ears to our world

At ETOW, we believe access to information is access to education. We provide innovative, simple and appropriate technologies to schools and communities in remote, rural and impoverished regions of our world.

Radios to classrooms in Romania

The scope of work we do at ETOW is not limited to any particular region of the world. As long as teachers and their students meet our requirements--primarily, that they lack stable access to utility power at home and school--we will endeavor to work with them.  Hence our Eastern European connection in Romania. pleasantridge1

Through a partnership with Pleasant Ridge Church in western North Carolina, we supplied Gypsy students and their teachers in Hirip and Satu Mare, Romania, with access to a world of news and educational programming through our manufacturer-donated Grundig self-powered radios.

ETOW would like to acknowledge and thank Dr. Jim Smith, who hand-delivered four radios on Pleasant Ridge's recent visit to Romania. In a letter to us, he writes,

I would like to personally thank you for the gift of...shortwave radios...During our trip to Hirip and Satu Mare, Romania, we gave these radios on your behalf to the following [teachers and community] leaders:

Ramona Herosovics...a teacher of English and Current events in a school working with Gypsy upper high school-aged students, as well as some of our seminary students, in Satu Mare, Romania...She will be using the radios to teach English to these students. She will be sending a second radio home with them for English projects. Since many of the students do not have power in the[ir] homes, these radios will be exceptional.

pleasantridge2Radios 3 & 4...will be used in the classrooms of a small village school in Hirip, Romania. A teacher travels three days a week to the school to teach there. Sometimes each week [these schools have] a different teacher. The main superintendent...accepted these radios and they were used in the classroom while we were there. There is no power in this building...The teachers will use them to teach current events as well as English and the radios can be checked out after school each day for homework and brought back the next day for classroom use.

Pleasant Ridge Church has maintained a strong relationship with these schools and Gypsy communities in Romania for over 13 years. Through their long-term committment to Hirip and Satu Mare, our partnership with Pleasant Ridge will insure sustained support over the long term, and we hope to supply even more of the teachers and students in these areas with our self-powered radios.

Thanks to the Winter SWL Festival

naswaETOW would like to warmly thank our friends at the Winter SWL Festival in Kulpsville, PA.  The Winterfest is perhaps the world's largest gathering of international radio listeners and professionals--attendees usually include broadcaster representatives, vendors and regional clubs. The gathering is sponsored by NASWA (North American Shortwave Association). Not only did the festival organizers allow us to set up a booth with donation box in the main meeting area of the multi-day festival, but they also designated us as the recipient of funds from their silent auction. ETOW Executive Director, Thomas Witherspoon, was also given the opportunity to speak to the group at their Saturday luncheon.

Thank you, Winterfest organizers, supporters and attendees--your support was overwhelming, and sincerely appreciated. We look forward to attending again in 2010!

First radio arrives in Kibera, Kenya

World Corps Kenya, St. Catherine School It is with great excitement that we announce the arrival of our first radio in Kenya!  A teacher at St. Catherine School in Kibera, Kenya, is the recipient.  Serah Mucha of World Corps Kenya, who has partnered with Ears To Our World (ETOW), delivered our first radio herself.

Regarding this delivery, Ms. Mucha wrote:

The school is situated in Kibera, which is the biggest slum in Africa; it has 145 children and only 5 teachers, so this radio could be counted as the sixth. :) The buildings are dilapidated but what caught me was the eagerness for the children to learn and the excitement of a new method of learning in the classroom...

[I]t was so wonderful to give the radio away and see the smiles on people's faces...

Serah Mucha of World Corps Kenya with teacher Reagan and students of St. Catherine School.

This radio, provided by Universal Radio, is just the first of many that will be sent to teachers at St. Catherine and other local schools. Teacher Reagan, the radio's recipient, and World Corps Kenya are committed to providing ETOW with constructive feedback so that we can ensure our program is best tailored to their needs.

Thanks to Ms. Mucha and World Corps Kenya!  Thanks, too, to our wonderful sponsors Universal Radio and Etón Corporation. We wish Reagan and the other teachers and students of St. Catherine School our very best.

Etón Offers Support and Hundreds of Radios

eton logoEars to Our World is honored to announce their latest sponsor: Etón Corporation, the manufacturer of our chosen self-powered shortwave radio. Etón CEO and Chairman, Mr. Esmail Amid-Hozour, has recently offered Etón's support to Ears to Our World, and to that end, has provided us with literally hundreds of radios. This remarkably benevolent gesture will not just help propel our mission forward, but in our view, will ensure our long-term success.

We are also proud to extend Etón's mission which, as we have previously noted, is very much aligned with our own.

Many, many thanks to Mr. Hozour and Etón!

ETOW Selects a Radio: the Grundig FR200

Our choice, the Grundig FR200! If you have been following our progress in testing radios for ETOW use, you'll know that the choice of radio for our project has not been straightforward. Over the past two months, we have considered and thoroughly tested an array of radios from various manufacturers, searching for an appropriate quality product. It was important to us that the radio we selected be particularly durable and of excellent quality in every respect, able to readily withstand constant classroom use, as it will ultimately represent ETOW where we work.

We have at last made a choice: Grundig's FR200. The compact and sturdy FR200 has several requisite features, including:

  • Shortwave coverage down to 3.2 MHz, to cover local HF stations in Africa and the tropics
  • FM and AM (medium wave) coverage
  • Self-powered by hand crank:  two minutes of hand operation delivers approximately 30-40 minutes of radio listening
  • LED reading lamp
  • Sturdy chassis and rugged black canvas carry case with adjustable shoulder strap
  • Volume and sound fidelity suitable for classroom use
  • Superior sensitivity and selectivity for a radio in its class

The LED Lamp on the FR200 makes night reading possible

One of the most significant deciding factors has been the FR200's indication of longevity. We were impressed, moreover, with all of the Grundig (also known as Etón) radios which we tested in this respect. Being able to supply not only a quality but also lasting product to our classrooms and teachers is consistent with our mission, in that we will endeavor to maintain the relationships we build with our schools.

We are also encouraged by the fact that Grundig/Etón's mission coincides with our own. Here is an excerpt from their website:

Radio is a medium that transcends borders. The airwaves know no boundaries. From the veldts of Africa to the jungles of Southeast Asia to the suburbs of America, the airwaves, and the valuable information they carry, are available to anyone with a radio. As a company with a global presence, Etón is committed to helping the world communicate across borders and without boundaries.

Congratulations, Grundig/Etón, for crafting an exceptional product!

ETOW would also like to thank Universal Radio once again for helping us narrow our search and donating all of our test radios.

Announcing Partnership with World Corps Kenya

Ears to Our World is proud to announce a newly-formed partnership with World Corps Kenya. World Corps is a non-profit organization that has worked in Kenya since 2001. They were originally formed to address concerns about poverty, particularly the lack of access to energy, information, and economic opportunities in rural areas of developing countries. Their mission is "to provide training and infrastructure to young adults in rural areas of developing countries, empowering them to become effective business entrepreneurs, community leaders and global citizens." We are happy to support this mission with our own.

World Corps staff members, Serah Mucha and Ronald Mdawida, will be working with us to ensure the success of our very first radio distribution project slated for early 2009. We are most grateful for their support.

ETOW would also like to thank Dr. Nyaga Mwaniki, originally of Kenya, and professor of Anthropology at Western Carolina University. Dr. Mwaniki has been instrumental in setting up our partnership with World Corps, and has also graciously volunteered to be on site for the first project. Many thanks to Dr. Mwaniki.

Finding the right radios

Our radios are self-powered by built-in hand cranks. If you search the internet for shortwave radios, you'll find there are a lot of radios on the market. Like many consumer electronics, they come in all sizes, colors, price categories, and offer a dizzying array of features.

