To engage in public media about amateur radio, we’ve got several formats: a website, an audio podcast, a video podcast, a live broadcast via the web, and radio broadcast over one or more stations. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to serve as US Correspondent on the famous ICQPodcast produced by Martin & Colin Butler in the UK. Fine, fine folks who do a tremendous service to amateur radio worldwide. (And who can top the utterly British humor of Leslie Butterfields G0CIB!) I couldn’t keep up the fortnightly pace to contribute my 20−40 minute segments. More recently, I was a co-host on the QSO Live! show broadcast on a commercial shortwave station in Tennessee for a few months. It took far less time on my end. The audio version might come out some time later rebranded as a QSO Radio Show on a website. This was indeed cool! And, I enjoyed the on-air experience with the host and his family as it returned me to my early years in the college and commercial broadcasting arena. I must say, it never really leaves you!
New media, however, give so many more options to reach an audience with more types of information. Video shows---such as the famous HamNation on the TWiT Network and the British TX Factor, for instance---provide a lot more information and entertainment value. Being able to see something in addition to hearing about it is just a richer information medium. The Tech Guy Show that Leo LePorte W6TWT hosts on many domestic commercial radio stations is an example of a broadcast show that allows call-in guests with greater interactivity. This, too, raises the bar on getting the audience involved in the medium. But I’ve run across the show of a friend of mine that appears to have it all!
Tom Medlin W5KUB in the Memphis TN area has become famous for live webcasts of hamfests and special events. Tom’s website, W5KUB.com, archives these shows with many opportunities for viewers to catch-up on things they missed. Recently, Tom began adding live shortwave broadcast to this video/audio mix as well as call-in guests. He started with WTWW but later switched to the famous WBCQ-The Planet station in Monticello, MN. WBCQ is owned by Allen Wiener, the well-known radio «pirate» (that's still up to debate, IMHO) whose off-shore in international waters station was scuttled by the FCC. Allen was never charged as the FCC lept before they looked, in legal terms. For many years, Mr. Wiener has held several valid commercial FCC licenses with the shortwave FCC stations being the most famous. A strict free-speech advocate, Allen has reached out to Tom W5KUB by hosting a simulcast of the weekly Amateur Radio Roundtable on WBCQ shortwave. Allen even appeared as the guest on a recent show with a very large number of viewers and listeners. It was an impressive couple of hour discussion about all things radio.
Now, Amateur Radio Roundtable seems to have it all… audio, video, live call-in, and shortwave radio broadcast. There’s just something romantic about hearing it on shortwave even when the clarity of a web-stream is clearer, more consistent, and so forth. The video does add richness… but not so much the level of romance with classical shortwave radio broadcast. Especially when the topic of the show IS shortwave radio, whether that be unlicensed listening (SWLing) or licensed transmission and reception (amateur radio). Tom’s still working on production … Google Voice does chime in with a most unpleasant tone (but it’s free) and there can be an audio clipping issue at times. However, he’s doing this out of pocket and is continually working on the production solutions for a quality broadcast. Getting the interesting guests and call-in questions on using all four media (audio, video, live call-ins, and radio broadcast) is terrific.
Here’s to you, Tom!