Category Archives: Mediumwave

“Medium wave’s sunset in Europe”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Alan, who shares the following article from Red Tech:

Medium wave’s sunset in Europe (Red Tech)

GENEVA — European medium-wave transmitters are going silent. On April 1, the BBC shut down the nine transmitters that had previously brought BBC Radio 4 in AM to the whole country. Since January 2018, the British public broadcaster has started to switch off the AM transmitters for its local stations. Looking ahead, it plans to abandon the band totally by 2027 at the latest.

This trend goes beyond the BBC. In the last years, British commercial broadcasters have also switched off AM transmitters. In the case of Bauer Media, not a single AM transmitter remains operational.

The United Kingdom is the last fortress of AM transmission in Europe. Over the last 15 years, many other countries disconnected their last AM transmitters — Austria (in 2008), Switzerland (2010), Ireland (2012), Germany (2015), Belarus (2016), Albania (2017) and Belgium (2018), to name a few. More than 20 European countries have ceased AM transmission. Across the continent, less than 100 AM services remain active.

Notwithstanding, AM still resists against all odds in markets such as Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Spain, among others. However, many big broadcasters still relying on this technology have often reduced their transmission power without receiving complaints from the audience. This is a strong signal about how the future may look like. [Continue reading…]

Spread the radio love

Checking out the XHDATA D-808

By Jock Elliott, KB2GOM

Size matters . . . especially when it comes to antennas. In general, the more aluminum or wire you can get up in the air (presuming, of course, that it is properly designed), the more signal you are going to pull in. A radio friend has a 560-foot loop erected on his property, and its performance is, well, impressive.

I’ve had my share of high-performance antennas over the years, and I enjoyed them.

Lately, however, I have yearned for simplicity. So when I encountered the phrase “Ultralight DXing” a couple of years ago, it had a kind of magic allure to it.

At first, I was intrigued: “What the heck is that?” I wondered. After poking around on the internet, I discovered that at the heart of ultralight DXing was the notion of having a whole lot of fun trying to hear distant radio stations (usually on the medium wave band) with tiny, shirt-pocket-sized radios.

Gary DeBock got the whole ultralight DXing thing rolling in 2007. He already had deep experience in DXing, having worked 144 countries as a ham radio operator with a 1-2 watt transmitter he had built. That was his apprenticeship in radio propagation. Then in 2007, he wondered if it would be possible, using his skill and knowledge of propagation, to hear Japanese and Korean broadcasters from his home in Washington State using – wait for it – a cheap pocket radio: a Sony Walkman SRS 59. At 1 am on an autumn night, he put propagation and operating skill to work and heard a couple of medium-wave stations from Japan and one from Korea.

In November 2007, he posted his results on the internet and got a lot pushback, the upshot of which was: “How could you possibly do this?

To which he replied (in essence), “Try it and see for yourself.

Some people did try for themselves, some with notable success. For example, one DXer from Canada logged 300 stations in 30 days. The idea caught fire, and ultralight DXing was born, concentrating on medium wave stations because there are lots of them to DX. (Ultralight DXers have their own forum, which can be found here: )

In the intervening years, ultralight DXers have experimented with exotic antennas and achieved some astonishing results, but for me, the soul of ultralight DXing is simplicity: a tiny radio, a pair of headphones, and a comfortable place to sit.

In 2021, DeBock published an “Ultralight Radio Shootout,” and when I encountered it online, I saved it (I’m a bit of a pack rat with interesting files). Earlier this year, I was rummaging through my computer when I rediscovered the Shootout and found that DeBock thought very highly of the XHDATA D-808.

Now, here’s the weird part: strictly speaking, the XHDATA D-808 is not an ultralight radio. A radio must be no bigger than 20 cubic inches to be considered an “official” ultralight radio. The D-808 is actually around 27 cubic inches.

Curious, I contacted the XHDATA folks, asking if they would like to send me one for review, which they did, without charge.

The D-808 measures just under 6 inches wide, 3.5 inches high, and 1.25 inches deep and weighs about a half a pound. It receives:  FM: 87.5 – 108 (64-108) MHz, LW: 150 – 450 kHz, MW: 522 – 1620 kHz (9k Step) 520 – 1710 kHz (10k step), SW: 1711 – 29999 kHz (including single sideband), and AIR: 118 – 137 MHz. It is powered by an 18650 battery that can be recharged by a USB cable.

Others have written extensively about the D-808, but my overall verdict is that it is indeed, a neat little radio for listening in general. Because it has a larger internal ferrite rod “loopstick” antenna, it can do a better job of pulling in faint medium wave stations than some of the “official” ultralights with smaller internal antennas. In addition, the D-808 has a longer telescoping antenna that makes it easier to hear faint shortwave stations.

On the face of the D-808 are 24 buttons that control various functions, and they pretty much “work as advertised.” There is, however, one small issue that some users may find confusing. Just below the orange power button is a circular button marked SSB. Push it, and it engages single-sideband mode and can be used on medium wave as well as shortwave signals. Below that button, in tiny orange letters is an indication: USB/LSB. It refers to the INFO button below, NOT to the SSB button above. If you press the SSB button, hoping to switch between upper sideband and lower sideband, it will not work, and you will think the radio is broken (I spent several minutes searching the manual, trying find out what was wrong). When SSB is engaged, press the button marked INFO between to switch between sidebands, got it?

