The sound of radio broadcasts

29-10-2019

Despite competition from television and the Internet, radio broadcasting is holding its own around the world and each service has its own “voice”. Here is what some of them sounded like when they first went on air.

Czech Radio

On Friday 18 May, 1923, at 8.15pm the following words started coming out of a canvas tent in Prague’s Kbely neighbourhood: “Hello, Hello, here is the Radiojournal broadcasting channel …”. The transmission went on for about an hour and Czechoslovakia had thus begun regular radio broadcasting just six months after the BBC – the world’s oldest broadcaster. The first transmission was a music performance, but the radio station soon expanded its programme to sports news, weather forecasts and stock market updates. In fact, Czechoslovak Radio can boast to be the first ever European live sports broadcaster. Most importantly however, Czechoslovak Radio has played an important role multiple times in key events during the country’s history. The “Battle for the Radio” took place in 1945, during the final days of World War Two and the radio station did not stop broadcasting even while the heaviest fighting was raging around it. Another battle for the radio took place in 1968 when Czechoslovakia was invaded by Warsaw Pact forces. Although Soviet soldiers occupied the building in the end, radio employees continued to broadcast from various rooms. Both battles ended up costing dozens of lives. During the period after 1968, commonly referred to as the “normalisation era”, hundreds of journalists were forced to leave the institution and Czechoslovak Radio became an ideological tool for the Communist regime. A return to free broadcasting came after the Velvet Revolution in 1989. Today Czech Radio is a public broadcaster, which runs four nationwide stations as well as regional broadcasting, digital radio stations and an internet news site.

Most importantly however, Czechoslovak Radio has played an important role multiple times in key events during the country’s history. The “Battle for the Radio” took place in 1945, during the final days of World War Two and the radio station did not stop broadcasting even while the heaviest fighting was raging around it. Another battle for the radio took place in 1968 when Czechoslovakia was invaded by Warsaw Pact forces. Although Soviet soldiers occupied the building in the end, radio employees continued to broadcast from various rooms. Both battles ended up costing dozens of lives. During the period after 1968, commonly referred to as the “normalisation era”, hundreds of journalists were forced to leave the institution and Czechoslovak Radio became an ideological tool for the Communist regime. A return to free broadcasting came after the Velvet Revolution in 1989. Today Czech Radio is a public broadcaster, which runs four nationwide stations as well as regional broadcasting, digital radio stations and an internet news site.

Sounds of Polish Radio

Polish Radio, the state-owned national public-service, was founded on 18 August 1925. For over 90 years, Polish Radio broadcasts have accompanied Poles in Poland and abroad. The rich history of the station was interrupted on 1 September 1939, after the German invasion of Poland. However, before Polish Radio went silent for six years, it broadcasted significant messages warning Poles about German attacks. The battlefield recordings are a very valuable archive of those cruel times.

Souds of Radio Romania

Radio Romania boasts a 91 year long history, which started on November 1, 1928. Radio Romania kept company with the Romanians in the interwar period, throughout WWII and during communism, constrained by the limitations and censorship specific to both fascist and communist totalitarian regimes. After 1989, Radio Romania regained its role of public media service. We now invite you to listen to some excerpts of recordings kept in the radio tape library: comedians Stroe and Vasilache presenting the popular show “Ora veselă” (Happy Hour), the great historian Nicolae Iorga, the famous Romanian composer George Enescu, Romanian-born physician and scientist George Emil Palade, a Nobel Prize winner, the great Romanian interwar diplomat Nicolae Titulescu and the former sovereign of Romania, king Michael I.

Souds of Swissinfo

What did swissinfo.ch sound like for the first seven decades of its existence? The short answer: a radio station.

From the mid-1930s to 2004, Switzerland’s international service was Swiss Radio International (SRI). The first few decades of SRI’s existence were the heyday of shortwave – it was often the only way of getting news directly from other countries.

A brief history of SRI, the predecessor of swissinfo.ch, helps explain why you hear what you do in the video above. What began as the Swiss Short Wave Service in 1935, would grow from broadcasting programmes in German, French, Italian and English to include other European languages and Arabic, and eventually change its name to Swiss Radio International.

The international service was considered a voice of neutrality during times of war, first during World War II, followed by the decades of the Cold War and up to and including the first war in the Gulf in the early 1990s. This decade would mark the beginning of the end for Switzerland’s shortwave broadcasts. Shortwave transmitters gave way to relaying programmes via satellite, and this in turn would give way to the internet when swissinfo went online in 1999 as SRI’s website.

In 2004, the plug was pulled for good on SRI as part of budget cuts, but not swissinfo. Now producing exclusively online, the international service extended its linguistic reach by adding Russian, Japanese and Chinese, and publishing more video and audio reports.

Journalists working in swissinfo’s current ten languages collaborate closely to set the editorial agenda, providing the necessary context in their stories so they are understood wherever they are read, seen, or heard in the world.

Radio Canada International. From shortwave to the web: 74 years of change

Since February 25, 1945, Radio Canada International has been Canada’s voice to the world, first on shortwave radio, then on the web. During its 74 years of existence, Radio Canada International has broadcast in 23 languages. Today, listeners and web site visitors on five continents interact with us in five of the most-spoken languages in the world: English, French, Spanish, Chinese and Arabic.

For 74 years, Radio Canada International’s mandate hasn’t changed: allow people who know little or nothing about Canada to learn about its culture, society and democratic values. Through its news reports, interviews, programs, and in-depth web series, Radio Canada International continues to fulfill its mandate. For Canadians, Radio Canada International offers unique view of the country and creates links with people around the world. Radio Canada International has become an anchor, a reference point and an integration tool for people whether they’re potential immigrants, new arrivals or simply have a deep curiosity about Canada. Radio Canada International continues to create these links in both of Canada’s official languages, as well as Arabic, Chinese and Spanish, the mother tounges of thousands of our listeners and web site vistiors, many who have been following us for years. For its 74th anniversary, Radio Canada International looks back on its history offering you a singular perspective of the country: multi-cultural, uniquely Canada and resolutely lookin

29-10-2019