An article written by a researcher from EuroScience (European Association for the Advancement of Science and Technology), traces the evolution of radio receivers. Debojit Acharjee, a software engineer and “geek,” as the author likes to call himself, starts from the prototypes invented by Guglielmo Marconi to digital ones. Novelties that have come since the 2000s: from the first pocket radio for listening to the DAB digital band (launched by Pure in 2003), to one for listening to broadcasters streaming on the Web (3com’s Kerbango, which debuted in the 2000s). To arrive at those without the tuning knob, there are the SDRs (Software Defined Radio): receivers that in their more advanced versions (but sold at a price comparable to that of the “transoceanic” radios of the 1970s, such as the Grundig Satellit) allow you to see the full spectrum of the FM band and record 24 MHz. The impetus to innovate? Behind every discovery is the improvement in listening quality, such as that which prompted General Electric in 1940 to invent frequency modulation, demonstrating that it was less susceptible to electromagnetic interference than amplitude modulation, used on medium waves.
World Radio Day (WRD) was established in 2011 by Unesco member states and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 as an International Day. The date of February 13 was chosen to commemorate the anniversary of the first United Nations radio broadcast, which occurred 65 years earlier in 1946. The proposal had been made the year before, in 2010, by the Spanish Academia de la radio, and the project was endorsed and supported by the major broadcasting associations, including the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU), the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), the African Union of Broadcasting (AUB), the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU), the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the International Association of Broadcasting (IAB), the North American Broadcasters Association (NABA), the Organización de Telecomunicaciones Ibeoramericanas (OTI) and major international broadcasters, such as the BBC and Vatican Radio.
The function of radio
“Radio is a powerful medium for celebrating humanity in all its diversity and provides a platform for democratic discourse. Globally, radio remains the most widely used medium. This unique ability to reach the widest audience means that radio can shape a society’s experience of diversity, serve as an arena in which all voices can speak, be represented and heard. Radio stations should serve diverse communities by offering a wide variety of programming, viewpoints and content and reflect the diversity of audiences in their organizations and operations”.
2021 WRD is about Evolution, Innovation & Connection
Broadcasters are also offered 13 ideas for organizing initiatives: talk about your evolution; open up the debate; broadcast a special program; open your doors; engage (interact with your audience); have fun!; organize a quiz; renew yourself (offer a workshop with your team around the theme “new world, new radio”); produce a radio series (a specific podcast); imagine the future; remember your “radio”.
Happy 1st of December! Let’s bring the Christmas time on.
For this years anticipation to Christmas the RadioReporter community has created a special surprise for you! We have collected our favourite radio stations and put them in an online Advent Calendar for you.
We proudly present the RadioReporter Advent Calendar. Stay curious and explore a new radio station every day until Christmas. We hope you enjoy our special selection and share it with your loved ones.
What is the advent time and an advent calendar?
The advent time is a Christian tradition and spans over the period before Christmas. It covers the four Sundays before the Christmas Eve (24th December), starting with the Sunday closest to 30th November, the feast day of Saint Andrew the Apostle.
In the late 1800s the tradition of counting down the days til Christmas started in form of lighting candles or marking the days with chalk. “The first printed Advent calendar originated in Germany in the early 20th century with Gerhard Lang. When Gerhard was a little boy his mother made him a calendar with 24 small candies attached to cardboard, one for each day before Christmas.” (Source)
For more encyclopaedic information click here.
DAB has finally become very popular among broadcasters and listeners, the number of radio programs (“services”) available is continuously increasing, and so is the coverage. New cars will have to be equipped with DAB-enabled infotainment systems, and consumer radios are now available in all sizes and price ranges.
With the growing number of programs and broadcast packages (“multiplexes” or “ensembles”) available, it is not always easy to keep track of “who is on air, where, and how”. Where should one look for comprehensive, up-to-date (technical) information about services, transmitters and station details?
The website of WorldDAB, the official lobby organisation for DAB, provides only generic information in their „Country information“ section. On the internet, there is a variety of lists and overviews on national level, with various levels of reliability and technical content.
