Monthly Archives: February 2024

Last ‘From the Isle of Music’ from WBCQ on March 3, 2024

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Tilford, who notes:

The last broadcast of From the Isle of Music from WBCQ The Planet will be March 3 from 2200-2300 UTC on 7490 kHz.

He mentions that there simply hasn’t been the support from listeners in North America to continue broadcasting via WBCQ, thus listeners may need to use a WebSDR in order to listen to the regular broadcasts from Europe. Bill also notes:

The last episode will be a killer Cuban dance party – I am going out with a bang, not a whimper.

We look forward to tuning in! Thank you, Bill, for your dedicated music services over shortwave!

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My Favorite Shortwave Station and a Story Of Radio Waves Connecting People Across The Globe

Radio Nacional Brazil staff & reception of the Amazonias shortwave service in Alaska!

by Paul Walker, Program Director Of KSKO 89.5 McGrath, Alaska 

I moved up to McGrath for 2 reasons, the job and DX’ing! Some people move here because they’re outdoorsy types.. hunting, fishing or etc but not me. I knew from previous experience in Galena, Alaska that DXing here would be amazing so after a 3 year absence

I have done AM DX, but am mainly doing SW DX now and while I’ve used a few radios over the years, this is my current radio, the long silver rectangular TEF6686. It’s coupled with a 15 foot Wellbrook loop, DXEngineering Preamp and an EmTech ZM2

I quickly discovered Radio Nacional de Amazonias service broadcasting from near Brasilia to the Amazon region of Brazil. They use 100,000 Watts on 6180khz and 11780khz. 6180 is listed on as beaming at 344 degrees and 11780 is listed as 0 degrees, which could be interpreted as 360/1 deg, straight up or Non Directional.. neither of which appears to be true according to a map I’ve seen in a few places

(from Timm Breyel’s blog,

It would appear the 6180khz service is beamed at about 355 degrees and the 11780khz service is beamed at about 345 degrees.

Anyways, I quickly came to like this station because, even though it’s all in Portuguese, a language I neither speak nor really understand.. it’s quite lively and entertaining. Wether it’s a futbol match, with the announcer holding the “GOOOOAAAAALLLLL” scream for 10-20 seconds, a radio play/drama (Yes, really!) or an interactive show with listener comments and music, it’s a FUN listen and you get the sense that the audience likes the station!

Here’s a short 3 clip montage of some excited futbol announcers on Radio Nacional de Amazonias 11780khz recorded from my Alaska QTH as they excitedly proclaim “GOAAAAALLLL”

That listener interactive show is what really drew me in, hosted by the man in the cowboy hat in the picture at the top of this page, Mauricio Rabelo. He seems to be well liked, somewhat of a long term legend in Brazil radio and good at what he does.

The Radio Nacional de Amazonias signal on 11780khz is always at least mildly listenable here in McGrath, alaska but as evidenced by the picture, it can be and is often quite good. There are many times where its as solid as a 50KW local broadcast AM signal from 20 miles away could be with zero noise, zero fading and the ability to widen my radios audio bandwith all the way from 3khz to 6khz or even sometimes 8khz bandwith!

Here’s a video of my reception using the older ATS25 radio

I soon discovered that the station had a WhatsApp number and listeners could send in messages that the station would sometimes play over the air so I thought to myself, “Why not? give it a try” and they were thrilled to have a listener so far away who also sent in a message.

I am many thousands of KM’s outside the target area of the SW signal but am directly in the main lobe and at a great location for a 2nd or 3rd hop, which is what makes the signal so consistent and so good for me.

I became a regular listener and semi regular contributor of WhatsApp voice messages to the show, “Eu de Cá Você Lá” that Mauricio Rabelo hosts most afternoons. He admitted once or twice, his English was very very poor and almost non existent so I took it upon myself to start using a few Portuguese words from time to time, and even using a few new ones now and then.. probably butchering the pronunciations but people started taking notice.

