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Letters: Shortwave, NextGen TV and the Value of Encouragement

Radio World readers share their views

Below is a sampling of recent letters to the editor of Radio World. Find more on the Reader’s Forum page. Letters are invited by email to [email protected].

Failings of Shortwave Today

Regarding “Shortwave Radios Keep Up With Tech” by James Careless, originally published in late 2021:

If I were to spend money on a radio receiver — and expected more than just Reverend Send More Money and WWV — I wouldn’t buy any of the receivers suggested by the author, nor would I expect them to receive anything reliably without a good antenna.

The Laws of Physics are written in stone.

Most commercial Chinese-made products — high-voltage neon transformers, automatic meter readers, plasma televisions, switch mode power supplies — make noise in all parts of the spectrum. This makes it almost impossible to listen to most of the content still available.

The cheapest entry-level option is to use an online remote receiver such as WebSDR.

Most new shortwave listeners tire of the lack of content, and the radio becomes a novelty. 

Amateur radio may appeal to anyone in broadcasting, since you can both talk and listen, exchanging your opinions and your knowledge with people all over the world. There is no code, the exam is cheap or free (e.g. The Laurel VEC), and it gives you free bandwidth to experiment with radio and antenna designs.

Jerry Bosak, W3DO


Why Bother With NextGen TV? 

I think Fred Baumgartner’s article “NextGen TV Is Tapping Us on the Shoulder” misses a very important point: Why bother?

While he argues that ancient modulation on the MW band and even FM on the VHF band cannot compete with ATSC 3.0 on the UHF band for OTA distribution for most of the global audience, he forgets that wireless transmission in general is passe except for time spent in motion, commuting, etc. Fiber to the home is rapidly replacing copper circuits of all types and is far more reliable than any OTA signal.

Do we need ATSC 3.0 to reach commuters? Nope. Sure, we could use its data formats with 5G OTA, but that’s really optional. Once you have an IP connection, any data format will work. ATSC 3.0 TV transmission, even synchronous repeaters, pales in comparison with cellular carriers, who will be providing thousands of cell sites in any one community.

If you look at rural areas, especially those with very hilly or mountainous terrain, OTA remains highly challenged. And that includes 5G cellular service. But many of these same areas are being rewired with fiber.

So, for that magnificent 8K TV screen, fiber will likely rule. Do the kids in the family van really need 8K for the 24-inch screen built into the backrests of the seats in front of them?

In the world of Internet of Things, will traditional TV license holders matter? Nope. These devices require two-way connectivity. Only the wireless carriers are in a position to expand and prosper. And at home, the bits can be uplinked more efficiently with wireless modems connected to the world via fiber than 5G.

Ira Wilner

The author is chief engineer of Monadnock Broadcasting Group and Saga Communications. Opinions are his own.


Early Encouragement Matters

Thanks for the article “John Warner Dies, Was Respected AM Engineer.” 

From the replies I saw, he was well respected in the radio industry.

I am amazed that as a youngster he received a telephone pole for his birthday to receive radio signals, and that he experimented with curtain array antennas, stuff that international shortwave broadcasters used to target their audiences overseas. 

I am a little jealous, as my father didn’t encourage my interest of electronics and radio when I was growing up. It shows that the father believed in his son and his possible future, hence his success in AM radio engineering. I got along fine in my career in telecom, but wish I’d gotten that extra attention when I was younger and curious. Good for Mr. Warner. He made it.

Dan Ramos

[Check Out More Letters at Radio World’s Reader’s Forum Section]