NASWA Journal Columns · Easy Listening, December 1999

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

Easy Listening, December 1999

How Do We Want our Shortwave to Sound?

English is not the main language for most broadcasters we listen to on shortwave. While English is widely spoken in many Western European countries (France a notable exception), this is certainly not the case most places. As such, we can’t expect as lively nor as smooth a presentation as we hear on our local public radio stations, and pronunciation, grammar, and usage won’t be up to our usual expectations. Nor will broadcast styles necessarily match up with domestic content, as international services cannot assume its listeners would understand or appreciate nuances of interest to a largely domestic audience.

For that reason, I tend to focus on the actual content of shortwave programs, not so much the presentation styles. I’m frankly more interested in presentation styles for such stations as Radio Australia, BBC World Service, Radio Canada International, Radio New Zealand International, and the VOA-stations where English is the home country’s first language. With that preamble, should we appreciate stations such as Radio Netherlands, having a very “American” sound? Would we rather hear more of a Dutch sound? That’s one reason Radio Netherlands may be featuring more domestic content, specifically in the new Sunday 0053 program, Dutch Horizons. A review appears a bit later. What are your thoughts on how a station should sound?

Radio Netherlands: Review and Preview

Mondays, 0053, and Wednesdays, 2353: Dutch Horizons is a new weekly program from Radio Netherlands replacing Sounds Interesting in the lineup. As usual, it’s another interesting, well-produced effort from Hilversum. Dutch Horizons is a cultural magazine program featuring perspectives on Dutch opinions and current issues. Frankly, that’s been one item somewhat lacking, up to now, from Radio Netherlands. One refreshing aspect in the program I sampled was that all was not rosy in Holland; the program I listened to featured a journalist who has been ostracized by Holland’s mainstream media for years. I wish other stations would spend some time telling us how things could be better in their countries than they are today.

Here is a quick look at upcoming Documentaries, airing Thursdays 0053 and Fridays 2353:

December 9th/10th: The transition from lawlessness to rule of law. Most people think of modern-day Russia as a generally lawless society, in which economic and political life are dominated by corruption and mobsters. Behind the scenes, however, in a long slow process that has received a lot less media publicity than the gangland killings, Russian jurists have been trying to build a new legal framework for a society based on rule of law. Most of a new Civil Code, for example, has been enacted, in record time in recent years providing a blueprint for a free market economy in Russia. This was done partly in consultation with other countries, including the Netherlands. On the eve of parliamentary elections in Russia, Marijke van der Meer looks at how the new laws are working, in spite of the huge struggle against corruption.

Also in December, but with no dates, Hélène Michaud will present two millenium-related documentaries; the first deals with events around the year 1000, and the second, a discussion with soothsayers and scientists about the year 2000.

The year will be rounded out with the last edition of Stories of the 20th Century, with guest speaker Jeremy Rifkin’s look at Aldous Huxley and Brave New World. (RNW website)

Deutsche Welle in December

Not only was November noteworthy on Deutsche Welle for its coverage of the fall of the Berlin Wall, but the ongoing series After the Revolution-the Changing Face of Eastern Europe will continue in the second week of December. Newslink, Inside Europe (Sundays 0130), and Insight (Wednesdays, 0130/0330/0530) will feature special programs on how Eastern Europe has evolved since the heady days of 1989. Who were the winners and losers in the revolutions bringing down communism? Can these countries close the economic gap with the west?

Arts on the Air (Mondays 0130 and 0330) continues its series of in-depth profiles of many of Germany’s most influential 20th century artists through the end of December, interspersed with current arts news from Germany. Visual artist Josef Beuys, dramatist Bertolt Brecht, and dancer/choreographer Pina Bausch are among the artists profiled in the series.

While one normally thinks first of the BBC‘s Everywoman when it comes to programming concerned with women’s issues, Deutsche Welle’s entry, Women on the Move (alternate Sundays, 2130, in the West Africa release), shouldn’t be forgotten. While the program focuses mainly on European issues, producer and presenter Gudrun Heise includes multi-continental perspectives.

China Radio International

Voices from Other Lands (Wednesdays) will sample international perspectives as we approach a new century and millennium in its December 22nd edition. [Please, no phone calls…I know the millennium and next century are still one year away…]

Cultural Spectrum (Thursdays) visits Guozijian, the Imperial College. built in 1306. Guozijian is the only remaining example of the unique architectural styles of the ancient government-sponsored learning activities, and will be featured on December 23rd. The ancient Chinese imperial examination system will also be reviewed.

Music from China (Saturdays), in its December 4th edition, will feature music dwelling on the return of Macao from Portugal to China. The fanfare will likely be less than it was for Hong Kong’s turnover; the handoff itself will occur on December 20th.

BBC Radio 4: Webcast Now Available

I hesitate opening with this because it isn’t directly shortwave, but a live webcast of BBC’s Radio 4 spoken word domestic service is now available at <>. Since programs are often shared between the World Service and Radio 4, and these Radio 4 airings may give you an opportunity to hear favorites (e.g. Brain of Britain, Letter From America, From Our Own Correspondent) at alternate times that might better fit your schedule, I feel it’s valid for mention here.

