Friday, July 20, 2012

Remember Aurora, Colorado - Support For The Victims, Witnesses, and Their Families

Shortwave America wishes to send care and support to the victims, witnesses, and their families in Aurora, Colorado. No one deserved what happened there. No one should be dead or injured right now. No one should ever have to mourn the way the community of Aurora is mourning right now. May all of you know that people around the world are remembering you, and sending a spirit of peace and healing your way.

Two International Shortwave Broadcasting Legends Gone, Sackville RelayTo Close

Radio Canada International (RCI), and Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW), two well known international shortwave broadcasters, have ceased to be. With these two stations now gone from the airwaves, Shortwave America has learned that the Sackville relay transmitter is also going to be lost.

See the RCI Action Committee website for complete reporting on the RCI situation

A Tory Senator called the cuts "reprehensible":

                  Quote from the Ottawa Citizen article

“This is probably the most destructive way the board of the CBC could find to manage the financial economies they have to face,” said Segal. “It is going to take the Canadian message out of the international marketplace.”

Segal, a member of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs committee and chair of its special Committee on Anti-Terrorism, says the busting down of RCI to an Internet radio station will block RCI from millions of people living under repressive regimes.

“In those parts of the world where the Internet is blocked, such as the People’s Republic of China, Iran and North Korea, there is no way for RCI’s messages of freedom and opportunity to get there,” he told the Senate. “I blame the board of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and its senior management, who cut far away from home rather than cutting here, because it was more convenient for them to do so.”

Read the entire article here

Even the BBG watch took an interest in this disaster! They posted a piece written by PCJ Radio International's Keith Perron. With Keith's permission, Shortwave America is re-publishing his piece directly from the PCJ Radio International site to give full context.

  Editorial on RCI and International Broadcasting

Over the last few months a few people have criticized me for my view on Radio Canada International. I never at any point said I was against RCI. In fact I always felt and still do feel it is vital that Canada maintain an international shortwave service. I stress again vitally important.

One thing I have been preaching for the past 10 plus years is that if international broadcasters like RCI are to survive. Radical, bold and groundbreaking changes need to take place. There was a time international broadcasting stations like RCI or Radio Netherlands had programming and on air personalities that stood out. 

In the 1990s we saw this change to get away from that and just have presenters that sound like everyone else on every other station.  Or as I like to say the McDonald’s syndrome where every hamburger looks and tastes the same. It made most radio sound like assembly line programming.  Sure there is an element of kitsch to have Radio Netherlands talk about barrel organs, windmills, dykes or Radio Canada International talking about things that are stereotypically Canadian. But is it not this that would make you stand out from the rest?

Something that I have learned with starting up PCJ in 2009. You need to be different, unique  and maybe a little offbeat. If you offer programming that is different and fun to listen to the audience will come.  Back in 2009 many many people thought the idea of bringing back Happy Station Show as an independent production was crazy, stupid, dumb and mad. I knew for a long time and had a gut feeling the show would be successful. If the program was not I would have stopped doing it in the first 6 months. But what happened? The show went from once every 2 weeks, to weekly, to 3 different versions a week, including specials like the one we are doing June 29th.

The same goes with Media Network Plus, which started off as a monthly 55 minute program and the we added a weekly 30 minute program. Jazz For The Asking, Nash Holos, Focus Asia Pacific, Switzerland In Sound, Classic Media Network, The Stuph File, The Kelly Alexander Show and the special programs we do.

At the moment there are over 32 local stations in 21 countries that relay our programming.  I knew that if we had a program schedule with content that maybe some would consider a little off hinged it would take off. Was it a lot of work? That is an understatement. But I am such a strong believer in international programming that if it meant sleeping a few hours a day and not taking a day off so be it.

We are now in the process of building our own 20kw relay to reach listeners in South East Asia and the Pacific. We are doing this because there is a huge potential for an audience. What will our programming be? What will our style be? Very simple. Go back to the basics of international broadcasting and offer something that people will enjoy listening to, have a good time and be a little kitsch. There is nothing wrong with kitsch.

