A site of endless curiosity

Shortwave on the Internet – Medium vs Message

with 2 comments

Shortwave on the Internet –
Medium vs Message

 Confounded and Conflated

When one talks about listening to “Short Wave” (radio) what does that mean?  Really, the communication is confounded in the sense that “Listening to Shortwave Radio” conflates the medium and the message.  The medium and the message are separable.

It the past – oh so 5 minutes ago – certain messages could only be communicated through a specific medium.  For example, international broadcasts via RF transmissions in the Shortwave RF spectrum.  But what happens when communications become aligned with new mediums?  Then when one says, “I am listening to Shortwave Radio” maybe post modern people don’t understand what you mean. 

What you are really telling them “I am listening to shortwave” is that you are listening to a medium – but what is the message?  When messages that have been so historically aligned with a specific and irrevocable medum become detached then talk about the medium (Shortwave) makes no sense.

What about Television?  “I am watching Television”.  Now you are talking about an appliance.  Why would you watch an appliance?  You would watch an appliance if that was the only medium by which you could recieve certain types of communications – Video communications in the case of a TV.

“I am on the Telephone”.  Get it?  The Telephone is an appliance for which only certain messages, based on  circumstance, can be communicated.

The Internet Changes Everything

In a word – Convergence.  Convergence enabled by the Internet changes everything.  Now, you don’t need a Television to watch Television – you can watch “Television” on the Internet  ( )without a Television.  You don’t need a Telephone to use the Telephone – you can use Voice Over IP on the Internet for phone calls without a Telephone applicance.

When the idea of convergence becomes part of the taken-for-granted landscape then folks talking about listening to the Radio appliance, watching the Television appliance, and talking on the Telephone appliance will seem strange.  You can do all this on a converged device – such as an apple iPhone or any Internet-connected PC desktop of Laptop.

All of this applies to the traditional sense of “Listening to Shortwave Radio”.  What one means in the legacy sense of this statement is that they are probably listening to international broadcasts.  So why not say “I am listening to International Broadcasts”?  Because the medium (RF Shortwave) has so long been indelibly linked to the message.  It was the only way (the appliance) one could get the message.

Prometheus unbound

International Broadcasts have been liberated from the appliance

Listen to any station, anywhere in the World

Reciva brings the world of Internet radio into your home. We provide access to an extremely diverse range of Internet radio stations from around the world, with broadcasts from nearly every country on the planet. We provide both live and on-demand (“listen again”) content and we support Real Audio, Windows and MP3 streams.

Our directory contains 15062 stations (and 21242 on-demand streams) in 277 locations and 65 genres.

Check out the web site that powers most of WiFi Radio

“Gett’in it”

If you read the title of our posting “Shortwave on the Internet’ and it didn’t bother you as nosensible then now, if you “got it”, then “Shortwave on the Internet” should be incomprehensible.  How can you listen to an appliance on the Internet?


All of our postings have a summary in conclusion.  This one is simple – “Go Listen” –

Other resources

“Television” liberated from the Televsion appliance


Written by frrl

October 26, 2008 at 6:05 am

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Tim
    I don’t know if you are an amateur radio operator or not – but this medium vs message comes about with such things as ‘Echolink”. EchoLink uses Voice over IP on the Internet and “hams” can talk to each other PC to PC or Repeater (RF) to Internet.

    In its creation as a hobby it was essentially and fundamentally about RF and “wireless”. So those amateur radio folks that use the Internet as some sort of “amateur radio” communication are using exactly what amateur radio is not – wireline. It’s all about the RF and the physics of it.

    For me, its all about the physics and I can kind of imagine what it was like in the early 1900’s to hear a signal (CW) or voice from across the country or from across the atlantic. It was all new at that time and it did change the world.

    So maybe in the 1900’s it was just the amazement of hearing anything wireless. Now, in the 21st century it all taken for granted and the message has come to the fore. The medium is so much taken for granted that it is below visability – your kids know this.

    I still like listening to other cultural and societal perspectives as well as news and opinions. Some of these come form gloabl broadcasters. Its just so much easier to get these now on the Internet and one does not need to look at schedules, find frequencies, and deal with propagation.

    I still have many tube shortwave radios – some floor standing models going back to the 1930’s and I have an Atwater-Kent from the 1920’s. So, I “get it” as far as the medium (RF).

    A good book on early radio is Empire of the Air – The men who made Radio. This was also made into a documentary on PBS available on VHS and DVD

    The book

    The DVD


    October 30, 2008 at 2:50 am

  2. Personally I would rather listen to the real thing, or not listen if the propogation is not there…its the technology of the radio that interests me, not so much the message, but then I’m a 60’s/70’s kid at heart.

    My teenagers are much more about the message or the social connections, and are not interested in the technology that makes it happen, but then they never had to “overcome any hurdles” to get those messages, beyond paying for an ISP connection. I dont blame them, our kids are growing up in a very different world than we did.

    Tim S

    October 29, 2008 at 4:06 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: