Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Yesterday Once More: The Magic of Signature Tunes

"If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday"
~ Pearl Buck.

True! What we are today is by our choices made yesterday. The same apply to our hobbies as well! If you’re a radio hobbyist, I’m sure you would agree with me that, at some point in the past, you made a conscious decision to pursue this wonderful hobby of Dxing! But I wasn’t that ‘selective’. Instead it grew in me naturally! What attracted me to radio is quite hard to explain. It’s not a single factor but a collection of several factors. Among others I would say, listening to “signature tunes” or “interval signals” helped me stick to this hobby for years!

I recently saw a Facebook poll where a Dxer friend asked "If you get a chance then which station's signature tune will you choose as your mobile phone's ringtone?" While, the question was intriguing and the answers were equally interesting, it helped me recollect my memories of listening to interval signals and signature tunes from far away stations! Today, some of these stations have left shortwave and others are planning to bid adieu as well. While we’re uncertain about what future holds for us (the shortwave listeners and Dxers), let’s not waste the present time in debates, assumptions or presumptions; instead let us relish a slice of the past!

Here’s a list of my 10 most favorite signature tunes from radio stations across continents (in reverse order). Each one is special to me and I have extensive cassette recordings of the same. If you’re curious “click” on the links and listen to the tunes. And don’t forget to leave your comments or name your personal favorites to let me know, if we have similar tastes! Enjoy…

10. Radio New Zealand International (The Pacific Voice): I never get tired listening to the “bird’s call” from RNZI. I still remember the first time I listened to its opening announcement around midnight (my local time) and recorded the same after two successive attempts. The Maori chorus following the 'sign on' adds a special dimension to this exotic tune from down under. Technology has made things so easier today! Now you can listen to it here

9. RDP International, Portugal: Always a prized catch, there’s not much of a sign on tune! But the quick-paced Portuguese announcement followed by the anthem attracted me to tune in to RDP Intl. Sadly for listeners, the station has left shortwave recently and there’s every possibility of its staying that way in the future as well. Here’s your chance to listen to it

8. Swiss Radio International: So sweet a tune never heard! (Echoing the words of the great bard) SRI was one of my personal favorites for years. Its SW service is long gone into the history books! Luckily for me, I was fortunate to QSL & record their last SW broadcast (via- Sottens)! Click here to listen.

7. WSHB, Cypress Creek: Another station I loved listening to. It’s no more on the air waves. But you can listen to its wonderful tune here.

6. Radio Sweden, Stockholm: Rhythm and melody, with a dash of scandinavian flavor! That’s what made this wonderful tune appealing to me! Check it out

5. Channel Africa: Another all time favorite,I remember the first time I heard the “Bird’s call” and made my whole family listen to it. It was 10.30 at night, and breaking the silence outside, my portable radio sound box boomed “you’re tuned to the English service of Channel Africa, broadcasting from Johannesburg, South Africa”. Here is the tune (Click to open > South Africa > Channel Africa)

4. Deutchewelle: Its injustice not to select the DW tune as one of my favorites. There were times when my morning would begin with DW’s Bengali broadcasts. It was more of a habit and at some point in my career, a compulsion! Listen it here

3. Radio Australia: I’m a fan of RA. ABC Radio Grandstand heard on shortwave on weekends was my direct source of live sports update from The Ashes Tour to The Australian Open during my school days. However, Radio Australia’s sign on tune was logged much later. "Waltzing Matilda" or “Call of the Kookaburra” which one’s your favorite? Here is mine

2. Radio Vlaanderen Internationaal, Belgium: RVI‘s tune (the vintage one) played a crucial role in creating my interest in Dxing. There’s something ‘magical’ to it that still appeals to my ears. Check it out here. (Click to open > Belgium > RVI vintage c.1998)

1. Radio Japan, NHK World: My best signature tune. There’s a mystical element in this tune. Like the tune played by the Pied Piper of Hamelin, it will soothe your senses, preparing you for a magical flight to the Land of The Rising Sun!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Are You Listening?

What is language? According to Merriam-Webster’s online encyclopedia, language is defined as “the words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them used and understood by a community”. The most important word that I found in the above definition was “community”. Now what’s a community? Again, I came to the same resource, punched in the word and out came the answer! It said, community means “a group of people with common interests living in a particular area”. Now I got 2 words from here “common” and “particular”. So does it mean that people who are members of a specific community should belong to a particular geographical area? And should they cultivate only similar interests? Then what would you say about English? Without a doubt it’s the lingua franca of our modern era. But even after attaining the status of a global language, is it free from clutters? The answer is No! It’s not. And it doesn’t make a difference to its high status and growing popularity!

Language is like fluid! As fluids take the shape of the containing vessels, a language too adapts itself to the region where it is being spoken. The vernacular dialects of the region exert their influence on the (non-native) language, gradually giving it a distinct shape and identity. The change is dynamic! It leads to varied pronunciations, typical word usage, and articulations. That’s why I find listening to English broadcasts from non-native English speaking countries - Fascinating!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Welcome to Ether Waves! My DX Weblog!

It was my long-cherished dream to create and maintain a weblog to document my DX endeavors, past & present. Alongside, I was also nourishing the idea of creating an online community or forum for Dxers and Radio enthusiasts, in the wake of the recent social media boom.

This latter ambition of mine was fulfilled a few months back when a fellow radio hobbyist and DX friend created a group called India Dxing Cooperation Forum on Facebook. It is an open group where all like-minded radio enthusiasts are welcome to join. Since its inception, it has developed into an excellent platform, with active participation from veteran Dxers as well as greenhorns, who wish to follow in their footsteps. With such an interactive group in action I find no need to create another!

However, my foremost ambition of writing blogs on radio and Dxing was far from being fulfilled. Today, there are umpteen blogs related to the subject, available on the Internet, churning out news, logs, and tidbits from the world of radio. While most serve 'breaking news' and carry feeds from different international broadcasters as well as share blog posts from other DX groups, only a handful (of those I have come across) actually contain quality DX information or authentic write-ups that could motivate young radio listeners and youths to take up this wonderful hobby. Thats what I wish to do. To popularize Dxing among today's youth. Through this blog I hope to reach out to my wonderful DX friends from the world over and my social media audience, to inform, entertain, and educate them about this wonderful hobby called Dxing.

I Believe in the Power of Words.

It was one fine morning that I got hold of an old edition of a youth magazine written in my vernacular language - Bengali. The cover story title (if translated from Bengali would mean) "Sailor of the Ether Sea", drew my attention. I finished reading the whole publication in an hour but at first, couldn't make any heads or tails of it! It simply flew over my head. A school boy of 14 in the pre-Internet, pre-cable television era India and with very little exposure to radio programming in the past, I could hardly understand what Dxing was all about! But those few pages of printed words changed my life! Gradually 'radio' became my ultimate companion and Dxing my passion, and for the last 15 years ... I'm lovin' it !

Once again, I thank you for reading this post. I wish to share more of my past DX experiences here. Besides, I wish to give insightful comments and share my personal opinion on news and information from the world of radio, in my future posts.

In the meanwhile don't be surprised if you find picture blogs or vintage schedules or links to some interesting DX sites here @ Ether Waves!

Welcome to My World of Radio.

73 & 88 !