.  But our HFCC tools and what we do also determines quality.  Very sophisticated collision processing tools are used but some members still keep over-submitting their frequency requirements.  This is in conflict with the spirit of co-operation that has been established over the years.  We can discuss this further during the Plenary Meeting since the HFCC management believes that now is the time to take action beyond what we have tried in the past.

 

And before I hand over to Horst and other board colleagues, and since we are in Switzerland – this is an interesting footnote that arrived to Jeff White from a shortwave listener in Colombia the day before yesterday.  Shortwave broadcasting from Switzerland would have been 75 years old yesterday August 1st 2010.  Unfortunately it was stopped – I believe quite prematurely – already six years ago.  This is one of the reasons why the HFCC needs to widen its scope of activities.

 

 

Shortwave Station News from the HFCC/ASBU B10 Conference

 

Spain – Fernando Almarza of Radio Exterior de España reported that his station is broadcasting in DRM to Mexico and the United States (Ciraf zones 7, 8, 10 and 11) from its relay site in Costa Rica.  REE would appreciate any and all reception reports on these transmissions, which are on 9630 kHz daily from 0000-0200 UTC in Spanish.  The azimuth is 340 degrees, and transmissions are in the DRM B mode.

 

USA – The IBB transmitter site in Greenville, North Carolina had been threatened with closure this October.  But at the time of the HFCC Conference, it appeared that the possible closure would be postponed until at least sometime next year.

 

Romania – The National Radiocommunications Company (Radiocom) is offering to sell shortwave airtime from its transmitter sites in Tiganesti and Saftica.  Two Continental transmitters – one 100 kilowatt and one 300 kilowatt – can broadcast in both analogue and DRM.  Twelve Russian horizontal dipole antennas and a TCI rotatable log periodic antenna offer a number of different azimuths.

 

Germany – Adventist World Radio has for sale 250 kilowatt, 50 ohm coaxial antenna selector switches.  For more information, contact Claudius Dedio at AWR's Frequency Management Office in Alsbach, Germany (tel +49-6257-9440969).

 

Ecuador – Stephan Schaa of VozAndes Media in Germany explained that after HCJB dismantled its shortwave transmitter site in Pifo, Ecuador, the equipment was donated to HCJB's German branch.  This included a 100-kilowatt HC-100 HF transmitter, two 33-kilowatt Siemens linear transmitters which have been tested by HCJB with four kilowatts in DRM mode, and two 10-kilowatt regional shortwave transmitters, one of which is operating on 6050 kHz.  The donation also included antennas and transmission lines.  VozAndes Media has a plan to build a new shortwave transmitter site somewhere else in Ecuador within 6 to 12 months, although a site has not yet been located.  The plan is to broadcast in German, Spanish and Portuguese, as well as some regional South American languages such as Quichua.  Broadcasts will be targeted primarily at Latin America, although there would also likely be broadcasts to Europe in German with the 100-kilowatt transmitter.  Some DRM transmissions are planned. 

 

U.K. - London-based World Radio Network is selling airtime on FM networks in Turkey (over 28 outlets in major cities like Istanbul, Izmir and Bursa), Afghanistan (reaching listeners in Kabul, Habat, Jalalabad, Mazar-e-Sharif and Kandahar) and Buenos Aires, Argentina (two stations – one with 30 kW and the other with 60 kW ERP).

 

U.K. - At the Plenary Meeting, Gary Stanley of VT Communications explained that his company was recently acquired by a company called Babcock in the UK.  So VT Communications is now called Babcock, and the company's FMO (Frequency Management Organization) code for the HFCC will be changed from VTC to BAB.  They will use VTC through the B10 season, and will begin using the new BAB code as of the A11 season.  It's business as usual for us,” said Gary.  “The only difference is that at the next conference we'll be in the front of the room!”  (Delegations are seated in the meeting room in alphabetical order.)

 

 

The History of Turgi, Switzerland – Home of Thomson Broadcast & Multimedia

 

My name is Sally Welter and up till the end of 2009 I was employed by Thomson Broadcast & Multimedia AG, where I worked together with Willi Tschol. I was also responsible for publishing the customer newsletter called Radio News, which I am sure some of you are still familiar with. Since January I am retired.

 

Today I want to tell you a little bit about the history of the town of Turgi. Turgi is a small town

with a population of around 3000 persons on an area of 1.5 square kilometres. In addition to

the main section here on the banks of the Limmat River, Turgi also includes two residential

areas on top of the hill behind the train station.

