NASWA Journal Columns · Easy Listening, September 2000

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

Easy Listening, September 2000

The Olympics via Shortwave

The Olympics presents a rare opportunity to compare and contrast perspectives on a single event that directly involves most of the world’s countries. By comparison, a significant news event (e.g. the Kursk submarine disaster) enables multiple perspectives, but there weren’t more than 100 countries directly involved in the events themselves.

Some stations will provide extensive additional coverage; others will briefly mention the Olympics but will continue with normal programming to provide a listening alternative to media saturation of Olympic proportions. Here are some suggestions:


John Figliozzi provides the following information:

Australia’s dedicated Olympics channel: This service, headed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s sports department and anchored at radio station 2BL in Sydney, will carry “wall to wall” coverage of the Games on shortwave. If you’re a regular listener to Radio Australia‘s weekend Grandstand relays, there will be many familiar names among the presenters and announcers.

Programming starts at 2100 UT on Friday, September 15 (which, by the way, is 0800 Australia eastern summer time on Saturday). The broadcast will open with the domestic ABC Radio news and current affairs program AM and then cross to the Games themselves around 30 minutes into the broadcast. This pattern will hold every day, but Saturday, while the Games are in progress. Saturdays at 2100 UT, the broadcast will begin with the final hour of Australia All Over and then cross to the Games coverage.

This service will continue each day until 1300 UT (midnight, Sydney time), a full sixteen hours a day, through the completion of the Games. From time to time, the broadcast will return to local programming at 2BL Sydney, giving a “non-Games flavor” to the broadcasts for short bursts. Through the day, the service also will relay the regular ABC Radio domestic current affairs programs, The World Today and PM, but in shortened versions.

Since the ABC‘s sports department coverage is designed primarily for domestic Australian consumption, it will be heavily oriented toward Australian competitors. However, all the big events will be covered whether there is Australian participation or not.

The frequency schedule for this special Olympics service will be:

2100-0000 UT on 17715 khz.
0000-0200 UT on 17580 khz.
0200-0800 UT on 13605 khz.
0800-1300 UT on 11650 khz.

Radio Australia Transmissions Manager Nigel Holmes believes these frequencies will give is the best coverage across the day to Papua New Guinea, the Pacific and beyond. The specific antenna is directed at 30 degrees heading east and has a broad azimuth yielding reasonable reception from about due north to close to 90 degrees. By comparison, the usual Shepparton beam that’s easiest to hear in the Eastern usa is a 58 degree beam.

As a result, North America is well within the azimuth of this transmission beam and at least parts of this broadcast should be receivable here. At John’s New York location he has had success hearing all these frequencies during at least a portion of the periods listed above. However, the primary target for these broadcasts is an area that requires the signal to take more than one hop to get to North America. This means that the 100 kilowatt signal will already be attenuated some by the time it makes the trip over the Pacific. Your success in hearing them during the Olympics will depend on overall propagation conditions, receiving location (city or country, living in a wood or metal structure, east or west) and the quality of the receiver and antenna being used. To use a familiar catchphrase, “Your mileage may vary.”


From Roy Forbes, head of Deutsche Welle’s sports programming: Owing to the time difference, Deutsche Welle will confine their Sydney coverage to a 3-minute, 30-second item at the end of Newsline at 9, 11 and 16 hours UTC. Their weekend sports report will also relate to the Olympics as will their World News.

Deutsche Welle’s weekly Friday sports feature, Spotlight on Sport, will also be carrying material. and Talking Point (Sundays 0105 and 0505) will feature the Olympics on the first weekend of the Games.


According to the VOA‘s Kim Andrew Elliott, VOA sports reporters Parke Brewer and Steve Schy will be in Sydney to cover the Olympics. Their reports will be heard on the sports segments on VOA News Now at about 18 minutes and 30 second past each hour.

