Is there anything to listen to on shortwave?

I am asked this question, or a variation of it, almost every week:

“I’ve been thinking about buying a shortwave radio, but have heard that shortwave is dying out. Is there actually anything to listen to on shortwave? Should I even bother?”

It’s no wonder I get asked this question so much. First of all, the root website for the SWLing Post is, which is dedicated to teaching people the basics of using a shortwave radio. Indeed, if you search the internet for shortwave radio reviews or how to use a shortwave radio, you’ll most likely see this site somewhere near the top of the search results.  So it makes sense that many of our readers are just starting out in shortwave.

But the primary reason people wonder about shortwave’s vitality and want to check its pulse, is due to recent news about shortwave broadcasters leaving the spectrum. Most recently, Radio Canada International, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, Radio Bulgaria have all closed up shop, and broadcasters like the BBC World Service and Vatican Radio have trimmed down their shortwave offerings.  It’s unfortunate, and does make the continuation of shortwave seem doubtful to those who know less about it.

The Edward R. Murrow Tranmission Station’s slewable curtain antenna.

Question: So is there anything to listen to? Answer: Absolutely!

Regular shortwave radio listeners already know the answer to this question. Sure, the landscape of the shortwaves is changing, but it’s such a vast landscape that, even with a few major players dropping out, there is still so much to hear and appreciate. In fact, we’ve only been talking about  governmental international broadcasters, in the main–which doesn’t even include pirate radio, clandestine stations, utility stations, religious networks, spy numbers stations, digital modes, and ham radio communications.  Among others.

Doubt me?  Well, then–check this out:

250 kHz of 31 Meters on a Friday afternoon

The WinRadio G31DDC “Excalibur”

Last Friday, I spent a pleasant afternoon reviewing the WinRadio Excalibur software defined receiver (SDR). Perhaps my favorite feature of many modern software defined receivers is their ability to record not only individual shortwave radio broadcasts, but also record radio spectrum.  In other words, instead of recording a single station on 9,555 kHz, the WinRadio Excalibur (and similar SDRs) could easily record everything between, say, 9,410 and 9,635 kHz. Later, you can play back the spectrum to listen to and record individual broadcasts as if they were live. At least, this is exactly what I did last Friday at 20:00 UTC.

Fast forward to yesterday:  While listening and tuning through the Friday spectrum, I once again realized how many stations are crammed into this relatively small chunk of the shortwave spectrum. Yet I only captured about 250 kHz, or .25 MHz of shortwave spectrum. To put this in perspective, this is a chunk of spectrum so small, you could fit four of them between 95 and 96 MHz on your car’s FM dial.

And  what did I find? A lot of stations–and a lot of variety! In fact, I then went through and recorded 8 samples of the stronger broadcasts.

Here is some of what I heard just in that wee swatch of spectrum:

Voice of Greece – 9,240 kHz

Voice of Iran – 9,460 kHz

WTWW – 9,478 kHz

Deutsche Welle – 9,490 kHz

Radio Riyadh –  9,555 kHz

Radio Marti – 9,565 kHz

North Quebec Service – 9,625 kHz

Voice of Turkey – 9,635 kHz

Here is how the actual spectrum chunk appeared on the Excalibur’s display:

Note from the DDC spectrum window (the one immediately below the tuning knob and S Meter) that there are many, many other stations–indicated as spikes in the spectrum, above–that I did not bother to record.

I didn’t set out to find the most active piece of shortwave spectrum–I chose this one pretty much by chance.

Is shortwave radio dead?  Only if you’re not listening

Perhaps the real fascination I find in listening to recorded spectrum, as I did above, is that each time I go back through a recording, listening carefully, I find so many other items that I would have otherwise missed. In other words, the better your ears, the more you will hear. And there’s lots to hear.

A good portable radio, like the C.Crane CCRadio-SW, can easily receive the major international broadcasters and even some low power regional shortwave stations.

So, what are you waiting for?

Prove it to yourself. Pull out your portable radio, your tabletop, your SDR or your general coverage ham radio transceiver, and just listen. There’s still a vast, informative, oftentimes mysterious world out there on the shortwaves, simply waiting for your ears.

Join me in the Shortwave Radio Archive Project:  post coming soon!

Spread the radio love

120 thoughts on “Is there anything to listen to on shortwave?

  1. Robert Clark

    can you listen to shortwave radio online for free? The answer is yes. If the idea of shortwave radio sounds exciting to you and you don’t want to spend money on a radio tuner, there is another option: listen to shortwave radio on the computer.

    1. Olin Fulk

      I know absolutely nothing about shortwave radios. I would like to be able to receive as wide a range of stations as possible, but I am on a budget. Can you recommend a decent receiver that I can actually afford?

  2. James

    Hi there,Is there anything to listen to?? Really ?? Ive made many comments on this befor ,as in the comments above.Many main English speaking SW stations arround the world have all closed down,probably oweing to expence and now the availability of FM at close range on other stations.But I live down under the rest of the world,even down under Australia.Thousounds of miles away from the rest of the world in a small country called NewZealand made up of two narrow , long islands.NewZealand is very modern though and mostly able to keep up with the rest of the world. We do get many overseas tourists here because we are known for our”Clean & Green” image.It is very Sub tropical.But trying to buy or get hold of really good SW receivers is a big problem because there are no SW radio outlets/stores here,unless you find an Importer and they are able to bring one in for you on a one off basis.So we SW listeners,( Not many) compared with other countries have to rely on second hand,what may have been brought into the country by a tourist,or immigrant and perhapes sold in a second hand shop or “flea” market.Even then it may need to be repaired to bring it back to it’s former glory.Ive been lucky with been able to purchase the PL660 and PL2000 Texsun, and Sangean 900X , (imported) all are fine portable receivers,along with my 100 ft long line antenna.But again because Im so far away from the rest of the world,”where it all happens”,it’s very frustrateing at most times to hear anything interesting at all.Ive been a Utility listener of HF SSB for many years,or I should say “Used to be”.But for the last few years,my listening pleasure has dropped right away,because even the Utitlity stations eg Military,AirForce.Shipping and SAR world wide is almost imposible to receive now.With local electrical interferance such as computers,remote controlls, electrical rain static, it all plays havic on what can be the faintest signal somewhere in the distance.I used to receive all or most SW stations and uitility US military stations as clear as a bell.Buy certainly not anymore infact I have a rather large log book with many frequencies written down,most of which dont exist anymore or I simply can not receive them any more,other than very faint static.My antenna has been checked many times,along with all connections.So it’s become very frustrateing not being able to enjoy my listening pleasure any more.I can listen to my local Air force RNZAF, local HF ( AIR NZ) when flying out across the South Pacific ocean.But I think most of the AirForce is on computer link these days because I only hear them talking to the controll tower on UHF when coming into land. Any comments to this are most wellcome thanks.

  3. Dave

    I bought a little Kaito KA1102 a few years ago, and just started trying to pick up SW broadcasts (I’m in the Hill Country of Texas). I’ve been fooling around with it again this evening, and am listening to what sounds like a French station (31 meter, 9.690). Some static, but entirely listenable. I got another receiver in the mail today for when I retire, a Kaito KA600L (crank/solar, flashlight, & other stuff). Wish it had an external antenna jack.

    1. Ron B

      Does it have a metal antenna? You can take an alligator clip and use a long wire antenna. If it has a coil antenna just wrap wire around the coil and connect the radio to a long wire antenna with the other end. You can even wrap wire around the radio and get some results. If you live in an apartment the Slinky antenna works if you live on the second or higher story.

