Category Archives: SWLers

Remembering Allan Loudell: “Radio was his life”

(Photo: WDEL)

Tuesday, many of us in the shortwave and DXing community learned about the unexpected passing of our good friend and veteran radio reporter, Allan Loudell.

I got to know Allan via the Winter SWL Fest community. Allan attended every year and was well known for being not only wonderfully good-natured, the sort of guy who is liked by everyone, but also one of the most knowledgeable DXers on the planet. As a mutual friend recently noted, his knowledge of the domestic and international broadcasting scene was very nearly “encyclopedic.”

Dan Robinson (left) and Allan Loudell (right) at the 2020 Winter SWL Fest (Photo source: Dan Robinson)

I made a point of chatting with Allan each year at Winter SWL Fest. This year, we all noticed that he had lost some weight, but otherwise seemed fine and, as usual, in great spirits. He mentioned to me that he had been through months of medical issues and rehabilitation, but believed he was on a positive track. I only wish that might have been so.

It was among my favorite things to do at the Fest––and I got to enjoy this a few times–– to page through albums of QSL cards with Allan that he and other Fest attendees like Dan Robinson brought to share. Allan’s eyes would light up as he turned each page.  Not only did he know each card and each broadcaster, but––if you asked––he could take you on a deeper dive into the nuanced history of each station.

WDEL

Allan interviewing a young lady in the studios of WDEL. (Photo source: WDEL)

Clipped from the February 1994 issue of Pop Communications

As our mutual friend, Tracy Wood, put it: “[Allen] was a giant… radio was his life….and thankfully he shared his passion with us.”

Moreover, Allan was a longtime Delaware radio newsman, having spent 18 years with WILM and most recently 15 years with WDEL.

In a typical year, I make at least a couple of trips through the mid-Atlantic states, and each time I do, I tune to WDEL to hear Allan’s voice.

Yesterday, WDEL posted an announcement about Allan’s passing.

The subtext is plain:  he was a well loved at the station and, indeed, in the community. The station included the following quote from Delaware Governor John Carney:

“I’m very sad to hear that Allan has passed away. I tell people that, in my thirty years of public service, I’ve developed a list––just a personal list of good guys and gals, people that were really good to work with…Allen was one of those guys…He was always very fair…He always covered his subject matter in a way that most reporters didn’t. And he used the radio media as a way of communicating, and having public officials like myself communicating, with the people that I worked for, the people in northern New Castle County. I particularly liked his show DelAWARE, because…he did, in very intense kind of way, various subject matter that got below the surface…”

Governor Carney continues:

“[Allen] was just a really interesting guy and a very real gentleman…and I enjoyed being with him…I know that the people in the WDEL, WILM listening area here in northern New Castle County and, actually, across our state now will miss his programming, will miss him as as a media person, and it’s sad to hear that he’s passed.”

Click here to read the full article at WDEL.

We’re going to miss you, Allan…rest in peace, friend.

Broadcaster tributes

CBS Tribute To Allan Loudell (via WDEL):

Allan Loudell tribute from WDEL’s Peter MacArthur (via WDEL):

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Listening across the globe: The 2020 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast

Halley VI Research Station on the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica (Source: British Antarctic Survey)

On Sunday, 21 June 2020, the BBC World Service officially transmitted the 2020 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast–an international radio broadcast intended for a small group of scientists, technicians, and support staff who work for the British Antarctic Survey.

This is one of my favorite annual broadcasts, and I endeavor to listen every year. Once again, the SWLing Post called upon readers to make a short recording of the broadcast from their locale.

Below are the entries, roughly organized by continent and country/region.

Did I miss your recording?

Putting this post together takes almost a full dedicated day sorting recordings, uploading, and formatting them for the Post. Many readers posted a link to their recording on Facebook, Twitter, or even in the comments section on previous posts. I tried to hunt down these links, but if I’ve somehow missed including your entry, please send me an email with details and a link to your recording; I’ll amend this post.

So, without further ado please enjoy the following recordings:


The 2020 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast Recordings

Europe

Denmark

SWL: Florián Navarro
Location: Aarhus, Denmark
Notes:

Here are a couple of samples from the 2020 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast, both on 5790 kHz, the first one at 21:53 UTC, the second one at 21:59 UTC.
My receiver is a JRC-NRD 535 with an AOR LA400 loop antenna and I used a Roland Edirol R-09 recorder.

My location is Aarhus, Denmark. Best reception from here was on 5790 kHz followed by 7360 kHz (weaker signal and a bit background noise) while 9580 kHz was barely audible.

I really enjoy reading your articles, reviews, etc. in both your website and blog. thank you very much!