DABLIST.org brings all available sources together, and blends them with data obtained from real monitoring. Data from hundreds of receivers and monitoring systems is compiled, reviewed and amended with additional information by a team of dedicated editors. The result: An up-to-date, comprehensive directory of Digital Audio Broadcast.
The App …
… has been designed as a web app. Therefore, it does not require installation or download. Just navigate to app.dablist.org and create an icon on your desktop, on your home screen – on any current device running iOS, Android or Windows.
The start screen provides numbers of multiplexes, services and countries covered. Data is updated continuously, and the timestamp of the last update is also shown. The start screen lists all countries covered by DAB in alphabetical order.
When clicking any country link, the App will check the users current geo-location to know in which country he is located. For the current country, he will then have immediate access to the list of multiplexes, both in channel (“block”) order and in multiplex name (“ensemble label”) order.
To access data in other countries, the user must log in with his FMLIST account. FMLIST is the global database of radio stations and powers many web sites and solutions. If he does not have an account at FMLIST, he can register directly from the app – making sure to follow the indications of the two-step registration process. He may want to save the credentials for later use.
From the multiplex list, one can then enter into the multiplex details: These consist of a list of services with all essential data fields and details. The station logo is displayed for reference, and a rich list of URLs is provided, allowing quick access to websites, social media and streaming URLs for each service.
The services list is followed by a transmitter list which includes all known transmitters with technical details. When clicking on the transmitter site name (“location”), it will be displayed on a map.
More features are planned and will be added to the DABLIST app in due course, so stay tuned!
The DABLIST app is free for private, non-commercial use, and for broadcasters. Commercial users can obtain a license for 120 EUR/year per user (net excl. VAT). For questions, comments, suggestions, updates and commercial licensing, please contact email@example.com.
In the history of radio there have been important female figures, even if the story almost always recalls the male protagonists. Umberto Alunni, a former manager of the banking sector (he has been director of important credit institutions, but has always cultivated the passion of a collector of antique radios and a divulger) has reconstructed in the book “Le donne della radio” the biographies of ten characters. From Annie Jameson, Marconi’s mother, to the anonymous steno-typist of the steamship Lusitania, to Lisa Glauber, the only living protagonist, daughter of the owner of the Unda Radio factory. Alunni thus gives back to the female gender the role of protagonist that it deserves.
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Some news to share with you
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When Guglielmo Marconi started practical experiments with wireless communication, he had a problem to solve: How could one communicate with ships on sea, or with a remote place somewhere on this planet, where no cable telegraph line had yet arrived? Fast communication already then was essential for business because a lot of time could be saved. The first „radio“ transmissions were business communication, in the form of telegrams transmitted in Morse code.
Marconi’s practical work started in 1895 and was based on research by Ferdinand Braun, Heinrich Hertz, Nikola Tesla and Alexander Popow. In 1903, the first trans-Atlantic messages were exchanged.
On Christmas Eve 1906, the first program consisting of talk and music was transmitted by researchers in Brant Rock (Massachusetts). Listeners were seamen on ships in the Atlantic.
Tube-based transmitters were patented in 1913, and the first real radio programme was broadcast in November 1919 in the Netherlands, from a private apartment. Commercial radio started 1920 in Pittsburgh (USA), and Westinghouse provided the first receivers. Between 1920 and 1924, radio transmissions started also in Europe. This website has many dates and details from this period.
In the beginning, the number of listeners was really low. Not only did you have to buy or construct the equipment, but in some countries you also needed a license to be allowed to listen. By 1926, easy-to-use tube-based receiver had replaced the “crystal detector” which had required some patience in tuning and a headphone for listening.
During WW2, radio was popular – not only because it was the cheapest form of entertainment – but as it reached everyone, it was used as a means of mass communication and propaganda. After the war, radio continued as mass media, entertaining, informing and educating the listeners. While tube radios were still used in the 1960s, the invention of the transistor allowed small receivers that could run on battery, and the radio made its way into the car and into our pockets.
