Category Archives: What’s On Shortwave

Recordings: Paul records Vanuatu and Solomon Islands from central Alaska

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Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Walker, who shares the following recordings of Radio Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands Broadcasting. Paul lives in Galena, Alaska, and records most of these broadcasts outside of his broadcasting studio:

7260 kHz:

5020 kHz:

5020 kHz:

3945 is much weaker then 7260 for some reason and Nikkei is on that channel till 0900 UTC, so about the only chance I have of hearing Vanuatu on 3945 CLEARLY is when Nikkei signs off.

9545 kHz Monday Night 1130 AKDT/(0730 utc Tuesday)

7260 from April 19th at 1135 AKDT /0735 UTC)

5020 from April 20th at 1248 am AKDT/0848 UTC

Thanks for sharing your recordings, Paul! You’ve certainly done a fine job DXing in the northern latitudes all while standing next to a broadcast station.

Keep up the great work!

Curating a list of endangered shortwave stations

RCI-Sackville-2012

That’s my minivan parked in front of the RCI Sackville transmitting station in June, 2012. The site was closed by the end of 2012 and towers demolished shortly thereafter.

Recently, my friend and fellow archivist, London Shortwave, and I engaged in a discussion about creating a curated list of “endangered” shortwave radio stations.

The idea being we could use such a list to focus our efforts and those of the archiving community on recording broadcasters that were most likely to disappear in the near future.

London Shortwave published an excellent post about this on his blog.

Please click here to read his post.

We quickly put this page on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive as a starting point.

We need your help to curate this list!

Please comment either on London Shortwave’s blog, or on this post, and suggest any additional broadcasters we may have missed. Please include a link to news item(s) which may indicate the broadcaster faces closure.

Of course, this list and the categories are subjective–we’re simply using our best judgement in this process. Often, broadcasters can shut down with little or no notice.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Guest Post: Tracking High Seas Pirates on Shortwave Radio

Suspected pirates surrender to crew members of the CGC Boutwell. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Suspected pirates surrender to crew members of the CGC Boutwell. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mario Filippi (N2HUN) for the following guest post:


Tracking High Seas Pirates on Shortwave Radio

by Mario Filippi (N2HUN)

(All photos taken by author–click to enlarge)

Ahoy! After spinning a radio dial for over a half-century, shortwave listening still provides a source of adventure and interesting intercepts. While major broadcasters continue to move to the Internet and dwindle in number, there nonetheless remains plenty of utility intrigue to be had; you just need to know where to look, and be comfortable with other modes of communication such as RTTY (Radioteletype).

RTTY remains on HF (3 – 30 MHz), albeit mostly encrypted, but there are some stalwarts of this mode that transmit important and interesting information for ships at sea. The information can take the form of weather broadcasts, hazards to navigation, information on ships lost at sea, and pirate activity. Yes, pirate activity but not radio pirates; real honest-to-goodness modern day pirates looking to loot, plunder and prey upon commercial ships making an honest living or other leisure watercraft just out having fun.

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Who knows what dangers lurk behind that dial? Trusty AOR AR-3000 receiver and SignaLink™.

Has your interest been piqued? When avast mateys as I spin ya’ a yarn on how to find out where these sea-faring scoundrels lurk from the Caribbean all the way to the South China sea!

Pirate activity is not something of the past; it exists today and is a threat conducted by ragtag armed ragamuffin groups. To keep abreast of the action you’ll need the following gear: a shortwave radio with single sideband (SSB), a decent antenna, a means of decoding RTTY, and WLO, a station from Mobile, AL that transmits information to ships at sea.

You’ll do well to add WLO’s frequency to your receiver’s memory list as it’s a pretty active station that faithfully serves the sea-faring community and is one of the gems on HF.

First, tune your receiver using USB (Upper Side Band) to around 8.472 MHz and listen for that warbling sound. You will also need a way to pipe the audio from your shortwave receiver to a computer (I use a SignaLink™ USB) and a decoding program for RTTY, such as MMTTY.

To decode you’ll need to set the baud rate (45.45) and shift (170 Hz) on MTTY (or software program of choice) and tune your radio slightly up and down frequency until the software starts decoding.

You may have to press the “Reverse” or “Rev” selector at times. MMTTY is my favorite for RTTY decoding, and a picture of it is below.

WLO, Mobile AL, with RYRY idling loop, MMTTY decoder, 45.45 bauds, 170Hz shift, “Rev.”

