Monday, February 19, 2018

Radio Vatican Retrospective

Radio Vatican was another short-wave broadcaster first logged and QSLed in the late 1960's. There signal was always quite strong in western North America, and equally powerful in South East Asia. And with the interval tune "Christus Vincit" (Christ Reigns), they were for many years readily identified when tuning the short-wave bands.

Initially their transmissions originated from Santa Maria de Galeria and, of course, still do. In recent years, their broadcasts have also been relayed from Talata-Volondry (Madagascar), Tashkent (Uzbekistan) and Tinang (Philippines). Further, international broadcasters such as VOA, Radio Canada International, NHK Radio Japan, Radio Tamajuz, Radio Dibanga, and Radio Netherlands Worldwide have used their transmitter facilities at Santa Maria di Galeria.

In addition to QSL cards, Radio Vatican over the years passed along numerous stickers, calendars and literature on their facility. QSL cards often depicted the Pope, images of the St Peter Basilica and Radio Vatican studio/headquarters. 

Radio New Zealand Retrospective

One of my all time favorite short-wave broadcasters is Radio New Zealand International (RNZI). The first time I tuned in and caught their unmistakable bellbird interval I was mesmerized. The year was 1969. Back then the station broadcast with two 7.5 kW transmitters from Titahi Bay. These capable transmitters, which had been left behind by the US military after the Second World War, operated on the 25 and 31 meter bands from 1948 till 1990. Their signal carried well into the wee hours of the morning, between 06.00 and 09.00 GMT, reaching beyond New Zealand to the Rocky Mountains where I lived.

What a delight it was to hear Radio New Zealand, as the station was then known. The regional news and weather, Pacific island languages, insightful programmes on New Zealand to contemporary music with quotations interspersed between songs seemed all too exotic, at least fascinating enough to entice me to listen frequently.

When I resumed the hobby of short-wave listening I rediscovered Radio New Zealand International. And their programming was just as captivating as it was all those years ago. One additional bonus was their attractive and creative series of "Sounds Like Us - Kiwiana Radio" QSLs. While I had the fortune to QSL Radio New Zealand twice in the late 60s and early 70s, on separate frequencies, I was sufficiently impressed to submit several reception reports just to collect this RNZI QSL series.

All India Radio Retrospective

All India Radio was first logged and QSLed in the early 1970s when I lived in Colorado (USA). All India Radio was heard regularly on 11.620 kHz (SW), just before sunrise, as I recall. A few months after sending my first reception report to All India Radio I received a QSL card, depicting India's famed landmark, The Red Fort.

In Malaysia, a total of 46 All India Radio stations were QSLed from 2010 till 2018. Initially All India Radio confirmed a few stations, and then later, Spectrum Management & Synergy verified the majority of the stations listed below.

MEDIUM-WAVE (29 AIR stations QSLed):
Cuttack (Odisha)
Imphal (Manipur)
Ahmedabad (Gujarat)
Diburugarh (Assam)
Diphu  (Assam)
Raipur (Chhattisgarh)
Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh)
Indore (Madhya Pradesh)
Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh)
Cuddapah (Andhra Pradesh)
Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh)
Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh)
Najibabad (Uttar Pradesh)
Ranchi (Jharkhand)
Tiruchirappalli (Tamil Nadu)
Patna (Bihar)
Chinsurah (West Bengal)
Siliguri (West Bengal)
Kolkata (West Bengal)
Suratgarh, (Rajasthan)
Jodhpur (Rajasthan)
Rajkot (Rajasthan)
Parbhani (Maharashtra)
Nagpur (Maharashtra)
Pune (Maharashtra)
Jalandhar (Punjab)
Port Blair (Adaman & Nicobar Islands)
Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir)
Tezu (Arunachal Pradesh)

SHORT-WAVE (17 AIR stations QSLed):
Aligarh  (Uttar Pradesh)
Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh)
Bangalore (Karnataka)
Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh)
Chennai (Tamil Nadu)
Hyderabad (Telangana)
Kurseong (West Bengal)
Jaipur (Rajasthan)
Jeypore (Odisha)
Mumbai (Maharashtra)
Shillong (Meghalaya)
Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala)
Port Blair (Adaman & Nicobar Islands)
Panaji (Goa)
Srinagar (Kashmir & Jammu)
Leh (Kashmir & Jammu)
Gangtok (Sikkim)

This video contains several AIR verification cards (QSLs) from the above stations and the signature AIR interval tune, which was composed by Walter Kaufmann or Thakur Balwant Singh and which has been used since 1936.

Deutsche Welle Retrospective

In 1968, one of the first short-wave stations to be QSLed was Deutsche Welle, or the Voice of Germany, as they referred themselves back in the days when Germany was still divided. At the time, Deutsche Welle transmitted from J├╝lich, West Germany. Their English broadcast was heard on 9.540 kHz, in the late evening hours, when I lived in the western United States.

