NASWA Journal Columns · Easy Listening, April 1996

Richard Cuff • 42 North 37th Street • Allentown, PA 18104 richard◊

Easy Listening, April 1996

It Was Fun While It Lasted

It was a treat, once again, to meet many friends and supporters of Easy Listening at the Winter SWL Festival earlier this month. Once again, a good time was had by all, as we had two days to sit around and “talk radio”. John Figliozzi and I enjoyed presenting our Easy Listening forum; even though much hay has been made over the role of the Internet in potentially replacing shortwave as a means for international broadcasters to reach their audiences, we believe Shortwave Radio still remains an effective means for international broadcasters to get their message out. Make sure your calendars are marked for the Tenth Anniversary (!) Winter SWL Festival, March 13th-15th, 1997!

We once again invited participants to answer a listening habits survey; we’ll summarize the results in an upcoming Journal.

Channel Africa

I’ve had reasonable success the past couple weeks in receiving the 1600 UTC 15240 kHz Channel Africa broadcast, so I feel more comfortable including it as an “Easy Listening” target. For news about Africa originating in Africa, Channel Africa is your best bet. This particular frequency is targeted to West Africa and, while the entire Channel Africa broadcast begins before 1600, this particular West Africa transmitter kicks in at that time.

The hour’s primary program is Newswatch, an in-depth review of the day’s African news. The program opens with a ten-minute African and World news bulletin, continues with a music selection, then continues with several feature reports on African news. On-scene reporting with sound actuality is liberally utilized–more so than in the BBC‘s African news roundup Focus On Africa. At 1630 a series of rotating features are broadcast, including Sportswatch on Saturdays, among others.

As with Radio Australia, Channel Africa focuses nearly exclusively on being a regional service specializing in African affairs for an African audience. Channel Africa has a World Wide Web presence at

Radio Netherlands

The 750th edition of Media Network will air on May 2nd/3rd, and the program will specially mark the occasion. Since the program has always emphasized listener participation we’ll be running a quiz in the program with a unique prize. More details coming shortly. (See Shortwave Center this month in the printed bulletin for an article about Media Network.) There will be a special QSL card for the broadcasts on May 2nd and an anniversary “Gold Label Compact Disc”.

April Documentaries include Krakers! (Thursday, April 4th): In a small country, housing is hard to come by. In the 70s and 80s the housing crisis reached a peak. Nowadays, reports Michele Ernsting, any unoccupied space is fair game for squatters or krakers. Living By The Water (Thursdays April 18th and 25th) is a three-part co-production with BBC Radio Scotland and Ireland’s RTE, and is a profile of the coastal community of Kilmorequay, a the lifeboat service and a couple who live on a transport barge.

Radio Netherlands has also enhanced their Internet presence as well; their WWW page is Look there for updates on the 750th anniversary Media Network program.

Shortwave RadioGuide News

I know this is a bit of advertising, but given his contributions to this column and to the hobby in general, I’m pleased to include it here. John Figliozzi has arranged for his directory of shortwave programs to be sold in North American Radio Shack stores as of the end of April. The book’s title has been changed to The International Directory of Shortwave Radio Programs and will sell for $10.95. Radio Shack has found that many purchasers of shortwave radios don’t understand the concepts of propagation and frequency allocations very well, and return many radios never having found anything of interest. John’s book should help newcomers to the hobby learn about the diverse offerings of international broadcasters and, hopefully, get addicted to the hobby like the rest of us.

Mid-West Radio

I am sorry I missed this ahead of time–if you tuned to 7325 kHz on Sunday, March 18th you didn’t hear the usual BBC–you heard a local radio station from County Mayo, on the west coast of Ireland, with a locally produced “hands across the airwaves” program of Irish greetings, music, and culture commemorating St. Patrick’s Day. While you couldn’t air this type of program seven days a week, it was truly something special. If you heard Mid-West Radio, feedback is eagerly solicited. Snail mail can simply be addressed to Mid-West Radio, County Mayo, Ireland; E-mail can be addressed to

This isn’t the only Irish news on the radio–WWCR, on its 3rd transmitter, airs news from an Irish domestic network Mondays to Fridays at 0900, 1000 Saturdays and Sundays (presuming April time changes).

