With a powerful shortwave radio and a battery of TV screens, he broke national news long before the internet, scooping everything from the Entebbe raid to the first Gulf War
Had he been born two or three decades later, Miki Gurdus would probably have been just another middle-aged man glued to his smartphone, scrolling through endless torrents of social-media ephemera. But Gurdus, who passed away in Israel this week at the age of 73, was born with a radio. And early on, he knew the device would change his life.
[…]And listen Gurdus did. Commanding six languages—Hebrew, English, Arabic, French, Russian, and Polish—as well as numerous shortwave radios and as many as 11 television sets, he tuned in not only to broadcasts from far and wide but, often, to private conversations, military wire exchanges, and other dispatches not meant for public consumption. In late June of 1976, for example, he interrupted a radio broadcast to announce that he had just picked up a conversation between Palestinian terrorists and an air traffic controller in Libya announcing that they had just hijacked an Air France flight and intended to land it in Benghazi en route to Entebbe, Uganda. It wouldn’t be his last scoop: In 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, Israeli military intelligence got the news from Gurdus, who had intercepted the transmissions of the Iraqi army.
[…]With each passing decade, Gurdus’ fame grew. A reporter interviewing him in 2003 described his office as “half Aladdin’s cave and half control tower, a labyrinth of television screens, radios, remote controls, electric wires, speakers, model airplanes and photos of Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush stuck on the walls.” And in the center of it all was Gurdus, tartan slippers on his feet and dark shades covering his eye, to protect his vision from the glare of a dozen screens. Even as Israel’s media landscape flourished and more and more commercial radio and television channels debuted, giving rise to new generations of reporters, anchors, and celebrities, Gurdus remained a national treasure, a name you knew even if you weren’t sure exactly what “our listener” did.
And then came the internet.
Gurdus, in his typical tough manner, minimized it, calling it just another arrow in his quiver. “The internet is just another tool for me,” he said in a recent interview, “and not a major one at that because you can’t compete with what’s broadcast on all these satellites. Besides, neither the internet nor anything else can make me stop working, or make me irrelevant. I’ll continue to report the news, to listen, and to try and deliver scoops. I’ll be there for as long as I’m breathing.”[…]
Earlier this week, Gurdus passed away in his home in Yehud. Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Rivlin both eulogized him, the latter calling him “our mythological listener, the man who brought into our nation faraway voices even before the internet.”[…]
In late May, as I was packing for two months of travel in Canada, I received a message from long-time SWLing Post reader, Shawn Aiken. Shawn was seeking the right home for his Yaesu FRG-7 and Hallicrafters S-38 receivers.
I was very interested–especially in the FRG-7. Many SWL friends (Robert Gulley and Mike Hansgen, to name just a couple) love their FRG-7s. I’d been waiting for the right opportunity to snag one at a local hamfest. I’m also a Hallicrafters fan and love the front panel design of the S-38 series: so classy.
I asked Shawn how much he’d like for the receivers–I was very much interested.
Not only would he not accept payment, but he insisted on paying the shipping as well. I felt apprehensive about accepting such a generous gift. Shawn replied:
“Although I understand your reticence, Thomas, just count this as one of the perks of the job that you’ve undertaken and, from what I can tell from a distance, taken on and done well.”
That statement made my day. Thanks, Shawn!
The FRG-7 now sits in my shack and I’m learning my way around its unique tuning mechanism. It’s a beauty, too: I love the utilitarian front panel and dials/controls.
Other than needing a little DeOxit on some of the pots and switches, it works beautifully!
I’ve been so busy since returning from Canada, I haven’t had the FRG-7 on the air much. That’ll all change, though, as my Fall/Winter listening season kicks in. I’m already looking forward to it.
Thanks again, Shawn! I’ll make sure both of these radios have a good home here in my shack!
Readers: Do you have a Yaesu FRG-7? Any tips/tricks? Please comment!
The following is the third set of ten photos along with any notes that were included.
Click on images to enlarge and enjoy:
Robert Gulley (AK3Q)
Notes: I have a Kenwood TM-D710G with lots of bells and whistles (center-right), including APRS and packet capability, Echolink, computer control, programming and data output, not to mention the regular functions of a dual-band, cross-band repeat radio. Another rig above and to the left (under the computer monitor) is my main all-mode rig, a Kenwood TS-2000. To the right is an old Swan 350 transceiver and power supply. There is an old manual Dentron tuner above that, and sitting atop of it all is an analog Uniden Bearcat BC898T scanner. There is an amplifier, a 220Mhz rig, several HTs, and on the bottom right my pride and joy Yaesu FRG-7 shortwave receiver. I currently have 6 speakers for various sound outputs. Out of the frame are two more computers, two SDR receivers, another monitor and a sound mixing board. I won’t begin to mention all the portable SW radios and several old DX-160s (my first real SW radio). I love listening/transmitting here, but I also take portable radios around the house and on the front or back porch as the mood hits.
Mahesh Jain (57HS4688)
Notes: I am radio hobbyist particularly my beloved shortwave radio. But it makes me sad to see that most of the radio stations on shortwave in my country India are closing their shortwave broadcast and they are going online and digital, which is available to few not the all people. Hope the radio and specially shortwave radio revive soon. Hope we all have good old days back. 🙂
I love my Graundig Yacht boy 80 radios which I won from DW (german radio) and later i bought Sony ICF SW35. I use telescopic antenna and sometimes I use a reel antenna. I have very little technical knowledge about the radios and antennas used. Still, I keep on experimenting and sometimes found far far away stations, which is obviously a thrilling experience. with this hobby of DXing I have learned a lot about different cultures and nations. Moreover i am using the internet technology to get far away stations which are not targeting my country/region and the WEB SDR is the best source.
Ray Sylvester (NR1R)
Notes: Ray’s main shack rig is the Yaesu FTDX5000MP.
Darwin McDonald (SWL/W8)
Notes: The Drake Receiver is my best–using a long wire and an antenna tuner.
S B Sharma
Notes: In the photo above, I am listening to radio at world famous Buddhist temple in Barbadur, Indonesia. Photo taken while I was surfing and listening voice of Indonesia and general overseas service of India on the temple. I have been listening to radio for the past 32 years and continue today. Due to this hobby, I won two free foreign tours till date and hope there will be some more.
Clyde Ramsdell (N1BHH)
Notes: My simple station/listening post is the Icom IC-735 using one of three antennas:
Off Center Fed Dipole (130 feet) at 45 feet high,
160 meter (250 feet long) dipole at 30 feet high,
Random wire, roughly 45 feet draped around my room.
My bedside radio is a Grundig Yachtboy YB-400 with another random wire draped around the room. In the photo (above) you’ll find the Icom IC-735 on the Astron RS-35 power supply, MFJ-949E tuner and Bencher paddle, a Radio Shack Pro-106 scanner, Icom IC-3AT 220 HT and Yaesu FT-2900R.
Notes: My favorite receiver is none other than Tecsun PL-660 as it pulls a lot of far away radio stations without any external antenna!!! On MW I could log a number of South Korea, Japan, and Australian radio stations.On shortwave, numerous far away radio stations including 1 KW Australian Marine Weather Broadcast station VMW. On longwave…Vow…Ireland radio on 252 khz…What else do I need from a budget Tecsun?
The tinyTecsun PL-660 is my DX magic box !!!! So,This is my listening post!
Location: Tamil Nadu state, India.
Notes: This is my little shack that is located in my backyard.
Receiver- DEGEN DE 1103
Antenna- RGP3-OC Loop Magnética and DEGEN 31MS active loop antenna
Amplifier- Amplificador Indutivo de RF DXCB-V1
Recorder- Sony ICD-PX312F
Notes: My Listeningt post consists of my fav. Kenwood TS-50 (30khz – 30Mhz) and a VHF YAESU FT-1900.
All night long when my kids are in bed, I spend my time listening to numerous SW Stations.
This is my hobby since nearly 30 years! 🙂 So that’s my little listening post, illuminated with two little LED-Spots for SWL Nights with “Style”. 🙂
Hank Dean (KU8S)
Notes: Here are four photos of a portable outing “QRP to the field” op in April 2013. This park is called Bear Pond and is located in the Seminole State Forest, west of Sanford, FL on SR 46, about four miles from my house. I love this place. Great place to have lunch and play radio.
