Ripping the radio news

ireland_dublin_radio_dublin_253_badgeDoes anyone remember when Eamonn Cooke & Radio Dublin would rip the 8am news off RTE Radio 1. This was in the days before Morning Ireland.

The news pips would chime and Radio Dublin would take the news feed from RTE while Nova & Sunshine were staffing Newsrooms with NUJ Journalists. At the end of the news just after the weather Radio Dublin would thank the newscaster (Don Cockburn et al) and return to Radio Dublin’s regular music programming.

RTE were not too pleased with this and I do remember the debate and complaints lingering on as cease & desist letters to Radio Dublin would be read out on The Captain’s (Cooke’s) News show on Sunday’s near 1pm.

Now, ripping audio from sources not otherwise available and retransmitting them is something I know lots about. And pissing off RTE  is another thing I know lots about with TeleText to Mobile Web services (1999-2000) or Irish News Headline Services on the early web (1995-1998), things I did all too often, so I am not making this point from the comfort of innocence or naivety.

But I am amused greatly by the Irish Times holding smart phones up to car radio speakers to badly rip sound off Morning Ireland to take part in the news agenda of the day. They make Captain Cooke sound like a pioneering professional.

Here is the offending clip. And in our modern day of Podcasts XML RSS and always on internet here is the MP3 version available on demand from RTE.

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UTV in Ireland

utvOn January 1st 2015 UTV Ireland began broadcasting in Ireland, the TV station which is owned by UTV media replaces UTV of UPC & Sky EPG’s.

Many people have complained that they no longer have access to UTV as it has been replaced by UTV Ireland which has different scheduling to UTV & other ITV regions.

The reason for the loss of UTV has been explained as a rights issue. Where the right to broadcast the programme in a geographic area is exclusive to a broadcaster.

The rights for many top ITV programmes were previously held by TV3 in Ireland and while these rights were with TV3 UTV was broadcasting these same programmes in Ireland without blackout.

So having UTV and UTV Ireland broadcasting opposite each other shouldn’t really be an issue with rights.

It is more like an issue of exclusivity that can be directed within the UTV media group. Making UTV more difficult to see in Ireland is an assist to newcomer UTV Ireland, where without a choice on EPG viewers are forced to see the popular shows on the TV station the group want them to see. This no doubt helps the new station in viewer numbers and advertising revenue. But it leaves a lot of viewers upset with the manufactured lack of choice. This isn’t a choice between popular shows on TV3 (now on UTV Ireland) but lack of choice between UTV & UTV Ireland. But there is spill over.

UTV has left the UPC EPG. 

UTV is available on ‘other channels’ via Sky but that means no pause or record on Sky+

UTV in HD is available of Free To Air FreeSat @ 28 East 11068MHz Pol V SR 23000 FEC 2/3

UTV in SD is available too at 10906MHz  Pol V SR 22000 FEC 5/6

Note all other ITV regions are also Free To Air


ITV ITV2 ITV3 ITV4 ITVBe all with + 1 time shift copies & CITV


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Gender issues for Microphones

Women are under represented in radio. In Ireland less than 1 in 4 voices in news / current affairs is female.

One possible contributor and untested reason for this is that the radio studio is not adjusted to the female voice. How could this be? Warning, here comes some sweeping generalisations.


Men build radio stations with microphones built by men, tested by men with male voices. Hmmm.

Are microphones not universal? some are but when it comes to high end studio microphones there are features that make some microphones more ideal than others for different uses. I extend the studio term beyond the radio studio for a moment and include recording studio, where microphone choice and gender and microphone positioning are considered when laying down a vocal track.

Are Male & Female voices similar? No, Male, Female & Children’s voice all have different frequency characteristics.


  • A healthy male voice usually falls between 110-120 hertz
  • A healthy female voice usually falls between 200-210 hertz
  • Children’s voices usually fall between 300-400 hertz 

Now, do the female voices we hear often on the radio (presenters/anchors rather than guest/contributors) have lower pitched voices than average pitch for women? I will let you answer that.

