NASWA Journal Columns · Easy Listening, June 1996

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

Easy Listening, June 1996

Radio Australia Funding Problems?

John Figliozzi sent me a note as I was preparing this column with some distressing news on Radio Australia. John heard on HCJB’s DX Party Line that the South Pacific Union of DXers reported the very possible closing of Radio Australia. John then sent an E-mail to Radio Australia expressing his concern (as RA is one of his–and my–favorite stations). He received an E-mail reply from Roger Broadbent, Manager of English Service stating that his letter will be a subject on Radio Australia’s Feedback program this week (airing Sunday, May 26th, 1330 UTC) and that the Director of Radio Australia (or possibly the ABC, Radio Australia’s parent) will be responding to his letter and explaining RA’s dire financial straits.

The worldwide shortwave community was able to marshal the resources to convince the CBC to keep Radio Canada International on the air this past spring; I strongly encourage you to send E-mail, fax, letter, whatever to Radio Australia encouraging them to stay on the air and not cut back. I don’t have all the Radio Australia addresses with me at this time, but I believe their E-mail address is

BBC Highlights For June Unavailable–Sorry

I didn’t receive my copy of BBC On Air, the “BBC World Service”‘s new program guide, in time for this column due to an out-of-town business trip combined with an early column deadline. According to information posted on the BBC’s WWW pages, BBC On Air replaces BBC Worldwide and this retrenched publication will be reduced in scope to program listingsapparently the same scope as London Calling used to have, but with the addition of BBC World Service Television. As soon as I find out subscription costs I’ll let you know. I’ll also contact the BBC to ensure my subsequent editions of BBC On Air reach me in time for the monthly column deadline.

RealAudio on the Internet

Armed with a new PC, more disk storage space, and sound drivers, I’ve briefly explored the World Radio Network‘s offerings of international broadcasts on demand over the Internet. I sampled the offerings of Radio Netherlands, Radio Australia, and Radio Canada International. With only a 14.4 kbps modem the sound fidelity was a bit low, and some speech was garbled, but there was no fading, and I didn’t have to remember to set up a tape recorder and timer to hear my favorite programs. I know that only a fraction of NASWA members have access to the Internet, but the technology of real-time and on-demand audio distributed via the Internet is an interesting development.

Target Topics: Book Reviews and Readings

First, some thoughts from John Figliozzi:

For a medium so dependent on the use of language, there is a surprising dearth of programming falling into this category. What can be found, however, is very good.

The venerable BBC weighs in with two excellent offerings: a daily (Tu-Sa 0345 UTC) serialized reading from a range of literature entitled Off the Shelf and a weekly reading of works by listeners called Short Story (Fridays 0615; Sundays 1445/2015; Mondays 0130). Each program is a quarter hour.

The quality and pathos of Russian literature is put on display by the Voice of Russia on Audio Book Club (Sundays 0032; Thursday/Saturday 0232; Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday 2232), a half hour weekly program which features classic Russian literature.

The Voice of America features American short story writers and their works in the Special English series American Stories best heard in North America in its 0040 broadcast on UTC Saturday.

Radio Australia features, naturally, Australian literature in its Book Reading program (Sundays 0110/0310; Saturdays 0410/0610).

HCJB presents two programs centering on Christian literature. Radio Reading Room (Mondays 0200) reviews recent book releases and presents excerpts from them. In Book Nook (Thursdays 0215), Lisa McVicar reads books in serialized form.

Reflections is a series on Chinese literature broadcast by the Voice of Free China (Saturdays 0215/Sundays 0315). I find it a little hard to follow due to the halting style of reading used, the nature of the subject itself, and the constant transmitter dropouts.

While technically on shortwave, the CBC program Between the Covers, which offers serialized readings from contemporary Canadian literature (which, personally, I find very insightful), (Tuesdays and Saturdays 0215) is best heard on the CBC’s MW transmitters (Montreal 940/Toronto 740 for East Coast North American listeners) rather than the Northern Quebec Service frequency 9625 kHz)

As for book review programs, try these: BBC Book Choice Sundays 1525/ Wednesdays 2325; BBC Good Books Wednesdays 1445 / Fridays 0030 Radio Australia Book Talk Thursdays 1130.

Finally, many smaller broadcasters cover writers and their works in the context of their programs dedicated to the arts in general. But that, as they say, is another subject!

Peter Bowen adds the following on Audio Book Club:

The Voice of Russia‘s contribution to serialized book readings is Audio Book Club. This program, 25-28 minutes long, presents either one story per program or one story over the course of several programs. In both cases, each program opens with a very brief introduction of the story and author. In the case of a series of programs on one story, the opening also includes a review of the story thus far.

Unlike Off the Shelf on the BBC World Service, Audio Book Club does not have a single reader. Instead, the story is divided into parts: one or two announcers read the part of the narrator, others read the thoughts and words of the characters. In addition, parts are read in such a way as to approach dialogue.

Announcers have no accents, and read well. The words are well pronounced, the flow of reading is generally good, and there is some verbal dramatization as well. The announcers speak with animation, and thus convey an interpretation of the text simply by the inflections of their voices.

Musical selections appear at various points in the program. Although they do help to set the atmosphere of the parts of the story in which they appear, they are often too loud, and divert attention from the words. In a program such as this, mood, tone, and atmosphere should instead be set by the reading itself. The music also hampers an understanding of the words if reception is poor, as it is played while the words are being read.

Audio Book Club is an odd beast: in part, it is a program of literary readings, and in part it is a drama program. Perhaps it is best described as a program of literary readings with elements of drama. Yet, in spite of its unclear nature, and harmful musical intrusions, it’s a very good program.

Upcoming Target Topics

In Conclusion

Thanks to John and to Peter Bowen for their contributions this month; I look forward to hearing from you soon!

73 DE Richard

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