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During the Cold War era, the medium of shortwave radio was in many ways a predecessor to today’s Internet. For decades, the busy airwaves reflected the geopolitical and international security realities of the day, as over 100 nations transmitted messages that fused domestic and international news with large doses of propaganda. The radio dial was interspersed with squelches of military radar echoes, maritime and aviation traffic, mysterious “numbers” counting stations for international spies, and even military attempts to inject the ionosphere with energy to disrupt communications, or perhaps even incoming International Ballistic Missiles. With the end of the Cold War era and the rise of Internet technology, the shortwave radio spectrum has decayed into a more vacuous space. Many international broadcasters have curtailed their shortwave operations, and instead produce their content for online consumption.
Yet, this past week, at the Media Summit on Climate Change, ICTs and Disaster Risk Reduction in Jakarta, Indonesia, 12 international shortwave broadcasters were able to accomplish a remarkable feat for the first time in the history of radio broadcasting–all articulated through the geopolitical and humanitarian realities of today. (more…)