Archive for the ‘Shortwave Report for Central Asia’ Category

May 31, 2007

Shortwave Report for Central Asia, Part 1
posted by Susan Stark

What is shortwave radio? It is a type of broadcasting where a listener hundreds or thousands of miles away from a transmitter can receive information from that site. The most prominent English-language shortwave broadcaster is still the BBC.

For many of us in the West, shortwave radio is an anachronism. Today we have cable, satellite, and the internet to get our information. But for the vast majority of the world, these methods of information collection are simply out of reach, due to many factors. The main one is cost. With billions of people living on a few dollars a day, they can’t afford the cable, the satellite, or the internet. And those billions are also more likely to live without electricity, so they don’t have television, which is also out of reach due to the cost of a TV set. Even the humble, primitive newspaper is not an option for many because of the lack of literacy.

But radio is still a viable alternative. It’s much cheaper, with AM/FM/SW radios to be had for even less than what they cost in the West. And they run on batteries, so no external electricity is required. For example: according to the New York Times World Almanac, only one percent of Afghan households has a TV, but at least one out of every ten persons has a radio. That is potentially one radio for each large household—no small feat for such a poverty-stricken nation.

What does this mean? It means that shortwave transmissions are more numerous going to Asia, Africa, and Latin America, where the listeners are, than in North America, where there aren’t as many.

Shortwave Listening in Central Asia:

With Central Asia, it’s location alone might guarantee a richness of shortwave transmissions. It is surrounded by Europe in the north; by the Middle East and Africa in the west; by Pakistan, India, Bangladesh in the south; and by all the countries east of it, such as China, Burma, Thailand, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia . . . . . the list goes on.

Shortwave radio listening is at its best away from power and telephone lines. Modern concrete buildings with wires running through them tend to hinder transmissions, so you may have to stick your antenna out a window when lodging in a city hotel, such as in Tashkent and the like (make sure the radio can’t fall OUT the window when you do that). But in cities, the local AM/FM stations should be interesting since they haven’t been taken over by ClearChannel, or so I hope.

However, the countryside can be much better for shortwave radio listening, particularly if you’re in wooden or mud lodgings. Stone lodging is better than concrete. If the weather is rainy, or if there’s a thunderstorm, this could hinder transmissions. The mountains might interfere with listening, but not too much because shortwave frequencies bounce off the atmosphere, unlike AM/FM waves.

That’s it for now.