Tag Archives: Radio World

Radio World: “The Internet’s Impact on International Radio”

The Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station Control Room

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors, Dennis, Eric, and Michael who share the following story from Radio World. Please note my comments below following a short excerpt from this piece:

OTTAWA — During the height of the Cold War (1947–1991), the shortwave radio bands were alive with international state-run broadcasters; transmitting their respective views in multiple languages to listeners around the globe.

The western bloc’s advocates were led by the BBC World Service, and included Voice of America, Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe, Radio Canada International and a host of influential European broadcasters. The eastern bloc’s de facto team captain was the USSR’s Radio Moscow (with its unique hollow, echoing sound), supplemented by broadcasters in Soviet satellite countries (like East Germany’s Radio Berlin International) and allies like Fidel Castro’s Radio Havana Cuba.

Then 1991 arrived, and the Cold War apparently ended with the fall of the Soviet Union and the destruction of the Berlin Wall.

In the seeming peace that followed, many governments no longer saw the sense in spending millions on multi-megawatt transmitters and vast antenna farms to keep broadcasting their messages globally.

The leader among them, the BBC World Service (BBCWS), trumpeted the web and webcasting as modern, cost-effective alternatives to expensive shortwave broadcasting (along with satellite radio and leasing local FM airtime in the countries they used to broadcast to). This is why the BBCWS ceased shortwave transmissions to North America and Australia in 2001 and Europe in 2008, while retaining SW broadcasts in less-developed parts of the globe.[…]

The full article is available here and quite a good piece exploring how the Internet has had an impact on shortwave radio broadcasting.

I, along with a number of fiends in the shortwave community–Bob Zanotti, Jeff White, Colin Newell, and Ian McFarland to name a few–we’re quoted in this piece.

As with most any published piece, quotes and statements are trimmed and edited to fit the print space. If you read the full article, you will have noticed some quotes from me. Here’s a larger portion of my full statement for this piece:

Most audience analysts agree that the number of shortwave listeners has been on the decline at the same time Internet access has been on the rise. Moreover, shortwave listener numbers are hard to quantify due to the very nature of anonymous listening; no one can truly “track” a shortwave radio listener. On the other hand, there is nothing anonymous about those who listen to or watch Internet content–not only can the audience be measured by numbers, but a much deeper and more invasive set of data can be gleaned from an online audience. Thus the decline in shortwave also denotes a loss of anonymity on the part of the listener.

This is not to say there aren’t shortwave listeners. A significant number of listeners are radio enthusiasts/DXers who appreciate the shortwave medium. But perhaps more meaningfully, shortwave listeners are those living in rural and remote parts of the world who benefit from the instant, free, and anonymous information shortwave provides.

At Ears To Our World, we received this photo from a school in rural Tanzania in June 2019. The teacher has been using one of our self-powered shortwave radios to listen to news and improve language skills.

Some broadcasters effectively target both of these audiences. Large government broadcasters, however, have always tried to reach the “influencers” in a country–those who might eventually help guide a country’s policy and international relationships. And the great majority of these influencers, according to audience research, have moved to social media and the Internet as a source of information.

Note that I received the photo above in June. At Ears To Our World, we still work with communities that appreciate the accessibility of radio. Perhaps our partners are more the exception than the rule, but there are still those who benefit from radio–especially those living in rural and remote areas. Where large government shortwave broadcasters are pulling out of the scene, often community-driven stations are taking their place. We’ve been working with Radio Taboo in Cameroon, for example, and they are an amazing case in point.

As a radio enthusiast, I’ll also add that I love the homegrown nature of shortwave broadcasting these days. As private broadcasters have a larger market share of the airwaves, individuals have an opportunity to buy their own broadcast time and produce amazing, unique shows like VORW, Free Radio Skybird, Encore, From the Isle of Music and Uncle Bill’s Melting Pot. These are just a few examples–if you’d like more, just check out the latest edition of Alan Roe’s guide to music over shortwave.


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Radio World: “Radio’s Essential Role in Asia”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Marty, who shares the following article from Radio World:

STOCKHOLM — Radio is part of the lives of people around the world. In Asia this can amount to where hundreds of millions of listeners who tune in every day. Radio is a strong, inexpensive and effective medium to reach mass audiences.

Many of the challenges facing traditional radio elsewhere in the world are about to hit Asia. These include the expansion of music streaming services and ad investments being divided among other platforms such as social media. But the structure and maturity of the region’s radio industry differs a lot.

[…]Private radio is fairly new to many countries in Asia. India is one such example, where programs are mainly music-based and stations are still developing their brands and formats. Also, there is little standardization in tracking listening habits in many Asian countries and many groups tend to rely on their own figures. This leads to confusion for agencies that want to know what radio can deliver.

Public-service media is often closely monitored and controlled by government. But entertainment, music and sports offer broadcasters the potential to build strong radio brands they can further expand into social media, events and other activities. Something many are now exploring.

There are also new, more speech-based stations, such as business stations in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. A particular strength for radio is its closeness to its audience, in many countries manifested by stations broadcasting in the various local languages. This is also true for community radio, which are vibrant and widespread in parts of Asia, especially India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Radio plays an important role when natural disasters strike, frequently making the difference between life and death for millions of people. It’s often the only way of conveying information, be it earthquakes in Nepal, storms in the Philippines or tsunamis in Japan.

