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For many years Charles W. Horn, general engineer for the National Boadcasting Company, has been associated with radio in one phase or another.
He established radio communication systems in many South American countries for the United Fruit Company. He also installed the fnrst radio compasses used by the United States Navy. In 1920 he joined the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company, where, as superintendent of radio operations, he was in charge of broadcasting and telegraph transmission. In 1927, in conjunction with the Melbourne Herald, he perfected transmission to Australia.
In particular he is known for his experimental work in connection with international broadcasting at KDKA. During the world war, Horn, a lieutenant in the Navy, served as a radio expert, assistant to the chief of the Third Naval District, with headquarters in New York.
He was born in New York and educated in thc public schools there. He is a member of the Institute af Radio Engineers, a Fellow of the Radio Club of America, the Army and Navy Club, the Society of American Military Engineers and the Edgewood Country Club of Pittsburgh.
One of the best examples of international programs which have been rebroadcast in this country was the Thanksgiving services held in Westminster Abbey to celebrate the recovery of King George V.
“Is International Broadcasting,” asks C.W. Horn, “Just Around The Corner?”
Radio engineers who are working to develop the dream of worldwide interchange of radio programs into an actual fact today are the adventurers of broadcasting. The results of their efforts are felt all through Europe, in far-away Australia, in South America and in South Africa. The American radio listener gets occasional glimpses of the fruits of their experiments when a program originating in a foreign studio is picked up and rebroadcast by an American transmitter on a National Broadcasting Company network.
In considering what has been going on in the development of international exchange of radio programs it is well to bear in mind that attempts are not being made to link the average receiving sets in American homes directly with foreign transmitters. Instead, foreign studios are being considered as outside pick-up points for outstanding events, just as programs originate in an opera house or a convention hall in this country. Instead of using the conventional wire line lo bring the program into the studio for monitoring and distribution to network stalions, short waves must be employed for bringing the entertainment across the ocean.
Experiments in the use of short waves for the exchange of programs between nations have been going on since 1923. Wilh the orgnnization of the National Broadcasting Company three years ago, it was considered logical to bring this new organization directly into the picture. Thus we find the present plan makes use of the Radio Corporation of America's mammoth experimental receiving station at Riverhead, L.I.; the highly developed short-wave receivers of the General Electric Company at Schenectady and Sacandage, N.Y., and the Westinghouse receiving plants in East Pittsburgh. All these receivers are connected with the NBC headquarters in New Vork, where much of the actual monitoring is done and where data is checked and co-ordinated. Then the data, obtained by American radio engineers is checked and co-ordinnted with that received from engineers abroad who are co-operating fully with the American experimenters.
The job that the engineers have tackled is a big one. It is not for an amateur nor for an organization lacking extensive fnancial resources. It has called for and will continue to demand infinite patience, for much experimental work must be done before American listeners can be assured of regular, reliable, uninterrupted reception of projirams from abroad.
The chief difficulties encountered in short-wave transoceanic reception are static, irregular and erratic fading and distortion.
It is apparent that these difficulties are all natural ones. Therefore the experiments have resolved themselves into a battle between man and nature, with man pitting all his technical and engineering knowledge against natural factors that cannot be eliminated but must be circumvented.
There will always be static. It cannot be eliminaled any more than sunshine and rain. However, solution of the problem will only come after untiring research, experiment and development.
Fading and resultant distortion also are caused by natural phenomena and again it is a matler of developing equipment that will bring in the desired program through these barriers.
At the present time the demand for short-wave bands exceeds the supply. The solution of this problem is to continue to narrow the bands so that the number in the whole spectrum is increased. But this is much more difficult than it sounds.
Americans have become accustomed to thinking of radio transmitters as consisting of two tall towers with wires strung between them and a small building nestled somewhere near the base. Likewise, radio receivers as small pieces of furniture, many of them not as large as a phonograph.
In order to transmit and receive powerful short-wave signals, many acres of ground are needed. Some aerials in use resemble gigantic spider webs with wires running in every direction. The transmitting equipment itself is vastly more complicated than ordinary equipment for use on the regular broadcasting waves and is many times more expensive. A large city might be built on the acreage required for the antenna at Riverhead, Schenectady, Sacandage or East Pittsburgh.
Thus it is obvious that effective transoceanic short-wave reception cannot be accomplished through an ordinary aerial system, as some interests would have you believe. It is one of the biggest broadcasting jobs in existence and the fact that some of the world's largest experimental laboratories are working almost as a unit on the problem is merely indicative of the immensity of the task.
The work goes on at every hour ofthe day. Engineers often are in the laboraories and at transmitters and receivers at three o'clock in the morning. Somewhere there's alawys a program on the air and in most cases that program is going out on short waves in order that experimenters in other sections of the world may have the use of it for their tests.
Just what has been accomplished in international exchange of programs is a frequent question. Several excellent examples have been offered to the American listeners through the NBC system. Among them may be recalled the first English program to be put on an American network, a symphony concert from Queen's Hall, London. Another epochal rebroadcast from abroad was the Thanksgiving service in Westminster Abbey on the occasion of the recovery of King George V. That same morning radio listeners heard the voice of an announcer in Sydney, Australia. The Schneider Cup race description from England was heard by American network listeners and the rebroadcast of Gloria Swanson's voice was another. Still more recently the rebroadcast from Germany of Einstein's remarks and the program from Huizen, Holland, may be remembered.
The quality of these programs was good. In several instances the quality was comparable to the best received direct from American transmitters. While listeners declared themselves satisfied with these programs, engineers know that it would be impracticable at the present time to announce a regular schedule of programs originating in foreign studios. That time is coming, but just how near it is we cannot now predict.
Engineers hesitate to give any guarantee because they receive none from Mother Nature herself that magnetic storms or other of her whimsical playthings will not interfere with their plans.
While listeners in this country await foreign programs, those in England, France and Germany are regularly enjoying entertainment originating in the New York NBC. Programs which these foreign listeners tune in from their own local broadcasting stations received from the United States by short waves. Likewise American programs have been heard through networks in Australia, and an experimental station in Johannesburg, South Africa, receives them regularly.
Few of us have ever met these engineers in the remote parts of the world, yet a strange friendship has grown up between American radio engineers and the men who are devoting their entire time to the interchange of programs with foreign countries.
It is not hard to believe that this friendship and feeling of fraternity will spread to the millions of radio listeners themselves when these programs begin to come to them regularly from studios throughout the world. Many of us are idealistic enough to think that the worls we are doing will contribute much to the dreamed of World Peace.
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