England

SWL: Paul Lethbridge
Location: Worthing, England
Notes: 9580 as received in Worthing with some talkback from G0JXX on 2mtr to me G3SXE


SWL: David  (G4EDR)
Location: North Yorkshire
Notes:

I used my Tecsun PL-680 and its telescopic whip antenna to receive the annual mid winter broadcast. 5790 kHz was very strong here on the North Yorkshire coast in the UK. My audio recording was taken from the loud speaker using my mobile phone. Hope the quality is acceptable for posting on your website.

73, David – G4EDR


SWL: Mark Hillman
Location: Littlehampton, West Sussex
Notes: 132ft longwire at my QTH in IO90RT (M0TVV)


SWL: Mark Hirst
Location: North Hampshire, UK
Notes:

I hedge my bets this year and monitored both 5790kHz and 7360kHz using my RSPDuo and FRG-7700 respectively.

Below is the beginning of the broadcast on 7360kHz, recorded in North Hampshire, UK:

7360 kHz deteriorated towards the end, so the RSPDuo recording will be the keeper.


SWL: Nick B.
Location: England
Notes:

Some recordings I made this evening on 5790kHz. I’m around 90 miles NE of Woofferton TX so it’s a big signal here!

Using Airspy HF+ Discovery, SDR Console in SAM mode.

Unfortunately, the BBC caused a lot of confusion due to their incorrect broadcast time (and incorrect pluralising Ascension Island!). I hope they managed good reception down in Antarctica.


SWL: Roseanna
Notes:

I’ve got the BBC Midwinder 2020 broadcast recorded in pretty amazing quality for your archive post!


France

SWL: Philippe
Location: Brest. France
Notes:

Good morning Thomas,

i’ve recorded the last BBC Antarctic Midwinter broadcast.

I’m located near BREST, in west France.


Germany

SWL: Martin
Location: Hannover, Germany
Notes:
Here is a recording of the 2020 BBC midwinter broadcast, received in Hannover Germany on my XHDATA D-808 and its telescopic whip antenna, with the strongest signal on 5790 kHz via Woofferton.

Thanks for bringing this broadcast to my attention!


SWL: Andreas Bremm
Location: Western Germany
Notes:

Hello Thomas i can send you my record from the BBC Midwinter Show sounds really good. It’s recorded with Tecsun ICR 100 Revived with Tecsun Pl880 and a MLA30+ Loop in Western Germany


Ireland

SWL: Alan
Location: Ireland
Notes:

5790 kHz Woofferton UK
BBC Antarctic Midwinter broadcast 21-06-2020 21:30UTC

Recorded from County Kildare, Ireland (GRID IO63ri)
Icom-718 and 20m Random wire
Olympus vn-741pc

Best regards,
Alan


Italy

SWL: Marco Origlia
Location: Cuneo, Italy
Notes:

My name is Marco and I am an Italian student in Telecommunications
Engineering. Thanks to one of our Professors, I’ve become enthusiast for
radio communications and day by day I’m becoming a shortwave listener. I
must thank you for your blog. I’ve added it to my RSS feed aggregator so
that I don’t miss any of your posts, which I always find very interesting.

Upon your invitation I would like to share a short recording of the BBC
Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast I made. The data of the recording are the
following:

Location: Cuneo, Italy (44.384413N, 7.542607E), from an indoor location
of a urban area
Frequency: 7360 kHz
Receiver: TECSUN PL-660 with wire antenna leaning out of the window
Time: UTC 2020-06-21 21.41

Although at times the signal faded, the broadcast was pretty clear.

I haven’t bought a jack to jack cable to pipe the output of the radio to
the computer, yet. So I plugged my headphones into the computer, I put
the headphone microphone on the radio speaker, I recorded the broadcast
with OBS and converted it using VLC.

Thank you again for your service to the shortwave listeners community,

Marco Origlia


SWL: Giovanni Lorenzi
Location: Messina, Sicily Island
Notes:

I’m Giovanni Lorenzi, and I’m a amateur radio too. I live in Messina, Sicily Island. My working condition are: receiver Yaesu FRG-7000 and dipole antenna.

I’ve tuned the program above and I’m sending 3 audio clip about.

Giovanni Lorenzi


SWL: Giuseppe Morlè (IZ0GZW)
Location: Formia, Central Italy
Notes:

I’m Giuseppe Morlè, iz0gzw, from Formia, Central Italy, on the Tyrrhenian Sea …
Also this year I send you the link where you can see My Antartic Midwinter 2020 video.
I hope you will publish it on SWLing Post for the swl community of the world …

I thank you and always wish you good listening.
Ciao from Italy.


Poland

SWL: Przemys?aw Ryszka
Location: Jaslo, Poland
Notes: Recorded in Jaslo, south-eastern Poland using Tecsun PL-360 and some lenght of a wire.