  4. Charlie

    I live in NY on LObg Island. Lot’s of noise and interference but when conditions are right you can hear some strong signals. Unfortunately SW isn’t quite what it used to be when you could listen to BBC anytime you wanted! Tonight I turned on my brand new shortwave radio and what did I hear? I heard a racist homophobic antisemitic paranoid hate-filled anti social rant from a guy who was representing a group of lunatic anti government white supremacist group who was vowing to overthrow the government and wage war on everyone. The ranting racist sicko nutjob is a former NYPD officer who thinks his racist blather is the solution to all of what he sees as societies problems. Too bad we have to hear these sick animals on our airwaves!

    1. Alouette

      Are you sure you weren’t listening to a Christian SW station? Similar content in many instances. Hating on just about everyone. Doomsday prophecies abound. End times radio. I started listening to SW in the 1960’s and it was really fascinating collecting dozens of SWL cards. VOA is still online spreading our own version of propaganda.

  5. jeremy lansman

    Seems pretty dead to me. Near Capetown, South Africa, daytime. My little Techsun gets only one high frequency broadcast station, and it has nothing to listen to. A year ago the bands were busy. Could this be an “internet” effect coupled to a not cooperating sun?

    1. Thomas Post author

      It sounds to me like something is wrong with your radio or the location where you’re listening–perhaps local radio interference or something has happened to affect the radio’s sensitivity? You should hear much more than one broadcaster. To put it in perspective, check out this recent post where I logged numerous stations with a portable radio in a very short period of time. Capetown is a much more ideal reception location than the one in this post:


  6. daniel burgos

    Hello! Got myself a sw radio and is great. Say, is there any goos tutorial on how to make a good antenna (receiver)? I don’t know how to improve my reception.

  7. Robert W. Sare

    Nice comments ,all the way around. I listen a lot to North America but selection is not good. I live in Michigan. I am also a Ham radio operator , which helps a lot. I will try some of your Middle East stations listed. My outdoor antenna should be good enough, although it is not tuned to those bands.
    Best Wishes to all those who have written in to comment. Nice work. Everyone has something to contribute. I have several radios. A Uniden CR-2021 is best with triple conversion. My ham radios are OK but not all tune out of band. Best Wishes to all you contributers.
    Bob in Michigan

  8. Hank

    Can’t wait to get my radio that I just ordered.
    Years ago. I had an old tube SW radio that I loved tuning in to stations around the world.

  9. Brad

    Can short wave radio pic up distress signals from small boats and/or planes? I was watching the old ‘Father Knows Best’ program and the episode titled, “Short Wave”. Can a person pick up signals like that from back in 1956? Just wondering it seems a little far-fetched.

  10. Bob C., aka "Dexter D. Xer

    I started SWLing in the fall of 1958. I still have my 1959 “World Radio Handbook” (The title didn’t include TV in those days.). It is very depressing to see my favorite hobby decline to its current state. It reminds me of that 1959 film classic “On the Beach,” where the last American submarine in a post-Armageddon world chases an elusive radio signal half way around the world.

    Knowing how things once were, you just have to scan the various WebSDR sites to see the dismal lack of shortwave activity, and not only in North America. Time was when broadcasters, amateurs and utility operators fought for every kilocycle of spectrum. Now, entire megacycle swaths go unused. Most of the reasons and observations have already been made in this thread. I would just point out a couple of things.

    First, the irony is that the technology and resources for listening have never been better. A top of the line receiver of 1960 vintage does not match the performance of a typical $100 portable today. In addition, the Internet has provided numerous resources for up-to-the-minute station listings and invaluable information. is a truly outstanding example.

    Second, a relatively large number of old-timers, such as myself have found a great deal of enjoyment restoring old equipment. For example there are active Yahoo groups who specialize in refurbishing antique Hallicrafters and National equipment. Some amateurs have put their old equipment back on the air in the AM mode. I have fully restored “boat anchors” on line in the shack. Still – all dressed up and nowhere to go.

    One reads a lot about DRM. A handful of broadcasters are using it. With some effort, you may be able to locate a consumer-grade receiver that tunes DRM; however, these devices are not exactly flying off the shelves at Walmart, and until that happens, its prospects are dim.

    I’m sorry, CRI, RHC and Brother Stair don’t hold much interest for me. I miss the low-powered exotic stuff the most, but the CODAR operators have wiped out most of what is left of 60 meters. Somehow, I persist in believing this is all going to change.

    1. Thomas Post author

      Thank you for your comment, Bob. And Bravo for restoring your vintage gear. I, too, take care of several pieces of “heavy metal.”

      I’m with you about CRI and Brother Stair. I just don’t find either terribly fascinating (though CRI is interesting in terms of soft propaganda!). RHC I listen to for the Mambo. 🙂

      Where I love to spend time now, though, is cruising South America at night. So many interesting low power stations are still on the air–some with amazing music.

      Again, thanks for your comment!



    Hello from Greece
    I love radio Fm. Am sw
    I want to buy my first sw radio
    Tecsun pl 880 ruther
    It is magic

  12. Ken Wilschek

    Getting back into the hobby after a few decades and moving from N. America to Australia. Picked up a Tecsun S2000 and even with the whip there is a fair bit of action (I live in Perth). Stuck a Windom antenna out the back yard, there are still a lot of signals out there, though not as many in English like the old days. I miss the cold war, although R. N. Korea can be entertaining when it’s on! Only crummy bit is that I have to keep the height of the antenna down (roof level), and I’m surrounded by tin roofs! That, and the amount of RFI these days makes listening to 39m and longer a chore. Recently picked up Radio Havana Cuba (an old favorite from the 60’s). I don’t think they have a relay down here, and Cuba is about as far away from Perth, Australia as can be gotten.

    Rebuilt the first radio I ever had (1938-1940 National NC44) and it still pulls in enough stations to keep life interesting. Imaging is still as horrendous as it was back in the 60’s when I first used it! Got my Heathkit SB310 working, and it does quite well. Picked up a broken Yaesu FRG8800 a few months back, fixed it, and it does great. Likewise for an FRG7 I bought recently, the thing is bullet-proof!. Picked up a National HRO (s/n H121, built in July, 1935) which was pretty much on death support, and I’m restoring that. That just leaves my National NC125 and Hallicrafters S120 rebuilds to get around to.

    So SWL’ing better not die, or my trash bill will wipe me out!

    Seriously though, if a sample of receivers from every era from pre-WW2 onward can be used in the most isolated capital city on the planet, with an antenna that is effectively three feet off the ground with all the grounded tin around it, then I would think shortwave has some time to go. Plus, with DRM there is a new lease on life for these frequencies. India thinks so, anyway, they are upgrading fifty or sixty MW and SW transmitters to DRM.

    I guess my next project will have to be slipping a decoder under the detector tube in the HRO to pick up DRM with it. That would be awesome, getting another 50-60 years use out of an old warrior!

    1. James Patterson

      About SW dieing out etc,I live down under the rest of the world in little old NewZealand,just three hours flight from Australia,in the South Pacific.I may have mentioned in a reply befor that Ive always been a very keen DXer but mainly the SSB mode,listening into HF Marine and Air etc.But yes from my point of veiw,SW has died out in a big way,mainly english speaking countries.When I go through the SW bands all I seem to receive these days are Asian speaking stations Chinese etc.They seem to be takeing over from others that have pulled out.Even some of the South Pacific islands are now transmitting on local FM.They have closed their AM broadcasting.If conditions were right,I could sometimes receive their AM broadcasts.Even SSB like HF Air and Marine.I find the Marine stations full of Jap fishing boats and they use the normal Marine HF frequencies non stop.English speaking boats cant get in.I also hear the Asians speaking person to person just slightly off the HF Air frequencies aswell.I feel this must be interfering with the AirCraft transmissions.
      So from my point of veiw,the Asians are takeing the Air Waves on open slaver,with no consideration or respect for other english speaking transmissions and stations.

