Posts tagged ‘journalism’

Friday, August 1, 2014

Shortwave Log, Northern Germany, July 2014: Radio Polonia terminates Broadcasts in German

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1. Radio Polonia’s German Service

Possibly along with Radio Budapest, and contrary to Radio Prague and Radio Berlin International (East Germany), Radio Polonia , Poland’s external radio station, was a rather liberal voice from the Warsaw Treaty bloc  through the 1970s and 1980s.

A Radio Polonia QSL card, confirming a report on the station's broadcast on February 9, 1986 at 16:00 UTC on 6095 kHz.

A Radio Polonia QSL card, confirming a report on the station’s broadcast on February 9, 1986 at 16:00 UTC on 6095 kHz.

The German department, started in 1950, wasn’t afraid of controversy, at least not in the 1980s. Even angry letters from West Germans who had once lived in the former eastern territories occasionally made it on the air (probably, the German department didn’t get too many letters of this kind anyway). The station never became one of my absolute favorites on shortwave, but many West Germans listened regularly.

2014 won’t mark the death of Radio Polonia, but the station’s German department has become history on June 30. Also in June this year, the Polish-abroad programs were terminated, and the Hebrew programs, Kol Polin, only established in 2007, apparently ended earlier this year.

Radio Polonia continues to broadcast in English, Russian, and Ukrainian – on the internet, through partnerships, and via satellite. The German audience still had the opportunity to listen on shortwave – a small shortwave transmitter operated by Radio 700 in Kall, North Rhine Westphalia, relayed Radio Polonia’s German programs. Last time I listend was in February this year, unaware that it would be the last time ever.

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2. Recent Logs, July 2014

International Telecommunication Union letter codes used in the table underneath:
AFS – South Africa; AIA – Anguilla; ARG – Argentina; BLR – Belarus; CHN – China; CUB - Cuba; D – Germany; EGY – Egypt; G – Great Britain; GRC – Greece; IND – India; J – Japan; MDG – Madagascar; SVN – Slovenia; SWZ – Swaziland; TIB – Tibet; UKR – Ukraine; USA – USA.

Languages (“L.”):
A – Arabic; BR – Belorussian; C – Chinese; E – English; F – French; G – German; Gr – Greek; H – Hindi; Sl – Slovenian; Sp – Spanish.

The table underneath will appear messy unless you click the headline of this particular post. The table is broader than the two columns of the overall blog frontpage. However, it is more convenient to find with a search engine this way.

kHz

Station

Ctry

L.

