Category Archives: Featured Broadcaster

Program favourites – Music Time in Africa

Listening to the short wave bands over a number of years, you build up a list of favourite programs on some of the stations. The Morning Show on R Thailand, a magazine program about what’s going on and what’s on in Thailand,  CRI’s ‘Drive Time’ program, also a magazine program for events in China, broadcast presumably, for people going to work. RRI has their regular ‘A world of Culture’ which gets you close to past and current cultural developments in Romania. If like me, you love all forms of music, then ‘Music Time in Africa’ from VOA is a must listen.

Broadcast on Saturdays and Sundays for one hour at 09:00, 15:00, 20:00, and 22:00 hours UTC, it offers an eclectic mix of music from all around Africa. If you like ‘World Music’ then you will love this show. Hosted by Heather Maxwell, who has an infectious enthusiasm for the music she presents, the show will give you, for instance, jazz-style music from Mali, or the tribal folk-style songs of Generale Defoe from the DRC amongst many. From her bio on the VOA pages for the program, ‘Heather Maxwell is an ethnomusicologist and experienced music professional in West Africa and the United States.

The program started in 1965, and so is one of VOA’s longest running shows. The show was founded by Leo Sarkisian, who retired from the show in 2012 and handed the reins over to Heather. Leo and his wife used to carry a reel-to-reel tape recorder with them all around Africa to get the recordings for the show. Over the years, he built up a huge library of music and interviews, which also was handed over to Heather on Leo’s retirement. Leo was so influential that on his retirement in 2012, he had a mention in the Washington Post:

Long before there was ping-pong diplomacy or pere­stroika, a short, balding Armenian American was lugging an enormous reel-to-reel from village to village, sweet-talking people into singing and playing for him.

[…]In Africa, he socialized with presidents, military dictators, accomplished musicians and tribal villagers. He outwardly steered away from politics, but under the surface he wove a subtle diplomatic tapestry based around grooving on tunes.”

That enthusiasm for the music and getting to know the musicians abides to this day. Heather interviews and records musicians from all over Africa, although the method of recording is now no longer a large, trusty, reel-to-reel!

So, next weekend, treat yourself to an hour of the best music in Africa, and tune into Music Time in Africa. I usually use the 15580 slot at 15:00, this seems to be the best for where I am in the UK.

Alternatively, if you miss any or you would just like to get an idea of what it’s all about, the programs are available on the VOA website at: http://www.voanews.com/z/1456. MTIA also has a facebook page at: http://www.voanews.com/z/1456.

Featured Broadcaster – Radio Romania International (RRI)

I always enjoy listening to the RRI broadcasts, as each hour long program contains several segments. They cover news, history of Romania, culture including art and music, political interests and places to visit. Their signal here to the UK is usually very strong on their 9765 Khz channel during the summer months, between 22:00 and 23:00 UTC.

The history of Romanian broadcasting goes back to 1927, when an experimental station was set up on 280m, running 200 Watts. Languages used in the transmissions were Romanian, French, German and Italian. Transmissions included broadcasting music from the Romanian Opera House, and the concerts of the Romanian Athenaeum.

The first official transmission came on the 1st November 1928 using a 400 Watt transmitter in the 400 metre band. By 1932, the transmissions were being picked up in many parts of the world, as the number of radio receivers increased dramatically during the inter-war years. In the following years, with the establishment of the National Radio Corporation, foreign audiences were to become the subject of thorough research by the authorities. Romania, just like other countries had discovered an extraordinary way of making itself known worldwide. Special evenings dedicated to other countries were organized. Exchange programs were introduced and after 1930 pages of classical Romanian literature were periodically transmitted in French, Italian and German.

During the Cold War, Radio Romania was known as Radio Bucharest, and tended to transmit Soviet propaganda. I remember many times receiving their transmission on my homemade ‘regen’ set (an O-V-1 design). Most of the content was very much like Radio Moscow, but with a Romanian slant.

Following the anticommunist Romanian Revolution of December 1989, Radio Bucharest became Radio Romania International, the programmes acquired a whole new format, the staff welcomed young members, and the RRI services turned towards the future, towards once again building a bridge between Romania and the democratic world and re-establishing the link between Romanians living abroad and those back home.
During the 1990’s three radio channels gradually developed under the umbrella of Radio Romania International,  with programs in major international languages: Arabic, Chinese (a program set up in 1999), English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Ukrainian, Greek, Turkish, Russian and Serbian.

For a much more detailed and fascinating article about the history of RRI, see http://www.rri.ro/en_gb/the_history_of_rri-624.

Today, RRI has a Listeners Club and is very prompt in issuing QSL cards. They have very interesting sets of these, with most featuring places of interest in Romania.

