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Hello There archives

Hello There

The Hello There the listeners’ mailbag program, was just about the only production of NEXUS-IBA and regularly broadcasted IRRS-Shortwave (“I-double-R-S Shortwave, the Italian Radio Relay Service”. Alfredo Cotroneo, one of the founders of NEXUS-IBA,  hosted the program from 1989 until the late 1990s. He read and answered questions sent in by snail mail from all over the world.

During the early years of operation, the most exciting letters on the Hello There program were coming from Eastern Europe, i.e.  from East Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Hungary, and of course from the former Soviet Union (USSR). Shortwave was – at that time – the only way to receive news and information from the West, and IRRS-Shortwave was quite loud and clear all over Europe, and, most importantly, being a small, independent, non-governmental station, had never been jammed by Eastern European governments.

Letters to IRRS and the Hello There program were often smuggled across the East-West Berlin border by couriers and had an address in West Berlin for any reply to be sent to. Sometimes letters came directly from behind the iron curtain to our famous PO Box 10980 mail address in Milan (this address is no more active since 2015), and occasionally they were opened, and paragraphs were obliterated using sturdy coloured ink by censors.

The Hello There program ran initially for 30 minutes but was reduced to 15 minutes during the last few years until it was suspended. It included occasional phone interviews on technology, the early use of the Internet, international broadcasting, DXing and pirate radio.

Besides being broadcast on Shortwave from Milan, Italy, some the excerpts presented here were also part of the first RealAudio tests at Internet Radio NEXUS dating back to 1995. They have been converted to MP3 format are kept online for historical reasons only, and may have no actuality value. Due to recent cuts in our budget, we are unable to bring you these items on a regular basis as much as we would like to do. Please consider becoming a NEXUS-IBA sponsor.

On March 28, 1998,  the glorious HF broadcasting station at Schwarzenburg, just a few kilometres out of Bern, the capital of Switzerland, was shut down forever. At NEXUS-IBA we have special memories linked to the technicians and the station itself, as both of our first 10 kW Siemens transmitters that were previously used by Berna Radio’s aeronautical service come from the Schwarzenburg broadcasting station. Still, on old tube radio receivers around Europe, you may find the word Schwarzenburg on the illuminated scale, but now the Schwarzenburg station has been wholly dismantled and won’t be on the air anymore. Founded in 1934, Switzerland’s shortwave voice was heard from this glorious station around the world even during world war II as one of the few sources of reliable and objective information.

The Swiss PTT operated the HF transmitting station at Schwarzenburg until the end of 1997 when Swisscom took over as a private company. The station itself was used for telephony transmissions around the world, for aeronautical and maritime services, and also by SRI, Swiss Radio International, that for a few more years continued transmitting on shortwave from other locations in Europe and around the world.

You can hear the whole story from the two Bobs (Bob Thomann and Bob Zanotti), who, sadly, and for the last time, reported from the transmitter room in Schwarzenburg.

 

Farewell to Schwarzenburg, March 28, 1998, by the two Bobs [20:21]

by Bob Thomann and Bob Zanotti (Swiss Radio International)

A tribute to the two Bobs : Bob Thomann and Bob Zanotti and their last "Swiss Merry goes round" [14:36]

Special on Waco & sects (part1) (from Hello There) [31:01]

Special on Waco & sects (part2) (from Hello There) [25:48]

VideoCrypt Hacking on European satellite TV (from Hello There) [13:39]

Pirate Radio in Canada: Pirate Rambo [08:37]

Interview with Bill Pfeiffer - Moderator of rec.radio.broadcasting - on micro-radio (from Hello There) [13:26]

Interview with Universal Life's Primordial Christians (from Hello There) [13:51]

NEXUS-IBA DEMOS project

NEXUS-IBA awarded large contract under the European Union's 5th Framework Program (DEMOS)

NEXUS-IBA awarded large contract under the European Union’s 5th Framework Program (Information Society Technologies, Key Action I.4.2, ‚On-line Support to Democratic Processes‘).

