Tag Archives: Swiss Radio International

“When Switzerland broadcast Esperanto around Europe”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Iurescia (LW4DAF), who shares this article from swissinfo.ch regarding the history of the Esperanto language service of SWI. The following is an excerpt:

Esperanto

Esperanto (literally “one who hopes”) was the brainchild of Polish Jewish ophthalmologist Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof, who published his first brochure in the language in 1887. He wanted it to become a second language for everyone.

The Swiss Esperanto Society was founded in 1903.

The Universala Esperanto-Asocioexternal (Universal Esperanto Association) was founded in Geneva in 1908. It is now based in Rotterdam.

The association says: “Based on the number of textbooks sold and membership of local societies, the number of people with some knowledge of Esperanto is in the hundreds of thousands and possibly millions”. Around 1,000 people speak it as their first language.

Esperanto has a relatively simple grammar with no exceptions to its rules. Its vocabulary is derived primarily from Romance languages and to a lesser extent from Germanic and Slavic languages.

“Beyond Europe, no regular Esperanto broadcasts take place,” the memo noted. The one exception was a special broadcast for Esperantists in Brazil on January 31, 1953.

Baur – who worked on the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation’s Esperanto programmes until 1991 – had reckoned there was a great interest in Esperanto in Brazil. The memo noted that the response to the one-off, five-minute broadcast was “thoroughly gratifying”, resulting in 25 letters (17 from Brazil, eight from other countries with reception).

“But from the beginning we stressed that even if people really liked it, it wouldn’t result in the introduction of Esperanto broadcasts in South America since, given the nation-joining aims of Esperanto, it would be contradictory to add a third language to a continent of only two languages which are more or less mutually comprehensible,” it said.

Aims of the broadcasts

The Bern memo explained that the main aim of the Esperanto broadcasts had always been “to reach the intelligentsia behind the Iron Curtain, who successfully bridged their linguistic diversity – especially in southeast Europe – through Esperanto”.

It added: “Our Esperanto broadcasts can therefore spread information about Switzerland and its ideas and ideals in an unobtrusive manner in those otherwise closed regions – as long as broadcasts in those regions’ national languages don’t make sense for us.”

It’s hard to say how many people listened to these broadcasts, none of which sadly have been saved in the SBC archives. According to the 1953 memo, Bern received two or three confirmations of reception a week, mostly from those countries behind the Iron Curtain. “Their relative rarity can be explained by the great risk most probably faced by the letter-writers,” the memo said.

Then, at the end of January 1965, the shock news was announced that the 16 Esperanto programmes a month would no longer be broadcast for financial reasons.

The Swiss Esperanto Societyexternal said this was a “heavy loss for the Western world”. “A reduction from four weekly programmes to two or even one would certainly have met general understanding, but it is highly regrettable that the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation has decided to pull the Esperanto programmes completely,” it said.

Not dead yet

That happened next is not clear from the archives. We do know, however, that – if the programmes did indeed stop – at some point they started up again in some form and frequency because in the late 1980s Swiss Radio International (SRI), as the Short-wave Service was renamed in 1978, was sending transcription tapes with Esperanto material around the world.[…]

Click here to read the full article.

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Swiss Shortwave Merry-Go-Round Founder Bob Thomann (HB9GX) is Silent Key

Readers old enough to remember listening to SBC/Swiss Radio International will, no doubt, remember Bob Thomann. I just received the following note from Bob Zanotti:

Dear Friends and Broadcasting Colleagues,

[O]ur old friend and colleague, Bob Thomann HB9GX, passed away peacefully on Saturday afternoon 3 August local time. He would have been 91 in September.

Image via Radio World

[…]Bob Thomann was the founder of the Swiss Shortwave Merry-Go-Round on
SBC/Swiss Radio International back in the 50’s. He and I were teamed up in 1970, when I joined SRI. We co-presented the technical mailbag show,
which became know as “The Two Bobs” for 24 years between 1970 and the show’s ending in June 1994. Bob never missed a show, even when we had to do a telephone hookup when he was hospitalized back in the 80’s.

the Schwarzenburg transmitter site, often mentioned by the Two Bobs (via Jonathan Marks)

This is the end of “The Two Bobs” Era and an era in shortwave broadcasting in general. But I’m happy to say that the show lives on at www.switzerlandinsound.com, where it has its own section. All that survived from the “Merry-Go-Round” is there, including new material we produced especially for the website. And this will remain as a memorial to Bob Thomann and his contribution to shortwave broadcasting as long as I’m still around.

Mid-1960s photo showing Bob with Heidi Schweizer and Pamela — SBC’s DX Trio at the time. (Image courtesy of Richard Langley)

Bob Thomann was my friend, colleague and fellow ham operator for many years. I will always fondly remember those golden days we shared together. Long live those memories.

73,
Bob Zanotti

Click here to listen to archived episodes of The Two Bobs at Switzerland in Sound.

Bob, we’re so sorry for the loss of your dear friend and colleague. His memory certainly lives on.

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“Switzerland’s international voice in a changing world”

(Photo: SwissInfo.ch)

(Photo: SwissInfo.ch)

Many thanks to my buddy, Rob Wagner, for passing along yet another great article with archived sound clips from Swiss Radio International.

Click here to read Switzerland’s international voice in a changing world.

 

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Researchers uncovering Swiss Radio International’s past

Zentralbahn Interregio train following the Lake Brienz shoreline, near Niederried. (Image source: Kabelleger / David Gubler via Wikimedia Commons)

Zentralbahn Interregio train following the Lake Brienz shoreline, near Niederried. (Image source: Kabelleger / David Gubler via Wikimedia Commons)

SWLing Post reader, David Freeborough, writes:

I thought you might be interested in this podcast on Swiss Radio International:

http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/multimedia/podcast_the-radio-station-that-gave-switzerland-a-global-voice/41476934

Fascinating! Many thanks, David. You can listen to the podcast on SwissInfo.ch, or simply use the embedded player below:

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