Category Archives: Clandestine

Radio Waves: Insomnia-Fueled Pirate, Cold War & High-Tech Tactics for Russia, PL-660 Panadapter, Women-Run Radio in Somalia, and Building an SDR Transceiver

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!


Meet the 68-year-old ‘bad-boy nerd’ behind this North Side pirate radio station (WBEZ)

If you’re driving through the greater Ravenswood area and tune your radio dial to 87.9 FM, you might just enter a sort of radio twilight zone. On tap? Old timey, crime-thriller radio dramas, complete with sleuthy melodramatic music, damsels in distress and classic radio sound effects – footsteps, doors slamming, the gun going off.

There are no call letters or DJs, just “audio noir” floating out over a two-square-mile sweet spot on Chicago’s North Side.

It’s all broadcast illegally out of a nondescript two-flat on a residential block. There’s a spindly antenna on the roof, visible mainly from the alley, and a 50-watt transmitter in the upstairs apartment. And there’s Bill, a retired computer and audio engineer who’s been operating this illegal station for some 15 years. He asked us not to use his last name for fear of “FCC prison.”

“People on the lakefront up in the high rises can hear it,” said Bill. “And they used to listen at Lane Tech somewhere on an upper floor. So it gets out a little ways, but not that far.”

Bill got into noir not because it’s gripping radio, but rather because it’s not. He has insomnia, and the plot lines from Dragnet and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar help him fall asleep. [Continue reading and listen to this piece at WBEZ.]

U.S. and Ukrainian Groups Pierce Putin’s Propaganda Bubble (NY Times)

U.S.-backed news outlets and Ukrainian activists use Cold War techniques and high-tech tactics to get news about the war to Russians.

WASHINGTON — Using a mix of high-tech and Cold War tactics, Ukrainian activists and Western institutions have begun to pierce the propaganda bubble in Russia, circulating information about the Ukraine war among Russian citizens to sow doubt about the Kremlin’s accounts.

The efforts come at a particularly urgent moment: Moscow appears to be preparing for a new assault in eastern Ukraine that could prove devastatingly bloody to both sides, while mounting reports of atrocities make plain the brutality of the Kremlin’s tactics.

As Russia presents a sanitized version of the war, Ukrainian activists have been sending messages highlighting government corruption and incompetence in an effort to undermine faith in the Kremlin.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a U.S.-funded but independent news organization founded decades ago, is trying to push its broadcasts deeper into Russia. Its Russian-language articles are published on copies of its websites called “mirrors,” which Russian censors seek out in a high-stakes game of whack-a-mole. Audience numbers have surged during the war despite the censorship. Continue reading

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Guest Post: Following the Ethiopian war over shortwave radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor and political cartoonist, Carlos Latuff, who shares the following guest post:


Carlos Latuff at Catacumba Park in Rio de Janeiro, monitoring Ethiopian broadcasts.

ETHIOPIA: A WAR THROUGH RADIO

by Carlos Latuff, special for The SWLing Post

We just entered 2022 and the civil war in Ethiopia has already completed 1 year. On the one hand we have the  Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) guerrillas from northern Ethiopia and its allies, and on the other hand we have the armed forces of Ethiopian government and its allies. The dead are piling up, accusations of war crimes from both sides, local and international political interests at stake, and no perspective for a peaceful solution. Without going into the reasons for this new war in Ethiopian territory, I’d like to focus on the use of radio waves by both parties of this conflict.

I monitored shortwave broadcasts from Ethiopia and to Ethiopia between October 21, 2021 and January 4, 2022. The receivers were Tecsun PL-606 and XHDATA D-808, using both the telescopic antenna and a long wire. In all cases, listening was carried out in Brazilian cities.

Carlos at Catacumba Park monitoring and recording clandestine Ethiopian broadcasts.

The monitored stations were: Continue reading

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Carlos Shares Shortwave Art and Recordings of Ethiopian Jamming and BBC News Tigrinya

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor and political cartoonist, Carlos Latuff, who has been exploring the world of clandestine radio, documenting the on-going conflict in Ethiopia via shortwave radio. The following are two examples of his radio log art, this time for documenting jamming of Dimtse Wegahta Tigray and BBC News Tigrinya. Carlos shares the following art and recordings:

Ethiopian Jamming

Characteristic noise of “jamming” (intentional interference), probably coming from the Ethiopian government, preventing reception of the signal from the clandestine broadcaster Dimtse Wegahta Tigray (Voice of the Dawn Tigray).

