Shortwave or International radio
There are many opportunities to reach large, international audiences, especially on the Internet.
However, there are still huge areas in the world not covered by Internet, FM or AM (Medium Wave) radio and TV. Placing programs on just one of these media will restrict your audience. In today’s’ situation of very fragmented media – whether you represent a large or small organisation, either secular or religious – you should have a media strategy driven by your objective that encompasses more than one platform.
Milano Ventures provides a global outreach platform for any possible content (audio, video, text), managed to distributed such content via several international media outlets (radio & TV stations, satellite, cloud facilities, social media, etc.) that can enable any secular or religious organization to reach cost-effectively most English speaking regions in the world or any particular non-English speaking target area.
Shortwave radio broadcasting, also called World Radio or International Radio is just one of such media. Shortwave may reach entire continents using a single broadcast, and today is the most effective media to reach the digital divide areas, as well as censored countries in Africa, Asia and Pacific. Shortwave also has a loyal niche audience in most industrialised countries in Europe, the Americas, Middle East and Asia/Pacific. In these areas Shortwave radio is one of the elite media that encourages hardcore music, poetry, culture and world news stories fans to appreciate and engage further, used to hear first-hand information from unbiased sources and any content that is not usually available on other media.
Shortwave is also the ideal Christian media to reach a large percentage of “unchurched” audience. With active support for your Ministry at home (and probably not through listeners in the most deprived countries), our dedicated Shortwave service (European Gospel Radio) can be used as a real missionary Christian channel to evangelise large communities in Africa and Asia.
What is the value of Shortwave?
Shortwave radio remains one of the few electronic media for reaching the maximum number of potential listeners in the world. This is proved by the fact that some of the world’s most prominent international broadcast organisations continue their activities via Shortwave, and have invested heavily in transmission facilities. Milano Ventures, for example, operates on Shortwave from multi-million dollar facilities from 50 to 300 kW of power (up to several million watts of Effective Radiated Power or ERP via highly directional antennas), that have been built using the latest broadcast technologies. Such facilities are also capable of operating according to the latest digital standards (DRM) when receivers will be widely available. In recent history, the Gulf Wars demonstrated once again and most impressively how vital a telecommunications tool Shortwave is in reaching a vast audience, using inexpensive receivers that can be put in a suitcase or pocket.
Shortwave is everywhere. It is the world’s most mobile medium. Ironically, it was the propaganda machine of Nazi Germany that recognised the power of Shortwave and perfected its use in the Second World War.
How does Shortwave work?
Standard AM and FM stations lose their power as their signals dissipate along the ground over long distances. In Shortwave, the opposite is true. The Earth is encased in an invisible covering of gases called the Ionosphere. This acts as a mirror, reflecting Shortwave signals back to Earth, thus making it possible to cover vast distances with a single transmitter. This is why Shortwave is so efficient and cost-effective. In the case of our Shortwave radio channels, this means you can cover Europe, Africa or Asia/Pacific for the same or less money than it would cost to reach just one local market at home.
The audience on Shortwave
Shortwave is a lot like advertising: everybody agrees that it works, but it is difficult to quantify. The world’s most important broadcasting organisations have been deeply involved in audience research costing vast sums of money. Although relating primarily to political and social factors, there are findings of a general nature that are of interest to our broadcasters.
“If shortwave had been discovered today instead of eight decades ago it would be hailed as an amazing new technology with great potential for the world we live in today.” (John Tusa, Former Director, BBC World Service)
Access to radio and TV signals from foreign countries on FM, AM/MW, Shortwave, satellite as well as the Internet can be and often is blocked or filtered in some areas of the world. For example:
- Nigeria does not allow any local rebroadcasts of news;
- Ahead of the July-August 2013 elections in Zimbabwe, the country’s ruling coalition banned Shortwave radios, many distributed by NGOs, preventing opposition messages from getting out. However, Shortwave broadcasts are quite popular since they carry information not available elsewhere in the country;
- Ivory Coast, Azerbaijan, both Congos and several other countries have blocked local rebroadcasts when local circumstances have changed, and governments in these countries have not wanted outside “interference”;
- Afghanistan has only insufficient FM coverage, just in large towns controlled by foreign military troops. Outside of these areas, local FM stations are pulled down by insurgents, and in remote areas, no local or national radio or TV service exists. Hundreds of small FM stations, overlapping each other, are present in Kabul. Electricity is often down, and local stations stay off the air for hours;
- The Ethiopian government systematically jammed satellite TV and illegally blocked access to Internet and social media in its efforts to crush dissents during the wave of protests that started in November 2015 and led u
p to the state of emergency;
- In many regions of Africa, except in large populated areas, there is no Internet and no local radio or TV station, and no national TV or broadcast can be heard. Shortwave is the only way to reach such remote areas or towns;
- Webcasts, internet radio, video streaming or access to some websites can be filtered or blocked by firewalls operated by governments in the Middle East (i.e. Saudi Arabia, Gulf states, Iran) or China;
- Two billion people in the world still have access to at least one Shortwave capable set at home;
- 300 million people use Shortwave on a weekly basis to access radio services. When government restrictions to national or foreign media, wars or crises happen, as they often do, the number of Shortwave receivers and listeners increase many times over.
(Some of the data above are from a presentation by Graham Mutton, retired senior audience researcher for BBC, and significant expert in audience survey, presented at a radio broadcasting conference in Prague in 2011)
It should be made clear that the European, Asian and African listener is much more passive than listeners in the United States. Broadcasters should not expect excited “I’ve Seen The Light” – type declarations of faith and salvation as might be the case in the U.S. Of course, this DOES happen here too, but far less frequently.
This may come as a disappointment. But remember that the people outside the USA have a different mentality: they are more shy, quiet, and reflective. It should also be realized that except for the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Nigeria and a few other countries reached by our Shortwave services, English is NOT a first language. Most of them understand English well enough to follow a broadcast, but are very reluctant to write letters.
Fundraising on Shortwave?
We understand that some Christian broadcasters might welcome financial contributions from listeners. But this should not be expected from Europe, Africa or Asia. Because of the social structure of Europe, people here are not used to helping finance religious institutions by personal contribution, since churches are funded by tax money in most European countries. People in the most impoverished region in Africa and Asia will not have any means to send donations to the US or Europe.
We like to encourage genuinely missionary radio Ministries, as they will have the most significant impact on our worldwide audience. If you are primarily trying to fund your organisation with radio broadcast in Europe, Africa or Asia, you will be disappointed, and we do actively discourage you from bringing your program to European Gospel Radio. Results will be disappointing. You can achieve best results at fund-raising in North America, and then reaching our audience in the most remote and most impoverished region of Europe, Africa and Asia via our Shortwave services.
To be frank, people outside of the USA may be tight with their money and sceptical of appeals for donations. This is merely the nature of most of our society.
For more information on using Milano Ventures’ Shortwave services, please contact us.