|My Kremlin visit was amazing. Could take my HD video camera inside, but not a tripod.|
When I started in international media in the 1980's, Radio Moscow dominated the shortwave airwaves. I believe it was logged as putting out 264 hrs of programming a day in 74 languages. Hard to believe nowadays. The station, now called Voice of Russia or more often "Radio VR", will in fact cease to be a radio station broadcasting on shortwave as from January 1st 2014. I'm surprised that the disappearance of a vast piece of broadcast history has gone virtually unnoticed. I have no doubt that some of the FM, DAB and even medium-wave outlets will remain, but at the moment nothing is confirmed.
In fact, the Voice of Russia radio company officially ceased to exist as an independent organisation as of December 9th, following a decree by President Putin. It will merge with several other state-run news agencies to emerge as Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today), a Russia-based international news service. Apparently it has no connection with RT.com, the Russian external TV service. Rossia Segodnya will be headed by Dmitry Kiselyov.
President Putin has also given the Cabinet of Ministers one month to plan all events necessary to help the International News Agency “Rossiya Segodnya” into existence and add it to the list of state-run strategic entities. The fledgling agency will focus on informing foreign audiences about Russia’s policies and their way of life.
The President’s decree did away with an entire section of state media. It abolished the State Fund for Television and Radio Programs, placing it under control of All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company.
|Russian valve radios of the 1950's all had shortwave on them|
Here are some of my memories in the form of the Media Network radio programmes I hosted.
Let's start with August 22nd 1991
If you had a shortwave radio around August 1991 then it was probably tuned to Radio Moscow because of an attempted coup. I believe this Media Network programme which I hosted on Radio Netherlands is an example of listener participation well before the web and mass use of email, as well as great inside stories from Vasily Strelnikov, a former presenter at Radio Moscow World Service. I love his story about how his "filling in the time" almost caused a diplomatic incident. He also explained how the news reading translation system worked, which solves another mystery from the Cold War era.
This next programme was broadcast at the start of 1998. We only really started to get an idea of what broadcasting was like during the Cold War towards the end of the 1990's. I remember we had a visit from Estelle Winters, who is still a regular presenter on the Voice of Russia, the station that took over from Radio Moscow World Service. I remember when we finally saw pictures of the studios of Radio Moscow and realised why the station always had a signature sound - no matter what language, you could often identify the station on a crowded short-wave dial because of the modulation. The studios had two microphones pointing towards the presenter, giving it a characteristic echo since there is a phase difference between the sound captured by the mikes.
This programme broadcast in June 1995 included a profile of the music station in Moscow Radio 7. Around 23 minutes into the programme.
I recall talking to David Smith, a former Radio Netherlands colleague, in the gardens of a radio station in Nairobi in 2010. He had some marvellous stories about listening to Radio Moscow while growing up in Canada.
Early Shortwave Memories David Smith from Jonathan Marks on Vimeo.
This next programme takes us back the start of March 1992, when things are starting to open up, media-wise, in the Russian capital. The show starts with a report by Rosella Strom who went to Geneva, Switzerland as part of the World Radio Congress at the ITU where large chunks of the radio spectrum were allocated. The Moscow report is in the second half.
Twenty-two years ago the Media News was centred around changes at Radio Moscow. With no way of doing a direct interview, we called Richard Measham at BBC Monitoring. And there were interesting comments from Vasily Strelnikov on his show. In January 1991, Radio Moscow changed its name to Radio Moscow World Service. We called Richard Measham at BBC Monitoring.
I see that Vasily Strelnikov is back on the Voice of Russia, reminiscing with colleagues about the days of Radio Moscow World Service. They have a facebook page (search for "from Moscow with Love").
In this next programme broadcast in January 1992, Richard Measham of BBC Monitoring explains how time changes in Russia have affected the complex external broadcast schedule (curiously time changes are back in the news as Russia has decided to adopt permanent summer time in 2011). Vasily explains about Radio Ala, a station which played Bard folkmusic which popped up on shortwave having hired transmission facilities formerly used by Soviet jammers. It was fascinating while it lasted. There's also an interval signal contest as compensation for Jim Cutler's Impossible Contest which we put out in April 1992. We played three interval signals at once, one of them backwards. But it didn't fool the dedicated listeners. I made the photo on a wet but fascinating day in Moscow in 2009. Incredible to see where those programmes were made.
This programme broadcast in August 2000 reported on a a serious fire in the Ostankino TV tower in Moscow. Vasily helped us out again.
Remarkably little of Radio Moscow recordings on YouTube. Found some? Leave a comment.
|Will never forget wandering through the centre of Moscow in 2009. It's an incredible place.|
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