Milano, Italy, Sept. 1, 2000 —:  NEXUS-IBA has been awarded a large contract for the development of DEMOS (Delphi Mediation Online System), a web-based platform whose primary objective is to enable fruitful and constructive debate between citizens and politicians with the intention of facilitating and encouraging “online-democracy”. DEMOS is an international Research & Development project funded by the European Commission (IST-1999-20530). Partners in the DEMOS project come from a broad range of institutions and companies, all sharing a mutual interest in counteracting against the apparent disenchantment with politics, which has become a challenge for democracy.

NEXUS-IBA’s interest in DEMOS is also related to its use in large opinion polls and qualitative analysis in general, and we will be testing other possible uses in the following areas: consumer surveys, focus groups, media analysis, consulting, advertising research, market research for products and brands, customer satisfaction research, media research, and public opinion including political and corporate image surveys.

DEMOS may in several cases reduce significantly the cost of running any medium-large scale survey on a rather large group of population. The DEMOS software and methodology itself, in fact, will be able to reach very high-quality results due to the continuous refinement of results.

For more information also visit the DEMOS project web site at: http://www.demos-project.org/

With its seat in Milano, Italy, NEXUS-International Broadcasting Association is a non-profit association founded in 1988. Our aims are to provide all necessary means at our disposal for the dissemination of content on radio and the Internet. 

Today the association is re-focusing as a technology mediator or facilitator, to enable end-users to make full use of the recent developments of technology, media and the Internet. To fulfill its aims NEXUS-IBA also offers several services as an International Internet Service Provider, and is involved in  training programs aimed to teachers and parents on the role of emerging technologies. People working for NEXUS-IBA are professionals, teachers, professors, journalists, students and engineers devoting their spare time and resources as a public service to the global community. 

On June 15, 1995, NEXUS-International Broadcasting Association was officially approved for association with the Department of Public Information of the United Nations. 

NEXUS-IBA created and maintains a Content Delivery Network (CDN) in Europe and the USA created with an internally developed technology called “WorldDirector”, where several Internet related services and applications are delivered to end users, including streaming audio and video. 

In 2001 NEXUS-IBA created a commercial spin-off (WORNEX International S.r.l., http://www.wornex.com) that is currently marketing the WorldDirector technology and services worldwide.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:

NEXUS-International Broadcasting Association,
phone: +39-02-2666971
email: info@nexus.org

More pictures of the HF station at Schwarzenburg (1938-1998)

Check the full article on the Swiss the HF station at Schwarzenburg here

The Schwarzenburg HF transmitting station (1938-1998)

The curtain array at Schwarzenburg

The Schwarzenburg HF transmitting station (1938-1998)

1934: First steps: Studio Basel compiles weekly transmissions for Swiss abroad.

1935: First Shortwave outlets to North and South America via transmitters of the League of Nations, known as the “Voelkerbund”, operated by the Radio Suisse Co. in Prangins, near Geneva.

The curtain array at Schwarzenburg

1937: Weekly outlets in the three Swiss national languages, and features such as the “Week in Switzerland”, spoken correspondence, sports results etc. These transmissions took on so well that construction of an own transmitting centre was considered. The Swiss PTT was given then mandate to evaluate a suitable location. As a result, a wide plane near Schwarzenburg was chosen.

1938: The Swiss Parliament agreed to the project and shortly after, construction started.

The two Bobs at the Schwarzenburg Shortwave station in 1998

Bob Zanotti (left) and Bob Thomann (right), last guests at Schwarzenburg on 28 March 1998

1939:     Early spring, the station was completed, but on July 6, the station was destroyed by a big fire, allegedly due to a human shortcoming. Prangins took over helpfully the transmissions again, while reconstruction of the Schwarzenburg site began immediately and was even extended to contain additional transmitters for overseas radiotelephony, which became an important item, due to the aggravating political situation in Europe: WW-II was about to break out.

