NASWA Journal Columns · Easy Listening, December 1996

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

Easy Listening, December 1996

Season’s Greetings

The Christmas and New Year’s holidays often provide opportunities for special celebrations and parties, and also prompt special programming on domestic radio and TV outlets. Shortwave is no exception, as several broadcasters plan special Christmas and year-end programs. The Target Topics section below highlights these. As this is the issue of the Journal you’ll have in your hands on January 1st, I have also included a New Year’s reflection of my own further on the column. Hopefully you’ll still be paying attention then!

Target Topics: Holiday Programming

This section is organized a bit different from normal installments, in that I haven’t picked off a special type of program from broadcasters’ regular schedules. Instead I’ve attempted to obtain advance information on seasonal programs planned for the Christmas and New Years’ holidays. Since there’s no way to preview these programs, Peter Bowen gets a month’s respite from his regular contribution.

This list of highlights is sorted by air date for each broadcaster.

HCJB–The Voice of the Andes

One might anticipate HCJB having special Christmastide programming, given their evangelical mission, and they indeed have several programs that incorporate the holiday theme.

Friday, December 13th, 0100: Studio 9 trades its normal Latin America focus for a Christmas focus as the program tells the story behind the song of the Christmas classic, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. Plus, a special reading by a special voice the entire family will enjoy.

Tuesday, December 17th, 0100: Studio 9 maintains both a Latin and Christmas theme as the program looks at the unique trade of a Christmas booth vendor in HCJB’s host city of Quito. Quito takes on a very festive air this time of the year, and Studio 9 catches the spirit of the city.

Saturday, December 21st, 0200: On-Line brings a gift idea you’ve probably never thought of before: Israel is definitely worth a visit, but why not bring the Bible to life in your own back garden? A young horticulturist has produced a novel gift pack containing everything needed to plant a Bible gardenso get your hyssop at the ready. Christmas music is also featured.

Sunday, December 22nd, 0110: DX Partyline gets into the Christmas spirit by traveling to the North PoleNorth Pole, Alaska, that is. Licensed to North Pole is a fascinating radio station, KJNP, which broadcasts Christian programming throughout the remote reaches of Alaska and Canada. KJNP’s founder, Don Nelson, was featured as a story subject in the dramatic program Unshackled several years back, and HCJB will include that broadcast as part of this program.

Monday, December 23rd, 0110: Saludos Amigos host Ken MacHarg will host a classic rendition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol that was originally broadcast in 1939. That’s Ken’s second-most favorite Christmas story; the first is the biblical account of the birth of Jesus in the Gospel according to Luke.

Tuesday, December 24th, 0100: Studio 9 waxes nostalgicpart of Christmas traditionand brings back the voices of Paul Bell, Lenin DeJanon and Mary Jane Sandahl for a special rebroadcast of a program from 1987 entitled Call of the Andes. Join them as they look at Ecuadorian Christmas customs from the past, many of which are still observed today.

BBC World Service

The BBC is no stranger to seasonal programming, either, with the following special offerings:

Tuesday, December 24th, through Saturday, December 28th, 0445: Off The Shelf features five stories in a collection entitled A Caribbean Christmas that reflect the unique ways the season is celebrated in the islands.

Tuesday, December 24th, 1502: A Festival Of Nine Lessons and Carols airs live from the chapel at King’s College, Cambridge, with the audience joining choir and congregation for this service which has been held since 1918. Traditional carols are intermingled with newer compositions; this year’s newly commissioned carol is Pilgrim Jesus!, written by American composer Stephen Paulus. Repeated to the Americas 2230 UTC.

Wednesday, December 25th, 0315: Christmas Live from the Archive unearthsno, make that dredges upthe worst of Christmas music. Probably more entertaining than the other Christmas turkey you’ll encounter. If once is not enough, you can torture yourself again at 2230 to the Americas.

Wednesday, December 25th, 1505: Sporting YearA Personal View looks at the heroes, heroines, triumphs and disappointments of 1996, from the eyes of a committed professional sports fan. Also airs to all regions 0945 but may be tough to catch in North America at that time.

Wednesday, December 25th, 1600 and 2100 UTC: Her Majesty The Queen’s Message to the Commonwealth is part of many Christmas celebrations around the world; the 1996 version airs at these times, followed by the World News. First airs 0900 Christmas Day.

Wednesday, December 25th, 2245: The Funny Side Of Sportlooks at mistakes and bloopers from the BBC and, perhaps, other presenters. Fairness, decency, and good taste are not adjectives one would use in association with the program. First airs 1245 to the Americas.

Thursday, December 26th, 0130: Outlook interviews Alastair Cooke, reflecting on the 50th year of Letter From America.

Friday, December 27th, 0330: Focus On Faith originates this week from Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. The intertwining of Bethlehem’s present-day Muslim heritage with its Christian past, couple with the political overtones of the Middle East peace process, are explored with local religious readers. Also airs 1130 Fridays to the Americas. The following Friday Focus On Faith looks at the life of young Jesus, focusing on the ancient stories about him which were not accepted into the bible.

Unfortunately, no other broadcasters provided Christmas or New Years’ highlights in time for the December deadline; hopefully I can change that for next year!

BBC World Service Highlights

The BBC World Service offers interesting programs in addition to the holiday features shown above; following are some highlights.

News, Current Affairs, Documentaries

Sundays, beginning December 22nd, 1401: International Question Time returns for a six-part one-hour series. Sheena McDonald once again hosts this program which answers listeners’ questions put live to a panel of distinguished guests. There is no set agenda for each program. You may phone the BBC from 1200 UTC onwards on the day of the program at +44-171-379-7444 and leave your question on the answering machine; the BBC will return your call at their expense if you’re selected to participate. Questions may also be faxed to +44-171-240-8776, or E-mailed to, and mailed to International Question Time, Room 607 SE, at the usual Bush House address. Edited versions of the program are rebroadcast Sundays 2115 to the Americas and Mondays 0815 to Europe and Africa.


Sundays, through December 15th, 1401: Pop On The Line wraps up another series of programs, with Dire Straits vocalist/guitarist Mark Knopfler on December 8. You can contact Pop On The Line at the same phone numbers shown above for International Question Time. A 45-minute edited repeat airs Sunday 2115 to the Americas.

December 12th, 0130: Outlook marks the 50th anniversary of UNICEF with the BBC’s UN Correspondent, Rob Watson, and an interview with Jane Seymour, UNICEF’s most recently appointed ambassador. Tuesday and Wednesday, December 31st and January 1st: Outlook looks back at its 30 year history with two special programs on the 1960s, with Yoko Ono, Charlotte Rampling, and Roger Moore among the guests. First Americas airing is 1405 the previous day.

Drama and the Arts

Thursdays, 2315: Record Progress is a six-part 15-minute mini-documentary series on the steps involved in recording a classical CD. December installments cover the recording sessions and the post-session editing, booklet design, and liner notes preparation. Also airs Wednesdays 1515 to the Americas, and Sundays 1645 to Africa.

Fridays, 0030: Good Books is a weekly program where various presenters discuss favorite literary classics from around the world. December highlights include classics in the languages of several World Service broadcasters. Rita Weisman talks about the Russian short story islanders, written by Yevgeny Zamyatin in 1917; Achala Sharma talks about the Hindi novel The Gift of A Cow, written by Premchand. Also airs Wednesdays 1445 to the Americas and Africa.

Saturdays, 2230: Play of the Week highlights for December:

The School for Wives, December 7th, one of Moliere’s best loved comedies about a man raising a young ward, Agnes, whom he hopes to marry but does not want to see exposed to the independent ways of contemporary women.

The Piano Tuner’s Wives, December 14th, was written by William Trevor especially for the World Service. It’s sent in Ireland’s county Cork and features a blind-since-birth piano tuner and his long-term marriage and a new lover who arrives on the scene after his wife’s death.

Pinocchio, December 21st, might not be 100% recognizable by someone weaned on Disney’s version; for example, Mr. Cherry discovers a talking log when he tries to cut a new leg for his kitchen table. Cherry then gives the log to Gepetto, who carves the puppet into existence.

The World Service once again is holding an International Playwriting Competition, with entries due by May 31st, 1997, and winners to be announced October 5th, 1997. You may obtain a complete copy of rules and guidelines for submission by writing to the BBC World Service Playwriting Competition at the usual Bush House address.

Science and Technology

Tuesday, December 24th, 1530: Discovery features From Digits to Divas, charting the development of computer music from its 1940s origins to the hyper-instruments of 1996. The role of digital technology in the renaissance of music is considered. The December 31st edition features an encore presentation of How Music Maps the Mind, a look at how music is processed in the brain and how it is central to our mental makeup. Also airs to Africa at 1401, and to Europe at 1830.

New Year’s Resolutions

The milestone of another year’s passing gives me an excuse to reflect on the world of Easy Listening and the shortwave hobby. 1995 has seen a continuing fragmentation of program delivery methods for the world’s international broadcasters, with continuing adoption of satellite- and Internet-based delivery becoming increasingly common, with a corresponding reduction in the use of Shortwave. Most broadcasters seem to have adopted a parallel distribution stance, but this has also added budgetary pressures as broadcasting organizations rethink their methods of delivering information abroad. 1995 saw budgetary pressures increase on three top English language broadcasters, as the BBC reorganized, and Radio Canada International and Radio Australia continued to withstand funding cuts.

As I’ve said before, unless we listeners take the initiative of letting our favorite broadcasters know that we listen, and provide specific feedback on what we like and dislike, pressures to scale back operations will continue. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease” is a popular adage and very much applies to our hobby. Take the time to contact those broadcasters you care about, as though your letter, fax, or E-mail might be the single piece of support that keeps them on the air.

There goes Another Year

Upcoming Target Topics include:

Here’s to a new year full of prosperity and blessings for you and your family!

Until next month and next year,

73 DE Richard

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