Day

GMT

S I O
15235 Channel Africa  AFS E July 2 17:00 5 5 5
   918 Radio Slovenia  SVN E July 2 20:30 4 4 4
   918 Radio Slovenia  SVN G July 2 20:34 4 4 4
   918 Radio Slovenia  SVN Sl July 2 20:38 4 4 4
 9540 Radio Japan  J C July 3 15:30 3 2 2
 3775.6 DARC/DL0DL  D G July 3 17:30 4 4 4
 9420 Voice of Greece  GRC Gr July 4 18:55 4 3 3
 6185 RTI Taipei  G G July 4 19:27 5 5 5
15120 AIR Delhi  IND H July 5 04:07 4 2 2
15120 CRI Beijing  CHN E July 5 04:07 3 2 2
 3995 HCJB Weenermoor  D G July 5 06:42 5 5 5
 7365 HCJB Weenermoor  D G July 5 09:30 3 4 3
 3995 HCJB Weenermoor  D G July 5 15:03 4 3 3
   918 Radio Slovenia  SVN G July 5 20:33 5 5 5
15345 RAE Buenos Aires  ARG G July 7 21:02 2 5 2
15345 RAE Buenos Aires  ARG G July 7 21:05 5 5 4
11710.4 RAE Buenos Aires  ARG E July 16 02:28 4 3 3
 6000 RHC Havana Cuba  CUB E July 16 03:00 5 4 4
 3774 DARC/DL0DL  D G July 17 17:30 5 4 4
 3995 HCJB Weenermoor  D G July 19 04:30 4 3 4
21480 Bible Voice BCN  MDG E July 19 11:21 3 3 3
 9965 Radio Cairo 1)  EGY A July 20 00:46 4 5 4
 9315 Radio Cairo 2)  EGY Sp July 20 01:00 3 5 2
 5850 RMI / Homecoming
Radio
 USA E July 20 01:06 4 4 4
 6090 Carribean Beacon  AIA E July 20 01:54 4 4 4
 9315 Radio Cairo 3)  EGY E July 20 02:01 4 4 2
 7505 Radio WRNO  USA E July 20 02:36 4 5 4
 3200 TWR Swaziland  SWZ E July 20 03:00 2 3 2
 6000 RHC Havana Cuba  CUB E July 20 04:00 4 5 4
15120 Voice of Nigeria 4)  NIG E July 20 08:17 4 3 3
11980.1 Radio Dniprovska
Hvylya 5)
 UKR ? July 20 08:00 3 4 3
11730 Radio Belarus  BLR BR July 20 11:34 4 5 3
15344.3 RAE Buenos Aires  ARG E July 23 18:26 5 4 4
 7550 AIR Delhi 6)  IND F July 25 20:15 5 5 4
 7550 AIR Delhi  IND H July 25 20:34 5 5 4
 7550 AIR Delhi  IND E July 25 20:45 5 5 4
 3995 HCJB Weenermoor  D G July 26 04:30 5 5 4
 6130 PBS Tibet 7)  TIB E July 26 16:30 4 3 3
11710 RAE Buenos Aires  ARG E July 30 02:06 4 5 3

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Footnotes

1) A splendid signal and – by the standards of Egyptian foreign radio anyway – splendid modulation, too. But that was only the Arabic program.
2) As far as the Spanish program, a bit later and 650 kHz further down, was concerned, modulation sucked as it does with all foreign-language programs from Cairo.
3) Of course, the English program’s modulation was no exception. It sucked, too. What a waste of energy.
4) Strong interference from China Radio International (CRI), by now the most undesirable shortwave station worldwide, in my view. Chinese shortwave radio appears to be everywhere, especially on frequencies where they can block sensitive or offending broadcasts, such as from Radio Japan. However, a primitive rotatable dipole antenna with a reasonably good directional effect worked wonders to push CRI (northeastern beam) aside and to get a clearer signal from Africa. Hence, at times, O=3.
5) I probably can’t tell Russian from Ukrainian. Therefore, I left the language column open here, with a question mark.
6) It was a surprise to find an All India Radio program in French on 7550 kHz at the time – it ought to be a Hindi program. I did enjoy the French program very much, because their approach is somewhat different to the English overseas service. It was a music program, and the French speakers actually explained the music.
7) Frequencies less than 10,000 kHz usually work best at nighttime or during winter. When tuning in to PBS Tibet on 6130 kHz at 16:00 UTC here in Northern Germany this summer, the signal isn’t better than O=2. By 16:30 UTC, it will usually improve to O=3, which is reasonably easy to listen to. Not necessarily true for reception in other places, obviously.

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Related

» Polish-German relations, Free Republic/Radio Polonia, 2006/2007

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

State Vandalism on the Air: from Beijing with Fear and Loathing

It couldn’t last. NHK Radio Japan‘s Chinese programs on 9540 kHz came in with a good signal here in Northern Germany for many months, but that seems to be over now. China People’s Broadcasting Station (CPBS), aka China National Radio (CNR) from mainland China occupies the frequency now.

Radio Japan QSL card from 1986, showing a tea plantation.

Can you pick us up? A Radio Japan QSL card from 1986, showing a tea plantation.

That doesn’t make Radio Japan completely inaudible here, but it’s no fun to listen to a faint Japanese signal behind vocal mainland Chinese commercials. I’ll probably switch NHK podcasts.

