The BBC reports that Russia has “quietly switched off nearly all of its long-wave transmitters, ending almost nine decades of broadcasting – as cost finally catches up on the medium.” Read the full story on the BBC News.
Not a huge surprise as many countries are pulling the plug on longwave, despite the medium’s large local broadcasting footprint. It does make one wonder if VOR shortwave could also be pulled with little fanfare or warning.
I can tell you that for those of us in North America, VOR is now a much harder catch on shortwave–a very strange shift from the ubiquity of the broadcaster’s signal in past decades.
But if you want to hear frank, public comments about how these changes are affecting the staff of VOR, just bookmark and listen to From Moscow With Love. Hosts Vasily and Natasha happily march to their own beat and comment openly to listener inquiries.
“This is our last show this year and, who knows, probably the last show on the VR.
There’s been a lot of talk on the internet all over the place about the end of shortwave broadcast from the Voice of Russia. Is it going to happen? I don’t know. I haven’t discussed it with anyone around here. Am I worried like some of you are? No. Am I losing sleep over it? No. Am I posting mindless crap about this all over the Internet? No. Do I care? Not really. Do I have a life? Yes, I’d like to think so. So, many stations have already left the shortwave for the same reasons. Are we as shortwave listeners happy? No. But can we put all our emotions aside and deal with reality? You might be asking why there hasn’t been on the air or on the website about this. Good question. I would probably guess it is because folks here don’t make such a big deal out of it. The fact is most of the comrades here at the office will continue working just as they always did. The programs will be carried online, on satellite and on the many local stations around the world in cities like Washington DC, New York, Miami, Chicago. There are DAB broadcasts in the UK and other European cities. The list grows all the time. Yes shortwave listeners are disappointed, I can understand this. But the hobby doesn’t end there. Get a grip.
But what about the merging of the station with RIA or RIA News Agency?
At the risk of sounding like the devil’s advocate, let me say I am not an employee of this radio station for as long as I’ve been a shortwave listener including the very early years as a kid in Maryland in the years I worked at radio Moscow World Service, I’ve always felt there was so much room left for improvement at radio Moscow. Now if this merger with the other Russia news organizations leads to something good, I can only welcome this. It’s been long overdue.
But aren’t you sad at all? This is bad news for the shortwave listeners around the world.
What I am sad about is the yet unconfirmed information dealing with having to move out of this historic building into a new facility several miles away because, maybe it is because we worked here for a long time, our lives are connected with this building at Pyatnitsaya street.
I suppose we feel like the BBC staff when they were forced to leave Bush House. It looks like most of the people are very worried about the future.
And what’s that got to do with leaving the building?
It is everything.
We are talking about our plans for New Year’s holiday as it is a time when the whole country goes on vacation for 10 days and the consequences are felt for the rest of the year. As for yours truly, I’ll probably spend a few days in the country in the fresh air, relaxing, playing with my new radio. But the atmosphere in Moscow if we talk about the first 10 days of January is very nice. It is very quiet during the holidays here. The city is empty, as all the oligarchs are out of here, off-shores. There is no traffic, the lighting is still there, it is magical. I also want to take a late night dinner cruise on the Moskva River aboard the Radisson fleet.
That must be a fantastic experience now that Moscow is sparkling with thousands of lights.
Let’s talk about traditions a bit more. You mentioned the one about throwing all the old stuff away. The one I never understood, I mean tradition speaking was how and why you are supposed to say farewell to the old year by having a drink a few minutes before midnight.
That is very simple, mind you, it is an absolute must to say goodbye to the old year and thank it for all the good things it brought you. After that you must have a shot of vodka or a glass of wine or any other alcoholic beverage provided it is not Champaign. Champaign is something to see the new year in.
I think it is just another excuse to drink. What about all the mythical animals that are always associated with this holiday? It may sound dumb coming from me and it probably is, but I don’t recall paying any attention to these things back in the US but here every year is assigned with an animal, like this time. It is the year of the horse.
Right, blue horse.
