Monday, November 03, 2008

Good YouTube Video on VOA Delano

This is a 10-minute video that tells the history of the place, with lots of pictures of truly awesome antennas and transmitters. There's also interesting footage of political figures as diverse as Cesar Chavez ("Delano Grape Strike") and Ronald Reagan (Radio Free Europe). It tells the story of short wave broadcasting in the post-WWII United States, and why we would be crazy to get rid of it, as we seem determined to do.

Directing style is about as old-skool as you can get, looking like an old newsreel, but this works with the subject matter. The video is available as a nice clear MP4 or the smaller YouTube flv type of file.

The Delano site has somehow miraculously survived the US Government's determination to blow up, chop down, and level all things VOA SWBC inside the CONUS. Delano carried RFE and Radio Marti, and it didn't close until about a year ago. My understanding is that the monumental world-class antenna farm is still extant, for now anyway.

A good case is made that Internet, with its government-controlled filters and firewalls, cannot replace international broadcasting. This is, of course, true. I'm pessimistic in the short term, since the Cold War paradigm of huge, government-funded, world-reaching broadcasters is undoubtedly dead forever, even if the Cold War may not be. In the long term, however, I'm optimistic that short wave will eventually come back in a newer, more relevant paradigm.

Of course, this all depends on whether powerline communications technology destroys SWBC listening in populated areas, as it surely will in its current implementation. Even if this is only a phase, once the public has been driven completely away, it won't be inclined to come back any time soon.

It appears that now is the time to come to the defense of short wave broadcasting.

The video is here.