With your help, Bill would like to take a deep dive into Mailbags!

Original image by Sigmund via UnsplashMany thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Meara, from the excellent Soldersmoke Podcast, who writes:

Thomas:

A recent comment on the SS blog about the roots of our podcast got me thinking about one of our favorite segments: the Mailbag.

I know that in coming up with this segment — and its name — I was influenced by the shortwave broadcast stations I listened to as a kid.

Today I did a bit of Googling to find out which ones had Mailbags.

Turns out that the practice and the term almost certainly originated at Radio Moscow. You will find this interesting:

https://rijmenants.blogspot.com/2020/05/radio-moscow-and-cold-war.html

HCJB had DX-Party Line, but I don’t know if they had a segment called Mailbag. It may have been just one big mailbag!

Radio Romania still has one (I think). As does Radio Havana Cuba.

I saw one reference to a Canadian “Maple Leaf Mailbag” but I don’t recall ever hearing this.

Any other Mailbags out there?

73 Bill

I, too, have a lot of nostalgia for Mailbag shows. As you note, there are still quite a few on the air. Radio Romania International always comes to mind and also the many reader notes Jeff White addresses in Wavescan on WRMI. I was called out on the Maple Leaf Mailbag a number of times, but that was more than a decade ago now (wow–next year, RCI will have been off the air for a decade! Let that sink in!).

I’m sure there are many more.

SWLing Post readers: Can you please comment with any active Mailbag shows you know of currently on the shortwaves? Perhaps mention the broadcaster and program name and any of your favorites. Thank you in advance!

While you’re at it, check out the Solder Smoke podcast!

Spread the radio love

14 thoughts on “With your help, Bill would like to take a deep dive into Mailbags!

  1. Paul JAMET

    An international radio station always has a hard time estimating its audience or even the impact of its programs. However, for some years now, with Internet listening and social networks, international stations have had tools that provide them with more elaborate statistics that allow them to better understand their impact.

    Listener letters remain interesting programs for both the stations and their audience:

    * For the stations, the letters received allow them to know who is listening and what is the interest in the content of the programs

    * For the listeners, who are encouraged to express themselves because excerpts of their letters are read out on the air. Personally, I like to know what held the attention of the listeners in order to understand what motivates them: information, cultural programs such as those devoted to music, history, tourism …

    In my listening memory (some 40 years of listening) the best program was “Le Courrier mondial” broadcast on Radio Canada International. The program was hosted by Stéphane Parent who gave voice to listeners from all over the world on a given subject. This diversity is much appreciated because it is very enriching.

    Which French-language stations have kept a program dedicated to audience relations? While Radio Prague International has discontinued its “Listener Courier” in 2019, others have fortunately kept it:

    1 – KBS World Radio – South Korea: today the weekly Saturday show is the longest listener-focused program; titled “Entre nous” it is the flagship program of KBS World Radio’s French-language service. It is a 50-minute program with regular sections devoted to “Belles lettres” and listeners’ questions, answers to the question of the week, and reports on South Korea such as “Carte postale sonore” and “Un regard sur la Corée”. There is also an analysis of the visits and comments made on the station’s Facebook page. On the last Saturday of the month, at the end of the program, a section called “Have your sdayay” allows you to discover a new listener, a new journalist or to greet a host who is leaving the station. Two speakers are at the microphone and one is the producer. Three speakers take turns bringing “A Look at Korea. KBS World Radio also has a forum more or less used since the facebook page exists.

    It should be noted that the Mailbag program of the English service of KBS World Radio is of a more limited format and content than the program of the French service; the hosts read the mails and answer the questions.

    2 – RRI – Romania – every Friday, during the midday program, RRI broadcasts the listeners’ mail; an edition of about 10 minutes to answer the listeners’ questions, read their letters and present the QSL of the month. Occasionally a question is asked of listeners. This program is rebroadcast several times in the following days. In addition, each year RRI asks its listeners to vote for the personality of the year and also organizes the listener’s day; This year on Listener’s Day, RRI asked listeners to share their own experience with fake news during the pandemic. This results in a special program during which excerpts from the letters received are read out on the air. RRI gives its listeners the opportunity to speak during several programs. Two journalists – hosts take turns to animate this mail from listeners.

    3 – RSI – Slovakia – The 17-minute program “Entre Nous”, broadcast on Sundays, provides an update on reception conditions and answers listeners’ questions. Nevertheless, in front of the avalanche of questions asked by some listeners, the answers brought to some of them are now gathered on a dedicated web page. Three journalists-hosts are at the microphone, which makes the program very lively.

