Glenn Hauser interview

CIDX Special Feature #5

Summer 1999

With the airing of the 1000th edition of the popular World of Radio programme, produced and presented by Mr. Glenn Hauser, CIDX decided to mark this special event by conducting a personal interview with Glenn. The questions were prepared by CIDX President Sheldon Harvey and forwarded to Glenn via e-mail for his responses. The following is the results of these efforts, unedited, up close and personal, as someone in the media said. We hope you enjoy it, and we thank Glenn for taking the time to do this.


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Sheldon Harvey for CIDX:  On behalf of the members of the Canadian International DX Club, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your 1000th edition of World of Radio which aired during the week of August 25. We well as to thank you for your many years of dedication to our hobby. I would also like to thank you for taking time from your busy schedule and for granting us this interview.

    The name "Glenn Hauser," over the years, has become synonymous with shortwave listening, through numerous magazine columns, your publications Review of International Broadcasting and DX Listening Digest, DX and shortwave reports on various shortwave programmes and stations, and now through the Internet.

    Why not begin this with a brief personal introduction, such as origin, age, schooling, previous jobs or professions?

Glenn Hauser:  I was born the day [U.S. President] Franklin Delano Roosevelt died, April 12, 1945, in Berkeley, California, which might come as no surprise to those who know my politics; but that really had no influence on my formation, since we moved away from there before I was 1 year old, to Santa Rosa, New Mexico. There I spent my first nine years, right next to The Mother Road, US 66, which no doubt had more influence on me.

    But my father died when I was 9 and my mother and I moved to Oklahoma City to be closer to her family. She remarried when I was 16 and we moved to Enid, which at the time I welcomed, since it got me away from the Oklahoma City TV antenna farm, enabling a lot more TV DX activity, my main DX interest at the time.

    Soon I was off to college at Washington University, St. Louis, and finished up at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. I began as a physics major, but soon discovered I was more talented at languages, especially Spanish and Portuguese, although my final major was broadcast journalism.

    Since college days I have always been involved in broadcasting, working in some capacity at such stations as KNMD, KNME-TV, KDEN-FM, AFTN, USAF TV production, KENS-TV, KOSU, WILL, WUOT.


Sheldon Harvey for CIDX:  Tell us about your first exposure to shortwave radio. What drew you to it and what about it has kept you interested and involved in it for so long?

Glenn Hauser:  I was already DXing TV and MW back in Santa Rosa as a child. We had a 1941 Philco console radio with shortwave bands on it, and eventually I began to explore these too. It was not until about 1957 in Oklahoma City that I really got into SW, fascinated by listening to Radio Australia every morning; my first QSL was CFRX (6070 kHz, the shortwave rebroadcast of CFRB 1010 kHz in Toronto, Canada -- Ed.). SW meshes with my other interests, including languages, politics, world affairs, science, broadcasting, philately, writing and editing, music and the arts.


Sheldon Harvey for CIDX:  It is difficult to have a discussion about shortwave radio and not have the name "Glenn Hauser" come up several times in the conversation. At what point did you decide to do more than just listen to shortwave and embark on your numerous activities serving the world's shortwave listening community?

Glenn Hauser:  One thing led to another. I was more involved in other DX modes first, both as a DXer and an editor.


Sheldon Harvey for CIDX:  What were some of your first projects? Did you begin in the print medium? If so, for what publications?

Glenn Hauser:  Besides being a regular contributor to most of the major DX clubs of the time, I edited the utilities column for the Canadian DX Club; the statistics column for the Worldwide TV-FM DX Association; Log Reports and Listeners Notebook for NASWA; and on a more professional level, DX Listening for Popular Electronics. As Steve Francis has reminded us recently, I wrote an article about TV DXing which was published in TV Guide just over 30 years ago coincidentally during Apollo XI time. I wrote a weekly "Short Waves" column for many years in the Denver Post, and the Greensburg PA Tribune-Review. For that I always used local time, not GMT/UTC.


Sheldon Harvey for CIDX:  I believe my first exposure to your work was hearing your reports on Radio Canada International's DX programme and the World of Radio broadcasts. Which came first?