Target Topics: History Programs

First off, Shortwave RadioGuide author John Figliozzi shares some of his observations on History on Radio:

History is a tough subjectto pin down on shortwave, that is. History, whether a nation’s or the world’s, is used across the programming spectrum as a means to provide the listener with context. Consequently, history is likely to be included in any type of program you can namefrom news to music, business to culture, drama to quiz shows, mailbag to descriptions of everyday life in a country.

There are a handful of programs which attempt to present history as an end in itself. The Voice of Russia has been running a series entitled Moscow Yesterday and Today which scans 850 years of the city’s history. This program can best be heard at 0032 on UTC Wednesdays and Fridays (beginning with the spring time change) on 7105 kHz. (The program is repeated at 0432 on Sundays UTC.) Daily on the same station, a program entitled Our Treasure Chest presents Russian history documentaries at 0332 on 7180 kHz.

Eastern European broadcasters are “discovering” their histories after decades of state directed and ideologically driven interpretation. Radio Bulgaria, Radio Romania International, Radio Budapest, and Radio Slovakia International all offer regular programs sharing what present day scholars are saying. It stands to reason that nations re-discovering their “true” pasts would have a higher degree of interest in the subject than others whose history may not seen as quite as “new” and, therefore, as interesting in some respects. These broadcasters have been somewhat tough catches these days, but you might want to try Radio Slovakia International at 0110 UTC Wednesdays.

The VOA, though, offers a regular history program in its Special English offerings. The Making of a Nation is heard at 0040 UTC Thursday on a wide range of frequencies. Radio Japan offers an interesting mix of national history, literature and music in its weekly program, History and Classics, heard via the Sackville relay on 5960 kHz. at 0125 UTC Thursdays (after the Spring time change).

Recent cataclysmic events in Kuwait have prompted that nation’s broadcaster, Radio Kuwait, to emphasize its history in many broadcasts mostly to demonstrate its legitimacy as a sovereign nation. Check between 1800 and 2100 on 11990 kHz. daily. A regular series emphasizing a range of historical topics is presented at 2000 daily except Friday. Radio Cairo and Abu Dhabi (try 2215 UTC) also offer a number of programs emphasizing history often in terms of its relationship to Islamic religion and culture.

From Asia, China Radio International’s Cultural Spectrum often includes items of historical significance. Deutsche Welle‘s German Tribune also has items relevant to German history (0135 and 0535, Tuesdays and Thursdays).

Finally, although none are planned according to April’s BBC Worldwide, BBC documentaries in programs like Assignment and Omnibus or special programs or series centered around a particular historical event or theme, present history in a very informative and entertaining manner. Radio Netherlands (in its regular documentaries block and Radio Sweden (in its Sweden Today program presented on alternate Saturdays at 1130 and 1330 [15240 and 11655] and UTC Sundays at 0130 [7155] and 0230 [7290]) often center in on historical topics.

Thanks, John! Peter Bowen next checks in with this mini-review:

The VOA English broadcast schedule states that programs in Special English are designed for learners of the English language. They are read at slower speed than regular programs, and have a vocabulary of about 1500 words. People in America is a Special English program, 13 minutes in length, which presents short biographical portraits of important figures in US history. Two announcers read a script describing the person’s life and outlining the important contributions made by that person to the history of the US. The Special English format is adhered to, although the pace seems to be livelier than is the News in Special English.

The program is well-scripted and well-read, although the slow speed and lack of any contrast within the program (other than the voices of the two announcers) inevitably lead to tedium on the part of the listener. On the other hand, the choice of characters is usually interesting, and explanations of their contributions to history are clear and concise (a positive feature of the Special English format).

The biggest problem with the content, however, is the unrealistic neglect of the negative aspects of a person’s life and work. This is a glaring fault of most biography for some reason, biographers think that it is best to present their subject as a mini-god, with no major faults and no major failures.

The result of this approach is that the listener (or reader) is cheated; we do not receive an accurate portrait of the life and work of the individual being discussed, but instead we get one that is distorted and incomplete.

