Radio Vaticana - Pope's Christmas Message and Urbi et Orbi Blessing: December 25, 2018

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Live, off-air, approximately forty-minute recording of the 2018 Christmas Message and "Urbi et Orbi" Blessing of Pope Francis as broadcast by Radio Vaticana (Vatican Radio), a division of Vatican Media, on 25 December 2018 beginning at 10:50 UTC on a shortwave frequency of 15695 kHz. This broadcast originated from a 250 kW transmitter at Santa Maria di Galevia, north of Rome, and was beamed to central Africa with an antenna beam azimuth of 145°.

This broadcast was the English-commentary version of the Radio Vaticana special Christmas Day broadcasts. After the Radio Vaticana interval signal, five or siz minutes of classical music can be heard before the commentator introduces the broadcast. At about 11:00 UTC, commands of the Pontifical Swiss Guard can be heard. This is followed by abbreviated versions of The Pontifical Hymn ("Motetum Vaticanum") and the Italian national anthem ("Il Canto degli Italiani") as played by the Band of the Pontifical Swiss Guard and the Carabinieri Band of the Italian Armed Forces. The appearance of Pope Francis on the central loggia of St. Peter's Basilica is greeted with cheers. He delivered, in Italian, his annual Christmas message ahead of the traditional blessing "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city [Rome] and to the world). This was translated simultaneously by the commentator. Pope Francis also recited the Angelus prayer and the plenary indulgence (in Latin). Following his speech, there was a military salute to Pope Francis with abridged versions again of the anthems. The Bells of St. Peter's peal as the Swiss Guard and the Carabinieri exchange salutes. After the interval signal, two popular Christmas music tunes featuring pan pipes end the broadcast.

The broadcast was received by the Web-interface wideband software-defined radio at the University of Twente in Enschede, The Netherlands, with a "Mini-Whip" antenna in AMSync mode with 5.08 kHz total bandwidth RF filtering. Reception was very good with a reasonably strong interference-free signal with only slight fading at times.

Radio Vaticana - Pope's Christmas Message and Urbi et Orbi Blessing: December 25, 2016

Live, off-air, approximately thirty-five-minute recording of the 2016 Christmas Message and "Urbi et Orbi" Blessing of Pope Francis as broadcast by Radio Vaticana (Vatican Radio) on 25 December 2016 beginning at 10:55 UTC on a shortwave frequency of 9645 kHz. This broadcast originated from a 100 kW transmitter at Santa Maria di Galevia, north of Rome, and was beamed to western Europe with an antenna beam azimuth of 330°.    

This was the "ambient sound" version of the Radio Vaticana broadcast as picked up by various microphones with no voice-over commentary. The first approximately five minutes of the broadcast consists of just crowd noise. At about the five-minute mark in the recording, corresponding to about 11:00 UTC, commands of the Pontifical Swiss Guard can be heard. This is followed by abbreviated versions of The Pontifical Hymn ("Motetum Vaticanum") and the Italian national anthem ("Il Canto degli Italiani") as played by the Band of the Pontifical Swiss Guard and the Carabinieri Band of the Italian Armed Forces. The appearance of Pope Francis on the central loggia of St. Peter's Basilica is greeted with cheers. He delivered, in Italian, his annual Christmas message ahead of the traditional blessing "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city [Rome] and to the world). He also recited the Angelus prayer and the plenary indulgence (in Latin). Following his speech, there was a military salute to Pope Francis with abridged versions again of the anthems. The Bells of St. Peter's peal as the Swiss Guard and the Carabinieri exchange salutes, concluding the broadcast. 

The broadcast was received by the Web-interface wideband software-defined radio at the University of Twente in Enschede, The Netherlands, with a "Mini-Whip" antenna in AM mode with 9.0 kHz total bandwidth RF filtering. Reception was excellent with a strong interference-free signal capturing almost all of the transmitted audio bandwidth.

Radio Vaticana: March 12, 2016

Live, off-air, approximately twenty-minute recording of Radio Vaticana (Vatican Radio) on 12 March 2016 beginning at 19:39 UTC on a shortwave frequency of 6070 kHz. According to a registration with the High Frequency Coordination Conference, this broadcast, aired daily, originates from a 100 kW transmitter at Santa Maria di Galevia, north of Rome, and is beamed to western Europe with antenna beam azimuths of 326° and 4°.    

