NASWA Journal Columns · Easy Listening, October 1999

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

Easy Listening, October 1999

East Timor News Sources

One of the arguments used to lure newcomers to the shortwave listening hobby is the capability to listen to major news events from broadcasters in or very close to the country where the events are occurring. At the time this column was prepared, East Timor had descended into a state of anarchy, with an international peacemaking response just now being marshaled. The broadcaster with arguably the best English language coverage of the ongoing crisis is Radio Australia, primarily via Asia Pacific, its regional current affairs program. Asia Pacific normally airs at 0010, 1005, 1105, and 1505, Tuesdays through Fridays, and 2305 Mondays through Thursdays. The broadcasts are available live via World Radio Network’s WRN1 program stream at 0010 and 1605 UTC. The 1505 UTC broadcast is archived at the WRN website for 24 hours for on-demand listening.

A Saturday edition of Asia Pacific airs at 2205 UTC Friday, and 0005, 0830, and 1005 UTC Saturdays. The 0830 airing also is available at WRN1, with an on-demand archive at Radio Australia’s website.

Other Radio Australia current affairs programs, including the current affairs programs AM (2110 and 2210 Su-Th), PM (0810 M-F), and The World Today (0210 and 0410 M-F), also have extensive East Timor coverage, and all are archived at the Australian Broadcasting Company website. In fact, past editions of all three programs dating back to July 1st, 1999 are available. The weekly current affairs program, Correspondents’ Report (0010 Sa & Su, 0310 Su, 0640 Su, and 1010 Su), also features information on East Timor. On-demand archives are also available at the ABC website.

Live or on Tape: Did Taiwan Earthquake Catch European Broadcasters Off-Guard?

Larry Nebron, in the swprograms E-mail list, observed that Deutsche Welle and Swiss Radio International did not feature coverage of the recent Taiwan earthquake in their current affairs programs aired later that day to the Americas, serving as a reminder that the evening North American releases contain material prepared earlier in the day. By comparison, Larry noted that Radio Netherlands’ Newsline program included coverage of the earthquake. Radio Netherlands’ Andy Sennitt commented that someone must have stayed late at the studio to prepare updated material for the North American releases, given that the quake struck at 1747 UTC (7:47 PM local Netherlands Time).

Should we be concerned that DW and SRI current affairs programs that day didn’t include quake coverage? My own opinion is that, for breaking news, I’d tune to the BBC or other English-language based stations first, as these stations can report English language coverage live without translation. Most international stations operate on small budgets, and I would rather these stations focus on the analysis of events unique to their country, culture, or region, rather than the raw events themselves. At least that’s what I listen for.

Radio Netherlands October Highlights

Here are upcoming Documentary program topics. Radio Netherlands’ weekly documentary first airs to North America Thursdays 0053 and 0453; the program is repeated Fridays, 2353.

Radio Australia Program Suggestions

Here are a couple additional program suggestions from John Figliozzi, via the swprograms E-mail discussion group and various ABC web pages:

Thursdays 0110 on 21740 — Background Briefing is Radio National‘s agenda-setting, current affairs radio documentary program, with a history of award-winning investigations of important issues and events. While some of the content is only of interest to someone following domestic Australian issues, the depth of analysis is good.

Fridays 2330 on 21740 — In Conversation with Robyn Williams — Robyn Williams talks not only to scientists but also to those interested in the subject and about what it’s meant to their lives. If you enjoy Radio Australia’s Science Show, you’ll enjoy this program as well.

With winter approaching, this frequency won’t propagate as well to Eastern North America, and the live webcast will be the recommended route.

Deutsche Welle Budget Cuts Update

John Figliozzi relayed information from the September 22nd Newslink program detailing protests by Deutsche Welle staffers in Berlin regarding the upcoming budget cuts reported last month. It sounded like the government representatives the staffers met with were sympathetic, but not helpful. While Deutsche Welle’s budget won’t be finalized until later in October, it appears to be clear that significant cuts won’t be avoidable. The actual affect on Deutsche Welle content and transmission schedules hasn’t been determined, though English remains a priority language. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some North American frequencies and times scaled back, with an increased emphasis on the Internet to reach English language listeners in the Americas.

October 7th and 8th: Malaysia At The Crossroads (no details yet available)

October 14th and 15th: Spirits In Turmoil — A decade ago this month, the Berlin Wall collapsed, leading to the fall of communism throughout Eastern Europe. At the time, it was hoped that democracy and market forces would help the region quickly catch up with western Europe. But the transition is turning out to be long, painful and traumatic. One of the most enduring legacies of 50 years of Communist rule has been in the minds and spirits of people. Eric Beauchemin examines the psychological scars of half a century of communist rule and the ongoing efforts to reform the mental health care system in Romania and Bulgaria.

October 21st and 22nd: Topic not yet available.

October 28th and 29th: Stories of the 20th Century: The Laughing Cry — Radio Netherlands continues its series on great stories of the 20th century, told from the perspective of the historical events that inspired them. October features “The Laughing Cry”.

In addition, here are the major seasonal changes forthcoming from Radio Netherlands as of October 31st:

BBC World Service

News Gathering Vital Statistics

From the October BBC On Air, here are some statistics on BBC’s worldwide news gathering operation you might find interesting:

The BBC continues to promote itself as the world’s most trusted news broadcaster, and I doubt many shortwave listeners would quibble with that claim.

