Musings —07.02.2012 12:00 AM—
The shortwave service started in 1942. Prime Minister Mackenzie King said it would help to keep our soldiers connected with what was going on back home. For our armed forces members in uniform – then and now – RCI became an easy way to stay in touch with Canada and Canadians.
Similarly, the service became a means by which we could subtly promote democracy, and the Canadian way of life, in far-flung corners of the world. In places like China, Russia and North Korea – where the Internet can be censored, but shortwave can’t be – RCI was heard by many. In post-Communist Eastern Europe, shortwave radio receivers are still the way in which many receive news from the outside world.
I know this from experience. When I was an election observer in Bosnia in 1996, billeted with a Serbian family, I was glued to my tiny shortwave radio at night. I’d listen to the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the news from back home, and I was always pretty grateful that RCI existed.
Our allies – the U.S., Britain, Germany, France and Australia – have all expanded their national shortwave service.
In Canada, meanwhile, we’ve killed it.