Changes that took place in the 1990s have had nothing but a negative impact. Recently Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was asked about what she thought of the BBC World Service. She said she was a strong supporter BBC, but felt the changes left the station with less variety and music programs. And said the only thing she heard was news and commentaries.
To conclude. Yes and I say it again Canada needs an international broadcasting service and I would do anything I can to support RCI being restored. At the same time we live in a democracy and I have the right to also speak my mind and give my own personal view. This is not RCI bashing. This is only having an open debate on the situation.

Keith Perron June 26, 2012 (Director of PCJ Radio International) Please forward your views by contacting me directly by email

    Final English Service Sign-Off At Radio Canada International

RCI Action posted a brief timeline of RCI's demise:

2009 - Ukrainian Section abolished after 57 years of  service.

2008 - Action Committee spokesperson suspended! Radio Canada International tries to "muzzle" communications union Details

2007 - Programs, policies and jobs abolished as RCI's mandate changed. Questions at Parliamentary Committee Details

2005 - Canada's Radio Voice Abandons Most of Ukraine  Details

2005 - 60th Anniversary of RCI  Secret celebration?   

2003 - Parliamentary Committee Says RCI Should Be Strengthened   Details

For more about the relationship between RCI and the CBC, see this link

The internal and public falling apart of RCI was covered by several other media sources as demonstrated here

RCI Action Committee's coverage of the final day at RCI 

                 Sackville Relay Transmitter To Close 

On June 27th, 2012, Keith Perron at PCJ spoke with an individual only identified as a male working the Sackville, New Brunswick site. Keith says the news was depressing. Here are his exact words: 

"All the clients to the station KBS, VOV and others are being contacted to look for a new relay. I called to see if there was a chance to get some time once a week for PCJ. He said if it was up to him he would. But that the CBC has all intentions to tear down the station and not keep it going. He said the CBC wants to shut it down as soon as possible, but they can keep operating until October 31st if some of the stations that use it need time to find new relays. But he said the CBC is putting lots of pressure on them to get rid of anyone using the station." - Keith Perron, PCJ Radio International

          Saying Good-Bye To Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, once Radio Nederland Wereldomroep, signed off on June 28th, 2012 at 9:36PM United States central time. On their side of the world, it was June 29th. 

The final program started off with Eric Beauchemin announcing the final day of RNW broadcasts followed by a final good-by message combined with a brief compilation of old sound bytes. Dheera Sujan started the program with a general overview of RNW's history and achievements. 

The program quickly moved into the big band entertainment era, and the era of Happy Station. In this portion of the final good-bye, RNW aired a brief statement from Keith Perron at PCJ. Jonathan Marks spoke next on the topic of getting the attention of people in other countries, relating to other people on a human level, editorial freedom at RNW, and reminded the audience that RNW received 125,000 letters and phone calls a year BEFORE the era of electronic communications. "June 29th 2012 will go down in history books as a milestone in media history." said Jon. Jon went on to say that he had enormous fun working on the studio side of the mic with the best in the business and also what he said was "the best and most responsive audience you could ever wish for."

Dheera moved on to talking about an old program called "Asia Scan" with Pete Myers and Mike Bolan. Asia Scan became immensely popular per Dheera's description. Dheera remembered Pete as "the undisputed king of radio"  and as "irrepressible, incorrigible, and unparallelled" Dheera said Pete made "some of the finest RNW documentaries."  PCJ's Keith Perron was listening to the farewell show and had his own comments. At this stage of this report, it is only fair and right to let Keith speak due to his level of experience and expertise in the field. 

"Today I listened to Radio Netherlands farewell program and, Have to say I was very disappointed. Some of the facts were wrong. First, Eddy Startz stopped doing Happy Station in 1969 not 1970 like that said. Pete Myers did not do the show for several years, he only did the show for 2 years. The next problem was they skipped through the years of 1947 to the early 90s. It didn't give a good clear picture of what Radio Netherlands was known for. It for the most part, only focused on documentaries and nothing else. It started off good , but as far as I'm concerned went down hill in the first 6 minutes. Who the hell put it together? Only 1 word I can use to describe what I heard today: poor, sad and just plain bad. Maybe if any of the people who worked on it had any sense of entertainment and how to entertain the audience it would not have been so bad. The other thing I knew about before it was even done, was that Tom (Meijer) (Shortwave America emphasis on Tom's last name) had not been invited to make comments on the program. No one doing it even made any attempt to contact him. He did for over 20 years, host the most popular program on the station. He now only lives a short distance away. Not one attempt was made. Talk about insulting."