  13. Senu

    Listening via shortwave is really a great pleasure, still lots of stations are available in SW BAND like China Radio International (Good Reception) , BBC, VOA (Moderate @ Night) in India.

  14. John C.

    I’m not even going to ask the normal questions like what time, radio, antenna, location etc. instead, here’s my e mail, I’ll gladly send you my SW logs from the past two weeks with 45 different countries, and over 70 overseas stations. And I didn’t even log all I heard.

    I’m so tired of people saying there’s nothing on Shortwave yet they make no real effort to actually check around at different times of the day, plus you need a decent antenna to pick up stations. [email protected] there you go.

    1. Gina

      Do we need short wave radios for emergency? I’m confused what is difference between shortwave radio and good old fm/am radio?

  15. D

    Well here I am in late 2016 and I can find nothing to listen to on my radio not even the utc time signal on 5, 10 or 15 MHz so I figure it must be pretty well gone. Did find a religious station broadcasting on a very wide bandwidth

    1. Thomas Post author

      Actually, right now I was just doing a band scan on the 31 meter band (between 9.4-10 MHz). Here’s what I can hear excluding all of the religious broadcasters (save Vatican):
      As of 18:20 UTC on 04 December 2016 in North Carolina
      – 9445 All India Radio
      – 9495 Voice of Turkey
      – 9540 Radio Cairo (with typical bad modulation)
      – 9555 Radio Saudi
      – 9575 Medi 1 (though quite weak)
      – 9580 Radio Saudi
      – 9650 Radio Guinea
      – 9660 Vatican Radio
      – 9675 Radio Saudi International
      – 9690 REE – Radio Exterior De Espana
      – 10000 WWV

      1. Thomas Post author

        Actually, here is a screen shot of the 31 meter band spectrum:
        31 meter band

        Not bad at all considering conditions aren’t exactly ideal.

        I suspect when people have difficulty receiving it’s because of local interference that prevents all but the loudest stations from popping through. RFI (radio frequency interference) is, indeed, an enemy of shortwave radio!


  16. osmar lima

    Shortwave is not dyiing out please just see shortwaveschedule on the google and see the great quantity of radiobroadcastgers beaming to the world, just as example China Radio International, broadcast everyday in almost 1.000 frequencies, BBC 280 the latter has announced recently its planes to include more 11 languages on its programming. Other every positive fact SW will become Digital, maybe a new receiver will be realesed on the market multimedia including SW at a low price. Hear in Brazil I can hear dozens of radiobroadcasting from abroad. Locally we have Radio Nacional da Amazonia with 250W and many other religious radadio stations on SW.

  17. Svscoa

    Reportedly, Vatican Radio terminated its shortwave broadcasting worldwide and the station is under new management. The US never got much from them anyway and their Android app doesn’t work.

    We were very active DX’ers through the 1980’s, but never QSL chasers. Given the amount of English language broadcasting we used to get , shortwave is dead for us. A sad situation.

    I’m not inclined to buy a pricey Web radio receiver. Programming heard isn’t worth the expense or the trouble of firmware updates.

    1. Broadwing

      Perhaps turning on your radio, and tuning in to the Vatican, you would have picked them up broadcasting these past two weeks, out of the Vatican, and Madagascar. I have no problem in the US picking them up. Rumors tend to be incorrect such as last months Radio Australia shutdown which was for maintenance, but was reported by some as permanent.

      1. Tom

        Just the other day I received Greece, Slovakia, Cuba, Spain, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Australia, BBC, China, and a station from the South Africa region. In Michigan, on a portable using a string of Christmas lights in a 30ft. pine as an antenna. There may not be as much on as in my QSL hunting days in the ’70’s but the radios today are far more sensitive. Even with. using “Rudolph’s Revenge” as an antenna!

  18. Paul Jones

    One point worth noting, IF God forbid there was another world war,
    The first things we would loose would be Internet, Local TV & FM and here in Europe DAB-Radio;
    and Short Wave would be for most people the only source of News and Information.
    so dont write of Short Wave radio just yet.

  19. Maurice

    I agree with you that short wave radio is not dead and should not be allowed to die!
    I follow a lot of useful discussions across the globe via medium & shortwave radio!!
    Best regards.

  20. Joe Stafford

    Unfortunately today, a lot of SW is in Spanish – I agree the internet had killed off a lot of English to the US – but there is still some traffic out there. Mainly in the evening, but during the day, one can still pick up a lot of religious broadcasters. HCJB, the Voice of the Andes is still around if you dig – but it is mainly the Evangelicals who are taking up the air waves.

    Using an old Zenith Transoceanic (Royal D7000 Y-1) – the last of the Chicago made all transistor units, is my ticket – I do have an Icom 7000 for ham work but it also receives everything else – way too much to listen to at that sensitivity.

    Shortwave is not dead, but long gone are the days of “His and Hers” on R. Nederlands, Vladimir Posner’s talks on R. Moscow, via R. Cuba relays, although R. Havana is still on in English, RTI, R. Taiwan can still be found via relay. — It is too bad the BBC gave up on the US – it always was a good look into the world.

    As far as the internet – posters who said that people will know what you are listening to is right. Perhaps that is why they went that route – and then again maybe not.

    Still, this old ham sits and spins dials at night — just to see what magic I can pull out of the ether — just a F/Y/I – if you want a good indoor antenna, try a “slinky” between two insulators, with a tap at one end. Mine hangs from the ceiling and makes a good long wire which pulls in everything and sometimes way too much of QRN.

  21. Jacques Catherine

    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. 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 !

  22. Timothy Fokkema

    I just bought a Tescun DR-920 Digital World Receiver. Was listening to find active channels (I’m in New Zealand), and found a news service broadcasting in English, live from Tokyo, Japan. I tuned in again later, and the frequency was just noise. Do some broadcasters not broadcast 24/7?

    1. Thomas Post author

      Hi, Tim,

      The nature of shortwave broadcasting is quite different from that of mediumwave (AM) and FM. Conditions change throughout the day, so broadcasters typically on transmit on schedules and shift frequencies. Most likely you heard NHK Japan and they will again be on the same frequency at the same time the following day.

      Check out our shortwave primer for more information about shortwave broadcast schedules:


  23. Chuck Findlay

    I started in the late 1970’s and stayed with it till the late 1990’s and back then there was indeed a lot more English broadcast.

    But I recently dusted off the R-70 and got back into the hobby and I still find it interesting.

    PS: There is a LOT of of English broadcast to listen to, it’s called AM radio DXing. I find it enjoyable to try to separate signals on the crowded AM band.

  24. Flora Vlismas

    I want to buy my dad a portable radio that he can listen to Greek stations on. He lives in Kogarah, Sydney, Australia. He wants to listen to news, music, politics and religious programs etc.

    What do you recommend and have you got anything that will do the job?

    1. Thomas Post author

      Hi, Flora,

      There are a number of shortwave radios that might suit his needs. The only problem I would see would be reception in Australia. Here in the US (and throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa) the Voice of Greece is quite strong when they’re on the air. It may be a tougher catch, though, in Australia.

      Is your father familiar with shortwave radio at all? If not, you might also consider a simple wi-fi radio (if he has an Internet connection). He could listen to pretty much any Greek language station in the world.