    4 – RTI – Taiwan: the weekly program “Le Courrier des auditeurs” is broadcast on Saturdays and lasts about 30 minutes; it devotes time to contests (monthly and quarterly) and answers listeners’ questions. The answers provided are very detailed. A pair of two journalist-hosts animate the program.

    5 – VoV5 – La Voix du Vietnam: broadcast on Wednesday evenings, this short program, some 5 minutes, quotes the mails received and mentions the conditions of reception then answers a question from a listener. The program is always hosted by the same woman speaker.

    6 – NHK World – Radio Japan – In its Sunday magazine, Radio Japan keeps a section dedicated to listeners’ letters. For several months, due to teleworking, the time dedicated to listeners’ letters is three minutes maximum. On some Sundays, this section is not present.

    I have been interviewed by KBS World Radio, Radio Romania International, Radio Slovakia International, Radio Taiwan International, NHK world but also by Radio Canada International, Radio Prague, ORF-Radio Austria and even by Vatican Radio on the occasion of its 90th anniversary.

    The survey that the Radio Club du Perche conducted in the spring of 2021 among its members clearly shows that the preferred international stations are those that have kept a “Listener’s Mail” program! Beyond their own specifications, which obviously consist in promoting their country (politics, culture, tourism), the stations that devote a program to their relations with their audience have an additional interest, that of opening, more or less widely, a window on the world. We thank them for this.

    NB: I have referred to my own listening experience. Also, this contribution does not claim to be exhaustive and it certainly deserves to be completed. Thanks to those who will do so.

    Reply
  2. David Iurescia

    You can listen every tuesday “Status Update” on RTI (Radio Taiwan International):
    Status Update is RTI’s most interactive program, and your entries are what make the program exciting! We welcome your participation in the following segments. Letters: Each week, we select letters from our worldwide listeners to read on the air. Watch out for monthly topics on the website. Q&A: Ask anything you are curious about Taiwan or RTI. Shirley Lin and John Van Trieste will use their wits and wisdom to answer your questions. The senders of selected entries read on air will receive special souvenirs.

    https://en.rti.org.tw/radio/programView/id/1289

    73 from David Iurescia (LW4DAF)

    Reply
  3. Bill

    Radio Moscow’s Moscow mailbag was my all-time favorite. I heard it throughout the cold war, even from the 1960s. Big, booming voice Joe Adamov was the host.

    Excerpts from 1979 I found on YouTube:

    Reply
  4. Bill

    During the cold war, I’ll never forget listening to Radio Moscow’s Moscow Mailbag with the big, booming voice of Joe Adamov. Maybe one of the most famous mailbag shows of all.

    Some excerpts from 1979 I found on YouTube:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2pCDWRlgRw

    I remember hearing Joe in the 1960s as a teenager before I went into the service.

    Bill

    Reply
  5. Fred Waterer

    HCJB had Musical mailbag for many years with a variety of hosts.

    I vaguely recall reading a book about early shortwave broadcasting that suggested the Reichssender in Nazi Germany put a lot of effort into listener contact. Not sure if they had a literal mailbag program but frequently responded to listeners both by mail and on the air, forcing other stations to do the same.

    Reply
  6. David

    In the British DX Club (BDXC) publication ‘Broadcasts in English’ there is a section which gives frequencies, times and days of the current DX, media and mail bag programmes along with the broadcaster’s name. The latest version for the B21 period is due out very shortly.
    73, David – G4EDR

    Reply
  7. Dick

    In 1956 Radio Australia had a mailbag. I was mentioned on the air and received a printed transcript of that particular broadcast. Rig was a Hallicrafters S38C. Shared a bedroom with my kid brother. My Trimm headphones were used at night to let him sleep. Happy memories. Many great BC stations.

    Reply
  8. Adam Christian Smith KJ7GKX

    When I got my first shortwave radio in the late 90s, I immediately seized upon mailbag programs! Radio Havana, Voice of Russia, Voice of Vietnam, HCJB and I’m sure there are a few others I can’t remember.

    I have on-air recording of a couple, I’ll dig up!

    Reply
    1. Adam Christian Smith KJ7GKX

      When Ichiro Suzuki was traded to the Seattle Mariners, Radio Japan called and interviewed me once!

      Reply

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