Radio

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Posted by pompos 04/16/2009 @ 18:13

Tags : radio, entertainment

News headlines
Somali radio journalist shot dead - CNN International
(CNN) -- The director of a Somali radio station was shot dead and a colleague seriously injured in the capital, Mogadishu, on Sunday, according to a local journalist and a Somali journalists' organization. Colleagues carry the body of Somalia's...
Radio Advertisers Run After Transgender Slur - On Top Magazine
By On Top Magazine Staff Advertisers for a Sacramento-based radio show are dwindling after its hosts slurred transgender children and called the uproar that followed “a joke.” During the May 28 broadcast of the Rob, Arnie & Dawn in the Morning radio...
Kids Amatuer Radio Day set - The Enterprise Ledger
Enterprise Amateur Radio Club members are preparing for Kids Day 2009 to introduce young people to amateur radio. The event will be held in Enterprise and other cities around the nation on June 20. The Enterprise Kids Day event will be held at Johnny...
63rd Annual Tony Awards to Be Presented June 7 at Radio City - Playbill.com
"How I Met Your Mother" star Neil Patrick Harris, who has been seen on Broadway in Assassins, Cabaret and Proof, hosts the three-hour event, which is again being held at the famed Radio City Music Hall. Harris has been busy promoting the annual...
iPhone May Get Radio Tagging and Nike+ - PC World
In the recently-released iTunes 8.2 software references are made to radio tagging songs for later purchase on the iTunes Store, as well as Nike+ and VoiceOver functionality that could be designed for the iPhone, according to Apple Insider....
Galveston Police Chief Makes Radio Debut Monday - Family Badge
On the next radio program, Police News LIVE, which will air next Monday, June 8th at 5:30pm, guest will include Galveston Police Chief Charles Wiley and recently appointed Police Operations Division Commander, Captain Joe Pena....
Kevin Hunt | The Electronic Jungle - Baltimore Sun
The radio industry looks like it swallowed a fistful of bad pistachios, too, after a challenge from satellite radio and, even more ominously, a shift toward Internet radio and do-it-yourself online music services like Pandora. The $150 Livio Radio...
UNO says all sports to air on campus radio station - NTV
(AP) - All the University of Nebraska at Omaha's sports will be broadcast on the university's public radio station next school year. Athletics Director Trev Alberts says KVNO will broadcast all the Maverick football and hockey games on 90.7 FM and...
Recession redrawing local media landscape, with no end in sight - Baltimore Sun
Across the country, TV and radio outlets are in the midst of a cost-cutting effort that is reshaping the industry and offering few hints of when - or if - it might end. Locally, TV stations are downsizing anchor desks, cutting overtime and looking at...
Glorious night of TV on the Radio - Boston Globe
By Jonathan Perry It's hard to know, exactly, where to begin when talking about everything TV on the Radio did right at a sold-out House of Blues Thursday night. Or why the Brooklyn quintet's breathless cross-pollination of rock, funk, electro-pop,...

Radio

Classic radio receiver dial

Radio is the transmission of signals by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space. Information is carried by systematically changing (modulating) some property of the radiated waves, such as amplitude, frequency, or phase. When radio waves pass an electrical conductor, the oscillating fields induce an alternating current in the conductor. This can be detected and transformed into sound or other signals that carry information.

Originally, radio or radiotelegraphy was called "wireless telegraphy", which was shortened to "wireless". The prefix radio- in the sense of wireless transmission, was first recorded in the word radioconductor, coined by the French physicist Édouard Branly in 1897 and based on the verb to radiate (in Latin "radius" means "spoke of a wheel, beam of light, ray"). "Radio" as a noun is said to have been coined by advertising expert Waldo Warren (White 1944). The word appears in a 1907 article by Lee De Forest, was adopted by the United States Navy in 1912 and became common by the time of the first commercial broadcasts in the United States in the 1920s. (The noun "broadcasting" itself came from an agricultural term, meaning "scattering seeds".) The term was then adopted by other languages in Europe and Asia, although British Commonwealth countries continued to use the term "wireless" until the mid-20th century.

In recent years the term "wireless" has gained renewed popularity through the rapid growth of short-range computer networking, e.g., Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN), WiFi and Bluetooth, as well as mobile telephony, e.g., GSM and UMTS. Today, the term "radio" often refers to the actual transceiver device or chip, whereas "wireless" refers to the system and/or method used for radio communication, hence one talks about radio transceivers and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), but about wireless devices and wireless sensor networks.

Radio systems used for communications will have the following elements. With more than 100 years of development, each process is implemented by a wide range of methods, specialized for different communications purposes.

Each system contains a transmitter. This consists of a source of electrical energy, producing alternating current of a desired frequency of oscillation. The transmitter contains a system to modulate (change) some property of the energy produced to impress a signal on it. This modulation might be as simple as turning the energy on and off, or altering more subtle properties such as amplitude, frequency, phase, or combinations of these properties. The transmitter sends the modulated electrical energy to an antenna; this structure converts the rapidly-changing alternating current into an electromagnetic wave that can move through free space.

Electromagnetic waves travel through space either directly, or have their path altered by reflection, refraction or diffraction. The intensity of the waves diminishes due to geometric dispersion (the inverse-square law); some energy may also be absorbed by the intervening medium in some cases. Noise will generally alter the desired signal; this electromagnetic interference comes from natural sources, as well as from artificial sources such as other transmitters and accidental radiators. Noise is also produced at every step due to the inherent properties of the devices used. If the magnitude of the noise is large enough, the desired signal will no longer be discernible; this is the fundamental limit to the range of radio communications.

The electromagnetic wave is intercepted by a receiving antenna; this structure captures some of the energy of the wave and returns it to the form of oscillating electrical currents. At the receiver, these currents are demodulated, which is conversion to a usable signal form by a detector sub-system. The receiver is "tuned" to respond preferentially to the desired signals, and reject undesired signals.

Early radio systems relied entirely on the energy collected by an antenna to produce signals for the operator. Radio became more useful after the invention of electronic devices such as the vacuum tube and later the transistor, which made it possible to amplify weak signals. Today radio systems are used for applications from walkie-talkie children's toys to the control of space vehicles, as well as for broadcasting, and many other applications.

The meaning and usage of the word "radio" has developed in parallel with developments within the field and can be seen to have three distinct phases: electromagnetic waves and experimentation; wireless communication and technical development; and radio broadcasting and commercialization. Many individuals -- inventors, engineers, developers, businessmen -- contributed to produce the modern idea of radio and thus the origins and 'invention' are multiple and controversial.

