Tonight Radio Australia Shortwave Shut Down, Ceding the Pacific to China

by John Galt
January 30, 2017 21:40ET

A little over 45 years ago, a young boy found his Mom and Dad’s portable radio and started to play with it. On this radio, he found a band marked “SW” and started to listen. After asking his dad about it, he had a little bit better understanding, and even more so when his dad purchased a Radio Shack book on Shortwave radio listening.

One of the first stations that I heard was one Radio Australia, early one morning with just an earphone and the whip antennas on the Standard AM/FM/SW radio pictured above.

That radio has seen its better days, and so have I.

The interval signal I have heard many times in my life of shortwave listening sounded somewhat like this, with minor variations over the years, before the broadcasts began:

And now sadly, a voice of what was a neutral party, with somewhat a non-tarnished viewpoint of world events that served primarily the Asia/Pacific region went silent tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern Time (01:00 UTC).

From Australian Broadcasting Corporation News, Australia:

End of an era as ABC shuts down shortwave service to Pacific

After nearly 80 years of broadcasting the ABC will today switch off its shortwave broadcast of Radio Australia into Papua New Guinea and the Pacific.

The ABC insists the technology is out of date, and short wave broadcasts will cease today at midday, eastern Australian time.

Our Pacific Affairs reporter Liam Fox says there’s been an outcry from affected listeners, while the ABC’s critics argue that the switch off will damage its reputation in the region in return for savings of less than $2 million.

While the savings are somewhat paltry, the theory that this shortwave station did not have an audience or fill a need is nothing more than a myth propagated by government bureaucrats in Canberra.

There is no reliable cellular phone networks or internet on many of these small Pacific islands or jungles of Southeast Asia. Add to that fact that in a natural disaster or other emergency, Radio Australia served as the primary news source for that region since the United States Voice of America and BBC have long abandoned the area many years ago.

Essentially this means that the only real voice on shortwave radio for news and information on a reliable basis is China Radio International. With this decision, the government in Australia should have no complaints if their political interests are ignored by the people of East Asia and the Pacific because they failed to fill the void soon to be filled by Beijing. Sadly the theory that the technology is extinct will soon be proven false as economic reality and political events will demonstrate in the years to come.

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