Mauricio himself would use a few basic english words “thank you my friend” and struggle to do it, but he’d try. Listeners especially took notice and would comment from time to time on my participation in the show, loving the fact I listen from so far away and have tried to learn their language.

This has gone on over the last 3 years or so and is still fun for me. I usually tell Mauricio and listeners in my messages about the weather here or any important/interesting news we have going on, in very brief detail. I’ve had listeners even invite me to visit Brazil! I make sure I begin each message with a greeting in Portuguese, “boa noite” (goodnight) and end each message with a “sign off” in Portuguese, “muito obrigado” (many thanks) so if nothing else gets said in Portuguese, there’s at least that.

I’ve been known to make dinner and go to the park with my gear on warm weather days and enjoy listening while eating dinner!

In a tv special on 100 years of radio in Brazil, Mauricio and another man are guests where they talk about radio and in one particular segment, they talk about the reach of Radio Nacional on Shortwave. In the video below, fast forward to 4 minutes and 10 seconds then watch/listen for a little bit…. you don’t have to understand Portuguese to understand the reference Mauricio makes about 30-40 seconds in

I kind’ve consider Radio Nacional de Amazonias to be “somewhat dx” despite the regularity and strength of the signal because I’m so far from their intended service area yet the signal visits me at a good level quite often. It’s a perfect set of circumstances that make that happen too, because If I was further west/southwest or further east/southeast the signal wouldn’t be as good.

I’ve searched high and low for clips of the station and found some good ones, but never any quite as good as mine.

By the way, the picture of the staff at the very top of the post was taken by them just for me and sent over WhatsApp after I sent along a picture and video of me working at KSKO 89.5. The man on the left in yellow is the co host of “”Eu de Cá Você Lá”, the woman in yellow is the female news reader, the man 3rd from the left is the producer and the man on the far right in the cowboy hat is Mauricio Rabelo. Search for Mauricio on Youtube and you’ll find  some very interesting videos of him holding a parade when he was campaigning some years ago for a federal office

I like, despite the distance and language barrier, there’s been a bit of a connection between people. It’s the magic of radio waves that got me interested in working in the broadcasting business nearly 30 years ago and part of the reason why I’m still at it after 20 years

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How I Figure Out and Decide What To Log On Shortwave….

by Paul Walker, Program Director, KSKO 89.5 McGrath Alaska (not my radio, stock photo)

Some have asked, so I thought I’d share. Everyones DX’ing goals and rules are different and that’s what makes the hobby interesting……these are mine. If I logged everything, I’d have multi gigabytes of audio on a weekly basis that I’d never ever finish sorting through. Alaska seems to be a great place for direct long path, off the back or over the pole reception of alot of signals!

I have a schedule site ( that gives me the frequency, schedule, broadcaster, transmitter location,  language and target area of the signal. I then quickly work out in my mind where I am in relation to that.

Like something beaming from Oman or the UAE to the Middle East, I may be off center from the main lobe, but it’s a long path trip for that signal. Something from Botswana to Northern/Western African, I am in near the direct center main lobe of the long path of that, as I recall looking up at one point. Or I could be getting something off the back from Galbeni or Santa Maria de Galleria.

I quickly work that out in my head and ten figure out if that’s actual DX. Then i quickly evaluate the signal.. quality over quantity. I know what many signals are capable of here at some point or another.. and If I’m getting a noisy, fadey signal where I know anything from alot better is possible to common, I won’t log it or record audio.

I do regularly log some poor to fair signals because they are rare here and usually low power. (Tarma 4775khz, Brazil 15190khz, et al)

I also take into account what others have logged and how well. I go after the lesser heard or those not heard as well by others. I live in a very unique location for DX and I want to use my time wisely by learning about what I hear, what I hear and going after whatever my personal definition is of the most worthy signals to log.

I typically do not log anything of which I am in the target area or spill over area of. Like Radio Romania International, China Radio international.. because thats just easy pickin’s for me…. with a few exceptions

This is not to say anyone who logs only target area or easy stuff is doing it wrong. We just go after different things and do things differently.