Development from a laboratory demonstration to commercial utility spanned several decades and required the efforts of many practitioners. Thomas Edison applied in 1885 to the U.S. Patent Office for a patent on a wireless telegraphy system which anticipated later developments in the field. The patent was granted as Patent # 465971 on December 29, 1891, and Guglielmo Marconi felt it necessary to purchase rights to the Edison wireless telegraphy patent as a foundation stone of his own subsequent work in wireless telegraphy.

In 1893, in St. Louis, Missouri, Nikola Tesla made devices for his experiments with electricity. Addressing the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and the National Electric Light Association, he described and demonstrated in detail the principles of his wireless work. The descriptions contained all the elements that were later incorporated into radio systems before the development of the vacuum tube. He initially experimented with magnetic receivers, unlike the coherers (detecting devices consisting of tubes filled with iron filings which had been invented by Temistocle Calzecchi-Onesti at Fermo in Italy in 1884) used by Guglielmo Marconi and other early experimenters.

The first radio couldn't transmit sound or speech and was called the "wireless telegraph." The first public demonstration of wireless telegraphy took place in the lecture theater of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History on August 14, 1894, carried out by Professor Oliver Lodge and Alexander Muirhead. During the demonstration a radio signal was sent from the neighboring Clarendon laboratory building, and received by apparatus in the lecture theater.

In 1895 Alexander Stepanovich Popov built his first radio receiver, which contained a coherer. Further refined as a lightning detector, it was presented to the Russian Physical and Chemical Society on May 7, 1895. A depiction of Popov's lightning detector was printed in the Journal of the Russian Physical and Chemical Society the same year. Popov's receiver was created on the improved basis of Lodge's receiver, and originally intended for reproduction of its experiments.

In 1896, Marconi was awarded the British patent 12039, Improvements in transmitting electrical impulses and signals and in apparatus there-for, for radio. In 1897 he established the world's first radio station on the Isle of Wight, England. Marconi opened the world's first "wireless" factory in Hall Street, Chelmsford, England in 1898, employing around 50 people.

The next great invention was the vacuum tube detector, invented by Westinghouse engineers. On Christmas Eve, 1906, Reginald Fessenden used a synchronous rotary-spark transmitter for the first radio program broadcast, from Ocean Bluff-Brant Rock, Massachusetts. Ships at sea heard a broadcast that included Fessenden playing O Holy Night on the violin and reading a passage from the Bible. This was, for all intents and purposes, the first transmission of what is now known as amplitude modulation or AM radio. The first radio news program was broadcast August 31, 1920 by station 8MK in Detroit, Michigan, which survives today as all-news format station WWJ under ownership of the CBS network. The first college radio station began broadcasting on October 14, 1920, from Union College, Schenectady, New York under the personal call letters of Wendell King, an African-American student at the school. That month 2ADD, later renamed WRUC in 1940, aired what is believed to be the first public entertainment broadcast in the United States, a series of Thursday night concerts initially heard within a 100-mile (160 km) radius and later for a 1,000-mile (1,600 km) radius. In November 1920, it aired the first broadcast of a sporting event. At 9 pm on August 27, 1920, Sociedad Radio Argentina aired a live performance of Richard Wagner's Parsifal opera from the Coliseo Theater in downtown Buenos Aires, only about twenty homes in the city had a receiver to tune in. Meanwhile, regular entertainment broadcasts commenced in 1922 from the Marconi Research Centre at Writtle, England.

One of the first developments in the early 20th century (1900-1959) was that aircraft used commercial AM radio stations for navigation. This continued until the early 1960s when VOR systems finally became widespread (though AM stations are still marked on U.S. aviation charts). In the early 1930s, single sideband and frequency modulation were invented by amateur radio operators. By the end of the decade, they were established commercial modes. Radio was used to transmit pictures visible as television as early as the 1920s. Commercial television transmissions started in North America and Europe in the 1940s. In 1954, Regency introduced a pocket transistor radio, the TR-1, powered by a "standard 22.5 V Battery".

In 1960, Sony introduced its first transistorized radio, small enough to fit in a vest pocket, and able to be powered by a small battery. It was durable, because there were no tubes to burn out. Over the next 20 years, transistors replaced tubes almost completely except for very high-power uses. By 1963 color television was being regularly transmitted commercially, and the first (radio) communication satellite, Telstar, was launched. In the late 1960s, the U.S. long-distance telephone network began to convert to a digital network, employing digital radios for many of its links. In the 1970s, LORAN became the premier radio navigation system. Soon, the U.S. Navy experimented with satellite navigation, culminating in the invention and launch of the GPS constellation in 1987. In the early 1990s, amateur radio experimenters began to use personal computers with audio cards to process radio signals. In 1994, the U.S. Army and DARPA launched an aggressive, successful project to construct a software-defined radio that can be programmed to be virtually any radio by changing its software program. Digital transmissions began to be applied to broadcasting in the late 1990s.

Early uses were maritime, for sending telegraphic messages using Morse code between ships and land. The earliest users included the Japanese Navy scouting the Russian fleet during the Battle of Tsushima in 1905. One of the most memorable uses of marine telegraphy was during the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912, including communications between operators on the sinking ship and nearby vessels, and communications to shore stations listing the survivors.

Radio was used to pass on orders and communications between armies and navies on both sides in World War I; Germany used radio communications for diplomatic messages once it discovered that its submarine cables had been tapped by the British. The United States passed on President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points to Germany via radio during the war. Broadcasting began from San Jose in 1909, and became feasible in the 1920s, with the widespread introduction of radio receivers, particularly in Europe and the United States. Besides broadcasting, point-to-point broadcasting, including telephone messages and relays of radio programs, became widespread in the 1920s and 1930s. Another use of radio in the pre-war years was the development of detection and locating of aircraft and ships by the use of radar (RAdio Detection And Ranging).

Today, radio takes many forms, including wireless networks and mobile communications of all types, as well as radio broadcasting. Before the advent of television, commercial radio broadcasts included not only news and music, but dramas, comedies, variety shows, and many other forms of entertainment. Radio was unique among methods of dramatic presentation in that it used only sound. For more, see radio programming.

