Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Larry W, who points out the following announcement on the Overcomer Ministry website:
Since Overcomer Ministry leader, “Brother Stair” was arrested on multiple charges including sexual assault, I think many of us assumed his on air programming would soon come to an end.
A number of private broadcasters had already pulled his programming after his arrest last Monday. Now that Overcomer has announced the halt of all radio broadcasting–and the voice of Overcomer, Brother Stair, is in jail–their satellite and online feeds will likely replay old content.
While I’ll certainly not miss Overcomer programming on shortwave, the numerous private broadcasters who had Overcomer as a primary client will feel the loss of revenue in no insignificant way. Indeed, I believe this could even lead to the closure of some private broadcasters this year.
The Overcomer is still being broadcast on WWCR Transmitter #4.
No problem hearing Ralph Stair this morning on 9.980.
Perhaps they paid ahead ?
He’s actually out of prison right now on bail. He is going to trial soon, though.
Always great to see thoughtful perspectives from Messrs. Fahey and Professor. One of the ways I believe we need to look at SWBC is through the lens of a tool kit with an increasing number of tools available for deployment by those with a one-to-many message to share. There was an interesting NY Times piece a few weeks back that looked at how Sputnik / Russia Today established online presences through Facebook and YouTube in a strategic way to reach audiences. Much more complex than it was to blanket the shortwave bands with signals as was the way in the 1960s-1980s.
There are certainly many more items in this “tool kit” available to broadcasters nowadays…
I’ll also use this post as a reminder to join us for the 31st (!) Winter SWL Fest coming up March 1-3 outside of Philadelphia. It’s a great place to catch up with thinkers like Thomas, Mark, The Professor, and many others with longtime perspectives on shortwave.
Richard, thanks for the reminder! I’ll make a proper post about the ‘Fest!
Ghezz sorry, I can see my really poor sentence composition in my remarks above may have given the impression may have looked like they were directed to The Professor! Actually what I was intending to convey was that he brought up a great topic for discussion and I was looking forward to catching up with him and others soon to rag-chew the topic!
My fourth paragraph started “So if you are a DXer or SWL sitting in your shack”…. I now see how clumsy I was writing that. The “so if you are a..” wasn’t directed at anyone in particular, in my mind, I guess I was thinking of a group of old-timer physical paper QSL chasers down here in Australia that struggle that the 1980’s have passed and the post office wont sell them IRCs any more 🙂
I will take better care and proofread what I write in the future before hitting send!
Thanks Mark. You’re right of course, shortwave content was rarely about entertainment (but I remember some pretty entertaining programs on BBC way back when). As I once wrote in my old blog, shortwave broadcasting (and to a great degree AM broadcasting as well) is about messaging, identity, and propaganda. Instead of selling advertising, international SW broadcasters have been financed by nations and various interests paying to promote their country, their political views, or some religious belief. It’s content made to win you over, to influence you, or perhaps just to keep you on their side. Not to tickle your fancy.
But that’s why I first became interested in shortwave, to hear the “other side.” Back when the Soviet Union was the enemy, I knew they had another opinion on that, and on a lot of other things. And I’m always fascinated how people and organizations and nations make their case, as well as how they talk among themselves. Even if you disagree vehemently with certain viewpoints or worldviews, I think it’s healthy to have some understanding of how they came to their opinions or their view of the facts. And it’s interesting to note how they construct their arguments. As you say, it’s a matter of winning over hearts and minds.
And yes, I was speaking of English language broadcasting on shortwave. I’m just another American who only speaks and understands one language. And while I don’t have an actual shed, I’m also one of those white guys huddled around a receiver. While I’m not completely sure, I’ve always assumed that you’re someone who probably speaks a few languages. If so, you probably get more “content” DXing than many of us.
Also you live in Australia, a continent with more near-range targets where shortwave radio is still a more viable medium than it is in much of the developed world. When I DX non-English broadcasting the best thing I’m going to get out of it might be some good music. Sad, but true. And I don’t collect QSL cards either.
While I’ll never be the master of media reception you are, I do hope to upgrade my equipment one day. But I’m mostly a guy with portable radios, some curiosity, and a lot of opinions. And whether it’s shortwave, AM, or some online fare, I listen to hear words and thoughts in English. DXing can be fun, but spending hours to identify barely discernible signals has a limited appeal to me. And at this point in my life I’m not likely to become multilingual.
And as assuredly as I bemoan the state of English language content on shortwave, you’re right that television and the internet are ripe with it. But TV is not my thing. I have a very small number of programs I watch, and that’s about it. I barely have time for that. And I’m already diverted enough from more important things by taking in too much news and information online. Online reading and TV and video require you to sit and look at something. I prefer to let audio play in the background, and often soak it up while I may be doing something else.
