Pure nostalgia: Mark’s shortwave recording of Radio Tahiti music

(Map Source: Wikimedia Commons)

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.

Click here to download an MP3 of this recording.

Wow Mark!  Thank you so much for sharing this recording–it certainly brings back memories of listening to Radio Tahiti on my Zenith Trans-Oceanic!

Post readers: Anyone else cruise Radio Tahiti for the amazing music?  Please comment!

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8 thoughts on “Pure nostalgia: Mark’s shortwave recording of Radio Tahiti music

  1. Arden Allen

    I graduated from high school in 1960 and was a SWL enthusiast since about ’56. I had bought and assembled a Heathkit AR-3 and from time to time would look for Tahiti at 6135 kHz. The AR-3 was not much of a receiver for short wave but it would hear Papeete on good reception nights with low static crashes. It was a thrill to hear Tahitian music and having later visited Tahiti my listening experience is a very fond memory.

  2. Mark Pettifor

    Richard and anyone else wondering… My QTH is northern Indiana. I’m pretty sure this was heard on a random long wire strung in the back yard. I heard them occasionally on 11825, but usually not as well. I can’t remember if I ever heard them on their 49m band frequency, 6135.

    And yes, Guy, I think I’m remembering the fire at the Cook Islands transmitter. I probably read that recently and got them mixed up!

    I’m glad the nostalgic post stirred some great memories. Thanks for sharing!

    Mark Pettifor


    I first heard Radio Tahiti, after many tries, when using an Hammarlund HQ-140 (and an illegally strung, outside enameled copper wire antenna) in our apartment in Philadelphia, PA. According to the QSL card I was receiving on 11,825 MHz and and I heard about 20 minutes of Tahitian music starting at 0711 Hrs GMT on 8 August 1968. After about 20 minutes of low SNR, but clear music and talk the signal quickly faded out. This was about a week before my PhD written exams and was an enjoyable break from studies.

  4. DanH

    Thanks for sharing the recording of Radio Tahiti, Mark. What a find! I have memories of this station as well.

    The early to mid-70’s were my college years in Northern California. I had a WW II surplus Hammarlund RBG-2 and a set of attic dipoles at the apartment. I tuned in Radio Tahiti if I was home for study during the afternoon. I did not understand much French but I enjoyed the Polynesian music.

    There were some other shortwave stations that were favorites for music. Solomon Islands was easily heard late at night on 60m. I still remember the commercial for Guadalcanal Auto Parts. Eastern European artists on the Melodiya label were featured in music from many Soviet block regional stations. There was one in Vladivostok that came in very well. It played classical music for most of the night. Radio Argentina English language service was there with Golden Age tango music evenings on 31m. RA put in a strong signal from Argentina back then at what must have been 04:00 or 05:00 UTC. Then, there was Radio Rumbos out of Caracas. Solid 30-minute sets without breaks late nights on 60m. That was a trip. Friends would come by on weekend evenings to hear that one.

    I still remember Radio Tahiti when I tune across 15170 kHz. The band was packed with daytime stations back then.


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