From Sunday 25 March, the English Section of Polish Radio External Service is changing its broadcast times and the nature of its transmissions.
As of Sunday, the English Section will NOT be available on Short Wave, ending almost 80 years of broadcasts on this spectrum. Many thanks to all our listeners who tuned in via these means over the years.
However, the English Section is continuing ALL its transmissions via satellite and online, with podcasts also available via our RSS feed and through the iTunes platform. Additionally, the English Section of Polish Radio External Service is available in London on DAB Spectrum 1 daily at 1900 local time.
Major changes are our LIVE transmission at the time of 1400 CEST (1200 UTC), with our main broadcast moving to 2000 CEST (1800 UTC).
Our flagship production, News from Poland, will move to the time of 1400 CEST, with a second edition at 2000 CEST. All magazine premieres will also air at 2000 CEST.
Our new transmission schedule is detailed [by scrolling to the bottom of this page]. A detailed schedule of our 1400 and 2000 transmissions will be made available over the weekend.
For more information about how to tune in to the English Section, please see our How to Listen page.
“The news may be good. The news may be bad. We shall tell you the truth.” – William Harlan Hale; February 1, 1942
Such began the first broadcast of a small team of dedicated men transmitting live from a claustrophobic New York City studio into Nazi Germany. Their group had no name, although their first broadcast was titled Stimmen aus Amerika—Voices from America. The equipment they used was borrowed. They had no direction as to what they would broadcast, except the truth. At that moment, the United States stepped into a role as guardian of the power of ideas and honest messenger of information to all corners of the world.
From the very beginning, the Voice of America has held at its core the mission to present to the world the policies and culture of the United States, while reporting on global news events accurately, clearly, and objectively. It has been one of the U.S.’s most effective public relations initiatives. All around the world, the Voice of America is highly respected as an honest and fair messenger, and in many places, as the only comprehensive source of news free from propaganda. From Nazi Germany to Communist Eastern Europe to Kim Jong Il’s North Korea, VOA has often been the only connection to the outside world that people of repressive regimes have. […]
Today, VOA broadcasts through the Internet, television, and a network of AM, FM, and shortwave radio signals. The approximately 1500 hours of programs per week include features on American culture, learning English, international news, discussion programs, and regionally focused programs to address the needs of the local populations. VOA broadcasts in 43 languages, televising programs in 26 of those, and reaches 141 million people weekly. All this makes VOA one of the largest multimedia news organizations in the world.
A strategic technology plan prepared by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the federal agency responsible for Voice of America, Alhurra, Radio Free Asia and other international stations, concludes that it should end many shortwave broadcasts in favor of “more effective” media such as internet radio.
I found the quote above, and most of the beginning of this article, very disturbing. The same themes keep coming up in this type of announcement: that shortwave broadcasts are expensive while internet services are cheap, that no one listens to shortwave because most people are connected to the internet.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, these statements simply aren’t true. Rather, they’re short-sighted and “western” centric.
I did find one telling paragraph in the above article:
The “sun-setting strategy” proposed will reduce the number of stations owned by the BBG in favor of lease or sharing arrangements with—or outsourcing to—independent broadcasters. A “long-term analysis” of each country and language, and in-house research on shortwave’s effectiveness in each, would determine which areas retain service.
Though I’d love to see the engineers and workers of the VOA broadcasts sites keep their jobs, I do believe outsourcing the actual shortwave transmissions to independent broadcasters makes a lot of financial sense, and could be the way forward to retain vital shortwave in areas which rely almost solely upon it. If you talk to WRMI or WBCQ, you’ll find that they can operate a SW broadcast operation at a fraction of the cost of the VOA; in fact, broadcasts with these independent stations can cost as little as $120 per hour of air time–a small price to pay to retain listeners and keep information flowing.
I don’t necessarily have faith in the ability of the BBG to effectively do “in-house” research to determine which countries/regions get chopped. After all, have any of these decision makers ever lived in a third world country ruled by a dictator? Have any of them ever lived without reliable access to the internet, or even without electric power, as many of these listeners do? Highly doubtful.
I urge readers of the SWLing Post to speak up! Contact the Broadcast Board of Governers and let them know how important shortwave broadcasts are to those living in poverty and in countries with unstable regimes–people who, informationally-speaking, live in the dark.
Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) 330 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20237 Tel: (202) 203-4400 Fax: (202) 203-4585 E-mail: email@example.com