From analogue to digital

March 12, 1999, marked the launch of swissinfo.org. The news platform was the successor of Swiss Radio International, which was gradually phased out.

Carlo Pisani and Michele Andina (video), Marc-André Miserez (text), swissinfo.ch

Ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and with the end of the Cold War era, international radio stations across the world had increasing problems justifying their existence.

The Swiss government, which contributed about 50% to the budget of Swiss Radio International (SRI), threatened to cut its financial support. The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation for its part showed no interest in maintaining a unit with nearly 200 staff at a cost of CHF20 million ($20 million) per year.

Upon its launch in 1999, swissinfo.org [as it was then called] produced content in German, French, English and Portuguese. One year later, sites in Italian, Japanese and Spanish followed. In 2001, content in Arabic as well as Chinese was published. And finally, Russian completed the current swissinfo.ch offer in 2013.

The offer quickly found its audience. Two years after the launch of swissinfo.ch, the site was better known among the expatriate Swiss community than the shortwave radio broadcasts that were gradually stopped. The last programme in English went out in 2004.

As a result, radio technicians had to retrain and learn new skills while journalists used to talking and making other people talk had to focus on writing texts.

Here are four stories of seasoned experts looking back on the good old days.

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