    2. James Patterson

      Hi there Flora.I live down under too, except where I live is in NewZealand 3 hours flight from Australia.It’s a wonder that no one has sent a mesasage to you from your country concerning this,as nearly everyone reads The Swling post pages. But I can say that any Greek stations would be very difficult to listen to, espeicaly from NZ,so I expect the same would be from Ausi.So I recomend as Thomas has,to listen via the internet,no dout your Dad will have an internet or WiFi conection and a pc.Most Public Libraries have free internet use in this part of the world.Wish you all the best!

  25. Luke Perry

    I too thought that SW listening was dead. I brought my trusty Sony ICF-2010 on a Hawaiian vacation and did some listening from my balcony suite on the ship. Wow! I could not believe what I was hearing! Mainly Asian stations but what a variety. I was getting the Voice of Korea way better than I had ever before. Usually at my home location (Portland, Oregon) the signal is very faint if I can even get it at all. Here on the ship balcony every word was legible beyond the Korean accent of the presenter.

    I went home and strung up my active loop antenna and am getting Radio Nikkei on 6115 khz and listening to their music program. So yes, there is more to shortwave now besides religious broadcasters and the strong Cuba and Chinese stations. You just gotta seek the harder ones out.

  26. JD BURR

    I have listened to SW since a teenager. Now use a RS 245 (sangean 909), but wish I could find someone to check it out as I do not think has received like it should since I bought it. Jdb

  27. Maximus Meridius

    Wow! No wonder shortwave is a dying beast.
    As someone who has a small pocket sized shortwave radio, I simply wanted to know if there was anything on the shortwave bands that I could listen to. I’m not a radio buff, simply a guy with a radio.
    Thank you for telling me how to build a watch when all I wanted to know is if there is something to listen to.
    Your explanation of what the hell an SDR is (let alone what it stands for) is, well… and then you lunched from there into orbit leaving is behind.

    1. Thomas Post author

      You should check out our introduction to shortwave radio:

      It’s a much better starting point for learning about your radio and how to find stations on the band. You’ve commented on our blog where we post a number of articles; some more advanced than others.

      A very quick way to discover what’s on the shortwave bands is to check out one of the frequency listings found in the resources page of our tutorial:

      Good luck and don’t be discouraged. There’s a small learning curve, but it’s typically overcome by simply listening.


  28. Richard

    I have not listened to the SW broadcast bands for a long time.

    When I did, it was the magic of radio, that is, receiving transmissions from far away, by way of the ionosphere, that gave me enjoyment. You never knew when conditions would be fantastic and you would hear a station you never was able to hear before.

    So, it was never really about programme content for me. Having said that, I did like Jazz Hour by VOA.

    First set was an HAC (Hear All Continents) one valve TRF receiver. You never knew what frequency you were on and operation was a bit tricky, but that made things better. The simplicity of the equipment was a factor, I think it helped in the experience. I suppose all said and done, it was the challenge and the mystery of radio that appealed. Of course, even with a brilliant radio, you can set challenges.

    If I came back to the hobby. there needs to be a challenge. Maybe DXing the tropical bands might be a way to get the old interest back. Or crystal radio DXing. It cannot be the programme content for me. Never has been, probably never will.

  29. James Patterson

    Firstly I would like to say to Keith,that we who contribute to Thomas’s blog,aim to always keep it tidy,by that I mean no blunt words at all.We are acturly a “favoured few” who do have a very keen interest in radio,and who do not abuse it in any way.So if you want to remain on Thamas’s blog that we have alot of information shared,I suggest you please mind your manners in future.
    Now to James who says he lives in NZ.Well James,my name is also “James”,and I too live down under here in good old New Zealand,Auckland infact!! The main reason why we have differculty in radio receiption in our country,is mostly because we are so far away from the rest of the world,and certain times of the year,such as Winter,and sometimes Summer,the propagation is really bad.In fact with how our seasons have all got out of ballance,so has radio Short Wave receiption.But I concentrate on the SSB Utility stations,rather than Short wave broadcasting.Because Ive found that all I really hear on SW is either Radio Australia,our own National station,or Family Radio China.Infact if I tune through the SW bands,I mostly hear all Asian stations.So my main DXing radio hobby is listening to as many SSB stations that I can log in.Not so much Ham radio,hence Im already a Ham,so it makes a nice change to acturly listen in to all the services out there.We are fortunite here in New Zealand that propagation doesnt seem to effect SSB listening.I do miss however the good old “American Army Services” stations that are not active any more.Also I noticed the od spelling mistake on yr Blog James,I hope others wont think us Kiwi’s cant spell hi hi !!Anyway,Im in my 60’s and Ive been a very keen radio listener since my Teens,and enjoy useing good quality radio receivers,that are very hard to aquire here in NZ.I recently bought the Sangean 900X “Flagship” radio from an importer who acturly imports this brand of radio into NZ.He lives in Auckland.Hope my blog has been of some help.

  30. Steve

    do shortwaves pick up a.m.? (dumb question either way?)

    i’m near detroit & want to get a station in escanaba, michigan (435 miles ‘as a google flies’) that does not have a web presence in so far as “mirroring” their broadcast so to speak…

    ‘thanks for your help &/or patience…

  31. Richard

    In the 1960’s I used to listen to shortwave broadcasts on my Heathkit receiver. One station was in Africa. I think it was Radio Brazaville but I am not sure. Did anyone else find themselves listening to broadcasts from Africa in the 1960’s?

    1. Thomas Post author

      Thanks–just fixed that. I’ve made that mistake so many times! I think WTWW, but type WWTW. Something spellcheck never finds!

  32. Doug

    I am now getting back into shortwave listening that I have not done for over ten years. I purchased a used FRG7700 and I am excited about using it soon. Of course I remember when Radio Nederland used to broadcast and Radio Canada and the “biggies” as you might want to call them. And all I hear is sob stories about there is nothing to listen to. Well now it’s a real hobby because we have to search more for some of the variety and not be spoon fed English language programs containing most of the news we have already heard at home. I like the challenge of searching for low power signals from farther away, and without some of the previously powerful stations stomping on the low power stations, maybe now we can find them from among the static. It’s more of a challenge now, and that’s fine with me, bring it on! And there happen to be utility stations and those elusive military broadcasts scattered throughout the spectrum so you have to search more, and what’s wrong with that? Nothing, that makes it more fun when you do latch onto a station. You have to accept change and work with what you have if you truly love the hobby. So either dig in and have fun finding what is still out there or pack up your receiver and call it a day. No, you won’t find what you used to find, so accept that fact that it may be different now, but it’s still a lot of fun. I enjoy it immensely and I will continue to search the frequencies for whatever is out there.

  33. Shortwave Listener 22007

    Shortwave is NOT dead, just a few minutes I logged a total of over 160 programs in just one hour, that is, just using my little Tecsun PL 880 portable and only the supplied external antenna. On a good night like this one, I can hear distant stations broadcasting in english such as “Radio Western” located in Papua New Guinea. If you feel like your receiver isn’t picking up what it used to, just take outside around sunset and hook it up to a cheap reel in antenna, you will be satisfied.

  34. Thavaraj Subramaniam

    It is amazing that the Chinese are taking over the shortwave airwaves in a big way and currently active in the 60, 49, 41,31, 22,19 meter bands. Many of the traditional or long timers are overwhelmed by the strong signals of the Chinese broadcasts. For instance 9870 kHz use to be the stronghold of Vividh Bharathi an Indian Commercial Radio Broadcast. But recently the Chinese have moved into this frequency. Isn’t there an understanding among nations to share the frequency and not interfere in each others broadcasting sphere?