Glenn Hauser:  Without research I would be hard put to come up with an accurate chronology myself, but let's review my SW broadcasting history. First I did a monthly report for DX Jukebox on Radio Nederland in the 1960s, predecessor to Media Network; then I picked up a similar position for Radio Nederland's Spanish media program, Espacio DXista, which continues to this day as Radio Enlace. Little known, probably, was my stint doing New Mexico hometown news for a regular program on AFRTS. Thanks to Ian McFarland, I got to do weekly DX reports on RCI's DX Digest, later SWL Digest. This overlapped my DX Jukebox period. I started doing World of Radio on a non-SW level about 1980 when I was at WUOT, Knoxville, and quite soon after WRNO came on the air starting the new generation of US SW stations, WOR reached a SW audience beginning in February, 1982.


Sheldon Harvey for CIDX:  The 30-minute programme, celebrating its 1000th edition in August, has appeared on both shortwave and domestic radio stations, on a weekly basis. Tell us a little about the creation, development and evolution of World of Radio. How did you come up with the idea for the show, and why has it endured?

Glenn Hauser:  Thanks to Jonathan Marks, who didn't want to keep airing my DX reports as he reconceived Media Network, I had the impetus to "do it myself." I already had loads of DX information arriving both as an active club member, and print editor, so I was dying to tell the world about what was going on in the medium. The title was used briefly by a minor show on Radio Finland, so when it was cancelled, I grabbed the name. I always found it much less restricting just to talk for half an hour about what I thought was of interest, rather than try to integrate "regular features" or line up a group of regular taped contributors. It has endured because there have always been at least two or three SW stations wanting to broadcast it as a public service; and because I have enjoyed doing it. Until 1984 I held a full-time position, including lots of announcing shifts, at WUOT. I always enjoyed being on the air, and only the low pay and lack of opportunity to advance finally led me to quit. The SW programs still give me the opportunity to express myself verbally and interact with numerous other people.


Sheldon Harvey for CIDX:  Could you give us a brief synopsis of how the show is put together each week and how it reaches the various stations for broadcast.

Glenn Hauser:  Almost all the material comes via E-mail now, both individual contributions and various DX publications, along with my own monitoring. WOR is normally recorded on Wednesday afternoons, so starting Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, I simply go through the past week's input and pick out newsworthy material. I arrange a list by continent and country of the items and where I will find them in my files or in RIB Online. I do not write a script, but when recording simply refer to the list on the back of a 9x12 envelope, where I have numbered the sequence I want to follow -- trying to vary the order from week to week -- and talk about one item after another, usually stopping or pausing the tape as I thumb through all the paper and printouts. Depending on the material, I ad lib, or quote excerpts directly. Although I used professional and home reel-to-reel and even cassette recorders for production in the past, I have been using hi-fi video tape the last good many years to record WOR masters. I have a $30 Sony mike which has served me well for a long time, and a Radio Shack five-channel mixer, though I rarely include music or taped excerpts any more. The VCR, of course, has a pretty accurate timer. Due to WRN automation constraints, I can't go over about 28:45, preferably closer to 28:30. One drawback of the VCR is that I can't go back and edit out mistakes or insert anything I forgot. Once it's done, it's done; but then it may sound a bit more spontaneous as a result.

    Then I run off duplicates on a Technics double deck, which means currently four copies on regular audio cassette tape: One for WRN, which is air-expressed to London in less than two days in time for them to handle on Friday; one for WWCR, also expressed overnight; one each sent by regular mail to WPKN and WSUI who don't mind running WOR a week late. RFPI used to get a double-express tape, first to their forwarder in Miami, and then onto Costa Rica. When everything clicked this would make it in two days, but not very reliably, so they have instead been taking the WRN Internet feed. Since WBCQ scheduling happens to be within minutes after I finish production, I do a phone-feed to them. If I do produce an Extra or regular show far enough in advance, I may also send tapes to WBCQ and RFPI. I occasionally do phone feeds to WWCR or WRN if there is a delivery failure.


Sheldon Harvey for CIDX:  So much material is covered in each half-hour edition. There are no frills, no over-production, no fill material. The programme is all meat. You often mention that the show is unscripted. How do you manage this, and how much accumulated time is required to produce one programme.

Glenn Hauser:  It would be a lot more time-consuming and trouble for me to write a 29-minute script every week! I suppose I would have to do that if I were less confident in speaking to a vast(?) audience. I already indicated I start putting it together the day before production, unless I am on vacation, the material is obviously building up constantly as it comes in, and I know for sure some items I will certainly mention as soon as I see them. Once everything is organized and the recording set up, it takes me usually about a sesquihour of stop-and-start taping to finish recording each show.


