Guest Post: Brian’s 1974 mix tape of off-air shortwave radio recordings


Many thanks to SWLing Post and Shortwave Radio Audio Archive contributor, Brian Smith, for the following guest post and vintage recording:

Shortwave Radio 1974: Canada, Argentina, Spain, West Germany, Albania, utility stations

-Brian Smith (W9IND)

Want to know what shortwave radio sounded like in 1974? This 55-minute recording, recovered from a cassette, was never intended to be anything but “audio notes”: I was an 18-year-old shortwave listener who collected QSL cards from international stations, and I was tired of using a pen and a notepad to copy down details of the broadcasts. I wanted an easier way to record what I heard, and my cassette tape recorder seemed like the perfect means to accomplish that goal.

But it wasn’t. I soon discovered that it was simpler to just edit my notes as I was jotting them down — not spend time on endless searches for specific information located all over on the tape. To make a long story shorter, I abandoned my “audio notes” plan after a single shortwave recording: This one.

Hallicrafters S-108 (Image:

Hallicrafters S-108 (Image source:

Still, for those who want to experience the feel of sitting at a shortwave radio in the mid-1970s and slowly spinning the dial, this tape delivers. Nothing great in terms of sound quality; I was using a Hallicrafters S-108 that was outdated even at the time. And my recording “technique” involved placing the cassette microphone next to the radio speaker.

Thus, what you’ll hear is a grab bag of randomness: Major shortwave broadcasting stations from Canada, Argentina, Spain, Germany and Albania; maritime CW and other utility stations; and even a one-sided conversation involving a mobile phone, apparently located at sea. There are lengthy (even boring) programs, theme songs and interval signals, and brief IDs, one in Morse code from an Italian Navy station and another from a Department of Energy station used to track shipments of nuclear materials. And I can’t even identify the station behind every recording, including several Spanish broadcasts (I don’t speak the language) and an interview in English with a UFO book author.

The following is a guide, with approximate Windows Media Player starting times, of the signals on this recording. (Incidentally, the CBC recording was from July 11, 1974 — a date I deduced by researching the Major League Baseball scores of the previous day.)

Guide To The Recording

00:00 — CBC (Radio Canada) Northern and Armed Forces Service: News and sports.
07:51 — RAE (Radio Argentina): Sign-off with closing theme
09:14 — Department of Energy station in Belton, Missouri: “This is KRF-265 clear.”
09:17 — Interval signal: Radio Spain.
09:40 — New York Radio, WSY-70 (aviation weather broadcast)
10:22 — Unidentified station (Spanish?): Music.
10:51— Unidentified station (English): Historic drama with mention of Vice President John Adams, plus bell-heavy closing theme.
14:12 — Unidentified station (Spanish?): Male announcer, poor signal strength.
14:20 — Unidentified station (Spanish): Theme music and apparent ID, good signal strength.
15:16 — Unidentified station (foreign-speaking, possibly Spanish): Song, “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep.”
17:00 — Deutsche Welle (The Voice of West Germany): Announcement of frequencies, theme song.
17:39 — Unidentified station (English): Interview with the Rev. Barry Downing, author of “The Bible and Flying Saucers.”
24:36 — One side of mobile telephone conversation in SSB, possibly from maritime location.
30:37 — Radio Tirana (Albania): Lengthy economic and geopolitical talk (female announcer); bad audio. Theme and ID at 36:23, sign-off at 55:03.
55:11 — Italian Navy, Rome: “VVV IDR3 (and long tone)” in Morse code.

Click here to download the recording as an MP3, or simply listen via the embedded audio player below:

Brian, this is a brilliant recording–regardless of audio quality–and we’re very thankful you took the time to share it. Propagation has left something to be desired as of late, so time traveling back to 1974 has been incredibly fun. 

Post Readers: If, like Brian, you have off-air recordings on tape that you’d like to share, please contact me! Even if you don’t have the means to transfer your tapes to a digital format, I’m a part of a small community of shortwave radio archivists who would be quite willing to help.

Recording Deutsche Welle Kigali’s final broadcast and remembering its early days

DW's relay station in Kigali (Source: Deutsche Welle)

DW’s relay station in Kigali (Source: Deutsche Welle)

Yesterday, Deutsche Welle transmitted its final broadcast from the Kigali, Rwanda relay station. Since I’ve only had moderate luck hearing the Kigali site the past few days–especially on 31 meters–I fired up the TitanSDR Pro (which is still currently under review) and set it to record all three final afternoon broadcasts from Kigali on 12,005, 15,275 and 17,800 kHz.


As you can see from the screenshot above, Kigali produced a very strong signal on 17,800 kHz. The TitanSDR recorded the full broadcast, starting with one minute of the transmitter tuning, then one hour of DW’s French language service, followed by one hour of DW’s Hausa language service…then the transmitter went silent.

