Tag Archives: Heather Maxwell

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.

A few recent logs – 4th August 2015

I spent some time listening to both ‘African Beat’ and ‘Music Time Africa’, transmitted by VOA from Botswana. These are both outstanding programs if you enjoy eclectic musical styles with an African twist. There is some truly fantastic music out there which is ONLY available via the power of Shortwave radio. No mainstream radio station in the UK would feature this music, although Radio 3 does have the ‘Late Junction’ program which covers some of this type of music. But the shear vibrancy of the featured music on both ‘African beat’ and ‘Music Time Africa’ is like nothing else. Heather Maxwell (compere of ‘Music Time Africa’) clearly knows here stuff and it is a superbly researched and presented program. You can tell I’m a fan!

6080 Khz Botswana VOA 20:31 UTC English. ‘African Beat’ program. Until 21:00. Switched from 4930 as better signal SINPO: 43344 2015-07-31

6080 Khz Botswana VOA 21:00 UTC English. Heather MAxwell with ‘Music Time Africa’. More great music. SINPO: 43344 2015-07-31

15235 Khz South Africa Channel Africa. 17:40 UTC English. ‘Africa Digest’ program. Discussion about the EU. ID and jingles at 17:44. Followed by financial and economic news from South Africa. Sports news followed at 17:50. Close-out music at 17:55. SINPO: 43344 2015-08-03

15245 Khz North Korea V.O. Korea 18:10 UTC English. Program about the ‘PyongYang Home for the Aged’ with the usual mention about the ‘Great leaader’! SINPO: 43344 2015-08-03

15580 Khz Botswana VOA 18:17 UTC English. ‘Africa News Tonight’ program SINPO: 43344 2015-08-03