30 September 2009

shortwave summary, september 2009

During September, I logged shortwave broadcasters while in various northern California locations. I've used my Tecsun PL-350 receiver with the telescopic whip, and with indoor random wire antennas while at home.

Received stations:
• Firedrake
• Radio Australia
• Radio Havana Cuba
• Radio Taiwan International
• China Radio International
• Voice of Turkey

• 02 Sep 2009, 0300 UTC, 7325 kHz (Voice of Turkey, via Sackville): Turkey and Armenia are working on establishing diplomatic relations, and it has become the top story in Turkish media. Greece fails to realize Turkey's capabilities, with regards to Cyprus negotiations. The 50,000 US troops stationed in Japan since WW2 will be called into question. Governments worldwide are seeking to replace the Kyoto protocol.

There are parallels in democratization in both Turkey and Iraq. Turkey and northern Iraq have economic ties, such as the two oil pipelines that run between the two countries. "Clearing Turkey and Iraq of terrorism is of paramount importance."

A significant portion of this hour-long show was taken up by two of the station's reporters (based in the capital, Ankara) speaking via telephone to one of the station's listeners in the United Kingdom. They spent the first few minutes talking about the weather. The listener will be visiting Turkey in November for about five days. He works in the hospitality industry, and complained about a lack of flexibility for vacation scheduling. He has listened to TRT for about 10 years, saying that TRT offers "what a shortwave listener is looking for." Somehow, they started talking about a French climber who climbs towers with his bare hands to raise awareness of climate change. According to the listener, 100-watt bulbs are now banned in the UK, but he suggested that "changing your lightbulbs is not going to save the world." Shortly after that, he said that "so many things in our life are unnecessary but convenient." They then discussed the Dugard kidnap/rape story from California. One of the reporters pointed out similarities with the Josef Fritzl case in Austria, and the situation was described as "worse than death" for the victim. However, "nothing really shocks society these days."

I had difficulty understanding this broadcast because the reporters were speaking fast and had heavy accents. In my logbook, I noted that I might understand them better if they would speak slower. Given that both of the Voice of Turkey receptions I've done in the past few weeks have ended with ten minutes of filler piano music, it seems to me that they have the time to speak slower. On the other hand, I'm happy that Voice of Turkey is able to use the Sackville transmitter and reach North America.

• 0400 UTC, 6020 kHz (China Radio International, via Sackville): "From Beijing, this is CRI, China Radio International." China plans to maintain relations with the new Japanese government; "China and Japan are important neighbors." The Sichuan-Tibet railway construction has been delayed by geographic challenges and lack of funds. Gas and diesel prices were increased for the sixth time this year, with the increase amounting to 4%. China and Uzbekistan have launched a new e-commerce platform. Chinese students have been instructed on H1N1 viral prevention prior to the start of the school year. Weather: Beijing, overcast, 17-28C. Showers in Bangkok and Tokyo. Clear in New York and Toronto.

Elsewhere in the world: Iran wants to ease fears about its nuclear program, and the USA has set a deadline at the end of September for nuclear talks. Poland and Russia are about to finalize a new oil contract. Myanmar needs to restore peace and stability so exiled citizens can return home. Many fled into China after the start of armed conflicts last week. In the USA, stocks fell for a third straight day. Government officials are meeting in Gdansk, Poland to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the World War 2 outbreak. "Remembering the tragedies of the second world war." China is making an official visit to Cuba, and will go on to visit the Bahamas and the USA. China denied Indian reports that one of its helicopters crossed the border into India.

I didn't really understand the e-commerce deal between China and Uzbekistan. A dollar figure for the amount of trade between the two countries was announced, but it wasn't clear what the goods or services were, or who the major beneficiaries were either.

