Wireless Nights on BBC Radio 4 features London Shortwave

One of London Shortwave’s portable spectrum capture systems

I am very happy to share that the BBC Radio 4 program Wireless Nights, Series 5, features our own community member London Shortwave this week. The show aired tonight (March 27) and the audio is now available to stream via the Radio 4 website. I’ve also embedded the audio below:

Here’s the description of the show from Radio 4:


Jarvis Cocker navigates the ether as he continues his nocturnal exploration of the human condition.

On a night voyage across a sea of shortwave he meets those who broadcast, monitor and harvest electronic radio transmissions after dark.

Paddy Macaloon, founder of the band Prefab Sprout, took to trawling the megahertz when he was recovering from eye surgery and the world around him became dark. Tuning in at night he developed a ghostly romance with far off voices and abnormal sounds.

Artist Katie Paterson and ‘Moonbouncer’ Peter Blair send Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata to the moon and back, to find sections of it swallowed up by craters.

Journalist Colin Freeman was captured by the Somali pirates he went to report on and held hostage in a cave. But when one of them loaned him a shortwave radio, the faint signal to the outside world gave him hope as he dreamed of freedom.

And “London Shortwave” hides out in a park after dark, with his ear to the speaker on his radio, slowly turning the dial to reach all four corners of the earth

Jarvis sails in and out of their stories – from the cosmic to the captive – as he wonders what else is out there, deep in the noise

Producer Neil McCarthy.

I found Megahertz absolutely captivating! I’m very impressed with how all of the personal adventures in radio, including an array of motivations, were weaved together.

And brilliant job, London Shortwave! It was fun to go on a park outing with you and your spectrum capture gear!

Click here to listen to Megahertz on BBC Radio 4.

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10 thoughts on “Wireless Nights on BBC Radio 4 features London Shortwave

  1. Mick Aitch

    A great show that reintroduced me to SWL. It’s already cost me untold hours of my life, since the broadcast, searching for the right ‘starter’ (or, to be fair, ‘restarter’) rig. I decided that, rather than spend more time studying and researching I ought to just get going. To that end I’m planning to pick up a ‘lightly used’ PL880 this week.

    Thanks Jarvis!

  2. Jim-SATX

    Definitely an entertaining and interesting show. I found the moon bounce portion to be especially interesting since I really didn’t know anything about that kind of communication. Also, it was very intriguing to hear the interview with Paddy McAloon (of Prefab Sprout), one of my very favorite musical artists, as well as the excerpts from his “I Trawl the Megahertz” solo album. I’ll have to go back and listen to that again.

  3. Curt Schwarzwalder

    An entertaining feature – thanks for the link. We can now attach a voice to the “London Shortwave” posts.
    I actually laughed out loud at Jarvis Cocker’s “I don’t think I’ll get off at that station” comment after the clip of the omnipresent Brother Stair. I’m not sure that would encourage the uninitiated to give a shortwave radio a spin, though.

  4. Richard Langley

    I was eagerly awaiting this program having been alerted to it earlier. I had intended to listen live using the U. Twente SDR receiver but had a conflicting business meeting. I set up to record the broadcast but as luck would have it (not uncommon when receiving radio broadcasts) parts of the recording were distorted. So it was great to be able to use the BBC’s listen-again feature or to download the podcast. There were some great lines describing shortwave such as “one man and his wireless under a tree.” That was in reference to “London Shortwave,” the Russian immigré whose identity we still don’t know. And just after a recording of Brother Stair (a.k.a. Brother Scare and Brother Hystairical): “I don’t think I’ll get off at that station.” A couple of others: “night fishing” and “playing dice with the radio.” Hopefully the average Radio 4 listener won’t think shortwave listeners or moon-bounce hams are TOO weird. 😉

  5. Kris, G8AUU

    Thanks for the overnight send, well it was 10:21 pm with you Thomas, 03:31 in the morning here in London. I’m off to BBC iPlayer Radio now to catch this programme. Thank again for bringing the broadcast to my attention.

  6. Phil from Darwin

    Some SW listeners would remember Jarvis Cocker’s father Mac Cocker whose highly regarded music shows were broadcast out of Darwin on ABC Northern Territory shortwave in the 1990’s and 2000’s. Jarvis being of course a popular UK musician and artist.

    Great show by the way.


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