Kim adds that no additional or special Olympics programming is scheduled at present, but ad hoc reports about the Olympics, in addition to the regular sports reports, are likely on News Now during the event.


Allen Graham says that HCJB‘s daily Latin American radio magazine, Studio 9, will feature current information from the Olympics. Led by team members from hcjb’s British studios, you can hear Olympics coverage with a special focus on Latin American athletes. Studio 9 airs on The Voice of The Andes at 0110 and 0410 on 9745 and 12015, Tuesday through Saturday.


Radio Canada International‘s newsroom will provide a regular update of results for the Canadian athletes during the Sydney Olympics. The newscasts will be longer due to this special participation from the newsroom. Also, weekday programs will run special features about the games though rci doesn’t know yet if these will be on a daily basis


Newsline on Radio Netherlands will have a daily update, and their Web site will cover the progress of Dutch athletes. Andy Sennitt reports that rnw has no staff journalists planning a Sydney trip; instead, Radio Netherlands will focus on world events to provide a listening alternative for people weary of Olympic hype.

United Kingdom-BBC World Service

Every day during the Games Olympics Live will be broadcast live from Sydney bringing not only live action but also the atmosphere and sounds of the city. Russell Fuller will introduce the program and there will be commentary, reports and interview from sports including swimming, tennis and hockey. There will also be a roundup of the day’s main events from various Olympic sites, plus features, profiles of the competitors and previews. Listen Friday, September 15th through Sunday, October 1st, 0900-1100 UTC, on the frequencies of 12095, 15485, 15565, and 17640 kHz. You can E-mail the program at

In September Olympics in Focus will be the theme of Sports International, the BBC World Service’s long running weekly magazine sports program. Alex Capstick starts the World Service’s countdown by bringing the essential guide to the games beginning September 7th. The program will include features on the athletes, the lesser known sports, and a tour of the venues. A look at the culture and music festivals gracing Sydney during the Olympics will also be included. Olympics In Focus will conclude with a look ahead to Athens in 2004. Sports International airs Thursdays, 0105, and Fridays, 1505.

In Going for Gold, a three-part series in the Discovery program segment, Jim Clarke reveals how science and technology are shaping Olympic athletes. Behind every successful athlete there is an army of coaches, sports scientists and doctors who seek out the latest research on diet and training. But just how far can the body be pushed? Are athletes already at the limits of performance? The first program, The Body Beautiful, also tries to answer one of the most controversial questions in sport today: Can all this effort explain the astonishing statistic that 19 out of the 20 top times for the 100m sprint are held by athletes of West African origin?

The time was when vest, shorts and track shoes were all an athlete needed to compete. Now sports manufacturers are falling over themselves to produce muscle-enhancing bodysuits, drag-free swimming costumes and hi-tech footwear. The second program in the series, Dressed for Success, asks whether this new sports gear delivers enhanced performance.

In the final program, The Theatre of Dreams, Jim Clarke reports from the Olympic site in Sydney on its state-of-the-art swimming pools, eco-friendly buildings and its spectacular stadium. Discovery airs Saturdays, 0105 and Tuesdays, 1505.

Also, a powerful myth about the nature of the ancient Olympic Games was created in the late 19th century. It was a myth about participation being more important than winning and competition fostering greater understanding and co-operation between states. In a two-part series, Olympic Myths, airing in the Essential Guide time slot, Mark Whitaker contrasts the modern Olympic Games with the original games in ancient Greece and examines the social and political factors that helped to foster the Olympic myth.

The Roman Emperor Theodosius halted the Olympics in 393 ad but in 1894 they were resurrected by Baron Pierre de Coubertin. As in the first Olympics women were excluded from taking part when two years later, a new era of Olympics began in Athens. Coubertin’s ideal was that the Games would promote global peace and improve the “moral fiber” of the world’s young people.