The rig is a Yaesu FT-817ND QRP transceiver, a PAR end fed wire antenna, and SLAB 12v 10AHr battery. Apple IPad does the logging chores. Add some Chinese food, some almond cookies, a little sweet tea, Hmmnnnnnn, life is good!
Life is good, indeed, Hank! What a great way to cap off this third set of shack photos!
Again, many thanks to all who sent in their listening post photos. I absolutely love the variety!
The following is the second set of ten photos along with any notes that were included.
Click on images to enlarge and enjoy:
Rajesh Chandwani, VU2OEC
?My radio shack has radio from two generations, that is, my father’s tube radio, viz., Murphy TAO 776 MARK II. My father, Mr. P. R. Chandwani, also a Shortwave Listener, purchased Murphy Radio in Summer of 1971.
I used to see him install wire antenna between to bamboo poles or mesh antenna in our room for shorwave signals. I love this old murphy radio. I carried on further the legacy of radio listening till 2005 and then got my Ham ticket. My radio shack also have state-of-the-art technology radios, like, Kenwood TS-590s and Grundig Satellit 800 Millennium. Overall, it is the love for radio, experience of years & years of listening works out. Even after becoming ham, I still indulge in Shortwave Listening, AM Bands and FM Dxing. It is a lot of fun. My 14 year old son, viz., Chittaranjan too some time takes interest in radio technology.
Rajesh Chandwani, VU2OEC
Moshe Ze’ev Zaharia
I actually have two favorite listening posts, as seen in the following pictures:
In the first you can see the Ben-Gal Duet Stereo, Tube radio with record player. The Ben-Gal covers Shortwave in 3 overlap bands continues from about 2MHz up to about 23MHz, it has an RF stage and it is very sensitive. Above are (from left to right): the Sangean ATS909, Tecsun S2000, and Philips 90AL765.
In the second picture is the Ben-Gal Verdi. In contrast to the Duet Stereo, it lacks the RF stage, but 15 meters of wire as an antenna compensate for that. I like to lay down on the sofa, in the dark, spin the dial on this radio while gazing the green light of the EM84 tuning tube.
Moshe Ze’ev Zaharia
Elwood Downey, WB0OEW
Main rig at this time is Elecraft KX3, both on-air and SWL. I also still have my Knight Kit Star Roamer I built in 1970 to which I added a BFO but it is not in the photo. Ham interests include antennas, building and digital modes. SWL interests include WX FAX, utility and military.
Thanks for a great website.
Here is my Tecsun PL-600. My other toys include UHF-walkie and RTL-SDR, and that’s it for now. I was laying in my mother-in-law’s garden, in evening twilight, and this very friendly stray cat came and jumped on me to listen 20m hams too.
Dan Robinson sits in front of his “main stack” of receivers in his basement shack in Potomac, MD.
The former VOA correspondent currently runs, from top to bottom, a RFT EKD-515, McKay Dymek DR33-C6, JRC NRD-301A, Drake R7A/RV75, Eddystone 6200, JRC NRD-515. Just behind Dan, you find a Drake R8, SONY ICF-6800W, and a Kenwood R-2000, while not seen behind this veteran DX’er is a NRD-545. Dan notes that the receivers shown constitute only about half of his collection.
In his “back room” he has everything from a Panasonic RF-9000 and Grundig Sat 650, to an R-390A and JRC NRD-93.
David Self, K8SSN
Primary radio is a Flex 3000 and a secondary FT900. Location is Hamilton, Ohio.
Top is my ham radio equipment and bottom shelf is for my JRC NRD92 – 35 years young.
Art van Esch, VK4GO
I am a ham since 1963 was born in The Netherlands, moving to Australia in 1980. I am active on the short wave bands.
Regards de Art VK4GO
Notes: Hello, my name is Anthony Bueron from the Philippines. Here is a photo of my shortwave radio. Thanks!
Francisc Grünberg, YO4PX
My name is Francisc Grünberg, a radio ham with the call sign YO4PX. I live in Constanta, Romania. More about me and my ham radio activities and publications may be found on my QRZ.com page at https://www.qrz.com/db/yo4px
From there you may see that I was a short-wave listener for 17 years because of the discrimination of the former communist authorities, before obtaining my transmitter license in 1980.
