Radio Australia off the air this week


Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mike Nikolich (N9OVQ), who writes:

Radio Australia has been off the air all week. My buddy Ron Howard in California contacted [email protected] regarding this issue, and received this response:

“Thank you for your recent correspondence with regards to the Radio Australia Broadcasts on Shortwave Radio in the SW Pacific. We are currently working with our transmission provider on a number of shut downs over the past week and again over the next week to investigate a range of technical and commercial issues for the service.

In the meantime the services are still on air via our satellite services on Intelsat IS18 and IS22 as well as our FM network across the targeted markets in the SW Pacific (for detailed information please see ) and of course Radio Australia is online at

Thank you also for your audio clip of ABC Alice Springs NT!

Kind Regards,

ABC Reception Advice (Communications Networks)”

Tom, you have more than 10,000 people regularly following your blog. Can you encourage your readers to contact Radio Australia and tell them how important their shortwave transmissions are to them? I have been listening to this station continuously since 1972 and I would be crushed if they left the air. I begin most mornings by listening to their loud, clear English language shortwave signal on 9,580 kHz.

Thanks, Mike. Like many other SWLs, I too have noted that Radio Australia has been off the air this week.  Without a doubt, Radio Australia is my staple source of news on shortwave these days and a part of my morning ritual (cup of coffee and RA–!).

I will send them an email immediately.

Post readers: if you enjoy Radio Australia, please take Mike’s advice and contact them at your earliest convenience.

Spread the radio love

41 thoughts on “Radio Australia off the air this week

  1. jay

    Bill you are living post 1945. Nobody in the last thirty years listened to VOA special English. The whole operation was a part of the cold war and hatred of Cuba

    1. Thomas Post author

      Oh, I beg to differ, Jay!

      I run a non-profit that works in schools in Africa. In South Sudan, our teachers drop *everything* to tune to VOA Special English. It’s the only news program they understand with a textbook understanding of English. They’ve expanded their vocabulary and passed on the knowledge to their students.

      I personally believe VOA Special English (now called Learning English) is one of the best products from the BBG. Well, of course VOA Jazz Hour, too!


  2. Bill Lee

    When I was in China in June 1986, Radio Australia was essential. Its commentary and news on the unfolding TIanAnMen massacre was much, much better than BBC or VoA.

    They had a better rolodex of experts to call. They had the consulates phoning into to RA.
    They verified stories, while BBC was making things up, and VoA sounded more like National Enquirer.
    Bad things were happening all over China, but RA got it right every time.

    I later visited the RA personalized studio on the bank of the “mighty” Yarra River in south Melbourne and had a chat with the ex-CRI hands and the staff in the studios.
    Thanks to them, we could ignore the strange reports of BBC and VoA of things that we were not seeing.
    It was odd to hear them teaching “Strine” to Chinese people, as young students walked around campus with poket radios listening to s-p-e-c-i-a-l E-n-g-l-i-s-h from VoA and BBC’s Learning English.

    1. Keith Perron

      Compared to the BBC WS. Radio Australia’s coverage of what happened in Tinanmen Square was not very good. Radio had one correspondent in Beijing at the time. Radio Australia was using staff from the BBC Bureau in Beijing along with CNN people.

  3. Bill McGrath

    G’day, Keith,

    I know you’ve got a bee in your bonnet about those out there who submit flimsy DX reports then ask for QSL cards, stamps, promotional items, etc. Your response on this topic is pretty predictable at this point.

    “DXers” shouldn’t send this type of shallow report–it obviously reflects poorly on everyone. I get that…I really do. If I were a broadcaster, I’d feel the same.

    But this request for Radio Australia is quite different. We’re sending them a message to say, “We noticed you’re no longer on the air. Is everything okay? We love your content and would hate to see it go.”

    If the big brass at ABC take our messages as, “Woo hoo, here’s even more proof that people outside our target region are listening! This is exactly what we need to prove the service is totally and completely irrelevant…a waste of money!” then they had already made up their minds anyway.

    Personally, I don’t see how a “missing you” message to the broadcaster is going to sink the entire ship.

    You give us lot too much credit!

    FYI: When I submit a listener report, it is thorough–at least one full page with times in UTC, detailed notes about the broadcast audio and (most importantly) reception conditions at time of report.

    Oh, and I don’t live in Japan. I have visited, though. Does that count? 🙂


    1. Keith Perron

      During the meetings before the last round of cuts. Those who want to get rid of RA presented DX letters. As you might remember Radio Australia was on WRN. They ended the contract with WRN, because the regions WRN goes to on satellite is not their target or even mandate.

      What I find really funny. If people really claim to listen to Radio Australia. They will know that every 12 to 18 months. Shepparton is shut down for work they normally can do. That is when the relay gets a proper check. Radio Australia have been doing this for years.

      1. Concerned

        Maybe Keith forgets where he gets his salary from, is not part of that from SWBCing, or does not Happy Station, and Radio Netherlands specials count? Keith reminds me of a US DXer who rants and raves about SW log mistakes and stations being off freq, except in your case it’s the reception reports and us horrible DXers. Can’t win an argument with him, or Keirh P., their always right!

        It doesn’t matter what they think or say. I know my reception reports are consise, in depth, and I don’t ask for anything except for the station to verify, I even submit return postage in the form of stamps or USD to cover return replies. Even an email with yes it was us is good enough for me. So me bucko, flake off, and go bother some other hobby!

        1. jay

          Oh, but wait, why would they verify. This isn’t 1934 is it? These stations have not the staff or financing to send QSL cards

        2. Keith Perron

          That is the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. PCJ Radio Int. is part of PCJ Media and accounts for around 6% of what were doing. Since you brought it up. Let’s see what PCJ Media does. We provide technical assistance to CNN International, BBC World, and other foreign media outlets when in Taiwan, TV commercials for Mercedez-Benz China and HTC. When Ang Lee was in Taiwan to film LIfe of Pi we were involved in some of the technical aspects of the film. And we own a 20% stake of both the magazine and television version of Top Gear Taiwan and a 12% stake of Top Gear China.

          Salary you say. How can I get a salary when I own the company.

  4. Colin Newell

    I sent a note – I am a bit most optimistic about stuff than Keith Perron (a bit, not a lot!)

    Shortwave, overall, is a pretty sad place to hang out – but I am not ready to give
    up on it yet.

    1. Keith Perron

      SW today has become a regional service. The regions use to be Africa, but with mobile services this is getting smaller and smaller. Same for Southeast Asia. Burma is a good example. BBC WS and VOA have huge audiences in the country. But since the changes that have been taking place both have seen a dramatic drop in it’s SW audience as people migrate to mobile services.

      Areas where SW still has relevance are:
      Parts of Africa.
      Parts of Latin America
      The Pacific
      Parts of Southeast and East Asia
      And thats about it.

      But as local networks in these regions modernize. SW would be cost effective anymore.

  5. Chris


    Not sure if it’s my equipment but the contact link you put in this post is broken or does nothing. I looked at RA’s contact page and a few different department’s would be revelant to write to. If we could use all the same contact address it may be helpful. Can you check your link?

    1. Thomas Post author

      Hi, Chris, I just checked it and it appears to function okay. Perhaps try with a different browser? Is it just one link or all? -Thomas

  6. DanH

    17840 kHz is quiet at 2200 UTC. I usually have RA there by now. Nothing on 19 meters, but that isn’t unusual at this hour. I do have RNZI coming in now on 15720.

  7. Keith Perron

    If you think encouraging reading to write Radio Australia will help? Unless your living in Radio Australia’s target area any comments sent will be thrown away. Your not in the target. Your not important. It’s that simple.

    1. Concerned

      Who tinkled in your coffee cup. You always seem to be very negative about DXers, QSL seekers, or non targeted listeners as being nothing, nada, zero, etc. etc. etc. if we want to send RA a message of concern, so what? It might get read, maybe not, its none of your business anyway!

      1. Keith Perron

        Then I say have DXERs and QSL seekers write away. This is exactly what those at ABC International and members of government want. The last time their was a cut to transmissions and programs. They used these as an excuse to prove to the ABC and government to make the cuts. When RA had it’s own people doing this is was easier to filter. But after this task was taken over by the ABC in Sydney. They want anything to prove to Canberra that only DXERs listen to Radio Australia. In 2013 when I was at the commission into the effectiveness of shortwave for Radio Australia. Things were going well until the then head of ABC International, the future CEO of ABC International Lynley Marshall, and the then Minister of Communications Anthony Albanese and the future PM Malcolm Turnbull started to ask if Radio Australia’s only audience were DXERs in far off places. And if this was the case then SW is not needed as the mandate for Radio Australia was the Pacific. And what happened?

        1. RonF

          Yeah, KP’s spot on with what he says. RA, and Australian overseas broadcasts in general, have long been a victim of an ABC not quite sure what to do with it (and who backed away further after the politically loaded Australia Television and Australia Network debacles), and a succession of governments who really don’t want the public broadcasters to exist at all.

          RA can barely support its existence these days on the basis of its Pacific coverage which – notwithstanding the fact that most listeners in the region rely on RA shortwave – the powers that be in the ABC & government think would be much better served by satellite or internet. DX’ers listening in are just a sign that RA (&, by extension, the ABC) are over-reaching their remit and should be curtailed.

          Heck, they don’t even care about serving rural Australia outside of MW/FM/TV coverage areas – they think they should be listening & watching to the ABC & commercial services via satellite or the internet rather than “wasting” RA on them…

        2. Concerned

          I get what your saying for this particular case, I just meant that looking at your comments in the past they tend to run highly negative about DXers and QSL seekers, to a point that it just feels like you want to criminalize us for this aspect of the hobby we are involved in.
          You regurgitate this viciousness every chance you get, like we stole your tootsie pop at some point in your life. We’re not bad people and I think mostly we have a positive influence on the hobby. Post your address and I’ll send you a bag of tootsie pops as a piece offering!