Tom Meijer is on the Support Staff at PCJ Radio International and was the host of Happy Station from 1970 to 1992.

Keith Perron had a live Happy Station Show tribute to RNW that aired in the exact same time slot via WRMI on 9955Khz to North America and the Caribbean. This was a two hour offering of the complete history at RNW. Listener comments were overwhelmingly more in favor of this special edition of Happy Station. You can access parts one and two of this show by going to the PCJ Homepage

From the Pete Meyers tribute, Dheera moved forward to present Ginger DeSilva and her program, called, "A Good Life".  Next up was a story about a female broadcast personality named Van Der Meer who spoke about a professor who took American and Dutch students to the battlefields of World War One. 

Chris Chambers, who joined RNW in the 90s, came into the program next. Chris talked about his first experiences at RNW, and how he made his decision to stay. He concentrated mostly on Dutch documentaries, and elaborated on his work focused on Mozart. Documentaries he made on on the 2nd World War were what Chris said had the most impact on him during his time at RNW. During Chris' career at RNW, he said "the person who made the biggest impact on me was Trudy. Trudy was in her 90s and lived alone. She had this very soft, penetrating voice, and I'll never forget what she said to me."

In the next portion of the final farewell programme of RNW's history, Dheera now says this: "One of the best things about working here at Radio Netherlands has always been the international atmosphere. It's wonderful going to lunch in a canteen where you can hear half a dozen languages being spoken. And, even within the English Department itself, we had a kaleidoscope of cultures. People with background ranging from Sierra Leone to Ireland. Héléne Michaud , a French Canadian in the RNW English Department is introduced at this point.

Michaud says that for her, it all started with making live current affairs programs on shortwave to Africa in French and then in English. The last days of apartheid, the genocide in Rwanda, the war in Liberia, and that is when she producer her very first radio documentary in Uganda. This programme was one in which she provided the audience with a look at the lives of Asians who had been expelled by a certain government power from the only place they knew as home.

Michaud says more about her career: "The quest for identity ran as a constant thread through my programmes. I've been here for many years at Radio Netherlands but, it doesn't feel long because I've been given a chance to explore almost every corner of the world. For a person who's naturally curious, this has been fantastic!  I'm saying good-bye to those years and great and inspiring colleagues, but not to Radio Netherlands. I'm one of the few who's staying on with the new African Service, where I coordinate thematic programmes in French and English in partnership with hundreds of radio stations in Africa." Going on, she says that the day will eventually come where they will no longer be necessary.

In this final tribute to their years on the air, Dheera now brings on the host of "Weekend Europe", Louise Williams followed by "Network Europe" and its host, Richard Walker with a rather memorable set of on-air bloopers involving pronunciation of difficult international names of places and people.

"Curious Orange" was on the farewell list now. This was a show that highlighted the "quirkier sides of Dutch culture", hosted by "Dutch insider" Michel Walraven and Ashley Olson who was described as a Canadian outsider. This segment focused on their trip to Afghanistan, a story of a prostitute from Utrecht, and a piece called "Sex With Robots" with David Levy.

Dheera gets us into the "Critical Eye On Dutch Culture" with commentators, Rob Greene, and his co-commentator. This was a show where Dheera says "nothing was too sacred to mock". In this segment, it is said that the "New Radio Netherlands has quite a challenge ahead of it, with those remaining aboard expected to be living examples of a value that the Netherlands itself has too often been half-hearted about to say the least." Listen to the programme to hear the best part of what was said prior to this comment!!

Marnie Chesterton says good-bye now. She was the presenter of the popular "Earthbeat" programme. Marnie calls this programme her "baby". Here, Marnie gives us a clip of one programme in which they talk about the end of the world. Shortwave America simply cannot do Marnie and her show proper justice with a good brief commentary, so listen to the final farewell show to hear Marnie's presentation and final sign-off.

