Looking for an alternative perspective on world news on your FM dial? If you live in Chicago or Washington, DC you can now tune in the Russian government’s Voice of Russia service, which began broadcasting English language programming at the beginning of March on the HD2 channel of WTOP-FM in DC, a news-talk station, and WILV-FM in Chicago, which airs the adult hits format.
These stations add to AM stations in New York City and Washington DC that carry the service, as well as WKIS-HD2 in Miami, which has country music on its main analog signal.
Tuning in Thursday evening to WILV-HD2 in the far north side Chicago neighborhood of Rogers Park the channel comes in clearly. I listened to news headlines at the bottom of the hour followed by an interesting longer documentary piece on the Folk Box program about the Sami people, who speak a Finno-Uralic langauge in the far northwest of Russia.
The BBC World Service is broadcast on several public stations’ HD2 channels and Radio Netherland’s Spanish-language Ahora service is also broadcast on some public radio HD2 signals. Otherwise the VOR is the only other international state broadcaster that I’ve heard of broadcasting full-time on a US HD Radio signal.
While HD Radio may still be a niche service, it still may be a good way for VOR to reach more US listeners than shortwave. According to a recent Arbitron report there are 3.6 million people over age 12 in listening to HD Radio multicasts every week. This is quite small compared to the overall radio audience of 242 million listeners weekly. Nevertheless, I’d bet that 3.6 million compares favorably to the number of weekly shortwave listeners in the US.
Like most international broadcasters, the Voice of Russia is available for online streaming as well.
Just one dollar a month makes you a patron of Radio Survivor. Help us through our Patreon Campaign!