Thursday, November 30, 2006

BBC World Service now 24/7 -- thanks to HD radio

High definition radio appears to be finally taking off in the USA. As most know, the USA's approach is "in-band, on channel", or IBOC, which doesn't utilize additional spectrum space.

One of the consequences of HD radio is that stations can air multiple channels of programming within their existing frequency bandwidth. The greatest number of channels I've seen for a single station so far is 3.

My web wanderings have turned up 3 public radio stations that offer the BBC World Service 24 hours per day:

WMUB, Oxford, Ohio (between Dayton and Cincinnati)

KNOW, Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN

KUOW, Seattle/Tacoma, WA

It has long been the dream of the BBC World Service to gain 24/7 access to leading USA cities, and it appears that for some, HD radio might do the trick.

Those who took the plunge into satellite radio in order to hear the BBCWS 24/7 might want to ask their local public radio stations to consider offering the BBCWS as one of their HD side channels. It might enable you to drop your satellite radio subscription.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Radio Canada International's new mandate

I mentioned this in the Easy Listening column posted on November 25th that RCI now has Canadian immigrants, along with prospective immigrants, as part of its mandate. This is the first time I believe an international broadcaster has specifically targeted a domestic audience.

Others will mention that Radio Sweden and YLE Radio Finland have relayed shortwave broadcasts to a domestic audience, but that was just an adjunct to the primary mission of serving an international audience.

This is different, because RCI is specifically targeting immigrants.

Longtime listeners are apprehensive about this, as it's a big change, and the new program clearly targets a younger demographic than before. IMO it's worth giving the new RCI ("RCI Viva") a chance to find its sea legs.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

November 2006 "Easy Listening" Column

Key Seasonal Changes

Radio Canada International

The most significant development in terms of seasonal changes this October is the revamping of Radio Canada International’s program schedule. As I mentioned in the October column, RCI ended most of its weekday RCI-produced programming as of September 29th, replacing it temporarily with a one-hour version of Canada Today that was not differentiated for the various regions where it was targeted.

We now know what the new programming will be, though we don’t have detailed descriptions yet; we do know the frequencies and air times, however. Most significantly for us in North America, we’ll hear the new programming during the broadcasts that target our part of the world, unlike the prior programming roster.

Importantly, RCI’s reason for existence has been tweaked somewhat. RCI is now chartered with reaching new immigrants to Canada in Canada – in addition to reaching foreigners, with an important subset of those being foreigners considering emigration to Canada. Exactly how these new Canadians will be able to receive this new program isn’t clear, for now, the only alternatives for Canadian listeners are Sirius satellite radio subscribers, who can hear the program on the Sirius RCI Plus channel, #188, along with on-demand and live streaming audio.

The new weekday program runs two hours (!) each day, though the only region that will get both hours on shortwave is North America; other regions will only get the second hour on shortwave. This new program is entitled The Link, which is a double play on words: The Link serves as a link to Canada for those who are new to the country, and The Link serves as Canada’s link to listeners around the world. In addition to shortwave and Sirius airings, The Link will also be streamed live and on-demand at RCI’s website,

Like Canada Today, The Link will be a magazine-style program, with a varying mix of news, feature stories and music. Listener participation is encouraged, both via the phone and via e-mail. The toll-free phone number is 866-202-0145; e-mail comments, music requests, and questions regarding Canada are encouraged via the e-mail address

There is a second new RCI program joining the schedule, entitled Blink. This is a one-hour weekend compilation of the best of The Link. Clever, eh?

New to RCI and the CBC is a 12-week drama series, Afghanada, about four soldiers in the Canadian army in Afghanistan. This replaces Monsoon House.

With The Link now joining the North American shortwave schedule, we will lose the shortwave relay of the domestic CBC-produced The Current, along with the (presumed) last half-hour of Sounds Like Canada. These shows will remain on the CBC Radio One schedule and can be heard via webcasts and Sirius satellite radio beyond Canada’s borders.