Everything will fade into past memories, but it is worth seeing some of the photographs taken in these last few months again. They include announcers and journalists broadcasting live from home, and courses for listeners on how to make their own radio programmes. It is also worth mentioning the vade mecums that have appeared in online magazines and on the websites of various associations. Their advice goes from how to choose equipment and software for a home studio to the procedures needed to protect radio station studios from contagion. There are even broadcasters that have put their studio disinfection procedures on show or have used their facemasks for self-promotion.
Radio stations broadcasting live from home
Belgium: While a lot of broadcasters, in spite of homely backgrounds, are narrowing the field of view with close-ups to give a professional touch, with the photographs of VRT Studio Brussel, a Flemish speaking public radio station, your eye tends to be drawn to the furnishings which reflect the personality of the announcer and goes from the large philodendron in the foreground to the bookcase on the right, and the door opening onto another room, making you wonder where it goes to.
Italy: When Roberto Zicchitella was conducting Radio3 Mondo live from his flat, his curious cat leapt onto his desk to sniff his tablet. The international news programme is on air on the public radio station, Rai Radio 3.
Spain: The SER network teaching listeners how to make a radio programme
The journalist, Pedro Blanco of Cadena Ser (a network of 202 radio stations we have spoken about in a previous article) on air with a radio workshop teaching listeners how to make their own programmes to then send to the radio station.
Canada: How to go on air from a distance
ARC, a Canadian alliance of community radio stations, explains how to equip yourself to produce your own show from home without excessive costs. They suggest a selection of hardware and software, some free of charge.
An antivirus guide for radio stations
This guide in the American magazine ‘Inside Radio’ lists 12 things to do in order to prevent contagion in radio stations.
And in Italy?
After disinfecting the Milan studios of Radio Millennium, the ‘ghostbusters’ pose for a photograph.
Radio Rock ‘designer’ masks:
Back in the golden years of free radio, listeners used to stick adhesives of their favourite radio stations onto their cars. Today the Roman station, Radio Rock, has made face masks with their own logos on them. Will this become a fashion with other stations?
Several countries have allocated funds to support broadcasting stations suffering from the drop in advertising. However, some are reducing salaries or putting their personnel on holiday leave. The USA has allocated 75 million dollars to the American non-commercial radio and TV stations.
Included in the act, passed by the House of Representatives on March 27th, 2020 to support the American economy during the state of emergency, there are also 75 million dollars allocated to the public radio and TV stations. This is in addition to the annual 445 million dollars, managed by the CPB – Corporation for Public Broadcasting, an independent non-profit corporation that distributes the funding to about 1,500 radio and television stations. President Trump wanted to cancel the annual funds in 2017, even though, according to the President of CPB Patricia Harrisins, the cost to each American citizen was only 1.35 dollars a year.
Spain: 15 million for television, cuts for Cope
On March 31st, 2020, the Spanish government allocated 15 million euros in support of television stations provided that they guarantee identical territorial coverage for the next six months. The funding will take advertising income into account in order to give greater help to stations with lower revenues.
A Spanish radio station is cost cutting: The President of Cadena Cope, Fernando Gimenez Barriocanal, has written to the staff suggesting a 20% cut in salaries. They are currently negotiating with the trade unions.
France: National networks economising
Aiming to limit the consequences of a considerable drop in business caused by the epidemic, the Lagardere group has decided to lay off journalists in Europe 1, RFM, and Virgin Radio. This went into effect for Europe 1 on April 1st, 2020. The group, in reply to President Macron’s appeal to not pay dividends to their shareholders, has set aside 5 million euros. The group is present in over 40 countries, employing more than 30,000 people and had a turnover in 2019 of 7,211 million euros.
The Radio France management, according to the national trade union centre CGT, have encouraged their employees to take at least five days holiday by the middle of May.