Radio´s easiness to use is an asset, but radio sets in homes are not as common as you might expect. FM radio saw a rise in listenership in India when nearly everyone had a mobile phone with built-in FM receivers. But today with new mobile phones coming into the market without FM, there is a new challenge. Will internet audio in phones lead the way to podcasting, as in the west? Or will Spotify and music streaming´s personalized offers replace traditional radio listening?[…]

Click here to continue reading the full story at Radio World.

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Russia to test DRM over FM

(Source: Radio World via Michael Bird)

Russia will begin testing the Digital Radio Mondiale digital radio standard in the FM Band in July in St. Petersburg.

Russian firms Digiton and Triada TV are working with Fraunhofer IIS, RFmondial, chipmaker NXP and others to carry out the pilot.

The organizers will install a DRM-capable transmitter mid-July and begin regular simulcast broadcasts (DRM for FM) immediately after site acceptance checks are complete. The transmitter will reportedly be on air for six months and have an analog transmitting power of 5 kW and a digital output power of 800 W.[…]

Click here to read the full article at Radio World.

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Radio World: “Australia Still Has Shortwave Voices”

(Source: Radio World via Michael Bird)

HANS JOHNSON ? APR 23, 2019

SYDNEY — Radio Australia shortwave services may be dead, but the medium is alive and well on the continent.

Reach Beyond Australia is on shortwave, but with its Christian programming largely in foreign languages, it really isn’t seen as representing Australia on the shortwaves. But there are other private Australian stations that are broadcasting and more are planned.

And while these stations are not a replacement for Radio Australia’s international transmissions or the defunct (for the moment) Australian Broadcasting Corp. domestic service, they do have various goals and share certain characteristics.[…]

4KZ is a shortwave relay of an Innisfail, Queensland, medium-wave station with the same call sign. It is part of the NQ Radio network. 4KZ plays a variety of music and is heavily involved in the community. The shortwave serves remote areas of north Queensland. “We are planning a 90-or 120-meter service for evenings local time, from station 4AM in Mareeba,” explained Al Kirton, NQ Radio’s general manager.

Unique Radio has been on three years and currently broadcasts from Gunnedah in New South Wales. Its owner, Tim Gaylor, has a background in community radio. “We like a station to inform people about alternative subject matters not currently on mainstream media,” he said. Unique Radio also plans to add a night frequency in the 90-meter band.

There are also future stations in the works from New South Wales.[…]

Click here to read the full article at Radio World.

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Radio Republik Indonesia plans to purchase DRM-capable MW transmitters

(Source: Radio World via Michael Bird)

Radio Republik Indonesia has revealed that it plans to purchase four DRM-capable medium-wave transmitters. The public radio broadcaster says it intends to use the first pair to reach populated areas of the Southeast Asian archipelago, and the second pair for emergency warning in west Sumatra and West Java.

Freddy Ndolu, member of the RRI supervisory board, made the announcement during the Digital Radio Mondiale general assembly, which took place in March. RRI joined the DRM consortium in 2015.[…]

Click here to view the full article at Radio World.

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Radio World: Bryan Broadcasting Asks FCC to Allow All-Digital AM

(Source: Radio World via Ulis K3LU)

A prominent advocate for the AM band is petitioning the FCC to allow stations to use all-digital transmissions in the United States.

Bryan Broadcasting Corp. on Monday filed a petition for rulemaking asking the commission to initiate a proceeding to authorize the MA3 all-digital mode of HD Radio for any AM station that chooses to do so.

Permitting such modernization would “give AM broadcasters a needed innovative tool with which to compete” without harming others in the spectrum ecosystem, it wrote.

Bryan is licensee of four AM stations, five FMs and six FM translators in Central Texas. Ben Downs is the vice president and general manager, and submitted the petition along with the company’s attorney David Oxenford of Wilkinson Barker Knauer. Downs also has served on the NAB board in the past, and he has been a vocal advocate for various regulatory steps to “revitalize” the AM band.

All HD Radio receivers in the market that have AM functionality would be able to receive such all-digital signals. But legacy AM receivers would not, which has long been a barrier to serious discussion of all-digital. Now, some observers say, the availability of FM translators for AM licensees has made something that once seemed unthinkable at least worth discussing.

There is one AM station in the country with special temporary authority to broadcast in all-digital. Hubbard’s WWFD in Frederick, Md., near the nation’s capital has been on the air since last summer. The station’s Dave Kolesar has been speaking in public about the ongoing experiment and will do so again at the upcoming NAB Show.[…]

Click here to continue reading.

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Radio World: Koode Radio Aims to Reduce Conflict in Africa

(Source: Radio World via Mike Hansgen)

ABUJA, Nigeria — Koode Radio International, a new shortwave program with considerable goals, has begun broadcasting to much of Western Africa.

With programs in the Fulani (or Fula) language, KRI aims to “educate, enlighten and entertain” its listeners, the Fulbe people. This predominantly Muslim, nomadic herder and farmer group is spread across Africa from Senegal in the west to Lake Chad in the east. Dialects of the language are spoken in some 20 countries and the station chose the name “Koode” because it means “star” in all of the dialects.

Usman Shehu in the KRI studio in Abuja. Photos courtesy of KRI.
While some Fulbe are able to communicate via the likes of WhatsApp and Facebook, others cannot. Because a number of Fulbe are herders, they are not only beyond the range of the internet, but beyond the range of electricity.[…]

Click here to read the full article t Radio World online.

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