  35. James Patterson

    About Short wave Radio stations,I thought I would add that yes I do agree with Ronald,us here in New Zealand unfortunilty do get swamped with stations coming out of China and Asia.Im not a short wave listener as Ive said befor,but I can say that when Im searching the HF bands for good SSB utility stations,I come across alot of Asian language.Its quite a shame,as there seems to be so much of it.Even when I do find an english speaking SSB station,I get Asians talking over it useing the same frequency.I have even heard the Marine bands being “Stomped” on by the Asian Fishing boats,when there has been a net,or Ship to shore coms by english speaking sailors.They will just come on when it suits them,not careing about anyone else.
    I have a small portable PRS radio,I dont use it very much,but sometimes when I have,Ive heard Asians useing the Repeater channels and talking for extra long periods,instead of useing a “Simplex” channel.So yes it can be most frustrateing,when the SW bands are swamped out by Asian speaking countries,and there seems to be more popping up all the time.

  36. Thavaraj Subramaniam

    BBC was heard in 12095 kHz at 1 hr UTC in Kajang Malayisa. BBC use to broadcast at 6195 kHz at in the 60s, 70s,80s and 90s at good signal strength of 5. The signals must have been originating from Kranji, Singapore. The BBC taught us good English by listening to the news and commentary among others with a British accent in the days when VOA ruled the airwaves with the American accent. VOA use to have the news read in slow speed and in special English too and that too helped a lot.

  37. James Patterson

    Well now,all these comments about Short wave,wheather it has died out or not.
    I have been a Ham for many years,but thats only a “side line” of what I really do.I have always been very interested in the world of communication,by way of Radio waves.As far back as the old “Crystal sets”/radios,that can still be made but in a modified fashion,yes the good old Radio waves has always interested me in more ways than one.
    Have you ever thought of branching away from SW listening,and checking out all the hundreds of SSB ( Single Side Band) Utility Stations? Of course you would need to buy a “Full” Short wave radio,by that I mean one that has the SSB circuit built in to it,not as an extra,but a radio that has a good quality BFO,or digitaly tuned SSB.The Tecsun PL 660 is one,the Sangean ATS 909X is another good one along with the range of Sonys but the Sonys are getting old now.There are many radios with SSB on the market,so check them out first,mostly check that the SSB speech is of high quality clairity.Alot of cheaper radios have a very “Crackled” sound on SSB.The other thing you need to know,is how to work these radios,having the time and patence to operate them properly,not just turning it on and expecting to hear something.To be a true Utility DXer,is firstly to find an active station,fine tune it in,useing the smallest of tuning steps,clarifying the speach,and noteing it into a log book.
    There are all the Marine/Shipping Land and sea stations,Air craft on long distance trips,Military,Navy,Airforce,Civil Defence,Search and Rescue,and the list goes on,infact if you google “Utility Station Radio frequencies”,you will get many,some will be out dated,most will be in use,depending upon what part of the world you live in.You can also slowly “Scan” through all the HF bands and listen. 8 mgs will give you both Aircraft and Marine stations.But dont stop there.So yes,the good old portable Short wave radio that has SSB is still one of the most interesting and educational devices arround,that will never die,nor will “HF Radio waves” ever die out.

  38. Thavaraj Subramaniam

    SW listening was my favourite pass time from 1967 to date. Yes there was BBC, VOA, Radio Netherlands, Voice of Germany, Radio Moscow, Radio Peking, AIR, Radio Australia, Radio Ceylon and many good SW stations that gave us good music, news, propaganda and educational materials during the era we were hungry for information and entertainment and it fulfilled our needs then. There was cluttering and jamming and there were clandestine stations too. SW listening fulfilled our curiosity. The Cold War and the Vietnam War was on too and later the Iran Iraq war and others. Propaganda from Beijing and Moscow was frightening but listening to their revolutionary music was entertaining. Radio Australia, VOA, BBC, AIR gave us good music, and infortainment. Today RCI is everywhere almost jamming all the big powers stations. What a pity. To add to my frustration I am living next to the all powerful local and International Transmitters in Kajang, Malaysia which gives spurious signals that makes SW listening frustrating.

  39. Gonzalo

    Hello to every body!! I am looking for short wave radios with AGC on off options, I found the ICOM Rs75 but its too expensive!!…Maybe some friend know about other short wave radio options ??? Many thanks!!!

    I live in Cochabamba Bolivia and I would like to hear not DX´s transmissions from Earth but from the Sun !!!

  40. Fred Garvin

    Shortwave is dead only if you’re not listening to it anymore.

    I listen every night! I have a Satellit 750 on my nightstand and a little Tecsun PL-660 for travel, fishing, camping, picnics…anytime I’m away from the house. Sure, there’s a lot of religious weirdness….but just pass it by. RHC is always strong….Radio Australia comes in fairly well…. The ever entertaining unTruNews….plus many more and it varies every night. Yeah, not like it was back in the 70’s when I was a kid….but it’s far from “dead”…..and with technology today I can connect to a web SDR and listen to the BBC on my iPad! How cool is that?

    Fred in Dallas Texas!

  41. Osmar Lima

    Hi, justrecently

    I also agree with you RCI does not have an excellent programmes, they repeat very the same show but as I consider myself a radio listener and want to improve my English and shortwave is one of my passion, unfortunately I´m not a dxer. I think for the fact a Live in Northeast of Brazil and it is near African continent I can listen almost major broadcaster transmissions to that continent. I´m fan of BBC world service, despite they recently descontinued its relay station in Mahe, but continue to use the Ascension Island relay station, so I can listen to the 17:00-20:00 GMT to Africa, I can pick up it as a local reception and above the excellent BBC quality. Also I can listen ultimately the DW transmissions to Africa from Kigali, in Rwand, unfortunately not so good reception quality.

    Best regard from Brazil.

  42. Osmar Lima

    Hi, Thomas

    Thanks for you quick reply, I didn´t know that these transmissions from so far away I thought these were relayed from any other place. How SW transmissions can reach so great distances. Really here in Brazil we can get so many fransmissions and lastly I put TV set away and I going to sleep listening to Radio Exterior Espana, even it has an half hour transmission in Portuguese to Brazil, I would like to mention that Radio Exterior de Argentina is broadcasting now in Chinese unfortunately our government has no longer transmissions to abroad, at least it continuing broadcasting in SW via Radio Nacional do Brazil but just in Portuguese. By the way, about 2 sundays ago I could listen to Radio New Zealand International I was distant from big interferences, near a lake or pool is perfect for listening to SW, the NZI reception was as a local reception. I must say I was using a Sony SW7600G with a Sony Acive AN antenna. All the best to you and keep your good work.

    1. justrecently

      Hi Osmar,

      if you enter 17690 into the “kHz” field on, you’ll also get Jinhua as a reply, in English from 09:00 to 11:00 UTC actually.

      I still have three QSL cards from Radio Nacional do Brasil here, and frequently listened to the German programs during the 1980s.

      I’m not terribly fond of the CRI programs. They seem to emulate NPR or similar Western stations. This is probably true for most foreign broadcasters – they adapt to their overseas listeners -, but I find the gulf between Chinese domestic broadcasts and foreign broadcasts particularly wide.

      I still liked to listen to the German CRI programs until a year ago, because they were more “Chinese” in style until then, but the German programs, too, have been “refurbished” now.

      Greetings to you and to everyone reading here from Germany.

