Category Archives: Pirate Radio

Check out this amazing QSL and off-air audio from shortwave pirate “The Purple Nucleus of Creation”


This morning, I uploaded a recording of 2001 shortwave pirate The Purple Nucleus of Creation to the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive (SRAA). The recording was submitted by Adam C. Smith, a regular over at the SRAA.

Adam’s six minute off-air recording was made on October 27, 2001 at  0009UTC on 6,928 kHz USB with Adam’s Grundig 800 and 100’ wire antenna. Check out the audio embedded below or via the SRAA.

But first? Check out this extraordinary QSL card:

This QSL is more intricate than a wedding invitation! I love it! Thanks for sharing, Adam!

Here’s Adam’s off-air recording:

Adam also included other correspondence from The Purple Nucleus of Creation:

Again, thanks so much, Adam, for submitting this recording and memorabilia with everyone via the SRAA. Now your recording will (literally) be shared with our thousands of podcast subscribers and also streamed to devices across the globe via TuneIn. It’ll also be permanently preserved on the SRAA website and the Internet Archive.

Note that you can subscribe to the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive as a podcast via iTunes or by using the following RSS feed: http://shortwavearchive.com/archive?format=rss You can also listen via TuneIn.

Of course, one of the best ways to listen to recordings and read all of the recording notes is by visiting the SRAA website.

Post readers: Did you log The Purple Nucleus of Creation back in the day?  Who sent you your favorite pirate radio QSL card? Please comment!

Spread the radio love

Radio Waves: Quantum Sensors, Sinking Mi Amigo, Submarine Radio Network, and Video Games Over The Air

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’sRadio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Kim Elliott and Dennis Dura for the following tips:


Scientists create quantum sensor that covers entire radio frequency spectrum (Phys.org)

A quantum sensor could give Soldiers a way to detect communication signals over the entire radio frequency spectrum, from 0 to 100 GHz, said researchers from the Army.

Such wide spectral coverage by a single antenna is impossible with a traditional receiver system, and would require multiple systems of individual antennas, amplifiers and other components.

In 2018, Army scientists were the first in the world to create a quantum receiver that uses highly excited, super-sensitive atoms—known as Rydberg atoms—to detect communications signals, said David Meyer, a scientist at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory. The researchers calculated the receiver’s channel capacity, or rate of data transmission, based on fundamental principles, and then achieved that performance experimentally in their lab—improving on other groups’ results by orders of magnitude, Meyer said.

“These new sensors can be very small and virtually undetectable, giving Soldiers a disruptive advantage,” Meyer said. “Rydberg-atom based sensors have only recently been considered for general electric field sensing applications, including as a communications receiver. While Rydberg atoms are known to be broadly sensitive, a quantitative description of the sensitivity over the entire operational range has never been done.”[]

Forty years ago today Sheerness lifeboat crew rescued Radio Caroline DJs from the sinking Mi Amigo (Kent Online)

It was the original ‘ship that rocked.’ But 40 years ago today (Thursday)the Mi Amigo, home to original pop pirates Radio Caroline, finally disappeared beneath the waves in a violent force 10 storm.

In a daring rescue which lasted 12 hours in appalling weather, the crew of the Sheerness lifeboat saved the lives of everyone onboard – including the ship’s canary.

Leading the operation was colourful RNLI coxswain Charlie Bowry, who was later presented with the Institute’s coveted silver medal.

It was during the day that the radio station’s 60-year-old ship started dragging its anchor and drifted 10 nautical miles onto the Long Sand sandbank off Southend.

As the tide rose, the ship started to float free. But the bottom of the boat began being buffeted on the seabed with such a force the steel plates sprung a leak and water gushed into the engine room.

When the bilge pumps couldn’t cope, the three British DJs and a Dutch engineer called the Coastguard who dispatched Sheerness lifeboat the Helen Turnbull.[]

The Radio Network that Allowed Communication with Submarines (Interesting Engineering)

Communicating with covert fleets during WWII required some special equipment.

What do you do when you need to communicate with a crew of 50 sailors submerged in a submarine in an undisclosed location across the world’s oceans? That was a difficult question to answer for Navy leaders in WWII.

Radio waves don’t easily travel through saltwater, which meant that getting active communication with a submarine crew meant making the submarine surface an antenna. This was the obvious solution, but it made a previously covert submarine now a visible target.

