Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Classic shortwave programmes past & present

Extract from Long, Medium and Shortwave Broadcast Matters, April 2012, Radio User, PWP  

DXing Explained

I make no excuses for turning this month’s DXing Explained part of the column into a history lesson in part, looking at a classic shortwave show still remembered fondly. Bradley Allen asks what year the Radio Sweden Saturday Show launched. “It has to be said it’s a real pity that no new editions are being produced. Perhaps the only shortwave station that can be compared to it is Radio Canada International’s Maple Leaf Mailbag“.


Radio Sweden’s Saturday Show (1967 to 1981) was to my mind akin to Monty Python although I preferred it to the Pythons myself. Perhaps partly as I always felt I was one of a select group (DXers and SW listeners) that it aired to on Saturdays in the 1970s. Archive editions can be heard at the Radio Sweden website, but the show itself has not been on air for the best part of 40 years.

We should bear in mind that often it is today’s run of the mill, taken for granted programme that becomes a gem we look back on wistfully in future years. Along with DX programmes, listeners’ letters programmes have always been a staple of any shortwave station worth its salt. Some move with the times, others less so.

Bradley asks what the instrumental theme tune to the old Radio Budapest DX programme was, and also wants to know the origins of Radio Austria’s Shortwave Panorama. These are both wonderful blasts from the past and without getting too nostalgic I think such classic programmes to deserve to be remembered and spoken of with a little reverence, both to those who remember them and those newer DXers who might feel the sense of history and wonder in the DX hobby as a result.

I cannot discover what the Radio Budapest theme music was so if anyone knows please contact me at  Their DX programme was transmitted in English, German, Italian and Spanish. In 1965, the Radio Budapest Short Wave Club was set up and had over 12,000 members at its peak in the 1970s and 1980s. I have fond memories of the monthly bulletin that used to be sent out.

Shortwave Panorama started on Radio Austria International in 1975 and ran for 18 years. It was then replaced by a show called Intermedia but that was only for the German language service. Englishman David Hermges was a presenter and producer on the show as well as the Report From Austria programme but sadly died in 2007.


Moscow Mailbag must have answered tens of thousands of questions over the decade, and the BBC World Service’s Letterbox with Margaret Howard was replaced by Write On and has a 21st century equivalent in the shape of Over to You, a weekly 20 minute show presented by Rajan Datar.

Also in the current day, All India Radio’s Faithfully Yours is answering letters and emails and can be heard on Monday evenings, from 2120 UTC on 9445 and 7550kHz. Radio Exterior de Espana’s Listeners’ Club can be heard on 9665kHz from 1900 UTC on Tuesdays and Saturdays. As for the Radio Canada International Maple Leaf Mailbag mentioned earlier, questions from listeners are now answered on the daily programme The Link.

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