I especially enjoyed listening to Larry Wayne's weekly segment called "Random Selection: Living in Germany".  Larry would regale his listeners with a "random selection" of current events, newspaper stories and his own observations of happenings around him in Germany, albeit from a tongue-in-cheek perspective. He had a delightful way of telling a story, certainly enough to at least pique my interest and to listen to him regularly. I recall one particular story about a dachshund. The cute little canine imbibed sizable quantities of liquor along with his owner on a daily basis. The poor pooch eventually succumbed to alcoholism and died. Sad tale, but humorous and touching in the manner in which Larry reported the story. 

By the early 1970s, I was able to receive Deutsche Welle via their relay site in Kigali (Rwanda). Their German language could be heard in the afternoons, and what a powerful signal it was! By the time I resumed listening to the short-wave bands in 2007, DW was relaying their broadcasts from multiple locations: Yerevan-Gavar (Armenia), Bonaure (Netherland Antilles), Sines (Portugal), Issoudun (France), Wertachtal and Nauen (Germany), Rampisham and Woofferton (UK), Ascension Island, Trincomalee (Sri Lanka), Krasnodar (southern Russia), Dhabbaya (UAE), Kranji (Singapore), Pinheiro (Sao Tome), Meyerton (South Africa), and Tolata Volondry (Madagascar). 

For my part, DW passed along not only QSL cards, but tote bags, pens, a DVD set on the Berlin Wall and calendars. I recall particularly a commemorative calendar for the 1972 Munich Olympics and brochures profiling each of the states in West Germany. Good times!!!

This video contains some of these QSLs and souvenirs I received from Deutsche Welle QSLs during these two DXing periods. The interval tune is from Es sucht der Bruder seine Brueder from Fidelio by Ludwig van Beethoven.

Voice of Vietnam Retrospective

This short video on the Voice of Vietnam features their station interval tune and verification cards (QSLs) issued between 2011 till 2018. After submitting reception reports of their medium-wave (MW) and short-wave (SW) broadcasts, originating from Dac Lac (MW), Con Tho (MW), Hanoi-Sontay (MW/SW), as well as Dhabbaya (UAE), Moosbrunn (Austria), Skelton and Woofferton, UK (SW), these cards were posted to me.

Besides programmes in Vietnamese and ethnic Vietnamese dialects, Voice of Vietnam offers programmes in English, French, German, Russian  and other languages. One will note this video features verification cards in some of these languages. This is a common practice among international broadcasters, not just the Voice of Vietnam.

Further, Voice of Vietnam occasionally distributes different souvenir/PR items, i.e. pocket calendars, wall calendars, New Year's cards, bookmarks and postcards. I have included a few examples of these in this video. In the early years, Vietnam used to post their letters with colourful postage stamps depicting the flora, fauna, landmarks and traditional attire of Vietnam.

Interestingly, when I resided in the US and listened to the short-wave bands in the 1960s-1970s, neither Hanoi nor Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) could be heard in Colorado (Denver). Although, in recent years, I have heard archived material. And, these recordings provide an excellent backdrop to the mood and events in North and South Vietnam during the Second Vietnam War.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Radio Free Asia Retrospective

Radio Free Asia’s mission is to provide accurate and timely news and information to Asian countries whose governments prohibit access to a free press. RFA is mandated to broadcast to China, Tibet, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Burma.  RFA’s programming primarily comprises domestic news and information of unique and specific interest to its listeners.  All broadcasts are solely in local language(s) and dialects. 

I have been a regular listener of RFA since 2011. Over the years I have monitored their broadcasts in Burmese, Chinese, Laotian, Khmer, Korean, Tibetan, Uighur and Vietnamese. Of these broadcasts, the ones usually affected are their Chinese, Tibetan and Uighur programmes. China -- more precisely, China Radio International and China National Radio --  regularly and deliberately squats on the same frequency(ies), during the duration of these RFA broadcasts, in an effort to block reception.

This is one of the obvious reasons RFA operates on multiple frequencies from various transmitter sites, among these being either Kuwait, Germany (Biblis and Lampertheim) UAE (Dhabbaya), Tajikistan (Dushanbe), Taiwan (Fangliano and Kouhu), Mongolia (Ulaanbaator),  Northern Mariana islands (Tinian Island Agignan Point), Sri Lanka (Iranwilla and Trincomalee), Armenia (Yerevan), Lithuania  (Vilnuis), even Russia (Vladivostok).  

Whether one is a radio enthusiast or the intended Asian listener, RFA rewards with not only timely and relevant news but also sends out verification cards (QSLs). These cards often commemorate their anniversary, the Chinese New Year or Olympics with their mascot, the panda. Past issues have depicted traditional Asian musical instruments and their (International Broadcast Bureau) transmitter sites. Although I hasten to add, and perhaps for obvious reasons, not their more clandestine/leased sites.

It is with this background I offer up the following video compilation, featuring my RFA verification cards  for reception reports relating to their medium-wave and short-wave broadcasts. Enjoy and 73!

Radio Free Asia (via Tinian)

Radio Free Asia, transmitting from Tinian (Northern Mariana Islands), was logged on 22 January 2018. A Korean language broadcast was observed from 18.15 UTC onward. Reception was observed on 9.985 kHz.

Reception report was submitted online at their QSL bureau on the following day. QSL card arrived on 14 February 2018.