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Shortwave Gets a Bit Shorter

Magne signs off 'Passport to World Band Radio,' chronicler of SW

Followers of shortwave broadcasting know well the publication “Passport to World Band Radio.”

Larry Magne’s labor of love that stretched two and a half decades was the bible of shortwave broadcasting. The first edition appeared in 1984 (then known as “Radio Database International”) and at its peak it sold 80,000 copies in one year. Its last issue was the 25th anniversary 2009 edition.

Now the Web site too is signing off — a victim of seismic changes rattling the broadcast industry.

Magne wrote in a message at his Web site: “World-band radio gained vigor during the buildup to World War II, and of course during the war. After that, the Cold War with its ideological bent kept the field thriving.

“But once the Berlin Wall came down, questions arose as to why these government broadcasts were taking place in the absence of any major conflict. So, some reinvented themselves, while many phased down or terminated their shortwave operations.

“Add to that Sony’s near-downfall, the growth of the Internet, and even the possible fading away of print publications — and it’s sadly evident that the time has come to shutter Passport’s declining operation.”

Whatever Happened to Shortwave Radio?