NPR looked at the Female Voice in a radio piece that is animated below.


NPR-Talking While Female from kellianderson on Vimeo.


But what is this all saying? Do we some how dislike the female voice once it has been optimised from a radio studio by audio processing built by men, tested my men, for male voices?

unprocessed audio processed audio

On the left is some spoken content recorded and not processed. On the right a recent FM broadcast of some spoken interview. Now I know I can not listen to processed audio for too long on headphones, the car is much better for long periods of listening to radio where all the levels have been equalised to death. What I suggest is that the female voice is best heard with much less processing (like Classical FM / Lyric FM) and with a mic’ing technique and microphone of suitable polarisation for the female voice and then radio will be less man mic’ed than it currently is.

This hypothesis needs more research.

Standard Disclaimer: I could be wrong, I could be right.

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Fine Gael / Labour FOI fail

in reply to Killing Freedom of Information in Ireland

He said ‘What do you think about my manifesto? ‘I like a manifesto, put it to the test-o.

Labour Party Manifesto 2011
Labour will restore the Freedom of Information Act so that it is as comprehensive as was originally intended. The fee structure for Freedom of Information requests will be reformed so that cost does not discourage individuals and organisations from seeking information, and the remit of the Freedom of Information and the Ombudsman Acts will be extended to the Garda Síochána, the Central Bank and other bodies significantly funded from the public purse, that are currently excluded.


Fine Gael Manifesto 2011
Freedom of Information: Restrictions introduced by recent Governments to Freedom of Information in the public sector will be reversed.


Fine Gael / Labour Programme for Government 2011-2016
We will legislate to restore the Freedom of Information Act to what it was before it was underined
by the outgoing Government, and we will extend its remit to other public bodies including the
administrative side of the Garda Síochána, subject to security exceptions.
We will extend Freedom of Information, and the Ombudsman Act, to ensure that all statutory
bodies, and all bodies significantly funded from the public purse, are covered.
We will introduce Whistleblowers legislation.
We will put in place a Whistleblowers Act to protect public servants that expose
maladministration by Ministers or others, and restore Freedom of Information.

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We dig Baldoyle doing a dig on Seagrange Green have found some medieval artifacts. #Baldoyle


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why I hate Outlook

I have always hated outlook. but from time to time I am forced to use it to test, counter-test, and due to policy at workplaces I have been. Why do I hate it so much?

I have an in built dislike to it. Some of the reasons I hate it from way back when I have forgotten, but I hadn’t forgotten I hate it.

I grew up on Eudora & Pegasus Mail, they served me well until Gmail happened. Outlook or as I call it “LookOut” has always been nearby for testing scenarios for clients who present problems with mail which are usually less to do with me and more to do with their reliance on Outlook and their inability to use it correctly.

So now I am using it again and I hate. Here are an unexhaustive set of reasons.

1. the separation of email addresses with semi colon not comma
2. its threading sucks
3. its reply feature fails, if I make a second reply to a thread I end up replying to myself not the first sender.
4. its search is crap.
5. you have to search sent & inbox separately
6. its compose is too rich for my liking
7/ it is feature bloated to the point you can find nothing

Still I must use it and hate it. Outlook Web App is an improvement on Outlook v14 (Client) but I wish I didn’t need either.

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Coder Dojo coolest projects [live blog]

16:12 judging over. Everyone a winner for taking part. We are coder dojo. Well done all.

13:35 DCU bursting with ideas and people viewing. My daughter made a web app project

13:07 great projects on display here. Are you near DCU? Get down and see it.

12:21 DCU is buzzing with the sound of coolest projects being setup

Coolest projects begins at noon.

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tuning out social blogging noise

[without apology for the radio spectrum analogies]

social blogging noise is like listening to FM radio with all channels on the one frequency and you are tuned to that station all day and most of the night. you can hear everyone mention Miley Cyrus & you can hear ‘Blurred Lines’ by Robin Thicke is high A list rotation, you can hear 40 mentions of Syria at the same time at the top of the hour and every minute of the hour, its called ‘News140′.

