ITALY: TUNE IN TO RADIO SAN MARINO IN THE CAR AND THE RUSSIAN FLAG APPEARS

TUNE IN TO RADIO SAN MARINO IN THE CAR AND THE RUSSIAN FLAG APPEARS
The shot sent by the reader to Radio San Marino. The image is not of good quality and retouches have been made to mask the face reflected on the screen. We apologise, but it was not possible to trace the listener and take a professional shot
Source: Radio San Marino

A few days have passed since the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine. One morning, a listener of Radio San Marino is stunned: on the car radio screen of his Audi, a new generation model displaying the brand logo of the stations tuned in, the Russian flag appears. Yet the programme he is listening to is precisely that of Radio San Marino. He thinks of action by hackers: these are days when the invasion is taking its first steps, the information is confused but the propaganda is very active. He wonders what it could be about: in the previous days, nothing was visible. He takes a couple of photos and emails them to the broadcaster. The message reaches the technical management, which turns to an expert.

There was already an anomaly

Let’s go back two months. Radio San Marino has been experiencing problems with some car radios for some time: their brand logo does not appear. Therefore it commissions an investigation from Radio Data Center, a German company specialising in new-generation multimedia systems that display the broadcasters’ logos. Research shows that the problem is confined to the brands of the Volkswagen Group (including Audi, Lamborghini, Porsche, Seat, Skoda) and Ford. During the research, a technical incompatibility emerges: the station is not using an identification code reserved for the San Marino state, as prescribed by international regulations. It has inserted a number reserved for Italy in the equipment that generates the RDS: a correct one is identified and communicated to the technical office. The broadcaster repositioned itself correctly in February 2022 and… a few days later, the picture of the screen with the Russian flag shows up.

What had happened?

On the screen of the Audi Q5, tuning to Radio San Marino does not show the Russian flag, but also the station's logo
On the screen of the Audi Q5, tuning to Radio San Marino does not show the Russian flag, but also the station’s logo is missing. You have to wait for the update
Photo

Radio Data Center does the first test on an Audi Q5 at the Reggini dealer in Falciano: nothing appears on the screen. Not even the Radio San Marino brand, but that’s normal: the RDS change was announced 30 days ago, but since the car is not connected to the Internet, you have to wait for the update to become available, download it onto a memory stick and do the upgrade (but the company is late: it is still suffering from the slowdowns caused by the pandemic and has not released it for some time). The anomaly is therefore confined to older-generation, Volkswagen-made car radios and shows on the screen Radio Rossii, the most important Russian state broadcaster, which has the flag in its logo. The update will correct this.

But the devil got in the way

On the broadcaster's website, with streams of TV and the two radio stations, you can see at the top the brands of Radio San Marino and the second Classic channel
On the broadcaster’s website, with streams of TV and the two radio stations, you can see at the top the brand logos of Radio San Marino and the second Classic channel
Source

The change, announced in February, is on the waiting list: with tens of thousands of radios to chase, and constant changes, those managing the logos have so many backlogs. The request is examined after six months. But there is a setback: due to an error, only the data of the second network Radio San Marino Classic (which has similar problems) is updated. It’s therefore necessary to wait for the next update, scheduled for December 2022. (Written by Fabrizio Carnevalini)

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NEW ZEALAND: ENHANCED SHORTWAVE BROADCASTING FOR THE PACIFIC

Radio New Zealand's current outdated transmitter will be replaced: the New Zealand government allocated NZ$4.4 million (about US$2.5 million) in May
Radio New Zealand’s current outdated transmitter will be replaced: the New Zealand government allocated NZ$4.4 million (about US$2.5 million) in May 2022
Source

As of September 2022, New Zealand’s public broadcaster (RNZ) has increased its shortwave broadcasting hours aimed at the Pacific region. The four morning hours, suspended in 2016, restarted thanks to new government funding, on three frequencies: at 5 a.m. local time on 7425 kHz, 6 a.m. on 9700 kHz, and 8 a.m. on 11725 kHz. The most listened news program is also repeated by the BBC Pacific Service. Shortwave broadcasting, largely abandoned since the 1990s at the end of the Cold War, still remains the most effective means of covering very large areas. As in the Pacific Ocean archipelagos, where many communities still use the old analogue radios with the SW (Short Waves) band to inform themselves.

It also broadcasts digitally

Shortwave radio is radio transmission using shortwave radio frequencies
RNZ’s shortwave broadcast schedules can be seen on this page. The programs are also distributed via satellite
Source

In the middle hours of the day, however, the station broadcasts with the DRM standard: a digital transmission system that eliminates all the typical hissing due to atmospheric and electromagnetic interference. The audio is stereo, but it is out of reach of the old analogue radios. In order to receive the DRM you have to buy a receiver that is set up to decode the digital signal, which costs between 50 and 100 euros. Alternatively, the signal is broadcast by satellite from Intelsat 19 on C-band: coverage extends from Singapore eastward to the Cook Islands, including Fiji, Tonga, Niue and Samoa. (Written by Fabrizio Carnevalini)

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UNITED KINGDOM: BUREAUCRATIC ERROR, COVID, SITE TO BE DECOMMISSIONED, POWER CUT… IT CLOSES

BUREAUCRATIC ERROR, COVID, SITE TO BE DECOMMISSIONED, POWER CUT... GRAVITY FM CLOSES
The broadcaster bid farewell to its listeners by posting on Facebook a summary of the vicissitudes it went through
Source

All that was missing was an earthquake and locusts (John Belushi in The Blues Brothers): what happened to Gravity FM is textbook for the flurry of bad luck that forced it to close. The staff of the station, which had been on air since December 2008 on 97.2 MHz in Grantham (Margareth Thatcher’s hometown, a town of 35,000 inhabitants 40 km from Nottingham), recounts this on its Facebook page. Gravity is a community station, it advertises, but it has been in bad shape for some time and another company was formed to take it over. But in the transfer of the licence something goes wrong: the UK’s airwaves regulator, Ofcom, makes a mistake. That forces the station to take a long and expensive legal route to get it corrected.

Covid-19 arrives…

It’s November 2019. Two months later the pandemic breaks out. On 23 March 2020, the first lockdown is decreed in the UK: within a few weeks, advertisers suspend advertising campaigns. The station’s revenues plummet by 70 per cent, but the radio station cannot suspend broadcasts, temporarily shutting down as companies do. It performs a public service and the law obliges it not to interrupt it, even if it is forced to work at a loss (the state subsidies are not enough to get it back on its feet). However, the legal process is still long: it ends in November 2020.

…and they also cut the power

On the MB21 site, created by Mike Brown, we found a photo of the old malt factory that housed Gravity FM's antennas
On the MB21 site, created by Mike Brown, we found a photo of the old malt factory that housed Gravity FM’s antennas
Source

As if that weren’t enough (it’s April 2021), the radio station learns that the Malting, the old malting factory in the town that houses the transmitter and antennas on its roof (52 metres high), is being decommissioned. The frantic search for an alternative begins: lighting the city is not easy, due to orography problems. And then the regulations on transmitter sites have recently changed: there is uncertainty and building owners do not feel up to hosting new antennas. In January 2022 comes the warning that the power cut is scheduled for the end of February. The last days of the search are feverish. But the contractors get on with the job and… remove the power cables weeks in advance, shutting down the signal. Radio throws in the towel. (Written by Fabrizio Carnevalini)

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FRANCE: EUROPE 2 RETURNS AFTER FIFTEEN YEARS

EUROPE 2 RETURNS AFTER FIFTEEN YEARS
Now Europe 2 will return to “reaffirm its original mission: to nurture the link between artists and audiences, through its musical offer aimed at adults and young adults, by investing heavily in musical events and promoting live sessions”
Source

From January 2023, Europe 2 will return on Virgin Radio‘s 243 frequencies: this is one of the changes envisaged by the reorganisation of the Lagardère Group (of which the Europe 1 and RFM radio networks are also part) announced in June 2022 when Vivendi took control. Europe 2 is a historic brand, which had given way to Virgin Radio in January 2008, after 20 years in business. The agreement with Virgin, which covered frequencies in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Andorra and Monaco, had been signed in December 2007 by Sir Richard Branson, who had appeared on the Champs-Elysées dressed as Father Christmas for the occasion. Originally Europe 2 was a programme distributed to broadcasters. It became a network but left room for local programmes. Now, for Arnaud Lagardère, President and CEO of the group, and Constance Benqué, who heads the news hub, Europe 2 will return to its original mission: to connect audiences and artists. (Written by Fabrizio Carnevalini)

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ITALY: DIGITAL FREQUENCIES PLANNED

The map produced by Agcom divides the Italian peninsula into various interference zones: in each one, international coordination with neighbouring countries exposed to possible interference is required
The map produced by Agcom divides the Italian peninsula into various interference zones: in each one, international coordination with neighbouring countries exposed to possible interference is required
Source

After years of waiting, the long-awaited planning of the DAB band by Agcom has arrived. The regulator waited for the channels in band III to become free with the switchover to DVB T2 and released the plan at the end of July 2022. There was no shortage of controversy, fuelled by rumours of the switch-off of hundreds of FM frequencies on the Adriatic coast due to interference caused to broadcasters in Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece. A problem due to technical reasons (installations in the mountains point towards centres on the coast), to the high powers used (Italy’s historical problem) but above all to tropospheric propagation. This is a meteorological phenomenon that occurs mainly in summer, when the lower layers of the atmosphere, compressed by high pressure, become denser and reflect radio waves.

