13 February 2006

is radio marti propaganda?

Radio Martí operates a spanish broadcast sent via shortwave from the United States into Cuba. According to Wikipedia, "Radio Marti operates with about 100 employees and a budget of $15 million." It was originally a Voice of America operation based in Washington D.C., but is now operated by an organization called the Office of Cuba Broadcasting. In 1996, the station moved operations to Miami to be closer to its target audience.

I wanted to make the claim that Radio Marti was propaganda because it serves to undermine Fidel Castro. But my stance changed somewhat after reading this 1998 "Radio Marti" article on qsl.net. Note the New York Times quote from 1986. Certainly, it is possible that the broadcasts today are much different from 20 years ago. And although I can clearly listen to an audio stream over the Internet, I don't understand spanish.

Do any of you listen to Radio Marti via shortwave or the Internet? What do you think -- is Radio Marti broadcasting propaganda?

When I'm in Northern California as I usually am, the 6030 khz Radio Marti broadcast (0500-0700 UTC) seems to be distorted by the sound of running water. One reason could be a weak signal, although I've never heard any other signal with a swishing sound like this. Another possibility for the distortion is jamming. I confirmed this suspicion with a web search, turning up a webpage with a recording and analysis of the jamming by Cuba.

In California, the jamming is louder than the broadcast. During my stay in upstate New York in December 2005, the broadcast seemed at least twice as loud as the jamming. As I wrote in my reception log, if I understood Spanish, I'd be able to understand it just fine. Of course, the jamming signal is from Cuba for Cuba, so propagation is not its goal. Also, I'm comparing summer and autumn reception in California with winter reception in New York. Many propagation variables come into play.

Plans exist to broadcast Radio and TV Marti from a plane. Here is a Miami Herald article originally seen on Radiointel.com: Plane may help overcome Cuba's "news blockade".

Here is a Lexington Institute article titled "Radio Marti's shrinking audience and what to do about it.

For more on Radio Marti, read The Taxpayer Waste and Failure of Radio Marti in the Havana Journal (an American-run news service).

* Radio Marti - windows media and real audio streams available via the link "Radio Marti en vivo"

* Radio Marti shortwave schedule/frequencies

1 comment:

Jose Fritz said...

Did Somont say jamming? http://tenwatts.blogspot.com/2005/09/art-of-radio-jamming.html

The Radioman always knows.