As 2016 winds down it's time to take stock of what transpired this past year, on and off the airwaves, here in South East Asia. In what has become all to common in the last decade, long-established and familiar radio stations and radio-related organisations ceased to operate, among these being Radio Australia and the Danish Shortwave Club International (DSCI). On the bright side, broadcast providers like Media Broadcast GmbH, Shortwave Service and WRMI expanded their programming, allowing broadcasters like Radio Mi Amigio, Radio New Ireland and Italian Broadcasting Corporation to broaden their reach and audience. Similarly, QSLs previously impossible to acquire were finally confirmed.
All India Radio (AIR) was the major verifier in this category. Thanks to continued efforts of Spectrum Management & Synergy, the following stations were QSLed: AIR Ahmedabad (MW), AIR Chinsurah (MW), AIR Cuddapah (MW), AIR Cuttack (MW), AIR Dibrugarh (MW), AIR Imphal (MW), AIR Indore (MW), AIR Jabalpur (MW), AIR Jeypore (SW), AIR Leh (SW), AIR Port Blair (MW), AIR Rajkot (MW), AIR Srinagar (SW), AIR Varanasi (MW) and AIR Vishakapatnam (MW). The lone hold out, to date, remains AIR Gangtok.
As mentioned above, many stations formerly heard only in Europe or the Americas expanded their broadcast coverage. Transmissions were relayed from Yerevan (Armenia) and Trincomalee (Sri Lanka). These included Radio Northern Ireland, Radio Mi Amigo and The Voice of the World Report. The exceptions were FRS Holland and Italian Broadcasting Corporation, which owing to frequency and propagation, were received -- for the FIRST TIME, here in Malaysia -- from their home countries.
Among the many new stations to enter the short-waves were clandestine operators, Free Radio stations and religious broadcasters, who from time to time, do and will confirm. Many use the services of Malagasy Global Business SA (MGLOB), Media Broadcast GmbH, Télédiffusion de France (TDF), Spaceline Ltd. Bulgaria and SENTEC (South Africa). Of the five service providers, Media Broadcast GmbH consistently verifies correct reception reports for the transmissions of their clients, among these being Radio Studio Otkrovenie - HCJB Global. Of the new short-wave stations, Voice of Hope (in Zambia) and Madagascar World Voice appeared on the bands in early 2016.
Over on the medium-wave band, verifications from Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, Sao Tome, Taiwan and Thailand were obtained. A few of these included: Radio Republik Indonesia Sungailiat, RRI Pekanbaru PRO-4 and Radio Republik Indonesia Semarang (Indonesia); Radio Payam - IRIB (Iran); Asahi Broadcasting Corporation - JONR (Osaka, Nippon Cultural Broadcasting - JOQR and RKB Mainichi Hoso - JOFR (Japan): Like Station 1494 (Thailand); and even a "Test Transmission" for Choibalsan 1431 for Babcock International (Mongolia). Two stations in the Philippines were received as well, but remain, as of this writing, MIA (Missing In Action). In all fairness, a good many Indonesian and Thai stations failed to reply too. After nearly a two year absence from MW, National Radio of Kampuchea returned to the airwaves and continues to be received strongly here.
On short-wave, either verifications or acknowledgements came from Radio Republik Indonesia Merauke (Papua), National Broadcasting Corporation - Radio Bougainville (Kubu, PNG), Radio Télé Candip (Bunia, DRC) Radio Puntland (Puntland Somalia), Radio Quillabamba (Peru), Seoul Radio Center Korea Telecom - Station HLG and Radio Guinée / Radio Télévision Guinéenne (Conakry, Republic of Guinea).
On the down side, the Danish Shortwave Club Internationally -- one the oldest and possibly the best radio club -- officially ceased to exist in December 2016 after 60 years, but not before a special broadcast, produced by Rhein-Main-Radio-Club, aired the "DSCI - Last AGM". This broadcast was heard worldwide via WRMI (Okeechobee), Shortwave Service (Armenia) and SLBC / Shortwave Service (Trincomalee) in early December.
It has also been widely reported the short-wave outlets of Radio Australia (Shepparton) and ABC Northern Territory are slated to close at the end of January 2017. Although, it has also been reported, an effort is afoot to save ABC stations (Alice Springs, Katherine and Tennant Creek). Should they go, the only remaining short-wave broadcaster in Australia will be Reach Beyond Australia (HCJB) in Kununurra, Western Australia. A few Australia Bureau of Meteorology stations (VMW - Wiluna, Western Australia) and VMC - Charleville, Queensland) broadcast on short-wave as well.
In other news, while China Radio International, China National Radio and PBS outlets in China literally dominate the short-wave bands, they continue a policy of issuing no paper QSL. This went into effect late last year when CRI announced budget cuts. For a brief time, earlier this year, the exception was their Japanese service; but near the middle the year, they too ceased to issue paper QSLs. However, on a positive note, CRI English service does verify by eQSL, and occasionally will confirm for PBS outlets as well. Similarly, Radio New Zealand International verifies only by eQSL, as of late last year.
Once reliable Voice of Turkey acknowledged only half of this year's reception reports. In previous years, TRT confirmed nearly every report within a month's time. One can assume, perhaps due to the unrest in Turkey and the region, this would account for the lapse in verification and delivery. QSLs from Bangladesh Betar, Radio Romania International and VOA seem to be equally sporadic. Some listeners may defer and say KBS World Radio, Radio Thailand, Radio Taiwan International and Voice of Vietnam are just as guilty, but, personally, I have had no great difficulty in receiving verifications from them, so long as one constantly communicates with them.
Occasionally, short-wave propagation and bands in South East Asia, are nearly absent of stations, save for Chinese, North Korean and religious broadcasters (AWR and Overcomer, especially). And, I feel it is almost pointless to continue listening to short-wave, let alone to maintain this blogsite.
This is one of the reasons I have recently gravitated towards medium-wave DXing. But this band, in South East Asia, is quite a challenge, what with the many Thai, Indonesian and Chinese stations that fill the airwaves and broadcast in their respective languages/dialects. To listen to stations outside these 'Big Three', broadcast times (often in the wee hours of the morning) and propagation almost ALWAYS dictate reception. And even then, when a station is received, it can be difficult to get a confirmation.
All in all, in spite of the ups and downs this year, it appears radio will remain a viable medium in the coming year. And this, in part, thanks to radio enthusiasts taking charge to preserve it. Let us hope they prevail. Long live radio! Happy DXing and 73.