Sheldon Harvey for CIDX:  Several years ago, you attempted something called DX Daily, a daily 10 minute show of tips, programming previews, and breaking news. You stopped the show after a brief run. What did you learn from that experience?

Glenn Hauser:  That I didn't want to tie myself down that much to a weekdaily deadline -- though RIB Online is an even bigger project, at least I don't have to publish an issue absolutely every day at a certain time. Unlike all my other broadcasts, this was commercially sponsored by a number of SW-oriented businesses; I learned that it really wasn't that difficult for me to line up sponsorship. However, I wasn't satisfied with the amount of editorial support I was getting from the DX community. I have always suspected that the "harder" the DXer, the more he wants to restrict the flow of DX information, which is antithetical to what I do. On the other hand, with the Internet now, there is little need today for such a service.


Sheldon Harvey for CIDX:  You now produce a periodic show entitled Continent of Media which airs on Radio For Peace International. Why another show? How does it differ from World of Radio?

Glenn Hauser:  I have always had far more material that I would like to mention than I have time for on the weekly half-hour WOR. A monthly (or so) additional show relieves some of that problem. It just seemed a natural way to divide up the material -- broader than primarily SW, but limited to what's going on domestically -- actually including the rest of the Hemisphere. If I had the time, I could easily fill one hour a week total, or make COM weekly as well.


Sheldon Harvey for CIDX:  Producing these shows is one thing, but how did you succeed in selling the product to the stations that carry it. Do you have to pay the stations to air your programmes?

Glenn Hauser:  DX Daily was paid, but WOR and COM never have been. Fortunately, the concept of public service broadcasting is not totally dead. Please, let's not call it "product" -- I hate that in the context of non-commercial broadcasting. Almost all the SW stations, past and present, have invited me onto their stations, understanding from the outset that it would simply be a quid pro quo -- they get a good audience-pleasing and audience-drawing show for nothing, and I get the airtime for nothing. The amount of airtime these stations have donated to WOR is far more than half an hour a week for so many years, due to all the repeats, which, again, are the choice of the stations. You should never lose sight of the generosity of the WOR affiliates, and make a point of thanking them directly from time to time.


Sheldon Harvey for CIDX:  The new kid on the block, so to say, is the Internet, and you have plunged headlong into this medium, using it to disseminate information through various vehicles. We'll get to those developments in a moment. You are currently supplying the Canadian International DX Club with material for the monthly "Shortwave/DX Report" column in our bulletin, the Messenger. What other material, either on air, or in print, are you currently involved in?

Glenn Hauser:  On the air, as I mentioned above, a Spanish DX report for Radio Nederland's Radio Enlace. This I repackage into Mundo Radial, a quarter hour which WWCR also airs weekly for a month or more until a new edition is ready. This also goes to RFPI which airs it when possible, and archives it on the Internet. Continent of Media, besides broadcasts on RFPI, is also archived by them on the web, and more recently by DXing.com including the current edition. It's become sort of a tradition for me to do a "Shortwave Year in Review" for VOA's Communications World at Jahrwechsel, and I also filled in one week this summer when Kim Elliott was on vacation.

    My major print outlet for many years now has been Monitoring Times, where I write the monthly "Shortwave Broadcasting, the Global Forum" column of country-by-country DX and station news.

    My SW/DX Reports are widely quoted in a number of DX bulletins and other DX programs; only CIDX and the World DX Club have special monthly columns for them.


Sheldon Harvey for CIDX:  The "buzz" throughout the shortwave community over the past few years has been the rise in popularity of the Internet. There have been hundreds of articles written, and many long hours spent discussing the pros and cons of the Internet, and the impact it has had on our hobby, on shortwave radio, and broadcasting in general. You have been using the Internet for some time now, through direct e-mailings, and on your website, to circulate information to those on-line. You have obviously found ways to use this technology as a tool in your work. What do you see as some of the pros and cons of the Internet as it relates to what we do? Has the Internet (e-mail, etc.) made your life easier, or more complicated?