Did they just try it?

The specialised magazine Newslinet has dedicated several reports in recent months to the digital radio plan, interviewing associations and editors of national networks
The specialised magazine Newslinet has dedicated several reports in recent months to the digital radio plan, interviewing associations and editors of national networks
Source

The specialised periodical Newslinet reported in July 2022 that there was a plan to shut down hundreds of channels on the Adriatic coast because they were disturbing foreign radio stations. It is a problem that has been known about for decades and is due to the fact that since 1990, after the freezing of the airwaves brought about by the “Legge Mammì“, no planning has ever been done for the FM band in Italy. And the interference situations, not well managed by Italy also due to the absence (lamented by the associations) of the Italian delegation at the European planning table, now leave very narrow margins for manoeuvre. Hence the attempt to induce broadcasters to exchange DAB-FM or to scrap it in order to fall within the parameters of the Geneva regulations.

Associations on different levels

Lawyer Marco Rossignoli, president of Aeranti-Corallo, an organisation that has united the two associations since 2001, of which Corallo represents Catholic broadcasters
Source

The position of the associations varied. Among them, Aeranti Corallo, which has always pushed to accelerate planning, continues to be critical, reiterating that the frequencies are not sufficient to allow the transition from FM to digital. On the other hand, Confindustria Radio Televisioni applauds the planning: will it be because the networks it represents already have one or more channels in the DAB band? But what does the plan say? It confirms the three existing national networks (Rai, DAB Italia and EuroDab, for a total of about 50 channels) and envisages 54 local ones with regional coverage, of which 27 can be broken down into sub-basins, and another 36 in the local area to cover one or more provinces. Beyond the technical data, in some provinces there could be space for six multiplex (for a total of about 120 channels), but not in the southern Adriatic regions, due to interference problems.

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USA: FORMER STATION MANAGER NOW LEADS STUDENT RADIO WHERE HE STARTED HIS CAREER

FORMER STATION MANAGER NOW LEADS STUDENT RADIO WHERE HE STARTED HIS CAREER
Mallace has led various Phoenix radio groups including Sierra H Broadcasting, Radio Disney, Big City Radio and others for more than thirty years
Source

It comes full circle, Michael Mallace told Radio Ink, a US radio newsmagazine. He will direct KVIT-FM, the high school station in Chandler, a city in the Phoenix metropolitan area, where he started his career. In fact, the East Valley Institute of Technology (EVIT) has appointed him as general manager of 88.7 FM The Pulse, the high school radio station that aims to engage students to acquire the necessary skills to make their way in the world of radio. Over the past 30 years, he has run various radio groups in the Arizona capital, not just chasing ratings and profits, but valuing people and nurturing talent.

A very American phenomenon

With a power output of 15 kW, The Pulse can be heard in a car as far as the outskirts of Tucson
With a power output of 15 kW, The Pulse can be heard in a car as far as the outskirts of Tucson, as can be seen in the map drawn up by FMLIST (the green and yellow squares indicate where the station was received in a car outside a calculated reception area)
Source and dsta processing: FMLIST

The Pulse is one of more than four hundred US campus radio stations (one in 15 of the approximately 6400 active FM stations) that have been in existence since the 1960s when the FCC (Federal Communication Commission, the US airwaves regulator) began issuing licences. They operate with an identifier (call number) similar to that of commercial and public stations. In Canada there are 52 of them, in FM and even on medium wave: the first was CJRT, from the Ryerson Institute of Technology (Ontario Department of Education). Known as Jazz Radio, it started in 1949 on 88.3 MHz with a power of 3 kW and today is on 91.0 MHz with 40 kW. The United States and Canada have the largest number of FM student stations, but there are such stations in over 40 countries. Often they operate only on the web because regulations do not offer them space on the airwaves.

