Friday, November 28, 2008

Cuts at ABC’s Radio National affect Radio Australia

Most folks know that much of Radio Australia programming begins its life as features produced for the domestic spoken-word Radio National network; Radio National has been under threat of budget and programming cuts in recent years since the network has a comparatively small audience relative to the size of its budget.

That budget ax fell, and unfortunately several high-quality programs that were high on my target listening will be disappearing in 2009. These include The Ark, In Conversation, Media Report, Perspective, Radio Eye, Religion Report, Sports Factor and Street Stories. Of these, the one that I will mist the most is The Ark., but all of these were quality programs that were each a compelling listen. These programs are world-class, and can easily stand up to programming from much larger broadcasters (such as the BBC) with no apologies for content.

The Ark dealt with religious history, but in a way that seeks to explain the present by better understanding how events in a religion’s history were documented and in what context they happened. These events could focus on individuals, but could also focus on places or dates. Definitely a thoughtful listen and certainly more interesting (to me anyway) than the latest facts and figures on Eastern Bloc industrial production.

Standard Radio National policy has been to make four weeks’ worth of program archives available for online listening, and I hope this policy is liberalized for these programs. Many have value far beyond the times of their original airing and could sound as fresh years later as they do today.

It appears that the resources that were utilized to produce these programs will be shifted somewhat to the domestic NewsRadio service; this is a 24-hour “rolling news” domestic network that has as it roots a relay of proceedings from the Australian Parliament. NewsRadio is a decent service, but it certainly is more repetitious and less specialized than Radio National.

The original plan had apparently been to end these programs as of mid-December, when many Radio National programs go on summer / Christmas / New Year’s hiatus for a month, but the apparent leak of this story has led to the abrupt ending for some of them (including The Ark).

If you’d like to catch these programs on Radio Australia before they disappear, here are the currently-publish air times for them:

The Ark – Sundays 0405, 0705

In Conversation – Not currently on Radio Australia

Media Report – Thursdays 1031, 1530

Perspective – Not currently on Radio Australia

Radio Eye – Not currently on Radio Australia

Religion Report – Wednesdays 1031, 1530

Sports Factor – Fridays 1031, 1530

Street Stories – Not currently on Radio Australia

Links to all these programs are still active on the Radio National website, .

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