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Full Speed Ahead!
October 28, 2006
Ok I admit it, I've been slacking off lately on the webpage. I fully intended to have things back up to speed long before now but life's distractions and priorities kept changing and time stands still for no one.

So what I have I been up to lately? Yes, the wood floors came out fine and I could not have done much of the remodeling to my house without the help of my brother-in-law Wil who came up from Costa Rica to help pitch in. I did figure out a few things though these past months. First, no matter how much you do it's just never enough. My wife wants more work done to the house, my boss wants me to sell more steel this month than the last, the demands of helping to care for my father with Alzheimer's disease always presents new unexpected challenges and on and on the list goes. So if the webpage doesn't get updated every day please understand that this is a hobby for me. It is a hobby that I am passionate about but none the less a hobby. I don't make any money from doing this nor does anyone else associated with the page. We all do it for the love of this magical box we call RADIO. Nothing more, nothing less.

Another thing I came to realize during this down time was to appreciate the endless contributions that so many other people make to perpetuate the growth and interest of the radio hobby through their dedication, enthusiasm and hard work. In fear of forgetting someone's name I will refrain from making some sort of list of these exceptional people but you know who they are. They are the ones who do radio programs about radio that we all enjoy and the leaders of clubs, organizations, bulletins, newsletters and newsgroups that encourage fraternalism and finally the people who write historical and technical articles that educate us. All of these people are the unsung custodians of the radio hobby and I thank them for their efforts.

So where does the page go from here? I am working with Jay and Russ on getting some new reviews posted soon. There are some parts of the page that either needs to be developed a little better or ditched completely.

I sincerely appreciate those who take the time to drop me an email with news and info on new radio developments. The best news comes from YOU who read this page and not from me. So keep the emails coming! If I don't respond to your email then please re-send it. I try to respond to every email sent in even if only with a simple THANK YOU but unfortunately with the amount of spam I get sometimes emails that shouldn't accidentally zapped. So it's a good idea to put RADIO or something in the header of the email.

Finally, thank you to everyone who did send an email in the past few months to encourage me to get off my butt and get back to updating the webpage.

Now with winter around the corner I need to get my long-wire back up but that's another story for another time.

What Happened To The Daily Updates?
July 9 2006
As many people have noticed the semi-daily updates have not been too daily the past few weeks. In fact I have received a few emails asking everything from if the webpage was being closed down to if I was ok. So first let me say thanks to those who did take the time to write and ask. It is quite humbling to know that so many people look forward to reading the daily updates and the webpage.

So here's what's been going on.

The past few months I have been on a rampage doing some major renovating and remodeling to our home that my wife and I bought two years ago. Crunch time came a month ago when we were finally ready to have the hardwood floors re-done. I am a do it yourself guy (aka too cheap to pay someone else to do something I think I can do better) but paying an expert to re-finish hardwood floors is one thing I believe strongly in paying for because if you don't know what you are doing it can cause more problems, damage, etc. Along with moving everything out on the first floor of the house to make clear for the guys re-doing the floors, the lighting, drywall, plumbing and painting projects plus keeping up with cutting almost 5 acres of grass and my real life job of keeping the world fed with steel has kept my free time very limited unfortunately. To be quite honest I am kinda burnt out but the good news is there is finally light at the end of tunnel. With the help of my brother in law Wil (ex: TI5WCC) , who flew in from Costa Rica for a few weeks, I guesstimate I have only a two or three weeks left of major time consuming projects left.

Anyway, that's the full skinny on what's been happening here at RadioIntel HQ. I have a review of the KA1107 that Russ worked on that I plan to post in a few days (when I find time) and Jay is working on a review of the Redsun RP2100. Hopefully the semi-daily updates will be back soon and things will back to normal. Again, I wish to thank the many surprising emails that were concerned about the webpage. Your words of encouragement make me eager to jump back into the page full steam.

Right now I am already looking forward to smells of fall, the sights of Navy football and the sounds of a good radio.

The Coming Digital Radio Frontier?
January 1, 2006
Recently a question was sent in by a reader of this page who asks probably something that has been on everyone’s mind at some point.

“Over the past three months I came into some money and treated myself to both the Satellit 800 and the Eton E1. However I read where several major SW broadcasters will be going to digital within the next few years. Will this mean that I will be the proud owner of obsolete SW receivers? And what about iBiquity HD radio in the US?”

I wish I had a crystal ball that would accurately predict the future but I don’t. So here’s my take and best guess on everything right now for what it’s worth.

Digital shortwave or DRM has been in slow deployment for the average joe shortwave listener since it was first introduced a few years ago. DRM has been mostly used by those willing to go the extra mile to decode and experiment with DRM transmissions from their analog receiver or DRM interface receiver hooked up via their computer in order to receive these signals. There have been several announcements by a few manufactures to offer a stand alone shortwave DRM receiver but so far nothing has hit mass market appeal. The only commercial stand alone receiver that comes to mind is the Mayah DRM2010. A few stand alone Mayah DRM2010 were produced that reached the hands of a few broadcasters and people willing to shell out 695 Euros plus VAT for this radio but it did not create the DRM buzz that perhaps broadcasters were hoping. Today Mayah’s website says the DRM2010 is sold out. Will there be any more produced is anyone’s guess. In early 2005 it was announced at the NASB meeting that the first “truly consumer DRM radio should be out by the end of the year” with a target price of 100 to 150 Euros. 2005 has come and gone and there’s still nothing available. No doubt we will hear that a reasonably priced DRM radio will be available in 2006 and perhaps something will become more widely available. Since there is no established or agreed shut-off date for analog shortwave, it’s safe to assume that your shortwave receiver won’t become obsolete anytime soon. A bigger concern in my opinion would appear to be the increased abandonment of shortwave by international broadcasters. Unfortunately each year fewer hours are devoted to shortwave by international broadcasters (VOA, BBC, etc) and instead they are lured away by the cheap sexy appeal of distribution via the internet. Sadly the isolated bureaucratic fat cats who make these decisions give the false impression that everyone in the world is “wired” for news on the internet when in reality nothing could be further from the truth.

Analog shortwave isn’t obsolete yet but what about AM and HD Radio in the USA? There is plenty of time left there too to enjoy your analog radio. The good news, if you can call it this, is that the HD Radio signal allows the analog audio to be transmitted as well the digital. Without going into a rant about what I don’t like about HD Radio, another topic for another time, it’s safe to say that this technology too is not etched in stone just yet. While there is big money riding on this technology from the big broadcasting networks and their stock holders that have invested in this it is still up to the consumers to purchase and use these radios which determines if HD Radio is successful or not. If radio manufactures loose money on these new fancy digital radios then they probably won’t produce any more. That is if they are smart greedy business people. HD Radio may go the way of AM Stereo, Beta and the pet rock. Give me a call in a few years and we shall see what happens.

Electronics over the past twenty five years or so has slowly become a disposable product. TVs are no longer repaired when they break and now have their analog days numbered. Computers are used for a few years until they become outdated or filled with viruses. Cellphones are pitched as soon as one’s contract is up for renewal and replaced with a smaller and fancier phone (notice I did not say better phone). And so long to the VCR and cassette player. There are a bunch more electronic gizmos which are all headed for the landfills at some point soon. However, one of the beauties of radio is that you can take any working radio manufactured since wireless’ inception, turn it on and be able to use it to hear something. Radio is not a disposable product just yet. Call me old fashioned, out of touch or naive but I for one hope radio stays that way for a good long time.

Thanks for reading and keep spinning the dials!

Don't Fear The MP3 Player
June 29, 2005
During the summer months you can find me outside taking care of projects and chores rather than spinning the dials from the comfort of the radio room. Fortunately this doesn't mean that I have to give up listening to radio all together. When I'm not lugging a portable radio with me, I usually have a small MP3 player pegged to my ear. Especially while cutting grass which normally takes around a whopping 6 hours to finish. By the way for the record, my MP3 player is the PogoProducts RadioYourWay (click to see photo). I know for some radio nuts this may be heresy to say but I really like this little portable audio-on-demand device. I find that it complements my radio listening habits very well provided I can find something to listen to that is of interest. Thanks to the marvels of broadband, I have been able to keep the MP3 player fed with plenty of great radio programs and programs about radio that are available on the internet. However not every program is available in MP3 format that I want to listen to. Luckily there are software packages available to make the audio format conversions which solves this problem.

All of this sounds like I am about ready to start talking about the wonders of Podcasting right? Well not really but more on that later. And just what is podcasting, incase you don't know by now? Sweet and to the point, podcasting is a method of distributing audio files on the internet via a third party computer program that fetches and downloads them through a RSS feed (subscription) to your computer. Basically you download the audio files and transfer them to your MP3 player so that you can listen to them at your leisure. More recently, due to podcasting's hyped popularity and possible revenue generating abilities, there have been a lot of people jockeying for historical position on who actually came up with idea. Constantly be touted as the developer of podcasting is former MTV VJ Adam Curry. Who this original idea person really is I don't know and frankly don't care but certainly they are no Marconi, De Forest, Morse or Armstrong no matter how much anyone stepping forward wishes to have their ego pumped. To add insult to injury, the rocket scientist who came up with the term Podcasting must have been in either Apple computer's back pocket or non-marketing genius. The misnamed term is considerably misleading that most people who are unfamiliar with "podcasting" think you need an Apple iPod MP3 player to get a podcast. Nothing could be further from the truth. You don't even need a portable MP3 player to listen to a podcast, What you do need is at least a computer which if you are reading this then you are probably already there. Perhaps something more descriptive like MP3cast would have been more appropriate for this type of distribution. Having high speed internet is a definite must as these files can be less than 1MB to 20MB or larger. Whatever you want to call it, this form of audio distribution was inevitable due to increased availability of broadband internet. Downloading a 20MB file during the dial-up days would of been unthinkable but with a high speed connection it's a piece of cake.

