My QSL from The Mighty KBC

QSL card from The Mighty KBC

Here’s something I haven’t received for many years: a QSL card. Technically, it’s an electronic QSL card (sometimes called an eQSL) from The Mighty KBC, a shortwave station located in Germany.

The Mighty KBC broadcasts music programs up to two hours weekdays and seven hours weekends on 6095 kHz to Europe. But every weekend, The Mighty KBC also airs a two-hour broadcast aimed at Canada, the United States, and South America on 7375 kHz. “The Giant Jukebox” show, presented by Eric van Willegen, starts at 0000 UTC on Sunday, which is equivalent to 8:00PM EDT on Saturday.

Decoding VOA Radiogram

For the past few months, I have been experimenting with decoding VOA Radiogram. VOA Radiogram is a weekly half-hour show broadcast over shortwave on the Voice of America. Conceived by Kim Andrew Elliott in 2013, VOA Radiogram transmits text and images digitally for reception using only ordinary shortwave radios and computers.

Each VOA Radiogram program is broadcast four times every weekend. All four broadcasts originate at the Edward R. Murrow transmitter site in North Carolina.

A typical VOA Radiogram program consists of four text news items from the Voice of America and four images. For example, the February 21–22 show (program 99) contained these four stories:

My Disappointing Longwave DXing

Every shortwave radio I have ever owned has offered four bands: FM, AM (or mediumwave), shortwave, and longwave. The FM, AM, and shortwave bands are always filled with stations (although shortwave less so these days) but the longwave band for me has always been empty. In all my years of attempts at longwave DXing, I have only ever picked up two stations. These same two stations are beacons that endlessly repeat two or three characters in Morse code. I can only occasionally receive their faint signals and they are overpowered by normal electrical interference.

The slow decline of AM radio

Ever since car radios became available in the 1930’s, AM radio has been an integral part of the automobile experience. The Porsche 918 Spyder, scheduled for production in September 2013, will be the first production car in the United States not to come with an AM radio. The reason given is that the materials used to manufacture the car diminish AM radio reception. The Porsche 918 is a high-end sports car that will cost $845,000, so it hardly represents the mainstream. But I think it is clear that this is another step on the slide of AM radio into irrelevance in the United States.

BBC World Service announces cuts

The BBC has finally issued a press release outlining the cuts they plan for the BBC World Service in order meet the government’s mandatory 16% budget reduction and those cuts seem pretty drastic.

In addition to job losses of 650 people, they plan to close five language services completely and end radio programs in seven languages, focusing on online content only. The BBC World Service is also beginning "a phased reduction from most short wave and medium wave distribution of remaining radio services." This will include shutting down their popular 648 kHz mediumwave transmitter, which can be heard in much of Europe. It will also mean stopping English language shortwave broadcasts to Russia and limiting broadcasts to Asia and Africa to two hours a day. Considering the political climate in Russia, this seems like an odd time to be ending broadcasts there.

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