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Meta-Radio: Radio Shows About the Medium

Radio shows about the medium itself have a long and storied history, from the early days of radio when the ability to receive distant audio signals over the air was a wonder in itself, to the contemporary shortwave scene, wherein atmospheric conditions and technical tips are subjects of interest. Of course, this year our own radio show joined this tradition, but in no way do I mean to imply that shows about radio are a thing of the past.

The International Radio Report Turns 30

I wrote about some of these shows six years ago in a post about podcasts (or radio shows available as podcasts) that cover radio. But I was again reminded of this category when the SWLing Post published a press release for the upcoming 30th anniversary broadcast of the “International Radio Report,” originating at CKUT in Montreal. With the occasional turnover of hosts, the IRR has kept over-the-air and internet listeners apprised of relevant radio news on the AM, FM, LW and shortwave dials.

From the release:

The program, originally hosted and produced by Sheldon Harvey and William Westenhaver, initially dealt exclusively with the world of international radio broadcasting, or shortwave radio, featuring information on radio broadcasts from around the world that could be listened to on shortwave radio. Over the years the scope of the program evolved and expanded to also include information and developments in local and national radio broadcasting, campus/community radio, pirate and clandestine radio and, eventually, Internet and digital radio. The program also covers developments in radio equipment, radio technology, and more.

Though this may seem a fringe interest to non-radio-nerds, radio broadcasters exert powerful influence on the politics and culture of nearly every nation. Here in the U.S., just imagine what our current politics would be like without right-wing talk radio. Elsewhere, government repression results in the censorship or shut-down of broadcasts, or even the jamming of signals coming from abroad. In Zimbabwe, for example, clandestine broadcasts from neighboring countries continue to be a thorn in the side of its autocratic leadership. This is the stuff IRR has covered for three decades.

I’m pretty sure I first heard IRR about a decade into its existence, catching archived RealAudio streams at the CKUT website. At the time–circa 1996–I had started my own bi-weekly community radio show tackling radio and media democracy on WEFT-FM in Champaign, IL, called “Radio Free Conscience.” I turned to the IRR to help keep me informed, and provide knowledgable analysis. I largely stopped listening several years ago when I found it difficult to find online archives or get regular updates to the show’s podcast feed.

These days the IRR archive on the CKUT website is up to date, which means I can resume listening. I’m particularly interested in tuning in live to the special 1-hour 30th anniversary broadcast on Sunday, November 19 from 10:30 to 11:30 AM EST on CKUT-FM 90.3 in Montreal and online at www.ckut.ca. The broadcast also will be archived at the station’s website.

World of Radio

An even longer lasting show is “Glenn Hauser’s World of Radio,” which launched in 1980. Over the course of some 37 years Hauser has delivered weekly 30-minute updates about the global radio scene, with more emphasis on shortwave and listener reception reports, all delivered in his trademark Stentorian, matter-of-fact style.

Launched in the days before a public internet or practical audio streaming, WoR has been carried on AM, FM and shortwave affiliates across the continents. I think it’s fair to say that because WoR has been such a constant and reliable resource, the show is one of the ties binding together the international shortwave listening community.

The radio show is complimented by print digests that summarize the week’s stories and reports.

Wavescan

Adventist World Radio produces Wavescan, primarily covering distance shortwave listening (DXing). The show also sometimes presents stories from broadcasting history, such as the Oct. 22 feature on the first broadcasts of U.S. presidential voting results 100 years ago.

The show is heard on Miami-based commercial shortwave station WRMI, which leases time to interested programmers. A number of other DX-focused shows in Spanish and Italian are also on the station.

DXing News from Havana

DXers Unlimited” is perhaps the longest-running show in this round-up, having launched in 1961. This English-language show on Radio Havana, Cuba is hosted and produced by Arnie Coro.

En Español (y Ingles)

The shortwave service R.A.E Argentina al Mundo broadcasts Actualidad DX weekly in Spanish and English, focusing on DXing, ham radio and other issues in communication. The Spanish version is available as a podcast.

The website Programas DX features a directory of other DX shows in Spanish on a number of different shortwave services, collecting recordings into a single podcast feed.

The Shortwave Report

Finally, I want to mention “The Shortwave Report.” It’s not a show about radio, but rather a weekly compilation of news stories broadcast by international shortwave stations, intended to expose the audience—primarily in the US—to a wider spectrum of views and events than heard on domestic media.

Produced by Dan Roberts, “The Shortwave Report” has been going strong for about 20 years, and is carried on community radio stations like WFHB, KXCR and WGXC. Back in 2006 I interviewed Roberts for my “Mediageek” radio show and podcast, and he explained that part of his mission is to educate listeners about shortwave radio.

Glenn Hauser has a list of radio-related shows, mostly on shortwave and online, though many are noted as defunct.

These are all the shows I know about. What shows about radio am I missing, that are actually broadcast on the airwaves, be it AM, FM or shortwave? Let us know in the comments.


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