If I logged everything I heard, I’d have multi gigabytes of audio on a weekly basis that I’d never ever finish sorting through and as Thomas Witherspoon knows, I’m behind with processing my audio all the time as it is!

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Dan’s Overview of the Stampfl Stressless Receiver Kit

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who shares this review of the new Stampfl Stressless receiver:

The Stampfl “Stressless”

by Dan Robinson

Stampfl based in Switzerland is well known as a manufacturer of excellent antennas, morse keys, and other equipment for amateur radio operators and SWLs. Now, Stampfl is offering what it calls the “Stressless” HF receiver. Housed in a beautiful heavy metal cabinet, one would think that there would be more to this than there is actually is — it’s a very basic receiver made, as the name implies, for those who want a minimum of stress in their HF listening.

Note: All photos have been sourced from Stampfl.

It is intended as an assembly kit, with some minimal soldering required. Heinz Stampfl notes that the VFO and RX board are fully assembled and tested. Total construction time is estimated a 1-2 hours. Star of the show on the Stressless is the large color display which enables changing of colors, tuning step, VFO A/B, attenuation, and memories. The single bandwidth has been well chosen — I had no problems listening to Voz Missionaria in Brazil on 9,665 khz though any stations requiring separation will be a challenge for this receiver since there is no SSB and that one bandwidth. The receiver tunes from 100 kHz to 30 MHz.

One would hope that firmware might be upgradeable, but Stampfl states that this is not possible, which is a bit of a puzzle. The receiver runs on 11-15V DC — the only other thing on the back of the cabinet is the BNC antenna input.

I’ll have more thoughts on the “Stressless” after I complete additional testing. So far, it has appeal as a very simple receiver with high sensitivity and a beautiful front interface. It might be a good choice for beginning SWLs, as many of them as there are out there, but the price/feature ratio is a bit of steep climb against the background of Tecsun portables with multi-bandwidth and SSB capabilities, not to mention the recently released Choyong LC90 which combines good SW, AM, and FM with Internet radio.

The “Stressless” — for those who can afford the price — would be good as an easy-to-use main listening receiver for stations not requiring much DXing skill or tools to separate. These days with the SW bands populated by fewer stations, this receiver might be fun to have around and it is certainly a good way to teach the radio hobby to newcomers.

The “Stressless” I am testing arrived well-packed in a clam-shell style inner box — it was already assembled by Stampfl for which I am grateful. The company also makes the X One Active Dipole antenna, which I am also testing at the moment and will have more on at a later date.

Click here to check out and order the Stampfl Stressless.


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RadioSide: A cool, web-based, portable internet radio interface

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Alex, who writes:


I am Alex and a reader of SWLing for quite a while, particularly in
terms of reviews and tests, very helpful and I appreciate your work.

As a listener myself enjoying my Tecsun PL-680 among others, I have
also created a website that looks like a radio, turning your spare
device into a radio, giving one similar experience to shortwave
radios, particularly in the aspect of operation and in the serendipity
of discovery new stations.

I figured I’d share it with you an would love to hear your thoughts.

This is something I enjoy using, not making any money from it and the
main purpose is the enjoyment I get, hoping others feel the same.

You can check it out at

Alex Dragusin

I think this is brilliant! Thank you for sharing–I love the auto-resizing SW portable interface! Very nice I’m bookmarking this right now. Thanks again, Alex.

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Eclipse Radio: Several NASA-Funded Science Projects

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Iurescia, who shares the following article via NASA:

The Aug. 21, 2017, total solar eclipse douses Umatilla National Forest in shadow, darkening the sky and rimming the horizon with a 360 degree sunset. Credit: NASA/Mara Johnson-Groh

NASA-Funded Science Projects Tuning In to ‘Eclipse Radio’ (NASA)

On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will cross parts of the United States. For millions of people along the path of totality, where the Moon will completely cover the Sun, it may feel like an eerie daytime darkness has descended as temperatures drop and wind patterns change. But these changes are mild compared to what happens some 100 to 400 miles above our heads in an electrically conductive layer of our atmosphere known as the ionosphere, where the “false night” of an eclipse is amplified a hundredfold. Three NASA-funded experiments will investigate the eclipse’s effects on the ionosphere through the power of radio, a technology well suited to studying this enigmatic layer of our atmosphere.

