Shortwave broadcasting is dying

I notice that many governments are cutting back if not shutting down their shortwave radio broadcasting operations. Shortwave radio and newspapers are both carriers of content, and both are affected by the Internet. Here’s a video from 2012 about Radio Netherlands closing its Caribbean shortwave broadcast station:

Putting all their eggs in one basket

I think that these broadcasters are shortsighted.

Providers of audio content argue that it’s cheaper to distribute their programming via the Internet. They forget that the Internet comprises many routers that reside in many countries. If a government decides to erect a firewall such as the Great Firewall of China, selected content can be blocked within that government’s jurisdiction.

One beauty of shortwave broadcasting is its simplicity. The entire shortwave route consists of only two stations: the transmitter and the receiver. Radio signals don’t respect national borders and radio jamming is expensive and never 100% effective.

In my opinion providers of other HF (high frequency: 2 to 30 MHz) services are also shortsighted, for the same reason: they’ve done away with their users’ backup systems. AT&T killed its high seas HF radiotelephone service, so now ships at sea depend solely on satellite links for shipboard telephone service. They have no backup. Ditto Loran-C: ships depend exclusively upon the GPS system for electronic navigation.

Articles:

  • November, 2014: Does Shortwave Radio Have a Future?
  • August, 2010: Whatever Happened to Shortwave Radio?

    For all its transmission expense and audio problems, analog shortwave radio has one clear advantage over the Internet and domestic radio/TV: It cannot be easily blocked — even when states try to disrupt its signals using jamming transmitters.

    Webcasts can be filtered or blocked through IP geolocation techniques that block access to sites based upon the IP address of the site or the user.

John Lennon: Gimme Some Truth:

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One thought on “Shortwave broadcasting is dying”

  1. My introduction to shortwave radio was listening to friends’ Hallicrafters S-38B, S-40, and National NC-300 receivers. My first HF receiver was a Hallicrafters S-85 general coverage receiver, when I was 14 years old. It opened a whole world of new languages, ideas, and perspectives to me. I’d listen to the BBC, Radio Deutsche Welle, Radio France, Radio Moscow, etc. I learned that the American perspective was only one of many.

    Years later, while living in west Africa in the 1970s, a shortwave radio provided a valuable link to the outside world. By listening to the BBC, VOA, and other shortwave broadcasts, I could hear what was happening in the wide world. At that time, most local African broadcasting was government controlled and effectively built a wall around each nation. When I listened to shortwave broadcasts, I could peek over those walls.
    -Russ

    Like

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