domenica 23 settembre 2012

IRRS, the importance of listeners' response on shortwave

Hello there from Milano, Italy,

Dear listeners and friends,

It's a difficult time for any shortwave broadcasting station, you probably know that already. For a number of reasons, stations again close theirs transmitting sites, and leave the air, indefinitely. Some other reduced the number of hours, and are just about to shut down, anytime now.

I will not elaborate on the dream of a digital shortwave world (DRM) that kept many stations on the air until recently in the hope of reaching millions of new listeners worldwide. Unfortunately DRM receivers will hardly come into mass production, and if they will ever come it will be too late to resurrect the dead.

As you know, it's a difficult time also for everyone individually and company-wise, and not only for those employed by large government broadcasters who shut down their shortwave operations to "save" tax money.

Today I want to share the content of a phone call with one of our long-time broadcasters, who will remain anonymous. Our role at IRRS and NEXUS-IBA has always been to provide the best possible signal to any desired target, but this is not enough. Our broadcasters are extremely concerned by the general lack of response from shortwave listeners. The essence of each broadcaster request is quite the same: "We need response, WE NEED LISTENERS's RESPONSE!, to allow us to continue broadcasting on shortwave." We always made this point very clear, when we tell you that we do need comments to our program content, NOT just mere reception reports.

If you've been sitting close to your receiver at the other side of our transmitters, I want to explain you what is the mechanism that keeps a program (any program) on the air and keeps a non-government shortwave station like ours alive: behind a program producer there is always a bunch of "supporters", i.e. a church, a charity, a foundation, some kind of organized group or even a wealthy person. They mostly share a worthy cause or a common idea to change the world: politically, culturally, or religiously. Sometimes small program producers (like those who air on our station via "IPAR: International Public Access Radio") even support the costs and efforts to produce a radio program by themselves. They all share one thing, that is unique on non-government international broadcasting stations: they need listeners' response to show their supporters (or themselves) that their efforts are worth the money that each of them is contributing.

Without those who produce a program, but have no station on their own, and rely on us to bring their messages to you, we have no reason to exist. Our mission is to be a "nexus", i.e. a link between a program producer and our listeners. We do not discriminate, we are not a religious station, we are not biased by any political or religious idea, and we want to present those many different opinions that our broadcasting members want to share. This is what we wrote in the NEXUS association charter ( and the essence of our daily work in international broadcasting.

Do you know that a radio or TV program can also make a few people rich? And many program producers want to use shortwave to this effect. However, this can happen only in some parts of the world, like the USA. Even a small, low power station in the USA, in fact, provides plenty of listeners' response by means of phone calls, letters, and emails to keep supporters happy, and money flowing. And above all: many listeners in the USA gratefully contribute to their radio station and their favorite program by sending in checks (cheques) in the mail, from a few dollars to thousands and hundred thousands of dollars. I have seen this personally on a large scale at a Christian station in northern California, where tens of old ladies were opening hundreds of letters, each with quite some money inside, and registering each contribution on their PC (BTW: have you ever seen any of those rich and famous preachers on a a US TV station?)

Unfortunately it's hard to expect any money in the mail from listeners that we cover in Europe, Asia, Middle East or Africa. In fact we never asked and never got any listeners' cheque in more than 30 years, and we just about get (sometimes, not all the time) enough money to cover return postage for any QSL request.

In the end, once again our broadcasters demand that we get listeners' response, otherwise it's difficult to show their supporters that anybody is listening. Most of those on our station are not asking for money, but just listeners comments, phone calls or any kind of response to show that you are being reached with their message.

It's been quite strange to hear tonight from our broadcaster that they get tens of letters and phone calls from Africa and Europe every day, but mostly for their broadcasts on "another station". This let us wonder somehow: how is it that our signal is good, and listeners do not write, and they do not call the numbers given on the air? Are those letters and phone calls a fabrication to keep this program on that particular station?

I look forward to your comments and suggestions. We will reply to each email personally. Please also mention whether you listen to our programs, on which frequency, and when, and if we can do better to continue to be your favorite station. This will help us greatly to improve and stay on the air.

Please visit our web site for more information on our daily programs:

or write us at for more information.

Thank you and stay tuned!

Alfredo E. Cotroneo, CEO,        NEXUS-Int'l Broadcasting Association