Here’s how the new RCI schedule shakes out, sorted by time:

0000-0057 to SE Asia (9880): Monday, Maple Leaf Mailbag; Tuesday-Saturday, The Link (2nd hour); Sunday, Blink

0000-2000 to EUS / Caribbean / Mexico (9755): Monday, The World This Weekend, Wiretap, Maple Leaf Mailbag; Tuesday-Saturday, The Link (both hours); Sunday, The World This Weekend, Afghanada, Blink

0100-0157 to India (5840, 5970): Monday, Maple Leaf Mailbag; Tuesday-Saturday, The Link (2nd hour); Sunday, Blink

1200-1300 to China (7105, 9665): Monday, Writers & Company; Tuesday-Saturday, Ideas; Sunday, Quirks & Quarks

1400-1700 to EUS, CUS, Caribbean, South America (9515, 13655, 17820): Monday-Friday, The Link, Sounds Like Canada; Satuday, Blink, Vinyl Café, Quirks & Quarks; Sunday, Maple Leaf Mailbag, The Sunday Edition

1430-1500 to Eastern & Central Europe (7240 DRM): Monday, Maple Leaf Mailbag; Tuesday-Saturday, The Link (2nd hour); Sunday, Blink

1500-1557 to India (9635, 11870, 11975): Monday-Friday, The Link (2nd hour); Saturday, Blink; Sunday, Maple Leaf Mailbag

1800-1900 to Sub-Saharan Africa (7185, 11875, 13650, 15365, 17740): Monday-Friday, The Link (2nd hour); Saturday, Blink; Sunday, Maple Leaf Mailbag

2100-2300 to Southeastern USA, Cuba, Haiti (15180): Monday-Friday, Freestyle; Saturday, Definitely Not the Opera; Sunday, Cross Country Checkup

2100-2200 to Europe (5850, 9770): Monday-Friday, The Link (2nd hour); Saturday, Blink; Sunday, Maple Leaf Mailbag

2200-2300 to Northeastern USA (9800 DRM): Monday-Friday, The Link (2nd hour); Saturday, Blink; Sunday, Maple Leaf Mailbag

2300-0000 to Eastern USA, Cuba, Haiti (6100): Monday-Friday, The World At Six, As It Happens; Saturday, The World This Weekend, Afghanada; Sunday, The World This Weekend, Wiretap

RCI will continue to offer live 24/7 streaming, but schedules were not available as of deadline.

Radio Slovakia International

Quick – name the first significant international broadcaster to return to shortwave following the shutdown of its shortwave service…it’s Radio Slovakia International, which comes back on air as of October 29th.

Frequencies and times for English language program for the Americas include 0100-0130, 7230 kHz (North America), and 9440 (South America); you might also try 1730-1800 on 5915 and 6055 kHz, targeting Western Europe, as well as 1930- 2000 on 5915 and 7345, also targeting Western Europe.

RSI’s daily 30-minute magazine programs contain news from Slovakia, features on the Slovak economy, science, culture, geography, environment, sports, the arts, and extended interviews. Make sure you zap a note to RCI welcoming them back to shortwave; their e-mail addresses are (Michael Groch) and (Pete Miller).

Radio Netherlands

Not too much new to report for Radio Netherlands; there are no programs leaving or entering the English schedule. The shortwave schedule changes somewhat, as the 1100 UT release moves to 1200, and the 0400 release moves to 0500. Some shortwave frequencies also change; here are the details of frequencies and programs targeting North America:

0000-0100, 0100-2000, and 0500-0600 (6165): Amsterdam Forum and Dutch Extra (Mon), Newsline (Tue-Sat), Research File (Tue), EuroQuest (Wed), Documentary (Thu), Dutch Horizons (Fri), A Good Life (Sat), Weekend Connection and Vox Humana (Sun)

1200-1300 (11675): Newsline (M-F), Research File (M), EuroQuest (Tue), Documentary (Wed), Dutch Horizons (Thu), A Good Life (Fri), Weekend Connection and Vox Humana (Sat), Amsterdam Forum and Dutch Extra (Sun)

1900-2000 (15315, 15525, 17725): Dutch Horizons and Weekend Connection (Sat), Vox Humana and Documentary (Sun)

2000-2100 (15315, 15525, 17725): Vox Humana and Weekend Connection (Sat), Amsterdam Forum and Dutch Extra (Sun)

All of Radio Netherlands’ programming can be streamed on-demand, and can also be downloaded or podcast; visit the Weekly Archive section of the website for the latest editions of each program. It appears that eight weeks’ worth of the weekly programs are maintained in the RNW podcast inventory.

BBC World Service

There aren’t significant changes in the World Service program schedule, though the BBC tends to shift programming to match the summer time – winter time shifts in the target regions. If you listen to programming targeting the Americas or Europe, programming will shift ahead one hour; the Africa streams are not shifted in UTC timings. Expect some frequency changes; I haven’t seen those posted yet.