The recording begins around 1659 UTC on March 28, 2015 on 17,800 kHz:

Kigali’s early days

Last week, SWLing Post reader Bob LaRose (W6ACU) sent me the following message and scans:

“Here’s some nostalgia from [when the Kigali relay] opened, 50 years ago!”

Kigali Front

Kigali 2

Bob then followed this with another email:

“I dug into the “vault” and I found [the] 1964 Third Quarter issue of “Hallo, Friends” from Deutsche Welle that talks about the “new” Kigali station as it was being built. The 1965 issues did not cover the actual inauguration.”


Click here to download this page as a PDF.

Many thanks for digging through your archives and sharing this wonderful DW nostalgia, Bob! It’s simply brilliant!

Readers: If you have shortwave nostalgia you would like to share on the SWLing Post, please contact me.

Deutsche Welle to close Kigali relay March 28, 2015

DW's relay station in Kigali (Source: Deutsche Welle)

DW’s relay station in Kigali (Source: Deutsche Welle)

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Mike, who writes:

“I wanted to pass on a quick (and unfortunate) word that Deutsche Welle will be closing its Kigali, Rwanda relay on March 28th. This word came from the Wavescan program on WRMI. I would highly recommend that anyone who would like a QSL response from DW should get their correspondences in as soon as possible. It seems that the site will be dismantled shortly afterward. In addition it seems that tests are ongoing at RFI’s Issoudun site by DW to replace some of the broadcasts that used to originate from their Kigali relay.

I find the closing of another landmark relay a greatly displeasing event especially due to the short time frame between the announcement of the closure and the actual closure date. I find it surprising as well due to the lack of mention of any recent budget cuts at Deutsche Welle.”

As Mike mentions, the relay is scheduled to close on March 28, 2015–if you’d like to log this site, you’ll need to do so very soon. Click here for current schedules. Kigali is Deutsche Welle’s only remaining relay station.

RadioWorld magazine also posted a short news item about the Kigali closure–click here to read.

Daniel’s Deutsche Welle QSL card

SWLing Post reader, Daniel, writes:

“Hello Thomas: Attached is the latest QSL I received from Deutsche Welle – it is from their Kigali transmitter site.

Sent report via internet and received QSL in a few weeks:”

DW Kigali QSL CardIMG_0002

Thanks for sharing this, Daniel. I love the front of this DW QSL card–all of those gorgeous vintage tabletop radios!

Jonathan comments on the efficacy of Deutsche Welle’s Global Media Forum

(Image Source: Critical Distance)

(Image Source: Critical Distance)

Jonathan Marks writes:

“Shortwave radio stations rarely did public events in my day as editor in chief. Radio stations often played around with the idea of having an Internet café at the studios, especially music stations like Capital Radio in London at Leicester Sq. For the last few years DW has been building an annual discussion forum. Although not open to the general public, it has now grown to a point where many NGO’s seem to drop in. But DW needs to watch competition from other media organisations because others in Germany are building more participatory conversations.”

Click here for Jonathan Mark’s post regarding the Global Media Forum on Critical Distance.

Shortwave Radio Recordings: Deutsche Welle

Stadtbild_MünchenFor your listening pleasure: a recording of the Deutsche Welle English service made this morning, September 3rd, starting at 04:00 UTC.

Click here to download the recording as an MP3, or simply listen via the embedded player below (note about 40 seconds of carrier prior to the beginning of the broadcast):

By the way, if you believe there’s nothing to listen to on shortwave, you should check out our What’s On Shortwave category!

Daniel shares recent QSLs

Daniel (W3DI) writes:

I have been enjoying some shortwave broadcasts recently and received some nice QSL cards. Wanted to share the cards and some station information.

 Deutsche Welle - copied broadcast on 15,275 KHz - Jan 20 , 2013 at 1930 UTC

Deutsche Welle – copied broadcast on 15,275 KHz – Jan 20 , 2013 at 1930 UTC

China Radio International - copied broadcast on 9,580 & 6,020 KHz - Dec 29 & 31 , 2012   at 0130 UTC

China Radio International – copied broadcast on 9,580 & 6,020 KHz – Dec 29 & 31 , 2012 at 0130 UTC


VOA -  Africa service - They sent not only a QSL but a beautiful 2013 calendar.

VOA – Africa service –
They sent not only a QSL but a beautiful 2013 calendar.

Daniel addeded:

Shortwave listening was my first step to becoming an amateur [radio operator]. First receiver was a Lafayette HE – 10 with a Q mulitplier I built. Now using a WinRadio 313 – things have really changed.

Shortwave listening was also my first step to becoming a ham radio operator. The Lafayette HE-10 is a beautiful little 9 tube radio. I love the split dials on the front–much like the venerable Hallicrafters S-38.

The Lafayette HE - 10 (Photo:

The Lafayette HE – 10 (Photo:


The Hallicrafters S-38 (Photo: The S-38 Guy)