“This is revolution radio.”
In a safehouse in Yangon last Thursday morning, a small group of 20-somethings gathered to assemble a portable radio transmitter. For several hours, they broadcast translations of international news into Burmese—tributes to protesters killed by the armed forces, revolutionary songs and poems, and interviews with the leaders of Myanmar’s civil disobedience movement that has sprung up to oppose the military junta that seized power in February.
Then, they dismantled the equipment, each person taking a different piece by a different route to another safe location where they store it. Security is tight. They never broadcast from the same place twice, and the group use aliases, even among themselves. This is Federal FM Radio, live on 90.2 MHz.
Its name betrays its politics. Support for a federal Myanmar, one which rejects the state’s majoritarian Bamar identity and strives for true ethnic unity, has surged in the months since the coup. It is a message that does not sit well with the military government, which has responded with violent repression and internet blackouts. But young dissidents like these refuse to be silenced and have turned to old technologies to spread the word.
“This radio was born out of Myanmar’s Spring Revolution,” said one of its founders, who goes by “Mulan.” “This is revolution radio.”
The junta has imposed nightly internet blackouts to disrupt the protest movement, preventing people from organizing and communicating with the outside world. Social media platforms have been blocked, although many people continued to access them through virtual private networks.
However, on April 2, the mobile internet in Myanmar was completely switched off. Fixed-line connections are rare, and the move left millions of people unable to access news or to communicate with one another. In the vacuum, State media has broadcast propaganda that underplays the scale of the crisis, portrays protesters as “terrorists” and foreign agents, and blames the civil disobedience movement for recent violence on the streets.
“Our people need to get information, real information, because the military spread out fake news on their own media,” Mulan said. She and her colleagues were able to source radio equipment from a friend of the movement — they won’t say precisely who, for obvious reasons. The team is entirely made up of young, digital natives, and most of them were working for civil society organizations before the coup. None of them knew how to operate the gear, but they found technicians willing to train them. “So now, we are learning, like, a radio crash course,” Mulan said.[…]
Hi there, I thought some of the readers of SWLing post might be interested in my reception of Mayanmar Radio, Yangon, during a late-night DX’pedition in Oxfordshire, UK. I managed to catch them on 5985 and 7200 kHz; the latter was a personal first and perhaps further confirmation that my 200 metre longwire is contributing in a positive way to my mobile listening post. Subscribers and regular visitors to Oxford Shortwave Log on YouTube will know that I am forever trying to push the performance of my vintage portables to the limit of what’s possible, in the hope that I might hear something very exotic. it’s happened once or twice and thus worth all the effort in the small hours. Thanks for watching/ listening.
Clint Gouveia is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Clint actively publishes videos of his shortwave radio excursions on his YouTube channel: Oxford Shortwave Log. Clint is based in Oxfordshire, England.
(Source: Burma News International)
At the end of October, the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) will stop producing its ethnic language radio program after 21 years of broadcasting, a decision revealed yesterday during a meeting of staff members from DVB’s Ethnic Groups’ Program.
“Because there are more and more magazines and journals [being distributed] in the country, the audience [listening through] short-wave radio has become smaller. We broadcast the news at six in the morning and nine in the evening, but at those times the audience has demonstrated a preference for newspapers and journals instead of waiting for us,” said DVB editor U Khin Maung Soe.
According to a US-based group which collects data on short-wave radio audiences in Burma, the DVB’s short-wave radio programs only attract 2% of the Burmese exile radio station audience, the smallest percentage among the four exile stations.
Due to such small audience numbers, DVB donors have suggested that the organization stop broadcasting radio programs and produce TV media programs instead. However, changing from radio to TV broadcasting may pose challenges and difficulties for those in charge of the DVB’s Ethnic Groups’ Program.
[…]The DVB’s current ethnic language radio program is broadcast in Kachin, Karenni, Karen, Chin, Mon, Rakhine, and Shan languages.
The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) launched the DVB Burmese Program in Oslo, Norway and also broadcasts from Oslo. For its part, the DVB Ethnic Language Program was founded by ethnic armed groups on July 19, 1993 at the Karen Nation Union’s former Marnepalaw headquarters.
Filed under our ever-growing tag, “why shortwave radio“:
(Source: The Guardian, via Kim Andrew Elliot)
Zigon does, however, have electricity – unlike 90% of Burmese villages – installed by the government late last year. This has meant a number of changes. One of the more significant is the arrival of television. A satellite dish has now been installed at the village tea shop, largely used to watch state TV networks and Premier League football.
Though censorship has been eased in recent months, information is still tightly controlled. News of the Arab revolts last year was blocked for weeks – though millions use cheap Chinese-made radios to listen to the BBC, Voice of America or other networks broadcasting in local languages.
Mr [Hanh] Tran [Radio Australia’s Chief Executive] told Radio Australia’s Connect Asia program that the creation of the Burmese service expands the broadcaster’s brief to provide impartial news and information to the region.
“Our audience has always been those who are in developing countries. Their access to information is limited, for reasons of poor infrastructure, or state control, or sometimes the reasons relate to stability in the region”…
The new service went into effect Monday, November 9, 2009 and can be heard seven days a week on 12010 and 17665 kHz. Read the full story here.