Andy Sennitt Talks About RNW's Demise

Shortwave America spoke with Andy Sennitt of Radio Netherlands Worldwide and obtained Andy's consent to quote him on some important things he had to say about the closing of RNW and the state of international radio today. To give this part of this piece proper context, here is a little background on Andy's comments:

Andy has worked in radio for decades. See the Shortwave America piece, "Andy Sennitt Has Left The Building" and also, "Radio Netherlands Says Goodbye". Over the course of decades, Andy has made observations, he's heard things, he's become VERY tuned to what is really important and knows what is simply just unimportant clutter in the background. He pointedly, wisely, separates the two and speaks his mind unabashedly, as was the tradition at RNW for its members.

We'll start here with Andy's comments regarding the activity at Glenn Hauser's DXLD, the final RNW program, and his own experiences as a DX'er.

"I just had a look at the latest issue of DX Listening Digest. There's a lot of drivel about the closure of Radio Netherlands English on shortwave, mostly written by occasional listeners to RNW who have absolutely no idea what's really going on there. Most people seem to imagine that broadcasting on shortwave was the only thing we did.

Regarding the final programme, the Dutch department had about three months to prepare theirs, with a much bigger budget. Because there was no longer an English department, the task of preparing the final programme was given to WebWorld, with just three weeks' notice.

Rob Kievit had to research, write and produce the programme single-handedly, with Dheera Sujan (who has worked at RNW for 23 years) presenting. It was not meant to be a documentary about RNW's past, but a way for current staff to say goodbye. The recent extracts were chosen by the staff themselves. Of course listeners have their own opinions about what they would have included, but 65 years in 52 minutes is not easy to accomplish :-)

There is an individual who enjoys stirring up controversy, who says in DXLD he wants 'proof' that the final 4 minutes at 2053-2057 UTC were live. He prefers to speculate that it was pre-recorded. That's symbolic of the stuff we've had to put up with over the years - rather than ask someone for the facts, many DXers prefer to speculate because that way they get more attention from fellow hobbyists.

I used to enjoy DXing, and got to know some wonderful people, many of whom are still close friends. But the hobby has changed - the real DXers have been drowned out by people who would rather talk about internal matters at broadcasters that are really none of their business. Facts and speculation are all jumbled up, and I no longer have the patience to sift through voluminous commentaries by individuals in the hope of discovering some interesting factual information. I guess that means I've become a grumpy old man. So be it."

At one time in his career, Andy was part of the collective at the World Radio and Television Handbook (WRTH). He had this to say about some of his experiences as a quick sum in relation to WRTH and DX'er complaints after Victor Goonetilleke had asked Andy how he kept up with thousands of stations for WRTH.

"Well, we didn't keep up with all the stations every year. We sent out thousands of questionnaires, but we found that stations tended not to bother replying if there hadn't been any significant changes since the previous year. If they had a new transmitter, or a new boss, they usually wanted to publicise it. The response rate from Latin America, for example, varied between 20 and 50 percent a year. And it wasn't the same stations that replied every year, so over a period of 3-5 years we heard from most of them. Of course, some stations sent incorrect data, for example listing frequencies that were licensed but not in use. And if any of this got published, it was always our fault, never the station's fault, at least according to some DXers."

Further to the point on the comparison of the situations RNW and VOA respectively found themselves in during a conversation with Marie Ciliberti (Ret. VOA), Andy said this: 
It was not "those in management" who decided to cut our broadcasts. It was a political decision, pure and simple. RNW, management and staff alike, is the victim. The senior management at RNW have also lost their jobs - RNW is now under new management on much lower salaries. It seems RNW was appreciated everywhere except in the one place that really matters - the government! I am aware of the battles at VOA, but the situation there is quite different from the one at RNW. The Dutch government simply decided it didn't need an international broadcaster anymore.

Shortwave America says good-bye to RCI and everyone at RNW

Thank you to everyone at RCI for your work over the past many years. Everything you did was a contribution in itself to the world of radio journalism and communications. 

Everyone at Radio Netherlands: You made a great team of professionals from corners of the world far and wide. You made radio history rich with great contributions that will likely never be surpassed. Andy, Jon, Johnathan Groubert, Dheera, Marnie, Rob, Michel, Ashley, Keith, and an even longer list of people which there is no room to fit here....all of you did hard work that paid off. Don't let RNW's sign - off mean the end of your talent or careers communicating with the world. 