Like many others, I miss hearing the daily English broadcasts from all over the world. And if even a little bit of that came back I’d be very pleased. So I hope you’re right, that shortwave “will play its part in this new era.”
Meanwhile, up until recently I’ve been involved in an archiving project where I’ve been capturing the streams of dozens of American political radio shows which document the rise of Donald Trump and Trumpism. Mostly rightist programs (because that’s what most of them are in America), but also a few left-wing shows, and even some pro-white racist programs. Not just national shows, but some local ones as well. Some bits I’ve sampled are as fascinating as they are disturbing. I’ve hoped to sort thru some of it and put together a presentation at the Fest sometime. But that would be quite an undertaking. I can’t promise that will happen anytime soon.
We live in strange times, and it is a new era for propaganda. While I don’t have the constitution to take it all in with TV or online video or (god forbid) Twitter, radio I can handle, at least in limited doses.
Now I’ve responded to you at length on a post about Brother Stair without mentioning the old goat by name. But I think that in that one mention I’ve just said enough about him here. If ever somebody deserved to be forgotten…
I do hope to see you at the Fest this year Mark. And maybe after a couple of beers you can pass along some of your optimism about shortwave radio. I’d be happy to hear it, and to see you again.
Interesting comments Professor! Return to the upcoming SWLFest (I have missed seeing you there lately) so we all can continue the discussions in the Hospitality Suite with beers in our hands!
One of my favourite friendly (beer-fuelled?) discussions in the DXing community is that many DXers think the “good-old-days” of English language shortwave broadcasting was about entertainment content. I would argue very little happened on shortwave in English to simply entertain the listener. Shortwave English language programming in the “good-old-days” was about winning hearts and minds. Capitalist, Communist, Socialist, Religious beliefs fighting for new recruits and followers via friendly mailbag programs and music request shows.
My view is that even now shortwave is far from dead. The bands are very alive and actual content is expanding rapidly but the majority of content is not in the English language. The radio “wars” of jamming, propaganda, clandestine and black stations across Asia, the Middle East and Africa is at an all-time high – I think even greater than what it was in the 1970s and 1980s.
So if you are a DXer or SWL sitting in your shack expecting to find Radio Nederlands “Happy Station” , VOA “Letters From Our Listeners” or the friendly laugh of the Kookaburra from Radio Australia in English then you won’t find that on the shortwave bands. However if that’s what spins your wheels then there are vanity run stations (even one or two here in Australia) on shortwave playing the Toto’s Africa or Lionel Richie’s Dancing on The Ceiling, but of course, broadcasting to 60+-year-old white men sitting in sheds is not a particularly lucrative business!
However, if you are a global news and culture junkie then SW is actually picking-up activity, we are entering a whole series of new “cold-war” theatres where many nations are working hard to disrupt the power(s) who have dominated the last few decades.
One particular country has the largest population on the planet, and SW broadcasting is one of many tools they are using to position themselves as also becoming the largest economy. It all makes for great discovery and listening! Shortwave was a key weapon used during the original ColdWar of the 70s and 80s, it is again in this “new cold-war”, but this time around the frequencies used, transmitter locations and relay sites have expanded dramatically. Walk over to a USA (or Australian) cable TV box – interesting, it has Russia Today (a television channel that has evolved from a Radio Moscow heritage), CGTN (a television channel that has evolved from a Radio Peking heritage), France24 Television, BBC Word Television etc etc etc. Turn on radio in Washington DC or NYC etc – hmmm, there are foreign government-owned stations on air. Look at the animated billboards in Times Square – wow, interesting!
Shortwave Radio will play its part in this new era, but it’s not being used to grab the ears of elderly white males that only speak English, it’s being used to grab the ears of the others who think they will be well-served by a change to the status-quo.
Interesting listening awaits!
Happy New Year!!
Agree 100% that there is a vast majority of new content, just most of it not in the english language.
When I tune through the shortwave bands during the day here in Australia, I could log at least 10 if not 20 stations in Chinese. If you get a chance to tune into an Australian SDR (several exist) hit up 13610 KHz as it’s a blow torch station that blasts a strong signal into Australia from 23 hrs UTC to 06 hrs UTC (CNR 1 from China).
It is getting more difficult to find english broadcasts, but if you live on the east coast of AU then Radio NZ comes through clearly (and CRI of course)
Isn’t it odd that we’re talking about the fitting demise of omnipresent Brother Stair on shortwave and there’s something funereal about it all? It’s hard to imagine anyone but the most gullible or masochistic listeners actually spending much time listening to his dull rambling and self-promotion. Nonetheless, as he leaves the airwaves and closes his pocketbook some of us are already waxing nostalgic about losing his massive broadcast overreach and his contributions to the coffers of struggling shortwave broadcasters. Let’s face, a large chunk of that cash likely came from the work and savings he’d fleeced from his sad flock. And given his history does anyone doubt the current charges against him?