[…]Engineers tasked with finding a more covert solution soon discovered that radio waves with low frequencies, around 10 kHz, could penetrate saltwater to depths up to around 20 meters. They realized that if the transponders on submarines were switched to these frequency ranges, then they communicate with leadership on land.

The problem with this idea was that creating and broadcasting these low-frequency radio waves required massive antennas. Essentially, the lower the frequency of a radio wave, the longer and larger the antenna is required to be.[]

You Could Download Video Games From the Radio in the 1980s (Interesting Engineering)

Certain radio programs broadcast the raw data to video games for viewers to download.

[…]In 1977, the world’s first microprocessor-driven PCs were released. These were the Apple II, the Commodore PET, and the TRS-80. All these machines had one thing in common – they used audio cassettes for storage.

Hard drives at the time were still quite expensive, and everyone at the time had access to cheap audio cassettes. Early computer designers actually flaunted cassette storage as it aided in the early adoption of personal computers. As PCs became more common, so to did the emergence of their use as video game machines.

As the 1980s rolled around, engineers at the Nederlandse Omroep Stichting, NOS, a Dutch broadcasting organization, realized something incredible. Since computer programs and video games were stored on audio cassettes, it meant that their data could be transmitted with ease over the radio. They started taking programs and video games and setting up broadcasts where people could “download” games onto their own personal computers.

The audio that was transmitted would’ve sounded reminiscent of a dial-up modem booting up.

[…]NOS started a radio program specifically for transmitting gaming data called “Hobbyscoop,” and it became incredibly popular. The company even created a standard cassette format called BASICODE to ensure computer compatibility.

Eventually, transmitting games through computers became so popular that radio shows popped up all around the world. A Yugoslovik station called “Ventilator 202” broadcasted 150 programs between 1983 and 1986. As the practice evolved, it became less of a novelty and rather a practical way for people to share calculation programs, educational tools, encyclopedias, and even flight simulators.[]


Do you enjoy the SWLing Post?

Please consider supporting us via Patreon or our Coffee Fund!

Your support makes articles like this one possible. Thank you!

Spread the radio love

John’s “illicit friend from the good old days”

At the 1-watt setting (13.8V, 470mA DC in) The labels are Photoshopped here for illustration, ie they’re not on the actual case (Source: AE5X)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, John (AE5X), who recently shared a link to the following story on his excellent radio blog:

[…]It was the late 1990’s in Montclair NJ. A friend played guitar in a local band and wanted to get some air time for a few of their original songs. He knew his chances of getting his tunes played on a commercial FM station hovered somewhere between zero and none. And – this is key – he’d seen Pump Up The Volume and knew that I knew a “bit about radios”.

My friend – I’ll call him “Don” since that was (and still is) his name – wondered if there was some way he could be outfitted with a radio similar to that in Pump Up The Volume, and, if so, what would his range be. I told him that a lot depends on the antenna’s location.

Funny thing about Don: besides being in a rock & roll band, he was also a caretaker for a Montclair church. A church with a very tall belltower. A belltower that he had access to. Do you see where this is going? Furthermore, Don and his wife lived on church property as part of his caretaker responsibilities.[…]

Click here to read the full story at AE5X’s blog.

What a divine alignment, John! 🙂 Fantastic story and, I’m sure, one that resonates with many here in the SWLing Post community.  Perhaps readers will comment with details  about their own “illicit” friends and radio escapades!

Spread the radio love

FCC hope to hire Pirate Radio hunters

Photo by Ben Koorengevel

(Source: Inside Radio)

Broadcasters would likely call it money well-spent, but it’s still cash coming from the federal government’s hands. The Federal Communications Commission estimates it will cost the agency at least $11 million to enforce the newly-adopted law that requires it to step up pirate radio enforcement. “Specifically, in order to combat the problem of illegal radio operations, the statute requires a sweeping process that will require new equipment and a substantial number of additional field agents to implement fully,” FCC Chair Ajit Pai told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee during a hearing on Tuesday. Pai said he hoped congressional budget writers would determine a “reasonable funding level” for the FCC that reflects that added cost, suggesting the agency’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year should be raised to $354 million.