Finally, Chet Copeland phoned from Washington, DC with his own personal favorite: Sounds Historical, a weekly two-hour program on Radio New Zealand International. Rarely do any programs on shortwave devote that much contiguous time to anything other than sports. Sounds Historical airs Sundays after the 0700 news (perhaps 0800 following local time changes).

BBC World Service Highlights

I considered focusing on the new overall schedule for the spring/summer season, since the BBC’s schedule has changed with the time changes in its various target areas. Instead, I’ll recommend you drop a note or an E-mail to the BBC for a copy of the program schedule, which will help you find your favorites.

Here are some noteworthy frequency changes:

Now, to some of the program highlights for April:

Human Interest and General Features

Fridays 2315: The Insider’s Guide is a new 15-minute series regarding activities behind the scenes at Bush House, with outtakes, anecdotes, and near-catastrophes brought into public light. First airing Fridays 1235.

Mondays 0230, through April 15th: UFOs–Fact, Fiction, or Fantasy? is a new three-part 30-minute series on this always contentious subject. Topics include The Abduction Phenomenon and Do We Have Contact?. Also airs Sundays 1130 and 1530.

Mondays 0230, beginning April 22nd: About Face is a new four-part 30-minute interview program profiling internationally well-known people. Carl Lewis, the track & field star, is interviewed on the April 29 program. Also airs Sundays 1130 and 1530.

Tuesday, April 22nd, 0130: A special Outlook program commemorates the 70th birthday of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, with highlights from BBC archives and interviews with commentators. First airs Monday 1405; also airs Tuesday 0430.

Music and The Arts

Wednesdays, 0230: On Screen is a weekly program on new films and classics; in April the program doubles in length to 30 minutes. Film festivals in Singapore and South Africa are subjects in April, as are new releases from Hollywood. First airs Tuesdays 1615.

Mondays, 2315: Record News is a new weekly 15-minute program on new releases in classical music, focusing exclusively on recorded music versus live performances. Studio and record company news is also included.

Tuesdays, 1515, beginning April 2nd: Songs For Children is a new nine-part 10-minute series on poetrynot musicof specific interest to young people. Dreams, relationships, culture, self-discovery, and sheer disgustingness are all featured. Also airs Wednesdays 0720.

Saturdays 0230, Meridian Live is a new edition of the weekly arts program, with regular presenters Simon Fanshawe and Brian Sibley joined guest performers, writers, and musicians, perhaps from New York, Paris, Delhi, or beyond. The first airingperhaps it’s truly the “live” versionis Fridays 1615; no other releases in any regional service air earlier.

Saturdays, 2230: Play Of The Week highlights include Rukulibam, a story about a reunion of WW II concentration camp survivors (April 13th/14th); Make And Break, a darkly funny play of a successful manufacturer driven compulsively to use and consume everything around him. An incident at a German trade fair forces him to reflect on his life and behavior (April 27th/28th, 90 minutes). Note that Play Of The Week is now repeated to North America Sundays at 0530 if you forget to set your tape recorder.

Light Entertainment

Mondays 1130: Jazz Score returns with a series of seven 30-minute quiz shows on jazz music. Stories and jokes earn as many points as correct answers, so don’t expect the intensity of Brain Of Britain. Also airs Sundays 1615.

Science and Technology

Thursdays 2315: Soundbytereturns for an eight-part 15-minute series of programs on the latest developments in computers and digital communications, from on-line education to the future of the PC. Also airs Wednesdays 1515 and Fridays 0715.

Upcoming Target Topics

It was great to get as much input as I did this past month; I’ll cheerfully include your contributions, be they handwritten, telephoned or E-mailed. Upcoming topics include:

If you have topic suggestions, please send them in as well!


Thanks to all who contributed this month: John Figliozzi, Chet Copeland, and Peter Bowen!

Until next month,

73 DE Richard

Read more Easy Listening columns.

Comments are closed.

Quick Information

Solar Conditions

At 2023 Mar 14, 0300 UTC

  • Solar Flux: 143
  • A-index: 3
  • K-index: 3

Full Report from NOAA