The truth of the matter is that most of the good stuff I have ended up listening and enjoying is not via a podcast but just audio files posted on a webpage. This means you have to go look for them or have someone tell you about them. Sometimes it means going to a webpage and ripping the real audio file to an MP3 format to be listened to later. The problem with most podcasts that I have tried to listen to frankly in my opinion is that not only are they amateurish (in a bad way) but utterly boring and often filled with unnecessary expletives. Yes there are a few good ones and I suspect the list will continue to grow. Posting audio files (radio shows, speeches, sound bites, interview, documentaries, etc) on the internet is really nothing new. If you subscribe to enough podcasts they become like emails and pile up with no time to listen to everything and in the end wasted bandwidth.

There is some good news I suppose. Some the big brains in the broadcast industry have begun to participate in this form of audio distribution in fear of not being ahead of the curve. But here lays the "catch 22". Commercial radio broadcasters make their money selling advertising. With an archived MP3 copy of a radio program, commercials can easily be skipped over by pressing the fast-forward button. Some broadcasters have resorted to a pay service. This is really nothing new as it has been done for years by many broadcasters with programs that have a large audience and are willing to pay for missed programs. Fortunately some public broadcasters, international broadcasters included, are beginning to make their programs available as a MP3/podcast. So there is hope in the "podcast" pile of crap that the availability of quality programs will become more and more available.

So what's out there that is radio related? I have written about Alex's DX Program Archive. If you have a MP3 player then it's the first place to start. But there are lots of other MP3s that can be downloaded and enjoyed with your portable MP3 player. With this in mind, I decided to start a new section, "Worth A Listen", on RadioIntel.com that will highlight some of the programs I have found that are of general interest to "radio enthusiasts". Old Time Radio, a listening hobby within itself, is a wonderful beginning for anyone with a portable MP3 player. If you have some MP3 link suggestions then by all means please send them on. In the long run though, real live radio beats everything for current news. Thanks for reading and keep spinning the dials!

Two Years And Growing...
September 2004
Once in a while I get an email asking how this webpage was started. The truth is Russ, who is my childhood ham radio elmer, and I over the years would talk about what we liked and disliked about our little shortwave portables and if there was anything new coming out. Being the lifelong elmer, Russ would offer such helpful advice like "how to sneak the radio past your wife", and his "two radio theory". You are probably wondering what is the "two radio theory". Let's hope our wives don't read this or we both are going to be in for it. Well here it goes… Russ' theory is that it's ok to have two of the same radios as long as they both are not in the same room together. The idea being that hopefully she would not notice that you had foolishly spent money on having two of the same radios. Anyway, back to how this whole thing got started. I had been wanting to tinker with HTML so one day I gave Russ a call and said, "hey let's do a webpage together where we review all of our junk and then we can go out and get more junk to review"? Thus the "it's for the webpage honey" theory was born. Russ agreed and RadioIntel.com was born.

As the webpage grew, I realized that it was an opportunity to explore some other ideas. Often times it sadly appears that shortwave listening is a dying past time. I have tried to take advantage of the this forum to try to express not only how educational listening to the radio is but how much fun it is too! Doing an internet search on shortwave radio can lead you to a plethora of DXing pages and information that often times are not very encouraging to a person who just got their first shortwave radio and just wants to listen to the news and hear voices from other countries. So hopefully beginners to radio listening don't feel over whelmed while visiting this webpage and take away with them something useful for their listening experience. Later, being a life long international affairs student and news junkie, the "Radio In The News" portion of the page was started. I find what is going on in the radio world fascinating. Maybe many others do too? Especially radio journalistic issues and how radio makes a difference in ordinary people's lives everyday.

Since then the page has grown beyond our wildest expectations. The index page (this page) gets from 200 to 300 hits per day and does over 5 GB of traffic per month. The news items sent in and words of support I get from readers are very gratifying. Thank you!

So now we are over two years old and growing. As a way to express our gratitude, we are offering while supplies last a RadioIntel sticker for free (well almost). These stickers are oval (international style) 4" x 6" weather resistant automobile grade. Great for slapping on top of your $2000 radio or on the bumper of your new Mercedes. Radio people love stickers so here is another one you can add to your collection. If we were millionaires then these would be pennants but for now stickers will have to do. Wanna see what it looks like:


[click to enlarge]

So how do you get your official RadioIntel sticker?

In the USA: Send a self addressed stamped envelope (SASE) - (business size envelope - you don't want your sticker to get folded do you?). If you would like a second sticker please add a $1.

Outside the USA: Send $1 (no envelope necessary) with a return address.

Mail it to:

Ulis Fleming
PO Box 204
Odenton, Maryland 21113

If you want help out with a donation to ease the cost of the stickers then that would be very much appreciated. It would be great to get enough money back to cover the cost of having another batch of 250 printed.

Well until then keep spinning the dials and thank you for your support!


