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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Jonathan Marks: A must read newsletter about emerging technologies

Long before I became a Ham Radio operator, I was a shortwave listener. Week in and week out I listened to world news from the BBC, Deutsche Welle, Swiss Radio International, and a host of other nations. This was particularly fun during the cold war era since shortwave was a key medium for broadcasting news and information to captives held under thumb of communist-style regimes. Western nations spend considerable sums of money broadcasting in to reach those over the iron curtain. And of course, Radio Moscow and other pro-communist nations, did their part to combat Western influence by jamming western transmissions, and producing their own propaganda programs - which were entertaining to listen to.

Beyond those aspects, I'd listen in to European programming for their cultural programs and news perspectives. For example, one of my favorite shows was called Random Selection which was hosted by Larry Wayne which aired on Sunday evenings on Radio Deutsche Welle. It was part of their Living in Germany section that aired in the 80s and early 90s. Unfortunately now, a large portion of broadcasters have ended their North American Broadcasts in favor of Internet downloads. The rationale for ending SW broadcasting to North American seemed to be cost-related in that maintaining the large stations and staff to run them didn't make sense, particularly when most of North America can access Internet, satellite broadcasting and other forms of media. I still miss them on Shortwave, downloading their podcasts is just not the same as a crackling voice or the occasional whining sound of QRM on the band. (Now I sound like my grandfather).

By the way, although I've owned several shortwave radios my time. I still use my Grundig YB400 PE which I purchased from Radio Shack about 6 years ago to replace my old set. It's a great portable radio for listening to broadcasts by Radio Netherlands and the BBC (both haven't abandoned their North American broadcasts - yet!)

Today, with digital technology, cell phones, the Internet and other mediums, shortwave is declining to a point where the band is no longer filled with hundreds of English programs. You have your mainstays like the aforementioned BBC, and many religious broadcasts, etc.

One of my favorite radio programs was a program called "Media Network" which aired on Radio Netherlands back in the 80s and early 90s. Media Network is now in blog form and can be found here. The shows producer and narrator was Jonathan Marks, and the show focused in on what was happening on the shortwave bands. Often you'd hear clips of new stations in their infancy broadcasting in English. This show was a must-hear for short-wave fanatics as you always heard up to date information about who was popping up where, and who was closing down operations.

Hands down, it was my favorite show. Weekly, I'd sit pencil in hand, copy down the information and later try to find the new stations on my own. Ok, so it was a bit geeky, but it was certainly fun. Jonanthan Marks had a loyal following and I can remember he report that he was ending his role on Media Network. But of course, eventually everyone moves on. In the case of Jonathan Marks - its as if he never really left, its more like he took an expanded role.

Today Marks runs several blogs and sites including this one that are dedicated to emerging technologies in the digital age. He covers everything from broadcasting laws to cell phone networks. But even if you are remotely interested in new technology, his newsletter and blogs are worth reading

Here is a must read newsletter produced by Jonathan Marks. It's easy reading for the layperson not entirely acclimated to the fancy language of communication, and extremely helpful in understand the trends of today and tomorrow.

There are a few Jonathan Marks out on the web. The guy that I'm referring to is this one. Of course, I've never met the guy, but he's one of the people that I hope to one day be able to shake his hand.

Also, for those looking for radio-centric news, you can always check out Glenn Hauser's site: .

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