BBC World Service Highlights

General Features

Friday, December 31st, 950: The World Service begins a special Millennium Weekend of programming, running from December 31st through January 2nd. Unfortunately, details of only the December 1st topics were available as of deadline. Here are the specific programs for that day:

Science In Action lengthened to 40 minutes
World Business Report
Focus On Africa
My Century
World News
Andy Kershaw’s World Of Music
World Business Report
My Century
World News
Focus On Faith
World News
Bug Watch 2000
Clouded Hills
World Business Report
My Century
Music Review Special
The World Today
Sports Roundup
Feature (TBA)
The World Today

(North Americas frequencies off air from 1700 until 2100)

Details for January 1st and 2nd should come available in mid- to late-December, too late for this issue and not likely to be published early enough in January. Check the NASWA web site at &lt;;, where we’ll post the details when we have them.

Other features include:

Fridays, 1430, repeated Mondays, 1630: The Farming World is rarely covered here. In December, a new series begins showing how farming has influenced the course of history.

Saturday, December 25th, 1600 and 2100: Her Majesty The Queen’s Christmas Message to the Commonwealth is an annual 15-minute tradition on the World Service.

Tuesdays, beginning December 7th, 0430, with first airing Mondays, 1615: Clouded Hills, a six-week, 15-minute poetic series journeying around England, with stopping points selected for their relevance to long-admired poems. Richard Holmes, a distinguished literary biographer, hosts.

Friday, December 31st, as shown above: My Century features highlights from the past year in the millennium editions of the program, which also include listener reaction and feedback on the yearlong series, which will conclude with the Millennium Weekend special editions.

Popular Music and Youth

Thursdays, 0530, 1615, and 2230: The Top Twenty Albums of the Century is a four-part, 30-minute series in which Bush House staff have voted for their 20 favorites of all time. Kevin Greening counts them down, and mixes in stories from some of the people who have made the albums, and what they think of their work now. Also, find out the Bush House pick for the greatest album of all time.

Saturdays, 2230, repeated Tuesdays, 1615: The Vintage Chart Show is winding down after 12 years, with December shows featuring the best selling singles of the ’70s, the ’80s, and Christmas music. The show wraps up with Paul Burnett’s own personal favorites from the ’50s to the current day.


Saturday, December 11th, 0430: Ramadan takes a look at the discipline of Ramadan for the world’s Muslims.

Wednesdays, beginning December 16th, 0430, repeated Fridays 1515: A Season for Everything: Holy Paradoxes looks at the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament, and the familiar phrase, “…a time to born and a time to die, a time to weep and a time to laugh…” .Why have these paradoxes, attributed to King Solomon, been so timeless? Angela Wood, a long-standing World Service religious program contributor, hosts.

Friday, December 24th, 1502 and 2230: Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols returns for its 71st year on the BBC. The festival is held at King’s College at Cambridge. Duration: 90 minutes.

Drama and the Arts

Saturdays, 2230, repeated Sundays, 0630: Play of the Week selections include:

December 11th / 12th: Blithe Spirit, Noel Coward’s play about ghostly presences. Novelist Charles Condomine cynically invites spritualist Madame Arcati to conduct a seance in his home, but the unexpected happens-the spritualist produces his dead wife, Elvira. Only there’s one problem: Condomine’s second wife is very much alive and is not too keen to have the company.

December 18th / 19th and 25th / 26th: The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde’s classic about a young man selling his soul for his beauty. First published in 1890, Wilde’s novel was widely condemned by his contemporaries as an affront to Victorian society. Among the actors: Ian McDiarmid, last seen in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

Tuesdays-Saturdays, 0445: Off The Shelf features include:

Deborah Moggach’s Tulip Fever, read by Emma Fielding and William Gaminara, from December 14th through 25th.

Celebrities’ Yuletide favorites are featured during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, including Laurie Lee’s Cider With Rosie, Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales, Baboushka, Charles Dickens’ Christmas at Dingley Dell, and Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen.

Saturdays, beginning January 1st, 0130; first airing Thursdays, 1430: Lifespan is a new four-part dramatic series presented by Britain’s Royal Shakespeare Company. The series uses literary reading to tell the story of life, and explore the power of language and literature. Poetry, prose and drama are used to illustrate how language reflects growing up, growing old, and passing on.

Light Entertainment

Sundays, through December 19th, 0430 and 2230; repeated Wednesdays, 1530: Brain Of Britain 1999 wraps up the 1999 competition this month. Robert Robertson hosts the program through the finals on the 19th.

Classical Music

Saturday, December 25th, 1401: The Millennium Concert offers a two-hour program of Mozart’s chamber music, performed by the Quatuor Mosaiques, considered the world’s leading period-instrument string quartet. The setting is Mozart’s home town of Salzburg, Austria.

Internet Mailing List on Shortwave Programming

We’ve had several interesting threads in our shortwave programming/international broadcasting discussion group, and it’s not too late to join in the two-way dialogue. If you’re interested in advance program information that comes in too close to air dates to be used here, or are interested in this two-way programming discussion, check out the swprograms E-mail reflector. You can easily subscribe in one of two ways: 1) Visit the URL; or, 2) Send a blank E-mail to

Until next month,

73 DE Richard

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