Early construction at Schwarzenburg in 1938

Early construction at Schwarzenburg in 1938

1939/1940:     Just about three months after its outbreak the Schwarzenburg transmitting site was rebuilt and became operational with two 25 Kilowatt AM Hasler transmitters and a few rotating Rhombic Antennas. At the same time, Radiotelephone Terminal Equipment was installed in the Main Post Office in Bern, where the technical and switchboard operators were about to connect telephone customers over the SW transmitters to various destinations, such as New York and Lisbon.

Bob Zanotti with an earlier transmitter at the Schwarzenburg

Bob Zanotti with an earlier transmitter at the Schwarzenburg “museum”. The station and its close-doors museum was shut down on March 29, 1998.

Swiss borders becoming blocked by the Nazi occupation of Europe, the Swiss had to build up their overseas supply using their merchant fleet with the main unloading harbours in Lisbon and Genoa. To avoid being torpedoed by German submarines, the ships positions were broadcasted daily via Schwarzenburg and picked up also by the German Marine HQ, so the Germans knew exactly where the neutral Swiss ships were. The ships themselves were in wireless contact via special services operated by the Radio Suisse Co. in Duebendorf near Zurich.

Using Radio amateur equipment: The construction of new additional transmitters was rather slow, Kurt Wydler, one of the first technicians of the station, a radio amateur (HB9DS) has just finished his Amateur-transmitter, but with the outbreak of the War, all Radio amateur equipment was confiscated by the PTT. Wydler’s transmitter, however, was sent back to Schwarzenburg, where a final 500 Watt amplifier was built and added – and was put into continuous operation for broadcasting.

1941: A 2.5 kW Western-Electric SSB transmitter was installed, by the way, that was the first SSB equipment in Switzerland, and at the Radio terminal in Bern also WE-Terminals and a special 5-band Speech- privacy to scramble the telephone communications were put into service. This was the beginning of an SSB-link between Switzerland and the US. The transmitting site was in Lawrenceville and the receiving station at Whiteplains, NY.

1946: After the War, continental communication saw a tremendous boom, which called for additional Equipment. Ten standard, 4-kW transmitters were installed, plus a 40 kW final amplifier.

The 25 kW AM transmitters at Schwarzenburg

1952: In addition to the Rhombic antennas, a new curtain-antenna-array was built and fed with almost one kilometre long 300 Ohm parallel feeder lines.

1960: The huge rotatable Swedish Allgon log-periodic antenna was built, which could carry 250 kW. also new matching the 250 kW BBC and Marconi transmitters joined the Hasier Equipment and shortly after, quite some 30 kW Siemens- SSB-transmitters were added. These Siemens were exclusively for the Radiotelephony service.

The 2.5 kW SSB Western Electric transmitter

The Sixties also saw half a dozen new 40 kW rotating log-period antennas to provide the fast-evolving radiotelephone service which included some 30 circuits to stations all around the world, some of them using the new Lincompex technique which improved the speech quality a lot, and which also allowed direct dialling.

So the Schwarzenburg transmitter served several purposes: broadcasting, radiotelephony and in:

1971: still a new Service was introduced: BERNA-RADIO, to provide wireless communication with air crafts aloft. Starting out with our national Airline Swissair, soon after many national, European and international airlines joined this practical instrument, to keep in touch with their home bases for all kind of communication. It proved quite handy when an aircraft had troubles of any kind so that the flight engineer could get immediate assistance from the company trouble-shooter. For this service, two new, fast switching and remote controllable 10 kW Siemens transmitters were added (these transmitters were later acquired by NEXUS-IBA and used to start IRRS-Shortwave’s European service).

one of the twin Siemens transmitters later modified for A3A, reduced carrier USB, and in operation since 1987 from IRRS-Shortwave's facility in Milano, Italy

NEXUS-IBA’s TX #1, one of the twin Siemens transmitters later modified for A3A, reduced carrier USB, and in operation since 1987 from IRRS-Shortwave’s facility in Milano, Italy, serving Europe, N. Africa and the Middle East. These fully automatic, fast switching transmitters were used by Berna Radio’s aeronautical service at Schwarzenburg to connect Swissair’s aircrafts flying all over the world to their company headquarters in Switzerland. NEXUS-IBA acquired them when IRRS-Shortwave started its transmissions in October 1987.