To use domestic radio to block international broadcasters is vandalism.

When it comes to certain historical Chinese facts, the Communist Party of China can’t even coexist with them. It seems that Beijing can’t coexist with information from abroad – no matter if facts, lies, or propaganda – either.

The way China is jamming Radio Japan is, by the way, a pussy-footed way of spoiling shortwave. The “Firedrake” would, at least, be a candid statement, even if still as ugly.

Rebroadcasts of China Radio International (CRI) programs and other Beijing-made propaganda, like the ones via Radio Luxemburg‘s 1440 kHz, ought to be tagged with an announcement at the beginning and the end of every hour on the air, informing listeners that while they can listen to the message from Beijing unimpeded, the senders themselves are denying Chinese nationals the experience of listening to international broadcasters.

That one line would tell more about China than a one-hour broadcast by China Radio International.

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Updates/Related

» Radio Japan Mandarin podcasts, regularly updated
» Jamming of BBC continues, March 28, 2014

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Harmonizing Voice of America? U.S. “will never beat China and Russia in the Game of official Propaganda”

The Washington Post objected to ideas on Capitol Hill and within the Obama administration on foreign broadcasting last week. The concepts discussed among members of Congress and U.S. officials would spell a dangerous step toward converting the most venerable and listened-to U.S. outlet, Voice of America, into another official mouthpiece, the Washington Post wrote.The United States would never beat China and Russia in the game of official propaganda, but it could win the war of ideas — if it doesn’t lose faith in its own principles.

Radio Moscow QSL, apparently featuring the Lenin Mausoleum, 1980s.

“We now take you to the White House” (Radio Moscow QSL, 1980s)

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Related

» The Only Answer, May 24, 2014
» Deutsche Welle, Jan 26, 2012
» Radio Taiwan International, Oct 2008

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Monday Start-of-Work Links: Fostering Socialist Values on International Children’s Day

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1. Why Russia Today succeeds while CCTV-9 fails: it depends on how you define and choose your target audience, on familiar faces, on the format of your programs, and on integration with the intelligence services, suggests Foarp.

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2. Ar Dee, an ethnic Tibetan, makes no apologies for her Tib-lish. This was posted nearly two weeks ago, but the topic is  basically timeless. It’s about a language we probably won’t find on Google Translate any time soon. About a moment when the author yearned to call on some supernatural power to fix her tongue.

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3. Sichuanese police held anti-terrorism drills in Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, apparently late last month. The drills included the handling of self-immolations. This struck me as weird when reading about it on the exile radio station Voice of Tibet‘s website, but CCTV English actually confirms it. Foarp – see 1. – might have a point. Chinese media for foreign audiences making fun of themselves.-

 

4. June 1 was the International Children’s Day. It seems to be mostly communist folk & custom, and logically, the indoctrination of the young is a job for the top: party and state chairman Xi Jinping, last Friday, called for fostering socialist values among children while sending greetings ahead of Sunday’s International Children’s Day.

The “socialist core values” that the country now upholds embody the thoughts of ancient masters, the aspirations of the nation’s role models, ideals of revolutionary martyrs and expectation of all Chinese people,

China Radio International (CRI) quotes Xi. Xi Jinping arrived at Haidian National Primary School in Beijing at 9:30 local time, according to this Xinhua report, and a student offered him a red scarf on arrival. How his heart pounded with excitement when joining the young pioneers in 1960, Xi told the kids, asking if they didn’t feel the same way.

“Yes”, a child answered. “Why is it so?” “Because it is sort of an honor.” The general secretary [Xi Jinping] said: “I have seen hope on your faces, the hopes of the motherland and the people. It’s just as said in the oath: one needs to be always prepared, to take one’s turn on duty in the future.”