I am a writer, a journalist and a professional certified and sworn translator for 4 languages. I am also my own webmaster at http://yo4px.blogspot.ro where more than 850 articles (translations and own writings) were published in the last 6 years.
A picture of me in my shack is attached.
The gear I am using is presented on my QRZ.com page.
My postal address is also there, but I repeat it:
Again, many thanks to all who sent in their listening post photos. I absolutely love the variety!
The listening post and ham radio shack of Giuseppe Morlè (IZ0GZW) from Ponza Island, Italy.
Several months ago, we conducted a shack photo contest sponsored by Universal Radio. At the time, I promised to post all of your excellent photos soon–apologies to all for the extended delay!
The following is the first set of ten photos along with any notes that were included.I plan to post these photos in sets of 10 and tag your names in each post. These actually take time to format for the blog, but I hope to post new sets of shack photos in the coming days.
Click on images to enlarge and enjoy:
1937 Philco 620 EZ 121
1936 Philips P626 Superhet Radio Player
1937 World Radio
1936 Stewart Warner R-146X
Lower is my tweaked Icom IC-R71. Most fun is with the 1936 Philips P626 Radioplayer–for its age , its tuning sensitivity and selectivity is simply amazing.
Notes: An Icom R71E and CommRadio CR-1a and a transmatch tuner running a sloping dipole longwire. My favourite rig at the momemnt is my Icom–maybe older but quite sensitive compared to the CommRadio–but the CommRadio is quite good on CW decoding. SWL callsign is MA3087swl.
John Magee (W4GLX)
Notes: My favorite gear to use is The Kenwood TS 2000. I also have an Kenwood R2000 for my short wave listening …
Notes: My shack is simply a bedside table connected to a homebrew multiband dipole. I use the Radio Shack DX-394 for most of my DXing and the Grundig Aviator G6 Buzz Aldrin edition for local FM and shortwave during outdoor excursions.
Ken Carr (KE1RI)
Notes: My ham shack is my favorite listening post. Since all the children are now adults I am able to dedicate this second floor bedroom to radio.
From left to right: Ten-Tec Omni VI transceiver (with all Plus upgrades), Collins 302C-3 wattmeter, Yaesu FTDX-3000 transceiver,Ameriton AL-811H amplifier, Hammarlund HQ-OneSeventy receiver, Hallicrafters HT-37 transmitter, and, National HRO-Sixty receiver. To the far right can be seen part of a Grundig 8080 / USA.
Unseen are an additional 4 consoles, several Trans-Oceanics, and many others.
Vance Thompson (K7VNZ)
Notes: Attached is a photo of probably one of the smallest, most cluttered/disorganized (to the naked eye) listening station ever. Then again, maybe not… But seriously, I read your latest post, and just immediately took a picture. No cleaning up, staging, adding or removing things, or photoshop used. It is what it is and I like it.
My name is Vance Thompson and my callsign is K7VNZ, and this is where I listen.
Some highlights starting from top to bottom:
Top shelf: An old Griffen “Radio Shark” (1st gen) nestled in a homemade loop antenna made with an old Roi-Tan cigar box as the base, a lava lamp, a Colonial Viper, a Buddha box that looks like a weird radio.
Middle shelf: WWII blackout lantern, toy safe to hold all my secret spy number decoder books in :-), misc. vaseline glass and ‘glowy’ stuff, and a mask my daughter made. Dixie Cannonball crystal radio headset hanging on left, unnamed headset on right with cool radioactive stickers I put on it.
Monitor shelf: Viewing SWLing Post, of course. Raspberry Pi on left running ADS-B software when I turn it on, green laser pointer I used to tease my dog with, stack of misc. papers with a homemade crystal radio made on an expired plastic gift card on top.
Bottom shelf: Baofeng BF-F8+ with diamond antenna, recent hand-wound coil connected to breadboard prototype crystal radio I’m currently working on (tuning capacitor seen below next to the keyboard), digital audio recorder in there somewhere, Radio Shack DSP processor I found at a junk store for $4 with various alligator clip jumpers on top, round tin for small radio parts, moleskin logbook, Yaesu FT-60, my grandfather’s D-4 flight computer from WWII.