AM broadcast radio sends music and voice in the Medium Frequency (MF, 0.3 MHz to 3 MHz) radio spectrum. AM radio uses amplitude modulation, in which the amplitude of the transmitted signal is made proportional to the sound amplitude captured (transduced) by the microphone, while the transmitted frequency remains unchanged. Transmissions are affected by static and interference because lightning and other sources of radio emissions on the same frequency add their amplitudes to the original transmitted amplitude. In the early part of the 20th century, American AM radio stations broadcast with powers as high as 500 kW, and some could be heard worldwide; these stations' transmitters were commandeered for military use by the US Government during World War II. Currently, the maximum broadcast power for a civilian AM radio station in the United States and Canada is 50 kW, and the majority of stations that emit signals this powerful were grandfathered in; these include WGN (AM), WJR, KGA at 50 kW. In 1986 KTNN received the last granted 50,000 watt license. These 50 kW stations are generally called "clear channel" stations (Not to be confused with the Clear Channel radio conglomerate), because within North America each of these stations has exclusive use of its broadcast frequency throughout part or all of the broadcast day.

FM broadcast radio sends music and voice with higher fidelity than AM radio. In frequency modulation, amplitude variation at the microphone causes the transmitter frequency to fluctuate. Because the audio signal modulates the frequency and not the amplitude, an FM signal is not subject to static and interference in the same way as AM signals. Due to its need for a wider bandwidth, FM is transmitted in the Very High Frequency (VHF, 30 MHz to 300 MHz) radio spectrum. VHF radio waves act more like light, traveling in straight lines, hence the reception range is generally limited to about 50-100 miles. During unusual upper atmospheric conditions, FM signals are occasionally reflected back towards the Earth by the ionosphere, resulting in Long distance FM reception. FM receivers are subject to the capture effect, which causes the radio to only receive the strongest signal when multiple signals appear on the same frequency. FM receivers are relatively immune to lightning and spark interference.

High power is useful in penetrating buildings, diffracting around hills, and refracting for some distance beyond the horizon. Consequently, 100,000 watt FM stations can regularly be heard up to 100 miles (160 km) away, and farther (e.g., 150 miles, 240 km) if there are no competing signals. A few old, "grandfathered" stations do not conform to these power rules. WBCT-FM (93.7) in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, runs 320,000 watts ERP, and can increase to 500,000 watts ERP by the terms of its original license. Such a huge power level does not usually help to increase range as much as one might expect, because VHF frequencies travel in nearly straight lines over the horizon and off into space. Nevertheless, when there were fewer FM stations competing, this station could be heard near Bloomington, Illinois, USA, almost 300 miles (500 km) away.

FM subcarrier services are secondary signals transmitted in a "piggyback" fashion along with the main program. Special receivers are required to utilize these services. Analog channels may contain alternative programming, such as reading services for the blind, background music or stereo sound signals. In some extremely crowded metropolitan areas, the sub-channel program might be an alternate foreign language radio program for various ethnic groups. Sub-carriers can also transmit digital data, such as station identification, the current song's name, web addresses, or stock quotes. In some countries, FM radios automatically re-tune themselves to the same channel in a different district by using sub-bands.

Aviation voice radios use VHF AM. AM is used so that multiple stations on the same channel can be received. (Use of FM would result in stronger stations blocking out reception of weaker stations due to FM's capture effect). Aircraft fly high enough that their transmitters can be received hundreds of miles (or kilometres) away, even though they are using VHF.

Marine voice radios can use single sideband voice (SSB) in the shortwave High Frequency (HF—3 MHz to 30 MHz) radio spectrum for very long ranges or narrowband FM in the VHF spectrum for much shorter ranges. Narrowband FM sacrifices fidelity to make more channels available within the radio spectrum, by using a smaller range of radio frequencies, usually with five kHz of deviation, versus the 75 kHz used by commercial FM broadcasts, and 25 kHz used for TV sound.

Government, police, fire and commercial voice services also use narrowband FM on special frequencies. Early police radios used AM receivers to receive one-way dispatches.

Civil and military HF (high frequency) voice services use shortwave radio to contact ships at sea, aircraft and isolated settlements. Most use single sideband voice (SSB), which uses less bandwidth than AM. On an AM radio SSB sounds like ducks quacking. Viewed as a graph of frequency versus power, an AM signal shows power where the frequencies of the voice add and subtract with the main radio frequency. SSB cuts the bandwidth in half by suppressing the carrier and (usually) lower sideband. This also makes the transmitter about three times more powerful, because it doesn't need to transmit the unused carrier and sideband.

TETRA, Terrestrial Trunked Radio is a digital cell phone system for military, police and ambulances. Commercial services such as XM, WorldSpace and Sirius offer encrypted digital Satellite radio.

Mobile phones transmit to a local cell site (transmitter/receiver) that ultimately connects to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) through an optic fiber or microwave radio and other network elements. When the mobile phone nears the edge of the cell site's radio coverage area, the central computer switches the phone to a new cell. Cell phones originally used FM, but now most use various digital modulation schemes. Recent developments in Sweden (such as DROPme) allow for the instant downloading of digital material from a radio broadcast (such as a song) to a mobile phone.

Satellite phones use satellites rather than cell towers to communicate.

Television sends the picture as AM and the sound as FM, with the sound carrier a fixed frequency (4.5 MHz in the NTSC system) away from the video carrier. Analog television also uses a vestigial sideband on the video carrier to reduce the bandwidth required.

Digital television uses 8VSB modulation in North America (under the ATSC digital television standard), and COFDM modulation elsewhere in the world (using the DVB-T standard). A Reed–Solomon error correction code adds redundant correction codes and allows reliable reception during moderate data loss. Although many current and future codecs can be sent in the MPEG-2 transport stream container format, as of 2006 most systems use a standard-definition format almost identical to DVD: MPEG-2 video in Anamorphic widescreen and MPEG layer 2 (MP2) audio. High-definition television is possible simply by using a higher-resolution picture, but H.264/AVC is being considered as a replacement video codec in some regions for its improved compression. With the compression and improved modulation involved, a single "channel" can contain a high-definition program and several standard-definition programs.

All satellite navigation systems use satellites with precision clocks. The satellite transmits its position, and the time of the transmission. The receiver listens to four satellites, and can figure its position as being on a line that is tangent to a spherical shell around each satellite, determined by the time-of-flight of the radio signals from the satellite. A computer in the receiver does the math.

