January 2006 has been a productive shortwave listening month for me, so these reception reports comprise the first of two parts.
* 14 Jan 2006: 15580 khz (VOA): The Voice of America broadcasted their "Nightline Africa" show from 2000-2030 UTC. I had good reception (SIO 433) so I assume this was from the nearby Delano, CA transmitter.
Zimbabwe, in southern Africa, first held free elections in 1979 and achieved independence from Britain in 1980. Its population is approximately 13 million. The announcer, who later gave his name as Ted Roberts, amusingly said "I am back from a three-week vacation, quite rested, and everything is alright!" It's always fun to hear humanizing elements in these broadcasts. So there's a currency black market, and the government seeks to remove US dollars from circulation by offering Z$87,000 in exchange for each US$1 (see Zimbabwean dollar on Wikipedia). The country suffers from chaotic economic fundamentals, and further economic decline is expected.
"Liberia is next." This night train show features a train conductor saying "All aboard...the night train!" between each segment along with train sound effects. Weird! Liberia is inaugurating a new president. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is the first elected female president of an African nation (from Wikipedia, not mentioned in the broadcast). Extra security is on hand for the event. Laura Bush will attend. Two U.S. Navy ships are in Liberian waters. United Nations helicopters and armored (armed?) vehicles are present. No problems expected; they have "the right arrangements." The country is emerging from 25 years of violence, and is under an arms embargo.
Now discussing Sierra Leone. Population is around 5 million; English is the official language. This country is recovering from civil war. Its residents suffer from the plagues of drugs, prostitution, HIV/AIDS, and child trafficking. Children are sent to work instead of school. Kids sleep on the streets; they left home because their families were too poor to support them. Children used for prostitution or forced labor. A 14-year-old boy earned money by carrying heavy packages. He spent all his money on gambling and drinking.
To conclude the half-hour segment, there was "an editorial reflecting the views of the U.S. government." A discussion of Iran's nuclear plans. Condoleeza Rice said "nobody wants to islolate the Iranian people. ... this is a great civilization and these are a great people."
* 17 Jan 2006: I happened to be home at 2000 UTC, and saw on Primetimeshortwave.com that Israel broadcasts to North America at this time. Unfortunately, I couldn't receive it on any of the listed frequencies. I imagine this would be an interesting broadcast, especially to hear their views regarding Ariel Sharon's health problems. Subsequent attempts to tune into this station at 2000 UTC have also failed, and I emailed the station engineer about it. I also posted to rec.radio.shortwave about this. A listener in Michigan is able to receive it, but a listener in nearby Ventura, CA, is not.
* 19 Jan 2006: 0530 UTC: 6000 khz (Radio Havana Cuba): "I'm Ed Newman, fighting a terrible cold." (He sounded like it!) During the international news segment, they discussed the Bush wiretapping issue. Here's a related article from Radio Havana Cuba's website: Two U.S. Groups File Lawsuits over Federal Eavesdropping. A participant in this lawsuit said it was "a return to the bad old days of the NSA."
Another story discussed on the radio: NSA Spy Information Led To Dead Ends.
The Chinese economy is growing due to the upcoming Beijing Summer Olympic games in 2008. Construction is the main benefit, and the city is spending $16 billion to prepare for the games. Surprisingly, I didn't hear any mention of the World Baseball Classic during RHC's sports segment.
During the mailbag show, the announcers thanked listeners who sent new years greetings. One listener, a teacher who uses shortwave radio in his 3rd grade class, wrote to ask about Cuba's education system. The school day in Cuba is from 8am to 4:20pm. The school year begins at the start of September and runs until the end of June or the beginning of July. Education is compulsory until 9th grade, after which students can enter three years of pre-university. After that, they can advance to university. Cuba's university preparation programs are believed to be better than in many other countries. I would be curious to understand this last point in more detail. SIO 533.