If you have never tuned in to them before, its well worth a listen. The A14 schedule is as follows:

               RECEPTION AREAS            UTC                         kHz
   WESTERN EUROPE      05.30 – 06.00           7,330 (DRM); 9,700
     11.00 – 12.00  15,130; 17,680
     17.00 – 18.00  9,540 ; 11,810 (DRM)
     20.30 – 21.00 9,800 (DRM); 11,975
     22.00 – 23.00  7,430; 9,765
   SOUTH-EAST AFRICA      11.00 – 12.00  15,400; 17,670
   NORTH AMERICA (East Coast)      20.30 – 21.00  15,170; 17,510
     00.00 – 01.00  9,700; 11,955
   NORTH AMERICA (West Coast)      03.00 – 04.00 7,350; 9,645
   JAPAN      22.00 – 23.00 9,790; 11,940
   INDIA + AUSTRALIA      05.30 – 06.00 17,760; 21,500
   INDIA      03.00 – 04.00 11,825; 15,220 (DRM)

Featured Broadcaster – Voice of America

Over the years, I have received VOA broadcasts on Shortwave many times, and still do to this day. They have an incredible regional output and a wide and varied range of interesting programs. They also embrace the new forms of output such as digital media.

Potted History

It all started in 1941 as the U.S. Foreign Information Service (FIS), which became the Voice of America the following year. Within a year it had added The Amoy, Cantonese, Portuguese-to-Latin America, Spanish-to-Latin America, Tagalog, and Manderin services. During the war years, they added many more languages to their output. Unfortunately, during the post-war years up to the 1950’s, output was severely cut, with many debates about the continuing need for such a service (sounds familiar!). However, with the advent of the Cold War period, broadcasting was ramped up, as the U.S. Government saw the role it could fulfill as a powerful exponent of democracy.

In 1959, VOA inaugurated “Special English” – slow-paced, simplified English broadcasts — to facilitate comprehension for millions of listeners. Special English programs quickly became some of the most popular on VOA, and they retain that status today.

During the 60’s and 70’s, the VOA covered many areas of conflict and world events via their news services. The Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and the first steps of Neil Armstrong on the Moon to name but two.

VOA Today

In more recent times, VOA has gone through some turmoil regarding funding and the need to keep some of the services, including those on Shortwave. As with many international broadcasters over the last few years, a lot of content has shifted to digital as it is much easier and cheaper to produce and distribute. However, with the situation in Ukraine, it would appear that some of those decisions have been reversed, and new funding streams found to support Shortwave output. There has been a realisation that not everyone will have access to the internet, or if they do, access can be easily removed by Government bodies.

Programs

As I mentioned before, VOA has an extensive output covering many subjects. News, Sport (both US and regional), Culture, Politics etc. At some point during the day I reckon that whatever language you speak, you would be able to find a VOA broadcast to suit your tastes.

Here in the UK, I find their relays from Sao Tome, Botswana and Thailand to name but a few are easily received, even with modest equipment. I usually find the 31m band gives me the most favourable reception.

Schedules

The following shows the current A14 schedules.

VOA Broadcast Frequency Schedules

Effective 30 March 2014 through 25 October 2014/  (Updated 10 April, 2014)
All times and dates are Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), same as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).Frequencies are in kiloHertz (kHz). 1 MegaHertz (MHz) is equal to 1000 kHz. Conversion to meter bands: Meters=300000/frequency in kHz. e.g.: 17705 kHz –> 16.9 meters

Abbreviations: All programs/frequencies are on daily unless noted otherwise.
* – Monday through Friday
# – Tuesday through Saturday
> – Friday and Saturday
$ – Saturday and Sunday
^ – Sunday through Thursday

English to Africa

0300-0400 UTC    909  1530  4930  6080 15580
0400-0430 UTC    909  1530  4930  4960  6080 15580
0430-0500 UTC    909  4930  4960  6080 15580
0500-0600 UTC    909  4930  6080 15580
0600-0700 UTC    909  1530  6080 15580
1400-1500 UTC    4930  6080 15580
1500-1600 UTC    4930  6080 15580 17895
1600-1700 UTC    909  1530  4930  6080 15580
1700-1800 UTC    6080 11845 15580 17895
1800-1830 UTC    6080 15580 17895
1800-1830 UTC$  909  4930
1830-1900 UTC    4930  6080 15580
1830-1900 UTC$  909
1900-2000 UTC    909  4930  6080 15580
2000-2100 UTC    909  1530  4930  6080 15580
2030-2100 UTC$  4940
2100-2200 UTC    1530  6080 15580South Sudan – English    
1630-1700 UTC* 11620 13870 15180

English to Far East Asia, South Asia and Oceania

0100-0200 UTC    7430  9780 15205
1100-1200 UTC$  1575
1200-1300 UTC    7575  9510 12075 12150
1300-1400 UTC$   7575  9510 12075 12150
1400-1500 UTC*  7575 12110 15490
1500-1600 UTC    7575 12110 15490
2200-2300 UTC^  5895  5915  7480  7575 12150
2230-2400 UTC>  1575
2300-2400 UTC    5895  7480  7575 12150

Learning English

0030-0100 UTC   1575  7430  9790 12015 12150 15290 17820
0130-0200 UTC#  9825
1500-1600 UTC    6140  7540  9400
1600-1700 UTC   11915 13570 17895
1900-2000 UTC   7485
2230-2400 UTC   7460  9570 11840

For further info (and a more detailed history etc) see: http://www.voanews.com/ and http://www.insidevoa.com/