June 29, 2012

Shortwave Radio in Missions

I'm a big fan of missions radio.  According to Operation World, 99% of earth's population can hear the Gospel via radio "(assuming good radio reception, availability of radios, power, and also insterest in seeking the correct frequencies)." (21st Century Edition, pg 7)  Most missions radio is broadcast using Shortwave, which is different than FM, AM, or satellite.  Here's a good description I found of shortwave radio and the advantages of it.  This was found at: Bible Voice Broadcasting.

What is Shortwave?

FM radio waves travel by line-of-sight and only carry short distances because of the curvature of the earth. AM radio waves are transmitted by the earth's surface skin and can travel a little further, but both can only be heard well in the country in which they are transmitted. This makes them subject to political control by that country.
Shortwave radio waves, on the other hand, reflect off the upper surface of the atmosphere so they carry over large distances and cross national borders.
Most of our transmissions are on shortwave radio, but we also have a growing network of local FM stations and some AM transmissions.

Why Shortwave?

In many parts of the world...
  • Social changes, politics, international terrorism and lack of funding have affected field missionary work.
  • TV is not readily available or affordable.
  • Illiteracy makes literature distribution ineffective.
Shortwave radio unlocks doors...
  • In closed countries where believers depend upon broadcasts as their main source of encouragement and teaching.
  • It crosses political, religious and geographical barriers and reaches remote areas and supplements the work of field missionaries.
  • It serves as the 'local church' where one is not available.
  • It is the most cost effective mass communication tool. Shortwave radios are readily available everywhere, often at low cost.

Resurgence of Shortwave

Despite new technologies such as cable, satellite and the Internet, shortwave radio is actually experiencing resurgence with a growth in shortwave radio audiences. Around the world there are at least 600 million shortwave radio sets. In one factory in China, 30,000 new radios are being manufactured each day.
Latest research shows that the number of shortwave listeners is growing worldwide, with shortwave popularity at it's greatest in developing countries. For example, 98% of Zimbabwean households with radios have shortwave, and in parts of India that number is 99%. It is not just developing countries that listen to short wave. A recent survey from the BBC revealed that in 1999, 97% of business travellers listened to the World Service.

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