总书记继续说:“记得入队时心怦怦跳,很激动。不知你们有没有这种感觉?”孩子们回答:“有。”“为什么会这样?因为是一种荣誉。”总书记表示,“我在你们脸上看到了希望,祖国和民族的希望。正像誓言说的那样,要时刻准备着,将来接班。”

Referred to as Xi Dada (kind of Uncle Xi) on another occasion, the general secretary was Xi Yeye (Grandfather Xi) at Haidian National Primary School, maybe for the grandfatherly stories he told. The core lesson from Xi’s recollections was that to move from one stripe to two stripes to becoming a standard bearer among the young pioneers required a lot of work, a student is quoted as summarizing the listening experience.

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5. Fei Chang Dao has the latest about efforts to block June-4-related information. Online censorship reportedly includes May 35th (May 31 + 4).

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6. The BBC has a Chinese press review: China media criticise US and Japan leaders …

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7. … but there’s no need to fear Japan anymore. This, anyway, could be the positive message you might extract from the second picture in Chang‘s collection: nearly seven decades after America won the 2nd World War in the Far East, Japan finally submits to Washington, in in the shape of Itsunori Onodera, Japan’s minister of defense. People slightly familiar with China and/or Japan will know that many Chinese and Japanese men hate to be hugged, and might flinch if it happens, but neither Chang nor South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo could apparently resist the temptation. At least, the South Koreans didn’t openly doubt Onodera’s manhood: U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (left) chats with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera ahead of a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Eaten rat

A rat once eaten and then returned …

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cat

… probably in a fit of bulimia.

Chang, if you find one of these pictures repulsive, you aren’t a man either!

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8. And as we started with propaganda (see “1.“),  let’s wind up with propaganda, too:

Some say that [from] the West is propaganda … - In the U.S. it is called public diplomacy (public diplomacy). We do not do it in sufficient quantities, to be honest.

Attributed to David Kramer, Freedom House executive director, by John Brown who seems to be quoting Kasparov.ru.

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Related

» Previous Monday links, May 25, 2014

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Update/Related

Adjustments at General Staff Headquarters, Oct 25, 2012

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Obituary: Chris Gelken, 1955 – 2014

Chris Gelken, a former anchor and editor at China Radio International, Press TV (Iran), and media in Hong Kong and South Korea, died in the French city of Limoges on April 4, aged 58, according to the Korea Herald online.

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Related

» BC and AD, Ridealist, October 14, 2013
» Have we met, Dec 6, 2011
» Publish & be damned, Korea Herald, April 5, 2010

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

The only Answer to Bad Journalism: bad Journalism

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Voice of America QSL, 1986

Going, going, gone? Voice of America QSL, 1986

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Russia has returned to its old Pravda-like disinformation tactics, which is why we absolutely have to do the same thing China and the Arab nations are creating sophisticated new broadcasts, and Twitter and social networks are changing the game.

Walter Isaacson, a former Board of Governors Chairman, suggesting that the Voice of America (VoA) should follow a “double mission” to clearly present American policy as well as provide objective news. Quoted by the New York Times.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Shortwave Log, Northern Germany, April 2014: Radio Japan

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1. Radio Japan

A radio equipped to receive domestic shortwave radio service does not have a wide enough shortwave band (usually between 3.9 MHz to 12 MHz) and is not adequate to receive RADIO JAPAN,

according to the how-to-listen page on the NHK World (Radio Japan Online) website.

It depends, though. Radio Japan’s broadcasts in Chinese on 9,540 kHz (9.54 MHz), daily at 15:30 UTC have, arrived in moderate or good quality recently. They certainly did every time I listened in April – on nine different days, that is. It’s a signal that travels across seven time zones, on a shortwave band that counts as the most heavily used one.