• 03 Sep 2009, 2308 UTC, 17795 kHz (Radio Australia): The reporter was speaking to someone about a recent earthquake somewhere. This signal was moderately strong, but fading. The priorities following the earthquake were obtaining food, drinking water, medical kits, and blankets. No temporary shelters were being planned; people were left to fend for themselves. There were 57 confirmed deaths, and the number was expected to grow. The presidential election in Afghanistan has been plagued with accusations of vote-rigging. If Karzai is re-elected, it could benefit the insurgence. "If Karzai continues to hold some power, he should not hold all the power." Two Khmer Rouge leaders are being investigated by a war crimes tribunal.

Okay, which earthquake was this that they were discussing?

• 04 Sep 2009, 0500 UTC, 6010 kHz (Radio Havana Cuba): Cuba is one of my focus countries for shortwave listening. Their signals are loud, I can copy them with ease, and there are lots of interesting segments and topics in their broadcasts.

Spanish music at the top of the hour, as if they're running late. Running behind schedule? Too busy setting up the number stations? Ah, the intro lullaby started at 0503 UTC. "This is Radio Havana Cuba." Washington stopped aid to Honduras after a meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and ousted Honduran president Zelaya. It's part of a plan to restore constitutional order in Honduras. The US military is ending a contract with a public relations firm over criticism that embedded journalists covering conflicts in the middle east were being screened. The contract was first revealed about a week ago. Today is the 40th anniversary of the death of Ho Chi Minh, which Radio Havana Cuba called "Southeast Asia's most important communist leader." He was inspired by the Russian revolution. Chevron was sued for dumping toxic waste in Ecuador's rainforest. There's reportedly a video of the judge in the case, involved in some dishonest dealings.

Low-wage workers in the United States have routinely been denied overtime pay and forced to work for less than minimum wage, according to a survey. "Blue dog" democrats got large campaign donations from the healthcare industry. (Lots of these stories make the USA look bad. It's no surprise to me that Radio Havana Cuba appears to have an agenda!)

China and Cuba are getting along very well and will continue working together. Someone from Cuba is making an official visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (you know, the poorly-named communist northern half). The viewpoint segment was about climate change, and mentioned an upcoming summit that will take place in Copenhagen in December. The reporter hopes that the summit won't just be a place for leaders to give speeches without making commitments. The Caribbean Outlook segment followed, although I didn't listen to it.

• 06 Sep 2009, 0200 UTC, 9680 kHz (Radio Taiwan International): I first tuned in to 5950 kHz, but found that frequency's signal to be relatively weak. 9680 kHz came in stronger, although it started fading out halfway through the hour-long broadcast. This particular reception will be the subject of a future article on QSLs from RTI. RTI sent me two QSL cards, neither of which had entirely accurate reception details.

The government is monitoring migratory birds to track the spread of the H1N1 virus. Taiwan got a rare visit last week from the Dalai Lama. He offered prayers for the typhoon Morakot victims. China describes the Dalai Lama as a separatist. A major sporting event, the deaf Olympics, is coming up in Taipei. The event started in 1924, but this will be the first time it is hosted in Asia. Lights, rather than guns and whistles, are used for signaling the athletes to start a race or stop play in a team event. Lots of ads announcing the deaf Olympics have appeared on public transit vehicles in Taiwan. Many countries have their own sign languages, although a universal sign language exists. "You can't have beach volleyball in central Taipei!" "Taipei is quite a noisy city." One of the reporters lamented the fact that taxi drivers honk their horns aggressively at pedestrians.

During the "Women making waves" segment, a female science teacher was interviewed about how she became a teacher, how she keeps up with scientific developments, and how she approaches teaching. A tribe from the Solomon Islands made a donation to Taiwan to help with typhoon Morakot relief. The dollar amount of the donation was small, but it amounted to one year worth of savings for the tribe. The tribe wanted to show its gratitude to Taiwan for supporting them.

• 12 Sep 2009, 0807 kHz, 10210 kHz (Firedrake): I heard a weak, fading Firedrake broadcast here, although it was stronger than the presumed Firedrake signals on 8400 kHz and 9000 kHz.

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