Dimtse Wegahta Tigray broadcasts daily to warring Ethiopia on the frequency of 15340 kHz, using the powerful transmitters of the company TDF (Télédiffusion de France) in Issoudun, France.

Captured at Parque da Catacumba, Rio de Janeiro, 12/29/2021, 2:36 pm (local time):

Click here to view on YouTube.

BBC News Tigrinya broadcasting from UAE to Ethiopia/Eritrea

BBC News Tigrinya, 12065 kHz, broadcasting from Al Dhabbiya, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Excerpt from the news.
– Ethiopian party member EZEMA talks about the intention to form a cabinet in the government of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed despite the war.
– US Embassy in Eritrea asks that country’s government to release political dissidents.

The BBC is among the news channels that are accused by the Ethiopian government of “spreading fake news”.

Signal received in Rio de Janeiro, 01/04/2022, at 3:14 pm (local time).

Thanks to yaredinho_r9 for the translation.

Click here to view on YouTube.

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Carlos’ Shortwave Art and Recording of Raadiyoonii Dirree Shaggar (29 Dec 2021)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor and noted political cartoonist, Carlos Latuff, who has been exploring the world of clandestine radio, documenting the on-going conflict in Ethiopia via shortwave radio. The image above is yet another example of his radio log art, this time for Raadiyoonii Dirree Shaggar.

Carlos notes:

Raadiyoonii Dirree Shaggar, 15330 kHz, clandestine broadcast in the Oromo language from Issoudun, France, to warring Ethiopia.

Final excerpt of an interview, where the guest says:
“…The government that used the name of the Oromo people now uses it in many ways to deceive them…”
“…Now the Oromo only think about carrying on the armed struggle to overthrow this system and preserve its existence…”

Signal captured at Parque da Catacumba, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 12/29/2021, 13:28 (local time).

Thanks again to Hamza Oromo for the translation.

Click here to view on YouTube.

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Exercising Over the Air: Carlos’ Shortwave Art and Recording of Radio Oromiya

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor and noted political cartoonist, Carlos Latuff, who shares yet another example of his radio log art, this time for clandestine station, Radio Oromiya.

Carlos notes:

Thomas, as you know I’m monitoring broadcastings from and to war-torn Ethiopia, documenting the conflict via shortwave broadcastings.

This one is particularly curious.

The presenter is counting from zero to ten, in Oromo language. At first I thought it was a number station or codified message of some sort.

But thanks the patience and kindness of Ethiopian Twitter users, I realized that I listened to a physical fitness training via radio, part of Ethiopian govt’s effort to fight sedentarism and encourage its citizens to engage regular physical activity.

Clcik here to listen via YouTube.

This is brilliant, Carlos! I don’t think I’ve ever heard an exercise program on shortwave before. As always, I love your artwork.

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Radio Waves: Build a Ham Radio Voice Keyer, Sony TFM1000 Decrustification, Shift at RTHK, and RFE Cold War Thriller “Glória”

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Marty, Dennis Dura, Dave Zantow, Al Holt, and Rich Cuff for the following tips:


Build a ham radio voice keyer for the backpack (Nuts and Volts)

I have an MFJ-434 voice keyer that has saved a lot of wear and tear on my vocal cords over the years. It has been a big asset during ham radio contests and when I’ve been calling CQs with reduced power (QRP) transceivers.

One of my new favorite pastimes has been operating QRP radios from remote off-the-grid locations. Most of the time, it’s important to pack only the bare essentials for these mini-DXpeditions. I have never taken the MFJ keyer, primarily due to its size. An “accessory” measuring 6-1/2 x 7 x 2-1/2 inches fills up a lot of backpack. It also weighs a pound and a half. On the other hand, I’m absolutely positive the lack of a keyer has resulted in fewer radio contacts. I always run out of voice before I run out of battery.

Last winter, I was packing a QRP “Go Box” for a trip to Florida. Since that stay was planned to last longer than my normal field trips, I decided to take my MFJ keyer for its first outing. What a difference that keyer made! In less than three months, I worked stations in 31 countries and five continents running a 10 watt transmitter and a dipole antenna!

