How Europe may help US orch to broadcast from Cuba

How Europe may help US orch to broadcast from Cuba


norman lebrecht

May 13, 2015

Classical MPR has the inside track on how the Minnesota Orchestra will relays its concert back home when there are no radio links between the US and Cuba. Here’s how:

“If we were to do a broadcast here in the states, we would do what most any organization would do,” said Rob Byers, technical coordinator, broadcast and media operations for MPR. “We’d call up the telephone company and order ISDN lines or Internet service of some kind, and we just did not have that ability in Cuba to do that sort of thing.”Indeed, when Byers and his team sat down and examined the map of undersea cables in the Caribbean, they found almost no connectivity to the rest of the world, save for two connections to Venezuela. But because both MPR’s sibling company American Public Media and Cuban state radio (ICRT) are associate members of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), it was possible to make a satellite connection from Cuban radio in Havana to a downlink in Geneva, Switzerland, and from there to a site in London that could connect to MPR in St. Paul.

They found a better way. A direct satellite uplink from Havana to St. Paul, using a downlink at the Fitzgerald Theater and a backup site at Twin Cities Public Television.

Seven MPR employees are heading to Cuba to pull the broadcast off.




  • Alex says:

    I can’t believe that this is not a video stream! The NY Phil video webcast a show from North Korea a number of years ago, and North Korea is far more isolated than Cuba.

  • william osborne says:

    Satellite uplinks can be used anywhere. I use one here in the relatively remote part of the Black Forest area where I live because there is no cable. A signal is sent to a satellite in a geo-stationary orbit 22,000 miles over the equator, then bounced back down to its recipient. I suspect the MPR signal from Cuba will come down to a satellite receiver station somewhere in the USA and be relayed to MPR by cable, where it will then be sent as an FM signal to the listeners. The ping time for such Internet systems is slow because even at the speed of light it takes about a quarter of a second to get to the satellite 22,000 miles above the earth. Added to the signal back, the ping time can be over half a second.

    I think it was Heidegger, of all people, who noted that total embargoes are in reality a form of genocide. It is a testament to the Cuban spirit that they resisted that for half a century.

  • william osborne says:

    The USA uses it’s massive, much criticized, communications surveillance systems to monitor economic activity in Cuba. From January 2009 to September 2013, fines imposed on 30 United States and foreign entities for relations with Cuba and other countries amounted to more than $2.4 billion.

    The UN General Assembly has passed 22 consecutive resolutions calling for an end to the embargo. The 2013 vote was nearly unanimous at 188 to 2. The USA and Israel were the only negative votes. More info here: