SWLing Post readers will surely enjoy this brilliant BBC World Service documentary about Radio Berlin International Service to Africa. “Comrade Africa” offers a 53-minute fascinating blast from the cold-war past with many nostalgic RBI airchecks and programming analyses.
How Communist East Germany tried to influence Africa via radio, during the Cold War. The West often saw the GDR as a grim and grey place, so it’s something of a surprise to find a radio station based in East Berlin playing swinging African tunes. Yet Radio Berlin International (RBI), the ‘voice of the German Democratic Republic’, made it all happen over the many years it broadcast to Africa. It built on the little known strong bonds between East Germany and several large states in Africa such as Tanzania and Angola during the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s.
Dr Emily Oliver, a historian of postwar Germany from Warwick University, finds out why multicultural Radio Berlin International was a special place within East Germany and what happened behind the scenes. The government set tight reporting restrictions on output. Staff faced the dilemma of following the rules while competing with the likes of the BBC World Service. They were also conscious of the output of the station’s main direct rival, West Germany’s Deutsche Welle, which portrayed the world quite differently. And how did RBI employees coming from nations like Tanzania cope with working for the oppressive East German regime?
Emily hears how RBI appealed to listeners in Africa, reveals how East Germans and Angolans made friends over coffee and tractors, and discovers how the Cold War played out in Africa at a time when many African states were fighting for independence.
Presenter: Emily Oliver
Producer: Sabine Schereck
Researcher: Balthazar Kitundu
Editor: Hugh Levinson
Readers: Neil McCaul, Leone Ouedraogo (podcast only), Ian Conningham and Adam Courting
The Two Comrades: Will Kirk and Greg Jones
(Source: CNN Business)
London (CNN Business) As a communications blackout continues in Kashmir, the BBC is using one of the only ways to reach listeners in the Indian-controlled state: shortwave radio.
The BBC is extending its Hindi radio output by 30 minutes, launching a 15-minute daily program in Urdu, and expanding its English broadcasts by an hour. All are being broadcast via shortwave signals.
“Given the shutdown of digital services and phone lines in the region, it’s right for us to try and increase the provision of news on our shortwave radio services,” Jamie Angus, director of the BBC World Service, said in a statement.
Indian-controlled Kashmir is under a tight security lockdown and total communications blackout. The blackout has included internet and landline phones, and some television channels have been cut. The repressive measures, in place since August 5, were introduced just days before the Indian government announced that it was withdrawing Article 370 of the constitution, reclassifying Kashmir’s administrative status from a state to a union territory. The move took away Kashmir’s semi-autonomous special status.
Pakistan, which also controls territory in the region, reacted angrily to the move by India. The two neighbors have fought three wars over Kashmir, and the region has been the focus of periodic conflict for more than 70 years.
Shortwave radio bands are able travel long distances using very high frequencies, unlike traditional radio waves that need to travel in straight lines.
In an interview with CNN Business, Angus said most people in the region don’t normally use shortwave to listen to their programs. But due to the communications blocks, “we’ve got limited options,” he said.
“The shortwave audience has historically been in decline, but it’s an important lifeline as a way to reach people,” Angus said. “People value the BBC because it’s independent and one step removed from the national heat around these discussions, that’s why people value our reporting.”[…]
(Source: BBC Media Centre via @George53419980)
The BBC World Service has extended output on shortwave radio in Indian-administered Kashmir to provide reliable news and information.
The Director of the BBC World Service, Jamie Angus, says: “The provision of independent and trusted news in places of conflict and tension is one of the core purposes of the World Service.
“Given the shutdown of digital services and phone lines in the region, it’s right for us to try and increase the provision of news on our short wave radio services. Audiences in both India and Pakistan trust the BBC to speak with an independent voice, and we know that our reporting through several moments of crisis this year has been popular and valued by audiences who turn to us when tensions are highest.”
BBC News Hindi radio output (9515 and 11995kHz) will be extended by 30 minutes from Friday 16 August. The full one-hour news programme will be on air from 7.30pm to 8.30pm local time.
On Monday 19 August, BBC News Urdu will launch a 15-minute daily programme, Neemroz. Broadcast at 12.30pm local time on 15310kHz and 13650kHz, the programme will focus on news coming from Kashmir and the developments around the issue, and include global news roundup tailored for audiences in Kashmir.
BBC World Service English broadcasts (11795kHz, 9670kHz, 9580kHz, 7345kHz, 6040kHz) will be expanded, with the morning programming extended by an hour, ending at 8.30am local time; and the afternoon and evening programming starting an hour earlier, at 4.30pm local time.
The shutdown has left people with very few options for accessing news at this time. However, news services from the BBC continue to be available in the region – through shortwave radio transmissions in English, Urdu, Hindi, Dari and Pashto. As well as providing an important source of news to the region, the South Asian language services have brought added depth to the BBC’s coverage of the Kashmir story.
The recent introduction of four new languages services for India – Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi and Telugu, following additional investment from the UK Government – has enabled the BBC to offer a wider portfolio of languages and distribution methods to a region that is geographically diverse as well as politically tense. This year’s Global Audience Measure for the BBC showed that India is now the World Service’s largest market, with a weekly audience of 50m.
SWLing Post friend, David Goren (the same fellow behind Shortwaveology and the Brooklyn Pirate Radio Sound Map) has just produced and presented a BBC World Service documentary about the pirate radio scene in NYC.
Spoiler alert: it’s amazing–!
Below, I’ve included the description and audio links from the BBC World Service:
New York City’s pirates of the air
As the workday winds down across New York, you can tune in to a clandestine world of unlicensed radio stations; a cacophonous sonic wonder of the city. As listeners begin to arrive home, dozens of secret transmitters switch on from rooftops in immigrant enclaves. These stations are often called ‘pirates’ for their practice of commandeering an already licensed frequency.
These rogue stations evade detection and take to the air, blanketing their neighbourhoods with the sounds of ancestral lands blending into a new home. They broadcast music and messages to diverse communities – whether from Latin America or the Caribbean, to born-again Christians and Orthodox Jews.
Reporter David Goren has long followed these stations from his Brooklyn home. He paints an audio portrait of their world, drawn from the culture of the street. Vivid soundscapes emerge from tangled clouds of invisible signals, nurturing immigrant communities struggling for a foothold in the big city.
With thanks to KCRW and the Lost Notes Podcast episode Outlaws of the Airwaves: The Rise of Pirate Radio Station WBAD.
Producer/Presenter: David Goren
(Source: The Guardian)
For 70 years, far-flung listeners knew they had found the BBC on their radio dial when they heard the jaunty notes of the Irish jig Lillibulero. Its brassy, old-fashioned sound spoke of men in dinner jackets and vintage radio microphones, and there was a minor public outcry when it was formally dropped more than a decade ago.
Since then the World Service, which has an audience of 79 million, has used a musical motif which, according to controller Mary Hockaday “changed every now and then in rather an ad hoc way”.
But from tomorrow morning, the English-language station will have a new jingle, letting listeners across the world know unquestionably that London is calling. The signature tune is a nod to the station’s long traditions, with even a beat or two of the BBC’s famous pips to send a message about values in an age of “fake news”.[…]
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mike Barraclough, who notes the following update to BBCeng.info:
Skelton, Penrith and the World 1943-1993
A personal account by the author Ken Davies.
Following my request I have been notified that Cumbria County Council, the publishers of this book, would have no objection to it being on bbceng. Unfortunately I have not been able to contact Ken Davies but, given the nature of the publication, I think it is likely that he would approve. He clearly wanted to celebrate the achievements of everyone involved with Skelton transmitting station and his efforts in compiling this record are gratefully acknowledged.
68 pages with many photos.
Fascinating! Thank you for sharing this, Mike. I’ve just downloaded a copy to my (rooted) Nook e-reader.
(Source: The BBC Media Centre)
BBC’S Global audience rises to 376m
The BBC is reaching a record weekly audience of 376m people, new figures published today reveal.
The figures – the Global Audience Measure (GAM) – show how many adults the BBC reached weekly with its news and entertainment content in the year 2017/18.
The BBC World Service, which has just undertaken its biggest expansion since the 1940s, has seen its audience increase by 10m, to 279m.
The total global news audience has risen by a million, to 347m.
The GAM shows the way people access their news is continuing to change around the world. With the increased availability of cheap smartphones around the world, audiences are continuing to switch to digital platforms for news. Overall, online news website audiences have grown by four million, with social media audiences up by nine million.
The English language international website, BBC.com, continues to perform well even in competitive markets like the USA, adding two million weekly users this year.
More people listen directly to World Service English via the internet than by any other method – a total of 27m. And World Service English podcasts now reach one million people every week.
However, shortwave radio listening continues its steep decline, with shortwave audiences virtually disappearing in Pakistan, and down substantially in Nigeria.
Jamie Angus, Director of the BBC World Service Group, says: “This has been an exciting year for the BBC World Service, with the launch of 12 new services, new programming, and the opening of new and expanded bureaux across the world, so it is great to see international audiences continuing to turn to the BBC for independent and impartial news.
The figures highlight not only the successes of our global news operation, but the challenges that lie ahead for us. We still need to grow the share of women engaging with our news services globally, and we need to ensure we have the right services to continue to attract young audiences.
At a time when Britain is forging a new relationship with nations around the world, the BBC’s global news services are more important than ever.”
The figures also show:
- More than a quarter of the BBC World Service’s audience is aged between 15-24 years old.
- In Afghanistan, more than 60% of the adult population consumes BBC News; in Nigeria the figure is just under 40%
- The top ten markets for the BBC’s international news services are Nigeria (41m), USA (33m), India (30m), Bangladesh (16m), Egypt (16m), Iran (13m), Afghanistan (12m), Tanzania (10m), Pakistan (9m) and Indonesia (8m).
- More people are consuming more than one BBC service, or using more than one platform to access BBC News; 24m people consume the World Service in English as well as other languages.
Notes to Editors
The Global Audience Measure is an annual update of how many people are consuming the BBC weekly for all services in all countries across all platforms (television, radio, website and social media). Key to this is de-duplication i.e. ensuring that a person who consumes multiple BBC services or platforms or on multiple devices is not counted many times in the top level totals.
The total figure includes audiences for all BBC News services outside the UK and branded entertainment content on TV, BBC websites and social media pages for BBC Studios.