Hell No! BPL Must Go!
July 10, 2004
S omething stinks at the FCC and it's called BPL (Broadband Over Power Line). For those who don't know, BPL is latest internet panacea football being tossed by power utility companies to the FCC (and the public) which if it becomes reality will without a doubt destroy and end the listening and operating pleasure of many shortwave listeners and radio amateurs in the United States. But unfortunately this poison pill doesn't end with the SWLs and hams; BPL may also cause problems, if deployed, to government agencies and non-government organizations that use the shortwave spectrum for the public's well being and safety. Simply put, BPL is RF spectrum pollution and it must be stopped. If this isn't bad enough news, after reading newspaper articles on BPL, I am left with the impression that the FCC appears to be the biggest cheerleader on the block over this new backward and destructive technology. I could rant and rave how insane this whole love fest the FCC appears to have with the BPL Lobby, and maybe I will, but in the end the only reason I can figure out why BPL appears to be cheered on so hard by the FCC is the smell of BIG MONEY. Forget the teary eyed lies and used car sales pitches about "Internet for the masses", "service for rural areas", etc. There will be no "high speed Internet" service for the rural areas if BPL is deployed. At least not in the beginning. To the best of my knowledge isn't all the current BPL test cases in suburban areas and NOT in rural areas? Many rural parts of the USA would be without electricity today if the federal government had not mandated that the electric utility companies would have to include adding service to the less profitable rural areas as part of their charter. If the federal government truly wanted to expand broadband service via DSL or cable then incentives could be offered or some other pork barrel type of program/legislation that the government seems to be good at could be pushed. Each month I look at my telephone service bill, long distance service bill and cellular telephone bill and all of them are packed full with federally mandated taxes that must be paid. Can't the federal government actually use this money for this if they are worried about expanding broadband service?

So what are we to do to try to stop this insanity? BE INFORMED and TAKE ACTION!

NOTE: If you are a shortwave listener, do not expect that the ARRL or radio amateurs will be looking out to protect the interests of the SWL by protecting the shortwave broadcast bands. It is up to the shortwave listeners to make their opinions known to the FCC in order protect their ability to listen to shortwave broadcasters free from BPL interference.

If you are still unsure what BPL is all about then read, hear and see Bill Hare's excellent presentation on BPL. If you are familiar with BPL then this page may still be worth a look. Take a look at the audio and video presentations. Scary stuff! [CLICK HERE]

Read the FCC's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Dockets 03-104 and 04-37. [CLICK HERE to read the BEAST]

Bookmark, read and keep checking the ARRL's BPL page [CLICK HERE]

NOW IS THE TIME TO TAKE ACTION!
Each and everyone must take action to let the FCC know your opinion of BPL. Think about what you want to say. You do not need to be a lawyer to file comment. Let the FCC know that you are a shortwave listener or radio amateur and that you are against the interference that BPL will cause the shortwave spectrum. Not creative enough? Look for sample letters on the Internet. Don't be afraid to file comment with the FCC because the alternative is much worse.

Fill Comment! - Broadband Over Power Line (BPL) - Docket 04-37 [CLICK HERE]

The radio spectrum is a natural resource that must be preserved. Radio over the past 100 years has saved countless lives, educated many and entertained us all. When all else has failed, shortwave point to point communication and broadcasting has worked. Especially during natural and national emergencies. In recent years the radio spectrum has become more and more a dumping ground for RF pollution making use (listening and transmitting) more difficult for everyone. The Broadband Over Power Line type proposal has been scrapped and ditched by many other developed countries and labeled as a bad alternative to another means of high speed internet. In other words, a dumb idea. Time is running out! File your comment with the FCC today before it's too late.

The Dispute Between RFPI (Radio For Peace International) And The University for Peace by Hans Johnson

November 26, 2003
What has Happened.

Both sides have thrown up a lot of smoke on this one. For instance, the University of Peace has said that they aren't sure if the folks representing RFPI really can represent it and has talked about how RFPI doesn't fit into the University's plans. RFPI has complained about what they say are the University's ties to the School of the Americas and has stressed its role as a "Voice for the Voiceless." And so on.

All this has nothing to do with the matter at hand. How well these organizations are pursuing their respective missions isn't central to their disagreement. What we really have here is a landlord-tenant dispute.

The University for Peace (landlord) wanted the RFPI (tenant) off of its property. I don't think that RFPI is disputing the fact that University for Peace owns the land, it is simply asking for compensation for the buidlings (improvements) that RFPI has made on it. The University, by controlling the utilities serving RFPI, had the power to throw them out. I'm not smart enough to know if this was legal (the lack of an injunction against it seems to indicate that it was) but the University had the power and exercised it. End of story, no matter how much RFPI protests or tells the world how wrong it was. Even if one accepts RFPI's rather expansive right to freedom of speech one could hardly argue that it includes the right to broadcast from a location that RFPI doesn't own or have a legal right to
operate from.

Now let's turn to RFPI. What it has done and what it should do.

RFPI served as a defacto American public radio station broadcasting on shortwave to the United States. The station aired programs almost entirely in English that were produced in the USA and are often available on public radio there. Via shortwave, areas that did not receive these programs on FM could be served. With its low-power, erratic frequency usage, and frequent breakdowns, it didn't perform that mission very well. In my opinion, it is a mission that existing American shortwave stations could have carried out much better. The thousands of dollars that RFPI spent on infrastructure in Costa Rica would have bought RFPI a lot of airtime on American shortwave stations where the going rate is often $30 for an hour of airtime on a 50 kW transmitter.