          1. Keith Perron


            There was a time when international broadcasters did care about reception reports and letters from Dxers. But that was 30 years ago. Even then I can tell you if you mentioned the term to broadcasters what kind of reaction you would get.

            I have met a number of Dxers who feel they are entitled to get reception reports and have that stations like Radio Sweden, Radio Nederland and others were for their hobby. Before Radio Nederland made their mandate changed in 2012 their internal research showed that Dxers with their man spoke, woman spoke, music reports were not listening for content and could not even give any details on documentaries or reports.

            Now it’s not all DXERS. Japanese dxers who write 2 and 3 page reception reports do listen to every minute. When I look at the reception reports we get from Japan. The vast majority of them are between 2 and 3 pages and it’s almost like reading a transcript of the program. And then at the end 1 or 2 short lines on frequency and time. And they listen to the full broadcast.

            Right now next to me are 37 that have been responded to. The ones not from Japan have the silly man spoke, woman spoke, music with a listening time of between 12 to 25 minutes. Then it ends with a shopping list.

            While there was a time many many many years ago that some stations needed reception reports to find out how their signal was to region. Today’s it’s not broadcasters like BBC WS, VOA, RA, RNZI, RJ and other use remote receivers.

            Hobby. It’s not 1950 anymore.

          2. jay

            think its a mental condition called gaming or collecting. There are entire HR needs that meet just to contact and exchange cards as well. I think you are truly deaf if you can’t hear a 100kw transmitter from Australia

    2. jay

      Exactly, and who outside of a very die hard short wavers listen? Air India is 10 db over s9 with me today, but check out that they too are almost certain to retire shortwave. That would follow USA, BBC and many others including Voice of the Andes.

  8. Keith Perron

    I suspect people have short memories. Every 12 or 18 months depending on the schedule. Last year it was un June. Transmissions out of Shepparton stop from anywhere from 3 to 5 days. In 2010 it was 11 days. Every 12 to 18 months Broadcast Australia does maintenance at the site. There was also a 6 day period in 2013 when all transmissions were gone.

    Those that now reply to messages concerning Radio Australia’s broadcast are no longer replied by people from Radio Australia. This is not handled by ABC people, who really don’t have a clue what Radio Australia or doing or even care. Their main job is is replying for domestic radio and television services.

  9. John

    I wrote to Radio Australia yesterday and they also replied to me asking my location, so I responded and further detailed how I listen to Radio Australia on a daily basis on Shortwave, the frequencies etc. I can only hope that more people write in as well, if Radio Australia is thinking about cancelling shortwave broadcasts.

    1. jay

      Radio Australia is gone on shortwave. You can imagine if they require tax funding that running the 100kw transmitters, when other much more effective ways are available, will not be stopped by a handful of shortwave hobbiests.

  10. DanH

    I noticed that 9580 kHz was absent from my morning listening earlier this week. Interestingly, I looked at the current ABC Shortwave Shortwave Guide for the Pacific. This is a PDF schedule effective date April 3, 2016.

    You will notice that 9580 kHz is no longer listed for the 1300-1600 UTC hours that I previously listened to. In fact, there is no listing on this schedule for what Radio Australia previously described as the “Pacific” coverage area.

    I haven’t tuned in the 17840 kHz signal recently during my afternoons and evenings. It appears that this transmission remains on the schedule. I have been listening to RNZI on 15720 kHz during those hours.

      1. Guy Atkins

        Ditto! I’ve also let them know my concern about RA’s bsence from the shortwaves. Nearly every morning and evening, Radio Australia (and RNZI too) are playing on my receivers here in the Seattle WA area.

          1. DanH

            I need to make a correction. The Radio Australia 9580 kHz transmission we use for mornings here in North America is on the current schedule 1030-2100 UTC. I attribute this to pre-caffeine vision when I read the schedule last Tuesday. I remember enjoying KBS and BBC that morning so at least the memory isn’t shot.

    1. Dean Bianco

      I have just sent off an email to Radio Australia informing them of my dependence on shortwave radio as the sole means I have for listening to their broadcasts. Along with others, I have been an ardent listener to RA since 1971. I would sorely miss the well-produced programming and, especially, their uniquely authoritative news and current affairs coverage of the Asia-Pacific region that we North Americans rarely have access to from other media sources.

      Let’s hope this is merely a speed bump and not a dead-end, as it were!

  11. Robert Gulley

    I have emailed them too – RA is a “staple” station which can always be depended upon for great programming and useful news. What a void there would be should they stay off the air.

  12. John C.

    Sent my concerns to them this AM. This is one where we need all SWLers to send in responses not just talk about it and moan. Action now!

  13. Dave Richards

    That explains a lot. On two mornings this week, I have turned the volume on my little Sproutie up, only to hear nothing. I leave it tuned to 9580 most of the time, and one of the first things I do on many mornings is to turn up the volume and get my daily dose of RA. The first time, I thought maybe it was due to atrocious band conditions, though the lack of even a hint of a carrier was perplexing. When the same thing happened this morning, it was more troubling. Thank you for the explanation. I hope they return to the air very, very soon.



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