Monthly Archives: June 2012

Toronto Sun: Killing RCI was shortsighted

(Source: Toronto Sun)

BY  ,QMI AGENCY

The chipping away at Canada continues apace.

Radio Canada International’s shortwave service was, quite literally, Canada’s voice to the world for nearly 70 years — through wars, through triumphs and disasters, through it all. It has been part of our history. And, now, it’s gone.

…[T]he service became a means by which we could subtly promote democracy, and the Canadian way of life, in far-flung corners of the world. In places like China, Russia and North Korea — where the Internet can be censored, but shortwave can’t be — RCI was heard by many. In post-Communist Eastern Europe, shortwave radio receivers are still the way in which many receive news from the outside world.

I know this from experience. When I was an election observer in Bosnia in 1996, billeted with a Serbian family, I was glued to my tiny shortwave radio at night. I’d listen to the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the news from back home, and I was always pretty grateful that RCI existed.

Our allies — the U.S., Britain, Germany, France and Australia — have all expanded their national shortwave service.

In Canada, meanwhile, we’ve killed it.

The Harper regime, which has taken a chainsaw to the CBC in recent months, is ultimately to blame for this short-sighted decision. They will say that government needs to tighten its belt, and they’re mostly right about that.

But getting rid of RCI’s shortwave service is pennywise and pound foolish. In all, keeping RCI on-air would have cost about 35 cents a year, per Canadian. In comparative terms, it’s as much as it cost taxpayers to rent a couple of panda bears from China for zoos in Toronto and Calgary. Or, it’s a fifth of the cost of building gazebos in Tony Clement’s riding and fake lakes for the G8/G20 summit.

Meanwhile, KPMG did a study on RCI, and found it was the most efficient — that is, cost-effective — broadcaster of its type in the world.

Why should you care? Does it matter? It matters. Billion-dollar fighter jets and super jails, before a pittance for a radio station that promoted democracy and decency around the world? The idiots who came up with this outrageous decision should all be fired.

Perhaps you didn’t notice the death of RCI because you have access to lots of media here in Canada, or because you don’t ever need to tune in to shortwave radio. But to people around the world — to our men and women in uniform — the death of RCI won’t go unnoticed.[…]

Read the full Op Ed piece in the Toronto Sun

RCI Sackville to continue relays and their North Quebec service until Oct 31st

Curtain antennas in operation at RCI Sackville

I was just informed by RCI Sackville that they plan to continue to broadcast their North Quebec service and various relays of other broadcasters until the end of October.  Specifically:

  • The North Quebec service will continue to operate until all five FM relays are in service to replace the shortwave broadcasts on 9,625 kHz. So far, only two of the five relays are in service.
  • They will continue to broadcast the following station relays until October 31st, 2012, unless the various broadcasters decide to pull out early. Below are a list of relays:
    • Voice of Vietnam
    • NHK
    • KBS
    • Vatican Radio (which,  reportedly, will continue to broadcast until end of July 2012)

Again, this schedule is subject to change and the October 31st date could be altered depending upon when VOV, NHK and KBS decide to either discontinue their relays or broadcast them from elsewhere. The implication is that the North Quebec service on 9,625 kHz will be removed, perhaps even without warning, as soon as the remaining three local FM relays are in service.

Final episode of the final Maple Leaf Mailbag now online

On Facebook, Wojtek Gwiazda kindly shared the following message from Terry Haig (who has been subbing for Ian Jones on the MLMB):

Dear Friends,
I am distraught that the final edition of the MLMB did not go out properly this past weekend because of technical glitches. The show can be heard on line by clicking on the search button on the RCI website and writing in “Maple Leaf Mailbag.” Then hit “programs” and click “listen.”

My apologies that we could not spend our final hour together as planned. Once again, I thank you all for your undying love, support, insight, graciousness and generosity. You are wonderful and magical.

I shall never forget you. Be well, everyone. Au Revoir and peace!
Terry H.

———————————————————
To hear the programme just click here:
http://www.rcinet.ca/english/archives/program/the-maple-leaf-mailbag/home/

I should note that, the Maple Leaf Mailbag was one of my favorite RCI shows to catch on shortwave. It was informal, quirky, interactive and always fun. It also had a very strong international listenership. Terry has been an excellent sub, but admittedly, I’ve really missed hearing my good friend Ian Jones on the show.

Aung San Suu Kyi visits the BBC World Service with thanks, criticism

Aung San Suu Kyi (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Noted Burmese opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, visited the BBC World Service last week. Her visit served, in part, to thank them for their broadcasts, which became a lifeline of information for her during her fifteen-year imprisonment in Burma between 1995 and 2010. Shortwave radio connected her with the outside world in the solitude of her prison years.

Sadly, many of the programs offered by the BBC World Service have been cut since Ms. Suu Kyi’s imprisonment. She voiced a few comments about the cuts:

(Source: BBC World Service)

Ms Suu Kyi’s schedule on Tuesday – her 67th birthday – involved a visit to BBC World Service staff at the new Broadcasting House in central London.

“Because of the BBC, I never lost touch with my people, with the movement for democracy in Burma and with the rest of the world. For that, I would like to thank all of you very sincerely,” she said.

But Ms Suu Kyi also said she was “a little sad” about changes to programming on the World Service.

“I feel that the BBC World Service is not as versatile as it used to be – or perhaps I’m not listening at the right times,” she said.

“There used to be so many different programmes, and every time I listen to it now, it’s news and commentaries. I miss the other old programmes… Bookshelf, Just a Minute, and so many others which I don’t seem to hear now…

“It’s not what it used to be,” she said.

During her four-day tour of the UK, Ms Suu Kyi is due to meet members of the Royal Family and address the UK Parliament.

Of note as well was the praise she showered on veteran British DJ, Dave Lee Travis, whose music request program she called “a jolly good show” for making her world “much more complete. I can relate, at least to some degree: you see, music, it seems, still delights listeners on shortwave.

Video of Marc Montgomery’s farewell speech to The Link listeners

(Source: YouTube)

Radio Canada International journalist Marc Montgomery broke down in tears during his farewell speech to listeners as RCI ended its 67-year history of shortwave broadcasts yesterday. June 22, 2012, was the last day of The Link, RCI’s flagship English language daily radio show, which Marc hosted from its very inception in October 2006.