Saturday, November 30, 2013

AIR Chicago Review

Six days ago, Clear Channel Media + Entertainment Chicago, along with one of its sister-companies, Clear Channel Airports (a division of Clear Channel Outdoors), announced a partnership with the Chicago Department of Aviation.

Rosemarie S. Andolino, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation, said: "On behalf of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, we are proud that O'Hare and Midway, in partnership with Clear Channel, are the first airports to offer a radio station specifically devoted to keeping passengers in touch with real-time information. AIR Chicago is a great example of our efforts to provide a 'best-in-class' experience for the millions of travelers who fly through our busy transportation hubs."

Official Shortwave America review of AIR Chicago Radio

A monitoring session from late in the evening 11/29/2013 to 1:30PM on 11/30/2013 revealed some pros and cons. First, AIR Chicago is a wonderful light-hearted smooth-jazz station with great quality, and they adhere to the industry standards of high technical production values. On the other hand, AIR Chicago plays too much music, and has no proper balance (ratio) of news and information to music.

This out of balance ratio leaves the listener with expectations of hearing about real - time ORD and MDW news with a bad taste in their mouths. Air travel passengers expect to hear about concourse conditions, flight delays and cancellations, and customer service experiences at the airports of focus. Passengers expect to hear about aircraft departure and arrival taxi times, runway conditions, and other relevant aspects of airport operations.

The current AIR Chicago news reports at the bottom of the hour are ok for what they are in that they are only part of what air travelers want and need to hear. The music rotation isn't much of an issue, as the same song doesn't play too often or too soon after its already been played.

Presenter quality: the "Announcers" or Presenters seem to really know what they are doing. Their diction is clear, their respective microphone demeanors are professional. Their voice clarity and vocal speech levels, enunciation, pronounciation, and ability to follow directions are all superior.

Overall Listener Experience:

AIR Chicago Radio feels like a warm, welcoming, "make yourself at home and relax" sort of experience. If ever there was an answer to helping air travelers unwind before, during, or after a flight...AIR Chicago Radio is it! AIR Chicago Radio is even wonderful for soothing the nerves of airport / airline / aviation contract service workers at the beginning and end of each day!

To see the entire Chicago Radio and Media piece on this, CLICK HERE

Listen to AIR Chicago Radio here    

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan (Typhoon Yolanda) - Amateur Radio, Shortwave, and Other Pertinent News

Typhoon Haiyan, also known as Typhoon Yolanda, photo courtesy of ABC News

Max Sustained Winds: 195MPH with gusts to 235MPH

Category: 5

Eye measurements: 338 Kilometers (211 Miles)

U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center Information:

"The strongest tropical cyclone in the world this year. Cyclone Phailin, which hit eastern India on Oct. 12, packed sustained winds of up to 222 kph (138 mph) and stronger gusts."

Warning Text

Warning Graphic

Prognostic Reasonong

JMV 3.0 Data

Google Earth Graphic Overlay

Multi-Spectral Satellite Imagery

Satellite Fix Bulletin

Typhoon Activity / Travel Path Prediction:  Not expected to directly hit Manila further north. The lowest alert in a four-level typhoon warning system was issued in the flood-prone capital area, meaning it could experience winds of up to 60 kph (37 mph) and rain.

All of the above information gleaned from the Associated Press. Full story here 

Meterologist Tom Skilling posted these images from CIMSS  (Cooperative Institute for Meterorological Satellite Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Skilling went on to say: "There's just been a satellite estimate that Super Typhoon Haiyan's central pressure has reached 858 mb (25.34"). If true, that would make it the most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded. Stay tuned on that! Meantime--check out another satellite perspective on the storm from CIMSS at the Univ of Wisconsin in Madison. Typhoon Bopha, which struck the southern Phillipine island of Mindanao in December 2012 resulted in 1,900 deaths--so Haiyan represents a devastating threat to the region."

Here is video from the NOAA posted by WestPacWx on November 6th, 2013


The American Radio Relay League released a news report that said MARS operators have recently performed and successfully finished a simulated event involving total loss of all communications including internet. Part of that statement said this: "During the final day of the exercise, MARS members also acted on a real-world request from DoD to be prepared to monitor International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) emergency frequencies as Typhoon Haiyan appeared poised to develop into a category 5 storm and strike the Philippines."