Arie van Bezooijen (PE1AJ)
Notes: I’m using a Kenwood 950s and an Icom IC7400 for HF. For 2m i’m using a Yeasu FT-7800 and other SW listening I can do with a Kenwood R2000.
Mitul Kansal (VU3MCN)
Notes: Recently, I visited RRI- Voice of Indonesia & Republic of Indonesia in September 2015 as a winner of International Quiz, “Wonderful Indonesia 2015.” I visited the RRI- Voice Of Indonesia Broadcasting Station .
There, I went on air, shared my views about RRI- Voice of Indonesia. It was an unforgettable moment for me. With other winners , I enjoyed listening on radio.
Jackie LaVaque (KC0ODY)
Notes: Here’s my humble listening post! Right now it consists of a Kaito KA1102, a Tecsun PL310, a Baofeng UV5R, and not seen because it’s not up and running yet, an RTL-SDR USB dongle which I plan to make into my winter project. My favorite rig is the Tecsun PL310 because not only is it a great performer on SW and MW, it also does pretty well with longwave using an added homemade cake form antenna.
Again, many thanks to all who sent in their listening post photos. I absolutely love the variety!
I love hearing stories about how shortwave radio listeners and ham radio operators got interested in the hobby. I’ll tell you about my experience, but I would enjoy hearing yours either in the comments section or by sending me an email. In the coming months, I will select stories to feature on The SWLing Post––especially if you have photos!
As I started to write a little of my personal history in radio, I felt a sense of déjà vu. That’s because in May 2011, Monitoring Times Magazine asked if I would write a piece describing how I became an SWLer and ham radio operator; of course this made for a nice segue into how I started the charity, Ears To Our World. After a little digging, I have discovered the unedited piece and added/updated where necessary.
So here’s my story–(now please share yours)! [Update: Click here to read our growing collection.]
A Love of Listening: How I Relate to Radio
Growing up, listening…
I’ve never been a fan of television. Ironic, considering that I grew up in the seventies and eighties when most kids were glued to the tube, addicted to Nickelodeon. Perhaps one of the reasons why is that I find the visual often distracts from what I want to hear. Maybe it says something about my reluctance (or inability?) to multitask, but I’m much better at simply listening, rather than listening while also being asked to watch. I prefer to close my eyes, to just listen––and allow my mind to construct images from sound.
My father’s RCA 6K3 console radio.
When people ask how I became so interested in radio, the answer comes clear: I just love to listen. My father still has, in his living room, the vintage RCA 6K3 wooden console radio which emitted, like an aging, crackly-voiced Siren with her own kind of coarse charm, the various scintillating sounds that first caught my ear and captured my young imagination.
One of my earliest memories is of my father, tuning in WWV in Fort Collins, Colorado, on the RCA to set his watch to the atomic pulse coming through the aether, a practice he followed each Sunday morning. Sometimes he would allow me to tune around afterwards––on these occasions, I would catch broadcasts out of Europe, Australia, South America, as well as places I could not readily identify.
Not long after, my great aunt unearthed in her basement a classic Zenith Transoceanic, which she offered me; I took the dusty unit into my room and promptly set up a listening post. Little did I know at the time that I was joining a fraternity of radio listeners around the world who also logged and listened to stations, as I began to do, far into the night. I often fell fast asleep listening to my Zenith; no doubt, some of those mysterious DX stations I heard over shortwave and medium-wave infiltrated my dreams with languages and cultures altogether unlike my white-bread American one.
My trusty Zenith Trans Oceanic will always be a part of my radio collection (Click to enlarge)
Then when I was in my teens––again, in an ironic twist––a TV repair man who came to work on my parents’ set mentioned that he was a ham, and I was suddenly introduced to the intriguing world of ham radio. Though it took several years before I pursued my ticket, as I was busy with school, music, and other typical teen pursuits, my interest in the medium deepened.
