An open letter to my Russian friends

I’ve made no secret here over the years, I have many friends and acquaintances in various parts of Russia. It is a fascinating culture with great art, literature and music. I am watching with growing concern, the level or Russian demonization from seemingly every quarter being aimed at Russian people and business here. It seems that a great number of people have lost perspective. It also shows the power of propaganda. Theirs and ours.

To be sure, watching the situation unfold in Ukraine on social media is disconcerting. No one in their right mind can look at those images and say “Oh, that is normal.” It is greatly disturbing. It is also war. All wars are like this and have been like this since the beginning of time. The images of dead civilians, bombed out cities, mass graves and so on are broadcast to the world on social media in almost real time. That is the difference this time.

This situation in Ukraine is complicated. It is a war of gas and ambition. There are many questions, good questions which can be asked; Why is NATO a concern? Why does Putin feel threatened by the EU? What is the Azov regiment? What did the natural gas fields discovered in 2010 have to do with the 2014 overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych? How much corruption is there with the Zelenskyy government? How did the US know that there was to be an invasion? What, if any, does the Bo Biden/Berisma thing have to do with this?

I mentioned in a previous post about Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty shortwave broadcasts during the cold war. I am heartened to see that there is a private effort to use the facilities of WRMI to broadcast information to that area of the world. The VOA has stated that they are not making plans to make broadcasts via shortwave because few people in that part of the world have shortwave receivers. I know first hand, that is not true. There are many shortwave sets still in existence and there are people who remember how to hook them up. As Russia becomes more isolated from the world, those shortwave sets are going to get dusted off and put into service.

Novo-Rossiya

Currently, WRMI is transmitting Russian language broadcasts on 7730 KHz from 0200-0500 UTC and 9370 KHz from 1900-2000 UTC. They have funding to buy broadcast time into summer months. They are also leasing time on 1395 KHz medium wave, which I think is the public broadcaster in Armenia:

Radio International Broadcasting Center, 1395 KHz 500 KW

On the downside, shortwave transmission facilities are expensive to build and run. Unlike internet distribution, there is no way to measure audience engagement or gather audience data. On the upside, it is very difficult to effectively jam HF signals across large areas. It is also very expensive and it would take a fair amount of time to rebuild the old soviet jamming networks. In the mean time, people will be looking for good sources of information about a number of topics.

The one thing that I do know, Putin is the aggressor and he cannot be allowed to win.

Ukraine

I have been watching and listening to the news from Ukraine. It is somewhat horrifying to see the wanton disregard for human life. It is especially concerning when combatants begin shelling a nuclear power plant. A breach of one of those reactor containment buildings might have contaminated a wide swath of eastern Europe. Such an act demonstrates that the Russians no longer seem to care about anyone, themselves included. A man can be very dangerous when he has nothing left to lose.

I have known many Russians over the years through email exchanges, video chats, and meeting in person. People seem to be celebrating with glee over the sanctions but it just makes me sad. Obviously, the war of aggression is wrong. However, you cannot conflate ordinary citizens with the terrible acts of their government, whether in Russia or anyplace else.

Roskomnadzor is has removed almost all outside sources of information from the Russian internet. As of this writing; CNN, BBC, Facebook, Twitter, Google (YouTube) have all been band. Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty still exist, however, they are either on FM or use the internet for distribution.

Close up curtain array

I have to wonder if the VOA is going to step up with some shortwave broadcasts to the region. I know that the BBC as restored two frequencies so far. I believe that the European VOA relay sites have been shut down. That means either leasing time with someone or using Greenville. That is a long way away from eastern Europe, however, HF propagation is currently good and those old Continental 420As could use a little workout. Looks like they still have a row of curtain arrays aligned along 30-40 degrees true North.

Continental Electronics 420A 500 KW Shortwave transmitter

As the Chief Engineer of Radio Australia once said, HF will get through when nothing else will.

In the mean time, it might be a wise idea to dust off those old cold war contingency plans and review them. At appears a new iron curtain has arisen, stretching from St. Petersburg to Odessa.

Radio Guide; The Magazine

As some of you may have noticed, recently I have been writing some articles for Radio Guide. There are several good reasons for this, but the most important one is education. I believe that terrestrial radio will be around for a few more years. As others have noted, there are fewer and fewer broadcast engineers. Those that understand high power RF and all its intricacies are fewer still. It is important that a cadre of knowledgeable broadcast engineers carry on.

The internet is a great thing. However, it depends on cables of some type to exist. As we know, cables can be damaged. In addition to cables there are routers, core switches, servers and so on. All of that equipment can fail for various reasons. People have been working hard to improve the resiliency of the internet. That is a good cause, to be sure. However small it may be, there is still a chance that the internet can fail. Worse still, this can happen during some type of natural disaster or other emergency. Thus, during such an emergency, Radio can and will function as a vital information source provided that the station is on the air and has a program feed. That is also a good reason to keep the current RF STL paths in place as much as possible.

The Radio Guide articles are a great way to pass along some of that hard earned experience to others. I also want to put supplemental information here for those interested to download. Things like charts, forms, pictures, videos, etc.

What I am planning on is to list the articles here, then put links to any supplemental information provided below that sub heading.

A bit of good news?

We were doing some overnight maintenance on one of the class A AM’s in New York the other night. The aged Automatic Transfer Switch on the electrical service entrance needed to be replaced, thus the power to the entire facility needed to be cut while the old switch was removed and the new switch installed.

During this period, we took the opportunity to do some maintenance on the main and aux towers. All went well. We also notified the National Radio Club that the station was going to be off the air so that their members could log some rare DX. My thought process here was that we might also find a few daytimers who were still on the air or a DA night who was operating with their daytime facilities. A quick look at MW list shows that there are several such stations on 770 KHz:

MW list, North American 770 KHz

Alas, the answer was no, nobody was on the air who should not have been. Reports from Cape Cod, Massachusetts; New Foundland, Canada; Manassas, Virginia; West Union, South Carolina; and south west, Ohio have Cuban and South American stations on the air (Radio Artemisa, Radio Rebelde, Radio Oriental) but all of the east coast daytimers are off.

The 180 degree main mast for WABC is in good shape. You can deride AM and say it is outdated. However, it still gets out and covers vast distances.