Monthly Archives: August 2013

The view from the Voice of America

VOA-Roof - DC

Click to enlarge

Today, I visited the Voice of America in Washington, DC and had lunch with my good friend and fellow shortwave radio enthusiast, Dr. Kim Andrew Elliott, creator of the VOA Radiogram. Besides giving me an update on the success of the VOA Radiogram broadcasts, Kim took me to the roof of the VOA building on Independence Avenue, so that I could check out the antenna farm of the VOA Ham Radio Club (K3VOA). I took several photos on my DSLR camera and will post them here upon my return.

While up there, I couldn’t help but note this incredible view of the Capitol Building; I snapped this quick shot–which can’t do it justice–with my iPhone.

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Myke maps his radio recordings

MykeOur friend, Myke Dodge Weiskopf, writes with an update:

“I went through all 600+ recordings of mine and generated a highly accurate Google Earth KML file pinpointing all the transmitters (along with reception details). Lots of fun for SWL types to fly around and look at antenna farms!

It’s also available directly from along with the normal maps version and the comprehensive spreadsheet.”

This is fascinating–thanks, Myke!

I’ve already checked out the Google Maps version online but will certainly download the KML file and import it into Google Earth as well. It’s fun zooming around the globe and finding all of these transmitter sites; this took serious dedication to plot. (To have had tools like this when I was eight years old…)

Note that the next season of shortwavemusic starts on October 1st. Check out Myke’s website for more details!

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Voice Of Russia’s response to reported shortwave closure

Voice of Russia Antenna site in Wachenbrunn, Germany (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Voice of Russia Antenna site in Wachenbrunn, Germany (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Dominik, for sharing email responses he received from the Voice of Russia regarding news of their closure.

Below are two quotes from two different responses:

“Unfortunately, so far we have no official information as regards the cancellation of shortwave broadcasting. However, we cannot rule out such a scenario for the future, since currently the VOR is speedily introducing modern day technologies of radio and internet broadcasting.”

“Thank you very much for your letter and for your concern about the presumable cancellation of shortwave broadcasting by the Voice of Russia. As I said earlier, so far we have received no official information in this regard, however, we keep receiving letters from concerned listeners. Thank you very much for your support.”

Looks like they’re neither confirming nor denying the news we posted earlier.

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The Spec-Ops Pack-Rat: A new go pack for my radio gear

The Spec-Ops Pack-Rat makes for an ideal radio gear bag and easily accommodates the Grundig G3

The Spec-Ops Pack-Rat makes for an ideal radio gear bag and easily accommodates the Grundig G3 (Click to enlarge)

As I’ve mentioned before, I love to travel with one bag and efficiently pack my radio gear.

This year at the Dayton Hamvention, my good friend Eric, retiree of the Air National Guard, took me onto the nearby Wright Patterson Air Force Base. Eric is a good buddy and fellow ham, and for several years now, we’ve made it a point to visit both the National Museum of the US Air Force and Wright Patterson AFB while at the Hamvention. This year he was in need of some gear, so we visited the store where those on active duty purchase Air Force-approved gear and clothing. Being a bit of a pack fanatic, I of course quickly found the backpack section. I was searching for the perfect small radio gear pack, and I think I found it: The Spec-Ops Pack-Rat Organizer.

Pack-Rat2This little pack (roughly the size of a larger-format paperback book at 10″ high, 7.25″ wide x 3″ thick) is built very well–it seems nearly bullet-proof.  It immediately suggested several uses. Here are a few of its advertised features:

  • 14 separate storage compartments/ slots
  • A unique “inside-out” design which allows for instant open access while inside packs
  • 12″ gear-keeper leash for keys, lights, etc.
  • Clear business card/ID window
  • External mesh pocket
  • External accessory loops and carrying handle
  • “D”-ring attachment points for optional shoulder strap
  • Fully zippered perimeter allows for a 90° opening
  • Extremely tough Cordura® 1000D nylon exterior lined with heavy duty nylon pack cloth
  • Fully seam-taped interior
  • High-tensile nylon web attachment points and
  • Bar-tack reinforcements at critical stress points

One glance at the Pack-Rat, and I knew that one of its two largest interior pockets could hold my larger shortwave portables, the other could hold my Kindle Fire tablet, and there would still be plenty of room for wires, cables, accessories, and headphones.

PackRat3After bringing it home, I was simply amazed at exactly how much gear it could readily hold.  And indeed, this summer I’ve taken it on several trips; including my July trip to Belize for which I packed all of my gear into one small convertible carry-on pack (a small Timbuk2 Wingman).

Here’s the list of items I stashed in the Pack-Rat:

  • Grundig G3
  • Kindle Fire and power cord
  • Zoom H2n Handy Recorder with wind screen and mic stand holder
  • Eight AA batteries
  • Ear buds
  • Icom ID-51A HT and adaptor
  • 2 Cliff Bars (a guy’s gotta eat!)
  • 3′ stereo audio patch cable
  • two alligator clip leads
  • keys
  • pen, pencil, notepad
  • business cards

At this point, the little pack was full, but could close very easily and didn’t even bulge on the sides; even with all that (somewhat bulky) gear inside.

PackRat1Best yet, as I moved around in town, I could use the shoulder strap from my convertible backpack on the Pack-Rat, making it very easy to carry. Even though most of the internal pockets are open from the top, I never had anything fall out, even when the pack was upside down.  When the pack shuts, it seems to put enough pressure on the pockets to hold items securely. It’s bright yellow interior makes it very easy to see the contents even in dim conditions, such as on a night flight.

Spec-Ops packs are made with pride in the USA and obviously meet military standards for durability and construction. They also carry a lifetime warranty. You don’t have to visit a military base to purchase one, either: Spec-Ops has an online store where they carry their full product line. Spec-Ops Brand also has a store on You’ll find the Pack-Rat on this page–note the number of positive reviews from customers.

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Alex updates his shortwave frequency charts

AlexChartsSWLing Post reader, Alex, has just informed me that he’s updated his shortwave frequency charts once again. Alex said he has, “improved the layout of the charts so that they have a bigger, clearer type.” He continues:

“They should be more legible this time, even if you print off from a basic printer and carry the bits of paper around when travelling. They also now divide the day into Early and Late, rather than Dark and Daylight, which seems to work better.”

Note that Alex creates his charts based on actually listening to broadcasters, rather than importing schedules from other sources.

You can download the free charts on his website:

Here are the direct links to download the charts:

Thanks, Alex, for the time and dedication you put into these fine charts!

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Arturo Sandoval listened to VOA “every single day”

220px-Arturo_Sandoval_photoThe Voice of America provided Cuban jazz trumpeter, pianist and composer, Arturo Sandoval with a source of inspiration through Jazz. In a recent interview with NPR, Sandoval stated:

“We used to listen every day, every single day, [to] Voice of America. [It] was a shortwave radio program, and they play everything in jazz music. That was the only way we have to hear that kind of music and to be connected with the music we love. I was in the obligatory military service for three years when the sergeant [caught] me listen[ing] to the Voice of America, and then they put me in jail because I was listening to the voice of enemies.”

Click here to listen to the full interview on NPR.

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Shortwave Radio Recordings: Voice of Greece

greeceFor your listening pleasure: a recording of the Voice of Greece made Tuesday night, August 20th, starting at 23:00 UTC.

This broadcast begins with my favorite Voice of Greece station ID, then, following a little Greek commentary, resumes with an eclectic mix of music.

This is one of the few broadcasts I’ve heard with a substantial dose of non-Greek music. Click here to download the full recording as an MP3, or simply listen via the embedded player below:

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