I think RFPI would have generated more sympathy and support if its programming had been different. Given its power and location, one would expect that almost all the programming would have been in Spanish and been produced by "voiceless" groups in the region. As a peace radio, the model would be the UN's Radio UNMEE, broadcasting to Eritrea and Ethiopia, or the Hirondelle Foundation's Radio Ndeke Luka. One would have also expected educational and health and welfare programs ala the United Methodist Church programming to Africa.

Rather that rebuilding, why doesn't RFPI simply purchase time on American stations to get its programs on? With an Internet stream of its programs, it could be on shortwave now, instead of a year from now. It would also perform its defacto mission much better and with no risk to listeners' donations. Purchase an hour of airtime and you deliver an hour of programming to your audience. No one can force you to relocate or disrupt your operation. Your attention wouldn't be diverted from your primary mission by a long running legal dispute. This makes a lot more sense than setting up shop again in Costa Rica. RFPI's new landlord is sympathtic today, but what about five years from now? What happens to RFPI's new infrastructure if the landlord dies, sells the land, or changes his mind? I believe that rather than having learned anything from its dispute with the University of Peace, RFPI seems to be going right down the same wrong road again.

Hans Johnson
hans@[&REMOVE FOR SPAM] wavecom.net

Click here to go to RFPI's web page and read their point by point rebuttal to the University of Peace's Press Release (in pdf or MS Word format)

I Was Temporarily Out Of Pocket Thanks To Hurricane Isabel
September 23, 2003
Boy am I glad this is over! The past few days have been hectic to say the least. Some surprises but fortunately no disasters for my family and I. Some however were not as fortunate. I thought I would take a few lines to pass on my experiences with hurricane Isabel.

My wife and I planned ahead on where we would be spending the night when Isabel hit. The decision was unanimous that we would hunker down for the night at my parent's house since they were elderly and well… most of our things are there any way right now. (In a few more weeks we will be selling our home and moving in to help take care of them.)

Planning as much as possible in advance with the typical disaster stuff… flash light batteries, gas for the generator, extra sump pump, water, food, duct tape… etc., I felt pretty confident that all would be fine as long as the roof stayed on the house.

I will never forget going into an auto parts store 5 days before Isabel hit and asking for a hand gas pump incase I had to get gas out of the cars as a last ditch measure. I mentioned to the clerk (or idiot) that I bet by the end of the week they would be sold out on these pumps if the hurricane makes it's way to Maryland. The clerk said.. "do you mean the hurricane that hit Bermuda?" Duh!

On Thursday, September 18th Isabel began to make her strong presence felt around 2:30 PM in Annapolis where I work. The owner of my company told us to baton down the hatches and head home. By 3:00 PM roughly I heard on WNAV 1430 AM in Annapolis that the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was shut down because the winds had reached gusts at 50 mph. Fortunately I wasn't going that way. After going home to grab a few last minute items (mainly more radio gear), I arrived at my folks house around 4:00 PM. To my surprise my father told me that there was a package waiting for me on the dinning room table that arrived around noon via DHL… it was a pre-production model of the Degen DE1102! Trying desperately to stay focused on the task at hand to finish up any last minute preparations before the hurricane hit, I could not help but take a quick look at the radio. VERY IMPRESSIVE! But there would be plenty of time later on to try this radio out once things settled down. After putting some boiled water in the thermos, getting the electric extension cords ready and taking one last look for any loose ends, it was time to wait for the power to go off. It did not take long and around 6:30 PM we were without power. Since my mother is dependent on an oxygen machine, I fired up the generator immediately. (Yes the generator was outside. I still can't believe that people fired these things in their home.) For the rest of the night it was wait and see. But no matter how much you plan for something like this there is always something that catches you by surprise. My 76 year old father, who has the beginning stages of Alzheimer's, kept me on my toes perhaps more than Isabel at times with his constant urges to go outside and see the hurricane. When the storm reached it's peak (or so it seemed) in my area around 11:00 PM, things began to settle down in the house. I sat down with a flashlight, printed copies of Daniel Simpson's "Prime Time Shortwave" and the lists of hurricane frequencies from HurricaneFrequencies.com and Hugh Stegman's, NV6H, 2003 Hurricane Frequencies List. It was finally time to get-to-know the Degen DE1102. I won't go into much detail just yet about the radio other than to say it did a great job pulling in stations, SSB works well and most of all… the keypad buttons and display lights up whenever you press a button on the radio in the dark! It was an ideal radio to have for the situation given the lack of light at the time.

Local radio and TV coverage of Isabel was interesting with what time I could spend listening and watching it. WTOP 1500 AM had perhaps the best coverage for the Washington, D.C. area (no surprise there) and I think WBAL 1090 AM had the best coverage for Baltimore, MD. Some "sports, rock, country, etc" radio stations gave a lame attempt while others just didn't even try. TV coverage… The Washington, D.C. TV stations paid little attention to Anne Arundel County where I live. For those who do not know, Anne Arundel is in the middle of Baltimore and Washington, D.C. and was one of the hardest hit counties in Maryland due to it's long shoreline with the Chesapeake Bay. Annapolis, the state capital and home to the US Naval Academy, was especially hit hard. In retrospect perhaps it was the best thing for the Washington stations to do. There was certainly enough news to cover with the flooding problems and high winds in Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia.