Are Russians really into that sort of thing?
I think they are and I am very much into this. And I am ready to tell you all that I know about the year of the blue horse and the oriental and occidental horoscopes, and their influence on people. But let’s do it next week because it is a very interesting topic and we simply have no time for it now.
One New Year’s tradition here is to have Santa Claus or Father Frost and his Snow Maiden visit kids from their parents workplace.
In USSR another New Year’s tradition which I hated was watching TV till the early hours of morning. There was nothing to watch but a lame soviet produced New Year’s special called Blue Light made up of ideologically safe jokes and unbearable Soviet singers. And later that night it would be followed by an east German production featuring dancers from the Friedrichstadt-Palast Cancan troop.”
Then, only two weeks ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin surprised us all by essentially liquidating the Voice of Russia and merging it with Rossia Segodnya newswire in sweeping changes affecting all Russian state media.
I was curious if this move might have changed VOR’s outlook on the shortwaves, so I contacted VOR to see if they had any official word. I received the following response this morning:
“We are glad to let you know that the Voice of Russia will stay on the air in 2014, however, considerable changes in our frequency schedule are expected. The information on the updated frequency chart will become available on the Voice of Russia’s web site before the New Year at http://voiceofrussia.com/radio_broadcast/frequencies/ , so please stay logged in.
I expected the story to be somewhat buried amongst international headlines, but instead I heard no mention within the one hour news broadcast. [Please note update at end of article.]
Here’s a recording of the broadcast from today at 13:00 on 12,075 kHz (which begins to fade toward the end):
I then searched through some spectrum recordings I made yesterday and discovered VOR’s American Edition broadcast on 9,395 kHz, starting at 23:00 UTC.
Even though this is the American Edition, I would have expected some mention of the news agency changes in the international news selection.
Ironically, VOR News prominently featured an article on their website yesterday regarding these changes within the state media. Indeed, it was the VOR News article that I posted yesterday on the SWLing Post.
Perhaps Putin’s move will actually make previous news reports regarding the demise of VOR on shortwave null and void? Only time will tell.
On a side note, I imagine this move by Putin could lower Russia’s position on the 2014 Press Freedom Index–they’re currently listed at 148 out of a possible 179 (with Finland in the number 1 position and Eritrea having the least press freedom at 179).
(Update: Please note that the title of this post used to read, “Voice of Russia news lacks any mention of sweeping changes to state news agency.” I’ve since updated the title to more accurately reflect my point, by replacing the word “news” with “broadcasts.” I also added the audio from yesterday’s American Hour and removed some links to international media. Many thanks to those of you who pointed out my confusing message.)
Looks like the Voice of Russia will be a part of an extensive reorganization within the network of Russian state-run news agencies. No mention of shortwave service, other than previous articles we’ve posted. I can’t help but believe Dec 31st 2013 might be VOR’s last day on the shortwaves.
As of today, The Voice of Russia radio company has officially ceased to exist in its previous capacity and will merge with several other state-run news agencies to emerge as Rossia Segodnya, a Russia-based international news service.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree abolishing RIA Novosti, one of the largest news agencies in Russia. RIA will be reborn into its second life as a global agency called Rossia Segodnya (Russia Today).
Rossia Segodnya will be headed by Dmitry Kiselyov, the Kremlin says. The headquarters of the newly-born agency will stay at the RIA office.
According to the official statement, Rossia Segodnya will also include the state-run Voice of Russia radio station.
President Putin has also given the Cabinet of Ministers a month to plan all events necessary to help the International News Agency “Rossia Segodnya” into existence and add it to the list of state-run strategic entities.
The fledgling agency will focus on informing foreign audiences about Russia’s policies and the way of life.
The President’s decree today reformed and did away with an entire bulk of state media. It abolished the State Fund of Television and Radio Programs, placing it under control of All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company.
The same order has passed over the Russian Book Chamber, a federal scientific center, to the ITAR-TASS news agency.
The decree comes into force starting today, December 9.