The enormous number of contacts warranted a closer look at a keyer for shorter field trips. The MFJ-434 has 11 buttons to push, three potentiometers to turn, and two LEDs to show me the keyer is doing what I told it to do. Could I get by with fewer amenities and shrink the size, weight, and power requirements to something more backpack friendly? It was worth an investigation.

The MFJ keyer stores five messages. For field operation, I could live with a single CQ. I found a 20 second record-playback module on eBay for $2.59.

I also found a repeat-cycle timer (variable on and variable off delays) on eBay for $2.38. I could use it to “turn on” the playback message, then turn it “off” for a predetermined period of time before turning it on again.

A relay could be added to key the transmitter’s PTT circuit every time my CQ message was played. The receiver would automatically listen for any replies between messages. (This might actually work!) [Continue reading…]

Sony TFM1000 AM FM SW Vintage Radio Decrustification (YouTube)

Click here to view on YouTube.

Hong Kong Broadcaster’s Swift Turn From Maverick Voice to Official Mouthpiece (NY Times)

RTHK has often set the news agenda with its aggressive coverage of the city. But a Beijing clampdown has changed that, with pro-China coverage filling the void.

HONG KONG — Not long after Patrick Li took over as the government-appointed director of Hong Kong’s public broadcaster, a digital lock pad appeared outside his office entrance.

In the past, the director’s office had been where staffers at the broadcaster, Radio Television Hong Kong, gathered to air grievances with management decisions: programming changes, labor disputes. Now, the lock pad signaled, such complaints were no longer welcome.

For many employees, the closed room was an emblem of the broader transformation sweeping through RTHK, the 93-year-old institution venerated by residents as one of the most trusted news sources in Hong Kong’s once freewheeling media landscape.

RTHK was once compared to the BBC for its fierce editorial independence. But under a sweeping national security law that Beijing imposed last year to silence dissent, many say it now more closely resembles China Central Television, the propagandistic Chinese state broadcaster.[Continue reading…]

‘Gloria’: Netflix’s First Original Series From Portugal Is A Great Spy Thriller (Forbes)

Netflix has released its first Portuguese original series. Glória is on Netflix since November 5. Produced by the SPi production company of Grupo SP Televisão and co-produced with RTP, Glória is an intense historical spy thriller taking place during the Cold War. It is a high-quality series from Portugal with an intricate storyline.

Set in a small Portuguese village named Glória do Ribatejo in the 1960s, the ten-part series follows João Vidal (played by Miguel Nunes), a young man whose family has connections with the leaders of the Estado Novo, the authoritarian Portuguese Regime. João works as an engineer at RARET, a U.S. re-broadcasting office of Radio Free Europe. The series shows how this small village became “an unlikely Cold War stage where American and Soviet forces fought through dangerous sabotage maneuvers to achieve control of Europe,” the Netflix synopsis explains. João gets recruited by the KGB, and will find himself in the middle of the intricate webs of spy games at play in RARET.

An original series created by Pedro Lopes and directed by Tiago Guedes, Glória is a slow-burning series that is a mixture of historical drama based on real events and espionage thriller. The series paints a dark image of Portugal’s past, its violence toward women and its brutal colonial war. It is the highest budget series in the history of Portuguese production, according to The Portugal News. [Continue reading…]


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Radio Waves: Skyworks Acquires Silicon Labs, DRM Response to RW Article, CNN finds Radio Biafra, and Free Online Foundation Course

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Troy Riedel, Dan Robinson, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Skyworks completes acquisition of the infrastructure & automotive business of Silicon Labs (Skyworks)

IRVINE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Jul. 26, 2021– Skyworks Solutions, Inc. (Nasdaq: SWKS), an innovator of high-performance analog semiconductors connecting people, places and things, today announced that it has completed its acquisition of the Infrastructure & Automotive business of Silicon Laboratories Inc. (Nasdaq: SLAB) in an all-cash asset transaction valued at $2.75 billion.

“On behalf of the entire Skyworks organization, I want to welcome the Infrastructure & Automotive team,” said Liam K. Griffin, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Skyworks. “In addition to a strong legacy of innovation and execution, the I&A business brings a highly diversified customer base that will enable our continued expansion into strategic end markets. Together, we will accelerate profitable growth in key industry segments, including electric and hybrid vehicles, industrial and motor control, power supply, 5G wireless infrastructure, optical data communications and data center.” Continue reading

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