The Hurricane VOIP net is currently NOT activated, even though doing so could be extremely helpful as an act of humanitarian international good will.

Shortwave America is covering this live as news and other pertinent information continues to come in. National Geographic has this coverage.

Korean Coms-1 Satellite imagery

New statement from Tom Skilling: "All communications have ceased"  

Super-Typhoon Haiyan appears to have made a historic landfall in the Phillipines. It's hit an area devastated only a month ago by a 7.1 earthquake which cost 222 lives and displaced 350,000 residents. Storm damage in the areas hardest hit along the path of Haiyan (the storm's been named Yolanda in the Phillipines) is likely to be catastrophic. There's strong evidence its sustained winds at the time of landfall fell in the 190 to 195 mph range, which if true, have eclipsed the 190 mph winds which accompanied Hurricane Camille into the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969. Sustained 96 mph winds were reported at Guiuan--near the point of landfall--in the hour before the storm came on shore. All communication from that area has since ceased. A 17 ft storm surge was predicted to accompany the super typhoon, most of which has an elevation of less than 10 ft. above sea level. The storm came moved onto the coast there at 2:40pm Chicago time (4:40am local Phillipine time). There were no hurricane hunter planes in the system at the time but meteorologists employ techniques involving satellite imagery referred to as the Dvorak method to estimate storm parameters, including wind intensity and central pressure. NOAA satellite meteorologists at one point Thursday afternoon estimated a central pressure of 858 mb (25.34"). While a post-storm evaluation of that reading will be conducted and thoroughly vetted, the pressure reading--if followed--is lower than any recorded in a tropical cyclone on the planet. Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground, whose analyses of tropical cyclones are always stunningly well done, feels Super Typhoon Haiyan's central pressure ranks it among the top tropical cyclones of all time and that it will be found to have generated a pressure close to the lowest ever recorded--870 mb (25.69") in Super Typhoon Kip in the western Pacific on October 12, 1979. He notes that a pressure estimate by the Japanese Meteorological Agency of 895 mb (26.43") just before landfall would mean that by that measure, Super Typhoon Haiyan is the 12th strongest tropical cyclone on earth.

Update from the Malaysian Amateur Radio League:

Please note:
In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan being hit Philippines, the Phillipines Amateur Radio Association (ITS) has allocated frequencies and frequency 2m 40m 7.095MHz 144.740MHz as Emergency Line. Amateur radio stations especially in the East Coast and North Sulawesi asked to monitor the 2m band especially 144.740MHz for emergency calls. Please QSP at the transmitter over if they receive any emergency calls from abroad, so that the senior partners can convey information to the relevant agencies.

WYFR Facility to Return to Shortwave as WRMI

Legendary shortwave station WYFR in Okeechobee, Florida, which ceased transmissions on June 30, 2013, will resume broadcasting in December as a result of an agreement between Family Stations, Inc, and Radio Miami International, Inc.

According to the agreement, Family Radio will sell the WYFR facility to Radio Miami International. Family Radio programming for the Caribbean and South America will return to shortwave via the Okeechobee site, and Radio Miami's programming currently aired on WRMI in Miami will switch over to the Okeechobee facility. The station will also carry programs for other international broadcasters, including Pan American Broadcasting's Radio Africa network. A target date of December 1, 2013 has been set for the resumption of broadcasts. The current WRMI transmission site in Miami will be closed, and the WRMI call letters will be transferred to Okeechobee.

"We are very grateful to Family Radio for entrusting us with this magnificent station," said Jeff White, WRMI General Manager. "WYFR is an important part of the heritage of shortwave broadcasting, and we are very happy that it will continue to serve shortwave listeners around the world." The station first went on the air from Okeechobee in 1977, although the origins of the station and its predecessors go back to 1927. WYFR/WRMI is the largest shortwave station in the United States in number of transmitters and antennas. The facility is comprised of 13 transmitters -- twelve 100-kilowatt and one 50-kilowatt -- and 23 antennas beamed to all of the Americas, Europe and Africa.

White, who is also Secretary-Treasurer of the National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters (NASB), said that "many people made this transition a reality, not the least of whom was our former Secretary-Treasurer and current board member, Dan Elyea, who had been the WYFR Station Manager from the time it was built in the late 1970's until his recent retirement. Dan presented us to Family Radio Vice President Tom Evans. Tom and the Family Radio Board have given us their confidence, and we will do our best to keep this station going for many years to come."