Playing around with the D-808 on a rainy Saturday morning, I found that it is a “hot” receiver – for its size – on medium wave, shortwave, and FM. Using the UP and DOWN buttons to search for stations, and I found that it would, indeed, find interesting stuff to hear that I could not hear so readily on “official” ultralight radios with smaller antennas. It’s a small, fun radio that virtually begs me to find a comfy chair, clap on the headphones, and tune around to see what’s out there.

Having said that, if this were a trip to Santa’s lap, there are a couple of things I would change about the D-808. The first is the soft muting that occurs between tuning steps, which is accompanied by a mechanical “clunk, clunk, clunk” at each step in both the main and fine tuning knobs. It’s like driving down a highway with expansion cracks or tar strips every 20 feet . . . it’s annoying. My personal preference is for smooth, continuous tuning, and, even when a radio has jumps between tuning steps, it is possible to deliver a smooth, “clunkless” tuning experience such as in the CCrane EP-PRO or the Tecsun PL-880. You can, however, get around the clunking by directly entering the frequency you want using the keypad (be sure to press the FREQ button first) or by using the UP and DOWN seek buttons to search for stations . . . the radio simply quiets itself until it find the next signal. Second, while the D-808 seems to just sip power from the 18650 battery, I prefer portable radios that are powered by AA batteries, since they are so readily available in so many places. In the grand scheme of things, that is a relatively minor consideration.

Bottom line: the D-808 packs a whole lot of fun and pleasing performance into a package that can be slipped into a jacket pocket. Even more important, it delivers the simplicity of an ultralight: a radio I can grab, kick back in an easy chair, slide on the headphones, and tune around for a bit of radio fun, and I can heartily recommend it.

Check out the XHDATA D-808 at XHDATA.

Check out the D-808 at (affiliate link).

Spread the radio love

“Music On The Move” explores portable audio technology developments over the decades

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

Last night on my bedside radio I heard on BBC World’s ‘The Forum’ a wonderful 49-minute piece about portable audio. Much of it covers the earliest portable electron tube radios and transistor radios, and their influences on society in different countries. Mediumwave, Shortwave and FM radios and stations are discussed, as well as evolving technologies. The societal impact of the Compact Cassette and digital audio players and recorders is also discussed. Probably all SWLing Post readers will find this worth listening to!



The Forum: Music On The Move

Released On: 22 Jun 2024

Many of us remember the first portable music device we owned: a transistor radio, a boombox, a Walkman or perhaps an iPod. We might even recall the songs we played on it. But we might be less aware of how profoundly audio technology developments from the 1950s to 2000s changed the ways in which we consume music and other audio outside of the home or concert venue. Transistor radios allowed outdoor sounds and noises to mix and compete with those coming over the airwaves, creating new auditory experiences; the cassette player gave the listener a cheap way of making and re-making their own playlists; and the advent of digital music players encouraged us to ‘own’ music recordings without possessing a physical copy of the audio.

Iszi Lawrence discusses the history of portable music with Dr. Annie Jamieson, Curator of Sound Technologies at Bradford’s National Science and Media Museum; American drummer and writer Damon Krukowski; Dr. Jahnavi Phalkey, science historian and Founding Director of Science Gallery Bengaluru, India; Karin Bijsterveld, Professor of Science, Technology and Modern Culture at Maastricht University; and World Service listeners.

Spread the radio love

Listening In Brazil ZP-30 Radio Station, “The Voice Of Paraguayan Chaco”, AM 610 kHz.

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

Listening In Brazil ZP-30 Radio Station, “The Voice Of Paraguayan Chaco”, AM 610 kHz.

by Carlos Latuff

The first time I tuned on to ZP30 “The Voice of Paraguayan Chaco”, a Christian radio station from Paraguay, was during tests with Innova KV-12002. It was 7 p.m. Brasilia time, and when I turned on the receiver, I came across a medium-wave broadcast with an announcer speaking in German. This surprised me because the medium-wave stations I usually receive at night in Porto Alegre, Brazil, are from Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, and none typically broadcast in a language other than Spanish.

I listened to the news bulletin, entirely in German, and throughout the transmission, I noticed the word “Paraguay” mentioned a few times. I concluded that it must be a Paraguayan radio station broadcasting in German. A quick Google search for radio stations in Paraguay broadcasting in German led me to ZP-30. I found their website, tuned in to the streaming audio, and confirmed I was listening to the same station on my radio.

Check out the ZP-30 website here:

At that moment I recorded a video of the radio station playing German songs. I wanted the news bulletin, but I found it quite difficult, either due to problems with propagation, other kinds of interference, or due to a station that operates on the same frequency and that sometimes overpowers the Paraguayan broadcaster.

It took me almost a week to record the news bulletin with decent audio quality, using a ferrite rod AM antenna and my good ol’ XHDATA D-808 receiver.