Talent hubs and trendsetters

The article on university radios published on the Red&Blue website draws a parallel between Italian and American web radios
The article on university radios published on the Red&Blue website draws a parallel between Italian and American web radios
Source

Working in college radio is part of the student experience. Stations are run completely independent but can make use of contributors from the community to which they belong for programmes. Some are set up to train professional radio staff, others to make educational programmes or to be an alternative to commercial and public radio. They often uncover musical trends or emerging artists before they make a name for themselves. One example among many? Music promoter Marco Stanzani writes that Anderson Paak, a pop artist of worldwide notoriety, had been noticed when he was still in the early stages of his career by Italian rapper Mondo Marcio thanks to tracks broadcast on a US college radio station. So much so that since 2010, with his agency Red&Blue Stanzani, he has organised Uniweb Tour – a real live acoustic live tour on the web radios of major Italian universities – to promote the artists he covers.

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FRANCE: THE GOLDEN YEARS OF LOCAL RADIO IN RENNES

The 30x30 cm book cover is a tribute to the vinyl record covers that marked the era of free radio
The 30×30 cm book cover is a tribute to the vinyl record covers that marked the era of free radio
Source: photo courtesy of the author, Yvon Lechevestrier

Forty years ago, the French state broke the monopoly in the FM band, authorising the emergence of private associative broadcasters. At that time, the FM band was populated by a few channels: the public ones of Radio France and a few private ones, such as Europe 1 and RTL. From 9 November 1981, the phenomenon exploded, immediately making radio a popular medium: within a year, there were two thousand free radio stations. The next step came in 1984 when advertising was authorised, and radio stations could choose between two organisational formulas: remaining an associative broadcaster, relying on state subsidies, or standing on their own two feet, becoming a commercial station living off the revenue from commercials.

The epic told in a book

Summer 1981: at the Hédé festival Pierre Giboire, founder of Fréquence Ille, interviews Edmond Hervé, mayor of Rennes
Summer 1981: at the Hédé festival Pierre Giboire, founder of Fréquence Ille, interviews Edmond Hervé, mayor of Rennes. The microphone and vintage cassette recorder can be seen in the foreground
Source: photo courtesy of the author, Yvon Lechevestrier

In Rennes, there were two pioneers: Gaby Aubert, a butcher’s boy turned bistro owner, who launched Radio Rennes, which is still in operation today, and Pierre Giboire, a 23-year-old student who created Fréquence Ille on 14 July 1981: it was an immediate success, quickly becoming one of the radio stations that symbolised the liberalisation of the airwaves. Not much time passed and in the Breton capital, other stations followed the path opened by the pioneers: Rennes FM, Radio Congas, and Radio Vilaine. They are mainly music stations, each distinguished by its own style. It is of this creative period that ‘Il est libre Max‘ (in homage to the name of the first song broadcast by Fréquence Ille), a book written by Yvon Lechevestrier, a former journalist for the French daily Ouest-France, is about. With testimonies and period illustrations, it brings the fabulous 1980s back to life.

Standardisation arrives in the 1990s

The book’s layout is elegant: on each double page the space on the left is reserved for photos from different periods of time
Source: photo courtesy of the author, Yvon Lechevestrier

The golden age of local radio continued until the end of the decade, interspersed with episodes from the city’s history. But after the initial enthusiasm, business began to take hold: the most important commercial radio stations, such as NRJ, grew and became national networks. In the 1990s, with the first economic difficulties, most of the pioneers threw in the towel and many stations were absorbed by the networks. The FM band is still very musical, but also, often, very commercial.

Forty years later, the radio scene is still vibrant: at the end of 2020, according to the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA), there were 1,021 private operators and more than 6,000 frequencies. The book, published by AR Editions Collection, costs EUR 29 and can be ordered from arcollectioneditions@gmail.com or directly from the author at ylechevest@gmail.com.

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BOOKS: THE RADIO BIBLE ALSO IN AN APP

THE RADIO BIBLE ALSO IN AN APP
The 2022 edition has over 600 pages. It presents, divided by country, the broadcasters operating in Short and Medium Wave with programme schedules; in FM and DAB, the main frequencies and power are mentioned. There is also a TV section
Source

After seven decades of publication, the World Radio TV Handbook (WRTH) will also be available as a web app. Listening enthusiasts from all over the world can rejoice: the “Directory of Global Broadcasting” will also be available on mobile phones. By consulting it, one can find out, for example, which stations are broadcasting from the Amazon region and which programmes are available in Korea, the Maldives or Switzerland. Whether remote reception on shortwave, international services for foreign countries, political propaganda broadcasts for crisis areas or commercial stations on FM and DAB+ digital radio, the WRTH contains all the details in a clear form.