Radio direction-finding is the oldest form of radio navigation. Before 1960 navigators used movable loop antennas to locate commercial AM stations near cities. In some cases they used marine radiolocation beacons, which share a range of frequencies just above AM radio with amateur radio operators. LORAN systems also used time-of-flight radio signals, but from radio stations on the ground. VOR (Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Range), systems (used by aircraft), have an antenna array that transmits two signals simultaneously. A directional signal rotates like a lighthouse at a fixed rate. When the directional signal is facing north, an omnidirectional signal pulses. By measuring the difference in phase of these two signals, an aircraft can determine its bearing or radial from the station, thus establishing a line of position. An aircraft can get readings from two VORs and locate its position at the intersection of the two radials, known as a "fix." When the VOR station is collocated with DME (Distance Measuring Equipment), the aircraft can determine its bearing and range from the station, thus providing a fix from only one ground station. Such stations are called VOR/DMEs. The military operates a similar system of navaids, called TACANs, which are often built into VOR stations. Such stations are called VORTACs. Because TACANs include distance measuring equipment, VOR/DME and VORTAC stations are identical in navigation potential to civil aircraft.

Radar (Radio Detection And Ranging) detects objects at a distance by bouncing radio waves off them. The delay caused by the echo measures the distance. The direction of the beam determines the direction of the reflection. The polarization and frequency of the return can sense the type of surface. Navigational radars scan a wide area two to four times per minute. They use very short waves that reflect from earth and stone. They are common on commercial ships and long-distance commercial aircraft.

General purpose radars generally use navigational radar frequencies, but modulate and polarize the pulse so the receiver can determine the type of surface of the reflector. The best general-purpose radars distinguish the rain of heavy storms, as well as land and vehicles. Some can superimpose sonar data and map data from GPS position.

Search radars scan a wide area with pulses of short radio waves. They usually scan the area two to four times a minute. Sometimes search radars use the Doppler Effect to separate moving vehicles from clutter. Targeting radars use the same principle as search radar but scan a much smaller area far more often, usually several times a second or more. Weather radars resemble search radars, but use radio waves with circular polarization and a wavelength to reflect from water droplets. Some weather radar use the Doppler Effect to measure wind speeds.

Most new radio systems are digital, see also: Digital TV, Satellite Radio, Digital Audio Broadcasting. The oldest form of digital broadcast was spark gap telegraphy, used by pioneers such as Marconi. By pressing the key, the operator could send messages in Morse code by energizing a rotating commutating spark gap. The rotating commutator produced a tone in the receiver, where a simple spark gap would produce a hiss, indistinguishable from static. Spark gap transmitters are now illegal, because their transmissions span several hundred megahertz. This is very wasteful of both radio frequencies and power.

The next advance was continuous wave telegraphy, or CW (Continuous Wave), in which a pure radio frequency, produced by a vacuum tube electronic oscillator was switched on and off by a key. A receiver with a local oscillator would "heterodyne" with the pure radio frequency, creating a whistle-like audio tone. CW uses less than 100 Hz of bandwidth. CW is still used, these days primarily by amateur radio operators (hams). Strictly, on-off keying of a carrier should be known as "Interrupted Continuous Wave" or ICW or on-off keying (OOK).

Radio teletypes usually operate on short-wave (HF) and are much loved by the military because they create written information without a skilled operator. They send a bit as one of two tones. Groups of five or seven bits become a character printed by a teletype. From about 1925 to 1975, radio teletype was how most commercial messages were sent to less developed countries. These are still used by the military and weather services.

Aircraft use a 1200 Baud radioteletype service over VHF to send their ID, altitude and position, and get gate and connecting-flight data. Microwave dishes on satellites, telephone exchanges and TV stations usually use quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM). QAM sends data by changing both the phase and the amplitude of the radio signal. Engineers like QAM because it packs the most bits into a radio signal when given an exclusive (non-shared) fixed narrowband frequency range. Usually the bits are sent in "frames" that repeat. A special bit pattern is used to locate the beginning of a frame.

Communication systems that limit themselves to a fixed narrowband frequency range are vulnerable to jamming. A variety of jamming-resistant spread spectrum techniques were initially developed for military use, most famously for Global Positioning System satellite transmissions. Commercial use of spread spectrum began in the 1980s. Bluetooth, most cell phones, and the 802.11b version of Wi-Fi each use various forms of spread spectrum.

Systems that need reliability, or that share their frequency with other services, may use "coded orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing" or COFDM. COFDM breaks a digital signal into as many as several hundred slower subchannels. The digital signal is often sent as QAM on the subchannels. Modern COFDM systems use a small computer to make and decode the signal with digital signal processing, which is more flexible and far less expensive than older systems that implemented separate electronic channels. COFDM resists fading and ghosting because the narrow-channel QAM signals can be sent slowly. An adaptive system, or one that sends error-correction codes can also resist interference, because most interference can affect only a few of the QAM channels. COFDM is used for Wi-Fi, some cell phones, Digital Radio Mondiale, Eureka 147, and many other local area network, digital TV and radio standards.

Radio-frequency energy generated for heating of objects is generally not intended to radiate outside of the generating equipment, to prevent interference with other radio signals. Microwave ovens use intense radio waves to heat food. Diathermy equipment is used in surgery for sealing of blood vessels. Induction furnaces are used for melting metal for casting.

Amateur radio, also known as "ham radio", is a hobby in which enthusiasts are licensed to communicate on a number of bands in the radio frequency spectrum non-commercially and for their own enjoyment. They may also provide emergency and public service assistance. This has been very beneficial in emergencies, saving lives in many instances. Radio amateurs use a variety of modes, including nostalgic ones like morse code and experimental ones like Low-Frequency Experimental Radio. Several forms of radio were pioneered by radio amateurs and later became commercially important including FM, single-sideband (SSB), AM, digital packet radio and satellite repeaters. Some amateur frequencies may be disrupted by power-line internet service.

Unlicensed, government-authorized personal radio services such as Citizens' band radio in Australia, the USA, and Europe, and Family Radio Service and Multi-Use Radio Service in North America exist to provide simple, (usually) short range communication for individuals and small groups, without the overhead of licensing. Similar services exist in other parts of the world. These radio services involve the use of handheld units.

Free radio stations, sometimes called pirate radio or "clandestine" stations, are unauthorized, unlicensed, illegal broadcasting stations. These are often low power transmitters operated on sporadic schedules by hobbyists, community activists, or political and cultural dissidents. Some pirate stations operating offshore in parts of Europe and the United Kingdom more closely resembled legal stations, maintaining regular schedules, using high power, and selling commercial advertising time.

