Tuning out- article on the future of short wave radio

See on Scoop.itMediaMentor

[excerpt]

TWIDDLE the dial of a short-wave radio and you never know what you will get. Through the hiss of static you may hear Cuban propaganda, football from Brazil or Chinese opera. Unlike other radio broadcasts, short-wave transmissions, bouncing off the ionosphere, can connect any two points on earth. One hazard is physics: signals wane and wax during the day. Another is governments. In the cold war communist regimes jammed Western stations. Now the threat is budget cuts.

On June 24th the state-funded Radio Canada International (RCI) ended its short-wave broadcasts and went online only. On June 29th Radio Netherlands did the same. Wojtek Gwiazda of the RCI Action Committee, a ginger group, says politicians think short-wave sounds an old-fashioned way to spend taxpayers’ money.

Even aficionados accept that the glory days are gone: political freedom and new technology means listeners have more choice now, while local rebroadcasts and internet streaming give foreign stations more hum for the hertz. But short-wave remains a good way of reaching remote areas and poor people (a basic receiver costs as little as $10). Graham Mytton, who used to run the BBC’s audience research, says it is cheap, easy to use and the only medium that gets through everywhere. A natural disaster, he notes, can take local transmitters off air and bring down the internet, but a battery-powered radio will still work.

See on www.economist.com

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