NASWA Journal Columns · Easy Listening, August 1998

John Figliozzi • 45 Algonquin Rd. • Clifton Park, NY 12065 jfiglio1◊

Easy Listening, August 1998

If this month’s column appears to be more eclectic and opinionated than usual, it’s only because it is. All Times are in UTC. All frequencies are in kHz.

For Good People to Do Nothing

More bad news caused again by another horrendous (and, in my view, most intentional) political judgment. By the time you read this, Radio New Zealand International (RNZI) will have implemented a drastic reduction to its broadcast output on a number of levels. After apparently promising stable funding for the next fiscal year, the New Zealand government (putting a new spin on the word “stable”) slashed RNZI‘s budget by 13% on July 13. In the inimitable logic of today’s “neo-liberal” (Orwellian newspeak for “conservative in sheep’s clothing”) governments, the cuts were put in place after three successive government sponsored reviews conducted by independent analysts attested to the cost-effectiveness of RNZI and the trust and reliance that Pacific Island nations and peoples place on the service.

The broad result is that RNZI transmissions are reduced by 12 hours per week, with closedown now at 1015. (It had been 1205.) RNZI‘s own programming is cut from 11 to 5 hours daily with the elimination of “evening” broadcasts (all those previously on from 0400, with the exception of a Pacific Islands news bulletin at 0400 and occasional cyclone warnings broadcasts). This means the loss of all the popular Pacific Island language music request programs (Calling the Cook Islands, Calling Samoa, etc.) and a number of English language features including Rudi Hill’s On the March. (The fate of RNZI‘s listener feedback program Mailbox was “uncertain” at deadline.) The latter reductions stem from the the loss of an equivalent of 25% of RNZI staff. RNZI will now be run by a staff of only 9!

Therefore, RNZI programming will consist solely of relays of the domestic service, National Radio, between 2230 and 1015 daily. RNZI-produced programming, to the meager extent it remains, will be confined to “mornings” (1730 to 2230) with the only Pacific Island language programming retained being short local news broadcasts in Samoan, Cook Islands Maori, Tongan and Niuean.

RNZI is to “celebrate” its 50th anniversary on September 25.

Coming little more than a year after the Australian government’s crippling of Radio Australia through budget reductions and closure of the Darwin transmitting site, the international broadcasting picture in the South Pacific is bleak indeed. To characterize these cuts (as the current Australian and New Zealand governments have) as “necessary in the current economic climate” or words to that effect is to insult any sentient being with a measurable IQ. (RNZI‘s total budget is now the equivalent of US$700,000money any government can fritter away in a matter of minutes.)

The slow, but steady strangulation of international public service broadcasting continues apace. But let’s all sit on our collective handswe clubs, members and listeners who profess to love and support itfor a little longer, eh?

(By the way, the (para)phrase in the header of this article begins, “All that’s needed for wrong to succeed is…”)

[Source: Bryan Clark, NZRDXL via Paul Ormandy post on]

The Program Exchange

Thanks to Gene Borowski, Peter Bowen and Richard Cuff (familiar name, just can’t place him…) for these contributions to the Exchange this month. Gene starts by offering his views on Hello from Tokyo and Brussels Calling.

Hello From Tokyo (Radio Japan, Sun. 1110 on 6120 and Mon. 0010 on 11705) is a good blend of news, pop music, current affairs, features, listener letters and reports on life around Japan. The Sackville relay usually provides an excellent signal for pleasant easy listening on the east coast. Hosts John Hanlon and Mari Kishi make a good team and keep the program moving along. However, a surprise phone call placed to a luckybut usually unpreparedlistener each week can sometimes be painfully awkward.

Brussels Calling (Radio Vlaanderen Internationaal, Daily 1230 on 15545), taken as a whole (a full schedule of features is provided later in this month’s EZL), is a good mix of news, press reviews, information about Belgium (with an emphasis on Dutch speaking Flanders), features and music (the very pleasant Music from Flanders, mostly classical, on Saturdays). With only 25 minutes a day to work with, each feature moves along at a brisk pace. The only drawback is the station’s inconsistent signal and occasional interference that can make it tough to catch and listen to at times.

Rich suggests you try a BBC institution.