Radio remote controls use radio waves to transmit control data to a remote object as in some early forms of guided missile, some early TV remotes and a range of model boats, cars and airplanes. Large industrial remote-controlled equipment such as cranes and switching locomotives now usually use digital radio techniques to ensure safety and reliability.

Radio waves are a form of electromagnetic radiation that are created when a charged object, such as an electron, accelerates with a frequency that lies in the radio frequency (RF) portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. In radio, this acceleration is caused by an alternating current in an antenna. Radio frequencies occupy the range from a few tens of hertz to three hundred gigahertz, although commercially important uses of radio use only a small part of this spectrum. Other types of electromagnetic radiation, with frequencies above the RF range, are microwave, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, X-rays and gamma rays. Since the energy of an individual photon of radio frequency is too low to remove an electron from an atom, radio waves are classified as non-ionizing radiation.

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Old-time radio

Boy learning how to build his own radio circa 1922.

Old-Time Radio (OTR) and the Golden Age of Radio refer to a period of radio programming lasting from the proliferation of radio broadcasting in the early 1920s until television's replacement of radio as the dominant home entertainment medium in the late 1950s and early 1960s. During this period, when radio was dominant and the airwaves were filled with a variety of radio formats and genres, people regularly tuned in to their favorite radio programs. In fact, according to a 1947 C. E. Hooper survey, 82 out of 100 Americans were found to be radio listeners. The end of this period coincided with music radio becoming the dominant radio form and is often marked in the United States by the final CBS broadcasts of Suspense and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar on September 30, 1962.

Radio content in the Golden Age of Radio had its origins in audio theatre. Audio theatre began in the 1880s and 1890s with audio recordings of musical acts and other vaudeville. These were sent to people by means of telephone and, later, through phonograph cylinders and discs. Visual elements, such as effects and sight gags, were adapted to have sound equivalents. In addition, visual objects and scenery were converted to have audio descriptions.

On Christmas Eve, 1906, Reginald Fessenden sent the first radio program broadcast, which was made up of some violin playing and passages from the Bible. At least one radio researcher has questioned whether this broadcast took place, because it was not mentioned in print until many years later. Then, after the Titanic catastrophe in 1912, radio for communications went into vogue. Radio was especially important during World War I, since it was vital for air and naval operations. In fact, World War I sped the development of radio by transitioning radio communications from the Morse code of the wireless telegraph to the vocal communication of the wireless telephone through advancements in vacuum tube technology and the introduction of the transceiver.

After the war, numerous radio stations were born and set the standard for later radio programs. The first radio news program was broadcast on August 31, 1920 on the station 8MK in Detroit, Michigan. This was followed in 1920 with the first commercial radio station in the United States, KDKA, being established in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The first regular entertainment programs were broadcast in 1922, and on March 10, Variety carried the front page headline: "Radio Sweeping Country: 1,000,000 Sets in Use." A highlight of this time was the first Rose Bowl being broadcast on January 1, 1923 on the Los Angeles station KHJ.

During the Golden Age of Radio, radio featured genres and formats popular in other forms of American entertainment—adventure, comedy, drama, horror, mystery, musical variety, romance, thrillers—along with classical music concerts, big band remotes, farm reports, news and commentary, panel discussions, quiz shows, sidewalk interviews, sports broadcasts, talent shows and weather forecasts.

In the late 1920s, the sponsored musical feature was the most popular program format. Commercial messages were regarded as intrusive, so these shows usually displayed the sponsor's name in the title, as evidenced by such programs as The A&P Gypsies, Acousticon Hour, Champion Spark Plug Hour, The Clicquot Club Eskimos, The Flit Soldiers, The Fox Fur Trappers, The Goodrich Zippers, The Ingram Shavers, The Ipana Troubadors, The Planters Pickers, The Silvertown Cord Orchestra (featuring the Silver Masked Tenor), The Sylvania Foresters and The Yeast Foamers. During the 1930s and 1940s, the leading orchestras were heard often through big band remotes, and NBC's Monitor continued such remotes well in the 1950s by broadcasting live music from New York City jazz clubs to rural America.

Classical music programs on the air included The Voice of Firestone and The Bell Telephone Hour. Texaco sponsored the Metropolitan Opera's weekly broadcasts of complete operas; the broadcasts, now sponsored by the Toll Brothers, continue to this day on NPR and are one of the few examples of live classical music still broadcast on radio. One of the most notable of all classical music radio programs of the Golden Age of Radio featured the celebrated Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra, which had been created especially for him. At that time, nearly all classical musicians and critics considered Toscanini the greatest living maestro. There were also popular songwriters featured on radio, such as George Gershwin, who in addition to appearing as a guest, also had his own program in 1934.

Country music also enjoyed popularity. National Barn Dance, begun on Chicago's WLS-AM in 1924, was picked up by NBC Radio in 1933. In 1925, WSM Barn Dance went on the air from Nashville. It was renamed the Grand Ole Opry in 1927 and NBC carried portions from 1944 to 1956. NBC also aired The Red Foley Show from 1951-1961, and ABC Radio carried Ozark Jubilee from 1953 to 1961.

Top comedy talents surfed the airwaves for many years: Fred Allen, Jack Benny, Victor Borge, Fanny Brice, Billie Burke, Bob Burns, Judy Canova, Jimmy Durante, Phil Harris, Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, Jean Shepherd, Red Skelton and Ed Wynn. More laughter was generated on such shows as Abbott and Costello, Amos 'n' Andy, Burns and Allen, Easy Aces, Ethel and Albert, Fibber McGee and Molly, The Goldbergs, The Great Gildersleeve, The Halls of Ivy (which featured screen star Ronald Colman and his wife Benita Hume), Meet Corliss Archer, Meet Millie, and Our Miss Brooks.

Radio comedy ran the gamut from the small town humor of Lum and Abner, Herb Shriner and Minnie Pearl to the dialect characterizations of Mel Blanc and the caustic sarcasm of Henry Morgan. Gags galore were delivered weekly on Stop Me If You've Heard This One and Can You Top This?, panel programs devoted to the art of telling jokes. Quiz shows were lampooned on It Pays to Be Ignorant, and other memorable parodies were presented by such satirists as Spike Jones, Stoopnagle and Budd, Stan Freberg and Bob and Ray. British comedy reached American shores in a major assault when NBC carried The Goon Show in the mid-1950s.

Some shows originated as stage productions: Clifford Goldsmith's play What a Life was reworked into NBC's popular, long-run The Aldrich Family (1939–1953) with the familiar catchphrases "Henry! Henry Aldrich!", followed by Henry's answer, "Coming, Mother!". Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman's Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway hit, You Can't Take It with You (1936), became a weekly situation comedy heard on Mutual (1944) with Everett Sloane and later on NBC (1951) with Walter Brennan.