Stair has always broadcast garbage. Even if you’re a bit titillated by bizarre religious broadcasting on shortwave, he was always boring and not even worthy of your time as a guilty pleasure (i.e. Gene Scott). And despite the fact that Stair spot on looks the part of a doomsday street preacher in those old New Yorker cartoons and had a dry wheeze to match, he offered nothing but his sick need for attention.
Do we need any more evidence that shortwave content is all but dead? I mean he had nothing you’d wanna listen to, but it was SOMETHING you could still tune in.
To me and probably to you, shortwave technology remains a miracle. For a while distant signals will remain. DXing will remain a sport for those with the equipment and the interest. But what comes in clearly in North America today are religious and conspiratorial programs which many of us would ignore if there was something more thoughtful (or more audible) down the dial. Both struggling, WRMI and WBCQ offer some more thoughtful content now and then. Let’s hope they survive the shutdown of the Overcomer cash flow. Otherwise, for casual SW listeners satisfied with the simplistic and predictable broadcasts from China or Cuba, they’re still in luck. An occasional pirate now and then? Great. Otherwise not so much.
Getting some podcasters on the air seems like a plan, but why should a one hour podcast pay fifty to a hundred bucks to send their show out on an unpredictable signal for such a small number of dedicated listeners who MIGHT be able to hear it? The fact is that it’s practically free to get clear and reliable audio of your program to anyone in the world via the internet.
I’ve always felt like the old state-owned shortwave services like the BBC, VOA, or the CBC should have trimmed down their number of transmitters or broadcast schedule for North America and beyond. As a backup if nothing else. I mean, isn’t cyber warfare a real thing? And one day the big solar flares will come back. And isn’t it just unpleasant to think that everything you listen to online is logged somewhere?
So, happy end times Ralph, you crusty old piece of crap. I’ll wait until you’re finally dead to give any thought to missing your sorry ass. And for what it’s worth, long live shortwave radio.
Having only recently discovered the fun of shortwave listening, I was told by several people that I’m “late to the party”. Turns out that I’m so late to the party that the police have arrived to break things up!
Ha ha! You know what, though, Golan? I’ve been spending the bulk of my listening time lately chasing South American DX. There’s always something to listen to on the shortwaves!
It may be a coincidence, but for the first time (except the aftermath of hurricane Maria), WRMI 9955kHz was off air.
Thanks for reporting the news. I appreciate freedom of speech, even if I disagree with some of what he said. Most of it centers around justifying and personalizing information what should be applied in a larger context with a larger backdrop of historical meaning (“I am the Prophet mentioned here…..” – NOT I think). But his mistakes do not negate the basis for broadcasting the actual content of those Scriptures and what it might mean to all of us globally, especially as those in power seek harder and harder to retain complete control over the masses. A recent ZeroHedge article might be appropriate here, “Jesus was born in a Police State” https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-12-25/jesus-was-born-police-state Of course, that author is “preaching” his own point of view too.
So, I hope broadcasters can fill the void so long dominated by one person. Hopefully they are scrambling now to look into every nook and cranny of existing and would-be content providers. With all the hideous noise many of us get at home, a 100kW signal is definitely needed just to penetrate that fog. Content that can appeal to more than a Regional presence will be needed, I think.
US law prohibits “domestic” shortwave broadcasting and requires minimum power of 50 kW for a license. Not sure why this is relevant today but the rules still stand. If you can get airtime down to about $20/hour on the 100 kW stations there may be interest from podcasters. If 1 kW was allowed, $5000 will have you broadcasting with a new solid state transmitter, nice antenna and studio. Plenty of vacant frequencies, why not open them up for general use.
20$ for a 100kW is not possible. That does not even cover the electric costs of a transmitter.
If it could be marketed to podcasters and airtime could get down to a lower level as Ivan suggests, then that might be a viable business model for some broadcasters. International broadcast of a podcast would certainly fulfill a need for vanity and give some perceived credibility to content producers.
I wonder if shortwave broadcasters have reached out to podcasters yet?
It’s not a viable business model. It has been tried a number of times since the 1980s. Podcasters get a far larger audience using the internet. Also the cost,
Euro6205AM will be doing what you suggest when it starts broadcasting in early 2018. We are offering airtime to podcasters for pan European coverage for $15 per hour.
Is Euro Radio 6205 kHz a legal and licensed broadcaster or a pirate station?
That would be an interesting scenario but I don’t think the ARRL lobbyists would go for it. Amateur radio licensees are not allowed to broadcast, so they buy time on SW broadcast stations instead.
