Vatican Radio ending many Short and Medium Wave broadcasts

I think this is a bad idea.


Vatican Radio: New Communications Strategies

Announcing Vatican Radio’s intention to reduce its Short and Medium Wave transmissions to most of Europe and the Americas, starting July 1st, the Director General, Fr Federico Lombardi, today spoke of what he called, “A new chapter in the history of Vatican Radio” as it evolves “from Short Waves to new communications strategies”. [I hope this isn’t A Problem.  Economies could collapse.]
Here is the full text of his comments.
“After celebrating its 80th birthday last year, Vatican Radio is ready to open a new chapter in its history by committing its message of service to the Gospel and the Church to new communication technologies. [New chapter or surrender?]
Vatican Radio’s 40 different language programmes can currently be received via satellite and the internet, and are rebroadcast by around a thousand local radio stations on FM or Medium Wave in over 80 countries around the world.
They are also available live on five web channels, on demand and in podcast, from Vatican Radio’s website at

[… ]

On July 1st, Short and Medium Wave broadcasts from Vatican Radio’s Santa Maria di Galeria Transmission Centre, to most of Europe and the Americas, will be suspended. These areas of the world are already well served by Vatican Radio’s local rebroadcasting partners and by widespread internet access to its services and language programming.
The reduction of Short and Medium Wave broadcasts to these areas accounts for about 50% of the Centre’s transmission time and will allow Vatican Radio to restructure the Centre according to more innovative technological criteria. Short Wave broadcasts will be further reduced over the next few years – but not at the expense of those poor, needy and suffering parts of the world (like Africa, the Middle East and Asia) which have no alternative means of receiving news of the Church and the voice of the Pope.
Over the next few days, Vatican Radio’s language programmes will be informing their listeners of these changes, indicating alternative ways by which traditional Short and Medium Wave users can listen and benefit from Vatican Radio’s services.
Vatican Radio’s international Short and Medium Wave broadcasts have made a priceless contribution to the history of the Church, especially in 20th century Europe where they were a source of strength and encouragement for nations oppressed by war and totalitarian regimes. As this unique service is gradually phased out, making way for new communications technologies, it is important to thank those who dedicated their hearts and minds to it for so long – and for the good of so many.

They better not thrown away the equipment!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. asperges says:

    When the BBC did something similar with their SW transmissions, there were howls of protest from unexpected sources, not least of all Australia, and they had to modify their strategy. SW Radio is not what it once was in the West – succeeded by cable, relays, internet, satellite etc – but in many places, it remains a lifeline. It is right for Vatican Radio to branch out, but has all this been thought through as well as it might? Pulling the plug before the replacement services are fully in place, and perhaps without detailed research, might not be the best strategy. In fact SW transmissions aimed at a given area are often what is relied upon elsewhere because of propagation patterns and the way signals travel globally.

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  3. ray from mn says:

    I purchased a $500 Grundig short wave receiver over ten years ago [I didn’t pay nearly that much for it]. These days, in North America, I find almost nothing to listen to on it. So I use it as if it were a $20 AM/FM radio.

  4. Tim Ferguson says:

    does this have anything to do with the kerfuffle a while back about the Italian lawsuit against the Vatican because of alleged ill effects from its broadcast tower? (I am extremely technologically handicapped, so please don’t laugh too loudly if the question is way off base)

  5. EXCHIEF says:

    The impact on those in advanced technology countries will be minimal as there are other options. For those in less technologically sophisticated areas where direct, over-the-air broadcasts are the only way to listen the impact will be significant.

  6. Supertradmum says:

    Bad idea. Never give up communication which is established. Like having all your money in one portfolio, to cut back and concentrate on a few tools is just not wise.

  7. Boanerges says:

    Two things. One, other means of communication are usually more sophisticated in nature and requires more. Attempts will be made to control or stop content by nefarious governments. Shortwave, however, isn’t so power and infrastructure hungry and a signal can and does (remember WWII?) get out through the “dragnet” of censors. Perhaps the internet has such holes, but I doubt it. Keep the equipment at the ready because the world is changing daily.

  8. tzard says:

    This doesn’t have anything to do with the electromagnetic radiation paranoia issue with Italy. Countries across the world, but mainly Europe are reducing or eliminating ShortWave broadcasts.

