Another Loss for North American Shortwave

I was saddened to learn that Radio Netherlands is ending shortwave transmissions to North America, effective October 26, 2008. Radio Netherlands was one of the first shortwave stations I ever heard and I have spent many enjoyable hours over the years listening to their programs.

I’m sure this move makes financial sense for Radio Netherlands, just as I’m sure dropping shortwave broadcasts to North America made financial sense for the BBC. There are no broadcasters with budgets large enough to transmit to everywhere in the world and it only makes sense to allocate limited resources to areas deemed most important. But it’s still sad to watch the steady decline of shortwave services to North America.

The Radio Netherlands website puts a positive spin on the move:

Radio Netherlands Worldwide’s English broadcasts are available in North America in an increasing variety of ways. More and more partner stations are taking our programming (a growing number of NPR stations in the US and CBC in Canada) and there are now a wide range of satellite options (including Sirius satellite radio).

The programmes are also available live, on-demand and via podcast.

The number of alternatives for listeners in North America is such that we have decided to end our shortwave broadcasts to the region.

They do list four different ways for North Americans to continue to listen to Radio Netherlands:

  1. on the internet at http://www.radionetherlands.nl/
  2. on the AMC 4 satellite 24 hours a day
  3. as part of the CBC overnight service at 1:05 AM
  4. on WRN as found on the Galaxy 25 satellite or on Sirius satellite radio

Unfortunately, no single option is a perfect alternative to shortwave and each has disadvantages:

  1. Listening to Radio Netherlands on the internet is pretty close to a perfect alternative, but only for those with broadband internet access. Broadband internet is increasingly common, but not ubiquitous.
  2. Listening to the AMC 4 satellite requires receiver hardware that most people don’t have, not to mention a clear view of the satellite.
  3. The CBC overnight service is an option only for those who live in Canada or near the border. The late-night schedule is also not very convenient.
  4. Most people don’t have satellite receivers or satellite radios capable of receiving WRN.

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