Sean crunches the language numbers

Sean Gilbert, International Editor at WRTH, writes:

I have completed my season-on-season analysis of the top 18 languages used by SW broadcasters. I chose 18 because it is the number we use in our bargraph file (odd number I know, but 18 just fits nicely and it is difficult to find many more colours that are sufficiently different from one another to be easily distinguishable in print).


If you study the image [click to enlarge], you can see the how the output of various popular languages is declining with each passing season. There are a few surprises, like the 15% increase in German output this season over B13 (but the bigger picture is that it has reduced by nearly one half since B10 -when I first started this analysis). English output has been cut by over 1/3, Spanish, Russian, Farsi, Indonesian, Portuguese and German have all reduced by about 50% from B10.

A couple of languages, however, stand out as being fairly static – Chinese and Tibetan. Chinese (that is mainly Mandarin and Cantonese dialects) has reduced by a mere 5.7% since B10, and Tibetan output by less than 1%.

There can be no doubt that International Shortwave Broadcasting is in its ‘twilight years’ now, but there is still a goodly amount of different programming to listen to, from a large number of stations.

To emphasise that point, for the A14 season, we have the full schedules of 196 international and clan/target broadcasters in our A14 schedules pdf file (which can be downloaded for free from the WRTH website).[…]

I may, at some point in the future, delve in to my archives and see if I have any usable data that will allow me to go further back with this study.

Many thanks to Sean Gilbert and the WRTH for making this analysis available!

You can pick up your copy of WRTH at Universal Radio or

Spread the radio love

2 thoughts on “Sean crunches the language numbers

  1. TP Reitzel

    Ignoring the individual is probably the best response if a reader doesn’t agree with protected speech. As long as the speech is within bounds of a topic, I don’t suspect much can be done other than outright banning an individual which is rarely productive due to the widespread use of proxies. Isn’t the InterNet wonderful? 😉 With that said, multiple reasons exist for the current decline in shortwave’s popularity which is largely due to the departure of governments for financial reasons. Commercial interests will fill the void, e.g. LeSea Broadcasting. Broadcasters on the shortwave bands must then realistically assess the need for digital and then use appropriate configurations which few digital broadcasters currently do. With the advent of the xHE-AAC codec, configurations of digital shortwave broadcasts via shortwave can tolerate some sloppiness whereas such transmissions would fail to be decoded with AAC+. Shortwave is currently undergoing a transformation to digital, not a death. 😉

  2. Mike Fakcone

    I came into the hobby on the down slide a few years ago. I have noticed the decrease in stations broadcasting. I understand that financially it doesn’t make sense to spend money for a obsolete form of communication. There is another reason the hobby is going to the dogs. I never see anything done to attract new persons into the hobby, and when a new person does get into the hobby sometimes they get discouraged on more active participation. Let me be more specific.

    There is a troll who does nothing but send out reports with caustic remarks when a person or station makes mistakes on reporting catches, or broadcasting. This person has set themselves up as the ” King of the Shortwaves” with his constant ravings about commies screwing up frequencies etc.

    it appears he has no other lot in life then sit on his little porch with his radios and listen to the waves all day and most of the night. He than sends out reports full of what he considers humor and cut downs of people and stations who don’t have their programs or transmissions exactly as published in AOKI, WRTF, Etc.

    If you look in the newest DSM for the definition of Narcissism, you see this person. This turns a lot of people off of the hobby. Mr. Perfect gets away with it because no one will call him up on his constant crap. Don’t get me wrong there are many fine people in the hobby who are more than willing to help the newcomer and do. I take my hat off to them.

    This one person has too big of a footprint in this hobby. Such a shame, if he were more positive it might make a difference but I would not recommend any new persons to come into this hobby as long as the troll is around, too discouraging.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.