New management

Dense with information, the WRTH has a strict, all-black-and-white layout
Dense with information, the WRTH has a strict, all-black-and-white layout
Source

The first edition of the yearbook was published in Denmark in 1947 and WRTH Publications Limited managed it until 2022, when it transferred the rights to Radio Data Center GmbH (RDC), based in Freising, Germany. “The yearbook is an indispensable reference work for radio listeners and everyone who moves professionally in the world of radio” said Günter Lorenz, Managing Director of Radio Data Center GmbH. Who added “we are very pleased to publish the 77th edition in December 2022 simultaneously as a book and as a web app”.

About Radio Data Centre

On the Radio Data Center website, it can be seen that there are 260,275 active channels (AM, FM, DAB, HD, TV) and 79,861 radio stations worldwide
On the Radio Data Center website, it can be seen that there are 260,275 active channels (AM, FM, DAB, HD, TV) and 79,861 radio stations worldwide, of which 65279 have an audio streaming channel
Source

From synergy, more information for professionals

The planisphere shows where Medium Wave, Short Wave, FM and DAB transmission facilities are located. To produce it, the coordinates of the installations entered on FMLIST were imported into GoogleEarth
The planisphere shows where FM broadcasting facilities are located. Coordinates from FMLIST were used to make it
Source

The WRTH is an indispensable reference for orientation in radio listening. Initially, the book addressed DXers with an interest in shortwave and the “tropical bands”, as well as medium wave. The FM band, as used by the national / public broadcasters, was also covered, but not completely: the liberalisation of the airwaves, which began in Italy in 1975 and spread throughout Europe, saw the emergence of thousands of stations in just a few years, making it impossible to publish their tens of thousands of frequencies in WRTH. For reasons of space, WRTH was often limited to the major networks (12233 stations are active in the Old Continent alone, of which 8786 are commercial). Full data can be found on FMLIST (founded in 1986 by Günter Lorenz), which under the management of Radio Data Center has strengthened the worldwide team of contributors, expanding the database to a professional level, e.g by producing an identikit for each radio station. Future editions for WRTH will make comprehensive use of data from FMLIST. This synergy will make the WRTH also more attractive to professionals interested in a global directory including FM and all variants of digital broadcast (DRM, DAB, HD Radio).

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COSTA RICA: AN FM LICENCE COSTS THE SAME AS A PIZZA

In Costa Rica, an FM licence costs the same as a pizza. The list published on the Costa Rican magazine's website shows for each frequency the name of the concessionaire, the licence and the fee paid in 2021
The list published on the Costa Rican magazine’s website shows for each frequency the name of the concessionaire, the licence and the fee paid in 2021
Source

It was the El Guardián, a newspaper in Costa Rica, that shed light on the amounts paid to the state by radio stations as frequency licence fees. It wrote to the press office of the Ministry of Science, Innovation, Technology and Telecommunications (MICITT), which provided the list of stations with the relevant amounts in Costa Rican colón (it takes 667 for one US dollar, at the current exchange rate). The amounts are small, considering that the annual average income in 2020 was USD 12,076.81 and the monthly minimum wage USD 402. FM stations pay an average of 6,000 colóns per year (about 9 US dollars); 1,000 to 2,000 for medium-wave broadcasters (1.5 to 3 US dollars) and 1,500 to 5,000 for transfer bridges (2.25 to 7.50 US dollars). Here is the list of broadcasters, whose names are listed in the concession.

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CANADA: SHE STOPPED DYEING HER HAIR. ANCHORWOMAN FIRED

Lisa LaFlamme accepting the award in April 2022
The article in the New York Times discusses the story in detail. The image depicts La Flamme accepting the award in April 2022
Source

The dismissal of Lisa LaFlamme, one of the most familiar faces on Canadian TV, who was awarded this year’s Best National News Anchor, is causing controversy. This was revealed in a tweet that the journalist posted in August 2022 to inform fans that CTV (major private, English-language network) had fired her after a 35-year career. The reasons for this are confidential, but as the New York Times reports, it seems that age (58), sex and grey hair were influential.

From so to so

The website of Prima Online, an Italian media monthly, published a photo of the presenter’s change
Source

During the pandemic, in fact, unable to go to the hairdresser, the presenter had stopped dyeing her hair and then agreed to keep it in its natural grey colour. The company denied it, but failed to erase the doubts: it is indeed strange that such a well-known face should be thrown out of the door at the age of 58 (two years early), while other Canadian TV journalists as famous as her and with a similar role continued until the ages of 69 and 73. But they were men.

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