Friday, March 26, 2010

Shortwave Radio Remains Important

by Md. Azizul Alam Al-Amin, excerpted from January 2010 Monitoring Times

It is clear that, even now, there is not an appropriate alternative to shortwave broadcasting, at least in the rural places, where people have no access to Internet, no devices to receive satellite signals, no television or even newspaper or electricity. In so many places in the world, shortwave broadcasts are the main source of news, information and entertainment, and the reality is that most of the world’s population lives in these areas.

In the last century, the discovery of shortwave technology made an important breakthrough to bring the world together as a "global village." And, shortwave radio has been enjoying a dominant position throughout most of the last century because it can reach across borders even when governments halt FM broadcasts, block Internet sites and jam television programming.

Graham Mytton, a former head of the BBC’s audience research unit said "Shortwave does not respect boundaries and reaches the rich and poor." Ian McFarland, former host and writer at Radio Canada International said, "Shortwave also can deliver news faster than you might find it online, and in places where your other devices don’t work."

Vincent Nowicki, director of the engineering and technical operations at America’s International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), also recognized the importance of shortwave. In the response to Jack Quinn and Nick Olguin’s guest commentary on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, "Don’t Close Shortwaves, Improve Them," published in Radio World, he said, "The BBG is keenly aware of the value of shortwave in distinct markets such as some parts of Africa and parts of Asia. Shortwave sustained international broadcasting throughout the Cold War and still makes a significant mark today in the global war on terror." There are so many people around the world who still favor shortwave as the prime vehicle of international broadcasting.