For our purposes, the selection is unfortunately not as extensive. Ears To Our World (ETOW) distributes radios to teachers and classrooms in very rural parts of the world, so our needs are quite different.

What do we look for in an ETOW radio? Here is a list of our basic requirements:

  • The ability to power itself --Because the rural locations where we work usually do not have mains electrical power, these radios must have a mechanism for charging themselves, such as through  the use of a hand-crank generator or a solar panel.
  • Adequate frequency coverage -- The bulk of our radios will be going to destinations that use much lower shortwave frequencies (for local stations) than we are used to in North America. Our minimum requirement is that a radio's SW1 coverage will receive down to 5.8 MHz, but we give preference to radios that can range lower. In a few years, solar activity will make it possible for much more distant stations to be heard with clarity in the higher SW2 frequencies; thus we also seek radios that reach up to 22 MHz. Many countries also utilize the FM and mediumwave (AM) bands for local news and information. (For a sampling of what is available on these frequencies, look through the broadcast schedules on our Programming page.)
  • High-quality build -- Our radios will be handled by teachers and children very intensively. They need to be very rugged, designed to take the rigors of busy school environments, and operable outdoors.
  • All ETOW radios will sport an LED reading lamp.

    Good sound fidelity -- The built-in speaker on our radios must be capable of producing enough volume that it can be heard in a large classroom (or outdoor area) without the distortion of sound.

  • Simple to operate -- Our radios will be accompanied by a basic custom-designed owner's guide and we hope to provide on-site education to our teachers and radio guardians; however, it is essential that the radio functions are also intuitive.
  • Sensitivity -- Our radios must have receivers strong enough to pull international broadcast stations.
  • Built-in reading lamp -- The radios we are testing have built-in LED lights that act as flashlights or reading lamps, a crucial function in the areas we supply--helping our teachers and students read after sundown, as well as improving safety.

Factoring in the above minimum requirements narrows the extensive collection of shortwave radios on the world market to approximately ten radios. Choosing the right radios to test out of these final few is difficult.

Luckily, we have friends in the right places; ETOW is fortunate to have the support of Fred Osterman (President of Universal Radio in Reynoldsburg, OH). Universal Radio has been sending us a steady supply of self-powered shortwave receivers, which we are currently testing. Without Universal's exceedingly generous support, we would have been forced to dedicate our limited funds to purchase these test radios.

With Fred's help, we have narrowed our selection to two radios, either of which is likely to serve our purpose. When we make our final selection, we will post the announcement here on the ETOW website.

If you'd like to find out what radios passed the hurdles, check back soon!

Universal Radio to help sponsor ETOW

Universal Logo We are delighted to announce that Universal Radio has agreed to help sponsor Ears To Our World's classroom shortwave radio project.  For our initial distributions, they have agreed to donate some "seed" radios--portable shortwave radios that they normally retail. Their radios are ideal for our project as they cover the international shortwave broadcast bands, are self-powered, and also feature an often essential LED reading lamp.

We are very fortunate to have such a well-known and reputable company helping us. Universal Radio has been retailing shortwave radios for over 60 years, and is the best known company in the global market. Their vast experience and technical knowledge will be invaluable as our organization grows.

Thanks for supporting us, Universal!

Ears To Our World--Announcing Our New Website!

As you know, Ears To Our World (ETOW) has been gaining a lot of support and momentum recently. (Thank you so much!) Many people have asked us to keep them informed of each new step as we get closer to distributing our first set of shortwave radios to classrooms in 2009. In this website, you can subscribe to our posts and comments and stay in touch as news happens. Rather than email our supporters each new development, we decided this is a much simpler way of sharing information--plus will help keep your inbox less cluttered.  All of our announcements and news items will be posted here, and this site will also blog our progress. All of our posts and pages will be archived here, as well.

Bookmark this page, and keep checking in!

If you have any suggestions or comments, please either use the comment function on this website, or send an email via our contact page.

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