Whether you’ve heard of the ionosphere or not, you’ve likely taken advantage of its existence. This electric blanket of particles is critical for long-distance AM and shortwave radio. Radio operators aim their transmitters into the sky, “bouncing” signals off this layer and around the curvature of Earth to extend their broadcast by hundreds or even thousands of miles.

The ionosphere is sustained by our Sun. The Sun’s rays separate negatively charged electrons from atoms, creating the positively charged ions that the ionosphere is named for. When night falls, over 60 miles of the ionosphere disappears as ions and electrons recombine into neutral atoms. Come dawn, the electrons are freed again and the ionosphere swells in the Sun’s illumination – a daily cycle of “breathing” in and out at a global scale.

A total solar eclipse is a scientific goldmine – a rare chance to observe a natural experiment in action. On April 8 the three NASA-funded projects listed below are among those “tuning in” to the changes wrought by a blotted-out Sun.


The Super Dual Auroral Radar Network, or SuperDARN, is a collection of radars located at sites around the world. They bounce radio waves off of the ionosphere and analyze the returning signal. Their data reveals changes in the ionosphere’s density, temperature, and location (i.e. movement).

The 2024 eclipse will pass over three U.S.-based SuperDARN radars. A team of scientists led by Bharat Kunduri, a professor at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, have been busy preparing for it.

“The changes in solar radiation that occur during a total solar eclipse can result in a ’thinning’ of the ionosphere,” Kunduri said. “During the eclipse, SuperDARN will operate in special modes designed to monitor the changes in the ionosphere at finer spatiotemporal scales.”

Kunduri’s team will compare SuperDARN’s measurements to predictions from computer models to answer questions about how the ionosphere responds to a solar eclipse.


While some experiments rely on massive radio telescopes, others depend more on people power. The Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation, or HamSCI, is a NASA citizen science project that involves amateur or “ham” radio operators. On April 8, ham radio operators across the country will attempt to send and receive signals to one another before, during, and after the eclipse. Led by Nathaniel Frissell, a professor of Physics and Engineering at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, HamSCI participants will share their radio data to catalog how the sudden loss of sunlight during totality affects their radio signals.

This experiment follows similar efforts completed during the 2017 total solar eclipse and the 2023 annular eclipse.

“During the 2017 eclipse, we found that the ionosphere behaved very similar to nighttime,” Frissell said. Radio signals traveled farther, and frequencies that typically work best at night became usable. Frissell hopes to continue the comparison between eclipses and the day/night cycle, assessing how widespread the changes in the ionosphere are and comparing the results to computer models.


Some radio signals don’t bounce off of the ionosphere – instead, they pass right through it. Our Sun is constantly roiling with magnetic eruptions, some of which create radio bursts. These long-wavelength bursts of energy can be detected by radio receivers on Earth. But first they must pass through the ionosphere, whose ever-changing characteristics affect whether and how these signals make it to the receiver.

The RadioJOVE project is a team of citizen scientists dedicated to documenting radio signals from space, especially Jupiter. During the total solar eclipse, RadioJOVE participants will focus on the Sun. Using radio antenna kits they set up themselves, they’ll record solar radio bursts before, during, and after the eclipse.

During the 2017 eclipse, some participants recorded a reduced intensity of solar radio bursts. But more observations are needed to draw firm conclusions. “With better training and more observers, we’ll get better coverage to further study radio propagation through the ionosphere,” said Chuck Higgins, a professor at Middle Tennessee State University and founding member of RadioJOVE. “We hope to continue longer-term observations, through the Heliophysics Big Year and beyond.”

Find out more about the April 8, 2024, solar eclipse on NASA’s eclipse page.

By Miles Hatfield
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

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