Mark Whitaker also examines the concept of amateur athletics, a relatively new idea which took hold in the 19th century when, in order to dedicate a large amount of time to sport, people needed to be independent and wealthy. Likewise, men who competed in the Olympics in ancient Greece were local celebrities and collected huge prizes for their efforts. Olympic Myths airs Saturdays 0130 (September 9th and 16th) and the following Tuesdays at 1530.

Saturday Sportsworld will mix Olympics coverage with its usual football and cricket commentaries at 1405 UTC each week.

Waveguide, on Saturday, September 23rd, 0330 investigates the complexities of setting up broadcasting facilities for an event of Olympic proportions, with numerous requirements for television and radio feeds. Richard Lambley takes a look behind the scenes in Sydney.

Other BBC World Service Features

Play of the Week

A radio premiere of Alan Ayckbourn’s play, Things We Do For Love, and a play inspired by the coup in Grenada in 1983, are among the plays on BBC World Service in September, airing Saturdays 2301 and Mondays 0530.

September 9th: Bow Echo, by Lisa Schlesinger, is set in a small town near Iowa City, Iowa. Rusty, a farmer, must come to terms with his twelve-year old daughter, Lily’s illness-Cerebral Palsy, which prevents her from living a normal physical life. By contrast with her failing body, however, her inner, imaginative life is rich and expressive. As Rusty witnesses Lily’s physical demise, he must choose whether to act according to his conscience or the law. Bow Echo features William Hope, William Hootkins, Buffy Davis and child actors, Harper Marshall and Ian Clancy. The director is Andy Jordan.

September 16th: Sitting in Limbo, by Judy Hepburn and Dawn Penso, was inspired by the events of October 1983 in the Caribbean island of Grenada, where Bernard Coard, the Deputy Prime Minister, and his wife Phyllis Coard, led a coup in which the Prime Minister was killed. Sitting in Limbo is not a documentary, but a fictional play, which traces the evolving relationships and inter-dependence of two women-one a prisoner, the other a guard-over a period of seven years. The play, produced for Ladbroke Productions by Andy Jordan stars Laverne Archer and Angela Wynter.

September 23rd: Things We Do For Love, the 52nd full length play from Britain’s most famous comic playwright, Alan Ayckbourn, was first performed in 1997 and receives its radio premiere in an adaptation by Martyn Read and Gordon House. Nikki visits Barbara-an unmarried schoolgirl friend-who has unselfishly devoted herself to the care and nurture of a demanding boss, for whom she has an unrequited passion. Things We Do For Love stars Joanna van Gyseghem, Cameron Stewart and Teresa Gallagher. The director is Gordon House; this play runs 90 minutes, 30 minutes longer than normal.

General Features

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization has projected that by 2030 the world population of around 8 billion will be better fed and have better access to food, but many will still be hungry or undernourished. Why when we have more ways of growing food more efficiently, can’t we get food distributed to those who need it? And who calls the shots in the world food markets? In The Politics of Food Richard Black takes an in-depth look at world food production. He talks to people involved in all parts of the process – from subsistence farmers and consumers in the developing world to scientists creating new varieties of genetic crops and managers of multinational supermarkets. The Politics of Food is a five-part, 25-minute series airing in the One Planet timeslot on Fridays at 0105 and Mondays at 1505.

Life Before Birth is a new four-part 25-minute series beginning September 26th in the Health Matters timeslot. Connie St. Louis examines how what happens in the nine months preceding birth could predict how long you live and how healthy you are-right up until your death. Health Matters airs Tuesdays 0105 and Wednesdays 1505.

Final Farewells is a three-part, 15-minute series going in search of the rituals different faiths and cultures have devised do deal with the pain of the loss of a loved one. These rituals give the loss a direction and somehow make it meaningful. Also, how can those without faith prepare for their own deaths or mark the passing of a loved one? Final Farewells airs in the Patterns of Faith timeslot on Mondays, beginning September 18th, 2345, and repeated Wednesdays, 0330.

That’s all we have space for; until next month,

73 de Richard

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