Other shows were adapted from comic strips, such as Blondie, Dick Tracy, Gasoline Alley, The Gumps, Li'l Abner, Little Orphan Annie, Popeye the Sailor, Red Ryder, Reg'lar Fellers, Terry and the Pirates and Tillie the Toiler. Bob Montana's redheaded teen of comic strips and comic books was heard on radio's Archie Andrews from 1943 to 1953. The Timid Soul was a 1941–1942 comedy based on cartoonist H.T. Webster's famed Casper Milquetoast character, and Robert L. Ripley's Believe It or Not! was adapted to several different radio formats during the 1930s and 1940s.

The first soap opera, Clara, Lu, and Em. was introduced in 1930 on Chicago's WGN-AM. When daytime serials began in the early 1930s, they became known as soap operas because many were sponsored by soap products and detergents. The line-up of late afternoon adventure serials included Bobby Benson and the B-Bar-B Riders, The Cisco Kid, Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy, Captain Midnight, and The Tom Mix Ralston Straight Shooters. Badges, rings, decoding devices and other radio premiums offered on these adventure shows were often allied with a sponsor's product, requiring the young listeners to mail in a box top from a breakfast cereal or other proof of purchase.

Outstanding radio dramas were presented on such programs as 26 by Corwin, NBC Short Story, Arch Oboler's Plays, Quiet, Please, and CBS Radio Workshop. Orson Welles's Mercury Theatre on the Air and Campbell Playhouse were considered by many critics to be the finest radio drama anthologies ever presented. They usually starred Welles in the leading role, along with celebrity guest stars such as Margaret Sullavan or Helen Hayes, in adaptations from literature, Broadway, and/or films. They included such titles as Liliom, Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, Lost Horizon, and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. It was on Mercury Theatre that Welles presented his celebrated-but-infamous adaptation of H.G. Wells's The War of the Worlds, formatted to sound like a breaking news program.

Lux Radio Theater and The Screen Guild Theater presented adaptations of Hollywood movies, performed before a live audience, usually with cast members from the original films. Suspense, Escape, The Mysterious Traveler and Inner Sanctum Mysteries were popular thriller anthology series. Leading writers who created original material for radio included Norman Corwin, Carlton E. Morse, David Goodis, Archibald MacLeish, Arthur Miller, Arch Oboler, Wyllis Cooper, Rod Serling and Irwin Shaw.

In the beginning of the Golden Age, American radio network programs were presented almost exclusively live, since the national networks prohibited the airing of recorded programs until the late 1940s. As a result, prime-time shows would be performed twice for both coasts. However, some programs were recorded as they were broadcast during this period, typically for syndicated programs or for advertisers to have their own copy. When the networks became more open to airing recorded programs in the 1950s and 1960s, recordings became more common.

The RCA 44BX microphone had two live faces and two dead ones. Thus actors could face each other and react. One could give the effect of leaving the room by moving one's head toward the dead face of the microphone. The scripts were paper clipped together and pages were dropped to the carpeted floor after use. Sometimes when reassembling a script to use it for the next time zone, pages would be out of order or missing entirely.

Recording was done using a cutting lathe and acetate discs. Typically the track started at the inside and went to the outside. The reason was the thread made by the cutting head had to be kept out of the cutting head's path. It was easier to use a brush and pile it up in the middle. Some lathes used a vacuum to pick up the thread as it was cut from the surface of the blank disc. The vacuum came from a water aspirator. A network owned station might have 4 or more lathes whereas a local station often had none. Programs were cut using 16 inch discs which was the most common disc size for transcriptions.

Recordings of radio programs were typically made at a radio network's studios, since the expense and expertise of making a recording was usually more than a local station was capable of handling. (Recordings required special equipment and trained technicians who had to monitor the recording while it was being made.) However, there are some surviving recordings produced by affiliate stations.

The Armed Forces Radio Services (AFRS) has its origins in the War Department's quest to improve troop morale. This quest began with short-wave broadcasts of educational and information programs to troops in 1940. In 1941, the War Department began issuing "Buddy Kits" (B-Kits) to departing troops, which comprised radios, 78 RPM shellac records, and electrical transcription disks of radio shows. However, with the entrance of the United States into World War II, the War Department decided that it needed to improve the quality and quantity of its offerings.

This began with the broadcasting of its own original variety programs. Command Performance became the first of these, when it was produced for the first time on March 1, 1942. On May 26, 1942, the Armed Forces Radio Services was formally established. Originally, its programming comprised network radio shows with the commercials removed. However, it soon began producing other original programming, such as Mail Call, G.I. Journal, Jubilee, and G.I. Jive. At its peak in 1945, the Service produced around twenty hours of original programming each week.

After the war, the AFRS continued providing programming to troops in Europe. In addition, it also provided programming for future wars that the United States was involved in. It survives today as a component of the American Forces Network.

All of the shows aired by the AFRS during the Golden Age were recorded onto electrical transcription disks and shipped to stations, in order to be broadcast to troops overseas. People in the United States rarely ever heard programming from the AFRS, although AFRS recordings of Golden Age network shows were occasionally broadcast on some domestic stations beginning in the 1950s.

There was some home recording of radio in the 1930s and early 1940s. Home recording at that time could typically only be performed by home disk recorders, which were only capable of storing five minutes of a radio program per side on a seven-inch record. As a result of the short durations of these records and the expense of the recorders, home recording was uncommon during this period.

The lack of suitable home recording equipment was somewhat relieved in 1943 with the introduction of home tape recorders using Scotch 100 tape. However, the quality of recordings made from these devices was far below professional levels. In fact, home recording of radio programs did not become common until around 1950, when affordable reel-to-reel tape recorders were introduced to the market.

When radio stations first began recording programs, they recorded onto records called "electrical transcription disks" (ET). Originally, these disks varied in both size and composition; although, they were typically bare aluminum. However, by the mid-1930s, sixteen inch aluminum-based disks coated with cellulose nitrate lacquer, known as acetates, played at a speed of 33 1/3 RPM and became the standard. (These had been invented in 1932 by RCA Victor). These disks were recorded using the "hill and dale" process, in contrast to the side-to-side recording method used by commercial recording studios. Disks could store fifteen minutes of a show on each side, allowing a thirty minute program to be stored on one side of two separate disks. The disks would deteriorate rapidly on each playing, allowing only a few playbacks before being destroyed.