But wasn’t social bloging supposed to be more akin to Shortwave Radio with 10kHz channel separation with frequency reuse based on night time propagation and frequency planning / sharing. With strong cultural relevance entering your brain from far off places you will generally only visit with your finger on a wall map of the globe.

twitter / instagram / tumblr / facebook et al are over subscribed, over hyped and leave me with that after glow of a top 40 waffle. When you know you need a good feast of international documentary content from a filtered source you may not even trust.

my social blogging consumption habits need a diet, “less is more” theme again. micro blogging is far from boring but it leaves you hungry for the next meal, or even a DX-pedition.

In the way that jamming, scourging, drifting and transmitter co-channel interference are bad for radio listening, so to is a cacophony of social blather bad for being social. Tuned, trusted and technically perfect is what I was to hear. One meme at a time.

FILTER SWITCH ON – I will still hear you if I want to hear you. Not because your distortion to noise ratio was equal & high.

QSX Internet but not all the Internet at the same time.

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Home Broadcasting Tax

first published March 1st 2013 via the office of Clare Daly TD

The TV licence fee funds public service broadcasts and insures that private media moguls do not get to own all the viewpoints in broadcast media.

What we must avoid is allowing a home broadcasting tax become a tax that is not linked to usage or ownership, if let, this TV tax will become a tax on people for merely existing.

Supporting public service broadcasting is part of protecting media diversity. As the Minister for Communications deliberates on changing from TV licence fee to home broadcasting tax, here are some pointers to be mindful of.

1. RTE is not the only recipient of licence fee currently – independent production sector and community media sector are also funded via Sound & Vision funding via the BAI.

2. Commercial broadcasters operate for profit and their stations are not public service broadcasters. Public service broadcasting is not to be confused with public service programming much of which that appears on commercial media is already cross funded by Sound & Vision. Commercial stations will claim that talks shows and 20% news remit are public service broadcasting, they are not. The ethos of the broadcaster is key.

3. As an apparatus (TV) licence becomes less popular, switching to a tax on homes is not the solution. Only funding through central taxation is fair, equitable and progressive. Central taxation solves the collection cost and the inability to pay problems that licence fee and home broadcasting tax face.

4. As the major beneficiary of public service broadcasting funding RTE needs to be reorganised to better service its remit on reduced funding. The commercial operations of RTE must be examined, and the cost of funding public service broadcasting must be considered when seeking to rearrange what RTE does commercially. Audience participation in RTE should not be limited to Liveline call-in shows, the audience, the funder of the service need a greater say in the running of the national broadcaster. The BAI also needs to be restructured, currently there is no community media representation on the BAI board.

5. There must also be better democratic access to spectrum, too often it is licensed as a rare resource to the highest bidders and to the usual suspects. If media is this important it should be owned by more interests and access to platforms like Saorview should be open to Oireachtas TV and Community Regional TV in Ireland and community radio and local radio should be allowed affordable access to DAB.

6. Beginning and leading the debate on public service broadcasting funding with the notion that the new form of collecting the funding will be another home tax is bogus. A wide scale nationwide debate on funding public service broadcasting is required, and it must not be front loaded with preconceived ideas on sources of funding.

7. This debate must include all stakeholders and users. The half a billion euro of revenue to Sky TV from Ireland each year makes the €150 million licence fee look small in comparison. How public service broadcasting is delivered in a market full of fragmentation of services and convergence of viewing technology makes this the ideal moment to consider taxing the profits of the major players in this sector.

8. Public service broadcasting is misunderstood as media literacy is not something that government is concerned with. Through the community media sector and local and national broadcasters, from classrooms to college and the local library, media literacy is key to understand and developing an informed viewpoint on what public service broadcasting is and what it can be.

Let the honest debate begin.

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