While doing my undergraduate degree, I spent a year living and studying in France. At the time, the world wide web was still in its infancy, and my portable shortwave radio, which had helped teach me French back home, now became my English-speaking companion, bringing news from home courtesy of Voice of America. Unlike satellite television, cable TV, or an internet connection, radio was also inexpensive, vital for a poor student like me struggling to pay my own way in Europe. Through just listening, a virtual sonic flight home was free and nearly instant, arriving at the speed of light.
Mike Hansgen (K8RAT) teaching me the ropes at my first QRP Field Day in 1997. William McFadden was also there and was photographer for this photo. (Source: William McFadden WD8RIF)
After graduation, once more stateside, I encountered two hams who were to become lasting friends and elmers: Mike Hansgen (K8RAT) and Eric McFadden (WD8RIF). These two talented hams nourished my keen interest in the hobby, and in their company, I soon found myself in the field experiencing the scrappy fun of hands-on radio contests. I loved how my resourceful guides worked so many stations with the lowest-powered QRP equipment and only the simplest, cheapest wire antennas, and moreover, that they often derived their station power from the sun. I appreciated the remarkable skill with which they milked such modest equipment, initiating contacts all over the globe. With their steady encouragement, I finally got my ticket.
I’ve been a ham since 1997. Radio, no doubt, has influenced my decisions to travel, to live and work abroad, to pursue a graduate degree in Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics. Whatever I did, I did while listening to radio. I even changed my call not long ago to reflect my passion as a shortwave radio listener; my new handle is K4SWL.
Recently I found myself charmed and inspired by a BBC audio piece on Gerry Wells, the British radio repairman who in his eighties continues to do what he has always done, and is still sought for his skill. The story’s subject is truly enjoyable, if a bit of an anachronism: most remarkable is its relevance in the new millennium due to the simple fact that old mid-century (and earlier) radios continue to function today, and are still relied upon by listeners. As I listened to this report, I couldn’t help but wonder, as I have so often before: why does radio have such powerful nostalgic appeal? I reckon that, at least in part, it’s because radio has always been the voice of reassurance, of comfort, during darker times, reminding us that we are human, yet reminding us of our ability to survive. Radio is a friend––or, perhaps, a “great-uncle, in cords and a cardigan,” as Jeremy Paxman characterizes the BBC in his recent defense of this valuable institution in The Guardian––whose warm, familiar voice is there even when other media sources, or the internet, are down.
Shortwave, meanwhile, is much like the world’s pulse––we check in, we listen, and we confirm: all’s well, we’re still okay.
In this photo from Belize, I’m working with David (blue shirt), who is visually impaired–radio opens a world for him.
Listening as mission
One could say that listening to radio has shaped my life. I suppose that’s why radio has recently become a mission for me. Today, I’m the founder and director of Ears To Our World (ETOW), a charitable organization with a simple objective: distributing self-powered world band radios and other appropriate technologies to schools and communities in the developing world, so that kids like I once was, not to mention those who teach them, can learn about their world, too, through the simple act of listening. I want others––children and young people, especially––who lack reliable access to information, to have the world of radio within their reach.
Teacher in rural South Sudan with an ETOW radio. (Project Education Sudan Journey of Hope 2010)
Specifically, Ears to Our World works in rural, impoverished, and sometimes war-torn or disaster-ravaged parts of the world, places that lack reliable access to electricity (let alone the internet) and where radio is often the only link to the world outside. The heart of our mission is to allow radio to be used as a tool for education, so we give radios to teachers, who, in turn, use the radios in the classroom and at home to provide real-life, up-to-date feedback about the world around them.
Through the encouragement of our good friends at Universal Radio and the extraordinary magnanimity of Eton corporation, who donate our wind-up world band radios, in our first two years and on a budget of less than $3500, ETOW managed to distribute radios to schools and communities in nine countries on three continents––in Africa, Eastern Europe, Central and South America, and the Caribbean––as well as to both Haiti and Chile, where the dissemination of information through radio was life-saving when earthquakes struck.
Post-earthquake, ETOW radios continue to be a vital link for those in need in Haiti. Here, Erlande, who suffered a stroke in her early 30s and can barely walk, listens to one of our self-powered Etón radios, given to her by ETOW through their partner, the Haitian Health Foundation.