October Highlights

Popular Music and Youth

Thursdays, 0530 and 2230, beginning October 21st: The biggest news from the World Service this month is a new six-part, 30-minute series hosted by Beatles legend Paul McCartney, entitled Routes of Rock. McCartney will present the songs that have inspired him over the years, as well as songs from his latest work, Run Devil Run, which includes his versions of several classic rock tunes. It appears that music programs will generally not change times with the seasonal changes (see below), so you can mark your November calendar as well.

Saturdays, 0920 and 2330: The Vintage Chart Show revisits 1979, 1971, 1963, 1984, and 1973 in October. Paul Burnett hosts.

General Features and Current Affairs

Saturdays, beginning October 9th, 0330: Keep to the Path is a three-part, 15-minute series taking a stroll in three scenic British settings; part travelogue, part nature.

Thursdays, beginning October 14th, 0730 and 1130: Assignment, a 30-minute weekly topical documentary and one of my personal favorites, returns from its summer absence. Glad to see it back!

Sundays, 0430, and Tuesdays, 1130: While it’s good to see Assignment return, October will mean the end of Omnibus on the World Service. Two subjects to be featured in the final weeks include Whose Land Is It?, a look at ranching and land management in the American West, and a look at how the Japanese are taking a retrospective reevaluation of their country’s past. There is no obvious replacement for the program; when you factor in the time changes shown below, it would appear a rotating 30-minute feature program will fill Omnibus’ time slot.

Sundays, beginning October 17th, 1045, repeated Wednesdays, 0330: Australian Talk Back is a three-part, 15-minute series that plays on the eponymous Radio Australia program. This three part series reflects on Australian colonialism as the country prepares for a national referendum on becoming a republic, effectively ending its loyalty to the British crown.

Tuesdays, beginning October 26th, 0430: Impostors is a three-part, 30-minute series looking at notorious fraudsters. Dr. James Barrie, Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance, and Louis de Rougemont are profiled by Nick Baker.

Tuesdays-Saturdays, 0055, repeated in a single compilation Mondays, 0030: My Century highlights The Artist’s Century; Best Day of My Life, with both famous and not-so-famous talking about one single day in their lives that stands out; and Sounds of the Century, looking at the century’s musical landmarks.

Sunday, October 17th, 0045 and 0905: Waveguide looks to be worth a listen, as Richard Lambley interviews Li Dan, the Deputy Director of China Radio International. In light of ongoing broadcaster downsizing, CRI has bucked the trend, increasing its shortwave output and Internet presence.

Classical Music

Sunday, October 24th, 0301: The next Millennium Concert is from Bethlehem’s Manger Square, and celebrates the centuries-old tradition of Arab classical music. Bethlehem is now located in the newly-established Palestinian region, and will host a series of events marking the millennial change.

Sundays, 1515: Concert Hall takes a walk through 20th century music in October, with selections from each decade included in the mix.

Drama and The Arts

Saturdays, 2230, and Sundays, 0530: In Play of the Week, the Worldplay series of specially commissioned radio plays from various world broadcasters continues:

October 9th: In Her Father’s House, produced by Australia’s ABC, was written by Carmel Bird, a leading Australian novelist. The play is based on events and characters taken from Tasmania’s history.

October 16th: Looking For Stones, produced by Radio TV Hong Kong, asks fundamental questions about the legacy of war and is set in the ’70s, where future potential meets up with the memory of war.

October 23rd: The End Of Love is the BBC‘s contribution to the Worldplay series. Written by Rose Tremain, the play mixes emotional entanglements, secret longings, and reflections on exile and desertion.

October 30th: Merry-Go-Round comes from Los Angeles TheatreWorks. Written by Wendy Kessleman, the play focuses on the chance adult reacquaintance of two childhood friends, and their reliving of childhood games and passions bridges the past and present.

Mondays, 0130 and 1430: While I don’t have an exact date for this, Meridian Feature profiles Edgar Allen Poe in October. He is considered the inventor of both the detective story ( The Murders in the Rue Morgue, 1841) and the horror story. Poe first found fame outside the USA, and influenced French authors Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine, and Mallarme.

Science and Technology

Sundays, October 10th-24th, 0030, repeated the following day, 1515: Postmarks is a Science Extra series reporting on British scientists working around the world on various projects.

Tuesdays, 1405, and Wednesdays, 0030: Sometime in October Discovery will be toasting one of the more unexpected drivers of scientific innovation: Beer. Steam engine development, pasteurization, and genetic engineering all have their roots in brewing technology.

Advance Look — New Fall Schedule

Thanks to the Audience Relations staff, I received a copy of the World Service new fall schedule, effective from October 31st to April 1st, 2000. The changes aren’t too significant, thankfully. I’ve summarized them below:

There are a few minor additional changes that don’t fit this pattern, and I’ll report on them next month.

Internet Mailing List on Shortwave Programming

As a reminder, if you are interested in advance program information that comes in too close to air dates to be used here, or are interested in two-way discussion on programming content, check out the swprograms E-mail reflector. You can subscribe in one of two ways: 1) Visit the website and search for swprograms; or, 2) Send a blank E-mail to

Also, I am always interested in your contributions and program suggestions to be shared here in the column, so please take the time to send a note via E-mail or Snail mail.

Until next month,

73 DE Richard

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