Your works are all valuable, your voices and personalities meaningful. 

Farewell to all of you with great fondness!

Special thanks to Andy Sennitt for some extra editing help on this piece!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

PCJ Radio's Media Network Plus review of the DR111 DRM receiver

A video review from PCJ Radio's Media Network Plus of the Newstar DR111 DRM receiver.

NEWSTAR DR111 Review

Monday, July 9, 2012

Museum of Shortwave, Amateur Radio, and High Frequency SSB Communications

Shortwave America is excited to announce the world's first museum dedicated the world of shortwave, amateur radio, and HF SSB communications!!! The museum will be a permanent, long-term, on-line display dedicated to the achievements in each of the categories and mediums listed in the title.

Shortwave America seeks to develop this endeavor over time to become an actual physical museum. In doing so, the on-line version will serve as the visual representation of what the actual museum will be in the future. The on-line representation is a good place to start so that all of you fans, followers, listeners, and those just getting into the world of radio can see the rich history and culture, the visions that became reality and caught on over time in the various radio mediums in each category, traditions in each radio medium, true stories, and other important items.

There will be sub-categories to cover each era of radio, each mode, each technological breakthrough, each legal victory in radio communities, each important milestone, and much more!

Shortwave America seeks partnerships with Shortwave Listener's Clubs, Leaders of the International Shortwave Broadcast Profession, Amateur Radio Clubs and Societies, HF Monitoring Groups, Radio Equipment Manufacturers, Radio Retailers, and individual private people who have historical or other important, relevant, contributions they wish to make.

Invitations are going out to some recognized leaders in each category at press time. Please keep an eye out here for more details as things develop. This is a huge undertaking and involves lots of work that takes time to bring forth fruit. This is something that will solidify the place of the targeted areas in radio communications in a tangible way that showcases each category and sub-category to the public at large in an engaging manner.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Television Broadcast Legend Andy Griffith, June 1, 1926 – July 3, 2012

Once and always known as "America's Favorite Sheriff", the star and host of "The Andy Griffith Show", the man who was also known as "Andy Taylor" from 1960 to 1968, has passed away. Andy's life came to a peaceful end this morning, July 3rd, 2012 at around 7AM.

According to WITN News, "Dare County Sheriff Doughtie said the family stated that Andy died at seven this morning, peacefully, at his home and that Andy has been laid to rest on his beloved Roanoke Island." "The actor's death was first confirmed by former UNC President Bill Friday and later by the sheriff."

WITN News also relayed the following information: " The sheriff had confirmed earlier that an ambulance was called to the home this morning. A family statement says the actor died with his wife Cindi at his side. "Andy was a person of incredibly strong Christian faith and was prepared for the day he would be called Home to his Lord," said his wife in a statement. "He is the love of my life, my constant companion, my partner, and my best friend. I cannot imagine life without Andy, but I take comfort and strength in God’s Grace and in the knowledge that Andy is at peace and with God.”
Griffith was born in Mount Airy and attended UNC Chapel Hill where he earned a degree in Music. His first job out of college was an English teacher at Goldsboro High School."

North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue,U.S. Senator Kay Hagan, and U.S. President Barack Obama commented briefly on Andy's passing. See the full WITN News Piece for more

ABC News announced Andy Griffith's death. Embedding has been disabled by request of ABC. 

Shortwave America now gives you video from various sources to pay tribute to Andy Griffith

The Andy Griffith Show remains one of the most popular TV sitcoms in US television history. The infectious theme music (Instrumental with whistling solo) had lyrics most people never got to hear. Andy Griffith sings this catchy tune.

Youtube user, iParatrooper, has a whole collection of  full episodes from The Andy Griffith Show.

In this interview by the Archive of American Television, Andy Griffith talks about the early days of "The Andy Griffith Show"

Here is an Andy Griffith interview on the old Matlock character done by the Archive of American Television

For those who never saw Matlock, or want to remember Andy by watching a short opening clip from the show, here it is:

Matlock Season 1, Episode 1 Pilot, Part 2 shows us Andy's skill that he was so successful for.

Shortwave America sends heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Griffith. Rest in peace, Andy, you finished well!