Halloween is typically the most active day of the year for shortwave pirates. Halloween falls on Wednesday, October 31st, and although this is the middle of the week, expect pirates to emerge like The Great Pumpkin!
Here are three things you’ll want to do Halloween night:
Listen for pirate radio stations today and throughout the weekend! Turn on your radio anytime today, but especially around twilight and tune between 6,920 – 6,980 kHz. Pirates broadcast on both AM and SSB; you’re bound to hear a few. If you’re brand new to pirate radio listening, you might read my pirate radio primer by clicking here. I will be listening until late in the evening.
Listening to [Monday] night’s recording, I note that during the English program, they mentioned that the foreign language programs in English, Arabic, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Sephardic (Ladino or Judeo-Spanish, I presume) all will be returning to shortwave. They gave the English schedule as Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 23:00 UTC with a repeat on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 03:00 UTC.
Thank you for sharing this, Richard. I’m impressed that REE has added so many language programs back to their shortwave services.
Thomas Witherspoon is building a time machine, of sorts. With it, you’ll be able to pick a date and tune through an entire broadcast band as if you had a radio that could pick up transmissions from the past. Sure, well-established shows already make past episodes available, but with Witherspoon’s time machine you’ll be able to hear not just that programming but everything else that was on the air as well: the local news, the commercials, the pirate stations, even the mysterious number stations that lurk on shortwave.
Witherspoon’s time machine is The Radio Spectrum Archive. The technological advance that makes it possible is the proliferation in recent years of cheap software-defined radios (SDRs), which can digitize enormous swaths of radio spectrum. The SDR’s software can be used to select individual transmissions and listen to them live. Or the swath of spectrum can be recorded and played back through the software later, letting listeners tune into broadcasts just as if they were live.[…]
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bruce Atchison (VE6XTC), who shares the following notes from a DXpedition over 30 years years ago. Bruce writes, “While going through some old blog posts, I found this one about a DXpedition I took in 1984.”
HUNTING FOR RARE GAME.
In past posts, I’ve mentioned my passion for radio. It began with my discovery of distant stations on my dad’s car radio when I was ten years old and continues to this day. Because my memoirs deal with subjects other than distant signal reception, referred to by radio aficionados as DX, I haven’t been able to write much about this infatuation.
One aspect of hunting for DX is travelling to remote locations that are free of man-made interference. When I learned that my cousin Wayne, was going hunting near Lodgepole in October of 1984, I begged a ride with him.
In a clearing along a cut line, I erected a seventy-foot-long wire antenna and connected it to my general coverage receiver which I powered with a car battery. While Wayne hunted moose, I tracked down exotic stations. Just as the fresh autumn air invigorated me, so did the crystal-clear reception of stations which I could barely hear back home.
At our makeshift camp site, I often let my cousin listen to the radio. This occasionally led to some strange situations. As we ate breakfast early one morning, I tuned in a station from Papua New Guinea. To my astonishment, the announcer began playing country music. There we were, two Canadians in the Alberta wilderness, listening to American country tunes from a station on the other side of the Pacific ocean.
Another memorable radio moment happened one night when I picked up a coast guard station in contact with a ship somewhere in the Pacific. Somebody on board it was hurt and needed a doctor. The radio man could barely speak English and the American on shore could barely understand the sailor’s accent. If it wasn’t a serious situation, it would have been comical.
My uncle Bob, who hunted in a different part of the forest, met us one evening as we relaxed by the fire. When he asked what I was doing with that fancy radio, I showed him by tuning in Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster.
Uncle Bob gawked at the set and listened in awestruck silence for a minute. “I can understand that,” he exclaimed as a news announcer droned on in German. “I can understand everything he’s saying. How can you pick up a signal all the way from Germany?” he marvelled.
I couldn’t even begin to explain the intricacies of F2 radio wave propagation to him so I said, “Signals like that always come in like that on the short wave bands.”
I felt sad at the end of the week when we packed up and drove toward Edmonton. Though Wayne came back empty-handed, I had the fulfilling experience of listening to far away stations free of annoying buzzes from TV sets and power lines.
Thank you for sharing those wonderful memories, Bruce!
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who writes:
While listening to my recording of yesterday’s Unique Radio broadcast over WINB, I noticed that the Radio Hobart International segment featured the second of a three-part interval signals special. Brought back many nice memories of long-gone shortwave stations. All three segments in studio quality can be found on the Radio Hobart International website:
Thank you for the tip, Richard! Kudos to HRI for putting these specials together. I’ve also embedded the audio from each episode below (email digest subscribers will need to view this on our site, or HRI):
In 1982 I visited Tahiti with my family during a holiday from Malaysia, where I was working at that time, and could listen to Radio Tahiti locally. Back in Malaysia I managed to catch Radio Tahiti on 15170 kHz with my DR-28 and got the reception report verified with a nice QSL card.
When I moved back to Sweden a few years later I also managed to catch Radio Tahiti on 15170 kHz and got the reception report verified with another nice QSL card.
I saw that a QSL card from Radio Tahiti 1981 recently was sold on E-bay for $66.50!! so you better keep these old rarities.
Many thanks for sharing, Lennart! You’re right…some of these QSL cards are worth quite a bit of money on eBay. Take good care of them!
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Pettifor, who writes:
One of the great things about DXing and SWLing is the variety of music one can hear. One of my favorite stations to listen to on shortwave for “exotic music” was Radio Tahiti, Papeete, French Polynesia, when they were still on shortwave.
If my memory serves me correctly, I believe something happened to the transmitter, and they never got back on SW. They were on mediumwave through December of 2016 (738 kHz); now they are on FM only. (Maybe us hobbyists should start a funding website to put them back on shortwave!)
Many a Saturday night I would turn on the DX-160 (my first SW rig) and let it warm up for a while, before tuning in 15170 to see how band conditions were. If the band was good, I’d get ready to record through the air. Once I started recording, I’d often leave the room and shut the door, because having three brothers around meant the possibilities were high for having “extraneous interference” on my recordings.
Saturday evenings were a good time to tune in, because of a music program that aired with a good selection of island music. The program had an announcer who spoke in the island vernacular (Tahitian?), and when that program ended they switched to French.
Here is a 30-min recording of Radio Tahiti on 15170 kHz from a while ago, most likely around one of the solar maxima of either 1980 or 1991. I’m leaning toward the 1980 cycle. My apologies for not being able to be more specific than that. I kept terrible records of my recordings. This would be recorded either with the DX-160 or a DX-302. Apologies too for the jump in volume at around the 2:37 mark.
So close your eyes, imagine you are lying in a hammock on a beach somewhere in the South Pacific, with a warm breeze off the ocean and your favorite cooled beverage nearby, listening to some of the best island music anywhere.