The program is the Rosary in Latin and is one of several liturgical programs broadcast by Radio Vaticana. The recording begins with the Radio Vaticana interval signal followed by an excerpt of Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring." In particular, the Rosary is the "Mysteria Gaudiorum" (Mysteries of Joy) version of the "Rosarium Beatae Mariae Virginis Corona" (The Crown of the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary). Different versions of the Rosary are broadcast on different days of the week. The recording ends with the excerpt of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" and the interval signal.  

The broadcast was received by the Web-interface wideband software-defined radio at the University of Twente in Enschede, The Netherlands, with a "Mini-Whip" antenna in AM mode with 8.09 kHz total bandwidth RF filtering. Reception was excellent with a strong interference-free signal capturing almost all of the transmitted audio bandwidth.

Vatican Radio English service to Africa: September 13, 2014

" Vatican-radio " by Joshua Sherurcij -  Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

"Vatican-radio" by Joshua Sherurcij -  Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Many thanks to SRAA contributor, Andre Bagley, for this recording of Vatican Radio. Andre writes:

"This was recorded on 9-13-14. The broadcast was received in the Great Basin area of North America, which is quite a few thousand miles from the broadcast's intended audience in Africa. Reception conditions were extremely good that night, thus the audio is very clear and mostly free from interference and band noise. This was recorded from a Tecsun PL-600, with whip antenna and a random long wire attached to said antenna. I used my digital voice recorder via it's external microphone jack."

This recording was made on the 13th of September 2014, starting around 0457 UTC on 11.625 MHz. 

Click here to download the recording as an MP3, or simply listen via the embedded player below. Please subscribe to our podcast to receive future recordings automatically.

Vatican Radio: July 13, 2014

Many thanks to Shortwave Radio Audio Archive contributor, Chris, who submits this recording of Vatican Radio.

Chris comments:

Africa Service of Vatican Radio broadcast at 2000Z on 13 July 2014 on frequency 15,570 kHz. Reception location: Maple Street Park, Lake Michigan, Winnetka, Illinois, USA. Recording equipment; Sony ICF-SW7600G, Sangean ANT-60 reel antenna, Sony ICD-SX712 recorder.

Click here to download this recording as an MP3, or simply listen via the embedded player below:

Vatican Radio: breaking news broken?

Pope Francis I

A few moments ago, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected Pope, becoming the first pontiff from the Americas, and taking the name Pope Francis I. When breaking news like this is happens, I often turn to shortwave radio to hear it "from the source;" what better station for news about the Papal elections than Vatican Radio? Right?

Hm. When I turned to Vatican Radio on 13.765 MHZ at 20:00 UTC today, here is what I heard:

After a little music and announcement confusion--including what sounds like at least three audio feeds coming in at once--Vatican Radio settles on an announcement program which states, in several languages, "Vatican Radio's programming schedule is currently being modified to cover the election of the new Pope."

It wasn't until thirty minutes later (20:30 UTC), when the Vatican Radio service to Africa started in French on 11.625 MHz, that I heard any substantive news about the new Pope:

radio_vaticano

Of course, I can find information about the new Pope from any one of two million different online sources, but it did surprise me that Vatican Radio wasn't better prepared for this event.  I even wondered if there was a different broadcast running on a consecutive frequency, so I checked; all were identical, however.

Still, the radio archivist in me can't help but experience some appreciation of the confusion on the airwaves. After all, this is a genuine piece of radio history and a fascinating thirty minutes of audio in the wake of a big decision.

In my mind, I envision the Vatican Radio staff frantically stirring to assemble news--for which they had no advance notice--regarding the new Pope. No doubt, the CNNs, BBCs, and Al Jazeeras of the world had pre-prepared material on each of the papal candidates. When the white plume of smoke announcing the election was first spotted, these broadcasters were likely more than ready to pull out the appropriate material and publish.

Perhaps this is not how Vatican Radio usually operates. Indeed, I suspect their live feed of events experienced a technical difficulty which they have, no doubt, since resolved. And for what it's worth, their website was appropriately up-to-date.

History:  sometimes bumpy, but always fascinating.  Especially on the airwaves.