BBC World Service Highlights

In lieu of detailed frequency listings, upcoming programs are possible interest are listed under the day of the week when they first go to air. The BBC’s website lists original and repeat air times for each program in each of the BBC’s global regions; see for details.

Wednesdays, beginning November 8th: A new four-part series of Heritage, the programs about archaeology and history, begins in the Wednesday Documentary timeslot – the series is titled The Archaeology of Patriotism and explores the making of US patriotism, visiting sites that help to explain to foreigners why Americans are so patriotic. Excavations of the first Jamestown settlement are the initial focus; the program later visits Independence Hall in Philadelphia; the little known industrial museum site in New Haven, Connecticut, where Eli Whitney experimented with an early form of mass production; Ellis Island in New York Harbor, and Williamsburg, the 18th century town that John D. Rockefeller rescued and restored in the 1920s. Malcolm billings returns as the host of the series.

Saturday, November 11th: BBC World Drama (formerly Play of the Week) presents Small Talk: Big Picture – ten writers from 10 different countries around the world have each been commissioned to write a 10 minute play as part of a joint project between BBC World Service and London’s Royal Court Theatre. The writers, who are taking part in the Royal Court’s annual International Residency, have been asked to explore personal experiences in their society against the backdrop of wider public events. The BBC World Service is broadcasting a selection of the plays during this week; all ten will be performed at the Royal Court on Thursday 16th and Friday 17th November. Selections include Whiteout by Anupama Chandrasekhar from India, the tragic story of an Indian farmer who switched from potatoes to growing cotton; Quiet and We Hear by Philip Luswata from Uganda, is about soccer fans getting caught up around the world in an Arsenal versus Manchester United match. An Infidel in the Upper Room asks whether friendship is possible across a religious divide, prompted by the controversy that ensued the Danish cartoons depicting the profit Mohammed. The Khomenko Family Chronicle is by Natalia Vorozhbit from Ukraine; The Eleventh Minute, by Naghmeh Samini from Iran, is the story of a mother/daughter relationship disrupted by the upheavals of the region.

Fridays, beginning November 17th: A two-part documentary series entitled Asian Games occupies the Friday Documentary timeslot. Asia’s biggest sporting extravaganza brings together a plethora of stars from a richly diverse array of countries. Among the nations invited are North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Nepal – some of the world’s most controversial geopolitical hotspots. Richard Fleming assesses the impact of international politics on participation of some of these countries in the Asian Games, reviews its history and looks forward to the forthcoming Games in Doha.

Fridays, beginning November 17th: The Close Up program gives way to a two-week documentary series called Online Frontiers, exploring how the development of the Internet has changed the language of creativity: both ordinary people and established artists are discovering new ways to create and display their work to an online audience. For example – by day, Thomas Hawk is an investment consultant sitting at his desk in his San Francisco office. But at night he transforms into one of the most famous photographers on the Internet with tens of thousands of admirers worldwide.

Looking ahead to early December, the BBC will be featuring a week of programming focusing on understanding and exploring the world from the perspective of young people under age 18, called the Generation Next season.

The BBCWS in high(er) fidelity

Since many of us probably do most of our evening listening to the BBC World Service online nowadays, it can be helpful to know where to listen to get the best quality audio. As you might suspect, the BBC World Service’s own website streams its audio reliably, but only at a relatively narrow 16kbps bandwidth. Options for most prime time hours include an online streaming service from Ohio’s WKSU public radio station; from 0100 to 1300 UTC most days the “WKSU 2” stream consists of the PRI feed of BBC World Service – this is the same feed carried on Sirius satellite radio. WKSU offers a variety of audio formats; the AACplus format streamed at 32kbps is noticeably higher in quality than the audio provided at the BBC World Service website. Check it out at; click on the icon labeled News adjacent to the icon for Now Playing to reach the streaming audio links.

Radio Australia Tidbit

Just enough space to mention Speaking Out, a program produced for ABC Local Radio by aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander indigenous broadcasters. It’s a view of Australia that helps provide insights into the culture, lifestyle and political issues faced by these cultures as they work to keep their culture from being overrun by Western influences. Speaking Out airs 1130 UTC Sundays.

Until next month,

73 DE Richard