VOA’s Radiogram Brings New Utility to Shortwave

The Voice of America is set to launch a new communication service on shortwave radio with interesting implications for information flow in crisis situations or under repressive regimes.

Called Radiogram, the service uses digital encoding to transmit text and images via analog shortwave broadcasts. The transmissions themselves sound much like old dial-up modems (at root the technologies are identical, in that both involve the conversion of data to audio), but when decoded on an equipped receiver or computer the text and images appear. Read More

Human Rights Radio Turns 25

On November 26, 1987, Mbanna Kantako founded WTRA, an unlicensed microradio station broadcasting from the John Jay Homes in Springfield, Illinois.

Legally blind and in his twenties at the time, Kantako started the station to protest the imminent destruction of the housing project by the city and the pervasive police abuse that occurred there.

WTRA would later be re-named Human Rights Radio to reflect the Kantako family’s widening concern with issues of social injustice.

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Leaving the Ground? Shut It Down

This story flew under my radar, probably because it was published in USA Today, which is not necessarily known for its in-depth investigative journalism.

The bottom line: f*cking with your smartphone on an airplane has a clear potential for danger. The report uncovered nearly three dozen incidents of interference from onboard passenger electronic devices last year. The interference affected communications and navigational systems; though none resulted in an accident, critical flight-management systems were compromised. Read More

Public Files on the Chopping Block

Just in time for the start of the latest radio station license-renewal cycle, the FCC opens up for question the notion of abolishing the public file requirement for broadcasters.

This is not a self-imposed initiative: it is a consideration the agency is mandated to make, courtesy of the Paperwork Reduction Act. It requires regulatory agencies to periodically review their rules and justify their existence to the Office of Management and Budget. Read More