Radio World invites industry-oriented commentaries and responses. Send to Radio World. The author is a former Foreign Service officer and Voice of America radio engineer.
Several points of interest regarding shortwave broadcasting, which has been the subject of a number of articles and letters.
Although I have been retired from Voice of America as a Foreign Service Officer and field engineer for over 10 years, several points are still worth noting. In my experience of living and working around the world for 20 years, most radios sold overseas are a combination AM/FM and shortwave. So there are radios available to the general public.
Second is the beauty of shortwave. Broadcast can be sent over large distances and be highly effective at reaching the desired audience. AM broadcasting can only reach a smaller listener area and without extremely high power must be in rather close proximity to the intended audience. FM broadcasting has even greater limitations in respect to closeness to the intended listener.
As we have adopted new technology such as the global internet, we don’t seem to have a grasp of its inherent limitations. I witnessed this firsthand in the Middle East where websites or information deemed inappropriate are easily blocked or deleted from a country’s internet stream. Proxy servers and other VPN methods do little for the individuals striving for freedom of information. Information regarding using and searching for these services is easily gathered by internet service providers and can be used to intimidate or prosecute.
Shortwave radios don’t tell tales. Frequency memories can be deleted easily, and there is no way to tell what broadcast were being listened to, especially on analog scale radios.
We need to reevaluate our strategic thinking and remember that shortwave works effectively and has for many years. People around the world have relied on SW broadcast for years as a source of reliable news and information that their host countries did not want them to hear.
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