During World War II, aluminum became a necessary material for the war effort. This caused alternatives to aluminum to be used for electrical transcription disks, since aluminum was hard to come by. As a result, glass became the most common material used for disks between the years of 1942 and 1945.

In the late 1940s, wire recording became a medium for recording radio programs, since it was less expensive to make recordings with and did not have the strict time limits of electrical transcription disks. In addition, the fidelity of these recordings was comparable to the 78s of the time.

Magnetic wire recording was replaced by the introduction of the reel-to-reel audio tape in the early 1950s. Tape had several advantages over earlier recording methods. It could achieve higher fidelity than both electrical transcription disks and magnetic wire. In addition, it could be edited easier using a process known as splicing. Bing Crosby became the first major proponent of this medium for radio and was the first to use it for his radio show, when he used it for a demonstration program in 1947.

A relatively few surviving programs were recorded off the air (airchecks), usually at a recording studio, since home recording equipment was uncommon during the first couple of decades of the Golden Age. Most of the Golden Age programs in circulation among collectors – whether on tape, CD, or MP3 – originated with these ETs. In addition, many Golden Age shows have survived only in edited AFRS versions, while others exist in both original and AFRS formats.

In the United States, radio comedy and drama get relatively little air play apart from National Public Radio, satellite and Internet radio, but they continue full strength on British and Irish stations, and to a lesser degree in Canada. Regular broadcasts of radio plays are also heard in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and other countries. Vintage shows and new audio productions in America are accessible more on recordings and by satellite and web broadcasters rather than over conventional AM and FM radio. There are, however, several radio theatre series still in production, usually airing on Sunday nights in the United States. These include original series such as Imagination Theatre and a radio adaptation of The Twilight Zone, as well as rerun compilations such as the popular daily series When Radio Was and USA Radio Network's Golden Age of Radio Theatre.

One of the longest running radio programs celebrating this era is The Golden Days of Radio, which was hosted on the Armed Forces Radio Service (later Armed Forces Radio and Television Service) for more than 20 years and overall for more than 50 years by Frank Bresee, who also played "Little Beaver" on the Red Ryder program as a child actor.

Today, radio performers of the past appear at conventions which feature recreations of classic shows, as well as music, memorabilia and historical panels. The largest of these events is the Friends of Old Time Radio Convention, held annually in Newark, New Jersey each October. Others include REPS in Seattle (June), SPERDVAC in California, the Cincinnati OTR & Nostalgia Convention (April) and the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention (September).

Radio dramas from the golden age are sometimes recreated as live stage performances. One such group, led by director Daniel Smith, has been performing recreations of old-time radio dramas at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts since 2000.

The Paley Center for Media's collection of more than 120,000 programs and commercials spans 88 years of radio-TV history, beginning with a 1918 speech by labor leader Samuel Gompers. The radio shows in this collection can be heard at the Paley Center in New York, and that same collection is duplicated at the Paley Center in Los Angeles.

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Pirate radio

The term pirate radio usually refers to illegal or unregulated radio transmissions. Its etymology can be traced to the unlicensed nature of the transmission, but historically there has been occasional but notable use of sea vessels – fitting the most common perception of a pirate – as broadcasting bases. The term is most commonly used to describe illegal broadcasting for entertainment or political purposes, but is also sometimes used for illegal two-way radio operation. Rules and regulations vary widely from country to country. In countries such as the USA and many countries in Europe, many types of radio licenses exist, and often the term pirate radio generally describes the unlicensed broadcast of FM radio, AM radio, or short wave signals over a wide range.

In some cases radio stations are deemed legal where the signal is transmitted, but illegal where the signals are received—especially when the signals cross a national boundary. In other cases, a broadcast may be considered "pirate" due to the nature of its content, its transmission format (especially a failure to transmit a station identification according to regulations), or the transmit power (wattage) of the station, even if the transmission is not technically illegal (such as a web cast or an amateur radio transmission). Therefore pirate radio means different things to different people, implying some licensing procedure has been violated somewhere within the reach of the signal. Pirate radio stations are sometimes called bootleg stations (a term especially associated with two-way radio), clandestine stations or Free Radio stations.

Radio "piracy" began with the advent of regulations of the public airwaves in the United States at the dawn of the Age of Radio. Initially, radio, or wireless as it was more commonly called, was an open field of hobbyists and early inventors and experimenters, including Nikola Tesla, Lee De Forest, and Thomas Edison. The United States Navy began using radio for time signals and weather reports on the east coast of the United States in the 1890s. Before the advent of valve technology, early radio enthusiasts used noisy spark-gap transmitters, such as the first spark-gap modulation technology pioneered by the first real audio (rather than telegraph code) radio broadcaster, Charles D. Herrold, in San Jose, California, or the infamous Ruhmkorf coil used by almost all early experimenters. The Navy soon began complaining to a sympathetic press that amateurs were disrupting naval transmissions. The May 25, 1907, edition of Electrical World in an article called "Wireless and Lawless" reported authorities were unable to prevent an amateur from interfering with the operation of a government station at the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard using legal means.

When the "Act to Regulate Radio Communication" was passed on August 13, 1912, amateurs and experimenters were not banned from broadcasting; rather, amateurs were assigned their own frequency spectrum and licensing and call-signs were introduced. By regulating the public airwaves, President Taft thus created the legal space for illicit broadcasts to take place. An entire federal agency, the Federal Communications Commission, was created eventually to enforce rules on call-signs, assigned frequencies, licensing and acceptable content for broadcast.

The 1912 Radio Act gave the president legal permission to shut down radio stations "in time of war," and during the first two and a half years of World War One, before US entry, President Wilson tasked the US Navy with monitoring US radio stations, nominally to ensure "neutrality." The Navy used this authority to shut down amateur radio in the western part of the US (the US was divided into two civilian radio "districts" with corresponding call-signs, beginning with K in the west and W in the east, in the regulatory measures; the Navy was assigned call-signs beginning with N). When Wilson declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, he also issued an executive order closing most radio stations not needed by the US government. The Navy took it a step further and declared it was illegal to listen to radio or possess a receiver or transmitter in the US, but there were doubts they had the authority to issue such an order even in war time. The ban on radio was lifted in the US in late 1919.

