SW Radio Africa
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SW Radio Africa was an independent Zimbabwe radio station that broadcast from London, England, from 19 December 2001 to 10 August 2014. With the government of Robert Mugabe keeping a tight rein on the airwaves, the station produced and presented news and current affairs programmes for broadcast in Zimbabwe on short wave and on the Internet. Much of the content comprised pre-recorded but unedited, international telephone conversations between the presenter and ordinary people on the ground in Zimbabwe. These untrained and unprompted members of the public gave their first-person report of happenings, often as they were going down. It was the fact that such reports were broadcast in an uneited form that gave the content huge legitimacy among the listeners. The news broadcasts were therefore considered more factual than those of the state broadcaster. Staffed and run by Zimbabweans in exile, it aimed to promote democracy and free speech, and to counter the mis-information and hate speech broadcast by the Zimbabwe state media. The station's website, www.swradioafrica.com, featured live online streaming.
|Broadcast area||United Kingdom |
|Slogan||The Independent Voice of Zimbabwe|
|Frequency||4880kHz Short Wave|
Broadcasts were typically for just 2 or 3 hours each evening.
The two studios of the station were housed in an office building in Borehamwood, where the journalist staff compiled telephone recordings during the day. These recordings were then inserted into the live programme broadcast each evening. The signal was sent from the studio via ISDN lines, then transmitted via satellite to a location in South Africa, and re-broadcast on Shortwave into Zimbabwe. During sensitive times of elections etc, the Zimbabwe government tried to block the signal by jamming with its own shortwave facilities. At such times SW Radio Africa would broadcast on two frequencies simultaneously as the Government could only jam one frequency at a time.
An independent organisation monitored the reception for quality inside Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe Government considered the station to be pirates and did its best to have its reception driven underground.
In popular cultureEdit
In The Last Resort: A Memoir of Zimbabwe (Chapter 4), journalist Douglas Rogers says of two of his parents' employees: "It was only later that I learned the two Johns were fervent MDC supporters and had been for years. It was one of the reasons my father kept them both on. He enjoyed speaking to them about politics, and it was why he had given them his old shortwave radio: so that they could tune into SW Africa, the pro-democracy station that broadcast out of London."
- Rogers, Douglas. The Last Resort: A Memoir of Zimbabwe. New York: Harmony Books. p. 28.