On another note... Verizon's cell service worked great during and after the storm in my area. Verizon's signal was weak as usual at my parent's house but accessible. My Dad on the other hand has cell service from the company that thinks they invented the term "push to talk". I was not able, not once, to get a signal from the near by cell site during Isabel when normally I can get a signal even in the basement of my parent's home. My sister had the same experience in southern Maryland with the same cell company. Coincidence or could it be a situation with generator power backups? I don't know. The twisted pair did hold out and I think finally some people learned that cordless phones are only good when they have electricity hooked up to them.

Aftermath… fortunately my worst fears did not happen… the basements in my house and my parent's house did not flood and no trees fell on the roofs. The owner of my company, who treats his employees more like they are his own children than people who work for him, told us to take Friday off and take care of things at home. My folks were fortunate and were only without power for roughly 32 hours while my house was without power for over two days. The only thing lost there was some food that had spoiled which needed to be pitched or consumed before we moved anyway. No big deal. We were blessed.

As I write this, there are still people who are without electricity and the power companies are saying it may be a few more days. I often hear "water cooler" talk about the latest episode of Survivor; a TV program that I think is completely pathetic. Since the show first aired I have always found it sickening that you can put a group of people in conditions that don't even really reach the levels of the poorest of the third world (I would bet at least 20% of the world's population or more) and call it good TV entertainment. Now some people are living or have lived their own Survivor episode. Hopefully they will take a moment to reflect on what is important and how we sometimes take for granted and are dependent on electricity and hopefully appreciate the availability of good drinking water. I know I have.

Thank you to everyone who dropped me a note to see how we faired out. As I said, we were blessed. Now back to the dials!

Keep Politics Out Of Radio Mailing Lists
March 21, 2003
As the saying goes, "opinions are like a-holes, everyone has one". The beauty of shortwave listening is that with a twist of the knob the world comes to you and along with it usually some sort of slick presentation of a political philosophy. The airwaves are obliterated with views from the far left to the extreme right. Usually in between there lies some truth. Where am I going with this? Lately I have been noticing more and more in radio mailing lists, listservs, e-groups or whatever you wish to call them, that some people feel it is their duty to spout off their political views of the world when the mailing list has nothing to do with politics at all.

There are a ton of excellent radio mailing lists on the internet for radio listeners to enjoy and participate. These mailing lists are a great way to share information, get help or make some new friends in the radio hobby. Topics range from DXing to program listening to an interest in a particular receiver. If you have an particular interest then chances are there is a mailing list that is right for you in the radio hobby. Until the internet came along, shortwave and MW listeners were confined to sharing information with each other either in some form of paper correspondence (ie. newsletter bulletins or letters) or making a one on one phone call. Getting to know a fellow radio listener on a one on one basis was a real treat. Now days all we have to do is go on the internet to find out the latest news on what is going on in the radio world.

I enjoy discussing politics as much as the next person and do believe in freedom of speech. But there is a place for everything. I know there is the delete button, blah, blah, blah. For those of you who think you are being helpful or intelligent by sliding in political babble on a radio mailing list take note. You are making a fool of yourself. You will not create world peace, fix the Middle East's problems, convert someone to your religion or political party or make new friends. More than likely you will end up pissing off or offending members of the list and showing the world that you are an idiot. Show some class and realize that people do not subscribe to a radio mailing list to read a political point of view. If your urges are uncontrollable then there are plenty of other avenues. For one you can do your own web page. It's simple enough and you don't need to be a rocket scientist to do it. There are plenty of useful tools on the internet on "how to create a web page". You can rant and rave about whatever you like. I do it and so can you! Another idea is to do your own radio program. US shortwave radios stations are dying to sell air time. I guess you can start your own mailing list. There are plenty of politically oriented mailing lists out there but what the hell start another one. The point is, keep the political BS off radio mailing lists.

Have You Ever Been To The SWL Winter Fest?
February 14, 2003
For the past 15 years, shortwave listeners from all over the globe have been meeting each year for the SWL Winter Fest in Pennsylvania, USA. What started out as a small meeting of friends has grown to an international meeting of radio enthusiasts. Ask anyone who has been to the SWL Winter Fest and you will inevitably see a smile. It is without a doubt a good time.

What is the SWL Winter Fest really like? Imagine a couple of hundred people who are passionate about radio. Put them in a hotel. Add some cocktails and food into the mix and what you have is the SWL Winterfest. . There are plenty of educational seminars on various radio topics for every type of listener. It doesn't matter if you are the die hard DXer, the casual listener or news junkie. There is something for everyone. At end of the evening, the event evolves into a college dorm atmosphere at night. But the best part of the fest are the friendships that are made there each year. I would credit SWL Winterfest as one of the main forces responsible in transforming the shortwave community into a global fraternity.

If you don't have anything going on the weekend of March 7th-9th, give the NASWA SWL Winter Fest a try. Especially if you enjoy talking about radio around the clock. You might learn a few tricks and make a few new friends. [click here to visit the NASWA WinterFest homepage]

Why Are There No Shortwave Listening Columns In Ham Radio Magazines?
December 11, 2002
I have a beef with the amateur radio leadership. Before I begin let me point out that I know very well there is a difference between shortwave listening and amateur radio. I guess I am lucky, or crazy, but I enjoy both very much. I know there are many very serious SWL DXers that have zero interest in ever becoming a radio amateur as much as their counterparts in the ham radio world do with SWLing. There is nothing wrong with this. Both sharing the HF radio spectrum, buying radios in many cases made by the same manufactures, studying propagation, international goodwill and the plain wholesome love of radio. Two similar hobbies but completely different.

What really bugs me is how the amateur radio leadership and publications seem to be totally ignorant of the fact that there exist shortwave listeners or for that matter a shortwave listening hobby. Perhaps they are just plain ignoring the shortwave hobby? Who knows? Pick up most any amateur radio magazine and there is zero coverage about shortwave or MW listening or DXing. Why is this? It's a shame because unlike 20 years ago, just about all transceivers made these days have a good general coverage receiver incorporated in the radio. I know the focus of these magazines is amateur radio but certainly out of all those fabulous glossy pages they could dedicate a page to shortwave listening. If the object is to keep radio amateur's interested in radio and selling subscriptions, wouldn't having a page dedicated to SWLing say in QST make sense? SWLing would offer another alternative when the amateur radio bands are not propagating well. Heaven forbid if they should enjoy shortwave listening and become informed about global events. And maybe, just maybe sell a few more magazines?

Let's turn this around. Pick up just about any of the large SWL/Monitoring magazines and you will find a column dedicated to amateur radio each and every month. Maybe they have figured out that SWLs are pretty well rounded folks and not afraid of learning about amateur radio.

Up until the mid-70s, many radio amateurs started their radio experience as a shortwave listener. There are a thousand and one stories how the SWL back then made the next step to amateur radio. Maybe it was stumbling across a radio amateur's QSO, or reading about amateur radio in a shortwave newsletter or perhaps meeting the ham neighbor down the street? SWLs were considered good amateur radio prospects. Then something changed. The CB craze hit sometime in the mid-70s. Many of these CBers, the ones who could read and write, became radio amateurs. Somewhere in this mess in the last 25 years, the SWL was down graded to a "ham wannabe" or just forgotten all together. Too bad the amateur radio leadership has forgotten their roots. Shortwave listening can be a lot of fun and informative. But most of all keep you "radio active"

In a few months I will celebrate 25 years of being a ham. In those 25 years I have "shifted gears" more than a few times and pursued different interests in the radio hobby in both shortwave listening and amateur radio. When I was a kid I was just plain DX and QSL happy. The more wallpaper I could collect and the hardest to hear then the better. I couldn't get enough of it. Later on while away at college, since I could not get on the air very often, I always had on my desk in my dorm room a shortwave radio (Uniden CR-2021). College girls aren't too impressed with a shortwave radio in a dorm but it did help me to stay in formed on what was going on in amateur radio and the world around me. I read faithfully each month all the radio magazines I could get my hands on. I wasn't very radio active "on the air" but I knew what was going on. After graduation until the present moment, I have "shifted gears" more than ever and explored different aspects of amateur radio. Life's priorities change, marriage, income, location, etc but in the past 25 years I think I can thank SWLing for keeping my radio love affair going.

Are Changes In The RF World Coming Soon?
October 18, 2002
You would have to be living under a rock to have not heard the news that may change radio forever and needless to say make a pile of worthless junk out of your radios. The FCC approved on October 10th a plan to begin to digitize the AM & FM bands. Rather than go over the ruling, read these news stories yourself:

- Radio Enters Digital Era with U.S. Ruling

What does this all mean? Who knows but some things come to mind.

How will compatibility issues work out from country to country? Will the USA have a different format than the rest of the world? The great thing about radio is it can taken anywhere and enjoyed. Today many radios come with the 9kHz/10kHz MW switch. The current TV formats being different (PAL vs NTSC) from country to country is no big deal as hardly anyone takes their own TV with them on trips out of the country. But radio? They say this new advancement will add about $100 to the cost for new digital radios. In August the FCC mandated that within five years all TVs sold in the USA must have digital tuners. So we are not only getting digital radio thrusted upon us but digital TV too! Digital radio is being touted as the next savior of FM & AM radio offering near CD quality like audio. But wasn't that the slogan for satellite radio too? Oh yea, you had to pay to play on Satellite radio. Turn on the radio in most major metropolitan cities and what do you hear? It's the same prefabricated canned shit that is on ever other station. I am not talking about the type of music on the air as that is purely a matter of taste. I am talking about the variety of programming and community service. There is none! There appeared to be a ray of hope with the introduction of LPFM but in most metropolitan areas there was hardly any frequencies available.

