NASWA Journal Columns · Easy Listening

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

Easy Listening, December 2006

RCI’s The Link — Intro to Canada

The lead item last month was the launch of new programming from Radio Canada International—primarily, a new program called The Link, designed as a program serving two purposes: Providing information about Canada to prospective or new immigrants, and providing information about Canada to listeners abroad. I had the opportunity to listen to The Link over the past month. The program seems to serve its intended audience well, but those who are well acquainted with Canadian issues will find the content to be pretty basic, assuming the listener doesn’t know all that much about Canada.

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Easy Listening, April 2006

Substantial changes in BBCWS programming…and more frequencies disappearing

The BBC World Service is making significant schedule changes with the launch of the A-06 broadcast season on 26th March. Many of these changes were announced last summer, when the BBC announced plans to emphasize news and factual programming on weekdays, with arts, music and feature programming on the weekends. Along with these schedule changes, unfortunately, come further reductions in shortwave service targeting the Western hemisphere.

Frequency changes

All frequencies targeting South America and Central America have been closed down; the only remaining shortwave frequencies targeting the Americas is the following service targeting the Caribbean:

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Easy Listening, October 2005

More Podcasting News

Podcasting certainly appears to be a “sticky” innovation in Internet-delivered audio; I’ve spoken with several longtime shortwave listeners, most of whom were skeptics when Internet audio required you to be tethered to a computer, and they find podcasting to be a convenient way to listen to international broadcasts at times of their choosing.

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Easy Listening, July 2001

Save the BBC World Service! Radio Netherlands to the Rescue!

NOTE: Information was changing hourly, it seemed, as I was finishing this on June 28th. Check the websites referenced below for updated information.

Current Status of the BBC World Service to North America and Australasia

Since the BBC has not indicated it will change its plans to end its transmissions targeting North America and Australasia on July 1st, Merlin Communications, the operator of BBC’s transmitters, has sold the use of those transmitters and times targeting North America to Radio Netherlands for English-language programming beginning that day. From a Radio Netherlands press release, “The publicity campaign is designed to recognize and support the millions of short-wave radio owners in North America who still believe in direct contact with Europe from across the Atlantic.” Here are the times and frequencies that will have Radio Netherlands programming by the time you read this; thanks to Kim Elliott for formatting the list.

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Easy Listening, June 2001

BBC World Service to Drop Shortwave to North America on July 1, 2001

Sadly, this is not an April Fool’s joke hatched two months late. Kim Elliott, host of Communications World on the Voice Of America, broke this news to the electronic shortwave community on May 8th. Andy Sennitt of Radio Netherlands confirmed the information, and Kim included an interview with Jerry Timmins, the head of the Americas stream for the BBC World Service (BBCWS) in his program the following Saturday. The BBC states that frequencies targeting the Caribbean and elsewhere in the Americas will continue, so we’ll theoretically still be able to hear the BBCWS in transmissions targeting the Caribbean, South America, Europe, and Africa. However, it’s expected that the 5965 and 9515 kHz morning frequencies and 6175 and 9590 kHz evening frequencies will no longer be used.

Shortwave will also curtailed to Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific; since most NASWAns are North Americans, I’ll focus this month’s Journal column on the consequences for North American listeners.

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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:

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Easy Listening, April 2000

BBC World Service: New Schedules

The biggest news in April for program listeners is the major reshuffling of BBC World Service program schedules into 8 regional streams. The Americas now has its own program stream, instead of “sharing” one with Europe. Practically speaking, though, the time slots for non-news programs are reasonably consistent in the two services.

The BBC is also finally launching an all-news stream, primarily for rebroadcasters, that stream will be available via internet audio as well. Shortwave streams will be a mix of the news stream and feature programming, designed to provide programs with consistent subjects at consistent times during the day.

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Easy Listening Extra, April 2000

This Easy Listening Extra comes courtesy of the BBC Press Office. This schedule reflects the first full week of the new BBC schedule, which goes into effect on April 3rd.

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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?

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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.

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