  43. Osmar Lima

    I´d like to tell you that I continue to listening to CRI everyday on short wave on the
    17690 from 09:00- 10:00 UTC and in the evening in other frecuencies. I am using the excellent TECSUN shortwave radios, all over the world people are fascinated by these
    receivers, they excellent and very cheap. All thanks to the chinese people and CRI for
    broadcasting to SW. I live in Northeast of Brazil, Fortaleza city, it is a big city, 3 million people. Please could you tell from where location come from your transmissions – from
    Beijing? Or via relaystation.Yesterday I have received my new gem PL660, excellent and very sensibility and selectivity. Audio very good also a pleasure listening to.

    Best Regards from Brazil
    Osmar Lima

  44. Dave H

    Not by a long shot, i’m looking to put a ten tech behind the am radio in my 60 bird. With ssb to boot.
    Have enjoyed the fugitive. “last voice of the church age” and other works,. Critical and lightly bibical.
    also lately , like to hear jfk ny hub on upperside of 5598 . but this moves as it has to for noise.
    also captain reily and a few others. Noticed a few gents on 90 mtr say “hold up i’ll send you a picture” and so he DID ,with his short wave transmitter. Way Cool And with out internet.
    dead , not yet . If you can send photo’s over shortwave movies can follow easy
    And with out internet.

  45. Ronald

    Hi James,

    Here in New Zealand, we can hear a lot of stations on SW. But I found that most of the time we get swamped by China Radio International. They are literally everywhere! I listen a lot to Radio Australia, as it is very easy to pick up, and they have often quality content.
    Another few stations of my interest are: Rn Da Amazonia on 11780 khz and Radio Brasil Central.
    If you live in a noisy environment, try to make magnetic loopantenna. They work really well and they are easy to build. Have a look at the bottom of the following webpage:


  46. Mike

    Thanks for nice discussion.
    I am from South Asia. By 1990 , my favourit Shortwave stations (in south asia) were Radio Cyelon(25 Meterband),All india radio(shortwave 31,25) , Radio Kanul and radio Pakistan,on shortwave 25,31,41,49 meter band. Now I am 50 yrs and living in canada since 22 yrs.Is there any way to listen my above favourit short wave stations in Canada ??

  47. Tony Wilkinson

    I first heard shortwave broadcasting around 1960-61. Radio Berne Switzerland was my first station. I believe my education was enhanced by those early years of SWL! I grew up in the British Isles and well remember how the SW bands were crowded with high powered European stations……I loved those late nights when things quietened and I was able to hear North America… New York International was one of my favs! Anyone remember the Windward Islands broadcasting station? The bliss of hearing Australia on the exact opposite side of the world to the UK, those were the days. I recall well the broadcasts from Moa’s China and Kruschevs Russia and all the eastern european stations spitting out communist propagander. Then there were the North Americans……VOA and AFN. I recall even picking up HF CB truckers chatting to each other on the east coast on those rare occasions when propagation permitted. These days, in central Kentucky its hard to hear much more than Aussie and New Zealand……the joy has gone! Even this last year, it is as though the bands have ‘died’. O well… the web and listen to my fav classical stations from The UK and Australia!

  48. David

    I have been a shortwave fan since the early 1960s, first radios were National portables, in the 1970s I built my first shortwave radio kit, the memory of seeing my kids dance around the kitchen floor while listening to Radio Dubai UAR which was the first station I picked up on my kit built radio will never leave me.
    I was bitten by the shortwave bug at a very early age and find the attraction of listening to a distant station through the static holds a special kind of magic, we live in a digital world and frankly digital has not lived up to expectations, for example I cannot recieve digital radio at my home address yet I can recieve shortwave from all over the world.
    After a break in the hobby of about 6 years I recently purchased a couple of portable shortwave receivers and was very happy to find the bands still jam packed with broadcasters.
    Ok some of the big guns have left the scene but there is and always have been new broadcasters that have filled the void, shortwave is IMO far from dead, we will always have people assume the end is near but to me that theory is far from the truth, I suggest they stick a set of headphones on their heads and crank the radio up.

  49. Tom

    Sitting in my office on a Saturday night listening to KBC here in Michigan, USA. I was an avid SWL’er in the 1970’s during my early teen years. I would agree in the days before the internet, SW was really the only media outlet to receive live news and information from “the world”. For an inquisitive 12 year old growing up in the Midwest shortwave radio was almost magical. I have to chuckle at my feeble attempts to learn Dutch over Radio Nederland. I received so much mail from Radio Moscow, Radio Kiev and RCI the FBI and the CIA probably had me on file! I’ve been an occasional listener over the years but recently got back into the hobby thanks to the internet. Radio Habana’s plans for a stick antenna and the excellent websites providing broadcast information for any given frequency, time and language have made it much easier to find something to listen to. That being said, I have to agree the number of English language broadcasts to NA have dropped dramatically since the days when Nixon was in office. I did take my DX-398 to Europe while on vacation last year and was pleasantly surprised with what was on the air.
    Best Wishes to all!

  50. Lima

    Sorry for what I’m talking about, but that was just the bipolar world. Now we have been highlighting other countries on the world stage. As a broadcast medium that can be heard anywhere and uncensored site (the government of the country where you hear) and not dependent on having the internet connected around can die? Sorry my bad english, but blame the google translator! 🙂

    1. Thomas Post author

      Hi, Lima,

      I agree. A broadcasting medium that makes for the best means to convey a message across borders without censorship should not die. There are still so many countries that lack a free press. Plus, I believe we will find newer, more innovative ways, to use the SW radio spectrum.

      Thank you for your comment and no worries, I understand you through Google Translate!


  51. John c.

    I started back into shortwave in October last year (2012). Yes, a lot of stations are not broadcasting to NA but if you look at ones that broadcast in English around the world the selection is pretty good. I have ID, and received QSL cards from Radio Vietnam, Radio Turkey, Radio Russia, The Mighty KBC, Radio Vatican, Radio Romania, Duetsches Wald, and quite a few other sites not to mention stations I have just Identified such as Radio Taiwan, Radio Japan, radio Australia, Radio Moldova, Spain, Brazil etc., and I am just a weekend warrior starting on Friday and ending Sunday night. I am using a RF Space SDR-IQ, and a All Band Tuned Super Sloper Antenna. I am happy and I do not think that shortwave is dead yet, neither am I.

    1. Thomas Post author

      Excellent comment, John! I wholeheartedly agree.

      Sounds like you’re working the world with that RFSpace SDR-IQ!

  52. Diego

    Greetings from Spain and thank you for these very beautiful recordings. While you give me hope, I miss a lot the situation 10/15 years ago, when I started with shortwave, the government broadcasts were much more abundant and fascinating: Moldova, New Zealand, Finland, Portuguese for Africa, African music jamming, Radyo Pilipinas, Argentina, much more RFI, BBC, Deutsche Welle, VOA, Radio Canada, Radio Habana etc. The stations I pick became very limited, and I gave up the hobby a pair of years ago.

    The main reason I miss shortwave is because it has this factor of surprise and comfort; with a smartphone and tunein you have a clear sound, but you need to think about and look for what you want to hear; in shortwave radio, it was a bit of a lottery, and the world comes to you. I used to listen to it in bed before sleeping 🙂

  53. Thomas Post author

    Hi, Ronald,

    That’s a great point–ham transceivers are built to take the punishment that life in a vehicle can produce. I have never had a mobile HF station, but plan to do so in the near-ish future. Good to hear your experience with the FT857D. By the way, I bet our FM station selection is even more bland than yours in NZ. In the States, much of the market is dominated by Clear Channel network. All of their stations sound the same. I love discovering the odd, independent station.