Signed into law by President Trump last month, the Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act, or “PIRATE” Act (S.1228) was unanimously approved by both the Senate and House. The new law raises fines on unlicensed station operators to $100,000 per day per violation, up to a maximum of $2 million. In addition to tougher fines on violators, the FCC would also be required to conduct sweeps in the five cities where pirate radio is the biggest problem—New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Dallas—at least once a year. And then, within six months, field agents would be mandated to return to those markets to conduct “monitoring sweeps” to determine whether the unlicensed operators simply powered back up or changed frequencies. The agency would also be required to issue a report to Congress on an annual basis about its pirate-fighting efforts.

Pai told the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee that the FCC is already gearing up for implementing the new law. “We are submitting a formal amendment to the Office of Management and Budget concerning costs associated with the full implementation of the PIRATE Act,” said Pai.[…]

Continue reading the full article at Inside Radio.

Spread the radio love

PIRATE Act signed into law by President

Photo by David Everett Strickler on Unsplash

(Source: The White House)

On Friday, January 24, 2020, the President signed into law:

H.R. 583, the “Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act” or the “PIRATE Act,” which authorizes enhanced penalties for pirate radio broadcasters and requires the Federal Communications Commission to increase enforcement activities; and

H.R. 2476, the “Securing American Nonprofit Organizations Against Terrorism Act of 2019,” which authorizes within the Department of Homeland Security a Nonprofit Security Grant Program to make grants to eligible nonprofit organizations for target hardening and other security enhancements to protect against terrorist attacks.

Spread the radio love

Radio Waves: iHeart Layoffs • Radio JK FM • 2nd Chance for Pirates • Invisible War


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’sRadio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Here’s the first Radio Waves story collection. Enjoy!

‘The Culling Has Begun’: Inside the iHeartMedia Layoffs (Rolling Stone)

The largest radio company in America cut a number of employees this week, dealing a blow to local radio across the country

“The largest radio conglomerate in the country, iHeartMedia, initiated a round of mass layoffs this week, cutting enough people that one former on-air host described Tuesday as “one of the worst days in on-air radio history.” The layoffs were concentrated in small and medium markets, where staffs had already been reduced, striking another major blow to local radio.”

AER (Asociación Española de Radioescucha) Radio JK FM

SWLing Post contributor, Martin Butera, writes:

“Proclaimed in 2011 by UNESCO member states, and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 as International Day, February 13 became World Radio Day (WRD). This 2020, on World Radio Day, UNESCO calls on all radio stations to defend diversity, both in their newsrooms and on radio waves. Martin Butera, visited an important FM of Brasilia DF, capital of Brazil and anticipates this year’s motto that will be: “Pluralism, representation and diversity.”

A report in Spanish that Martin invites you to read by clicking here.

Give radio pirates chance to go legit (The Boston Globe)

The massive fines levied last month against two unlicensed Boston stations that served the Haitian immigrant community went too far.

The Invisible War of the Cold War Airwaves (X-Ray Audio)

In the radio show below, an episode of our Bureau of Lost Culture series on Soho Radio, we meet with Russian journalist, broadcaster and writer Vladimir Raevsky to hear the fascinating story of the Soviet Radio Jammers. Vladimir tells of the extraordinary lengths people went to to listen to the music they loved and of the gigantic amount of money spent by both sides in this invisible war of the airwaves.

We also hear from BBC Russian Arts correspondent Alex Kan about the brave / foolhardy so-called Radio Hooligans – the technically savvy young Soviets who dared to risk punishment by setting up their own little pirate radio stations to broadcast themselves and the music they liked using bootlegged and adapted equipment.

And finally we hear the strange story of the signal emitted by The Duga a gigantic mysterious installation near the Chernobyl nuclear site.

 

Spread the radio love

PIRATE Act passes Senate

(Source: Radio World via Marty)

“Opponents of illegal broadcasting scored a major and long-anticipated victory today: The Senate (finally) unanimously passed the PIRATE Act Wednesday.

Short for “Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement,” only one hurdle remains for S.R. 1228: President Trump’s desk.

The legislation also represents a coup for FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, who has championed the anti-piracy enforcement actions recently.

In response to the act’s Senate passage, National Association of Broadcasters President/CEO Gordon Smith said, ‘This legislation provides stronger resources to help the FCC combat illegal pirate radio operations, which not only interfere with licensed radio stations but also public safety communications and air traffic control systems. We look forward to the President signing the PIRATE Act into law.’”[…]

Click here to read the full article at Radio World.

Spread the radio love