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Good Morning Paris

photo: cafe petite rotonde

Unknown Heros

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 31. May 2004:– There isn't a great deal to say about the weather these days. It has quit being summer without really slipping all the way back to being winter. The forecasts have been calling for some pretty dark skies, but the sun must be muscular because it keeps poking through the clouds so they can't get the full cover necessary to drive the temperatures into the cellar.

It started to rain a while ago and a gust of cool, damp air blew through the apartment. Something or other caused the absence of a weather forecast last night so I don't know if the rain was predicted, or if it is a retarded bit of weather left over from this morning's forecast in Le Parisien.

For tomorrow we are supposed to expect some serious rain – it's the 1st of June after all – Le Parisien says it will be sinister. However even the paper has a bulge of finer weather poking into France from the Atlantic. This may allow the skies to get almost sunny on Wednesday, with temperatures climbing to 20 degrees.

By Thursday it should even be finer, with very blue skies all over France, up to a diagonal line from the Alps to the Channel. Beyond the line it will be somewhat crummy, but it should be no concern of ours. Thursday may also have a high of 22 degrees. This is the level we had for most of last week's so–so weather.

The TV–weather news wouldn't go out on a limb for Friday. The paper thinks the weather will be better, except along the Alps where it says there will be some 'muttons' carrying on in their dirty and humid manner.

Café Life

Good Morning Paris

A young fellow named David created 'World Radio Paris' last October and about six weeks ago I was invited to an informal meeting to pitch in my two–bits worth. The first problem was thatphoto: wrp logo the meeting took place too close to the noisy bar in the café Raspail Vert so I barely heard anything, and since I know nothing about radio, I had little to contribute.

The other problem was the presence of the decidedly commercial 'Paris Live Radio' which was then not, but is now broadcasting somewhere in the Paris region, perhaps out at La Défense.

The big problem for both of the English–language radio stations is that they do not have broadcast frequencies. Paris Live Radio – 'PLR' – solves this by being carried over satellite and cable. All that is required to listen to it, in certain areas, is having a subscription to cable or a satellite receiver.

David's World Radio Paris – 'WRP' – knows all about the satellite and cable possibilities. The operators of these other systems do not necessarily see any need for English–language radio in Paris, so they aren't too interested in a radio station like 'WRP' that has started off as a non–profit association.

On the other hand both the United States' National Public Radio – 'NPR' – and Britain's BBC World Service are interested in having a Paris outlet for their programming. France is about the only place in the world where they don't have some sort of relay.

David has talked to them both and they are both approved for broadcasting in France. A next step is to get 'WRP' approved by the French authorities. Initially, approval would only allow broadcasting over cable. But with NPR and the BBC as programming partners, all David has to come up with is eight hours of local content a day.

This is still some way off. David doesn't think he can get a FM frequency before late in 2006. But there is a new technical player on the block and it is called Digital Audio Broadcast, or 'DAB.'

In Geneva on Friday the International Telecommunications Union wrapped up a three week conference which laid out the basic principles for DAB broadcasts in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. It was the first IUT conference in 15 years to deal with a new terrestrial broadcasting standard.

In essence, by going digital, broadcasting will be able to pack more information into frequencies – allowing mobile reception of video, Internet and multimedia data. The technical hurdle that will permit the creation of new digital services without interfering with existing analog ones, has been overcome, on paper.

What it means for broadcast radio is CD–quality sound, which is the main thing. In fact, DAB is alreadyphoto: rue roger, paving here – in Britain and in Germany. David has an info sheet with photos of several DAB radios, including car radios. A small, transistor–like model costs about 100€. In Britain, the BBC now broadcasts via DAB in several areas.

New paving will provide a terrace for the café.

David thinks that WRP can be broadcasting to Paris via DAB early next year. He is planning local programming that will include music and cultural information on concerts and movies in Paris, gradually extending to traffic, public transport updates, weather, and up–to–the minute news bulletins.

The big question in Paris will be, will there be any listeners? As long as nobody knows for sure, being set–up as a non–profit association limits pressure for immediate commercial success. While waiting, I will keep listening to the nearly wordless FIP.

Unknown Heros
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