"Winter in Kenrokuen Park, Kanazawa" - Radio Japan QSL, re December 1985

“Winter in Kenrokuen Park, Kanazawa” – Radio Japan QSL, re December 1985

Reception of the station’s signals directly from Japan was much more difficult in the 1980s, and maybe the remarks about the inadequacy of bands around and below above 25 meters were made back then, and copied into the website later on. In the 1980s, the Cold War was still alive on shortwave. The overkill was never applied in nuclear terms, but it was exercised on shortwave. Monster transmitters of 1,000 kW were most probably first introduced in the USSR, and the Soviet network of “normal” shortwave transmitters, too, was globally unrivaled. The gaps Radio Moscow did leave on shortwave were filled by the Voice of America (VoA), the BBC World Service, Radio Peking (the former name of what is now China Radio International / CRI), and with Germany’s Deutsche Welle “only faintly beeping in a few places” on the radio dial, as Der Spiegel put it in 1984.

Radio Japan wouldn’t even faintly beep in northern or central Europe – or when they did, that would be a very, very special day. Unless when the signal came from Moyabi, Gabon, where the Japanese broadcaster began using a relay transmitter in 1982 or 1983.

Soviet radio megalomania wasn’t the only thing to blame for the rarity of a noticeable direct signal from Japan to Europe.  There were home-made difficulties, too. The shortwave transmission sites were run by KDD (nor merged into KDDI), rather than by NHK or Radio Japan itself, and the  telecommunications corporation’s decisions were chronically ill-founded, according to German journalist and shortwave listener Hermann Jäger (1921 – 1993), who noted in 1987 that the station’s morning broadcasts in German had been fairly audible in the late 1970s, but not after that, and that with few exceptions, the evening broadcasts had been inaudible for many years. Jäger blamed incomprehensible frequency choices:

When a broadcaster in Japan, with 100 or maybe 200 kW at best, chooses a frequency on or right next to Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty‘s from Munich, it won’t work. The [Soviet] jamming stations alone will “make sure” about that.

6070 kHz for another broadcast in German was no good try either: Radio Sofia from Bulgaria blew everything away.

Hermann Jäger wrote his article in 1987, on the 50th anniversary of Radio Japan’s German service*). Another issue he raised was that only earlier that year, in 1987, transmitters of more than 100 or 200 kW had been taken into operation. Until then, Radio Japan had continued working as if the bands were as “empty” as in 1937, 1955 1950, or maybe in 1955.

That has changed. The bands have emptied a lot during the past twenty years. In fact, Japan appears to be one of the rather few OECD countries which haven’t abandoned shortwave as a means of propaganda, public diplomacy, or information. Radio Japan broadcasts on much “emptier” shortwave bands these days, powered with up to 300 kW from Japan, and 500 kW from a French relay station.

Since March 30, Radio Japan has also added broadcasts in Japanese to eastern Europe, on shortwave frequencies, from relay stations in the UK, the UAE, and directly from Japan – see Japan/UAE/U.K. Additional broadcasts of Radio Japan here. The broadcasts have apparently been added for Japanese citizens in eastern Europe.

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*) According to Wikipedia (zh) and Chinese online encyclopedia baike.com, Radio Japan started broadcasts in Chinese in 1937, too. According to zh.wikipedia.org, it was August 23, 1937. On NHK’s website, I didn’t find a specific date. The Chinese programs are mentioned on NHK’s English website, as a caption to a picture of program schedules in 1940 – third photo from top.

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2. Recent Logs (from/after March 29)

[Update/correction: two sentences deleted - part of March 2014 log]

International Telecommunication Union letter codes used in the table underneath:
AFS – South AFrica; ARG – Argentina; CLN – Sri Lanka; D – Germany; IND – India; IRN – Iran; J – Japan; OMA – Oman; SNG – Singapore.

Languages (“L.”):
Be – Bengali; C – Chinese; Ca – Cambodian; E – English; G – German; Pa – Pashto.

kHz

Station

Ctry

L.

