Some Radio Related Facts | The World of Momus Podcast

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Linked to the History & Myth episode about Radio and Marconi, here are some interesting facts about Radio and Broadcasting.

Here are some interesting facts about Radio and Broadcasting:

  1. In 1945 the author Arthur C Clarke wrote a historic article in Wireless World describing a system that used satellites in geostationary orbit. Signals would be transmitted up to the satellite that would rebroadcast them back to the earth. In view of their altitude above the earth the signals would be able to be received many thousands of miles away from the original transmitting station. Clarke calculated that only three satellites would be required to cover around the globe. His idea was revolutionary, and it took many years before the technology was available for it to be implemented.
  2. In the 1960s, to get around UK broadcast licensing rules, the first ‘pirate radio’ stations began to operate, from ships anchored just outside British waters. While this meant their actions weren’t strictly illegal as they weren’t ‘based’ in the UK, their actions were still not authorised as they were broadcasting without a licence. One of the best known pirate stations was Radio Caroline, which we issued with a community radio licence in 2017.
  3. Back in the 1980’s people were able to download Video Games from a radio broadcast by recording the sounds onto a cassette tape that they could then play on their computers.
  4. In WWII, weather reports were censored to prevent enemy submarines from learning about conditions. A football game in Chicago was so covered in fog that the radio announcer couldn’t see the field, but afterward he was officially thanked for never using the word “fog” or mentioning the weather.
  5. Most of the radio broadcasts that Robin Williams delivered in the movie “Good Morning Vietnam” were improvised by him.
  6. On the 28th of September 2006, The City Council of Reykjavik and neighbouring municipalities agreed to turn off all the city lights in the capital area for half an hour, while a renowned astronomer talked about the stars and the constellations on national radio.
  7. The Eiffel Tower was supposed to be scrapped after 20 years. It only survived because the military started using it as a radio tower, intercepting crucial military transmissions during WWI.
  8. UVB-76 is a mysterious Russian radio signal that has been transmitting continuously since 1982. Nobody knows who makes the signal, only that it is located near Moscow, makes a buzzing sound 25 times a minute, and every few years will broadcast a string of random names and numbers.
  9. One of the checks which a British nuclear submarine makes to see whether the government is still functioning is whether BBC Radio 4 is broadcasting.
  10. A muppet obsessed fan once took a radio manager hostage, claiming that he had a bomb, and demanded that the rainbow connection song be played continuously for the next 12 hours on the radio.
  11. The Armed Forces of Colombia commissioned a pop song that included a Morse code message to kidnapped military personnel, “19 people rescued, you’re next. Don’t lose hope”, because the kidnappers would let their captives listen to the radio.
  12. Massive amounts of birds are killed each year by radio antennas. And that changing the static red light to a blinking light can cut the death toll by up to 70%.
  13. In order to transmit radio signals to submerged submarines, one technique is to place electrodes in the ground many miles apart, using the earth’s core as a giant antenna.
  14. The little plastic thing at the end of data cables is called a Ferrite Bead, and it is used to block interference from radio signals from other electronics.
  15. One of the most popular radio acts of the 1930s was a ventriloquist, a fact which baffled contemporary critics.
  16. On the 18th of April, 1930, a slow news day, the BBC’s 6:30 PM radio announcer said: “There is no news” and went off the air.
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