It is sad news indeed to report that this aeronautical service of Berna-Radio will also come to an end sometime in 1998, as aircraft communication has been veered to satellites, which provide 24 hours access, whereas HF Communications – as we all know, are subject to propagation conditions and occasional freaks.

Paul Stettler at control board in Schwarzenburg

It is indeed with some sadness and nostalgia, that we have to accept the closure of the legendary Schwarzenburg transmitting station, but all those having taken part from the very beginning it up and kept it running for almost sixty years can certainly look back to a most interesting era with the sure feeling, having accomplished a most rewarding task, and a job was well done, that’s for sure!

But nothing lasts forever. So we do have to accept the new age in which Shortwave broadcasting will – still for many years – be very much in evidence, and so will Swiss Radio International! The 500 kW transmitting station near Sottens in the French part of Switzerland will continue operation. The Schwarzenburg frequencies will be aired from stations in Juelich, Germany, and relay-stations in Africa, South America and the Far East.

The European outlet of 6165 kHz still in Lenk, in the Bernese Oberland, will also come to an end sometime in 1988, and that frequency will also most likely continue to be heard from a Juelich transmitter – i.e. from one of the Deutsche Welle’s transmitting sites. SRI will most likely also be heard Internet in the future, and can be picked up from satellites as well as on many cable systems.

So much from the history of the Shortwave transmitting site in Schwarzenburg.

Compiled by Bob Thomann in March 1988, edited by NEXUS-IBA staff in memorial of the legendary Schwarzenburg HF station shut down on March 29, 1998. Excerpts from Bob Thomann and Bob Zanotti (the Two Bobs) may be heard as part of the history and archives of the “Hello There” program. More pictures on the Schwarzenburg HF station may be found here.

More pictures of the HF station at Schwarzenburg (1938-1998)

Check the full article on the Swiss the HF station at  Schwarzenburg here

NEXUS-IBA and WRMI free airtime in Dec. 1996

NEXUS-IBA and Radio Miami International WRMI press release

NEXUS-International Broadcasting Association and WRMI (Radio Miami International) to offer free airtime during December 1996

Miami, Florida and Milano, Italy – 10 October, 1996 : Shortwave stations WRMI in Miami, Florida and IRRS in Milan, Italy will be offering free airtime during the month of December, 1996 to producers of cultural and educational radio programming.The two stations launched an initiative called “International Public Access Radio” (IPAR) in May of this year, offering airtime at a rate of US$1.00 per minute to cultural and educational programs in an effort to give these types of organizations more access to the international airwaves.

During December, 1996, IRRS-Shortwave and WRMI will be offering airtime to new IPAR clients completely free of charge. Those programmers who wish to continue after the free trial period will be able to do so at the special IPAR rate of US$1.00 per minute on each station.

“Governments and large religious organizations have long had access to high-powered international shortwave stations to spread their messages around the world,” said WRMI General Manager Jeff White in announcing the December promotion. “What we want to do — since we are both privately-owned stations — is give that same access to smaller, independent groups and organizations which may not have big budgets, but they may still have an important message they want to tell the world.”

WRMI (Radio Miami International) transmits to the Americas on 9,955 kHz, and IRRS-Shortwave broadcasts to Europe and North Africa on three different frequencies in the 41 and 75 meter bands shortwave, depending on the time of day.

Persons or organizations who would like to take advantage of the International Public Access Radio free airtime offer during the month of December 1996 on either or both stations may contact them via E-mail at : IPAR@nexus.org or as follows:

In Europe :
NEXUS-Int’l Broadcasting Association,
Telephone : +39-02-266-6971
E-mail : info@nexus.org

Home

In the Americas :
Radio Miami International,
P.O. Box 526852,
Miami, Florida 33152,
USA.
Fax +1-305-267-9253
Telephone +1-305-267-1728
E-mail : 71163.1735@compuserve.com