Category Archives: Books

Book review: A History of Soviet Radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, William Lee, who forwards this review of book on domestic radio history in Russia:

Russia in the Microphone Age: A History of Soviet Radio, 1919-1970

Click here to download as a PDF.

Click here to view/purchase this book on Amazon.com and Google Play.

North Korea: Information Gathering in the World’s Most Restrictive Nation

If you’ve been an SWLing Post reader for long, you’ll have “met” him virtually; if you’ve been in attendance the Winter SWL Fest recently, you’ll recognize him, may have heard him speak, and perhaps even have met him in person.  I’m speaking, of course, of my good friend, Post contributor, and fellow radio listener, Mark Fahey.

What you might not know about Mark, an intrepid Aussie and mediahound of remarkable facility and clarity, is that he has spent many years (and significant personal resources) compiling a fascinating and invaluable multi-media project in the form of an iBook he’s titled Behind The Curtain, which allows outsiders a frank view directly into North Korean propaganda.

What’s astounding is that this view is from within North Korea: Mark, having traveled to North Korea numerous times (until he made his research public, that is, thus limiting his re-entry), successfully rips back North Korea’s curtain of self-image to reveal, in all its stultified glory, the inner workings––and failings––of the”Hermit Kingdom.”

He’s now very near to publishing  Behind The Curtain, and he’s making available the iBook––as well as all of the media and research he’s curated––for free.

HOPE X

During the summer of 2014 Mark ventured to New York City to present his research at HOPE X (Hackers On Planet Earth). Yesterday, I rediscovered the video of Mark’s presentation at HOPE X on YouTube. If you’re interested in North Korea, propaganda, number stations, SDRs, and/or anthropology of any stripe, you’ll certainly enjoy this presentation, which is truly like no other:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Intrigued?  So am I!

Behind The Curtain doesn’t yet have a formal release date, but stay tuned to the Post for details about its availability, as well as any other presentations or projects on this (or any other subject!) by Mark.

Download Behind The Curtain from the Apple store by clicking here.

New book: History of the Birdlip Aeronautical HF Communications Complex

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader and author, Colin McKeeman, who shares the following announcement:

As a mature aviation historian and keen HF monitor since the mid-1960’s, as you will note from my blog this has prompted me to produce this detailed record of the [Birdlip Aeronautical HF Communications Complex, U.K.] stations activities.

[…]The activities of this station are currently handled by ‘Shanwick’ (Shannon and Prestwick) for air traffic on the North Atlantic.

I attach a summary of its content which may help to clarify the scope and nature of this publication.

Click here to download the full press release (PDF).

Fascinating, Colin! I think you’ll find a number of our community members love reading about the history of HF stations.  Thank you for sharing your press release!

WRTH: B16 International broadcasting schedules update

(Source: Sean Gilbert via WRTH on Facebook)

The B16 International broadcasting schedules update file is now available for free download from www.wrth.com – click on the ‘latest PDF updates’ link and follow the instructions. The file details the latest frequency and station changes from both international and clandestine/target broadcasters. We hope you find this file a useful accompaniment to the printed WRTH.

Click here to download.

WRTH 2017: A look inside

I received my copy of the 2017 World Radio and TV Handbook (WRTH) directly from the publisher last week, just prior to Christmas holiday ravels. As I mention every year, I look forward to receiving this excellent staple radio reference guide–and this is their 71st edition!

WRTH’s team of noted DXers from around the world curate frequencies and broadcaster information by region; while I’m not sure how they orchestrate all of this, the end result is truly a symphony of radio information. In addition to broadcaster listings, WRTH’s radio reviews, feature articles, and annual HF report make for excellent reading.

But the WRTH isn’t just a frequency guide: the publication always devotes the first sixty or so pages to articles relating to various aspects of the radio hobby. Following, I offer a quick overview of these.

The first article always features a WRTH contributor:  this year, WRTH’s International Editor, Sean Gilbert, tells us what sparked his interested in the hobby and what lead to his career with WRTH which started in 2000.

The second set of articles is always my favorite: WRTH receiver reviews.

This year, WRTH begins with a review of the Icom IC-7300 general coverage transceiver.  They also review the Reuter Elektronik RDR55D, and re-visit the SDRplay RSP1. Following radio reviews, they evaluate the excellent Wellbrook ALA1530LNP magnetic loop antenna and the Bonito AAS300 3 way active RF splitter.

The following article focuses on one of my favorite shortwave broadcasters, The Mighty KBC. WRTH contributor, Max van Arnhem traces the broadcaster’s history and gives us a little insight about the people behind this music powerhouse. If you’re a KBC fan, you’re in for a treat!

I was very happy to find that the following feature article explores the world of Remote Reception. No doubt, remote listening is becoming one the most accessible ways many of us discover and enjoy our hobby today–especially as it can be difficult for some of us to fight urban radio interference.

Following this, WRTH writer, Hans Johnson, features an article on CKZN St. John’s Newfoundland.  In this short article, Johnson covers the history and mission of this shortwave relay, dating back to the days when Newfoundland was a British dominion. Looking forward, Johnson notes that the CBC intend to not only continue this service directed at Labrador’s most remote areas, but it intends to replace their 1 kW Elcom Bauer transmitter in the coming years. This pleases me to no end as I’ve always loved snagging this particular relay of CFGB from my home here in North Carolina.

Next, DXer Rob Shepard writes about his travels in South America and the Pacific. Being an avid traveller myself, I love reading about others’ adventures across the globe with radio. Shepard even notes some catches from the Queen Mary II. I’ve never had the chance to do DXing while maritime mobile, but I hope to someday.

The following article features Danish radio enthusiast, Vagn Fentz, who has collaborated with WRTH since one of its very first editions. His radio history starts back when he was a schoolboy in Denmark during WWII, listening to the radio in secret. His story gives us insight into both his own world and that of the WRTH over the years.

Next, Michael Pütz outlines the progress, so far, of setting up an HF disaster relief radio network: the IRDR Project. If you haven’t heard of the IRDR project, this article makes for a great primer and also speaks to the potential future of a radio network that could have major positive impact over vast regions in the wake of disaster.

The final article–a tradition–is the WRTH  HF propagation report/forecast by Ulf-Peter Hoppe. Always an informative read (despite the fact we’re heading into a solar minimum).

The 71st is another fantastic edition of the World Radio TV Handbook. I’ve never been disappointed with WRTH, in truth. Their publishing standards are such that the quality of their reviews, their writing, and (most importantly) their broadcast listings are simply unparalleled.

For DXers who collect QSL cards, you’ll find that broadcaster contact information in WRTH is often more up-to-date than a broadcaster’s own website. When readers contact me asking for QSL information from an obscure broadcaster, the first place I search is the current WRTH. Remember: their information is based on volunteer contributors who specialize in specific regions of the world–the most knowledgeable regional DXers keep this publication accurate.

Purchase your copy of WRTH 2017 directly from WRTH’s publishers, or from a distributor like Universal Radio (US) and Amazon.com (US), Radio HF (Canada), or BookDepository.com (International).