Glenn Hauser:  It's a lot easier to keep up with the news on a non-delayed basis! But it takes a lot of my time just processing all the E-mail and visiting the websites. Since it is there, one always feels obligated to log on and keep up to date. This certainly ties one down, but I deliberately take periodic breaks when I just quit and let the material pile up for a while. Of course, when I resume, I have to work that much harder to catch up, so I'm not really gaining anything net. But in the SW news biz, it's hard to see how one could do without the Internet now.

    To alleviate the frustration of a broadcast limited to only once a week (!), for the past two years I have been publishing an E-mail bulletin, which is an outgrowth of my previous print magazine, Review of International Broadcasting. I often find myself publishing two issues a day, in size typically 60K or 90K each. Information on subscribing to RIB Online, which is available by E-mail only, can be found at http://www.angelfire.com/ok/worldofradio/Ribolduq.html and just leave off the last two segments for my homepage which has a great deal of free information, such as an archive of my weekly DX reports.


Sheldon Harvey for CIDX:  In addition to serving our club members, CIDX has always made a concerted effort to reach out to the public at large; to promote the existence of international broadcasting, and the benefits that can be derived from it. It is a difficult task, a very hard sell. BBC and VOA audience research indicates that only about 5 percent of the North American population are consumers of international broadcasting. Why do you believe that is, and is there a way to increase those numbers?

Glenn Hauser:  I applaud CIDX and others who do try to increase SW listening among the public, but I'm afraid little can be done to dramatically increase the percentage. There is just too much else going on in modern life, too many other sources of international information.


Sheldon Harvey for CIDX:  Many radio clubs, CIDX included, have seen a significant drop in members in the past few years. Some clubs have shut down completely. Several new, on-line clubs have formed, circulating their material via the Internet to their members. Bulletin production costs have been cut, in many cases eliminating the need for membership fees. You have produced two printed publications over the years, available on a subscription basis, Review of International Broadcasting and DX Listening Digest. Are these, and other printed publications, like the club bulletins, a thing of the past? Do you feel there is still a need for clubs such as CIDX, and the monthly hard copy bulletins?

Glenn Hauser:  I am constantly hearing from and aware of people who are not online, many of whom have no desire to be, ever. RIB and DXLD subscription numbers were falling steadily, but much of that I am sure is my own fault for not putting them out more often. I am sure there is still a demand for printed publications -- in my case I could turn them around in only a week, which isn't bad. It's just a matter of whether I want to spend my time that way, including all the bother of working with the printer, the mechanics of labelling, hauling to the post office, etc. Not to mention the layout of every issue. Trouble is, I have always done all the editorial and layout work myself.


Sheldon Harvey for CIDX:  The majority of shortwave listeners do not belong to a radio club. You can compare it to the number of people who own cameras who actually belong to a photography club: very few. Over the years, most clubs seem to have catered to the DXer more than to the casual shortwave listener. The majority of shortwave listeners won't spend days, or weeks, trying to capture a weak, noisy signal, in a language they probably don't understand, just to say they heard the station. With today's ease of listening to stations around the world via RealAudio on the Internet, do you feel that there is a future for DX clubs, do the numbers justify their existence?

Glenn Hauser:  I'm not really worried about DXing being such a minority pursuit. There are bound to be enough DX clubs and organisations to cater to the needs of those with this interest. If some fall by the wayside, so be it. If some clubs broaden their scope to include SW program listening, that's fine too.


Sheldon Harvey for CIDX:  Your material seems to strike a good balance. There seems to be something for everyone, and not just in the shortwave field. Was this a conscious decision, or did things just evolve that way?

Glenn Hauser:  My broadcasts and publications are really a very personal thing reflecting my own interests. I have no commercial imperative to change the balance one way or another. I should say from time to time "The media program not afraid of numbers" -- but even I would not consider reading off a station's entire transmission schedule as I still hear on some programs. Nor will I read loggings, just for the sake of filling time, unless I find some news value in them.


Sheldon Harvey for CIDX:  There have been periods over the last few years where you have talked about burnout. This is obviously a concern with anyone who has been at something as long as you have, dealing with constant deadlines and pressures. What drives you? Are there new projects yet to come, and are there things you are reaching for which you have yet to accomplish?