In 1924, New York City station WHN was accused of being an "outlaw" station by AT&T (then American Telephone and Telegraph Company) for violating trade licenses which permitted only AT&T stations to sell airtime on their transmitters. As a result of the AT&T interpretation a landmark case was heard in court, which even prompted comments from Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover when he took a public stand in the station's defence. Although AT&T won its case, the furore created was such that those restrictive provisions of the transmitter license were never enforced.

In Europe, Denmark had the first known radio station in the world to broadcast commercial radio from a vessel in international waters without permission from the authorities in the country that it broadcast to (Denmark in this case). The station was named Radio Mercur and began transmission on August 2nd 1958. In the Danish newspapers it was soon called a "pirate radio".

In the 1960s in the UK, the term referred to not only a perceived unauthorised use of the state-run spectrum by the unlicensed broadcasters but also the risk-taking nature of offshore radio stations that actually operated on anchored ships or marine platforms.

A good example of this kind of activity was Radio Luxembourg located in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The English language evening broadcasts from Radio Luxembourg were beamed by Luxembourg licensed transmitters. The audience in the United Kingdom originally listened to their radio sets by permission of a Wireless Licence issued by the British General Post Office (GPO). However, under terms of that Wireless Licence, it was an offence under the Wireless Telegraphy Act to listen to unauthorised broadcasts, which possibly included those transmitted by Radio Luxembourg. Therefore as far as the British authorities were concerned, Radio Luxembourg was not a "pirate radio station" and British listeners to the station were not breaking the law (although as the term 'unauthorised' was never properly defined it was somewhat of a legal grey area). This did not stop British newspapers from printing programme schedules for the station, or a British weekly magazine aimed at teenage girls, "Fab 208" from promoting the "DJs" and their lifestyle (Radio Luxembourg's wavelength was 208 metres (1440 kHz)).

Radio Luxembourg was later joined by three other well known pirate stations received in the UK in violation of UK licensing, Radio Caroline, North and South, plus Radio Atlanta which became Caroline South and Radio London, all of which broadcast from vessels anchored outside of territorial limits and were therefore legitimate. Radio Jackie, for instance (although transmitting illegally), was registered for VAT and even had its address and telephone number in local telephone directories.

Where actual sea-faring vessels are not involved, the term pirate radio is a political term of convenience as the word "pirate" suggests an illegal venture, regardless of the broadcasts actual legal status. The radio station XERF located at Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila, Mexico, just across the Rio Grande from Del Rio, Texas, USA, is an example.

While Mexico issued radio station XERF with a license to broadcast, the power of its 250,000 watts transmitter was far greater than the maximum of 50,000 watts authorized for commercial use by the government of the United States of America. Consequently, XERF and many other radio stations in Mexico, which sold their broadcasting time to sponsors of English-language commercial and religious programs, were labelled as "border blasters", but not "pirate radio stations", even though the content of many of their programs were in violation of US law. Predecessors to XERF, for instance, had originally broadcast in Kansas, advocating "goat-gland surgery" for improved masculinity, but moved to Mexico to evade US laws about advertising medical treatments, particularly unproven ones.

Another variation on the term pirate radio came about during the "Summer of Love" in San Francisco during the hippie days when many things were named "free". Examples include "free store", "free love" and even "free radio", which usually referred to clandestine and unlicensed land-based transmissions. These were also tagged as being pirate radio transmissions. Free Radio was only ever used to refer to Radio transmissions that were beyond Government control, as was offshore Radio in the UK and Europe.

In Europe, in addition to adopting the term free radio, supportive listeners of what had been called pirate radio adopted the term offshore radio, which was usually the term used by the owners of the marine broadcasting stations.

Since this subject covers both national territories, international waters and international airspace, the only effective way to treat this subject is on a country by country, international waters and international airspace basis. Because the laws vary, the interpretation of the term pirate radio also varies considerably.

Questions have been raised about various types of broadcasting conducted by national governments against the interests of other national governments, which have in turn created radio jamming stations transmitting noises on the same frequency so as to destroy the receivability of the incoming signal.

While the USA transmitted its programs towards the USSR, which attempted to jam them, in 1970 the government of the United Kingdom decided to employ a jamming transmitter to drown out the incoming transmissions from the commercial station Radio North Sea International, which was based aboard the Motor Vessel (MV) Mebo II anchored off Southeast England in the North Sea. It was even alleged the station was a front for a Warsaw pact numbers station.

Other examples of this type of unusual broadcasting include the Coast Guard Cutter USCGC Courier, which both originated and relayed broadcasts of the Voice of America from an anchorage at the island of Rhodes, Greece to Soviet bloc countries. Balloons have been flown above Key West, Florida to support the TV transmissions of TV Martí, which are directed at Cuba. Military broadcasting aircraft have been flown over Vietnam, Iraq and many other nations by the United States Air Force. The European Union financially supported a radio station broadcasting news and information into the former Yugoslavia from a ship anchored in international waters.

Pirate radio has long been synonymous with AM (LW,MW & SW) and FM (VHF) unlicensed broadcasting and "border blasting" in most parts of the world. With the advent of the internet, many conventional AM/FM radio stations have also taken to simulcasting via the web. These range from public broadcasters, licensed commercial radio, and in some countries, the 3rd tier of low power license exempt radio stations.

Despite pirate radio being known for over the air transmission, a new type of so called "pirate radio" stations now operate on-line. The distinguishing feature is that these on-line pirates will usually not pay music copyright fees, like most of their AM/FM pirate cousins. These on-line stations will usually attract a small and loyal audience and may go unnoticed by the authorities, unlike the real AM/FM pirates who can easily be heard and traced on a conventional radio. The common term for this type of operation is better served by the term "Studio Pirates" rather than pirate radio, as no real radio transmitter is used.

A recent case of on-line studio pirate was seen in the UK. Hitz Radio(UK) and not to be confused with HitzRadio.com (USA) managed to attract large amounts of mainstream media publicity in early 2007. This publicity resulted from Ryan Dunlop, the owner of the station, nominating Hitz Radio for various business awards. After this publicity, many people with radio industry knowledge began to probe the station, which had claimed "millions of fans" and tens of thousands of listeners on-line. These claims, along with others, were part of the portfolio put forward for the business awards. When industry insiders checked these claims, it resulted in the UK music copyright agencies PPL and MCPS-PRS Alliance chasing back fees owed by Ryan Dunlop and Hitz Radio. That in turn resulted in the audience claims to be false, based upon the amount of back dated fees owed for copyright.

Illegal use of licensed radio spectrum (also known as bootlegging in CB circles) is fairly common and takes several forms.

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Source : Wikipedia