No I am not opposed to advancements and change. If it were not for technical advancements I would not be writing this right now on a Commodore 64 computer and some aspiring scientist would not have figured out how to put cheese in an aerosol can. What will happen next I guess is up to the general public but can you trust six pack Joe when he can't even program his VCR? That's the way I see it for now and maybe Ramsey will invent a super decoder AM-FM kit for $20 fixing all of life's problems.

Oh yea, and for all of you MW DXers... you know all too well what is in store for you!

Fall is almost here!
September 7, 2002
Fall is such a great time of year in North America. It's the start of the college football season and also a good time to work on your antennas. It's not too hot and the leaves are now falling making easier access to your outdoor antenna(s). Yes it's that time to take a look at your antennas. Are your wires still hanging? Sounds pretty stupid but during the summer months between BBQs, vacations, thunderstorms and grass cutting, probably not much attention has been paid to your antenna. It's pretty simple… no antenna, no reception. What kind of condition is your coax in? Check the coax for cuts and general condition. Is your antenna grounded? Is your radio grounded? It's a lot easier to pound a ground rod in while the earth is soft dirt rather once winter gets here. You don't know much about a ground. No problem! Download Joe Carr's Technical Notes pdf file on DXing.com "What is a good ground?" Try experimenting with different antenna configurations. There are a lot of good resources on the Internet. Do a search on Google.com for "shortwave antennas" and you will find a lot of good ideas. Maybe there is something that works best for you. Come this winter when it's cold and damp, you will be enjoying the rewards for having checked your antenna system. As always, SAFETY FIRST!

B02 starts at the tail end of October. What is B02? It is that pesky time of the year when most of the international broadcasters throw their listeners for a loop with their changing of frequencies and schedules. It can be a very frustrating time of year for many listeners but for some of us it is fun to find the new frequencies and see which frequency works best for your station of choice. There are a few good places to look for updated information when this change happens. One place to check your favorite station's home page. Unfortunately however many stations are slow to announce their changes on their home page. Another good alternative is to go to www.hfcc.org and download the new B02 schedule. There are also many other excellent resources on the Internet listed on RadioIntel.com's Reference section that are very useful. Use them all and decide which works best for you.

Shortwave radio is not only a hobby, it is an educational experience. It is an awesome educational source for global news and issues. Stay informed and turn on the radio!

Wham Bam I Got My QSL Man! Just Say Thank You!
July 27, 2002
When was the last time you took the time to write to your favorite shortwave station to let them know how much you enjoy their programing without asking for anything in return? With QSLing a station the main focus of many shortwave listeners, it's no wonder that that many stations are cutting their QSL program or requesting return postage. Many avid shortwave DXers are quick to try to get every damn trinket you can think of from stations but I have wondered how often do they follow up with a thank you note? I often get the impression that there are SW DXers could careless if the station disappeared forever after getting their QSL. "I got mine... did you get yours?" I can't prove that this but all you have to do is read between the lines at what people say in SW bulletins and newsgroups. I am not saying QSLing is bad. It's just that sometimes it appears to be the main focus of some SWLs. These people need to chill out and give the postman a break. Then they should sit back and enjoy the programing for a change. Learn something. Your station of choice doesn't have to be a power house international broadcaster. Some of the most entertaining programing comes from smaller stations and regionals. Often times these stations are "DX" and harder to hear. They want to entertain and inform you so let them. Everyone who reads this has the power to send a simple thank you e-mail note. Pick a station or two and drop them an e-mail letting them know what you like and don't like about their programing. I bet the station will appreciate too and be surprised that a SWL is writing without asking anything in return. You will be doing the hobby a favor. It's simple and you will feel good about yourself. Give it a try.

Is Shortwave Dying?
June 28, 2002

There is always much talk about the future of shortwave. Is the shortwave dying? Who knows but here are a few factors to consider.

There is the camp that points at the current decline of international broadcasters. While it is true that some are leaving the air but why? First, the cold war is over. The need to promote the point of view from either side of the iron curtain no longer exists. Second, economics'. Unfortunately international broadcasters are facing budget cuts all the time and have to do more with less but who isn't these days?

What about the decline in the number of domestic service broadcasters? Thanks to advancements in microwave and satellites, domestic broadcasters are able to set up FM and AM relays or repeaters thought the country side where only 20 years prior shortwave was the only way to get a signal into these areas. The perceived need for a shortwave station is no longer needed. But if you look at the new stations that appear

My favorite argument proclaiming the death of shortwave is, "isn't the Internet going to replace shortwave?" Probably not and here's why. While the Internet is a great tool, there are too many inhibiting factors to make this a possibility. These factors are literacy, the cost of purchasing a computer and telephone service. Illiteracy is still a major problem in the world let alone becoming "computer literate". Many countries in the world pay a per minute charge for telephone service regardless where the phone call place to. During a national emergency, when timely news is important, telephone lines become over used and the possibility of unreliable internet service exists. Too bad the folks at the BBC don't realize these elementary factors.

These are only a few factors facing the future of shortwave. Digital broadcasting on shortwave offers tremendous possibilities in the future but we are many years away from seeing its usefulness.


 

   

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