    Oh, thanks for the kind comments, OM!

    Cheers & 73,

  54. Ronald

    It is good to see that there are still a lot of radio enthousiast around! I love listening to SW radio. Not only commercial broadcast, but also amateur radio. I like to hear music from other countries. Here in New Zealand, the local FM band is full of stations that all play the same sort of music. And it is full of advertising. In my car, I never listen to these stations. In stead of that, I am using my Yaesu FT857D for listening to SW. That is when I am not operating on one of the ham bands.

    Ronald – ZL1RDK

    P.s; Keep up the good work Thomas. I like your blog.

    1. james

      hi im from new zealand and have a short wave radio it does sw and mw and has 12 bands not used in a while but when i did i could only get radio sport from Australia also got another 2 radio station but they where not clear could be because i live in a bad signal place but is there many radio stations we can get?

  55. victor

    with due respect to still alive radio stations worldwide, i had great time listening to worldwide stations across the globe, at odd hours and all english broadcasts. serious listeners can still pursue the hobby to know various countries broadcast. SWL is not out of date yet. have fun with SWL..

  56. Ken

    SW is dead in North America, and unless you like to listen to the odd religious propaganda, it makes for a great time piece from Ft. Collins, CO. That is about it! And, oh yes, there is the HAM bands and CB. These are also pretty much dead. Only the real old timers are left on HAM radio, and CB is just garbage, not even good for truckers anymore. So, you can chalk this up to new technology, i.e. the internet, cell phones, and the like, but I would most certainly say that SW is dead in North America, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone buying a SW radio. I do remember that my Grundig Yaught Boy was around $200 back 18 years ago (when there was stuff on the air). Today, the same radio (albeit with a different name) can be had for the low price of $50. That must tell you something! As I said, it makes a good time piece from Ft. Collins, CO. I can set my clocks and watches by it.

    1. Thomas Post author

      Hi, Ken,

      It’s very true that shortwave radio listening is not as easy as it was 20 years ago in North America. Most of the major international broadcasters no longer target North America. Still, the recordings above were actually made in North America. There is still so much variety. That’s the great thing about HF propagation–you can often hear stations that were not targeting your geographic region.

      Browse our recordings category and you can get an idea of stations that can be heard in North America. With the exception of a few, not many are weak signal work. I stick with the loud stations for audio fidelity (and to be easy on the listener). I actually enjoy listening through the static for weak DX, but that’s not everyone’s cup of tea!

      You should also try you hand at pirate radio listening. Lots of music (and commentary!) variety. Not for everyone, but I enjoy it. Again, I’ve posted a lot of these in the recordings category.

      Also, there are stations like The Mighty KBC that actually target North America. Not many, but they are very easy to hear.

      Shortwave radio prices have fallen tremendously. I’ve reviewed or used almost all that are on the market. Technology, over time, becomes less and less expensive. In the shortwave world, the SiLabs DSP chip can be credited for inexpensive capable radios. The Tecsun PL-380 and PL-390 are excellent examples. But I tend to gravitate toward the $100-150 radios–the Grundig G3, Sony ICF-SW7600GR and the Tecsun PL-660. They have SSB and sync lock, which helps with selective fading.

      Anyway, I would encourage you to listen for a few of the broadcasters I mentioned above. A lot of SWLs find listening difficult these days because of local radio interference from nearby electronic devices. While listening one night, step outside, away from your house and see if the noise level drops. If it’s hard to hear where you are, most of the broadcasters have Internet radio streams you can hear via PC or a proper Wi-Fi radio. You could save the shortwave radio for travel.

      Anyway, thanks for commenting and all the best!

  57. PJ

    Sadly, shortwave in the US is dead. I was an avid DX’er in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, but gave up on this entertaining pastime when transmissions to my excellent portable rig began to wane. None of the major English-language stations broadcast to North America any more. One of these days, I might try wi-fi radio. Until then, some reasonably good foreign stations are available online.l

  58. Tudor

    I’m a radio afficionado, DX-er and I’ve been a SWL since I was 10 (I’m 39 now). There may still be a lot of stations on SW right now but the truth is for me there is almost nothing worth listening to. I tune to BBC WS when the conditions are OK to catch the signals beamed to Middle East, Asia or Africa. On weekends there is the Mighty KBC on 6095 kHz with good music. I may tune now and then to All India Radio or Radio Djibouti if I’m in the mood for some Asian/African music. And that’s about it. I’m not interested in propaganda-type radio which I find boring. Of course, to each his own.

    Most stations who left SW said they will use alternative platforms like the internet for content delivery. Well I have all kind of high tech devices like iPhones, iPads and computers, plus broadband internet and mobile broadband. I still prefer to listen to a real radio, it’s easier, more affordable and more fun. Too bad there is almost no content to listen to.

    1. Thomas Post author

      Though I love wi-fi and web radio, I still turn to SWL for the big broadcasters (like BBC WS, DW and Radio Australia). I like the sonic texture of SW radio, thus enjoy seeking out the odd stuff.

      I’ve also become a BIG fan of the TuneIn app. It’s the best one I know of for sorting through the millions of online stations out there. Just used it today in my car to listen to a station in Paris, one in Moncton, New Brunswick and Perth, Australia. Yes, I love the higher tech stuff too!

    2. Mike

      Thanks for nice discussion.
      I am from South Asia. By 1990 , my favourit Shortwave stations (in south asia) were Radio Cyelon(25 Meterband),All india radio(shortwave 31,25) , Radio Kanul and radio Pakistan,on shortwave 25,31,41,49 meter band. Now I am 50 yrs and living in canada since 22 yrs.Is there any way to listen my above favourit short wave stations in Canada ??

      1. Tom
        I’m in Michigan, if you are in Ontario I would expect reception to be similar. Of the stations you’ve mentioned, I’ve only been able to receive All India Radio. But I really have not spent much time attempting to DX the others. I too have rediscovered SW after a very long hiatus. What makes SWL much easier these days is the abundance of frequency information available on the web. The first two links will give you up to date time and frequency information. The last link is for an easy to build stick antenna that delivers some remarkable results. Receiver prices now reasonable and you can find a wide variety of ebay. Myself, I use a DX-398.
        Good Luck,

  59. Kevin2

    Just a small couple followups:

    1. when I say ‘many others’ I am not supporting this by being some sort of market research person or industry insider. I’m simply reflecting on what has happened in the lives of the people I know who started out listening to shortwave, and the sorts of comments evoked by the shutdown of, for example, RNI. I don’t remember one comment among those on their site that said “oh well guess I can’t ever get another pennant”. They were heartfelt comments from mature people to whom the station meant something. From this I infer that many DXers have incorporated shortwave as you desire it to be present in their lives, they just aren’t in touch with stations.

    2. I notice there’s another Kevin posting here. This is my first post. I will use Kevin2 if I post here again.

  60. Kevin

    This winradio device costs $1000 and is a little out of the budget of any beginner. Though I always say that any serious hobbiest starts with an entry point of $1000 and goes up.

    1. Thomas Post author

      Hi, Kevin,

      Yes, the Excalibur and most of the (at least) pro-sumer SDRs will cost in/around $1K. The Excalibur allowed me to record 8 broadcasts from the same 1 hour chunk of spectrum and time. I think my Sony ‘7600GR, hooked up to a long wire, would have gotten most of these too.

      The Excalibur, for what it’s worth, is an amazing SDR.

      I agree with your $1000 price point, especially assuming a decent chunk of that is going into materials for a good external antenna.


