THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 7TH, 1939
Wireless and War
Services to the Nation
THOSE of us who have spent our working lives in the service of wireless must often have taken
encouragement from the thought that the part we have played, humble though it may be, has contributed something towards the good of humanity. The record of wireless is indeed nothing to be ashamed of : we think of the thousands of lives saved from the perils of the sea by wireless telegraphy and of the interest and widening of outlook brought to millions by broadcasting. But it has long been a cause for regret to many of us that the self-evident potentialities of broadcasting in the cause of peace have been exploited with such poor success.
"Nation shall speak peace unto nation" was an inspiring motto for those responsible for British broadcasting, and it was one which they conscientiously strove to justify. That it has so far failed to achieve results does not imply that any blame is to be apportioned, and, even if it were, this is no time for recriminations.
Although wireless may not have succeeded in this respect, it has performed a wonderful service to everyone during the dark days of suspense. Anxiety and uncertainty has been relieved, and the extraordinary calmness of the British nation must surely be due in no small measure to the thoroughness of the B.B.C.'s news service. Other organisations that deserve the thanks of the world are the great American broadcasting networks. Considering their position as neutrals and making allowance for the Transatlantic tendency towards dramatisation of news, the crisis
has been handled with admirable restraint. So far as broadcasts that we ourselves have heard or seen reported are concerned, nothing, has been done to exacerbate the European situation ; on the contrary, obviously genuine efforts have been made to play the part of peacemaker. The broadcasting of news bulletins from America in the languages of all potential belligerents has probably done good. Coming from a neutral country, such messages probably carry more weight than if they emanated, from a more directly interested and inspired source.
We must not delude ourselves into thinking that the kind of international short-wave broadcast to which we have just referred reaches a very wide audience. The number of efficient short-wave sets in use is still small, though the better types are now more readily available than hitherto. We can foresee a wide market for them when more normal conditions return. As a contributor says elsewhere in this issue, there is nothing like a good wireless set for collecting news ; it gives its owner the feeling of being in intimate touch with things as they happen, and he becomes something more than a mere spectator, remote and aloof from actualities.
Whatever the days ahead may have in store for us, there is one thing that we can face with the most serene confidence. The wireless service, though young in years, has already established a tradition of steadfast devotion to duty on the part of its personnel of which we are all justifiably proud. Maintenance at extreme efficiency of all forms of wireless communication is now vital to the successful prosecution of the war ; the various branches of the service may meet with difficulties that none of us can yet foresee, but, whatever these difficulties may be, communication will be maintained.