BBC World Service: “Over To You” on the future of shortwave broadcasts

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Webster (G7KVE), who shares the following article and interview from the BBC WS program Over To You:

Tuning in to the future for shortwave

We answer your questions about the BBC World Service’s plans for shortwave. With many tens of millions still relying on it to listen every day, what does the future hold?

Plus: earlier this year it was “temporarily suspended” due to Covid – but now Weekend is back. We get your reaction.

Presenter: Rajan Datar
Producer: Howard Shannon

Spread the radio love

12 thoughts on “BBC World Service: “Over To You” on the future of shortwave broadcasts

  1. Joe Sart

    Time to go to SSB, no carrier ( less power that is “unused “), and much lower noise ratio, works like a dream even at low propagation or fading.

  2. Babis

    close down everything at SW such bbc, voa, news Russia etc … let the Chinese only, they have few English programs & news so we can hear only them … we getting use to them by now (between ironic & serious because seems they thinking closing down few SW well known transmitters)

  3. Paul Evans

    Weekend is the best programme on the World Service. Glad to hear it back. Wonderful selection of guests who have brains, knowledge and level thinking. The producer is a genius!

  4. Mangosman

    Your history is incomplete, there is the digital systems of the 1990’s and newer DAB+, HD radio and DRM. Mobile/cell mobile broadband is of course is digital radio transmission system.

    Remember also that the high frequency broadcasts you talk of are all AM modulated. As a result about 67 % or more of the transmitted power is the carrier which carries no information at all. DRM is the only digital radio technology standardised for HF broadcasting and contains no wasteful carrier. This considerably increases the cost of transmission, which is the major reason why HF services are closing down.

    There should be a level playing field it Digital Radio Mondiale on the HF band to produce stereo sound with the high frequency sound missing from AM short wave as well as a lack of noise and interference free reception. The BBC is transmitting DRM to Europe.

    I tried to find a transmission schedule high frequency (Short Wave) DRM and AM. The BBC now doesn’t mention radio any more, they use the word sound instead. This shows the effect of the telcos on BBC thinking. Why don’t they push broadcasts of this quality listen to the consumer radio. The short wave demonstration is at 4:45″ . The path length 3180 km. What about the other facilities such as images and Journaline?

    Remember also the more than 50 % of UK radio listening is via Digital Audio Broadcasting or DAB+.

    There are new HF DRM broadcasts in Far Eastern Siberia. I cannot put more than one link in a reply so Google “Radio Purga” which is now broadcasting.

    Lastly, Short Wave is old technology talk. New radios only show the transmission frequency hence High Frequency, not the wavelength of the waves in metres

  5. Paul K Hoiland

    Information has akways driven the advance of civilization and mankind. Yes, some would think that in the era of the World Wide Web that radio no longer has a place. But, that is far from the truth. There are many out there in remote locations with no access to the Net, and plenty even here in America who cannot afford such in their homes. Radio since its earliest days has been an avenue of information, of exploratiion, and of pushing the boundries of both Science and knowledge. From the first primitive spark systems using Morse Code, to the developement of better receiving systems, to Single Side Band and FM, to even video as well as the cell systems so many carry with them everyday. It was radio that opened up the future for mankind and will continue to do so long into the future.

  6. Wilbur Forcier

    Broad and simplistic thought… I have come to think of Shortwave radio as I think of Nuclear Power. Incredible power harnessed for our use. The first goal after their creation was to see how Big we can make them. Now we know the limits and we stopped there. Now this generation needs to figure out how to use this Vast potential in a way that requires less resources using today’s technology.
    It’s clear the previous generations set up a system that is helpful to mankind, but the infrastructure is dated if not unsustainable.
    A new wave of innovation is required. Instead of creating new versions of Vacuum tubes costing 10s of thousands of dollars, we need a viable replacement to do the job without the boiling mercury and the creation of heat.
    The inventions of Armstrong, RCA and Marconi changed the world forever. But we may have reached there limits.
    It’s beyond my feeble mind but I it doesn’t seem unthinkable. The BBC for one is could be a pioneer in this effort.

  7. Abigail

    It’s interesting to note that Fry points out (at around the 5′ mark) that when the BBC switches off a signal, “other broadcasters” move in and take over the frequencies, showing that there is still a demand and audience out there for SW broadcast services. This is obviously a reference to China.

      1. Abigail

        In an era when there is very much an information battle (some might even term it a “new Cold War”) between the West, Russia and China, it makes very little sense to cede the airwaves to non-stop Chinese propaganda in a multitude of languages.

        I think I read on this blog a while ago that Russia is planning to restart some MW/SW transmissions in Siberia, because there are large remote areas where the only broadcasts available to locals are Chinese (in particular the Russian-language station on 1521kHz), and the Russians would rather their people were listening to Russian radio.

        If I was going to be a gambler and make predictions, I’d suggest that the likes of the BBC and VoA may well cease cutbacks and even increase SW transmissions a little in the current geopolitical climate.

      2. Donald J Glocka

        Radio Australia REALLY jazzed their operation up – first they removed broadcasting to a lot of previously serviced global regions then they complained that their listener numbers were down and used THAT as the reason for cutbacks.
        Those Aussies got some real Einsteins working down there.


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