    The Internet and Satellite are seen (rightly so) as more reliable day-to-day. This is especially so in Europe and the Americas where they have the technological infrastructure to handle internet radio (what about South America?). Shortwave is still needed in Africa, and Asia – which is why Vatican Radio is continuing to broadcast there.

  9. Gus Barbarigo says:

    How can the Church leadership, from the Pope on down, forcefully condemn attacks on religious liberty in the U.S., only to withdraw from the U.S. a proven means of “strength and encouragement for nations oppressed by war and totalitarian regimes”?!?! Is the Vatican aware of drone surveillance over U.S. soil? Of the TSA? The attacks on the First Amendment are the tip of the iceberg, and Rome must be made aware of the scope of what is happening.

    If anyone has any Vatican contacts, please consider “reaching out” thereto and beg the Vatican to 1) keep the equipment and 2) keep at least a token short-wave presence throughout all the U.S., which could be expanded later when the other boot drops. Maybe some savvy faithful could even volunteer technical advice/time/equipment in this regard?

  10. timelord says:

    I hope and pray that some vestige of short-wave remain at the Vatican. While the internet and satellite radio are much more prolific and reliable, the old technology of short-wave is still more economical and universal especially around the globe and in the poorest of the poor places on earth. Hand cranked short-wave radios can be used anywhere on the planet and while the signal is not always the best, the accessibility is second to none. Internet and satellite access cost in addition to the devices that receive the signal. Short-wave is free to get after the radio is purchased. The poor and middle class need something to rely upon if world economies continue to plummet. Hence, I hope some form of Vatican Radio short-wave remains in operation while the other more sophisticated technologies continue to expand.

  11. Bob B. says:

    As a SW listener for over 30 years, I have missed the BBC and I will miss the Vatican on short wave – though catching its 10 minute broadcasts can be difficult at times, it is what shortwave listening is all about.

  12. LisaP. says:

    I agree this is a bad time to be narrowing communications options. But, then, I read a lot of zombie fiction. . . .

  13. pewpew says:

    I hope this solves the whole cancerous radiation issue.
    @Gus Barbarigo:
    It’s good to be cautious and prudent, but you can have too much of a good thing.

  14. Michelle F says:

    So… all of the Western countries in which the Church is losing ground will have less access to the Gospel, less access to the Church’s teachings, and less access to the Church’s news in general.

    And Rome wonders why she has less Catholics.

    When ETWN cut off their shortwave broadcast to North America, I didn’t start listening to it on my computer. My computer has tiny speakers, so I can’t hear it. I also can’t carry it from room to room, or use it during a thunderstorm, or when the electricity is off. My battery-powered shortwave radio had none of these limitations, nor did it need a WiFi hotspot, a DSL line, a phone line (dial-up Internet), or a cable connection. I could also carry it with me, listening to it in my truck and elsewhere. I live in a state in which Internet access is extremely limited; people living in some towns 20 miles outside the capitol city still can only get dial-up Internet service.

    In addition to all of that, having my computer running for hours and hours day after day simply to listen to the “radio” puts unnecessary wear on it. I can’t afford to replace my computer every little whip-stitch!

    As for television, my cable company (there’s only one available to me) does not carry EWTN, so watching or listening to it on TV definitely isn’t an option.

    EWTN used the same excuse when they cut off their broadcast, and the only thing they did was leave me and people like me with NO access to Catholic communications. I’m still peeved over it, and now I’m doubly peeved because the Vatican itself is going to do the same thing for the same erroneous reasons.

  15. Parasum says:

    “[I hope this isn’t A Problem. Economies could collapse.]”

    ## The Vatican is master-minding the EU ? (Though it wouldn’t surprise me that much…)

  16. JonPatrick says:

    I was a longtime short wave listener during the glory days of the 1960’s and 70’s when there were numerous SW outlets and used to spend hours in the eventing trying to pick up far away and exotic stations, incurring the wrath of my parents after stringing long wire antennas around the house, I mourn the passing of this medium. I particularly remember listening in 1986 when Radio Moscow as almost an afterthought announced “an incident” at the nuclear power station in Chernobyl in the Ukraine. Hearing such news as it happened is not quite the same from a blog or CNN broadcast.

    It also worries me that the increasing control by governments over Internet and other electronic communications (Britain is talking about implementing a draconian measure involving among other things monitoring of what sites its citizens visit on the internet. There is a freedom in terrestrial radio (although it can be jammed as used to happen to VOA behind the Iron Curtain).

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