From Our Own Correspondent (BBC, 30 min. version: Sun. 0330 on 5975/6175; 15 min. version: Thu. 0030 on 5975/6175/9590, rpt. 1145 on 5965 and 1730 on 15480/15575/17840) showcases one of the BBC World Service‘s greatest assets–its worldwide network of correspondents which provide dispatches to the network’s various news and feature programs. By being locally based, these correspondents can provide much greater depth to their reporting than a news organization that sends reporters around from crisis to crisis. A side benefit of having this horde of field correspondents is that they can unearth many interesting stories that don’t have the urgency or impact sufficient for a strict news program but can provide very insightful background on current affairs–which is just what From Our Own Correspondent does. One especially interesting aspect of the program is that the correspondents get to interject some of their own personality into the reports, which isn’t practical in their reporting of hard news. One gets to see a bit of the human side that drives the distinctiveness of the World Service’s news programming. It’s as though these folks carry around little notebooks everywhere they go, and when they come across something interesting, they pass it along to us listeners via the program. Locations and subjects of the reports comprising the program vary from week to week, although the format is consistent. If you enjoy listening to BBC correspondents, and you enjoy hearing about interesting items that don’t make the front pages or the news summaries, From Our Own Correspondent is highly recommended.

Peter comments on my review of Late Night Live last month. “Although I agree with all of your comments about RA‘s Late Night Live program, there are a couple of minor aspects about it that I don’t like…Firstly, Phillip Adams, although no doubt a very talented interviewer, frequently interrupts speakers as they are speaking, in order to ask other questions or put his own views forward. This bugs me, as it means that I don’t get to hear what the speaker wants to say. Secondly, he too frequently expresses his own personal views and biases, viz. his thoughts as seen from the liberal/progressive left.

“Although I don’t mind an interviewer having specific views (most do, of course), I find that Phillip’s frequent raising of these views becomes rather tiresome and tedious if one is a frequent listener.” Fair enough, Peter! That’s what this part of EZL is supposed to be all aboutlisteners exchanging views about programs.

Peter goes on to say, “I’m glad to see that you have initiated a feature that solicits comments from readers on the content of programs. This is something that I would like to see more of in the hobby press, both the paper and electronic press.”

Here’s hoping the rest of you have similar sentiments and that next month we’ll see YOUR contributions in this space!

China Radio International Highlights

[All programs during second half-hour of these hour-long broadcasts to North America: 0300 on 9690, 0400 on 9560 and 9730, 1300 and 1400 on 9705.]

August 5’s Voices from Other Lands examines Canada’s insurance and social security programs.August 16’s Music from China features Chinese Golden Record prize winner Dong Wenhua.August 23’s Chinese Folktale explains the mystery of the Crescent Moon Spring in the Gobi Desert.The topic of August 24’s Listeners’ Letterbox is Esperanto.The Song of the Week on August 24 is “Green Leaves’ Affection for Roots” which sensitively describes a parent’s feelings watching a child grow to adulthood.Listeners’ Letterbox is celebrating the 20th Anniversary of China’s “reform and opening policy” by inviting listeners to comment, send articles or record cassette tapes concerning changes in China over the past two decades. “Whatever you’d like to say, whatever your thinking, we’d like to hear your views.” Write to: English Dept., CRI, Beijing, China 100040; or e-mail to: <>. According to the CRI bi-monthly magazine, The Messenger, CRI plans to sharpen the focus and reporting in its news programs and develop new programs on Chinese youth, the role of women in China and China’s 20 years of reform.

[Source: CRI bimonthly The Messenger]

BBC World Service Highlights

Speaking of sharpening and focusing, space limitations dictate a more succinct listing of BBC programs this month.

[Listings are for the Americas/Europe stream. Frequencies for North America at 1000-1800 and 2100-0700 include from time to time 5965, 5975, 6175, 6195, 9515, 9590, 9895, 11865, 15220 and 17840.]