UK: Sport news station ‘tightens the belt’
Due to pausing sports transmissions because of the pandemic, Love Sport Radio, broadcasting nationwide on DAB, has streamlined its programming schedules. Listeners were informed in a pre-recorded announcement by the owner, Kelvin MacKenzie, who had also furloughed a large number of staff.
A great deal of fake news circulated at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, but now media and regulators seek to firmly counteract it.
Alongside the battle against the Coronavirus, another front has opened up to counteract fake news. It was realised early on how much damage misinformation could cause by favouring the spread of the pandemic, so much that the media started increasing checks to counteract it more firmly. We can see what happened in China where strict Chinese censorship created a void of information which led other countries to underestimate the problem (today experts are even questioning the official number of deaths in China). And when the number of cases in Europe began to multiply, fear and a thirst for news favoured the spread of media hoaxes. These were generally limited to the social networks and chats but there were also programmes put on air that gave credit to odd theses and thus reinforced their credibility. This caused some people to really go around burning 5G telephone repeaters, accusing them of having created the epidemic. This resulted in the necessity for the British Government to intervene. In addition, President Trump’s press conferences could have also created confusion and misinformation when he tried to minimise the impact of the pandemic.
KUOW-FM no longer broadcasts Trump live
Even playing down the risks of Covid-19, as the Americans have tried, can cause damage and open up immense prairies to the virus. In April 2020 they can boast of winning the sad prize of being the first in the world for the number of cases. Since March 25th, 2020, a national public radio station in Seattle has suspended all live press conferences of President Trump. It was not a political policy, the KUOW editorial board clarified, but deontological and will be reconsidered from day to day. After the first two weeks they realised that the statements being issued needed to be verified first (an arduous task with the time limitations of live broadcasting) to avoid spreading false or misleading information. Among examples cited is the statement issued on March 19th, 2020: ‘Nobody knew there’d be a pandemic or epidemic of this proportion’ despite warnings given by the secret services at the beginning of the year. Then on March 20th, 2020 ‘You’re seeing very few empty shelves,’ while on television one could plainly see that the shops had run out of basic necessities including hand soap.
KUOW-FM, owned by the University of Washington, is operated by a non-profit community organisation. They transmit in Seattle on 94.9 fm with 100kW, power that enables them to cover a wide area, as you can see on the FMScan map above. It is a member station of NPR (National Public Radio) that has about a thousand non-profit transmitters.
British radio station forced to rectify
Ofcom, the UKs communications regulator, has imposed a sanction on Uckfield FM for having breached the Broadcasting Code. The community radio station that transmits on 105.0 MHz from Uckfield, a town 80 km south of London in East Sussex, on February 28th, 2020, had broadcast potentially damaging and misleading information by linking the explosion of the epidemic in Wuhan to the launch of 5G technology, one of the pieces of fake news going around the globe. It is a sensitive geopolitical topic (the UK has started launching 5G in Britain and hence ‘are betraying’ their American ally), but if people start believing the hoax, trouble will follow. At the end of March several vandals destroyed repeaters in Birmingham, Liverpool, Melling and Belfast with the shouts of ‘f**k 5G’.
The PDF of Ofcom’s decisions can be viewed here or downloaded below.
Italy is studying the phenomena and sets up fake news unit
On March 31st, 2020, RAI appointed Antonio Di Bella, the director of RaiNews, to lead a new unit to enable the public broadcasting service to avoid spreading misleading or fake news. A scientific committee will be set up to check the deluge of information that arrives for the editorial staff. Di Bella will be assisted by Gerardo D’Amico, in charge of scientific information at Rai News 24. One episode a week of the programme, Tutta Salute, will be dedicated to the fake news that is circulating about Coronavirus.
Agcom, the Authority for Communications Guarantees, has increased its usual monthly monitoring of the media by producing a special report on Coronavirus. Apart from online sources, they have also studied the amount of time dedicated to news about the pandemic on radio and television networks. You can find details of the research about national radio stations here. In order to counteract misinformation, the authority is involving research centres and academic institutions to set up teams to carry out advanced studies into the phenomena.