WLO, Mobile AL, with RYRY idling loop, MMTTY decoder, 45.45 bauds, 170Hz shift, “Rev.”

MMTTY is available as a free download from Makato Mori, JE3HHT. I’ve used his program for over a decade and it performs well.

You can also use MultiPSK or FLdigi to decode RTTY so it’s the user’s choice as to which is a better fit.

Anyway, what are these pirates up to? Well the next few screenshots (click to enlarge) show some interesting activity as per WLO’s RTTY transmissions:

Pirates use element of surprise with guns and knives as armaments.

Pirates use element of surprise with guns and knives as armaments.

Somali pirates reportedly armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades. Yikes!

Somali pirates reportedly armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades. Yikes!

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Give ‘em hell boys! An alert bulk carrier crew aborted hijacking with teamwork and water cannon.

Ships are encouraged to report pirate activity via FAX or phone.

Ships are encouraged to report pirate activity via FAX or phone.

Well mateys that’s enough high seas adventure for now, so first shove off to the galley for some grub (or grog) and then head to the radio room, turn on that rig and get ready for action on HF, you’ll find plenty to choose from, it’s out there for you.

I would like to thank the operators of WLO for providing such a valuable service to mariners and for providing us radio aficionados with interesting reception! And thanks readers!

P.S. Note that WLO alternates from RTTY to Sitor B so just make sure you are listening to the RTTY broadcast. If the transmission is in Sitor B then you can use a NAVTEX (e.g. YAND) decoder instead.


Thank you so much, Mario, for sharing yet another fascinating aspect of our radio world! FYI: I’m planning on purchasing a SignaLink USB at the Dayton Hamvention this year.

Readers, you can read all of Mario’s posts by clicking or bookmarking this link.

Update: From the Isle of Music

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Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Bill Tilford, who shares this From The Isle of Music update:

Our April 26 (April 25 in the Americas) program will feature special guest Cuban Jazz/Blues/Fusion guitarist Hector Quintana, a nominee in the Jazz category in Cubadisco 2015.

Also, some nice Charanga from Orquesta America, also a Cubadisco 2015 nominee (Traditional Son), some of David Alvarez & Juego de Manos (yet another nominee, in Popular Dance Music) and more of the beautiful concert piano album Danzas Para Piano de Ignacio Cervantes.

Two listening options on shortwave:
WBCQ, 7490 KHz, Tuesdays 0000 UTC (8pm EDT Mondays)
Channel 292, 6070 KHz, Tuesdays 1900 UTC (2100 CEST)

On Facebook: From the Isle of Music

Radio Vanuatu on target for nationwide coverage under new leadership

Vanuatu-Map

(Source: Radio New Zealand via Mike Terry on the WRTH FB Page)

The recently appointed chair of the board of the Vanuatu Broadcasting and Television Corporation is confident nationwide coverage will be achieved by Radio Vanuatu soon.

The new government recently replaced the old board following concerns over the lack of the public broadcaster’s ability to reach the outer islands.

Its new chairperson Johnety Jerety said transmission had deteriorated over the years, mostly because of poor maintenance.

He said under the government’s hundred day plan nationwide coverage had to be implemented by July 1st.

But Mr Jerety said part of the problem was that people were buying cheap radios.

“They’re not compatible to meet the standard for our transmission system within here so that is why most of the ni-Van [indigenous people] within the islands are not able to have the coverage received throughout the island.”

Johnety Jerety said they were now advising people to buy short-wave radios that are compatible.

Read this article on Radio New Zealand’s website.

This article is a little vague, but I assume when the new chairperson, Johnety Jerety, is claiming that the problem with reception has to do with “cheap radios” perhaps he means receivers that don’t cover Vanuatu’s nighttime frequency of 3945 kHz? Almost all radios with shortwave should receive their 7260 kHz frequency. Of course, perhaps he simply means that fewer and fewer listeners are purchasing shortwave radios?

Vanuatu is certainly being heard around the world–indeed, only two days ago, SWLing Post contributor, Paul Walker, was over the moon when he snagged Vanuatu on 7260 kHz from Galena, Alaska.  Paul wrote:

I bagged my most wanted shortwave station ever tonight!

Radio Vanuatu on 7260!!!! Heard something under a bunch of Asian hams. [Q]uite good considering they are only running 1.5 kw out of their licensed 10 kw (that’s what they told me after the cyclone awhile back).

Great catch, Paul!

I’m happy to read that Vanuatu is investing in their station once again.

Follow all Vanuatu updates using the tag: Radio Vanuatu