This station, in addition to German and Spanish, broadcasts news and Christian preaching in languages ??spoken by indigenous communities from the Chaco region in Paraguay.

In Brazil, there was a migration of AM stations to FM, which left the medium-wave spectrum vacant. I believe that, from now on, it will be possible to listen to stations that I had never heard before. Stay tuned!

Some Christian preaching in German:

(Attached a video I made of ZP-30 radio station broadcasting news in German. Porto Alegre, June 4, 2024)

Spread the radio love

Japan: Some broadcasters running trial suspension of AM radio

(Source: Japan Today)

Is Japan witnessing the death of AM radio?

Since February, some commercial radio broadcasters have begun a trial suspension of AM radio, with a real possibility the pause will extend to a permanent discontinuation across the country as broadcasters look to cut costs.

Thirteen of the 47 commercial operators in Japan have shut off their transmitters to see what effect the temporary end of AM broadcasts will have. AM was launched in 1925, bringing Japan into the radio broadcast age, but may not last long enough to see its 100th anniversary next year.

“Radio was at the center of the home, a medium enjoyed by the entire family,” said Tadanobu Okabe, curator of the Japan Radio Museum in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture. [Continue reading…]

Spread the radio love

The Giant Antennas of Shanghai Coast Radio Station (XSG)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Michael (BD4AAQ) who shares the following guest post:

Shanghai Coast Radio Station (XSG):

Those Giant Antennas!

The 17th of May is the World Telecommunication Day. It is also the open day of Shanghai Coast Radio Station. On this day, a group of amateur radio operators were invited to visit the transmission facility, a huge antenna farm, of the radio station, located on Chongming Island of Shanghai, the third largest island in China.

Google Satellite Photo

The transmission site of Shanghai Coast Radio Station is as shown below in the map of Chongming Island. Other sites of the station include a central control/receive station in Zhangjiang, a receive station on Hengsha Island and some VHF base stations in a number of other locations. All these locations in Shanghai, linked via cable and microwave connection, form Shanghai Coast Radio Station, also known by its callsign as XSG.

(Google map of transmitter location for Shanghai Coast Radio Station. Note the antenna farm on the left.)

Presentation by Station Officials

Fifteen or so local hams were cordially invited to have a tour of the station. The radio enthusiasts were greeted by station representatives, including Mr Wan, Mr Wang, Mr Zhou and Mr Niu (BH4BFS), who also gave them an overview of the coast radio station’s history and development. 

Antenna Farm

Mr Wang then showed the visitors around the antenna farm. Many of us, myself included, saw and were deeply impressed with these huge antennas for the first time! Indeed, many professional radio facilities and operators of similar coast radio stations work quietly around the globe and around the clock to provide for distress, navigational, business and personal communications needs of ships!

[Click on images to enlarge.]

The antennas cover a wide range of frequencies, from MF, HF, to VHF and UHF. Many of them are, however, shortwave (HF) antennas.

Transmitter Room

(I placed a Tecsun PL-330 radio near the transmitter at 12380.1 kHz (weather fax). The signal strength, in dbu, is 96. Given the margin of error of the receiver’s display, that’s probably as high as it could go.)

Shanghai Coast Radio Station (XSG) operates on a wide range of frequencies. Its HF frequencies include 4207.5, 4209.5, 4215.5, 4369, 6312, 6326, 6501, 8414.5, 8425.5, 8770, 8806, 12577, 12637.5, 13176, 13188, 16804.5, 16898.5 and 17407 kHz. Of particular note is that they have kept a CW frequency of 8665 kHz for general broadcast of information on a 24 hour basis.

The station’s VHF phone service covers 25 nautical miles of the coast. Its MF NAVTEX covers 250 nautical miles of the coast. And its HF phone and weather fax and HF NAVTEX extend to 1,000 nautical miles.

History and Current Status

Founded in 1905, Shanghai Coast Radio Station has been around 119 years. The XSG callsign has since remained in use.

China has in place DSC watch and NAVTEX broadcast in coast stations (including XSG) in accordance with GMDSS requirements. Among services provided by XSG are Radio Telephony (RT), Narrow Band Direct Printing (NBDP), “Voice of the East China Sea Coast” (voice broadcast on 161.600 MHz and 8806 kHz) and marine radio weather fax. The station is without a doubt one of the largest coast radio stations in the Asia Pacific region and plays an essential role in the region’s marine safety and communications.

QSL Cards

Shanghai Coast Radio Station issues QSL cards in Chinese and English, traditionally in paper form and nowadays electronically.

(This is an electronic QSL card issued to a Shanghai listener, who received their signal over the radio. Examples of QSL cards in English can be found online.)

Show Room

[Click on images to enlarge.]

Ham Station

Mr Niu of Shanghai Coast Radio Station, one of the tour’s organisers, is a ham himself with callsign BH4BFS. According to him, there are intentions to start a ham radio station within the establishment, possibly incorporating the letters XSG. However, there is much work to be done to make it happen. An amateur radio station with overlapping callsigns with a professional one would be really charming.

Spread the radio love