Day

GMT

S I O
15140 Radio
Oman
 OMA E Apr
3
14:47 4 5 4
  9540 Radio
Japan
 J C Apr
3
15:30 4 5 4
  9540 Radio
Australia
 SNG E Apr
3
16:00 4 5 4
15235 Channel
Africa
 AFS E Apr
4
17:00 4 5 4
  4880 SW1)
Africa
 AFS E Apr
4
17:30 3 4 3
  9780 VoA/
Deewa
 CLN Pa Apr
5
18:04 4 5 3
  9485 MV Baltic
Radio2)
 D G Apr
6
09:00 5 5 5
  7550 AIR
Delhi
 IND E Apr
73)
18:27 5 5 4
15235 Channel
Africa
 AFS E Apr
83)
17:00 5 5 5
15345 RAE
Buenos
Aires
 ARG G Apr
8
21:00 3 3 3
11710 RAE
Buenos
Aires
 ARG E Apr
11
02:08 2 5 3
  3995 HCJB
Weener-
moor
 D G Apr
12
09:00 4 4 3
  7365 HCJB
Weener-
moor
 D G Apr
12
09:17 3 3 3
17820 IRIB
Tehran
 IRN E Apr
12
10:23 4 5 4
17860 Vo Khmer
M’Chas
Srok
 4) Ca Apr
12
11:30 4 5 4
15345 RAE
Buenos
Aires
 ARG G Apr
18
21:07 4 2 2
11710 RAE
Buenos
Aires
 ARG E Apr
25
02:55 5 5 5
  5980 Channel
Africa
 AFS E Apr
25
03:05 5 5 5
  9540 BBC
World
Service
 SNG Be Apr
28
16:30 5 5 4

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Footnotes

1) A Zimbabwean opposition broadcaster, via Meyerton, South Africa
2) Some delay at the beginning of broadcast
3) Receiver used: Silver XF-900 Spacemaster, built-in antenna. Sony ICF-2001D when not otherwise noted.
4) short-wave.info says that the transmitter’s location is Tajikistan. The organization airing the broadcasts opposes Cambodia’s Hun Sen government and what it views as Vietnamese attempts to create an Indochina Federation, with Cambodia and Laos under Hanoi’s rule.

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Related

» NHK International BC history, NHK
» NHK国际广播发展历程, NHK
» 日本国际广播电台, baike.com
» Gelebte Zeitgeschichte, book review, 2004
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

“Optimizing Something”: Russia centralizes Propaganda, scraps Shortwave Broadcaster and other traditional Institutions

As the end of March drew nearer, central Europeans could still hear the station from afar, a muted signal behind some gentle, steady noise. The “Voice of Russia” targeted Australia and New Zealand with an English-language program of four hours daily, from the transmission site of Angarsk, near Irkutsk. Those appear to have been the last programs in English. Chances are that some programs in Japanese were also still aired at the time. A shortwave listener in Taipei kept listening to VoR’s Chinese programs on shortwave, right to the end on March 31 (his post contains some recordings).

Listeners who wrote inquiries to VoR got a reaction. But overall, very little, if anything, was mentioned in the programs on shortwave, about the nearing end of the service. For sure, no words of respect were lost about the medium’s use during some eighty-five years of Russian external broadcasting. Maybe they hadn’t been of much use after all, as the message never seemed to sink in in the target areas? In that case, you could hardly blame shortwave.

On April 1, all of VoR’s shortwave transmissions had become history.

APN-Verlag, via Radio Moscow

The old-fashioned way: propaganda booklet by mail, Ria Novosti via Radio Moscow, March 31, 1987.

The “Voice of Russia” (VoR), formerly known as Radio Moscow or Radio Moscow World Service, only exists as a brand now, within the media empire of Russia Today, which also swallowed Ria Novosti. “We will use the old brand for the time being, but leading international specialists are already working on the new brands and they will be ready soon, the “Voice of Russia” and/or Interfax quoted Russia Today’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan. A renewed English newswire would be launched on April 1, and it would be available round-the-clock on June 1.

