North East RadioWatch: May 27, 2002

LPFMs for Vermont

by Scott Fybush

VTrans LPFM applications
93.3 Rutland
94.3 Springfield
94.9 Middlebury
95.9 Fairlee
96.1 Newport
96.5 Thetford
96.5 Stowe
96.9 Middlesex
97.1 Milton
98.1 Williston
98.3 Derby
98.5 Boltonville
98.9 Manchester
99.1 West Dover
99.3 Orleans
99.5 Putney
100.1 Randolph
105.1 Bennington
105.5 Jonesville

Which brings us back to our European trip, doesn't it? When we left you, we were hopping on board the Eurostar train for a jaunt through the Chunnel to Paris.

We arrived three hours later to find a city where AM radio is nearly dead, with just four audible signals at our listening spot in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. On 162 kHz longwave, of course, was the mighty voice of France-Inter from Allouis in central France; up on medium wave we heard Radio France International (in English and other languages) on 738, France Bleu on 864 and FiP (the local service of government-run Radio France) on 585.

Only the 738 signal was exclusive to AM; the other three were simulcast on FM, along with some 35 other signals audible in central Paris on the FM dial. (RDS proved invaluable when it came time to identify them all!)

Radio France operates seven signals: France-Inter, with talk and AC music; France Musique, with classical and other "serious" music; France Info, the all-news service; France Bleu, with AC music for older listeners; France Culture, the "serious" spoken-word service (think Britain's Radio 4); FiP, the local service and a new signal called "Le Mouv," with French rock for a younger audience. Radio France International also operates an FM signal in Paris with its French-language stream.

In addition, the dial is filled with a variety of national networks -- RTL, the outgrowth of the old Radio Luxembourg, operates two of them; Radio Monte Carlo operates all-news RMC Info; Europe 1, Europe 2, NRJ, RFM and Skyrock are among the other big ones -- and a scattering of local stations, including several aimed at specific ethnic communities. (At 94.8 on the dial, we found a spot shared by several stations aimed at the Jewish audience in Paris!)

We didn't see much in the way of commercial studios, but we did head over to the enormous Maison Radio France across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower (just over the bridge from the Statue of Liberty replica that sits in the middle of the Seine). It's reputed to have the largest floor area of any office building in Paris -- and we can testify that it has one of the most impressive radio museums we've ever seen.

The collection includes some rare French radios from the twenties and thirties, along with a surprisingly extensive tribute to Edouard Branly. Never heard of him? He invented the coherer, one of the many pieces that contributed to reliable radio communications around the turn of the 20th century -- and because he was French, he's singled out for special attention when they recount their radio history.

National pride aside, the hour-long museum visit (and that's the only way to get inside, via a guided tour conducted in rapid-fire French) was well worth it. It even included a brief tour of parts of the rest of the facility, including the enormous concert hall where live orchestra performances are broadcast (which inspired a bit of dialogue with our tour guide about the huge differences between the big European state broadcasters and our commercial broadcasting system).

And, yes, there's that tower. What can we say about it that you don't already know? Eiffel has been used as a radio facility for more than a century; TV broadcasts began in 1935 and have continued almost non-stop (except for the war years), and today the tower is home to six TV signals and a whole slew of FM outlets, not to mention a forest of microwave antennas. We spotted the transmitter building next to the south pillar of the tower (it's mostly underground, but some power and ventilation equipment sits above the facility), and tried to follow the transmission lines up the tower.

Oh yeah - how many other TV towers have a shop halfway up that sells little cast models of the stick? (Yes, there's one now residing in a place of honor on one of the display shelves at NERW Central...)

Stay tuned; we'll honor the Eiffel Tower on Site of the Week later this summer.

That's it for another week; we'll see you here again next Monday!

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