Sorry, Ivan, that hasn’t been the case for years. The FCC dropped the “no domestic” rule a long time ago. WRMI and WBCQ both specifically target parts of the US, along with WWCR, WWRB and WINB.
I did finally get in touch with Jeff at WRMI and he said they plan to released a revised schedule in the near future, once the chaos settles.
So far, I’ve noted that RAE Argentina’s English and Italian are off 5850 overnights and Shortwave Radiogram was off 7730. It’s moving from 0600 to 0800 UTC next weekend, from what I hear. I don’t know about programming on 11580 or other frequencies since I rarely hear them.
He was truly a “BEACON-DEACON”….could always count on his broadcast for a signal check….darn near got to heaven on a couple of them.
Actually, as repugnant as I found BS (ironic initials, huh?) he did have every right to broadcast…The SWL world won’t miss him, and I am not knowledgeable about broadcasting revenues and so on, but I guess it is the same as internet freedom; If it is taken away, what’s next?
Personally, I never listened to his bluster, choosing to scan by any station that played his sermons. For me personally, domestic SW died a long time ago as I don’t listen to it. Besides all I ever hear is religious or Spanish language programs from domestic sources.
For me overseas stations take up 99% of my Shortwave listening, DXing, and logging. The other 1% is listening to WRMI relays and on occasion WBCQ when they have programming that interests m other than AW talking all the time. There are still a few good overseas stations left, not many but a few so I’ll continue to listen and support these stations.
He’ll be back. Once he gets that whole ‘jail’ thing taken care of.
Forgive me if I’m missing the joke here but given his advanced age (84), the gravity of the charges, his previous convictions, and the likelihood of a custodial sentence, I suspect we’ve heard the last of Mr. Stair.
With that being said, The Overcomer Ministry announced they would continue to broadcast on satellite, telephone and the web and they may well have the audacity to rebroadcast the words of a convicted felon. Ugh.
Perhaps Alex Jones can fill in for Brother Stair in the meantime?
I’m surprised he doesn’t have some shortwave presence already, since he often talks about being prepared for when the US government is going to war with it’s people to disarm them, and how all Americans need to be prepared for the inevitable nuke attack (whether deliberately caused by the US govt (yes his a conspiracy theorist as well) or a foreign power).
You can check out his work at youtube or at infowars.com (if you feel in need some good comedy) and there is even a detailed wikipedia article on him.
I believe Alex Jones/Infowars still broadcasts on WWCR. I heard some of his kooky talk about a month ago.
There’s been a lot of angry people trying to get Stair off the air for many years annoyed that he succeeded to get so much air time over them. So either these individuals will buy the extra air time or some of it or it’s bad news for the likes of WRMI.
I’ve already noticed some of the frequencies that carried Overcommers transmissions have gone quiet here in Europe.
It’s kind of an end of an era, the voice so many of us could not escape.
I’m sure many people won’t miss his ministry but rather miss his presence on shortwave because he’s been there for a very very long time and now a lot of shortwave time has gone silent.
I suppose he will be remembered as the King of Shortwave because he dominated so much of the spectrum for many years.
I am concerned for WRMI’s financial health & sustainability. Though I don’t have first-hand knowledge, Overcomer’s money has [soon to be “had”] to be an *** extremely *** significant portion of the revenue that keeps them afloat. Like DanH above, I listen to their foreign broadcast relays and several of their non-Overcomer programs like the Oldies music, TheReportOfTheWeek & Bob Biermann.
WRMI’s relays account for the majority of my current SW listening. To lose them? I don’t even want to think about it …
I thought it was because Jesus was returning in 2018.
The Child and Women Molesters in California don’t like East Coast competition….
If they don’t they never had much to worry about from WBCQ. Too weak to reach the West Coast most of the time.
I get WBCQ in califas and i get alan w. He believes in shortwave radio and will allow stuff that most people wont. If I don’t like something on the air, i turn the dial. American radio pretty much is garbage, apart from a few community oriented stations i cant recieve because they broadcast 10 watts FM in some distant city-the rest is coorporate $#!t. Heck i wish i knew how to produce a radio show. I’d rent time on BCQ and get my stuff out to the world, or at least a bigger part of it.
As for Brother Scare its true there are a hell of alot of chi-mos getting away with it pretty much everywhere. Wont miss him one bit.
Nhaaa… you guys in Maine are just sick. First K1MAN and now this. Your reputation is long gone now.
The business model for some of these SW broadcasters is challenging. Essentially, this is vanity radio. Programmers pay the stations to broadcast their programs. This is different from the public broadcasting and commercial broadcasting models used in the US. I haven’t heard much direct fundraising or more than a few commercials on US SW stations. Then again, I don’t listen to much US domestic SW broadcasting. I listen to some of the foreign broadcasts relayed by WRMI. I don’t hear WBCQ often here in California any more.