 

Especially young families find Turgi an attractive place to live in: it’s quiet and rural, close to

larger urban areas and has a very good public transportation system thanks to the train

station.

 

Back in the very old days, when the Roman Empire ruled the country they called Helvetica,

Turgi was no more than a spot on one of the main Roman roads crossing the country from

east to west.

 

In 1534, a farmer who was plowing his fields close to Turgi found a Roman milestone dating from 99 BC. This stone had a Latin inscription on it, giving the distance from here to the Roman city of Aventicum as being 85 Roman miles. This was important for the Romans to know, since Aventicum, today known as Avenche – a small town in western Switzerland – was their capital city in Helvetica.

A Roman mile represents 1.48 kilometres and the distance as given on the milestone was measured later on and found to be correct.

 

In the beginning there was no bridge across the river, but there used to be a ferry which connected one side of the river with the other.  And up until the beginning of the 19th Century, the ferryman who had his house here was the sole inhabitant of the area known today as Turgi.

 

Then the industrial revolution and the invention of mills invaded Switzerland. Within a very short period of time, mills of one kind or another sprang up along the banks of the larger Swiss rivers, where the water needed to drive the mills was readily available.  Historically speaking, Turgi owes its entire development to this industrial revolution.

 

Turgi was a perfect location for mills. The town itself is something like a peninsula with two-thirds

of its area being surrounded by the river Limmat which curves all around it.  In addition, just around the corner, three main Swiss rivers merge together, forming one of the largest sweet water reservoirs in all of Europe.

 

In the 1820’s, the industrial family Bebié moved to Turgi, laid the cornerstone of their first cotton spinning mill and built the canal to provide the mill with water. Soon they built a second mill, large houses for feeding and lodging their workers, as well as a factory school for all the children who worked at the mill and a private school for children under 13 years of age.  At that time, child labour for children above 13 years of age was not against the law, and the mill was happy to employ children to insert and set up the spindles. 

 

In 1858, the cotton spinning mill here in Turgi was the largest of its kind in Switzerland.  When the Bebié Family built the wooden bridge for their workers, the ferry was closed down for good.  The bridge was closed to traffic in 1920, completely renewed in 1921, and in 1990 the wooden piles were replaced by concrete foundations.  At the entrance to the bridge you can see the Turgi Coat of Arms. The blue line in the middle represents the river, on top is the cogwheel representing the industrial heritage and on the bottom is an ear of grain representing the agricultural heritage.

 

Till today most of the buildings erected back in those days are still around, including many beautiful mansions. The building here was the mill. The house down there used to be the barn where the cotton was stored and just across the street you can see the building which is called “The Farmhouse” and which was indeed a farm grounded back then by the Bebié Family. The farmhouse was taken over by the town and is used today as a cultural and youth center.

 

The buildings situated on this factory area now stand under monument conservation. They can be remodeled and modernized inside, but the facade must be kept the same. A few years ago, Turgi received the highly coveted prize called “Wakker Prize”. This is awarded by the Swiss national government to towns who have excelled in heritage protection.

 

The town annals tell an interesting anecdote about a special factory clock used in the mill. A normal working day back in those days was 14-15 hours with a half-hour lunch break. The mill owners were very strict about having the working day start at 6am and end at 9pm. On the other hand, they wanted to avoid having to light lamps, since these could easily cause a fire with all the cotton.  They solved this problem by setting the clock weekly to match the daylight time. In July for instance, when the clock showed 6am and time to start work, it was actually only 4.30 am, and in January, when the clock showed 6am it was already 7am.  The workers were forced to set their clocks regularly to match this factory clock which was mounted high up in a bell tower making it visible from far. This clock by the way still exists and is exhibited in the restaurant behind the bridge.

 

In the 1880’s the mill experienced a financial crisis. The owner successfully reshaped the business by building two power plants. The first one here in Turgi was situated next to the mill; the second one was a little bit further down the river. They also built a power transmission line connecting the two power plants.  By the way, this power transmission line enabled the construction of the first factory in the

region not to be situated directly on the riverside. This factory for metal goods, which was next to the train station, was torn down years ago.

 

The power plant built back then was a little bit further up the river and consisted of two buildings: The turbine building on top of the canal and the generator house on the little island. The island by the way was created when they built the canal which intersected the northernmost tip of Turgi.

 

The power plant had 2 Francis turbines. Here you can see parts of the old turbine, like the fin-set and the old gearwheel which had wooden teeth! Can you imagine: a leather belt drive went all the way from the turbine - over the river - and drove the generator on the island. 

 

When the mill closed, the electricity was used to supply the public network. About 30 years ago a new power plant was built. This is in operation today and delivers a maximum of 950 kW. It has a Kaplan turbine which drives the generator with about 110 revolutions.

 

The Limmat Power Plant Network supplies its regional customers with 30% of their total energy needs using water power coming from four hydroelectric plants on the Limmat River, all originating from the 19th century.

 

In Turgi the era of the mill and the Bebié Family finally came to an end in 1962, when the expanding Company Brown Boveri of Baden took over the entire share capital of the Bebié AG. The industrial revolution of the 19th century thus made way for the electronic industry of the 20th and 21st centuries.

In addition to taking over the existing spinning mill buildings, Brown Boveri – later known as Asea Brown Boveri or ABB - built new factories on the other side of the river and moved their entire electronic activities there. Soon the area became known as the “Silicon Valley of Switzerland.”

 

In the old mill itself, Brown Boveri installed their factory for radio broadcast transmitters, where it has stayed until today, in the meantime better known under the name “Thomson Broadcast & Multimedia AG”.

 

 

Swiss Gastronomy

 

The conference package included a daily buffet breakfast at the Movenpick Hotel, which included many hot and cold items such as Swiss specialties rosti (like hash-brown potatoes) and a variety of fresh Swiss cheeses.  For lunch and dinner, the hotel had a main restaurant (where the least expensive entree was a hamburger for about $23) and an Italian restaurant which specialized in dozens of types of spaghetti which were very good and reasonably priced, by Swiss standards.

 

Those who preferred a slightly less expensive alternative could nip into the Migros supermarket in the shopping center right next door to the hotel.  Migros had a cafeteria-type restaurant with daily specials.  Another alternative was the Gasthof Hirschen, a small traditional guest house hotel a short walk from the Movenpick.  The restaurant there was not any less expensive than the Movenpick, but it had Swiss specialties like Kalbsfleisch Zurcher Art, a Zurich delicacy of veal tips in a mushroom cream sauce with the ubiquitous rosti potatoes.

 

Of course many people who go to Switzerland want to experience a Swiss fondue.  We were surprised to find that in the German-speaking part of the country fondue is generally eaten only in the winter.  (In the French portion, it's a year-round dish.)  But together with HFCC Vice Chairman Horst Scholz, we managed to find a popular tourist restaurant called Swiss Chuchi in the Adler Hotel on Rosengasse street in Zurich's Old Town which serves fondue all year long and did not disappoint us.  In fact, many if not most of the conference participants took the 17-minute local train from Regensdorf to downtown Zurich in the evenings after the conference ended to enjoy the wide variety of restaurants, the famous shopping street Bahnhofstrasse (with expensive designer stores) and a variety of historical attractions like the 12th-century Grossmunster cathedral, which played an important role in the Protestant Reformation movement.  Horst also introduced us to a modern attraction near the main train station called Restaurant Movie, which was decorated like a movie studio with large cameras throughout and had a menu printed on large metal film canisters.

 

And before we leave this subject, I would like to share a traditional fondue recipe which I was given by our friend Kaethy Zanotti, a resident of the Bern area.  Not only did she share her recipe with us, but she also made a fondue for us which was delicious.

 

Kaethy's Fondue Recipe

 

Rub a clove of garlic around the caquelon (fondue bowl).

2)      Put 150-200 grams of Swiss cheese per person into the bowl, cut into small pieces.  There are many variations, but the cheese should be, for example, half gruyere and half another variety like Appenzeller.  Vacherin is another variety which is often used, and makes the fondue creamy.

3)      Add two to four teaspoons of Maizena or potato starch.  Be sure to add this before heating; otherwise it clumps.

4)      Add one deciliter of white wine per person.  Fondant is the preferred type, but any dry white wine like Riesling will do in a pinch.

5)      Add one to two teaspoons of lemon juice.

6)      Throw in a bit of nutmeg and pepper to taste.

 

Then heat the mixture until the cheese is melted and creamy.  Cut fresh bread into small pieces and dip them into the fondue mixture, which is set on the table with a candle or heat canister underneath it to keep it warm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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