What did SWI swissinfo.ch sound like for the first seven decades of its existence? The short answer: a radio station.
From the mid-1930s to 2004, Switzerland’s international service was Swiss Radio International (SRI). The first few decades of SRI’s existence were the heyday of shortwave – it was often the only way of getting news directly from other countries.
A brief history of SRI, the predecessor of swissinfo.ch, helps explain why you hear what you do in the video above.
What began as the Swiss Short Wave Service in 1935, would grow from broadcasting programmes in German, French, Italian and English to include other European languages and Arabic, and eventually change its name to Swiss Radio International.
The international service was considered a voice of neutrality during times of war, first during World War II, followed by the decades of the Cold War and up to and including the first war in the Gulf in the early 1990s.
This decade would mark the beginning of the end for Switzerland’s shortwave broadcasts. Shortwave transmitters gave way to relaying programmes via satellite, and this, in turn, would give way to the internet when the service went online in 1999 as SRI’s website.
In 2004, the plug was pulled for good on SRI as part of budget cuts, but not swissinfo.ch. Now producing exclusively online, the international service extended its linguistic reach by adding Russian, Japanese and Chinese, and publishing more video and audio reports.
Journalists working in swissinfo.ch’s current ten languages collaborate closely to set the editorial agenda, providing the necessary context in their stories so they are understood wherever they are read, seen, or heard in the world.
Project ‘The Sounds of…’
This article is part of the project “The Sounds of…” produced with our partner media organisations Polskie Radio, Radio Canada International, Radio Romania International and Radio Prague International. Further videos have been produced by journalists at these outlets, to give an insight into their work in these countries.