No additional funding would be needed, the editor-in-chief was quoted as saying: “We are not asking additional money for all that, which means we will have to optimize something to get resources for the creation of something more modern. We will stop using obsolete radio broadcasting models, when the signal is transmitted without any control and when it is impossible to calculate who listens to it and where.”

Indeed, this had been the message of Vladimir Putin‘s presidential decree in December, on certain measures to raise the operational effectiveness of state-owned mass media.

Radio Moscow QSL, apparently featuring the Lenin Mausoleum, 1980s.

Radio Moscow QSL, Lenin Mausoleum, 1980s.

On the same day, December 9, Ria Novosti offered a comparatively candid interpretation of the decree: The move is the latest in a series of shifts in Russia’s news landscape that appear to point toward a tightening of state control in the already heavily regulated media sector,

Ria Novosti wrote, and added that

In a separate decree published Monday, the Kremlin appointed Dmitry Kiselyov, a prominent Russian television presenter and media manager recently embroiled in a scandal over anti-gay remarks, to head Rossiya Segodnya.

Russia Today is the English translation for the actual Russian name, Rossiya Segodnya. Rossiya Segodnya, however, is apparently not related to the English-language television channel whose name had also been “Russia Today”, Ria Novosti wrote.

Ria Novosti then added some more information, beyond its own dissolution:

RIA Novosti was set up in 1941, two days after Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, as the Soviet Information Bureau, and now has reporters in over 45 countries providing news in 14 languages.

Last month Gazprom-Media, which is closely linked to state-run gas giant Gazprom, bought control of Russian media company Profmedia from Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin. In October, Mikhail Lesin, a former Kremlin advisor, was appointed to head Gazprom-Media.

Reuters also reported the Gazprom-Media story, in November last year.

Radio Moscow, the “Voice of Russia’s” predecessor as the Russian (or Soviet) foreign broadcasting service, was a superpower on the air, during the 1980s. 2094 program hours per week are said to have been produced in that decade,  compared with 1901 hours per week by their American competitors at the Voice of America (VoA).

The discrepancy was even greater when it came to transmitters and kilowatts,according to German newsmagazine Der Spiegel at the time: while Radio Moscow had threehundred transmission sites at their disposal, it was only 110 on the American side – and VoA only had one-twentieth the budget of Radio Moscow.

That was to change, at least in relative terms: the Reagan administration had convinced Congress to provide considerable funding. But as the Cold War came to an end, government interest on all sides in foreign broadcasting faded.

As far as Russia’s external broadcasters, now named “The Voice of Russia”, was concerned, not only the financial or technical equipment weakened, but so, apparently, did their self-image. Religious and esoteric organizations populated many last quarters of the Voice’s – still numerous – broadcasting hours in German, and at least among German-language broadcasters, there seemed to be different concepts of what would be successful or professional coverage of Russian affairs, a feature by German broadcaster DLF suggested.

The broadcasting house certainly no longer came across as the elites’ jumping board, as a place where Egon Erwin Kisch or Bertolt Brecht once worked.

The Kremlin, apparently, saw neither glory and soft power, nor a sufficient degree of checkability in VoR and put an end to the station. It’s hardly conceivable that it could still be revived as a mere “brand”, without actual radio whose signals would reach beyond a few square miles.

But “daily Russian life” – something Russia Today is supposed to cover – may still look different from the ideas of the “new generation” of media planners. On ham radio bands with wide reaches, Russian operators are active above average. And even if Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of Russia’s new propaganda mega-medium, may be unaware of ham radio or finds it uncool, her boss, Dmitry Kiselyov, should still like it: a ham radio contest commemorating Yuri Gagarin’s 80th birthday.

After all, the internet is a rather non-traditional form of propaganda.

Will Putin’s message sink in, where Stalin’s, Khrushchev’s, or Brezhnev’s mostly failed? If not, don’t blame shortwave – and don’t blame the internet, for that matter.

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