Nothing to hear on shortwave? Jacques disagrees…

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Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Jacques Catherine, who left the following comment on our post from 2012: Is there anything to listen to on shortwave?

“I live in Mauritius Island in the Indian Ocean and I’ve been listening to Shortwave since I was a kid (I’m 58 today) on my dad’s good old Phillips wooden valve radio.

I’m sorry, but shortwave is certainly not dead. After having read all the comments above, I come to the conclusion that reception definitely depends on your location.

The Tecsun PL-660.

The Tecsun PL-660.

I have two Tecsun receivers ( Tecsun S 2000 and PL 660) hooked to a Windom antenna and an ATU. I receive dozens of stations from all over the world here as well as a lot of stuff on ssb, including – in the morning – New York MWARA (8825.0 usb), Gander (8831.0 usb) or, in the evening, Brisbane (5634.0 usb).

Broadcast stations from Japan, Taiwan, India, Iran, Australia, Singapore, China, Africa and even the US, come in here loud and clear with very little static, depending on the season and time of the day. I think I’m privileged to be located where I am !

And I bought some years back a pair of cheap small wooden amplified speakers in Hong Kong that reproduce exactly the sound of my dad’s old valve radio!”

Thank you for your comment, Jacques. You’re right: it’s all about your location…and you certainly live in a prime spot!

I’m most fortunate that I live where I do–quite far away from sources of noise that plague our urban readers/listeners (and that have plagued me in the past). My location is not ideal (from a radio/receiving standpoint) because my ground conductivity is very poor and I’m in North America where very few broadcasts are targeted these days. I do, however, have the space for a rather large horizontal delta loop antenna that serves me well across the HF bands. I might have invested $50 in the antenna wire and components five years ago.

When propagation is good, some broadcast bands are actually packed tightly with signals. Indeed, Thursday last week, I could’ve easily logged two dozen stations on the 31 meter band alone.  Here’s a screen capture from the spectrum display of my SDR:

TitanSDRPro-Spectrum-31MB

If you live in an urban area and feel that you’re missing out on the action, consider taking your receiver outdoors and away from interference. Take your receiver on hikes, camping trips or to the beach. You might be surprised by the number of stations you’ll log!

Recently, our friend London Shortwave has been posting an amazing array of broadcast recordings he’s made in a park in the middle of London, England. He’s the guru of mitigating urban interference.

When I have time to curate the recordings, I hope to do a 2016 update of “Is there anything to listen to on shortwave?“–it’s been on my to-do list for a while now.

Jacques, thanks again for your comment and reminding us to keep listening!

Shortwave Radio Recordings: Voice of Greece

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The Voice of Greece is an unpredictable broadcaster these days. VOG is not on the air as much as in the past and doesn’t seem to follow a broadcast schedule. I only hear them perhaps once or twice per week now.

But I’m not complaining–after all, this is a shortwave broadcaster that basically came back from the dead.

I love VOG’s music programs and last night their Avlis transmitter was fired up and relaying some wonderful tunes.

The following recording was made on January 30, 2016 starting at 0145 UTC on 9420 kHz. I made this recording with the TitanSDR Pro receiver connected to a large skyloop antenna. Click here to download the MP3, or simply listen via the embedded player below:

I also had the TitanSDR simultaneously recording pirate radio spectrum just below the 40 meter ham band. I’m saving that bit of spectrum for a rainy day!

Anyone else tune to VOG last night?

SRAA Recording: The Happy Station Show circa 1979

Crosley-Dial-BlackAndWhiteMany thanks to Shortwave Radio Audio Archive contributor, Richard Collings, who recently submitted this amazing off-air recording of the Happy Station Show. Richard notes:

The Happy Station Show of Sunday 23rd December 1979. A pre-recorded special Christmas show with Tom Meijer. Broadcast from 0930 to 1020GMT [on 9895 kHz and received in Plymouth, Devon, UK].

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

Note that this is one of many archived off-air recordings found on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.

Shortwave Radio Recordings: RCI, BBC, VOA circa 1979 & 1981

HalliDial

Many thanks to SRAA contributor, Tom Laskowski, who shares the following recording and notes:

A few snippets from my old shortwave tapes that were too short to upload individually. These were made using a GE portable multi band that had poor selectivity, hence the annoying ute during the BBC clip.

Times of individual clips are:

  • 00:00 – 01:59: 1979, July 19 – RCI, frequency announcements in English and french.
  • 01:59 – 09:51: 1979, July 20 – BBC, newscast, bothered by an annoying utility station.
  • 09:51 – 11:38: 1981, August 28 – VOA, science news item about Voyager 2
  • 11:38 – 14:52: 1981, August 29 – VOA, science news item about Voyager 2

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

Frank shares 1991 recordings and original notes of station IDs and interval signals

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SWLing Post reader, Frank, writes from Germany:

First let me say that I enjoy your blog a lot.

After a 2005-13 hiatus, I have rediscovered a childhood hobby and your reviews have helped me find my way to the post-Sony portable shortwave radio markets.

First, I obtained my “childhood dream” radio (Sony ICF 2001D), because at the time I made these recordings I was still in school and 1300 DM would have equaled over 1 year of pocket money, so a Supertech SR16HN had to do. I thought I got some fine results with this Sangean-Siemens re-branded receiver then, using a CB half-length antenna, a random wire, and much endurance.

The Supertech SR16HN (photo: Radiomuseum.com)

The Supertech SR16HN (photo: Radiomuseum.com)

I kept regular logs throughout the years, wrote to 50 international and pirate stations for QSL and compiled this cassette.

A few years before I got that trusty SR16HN, however, I recorded a few number stations (such as G3, Four Note Rising Scale etc) with an ordinary radio cassette recorder, and in 1991 I put them onto this tape as well. The other recordings are done with the same radio placed right in front of the SR 16HN.

Feel free to make use of these recordings. Most of it are the well-known international state-owned shortwave stations of the past; plus European pirates; plus number stations; and at the end, a few (off-topic) local Am and FM stations interval signals.

As I said, this collection I made shortly after the Wende/reunification period, when all former-GDR state broadcasters changed their names, sometimes more than once.

Please continue your good work on the blogs! Weather permitting I am often outside cycling and always have the tiny Sony ICF 100 with me (which I call my then-student’s dream radio of the later 90ies).

Cassette Side 1

Click to enlarge.

Frank’s original hand-written notes. Click to enlarge.

Click here to download Side 1, or listen via the embedded player below:

Cassette Side 2

Click to enlage.

Click to enlage.

Click here to download Side 2, or listen via the embedded player below:


Wow! Frank, what a treat to listen to all these station IDs!

I had forgotten how many interval signals have changed over time and how many, of course, have disappeared. This tape represents a flood of nostalgia for me.

I should add, too, that I’ve enjoyed hearing so many IDs in German. It’s funny, but we all get hooked on listening to language programming from our native or second languages. It makes me realize just how many broadcasters used to have German language services.

Again, many thanks, Frank, for taking the time to digitize these recordings and scan your original hand-written notes. This stuff is invaluable, in my book!

Shortwave Radio Recordings: Channel Africa

SABCDespite dismal propagation, I was quite happy to receive a relatively strong signal earlier this week (31 August 2015) from Channel Africa, starting around 16:40 UTC on 15,235 kHz.

This recording begins with the French language service (already in progress), followed by the English language service. Receiver used was a WinRadio Excalibur connected to a large horizontal delta loop antenna.

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

Remember: this, along with many more recordings, are available in podcast form via the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive. Click here to view on iTunes.

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

HalliDial

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: DXing.com)

Hallicrafters S-108 (Image source: DXing.com)

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.