The Proms ’98

Concert broadcasts for the Americas on 1st, 5th, 7th, 8th, 13th, 14th, 18th, 21st, 23rd and 29th begin at 0300, 0301, 0305 or 0310 and continue to 0400.How to Listen, which previews some of the music and describes what the composers were trying to accomplish, has a 6-week run beginning on August 2 and 3. (Sun. 0130; Mon. 1515)

New and Returning Features

International Question Time returns for 8 weeks on August 2 (Sun. 1401).Bringing Up Baby explores how the idea of a “good childhood” varies around the world in a new 6-part series starting August 11, 13 and 14 (Tue. 0145; Thu. 0530, Fri. 1230).The Edge is a new program targeted at under-25s with a mix of serious and not-so-serious news, pop chat and performances, comedy and updates on British youth culture premiering August 16 and 17 (Sun. 1730; Mon. 1430).Shadow Boxing on the Path to Nirvana explores the religious and spiritual dimensions of the martial arts in a 4-parter starting on August 16 and 18 (Sun. 1701; Tue. 0630, 1130). Elementary is a new science game for people who thing they know nothing about science beginning August 17 (Mon. 1530).A second opportunity to hear the Sony Award-winning four part series Songs of the Sufi Mystics begins on August 29 and 31 (Sat. 1030; Mon. 0430, 2130).Joe Strummer’s London Calling allows the former leader of “The Clash” to give listeners an insight into the “rock life” and his selections of cutting edge music from the London scene in a 4 week series starting August 31 (Mon. 1530). Brain of Britain returns August 31 and again there are no times for the Americas. Nonetheless, try European frequencies 15480 or 15575. (Mon. 1830). Come Inside looks inside eight very different homes in Britain starting August 31 and September 4 (Mon. 0145; Fri. 0645).

A reminder that several programs carry over from July. Check July’s EZL for details.

[Source: BBC On Air, BBCWS Press Information]

Radio Vlaanderen International Program Grid

1230 Daily News (emphasis on Belgium/Europe)

1234 Su. Radio World (for radio hobbyists w/Frans Vossen); M-Sa. Press Review

1237 M-F Belgium Today (current affairs); Sa. Music from Flanders (Belgian concerts/performers)

1243 M/Th. Around the Arts (cultural events in Belgium); Tu. Focus on Europe (events/ issues in Europe); W Rockspot (a Belgian rock band); F Economics (business)

1244 Su. P.O. Box 26 (listeners’ letters)

1248 M Tourism in Flanders (travelogue); Tu. Sports (Belgian/European reports/ scores from weekend); W Green Society (environmental report); Th. Around Town (events in and around Belgium); F International Report (comment/analysis of world events)

(all on 15545 kHz. to North America)

[Source: RVI website]

In Brief

Sorry, no details available about Radio Netherlands programming this month….HCJB changes to the Americas: Saludos Amigos has a new host–Leonard Kinzel–and has moved to Sundays (0030 and 0500) exchanging places with Musical Mailbag which has expanded and moved to Mondays (0110 and 0410). Morning in the Mountains now starts a half-hour earlier (Mon.-Fri. 1130). Precept, Getting the Message and Proclaim! now start at 1300 daily. With Ken MacHarg’s departure from Quito, Simply Worship replaces The Least of These on Tuesdays UTC (0200 and 0500). (A personal note: The loss of The Least of These is most regrettable. It was an uncommon and important look at global poverty and those working to alleviate it.)….Harold Sellers informs that a new station, Radio Voice of Canada (formerly Radio Asia Canada), has emerged with a one hour English language news broadcast (2100 and 2200 on 15560 kHz.) via Jülich, Germany. What’s unusual about this broadcaster is that it is professing to portray Canada to the world (isn’t this RCI’s mandate?) in a Sri Lankan accent. The station also broadcasts in Tamil six hours a day and says it is planning to expand its language offerings and broadcast day. Some observers have expressed doubts and suspicions about the station’s origins and intentions….Merlin Network One will broadcast a 48 hour long Radio Festival on August 14 and 15 to celebrate over 30 years of commercial radio in the UK. Program segments from Radio Caroline, Radio London, Rock Radio Network and European Klassic Rock, among others, are planned. Slated to start at 0001 on August 14, the Festival will be broadcast on shortwave, but frequencies were unannounced at column deadline. Merlin has also announced that it will expand its once a week service to full time later this year.Here’s an appropriate ending to this month’s column. CBC Radio (from which RCI gets the majority of its programming) revealed it actually has less money than it thought due toget thisan accounting error! So, did they fire the accountants and their managers? Nah. They closed the network’s New Delhi and Moscow bureaus and fired some employees.

So much idiocy, so little space. Until September, good listening!

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