We’ve done all this through partnerships––with other reputable established non-profit agencies like us––that already help struggling schools throughout the world, and who believe, as we do, in freedom of and access to information. Creating these partnerships is an important move: due to the very nature of the remote regions we serve, extending our assistance demands persistence, financial resources, and logistical support, times ten. And often a great deal of patience. Just shipping radios to other countries usually involves detailed arrangements with national and regional governmental authorities (for example, to waive duties or taxes); once the radios arrive, safely distributing them to these remote areas can also be very costly and complex. We listen attentively to our existing partner organizations, who have often laid the groundwork in these regions, and have established reliable connections with communities in them. Their need is for resources—like radios.
By listening closely to and working cooperatively with other established organizations, we find we’re able to distribute radios much more cost-effectively, too. In other words, we can operate on a shoestring budget so that donations to ETOW are used wisely and to their fullest extent. For example, because of our strong partnerships, money otherwise spent on travel can be put into shipping costs instead, thus getting more radios to more of the world with less donated funds.
So far, our scope has been limited only by our financial resources. Meanwhile, we are looking to place radios in other countries farther off the beaten path; Mongolia recently received our radios. Yet we’re not simply focusing on expansion: ETOW is establishing strong, lasting bonds with our schools and teachers so as to better serve their needs long term. We endeavor to replace their equipment and batteries as needed. We would also like to develop on-air teacher training programs; a new partnership with Oklahoma State University seeks to develop and disseminate content on important subjects, among them literacy and health education, so there is new and valuable content to listen to.
June 2013: This map shows the world adjusted for each country’s Internet population. Click to expand (Source: Information Geographies project at the Oxford Internet Institute)
MT readers [and especially SWLing Post readers] will have already guessed why we prefer radio to, say, computers, for information access. It is because much of the world does not have the communications infrastructure to support access to the world wide web and other dynamic media sources such as digital television, wireless networks or even electric power or phone. [Simply take a quick glance at the map above which shows the world adjusted for each country’s Internet population; notice how central Africa is all but missing?] Political instability, meanwhile, can undermine even the written word [for examples, check out our tag category: why shortwave radio?].
Radio, however, is simplicity itself: all one needs is a modest yet capable receiver, and one has instant––speed of light––access to local and world media. So far, every teacher we’ve worked with already knows something about radio; indeed, many of them have an intricate knowledge of broadcast schedules. But in these places it can take up to an entire week’s wages to pay for a set of batteries. Thus ETOW’s wind-up radios become vital–we effectively eliminate this cost, giving them steady access to information.
And the reports we’re hearing from the field have been overwhelmingly encouraging: Teachers in rural Mongolia, Tanzania, and Kenya are able to teach current events. Visually impaired children in rural Belize can listen to the outside world and hear music and languages they’ve never heard. Children in Haiti and families in Chile learned where to go to get food and medical care and information about loved ones affected by the quakes. A remote community in southern Sudan was able to listen to reports of their burgeoning country’s first democratic election. Being able to listen is making a difference.
Listening and learning work together
Radio captured my imagination as TV never could, it travelled with me and taught me early on that everyone has a story. Listening to radio taught me, too, that each voice is different in the consideration of what’s meaningful or newsworthy. I learned to understand––or at least appreciate––the diverse perspectives I heard in my vicarious radio journeys, and from these sprang my own opinions, hopes, beliefs. Radio became my teacher, one who gave me, in my formative years, a global perspective.
Students in South Sudan listen to their favorite shortwave radio program, VOA Special English.
Just as radio taught me, and opened my young mind, I’m convinced that it can teach and open the minds of others. In some parts of our world, futures are still written on the airwaves. But it’s never just a one-way street–willingness to listen to those with whom we work helps us better serve them, but also to make the leaps of mind required to cross cultures, to become aware of those outside our Western sphere, to understand and grow and learn, ourselves.
Listen and learn. That’s ETOW’s tag line, but to some young people––and to me––it still means the world.
So great to see a new post on The Radio Kitchen, letting us know that The Professor can DX from home again after resolving a spectrum noise disturbance. This is a post many a shortwave listener will relate to, since most of us have had to deal with spectrum noise at some point.