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Play DX editor Dario Monferini died on October 17, 2022, at the age of 72

Remembering Dario Monferini, Play-DX editor

Dario Monferini at Ràdio Nacional d'Andorra, EDXC conference, Sept. 2019

Dario Monferini visiting Ràdio Nacional d’Andorra during the 2019 EDXC meeting in Andorra

Dario Monferini has died after a long illness at Centro Girola close to his home in Milano. He was best known for being a DXer and editor of the PlayDX newsletter (and later the Play-DX blog) that he founded in 1975. He has been hospitalised and trying to recover at Centro Girola in Milano for several months before his sudden death on Monday, October 22, 2022.

Dario suffered a few strokes since June 2020 and became isolated at Centro Girola during COVID. Unfortunately, his medical situation never improved, as he spent COVID wholly isolated inside the rehabilitation centre and could not get back onto his feet for the last two years.

Since early September 2020, Dario has been recovering in a hospital in Bollate, just outside Milan. He could not walk and could only move around in a wheelchair. It was not an easy job to get in touch with him because he initially did not have a phone or PC. As Dario does not have a direct family, he was put under legal supervision, and a lawyer took care of his affairs.

During most of 2020 and 2021, visitors were not allowed in hospitals due to COVID-19. As a result, communication with Dario was not easy, and very intermittent, as sometimes Dario was not able to recharge his phone for days. Dialling and answering calls were also not easy for him, due to reduced mobility.

In late October 2020, Dario had a second stroke, but his mind remained strong and active. A few friends managed to visit him after the COVID isolation, including his long-time friend and EDXC Assistant Secretary General Christian Ghibaudo. We, at NEXUS-IBA, managed to keep in contact through the occasional phone call and WhatsApp, and were able to smuggle a massive package of sweets for Christmas into his rehabilitation centre.

Dario Monferini and Christian Ghibaudo at the 2019 EDXC conference in Andorra

Dario Monferini (left) and Christian Ghibaudo at the 2019 EDXC conference in Andorra

Dario Monferini’s early days as a DXer and DX radio editor

Dario Monferini became a Dxer and started listening to foreign Medium Wave stations in 1970. Initially, he started listening to MW station from Spain. He sent letters and reception reports to several radio stations and started collecting a huge number of “souvenirs” that were usually sent to him with a station’s QSL card.

After that, he upgraded his receiver and got passionate about receiving DX signals on Shortwave from South America. He particularly enjoyed listening to the joyful music of fare-away countries.

It was in 1980 that he started his collaboration with the Italian Millecanali radio magazine, a well-known publication in Italy. Radio stations were growing in number along the Italian peninsula at that time.

His task was to create a database of all private radio stations on FM that were growing in number along the Italian peninsula. At that time, he had no computer, only pencil and paper and his faithful typewriter that he also used to edit his homemade weekly editions of the Play DX magazine.

After that, Dario started collecting QSL cards, pennants and stickers from stations broadcasting on Medium Wave and Shortwave worldwide, not only stations broadcasting in Spanish as he did at the beginning of his career as a DXer.

The late ’90s and 2000’s

In 1990 and after 2000, several shortwave stations closed down transmissions, especially smaller stations in South America, mainly due to a lack of spare parts for their transmitters. So Dario’s interest moved again to listening to distant signals from FM radio stations, often brought in from thousands of kilometres by troposphere-enhanced reception caused by E-skip or meteor scatter.

Tropospheric ducting happens when a temperature inversion in the troposphere (the lowest layer of the atmosphere) helps FM/TV signals travel farther than usual. A temperature inversion is a reversal of the average decrease in temperature with height caused by several factors, including cooling due to adiabatic contraction and warming due to sunlight. This phenomenon can generate radio waves to be refracted towards the Earth rather than up into space, known as tropospheric propagation.

Dario travelled a lot, especially during the summer, to better listen to this type of long-distance FM propagation, i.e. in the Balearic islands in Spain, Scandinavia and far away in Peru, New Zealand and Canada. Dario has been a member of the European DX Council for several years. We spent some time with him at the latest EDXC meeting in Andorra in September 2019. That was Darios’ last trip before COVID-19 and his hospitalisation.

Dario Monferini has also been writing for the Italian magazine Monitor and cooperated with the World Radio & TV Handbook (WRTH), which he secured in multiple copies and also made available to Italian listeners at discounted prices.

Dario has also been a radio producer.  For some time he edited a radio edition of the Play DX magazine that was broadcasted over IRRS-Shortwave on 9815 kHz back in 1989 and 1990.

In lasting memory of Dario Monferini

The death of Dario Monferini has come as a shock to those involved in shortwave radio. Blogs announced the passing of Dario on the morning of October 17, 2022, after the news was spread rapidly via social media. Dario was a well-known DXer worldwide whose contribution to the hobby is well-documented.

In memory of Dario Monferini, we are scheduling replays of some of his broadcasts in Italian and English during the weekends of October 22-23 and October 28-29, 2022, on our Shortwave and Medium Wave frequencies and via streaming.

Dario’s funeral will be held on Thursday, October 20, 2022, at the Church of San Nicola Vescovo, at 08:30 AM in via Livigno 21, Milano.

RIP, and thanks for all the excellent work promoting radio and DXing worldwide. Stay tuned, Dario, and, please, send us another reception report from Heaven!

 

Bob Thomann (HB9GX), Swiss Merry-Go-Round shortwave radio program producer, dies at age of 90

Remembering Bob Thomann, the original Swiss Merry-Go-Round SW radio program producer

Our hearts are saddened by the loss of our old friend, Bob Thomann (HB9GX), also pictured at the Schwarzenburg (Switzerland) Shortwave transmitting station, who passed away on Saturday evening, August 3, 2019, at the age of 90.

Bob Thomann was the founder of the Swiss Shortwave Merry-Go-Round radio program, which started on SBC/Swiss Radio International in the ’50s. Bob Thomann and Bob Zanotti (an American radio journalist from the New York area) later produced the program together in 1970 when Zanotti joined SRI from Canada. They co-presented what became a mailbag and DX technical program, which ended up known as “The Two Bobs” until the show was cut off by SRI management in June 1994.

Bob Thomann in Schwarzenburg

Bob Thoman (the other one of the Two Bobs) standing at the side of a vintage transmitter at Schwarzenburg

Although Bob Thomann never visited our station, in the late 80s’ he was Bob Zanotti’s technical expert and one of our silent and very “helpful hands” at IRRS-Shortwave and NEXUS-IBA. That was at the time (1988) when we set up our first Shortwave station and antennas in the outskirts of Milan, Italy. NEXUS-IBA’s first two Siemens transmitters were previously used by Radio Bern (Bernradio) aeronautical station located in Schwarzenburg and very well known by the two Bobs.

You can read more about Bob Thomann and Bob Zanotti, the now-defunct Schwarzenburg station, and hear samples of the Two Bobs broadcasts on our blog.

Bob Thomann was a good friend of ours and a strong supporter of Shortwave broadcasting. We have lost a great supporter of International broadcasting, a wonderful person, and a dear friend. Rest in peace, Bob. We will miss you.

Hello There archives

Hello There

The Hello There listeners’ mailbag program, was just about the only production of NEXUS-IBA and regularly broadcasted show on 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 the 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 regularly 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]