  61. inverness

    Good subject — it’s unfortunate that shortwave has all but died off, though this becomes clearer to those in North America to which broadcasts are no longer directed. The great irony of course, over the past decade, is that the United States basically gave up on shortwave broadcasting (except to some key areas in Africa and Asia) while stations formerly seen as competitors were permitted to take over the playing field. That’s why today you still here China, Cuba, Iran, the Saudis, still on the air, while VOA is barely audible, again except in those areas where the government-funded Broadcasting Board of Governors has chosen to extend the life of VOA and certrain other broadcasters it controls.

    1. Keith Perron

      I would like to know where you get off saying shortwave has died off. North America has never been an important shortwave region, even 20 years ago compare to the listeners it has in South East/East Asia/Pacific or Africa. North America was only a penny dropping in the ocean. Also who were and are the majority of North American listeners? DAM DXERS! The US has not given up on shortwave. They still target the same areas, except for Europe. Why use SW to target Europe today. Communism died. They still target all the very important regions and in fact increased hours to some of them. What do you mean the VOA is barely audible? The VOA is very audible. If your in the US. Why should the VOA do programs you can hear. Your not the audience. If shortwave was dead Radio Australia would not have increased it’s schedule. Indonesian has gone from 2 hours a day to 4 hours a day, with an increase of 2 more hours coming in the fall, they have also added 2 more frequencies. For English they also added 8 more frequencies and throughout the day and night you can pick them up in the Pacific/East and South East Asia on up cto 9 to 11 frequencies at one time. The BBC World Service are also nearly 24/7. Why would they use shortwave for North America, they have other platforms. You can not count Cuba, Iran, and the Saudis. These are what you call DXER stations, thats who mostly only listens to them. As for China. So what China has more hours, frequencies and languages on air. But the AIB which studies international audiences put the size of their audience at less than 6% of the audiences of the VOA, BBC and FRI. Again CRI main audience are DXERS. I know this for a fact as I worked there for 5 years. And in the 5 years I was there for English it was only these stupid reports of. Man spoke, woman spoke, music. Please send me ……..
      One of the downfalls of international shortwave broadcasting is the stupid DXER community. Do they not realize that stations don’t respect them? The majority of DXERS don’t listen to content. All they are is a bunch of socially awkward loons, who just want free stuff. I’ve been working in international broadcasting for more than 20 years and everyone I know from Bob Zanotti, Bob Thomann, Ian McFarland, Jonathan Marks, Andy Sennitt, the list goes on. Can’t stand them. The vast majority of I would say North American DXERS are QSL chasers.

      1. Dan Ervin

        Wow Keith. With all due respect, even though I am not a QSL Chaser, I would have to think that these “socially awkward loons” as you call them are an important part of the “radio economy” with their purchases of radios, antennas and countless other items, helping to make the manufacture of these receivers a profitable venture. Clearly you have had your fill of answering QSL requests, and I can appreciate that, but that was a little over the top in my opinion.

      2. Kevin

        Hi Keith. Just a thought, historically a lot of DXers may have been young folk trying to explore the world in the days before the internet. And while a few may have made it a lifelong hobby to pursue QSLs, many others listen now simply to enjoy the programming, or where they can’t follow the language, to enjoy the music and feel a sense of connection to a culture and place. Those folk have moved into all sorts of interesting and perhaps important parts of their societies, and may have visited or lived in the countries they listen to. Looking at QSL requests received by a radio station is probably not the best way to judge the impact of any station or the range of its listeners.

        1. Robert

          Yes, you hit it right. I was a young DXer trying to explore the world in the days before the internet. What else was available to get up-to-date information, though slanted, on closed societies? The junk sent was actually interesting and some of it has become valuable collectors’ items. This hobby led to my getting a MA in International Affairs, JD degree, and working in diplomacy in Europe and Latin America. Would not have happened without first being a DXer which really helped me gain good geographic knowledge.

          1. Thomas Post author

            Thanks for the comment & sharing your story, Robert. Yes, DXing certainly kindled my love of everything international as well. Indeed, even with the vast quantities of news sources on the Internet, I often think that the ability I (and many SWLs) gained to hear & recognize propaganda, may be lost on the ‘Net generation. It gave me critical listening skills–knowing everyone has a motive in their message. I find the sound-bite information age tough to swallow. I like to interpret my own thoughts on the news instead of having someone else do that for me.


      3. The Professor

        First off, DXers and their “stupid reports” serve an important function, in giving broadcasting entities real reception information from various locations, which can be invaluable for international broadcasters and their engineers.

        And calling people who are probably more like you than you’d like to think “socially awkward loons” is probably as revealing about your personality as it is rude.

        I understand you are in some manner shortwave radio “talent” and perhaps you might be frustrated if someone receiving your show didn’t pay strict attention to your every word, or somehow identify you as “the man” who said something. But please, get over yourself. You’re just another fading voice in the static sir.

        And try to mind your manners Mr. Happy Man. And I believe that the word “damn” as you are using it, should end in the letter “n.”

      4. John C

        Being fairly new to shortwave listening, November 2012 is when I started, I take offense to being called a QSL chaser. Granted I have and continue to send out QSL Reports on all new stations I pick up. My reports are consise, and do show that I listened for at least an hour to each station. I put in time, frequency, content, SINPO, and my opinion of the program. I only ask for a reply not free stuff. I enclose green stamps with each QSL request or return postage on a SASE if the station is in the USA, along with a postcard from where I live, and my own QSL card I had made. I calculate it costs me about 5.00 for each request which includes all I have just mentioned. To me this is a hobby I got interested in after being injured in a car wreck and having limited mobility. I was looking for a hobby that had little physical impact but took some brain power to do. I have studied books on shortwave and I am a member in several clubs. I subscribe to several magizenes. I am sorry if you feel I am some kind of a leach. Far from it. I have spent well over $3000.00 on equipment and supplies. If I get a QSL reply I am happy, if not I am still happy because I know I have identified the station. I listen to many station for the program content and news even after I have identified the station.

      5. Shortwave Listener 22007

        Keith, dxers may be part of a peculiar, possibly obsessive hobby, but they are also, in a way supporting the small unique low power stations in third world countries that would otherwise be overlooked by an international audience. In addition, without the elements of dxing in the shortwave listening hobby, then there would be no reason to just go on the internet and listen to podcasts. The truth is, amateur radio operators, dxers and world band fanatics are vital to the shortwave spectrum’s survival, as they give financial incentive for companies to produce high quality products, they assist stations by giving them information about the quality of their signals and they also protect some of the last remaining cultural outlets in a world of increasing conformity. So, before you start criticizing Dxers, ask yourself why you are even in the IBB in the first place? and the answer is, because shortwave listening is a century old hobby that requires every little bit of support that it can get.

        As a second note, I don’t at all understand why so many broadcasting boards and governments have been trying to kill the unique aspects of our hobby, why has the FCC been making things so hard for private non-religious broadcasters to get licensed?

  62. Chris Freitas

    Excellent response to that question. Even with the audio samples you have, there are still plenty of other stations and sounds on shortwave. I have actually been thinking this question to myself. As long as there is something to hear, I won’t give up on shortwave!

    1. Rafael Jimenez

      Many of us like to listen to shortwave, and it´s not dead. But it´s a lot less interesting and less enjoyable with the many stations that have turned off their transmitters. I live in Baja California, and their is not much to listen to other than Radio Habana and a few others. Maybe I need a good antena so I can get a few more stations. I guess that I compare SW with how it used to be back in the early 70´s , there is a very big difference.


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