History of international radios

From shortwave to the web: 74 years of change

Since February 25, 1945, Radio Canada International has been Canada’s voice to the world, first on shortwave radio, then on the web.

During its 74 years of existence, Radio Canada International has broadcast in 23 languages.  Today, listeners and web site visitors on five continents interact with us in five of the most-spoken languages in the world: English, French, Spanish, Chinese and Arabic.

Some of the biggest names in Canadian journalism and culture have worked at Radio Canada International:

René Lévesque, a journalist who later became premier of Quebec

Judith Jasmin, who had a distinguished career in journalism

Read more:

Peter Gzowski, a journalist and writer who became famous for hosting CBC radio’s Morningside program

Jacques Languirand, a broadcaster, playwright, writer, actor, journalist, producer, director and teacher. He worked at RCI in the 1950s

Georges Skvor, a poet recognized in the 1975 International Who’s Who. He was known by the pen name Pavel Javor and once worked in RCI’s Czech section

George Fiala, a classical music composer who wrote more than 200 works, including five symphonies

Anna Anders Nowakowski  recieved several war-time decorations including the Croix des Anciens Combattants Volontaires

Charles Tisseyre, current host of Découverte, Radio-Canada’s science program

Michèle Boisvert, former director at La Presse’s business section and now Executive Vice-President, Public Affairs at la Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, once worked in RCI’s French section

RCI also once employed a real Russian duke, dubbed ‘the Russian prince.’ Alexander Lieven came to Canada in 1951 and was a journalist in RCI’s Russian section from 1954 to 1979.

Radio Canada International also produced recordings that helped Canadian artists become known throughout the world including: Glenn Gould, Oscar Peterson, Jean Carignan, Diane Tell, Karen Young and Oliver Jones.

For 74 years, Radio Canada International’s mandate hasn’t changed: allow people who know little or nothing about Canada to learn about its culture, society and democratic values.

Through its news reports, interviews, programs, and  in-depth web series, Radio Canada International continues to fulfill its mandate.

For Canadians, Radio Canada International offers unique view of the country and creates links with people around the world.

Radio Canada International has become an anchor,  a reference point and an integration tool for people whether they’re potential immigrants, new arrivals or simply have a deep curiosity about  Canada.

Radio Canada International continues to create these links in both of Canada’s official languages, as well as Arabic, Chinese and Spanish, the mother tounges of thousands of our listeners and web site vistiors, many who have been following us for years.

For its 74th anniversary, Radio Canada International  looks back on its history offering you a singular perspective of the country:  multi-cultural, uniquely Canada and resolutely looking to the future.

Acknowledgements to :

Radio-Canada Media Library and Archives, Library and Archives Canada.

Visit Radio Canada International’s website

The sounds of a radio station

On Friday 18 May, 1923, at 8.15pm the following words started coming out of a canvas tent in Prague’s Kbely neighbourhood: “Hello, Hello, here is the Radiojournal broadcasting channel …”. The transmission went on for about an hour and Czechoslovakia had thus begun regular radio broadcasting just six months after the BBC – the world’s oldest broadcaster.

The first transmission was a music performance, but the radio station soon expanded its programme to sports news, weather forecasts and stock market updates. In fact, Czechoslovak Radio can boast to be the first ever European live sports broadcaster. 

Most importantly however, Czechoslovak Radio has played an important role multiple times in key events during the country’s history.

Read more:

The “Battle for the Radio” took place in 1945, during the final days of World War Two and the radio station did not stop broadcasting even while the heaviest fighting was raging around it. Another battle for the radio took place in 1968 when Czechoslovakia was invaded by Warsaw Pact forces.

Although Soviet soldiers occupied the building in the end, radio employees continued to broadcast from various rooms. Both battles ended up costing dozens of lives. During the period after 1968, commonly referred to as the “normalisation era”, hundreds of journalists were forced to leave the institution and Czechoslovak Radio became an ideological tool for the Communist regime.

A return to free broadcasting came after the Velvet Revolution in 1989. Today Czech Radio is a public broadcaster, which runs four nationwide stations as well as regional broadcasting, digital radio stations and an internet news site. Not to mention, of course, the shows of Radio Prague International…

Visit Radio Prague International’s website

Sounds of history 

What did Swissinfo.ch sound like for the first seven decades of its existence? The short answer: a radio station.

From the mid-1930s to 2004, Switzerland’s international service was Swiss Radio International (SRI). The first few decades of SRI’s existence were the heyday of shortwave – it was often the only way of getting news directly from other countries. 

A brief history of SRI, the predecessor of Swissinfo.ch, helps explain why you hear what you do in the video above. 

What began as the Swiss Short Wave Service in 1935, would grow from broadcasting programmes in German, French, Italian and English to include other European languages and Arabic, and eventually change its name to Swiss Radio International.

The international service was considered a voice of neutrality during times of war, first during World War II, followed by the decades of the Cold War and up to and including the first war in the Gulf in the early 1990s. 

Read more:

This decade would mark the beginning of the end for Switzerland’s shortwave broadcasts. Shortwave transmitters gave way to relaying programmes via satellite, and this in turn would give way to the internet when swissinfo went online in 1999 as SRI’s website. 

In 2004, the plug was pulled for good on SRI as part of budget cuts, but not swissinfo. Now producing exclusively online, the international service extended its linguistic reach by adding Russian, Japanese and Chinese, and publishing more video and audio reports. 

Journalists working in swissinfo’s current ten languages collaborate closely to set the editorial agenda, providing the necessary context in their stories so they are understood wherever they are read, seen, or heard in the world.

Visit Swissinfo.ch

91 years of Radio Romania

Radio Romania boasts a 91 year long history, which started on November 1, 1928.

Radio Romania kept company with the Romanians in the interwar period, throughout WWII and during communism, constrained by the limitations and censorship specific to both fascist and communist  totalitarian regimes.

After 1989, Radio Romania regained its role of public media service.

We now invite you to listen to some excerpts of recordings kept in the radio tape library:

Comedians Stroe and Vasilache presenting the popular show “Ora veselă” (Happy Hour)

The great historian Nicolae Iorga

Read more:

The famous Romanian composer George Enescu

Romanian-born physician and scientist George Emil Palade, a Nobel Prize winner

The great Romanian interwar diplomat Nicolae Titulescu

The former sovereign of Romania, King Michael I

Visit Radio Romania International’s website 

Over 90 years of history

Polish Radio, the state-owned national public-service, was founded on 18 August 1925.

For over 90 years, Polish Radio broadcasts have accompanied Poles in Poland and abroad.

The rich history of the station was interrupted on 1 September 1939, after the German invasion of Poland. However, before the Polish Radio went silent for six years, it broadcasted significant messages warning Poles about German attacks.

The battlefield recordings are a very valuable archive of those cruel times.

Visit Radio Poland's website

Categories: Uncategorized