Glenn Hauser:  I love my independence, both in terms of time and of expression, so while it might be a goal to have a major SW station employing me to produce programs, I am not sure it would be an improvement over my present situation. I never have enough time in the day to do everything I would like, such as keeping up reading a number of (print!) periodicals, listening to and viewing all the worthwhile radio and TV programming, not to mention the stacks and stacks of unseen/unheard video and audio tapes I have accumulated over the years. So I am now looking more towards "retirement" or reducing my self-imposed obligations to others.


Sheldon Harvey for CIDX:  In the shortwave and dxing community, there seem to be as many people somewhat, and at times highly, critical of Glenn Hauser as there are supporters of you and your work. In my opinion, you have always been up front, opinionated, critical, sometimes controversial, but also honest and fair. I am quite sure that most people with an interest in radio, even the highly critical, are tuning in to your programmes on a weekly basis for the latest information. As is always said, "If you don't like what you're hearing, turn the dial." How much, and what type of feedback to you personally receive from listeners regarding the shows and their content? How do you deal with the criticisms?

Glenn Hauser:  Very seldom do I get any harsh criticism directly. This may be just as well, since I am inclined to do as I please, and let people take it or leave it. Yet I am frankly baffled why there seems to be so much criticism behind my back. I can assure you that I am a pretty nice guy, who does indeed try to be honest and fair, and even has a great sense of humour, though so dry that some may not perceive it. I have tried to be a bit more restrained in being critical, though I feel there is a need in the SW medium for critical writing. Movies and TV have critics, why not SW? Yet many feel such negativity serves no useful purpose. I would guess that a lot of the sniping is based on jealousy, envy, political or religious differences. SW is supposed to be a broadening experience, but too many SWLs must be narrow-minded.


Sheldon Harvey for CIDX:  It appears to me that your efforts are a labour of love. There are probably a number of people out there who think you must either make a lot of money doing what you do, or that you are independently wealthy. Are either, or both, of these statements true?

Glenn Hauser:  As a bachelor, who doesn't have to pay rent, and who lives frugally, I am doing okay living off meagre income and savings. I certainly do not make a lot of money off SW. Of course, Monitoring Times pays its columnists. But as I've indicated WOR itself neither pays me nor costs me or the stations which broadcast it. Some of them do help out with some of the expenses, as well as do a number of individuals who send me donations in appreciation of my work. Some send $5 a month, which is a relatively painless thing to do, yet adds up to a useful $60 a year. In terms of what I "earn" per hour of SW-related work, I shudder to think of what it would really amount to. Probably lucky to hit minimum wage. In view of all the work I put into it, I think I am justified in making a small charge for RIB Online, after providing it free (or as a bonus) until earlier this summer.


Sheldon Harvey for CIDX:  When all the projects are put to bed each day, week or month, you must not have too much spare time. What do you enjoy listening to on the radio? And what about outside of radio? Any other hobbies or interests?

Glenn Hauser:  I hesitate to admit this, but I watch far too much TV. Even though I have so far managed not to hook up to cable, there is still too much worthwhile programming on TV, selective as I am about it. I must listen to a lot more public radio on FM than I do to shortwave for content; this includes the BBC when I can get it via non-local FM stations. Besides the interests I indicated far above, I also like to travel. Unfortunately, I have now seen just about all of the US I would care to, often multiple times, within a two-day drive -- and hate the hassle and expense of air travel to go further. But there is still a lot of the world I would like to visit. The daily, weekly, monthly deadlines may have to go in order to accomplish that.


Sheldon Harvey for CIDX:  Have there been any specific personalities in radio, or in the media in general, who you have particularly admired, or even strived to be like?

Glenn Hauser:  This is not meant to be egotistical, but I don't think I have consciously strived to be like anyone, but to be myself. On the other hand, there are a number of radio personalities I consciously strive not to be like.


Sheldon Harvey for CIDX:  When the final chapter is written on Glenn Hauser, what would you most like to be remembered for, your claim to fame?

Glenn Hauser:  He loved to share shortwave information with others. However, more importantly, would be the affection of my close friends, who really know me, and my family.


Sheldon Harvey for CIDX:  Once again, thank you for sharing this time with us, and best wishes in all your future endeavours. Congratulations again on the 1000th World of Radio, and thank you for your efforts and dedication over the years. It is greatly appreciated by many.

Glenn Hauser:  Remarks such as this help to make it all worthwhile.


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