Russia

SWL: Anton Kolesnichenko, R9LAU
Location: Tyumen, Russia
Notes:

QTH Loc: MO27SE
Frequency: 7360 kHz, 5790 kHz
Receiver: Icom 7300
Antenna: 40M dipole

73 de Anton, R9LAU


SWL: Dmitry Elagin
Location: Saratov, Russia
Notes:

Good afternoon!
Hello from Saratov, Russia!

UTC time: 21:30 – 22:00
Frequency khz: 9580
Weak signal. Local impulse interference. Sometimes fading a weak signal and noise at frequency.
Signals 7360 and 5790 are much stronger.

Receiver: SDRplay RSP1
Antenna: Long wire antenna 7 meters + counterpoise 20 m. (10 – 14 m. above ground level)
MFJ-959C Antenna Tuner SWL and Preamp / MFJ-931 Artificial RF Ground
Receiver location: Saratov, Russia


North America

Canada

SWL: Richard Lacroix
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Notes:

I managed to receive on all 3 frequencies from Toronto, Ontario Canada. Best
of them was 9580 kHz. I first started to listen on 7360 kHz as this was the
only working frequency. Reception was poor, hence the poor audio recording.
Conditions rapidly got much better which allowed me to switch to 9580 during
the broadcast period with much better reception.

LOCATION: Toronto, Ontario Canada
TIME: 2130 – 2200 UTC
FREQUENCY: 9580 kHz
RECEIVER: SDRplay RSP2duo
ANTENNA: Barker Williamson, Inverted V
CONDITIONS: Urban environment, thunderstorm activity


SWL: Richard Langley
Location: Hanwell, New Brunswick
Notes:
I obtained a good recording of the BAS broadcast here in New Brunswick, Canada, on 7360 kHz using a Tecsun PL-880 receiver outdoors at my house with a Tecsun AN-03L 7-metre wire antenna strung to a nearby tree. Attached is a photo of the “listening post” at the back of my mosquito-infested backyard. Note the bug spray!

You can hear my full half-hour recording, with more details on reception, on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive: https://shortwavearchive.com/archive/bbc-world-service-annual-antarctic-midwinter-broadcast-june-21-2020


SWL: David Elden
Location: Ottawa
Notes:

Received in Ottawa, Canada using an XHDATA D-808 with ~15 feet of wire clipped to the telescopic antenna. Location was on a balcony, east facing about 20 feet above the ground. Nothing heard on 5790, faint signal on 9580 and readable with variable fading on 7360 (maybe S3R3-4). Recording here:


Oceana

Australia

SWL: Cameron Campion
Location: Melbourne
Notes:

Hello Thomas, Here is my reception of the BBC Midwinter broadcast from here in Melbourne, Australia with my XHDATA Receiver. I received first on 7360khz and then switched to 5790khz where the reception improved substantially.


New Zealand

SWL: Chris Mackerell
Location: Marahau, New Zealand
Notes:

Here are a couple of clips from the BBC Midwinter broadcast
for Antarctica received here in Marahau, New Zealand.

This is 7360 kHz – the best of the signals. 5790 was weaker,
and 9580 was just a spike on the SDR display.

The clips are the first & last minute or so.

Receiver was an Elad DUOr with a Wellbrook loop antenna.

73 Chris


South America

Argentina

SWL: Ulises Chialva
Location: Rio Primero, Argentina
Notes:

My name is Ulises Chialva, Im 46 years old and I live in a small rural town called Rio Primero, in the Cordoba province, central region of Argentina. Im a DXer since the late 80´s and been a member of several clubs here in Argentina, also a monitor for Radio Netherlands in the 2000´s.
Today is a cold Fathers day here in Argentina, and at the moment of listening I was also enjoying a really beautiful sunset.

I’ve listen to this years BBC midwinter broadcast with my Sony ICF-2010 and a 45 meters long random wire antenna with a 9:1 balun.

Conditions were pretty good with the UK so I’ve listened to Woofferton station transmissions very clear on 5790 and specially 7360 KHz; 6170 and 9580 from Ascension Island were barely audible here.

I send to you a little more than 1 minute recording of 7360 KHz from Woofferton, UK; and a photo of my little shack here at home.


Brazil

SWL: Carlos Latuff
Location: Porto Alegre, Brazil
Notes:

It was a risky listening to the Midwinter Broadcast during the Covid-19 pandemic, because I had to leave my home since inside my apartment it is practically impossible to listen to shortwave radio due strong interference.

I took my Tecsun PL-606 (telescopic whip only) to the Guaiba waterfront near my home here in Porto Alegre. It was a calm night with calm weather and the place was CROWDED; people with and without masks, ignoring the social distancing. I stayed only for a short time there, trying to keep myself away from people.


Chile

SWL: Francisco Miranda Fuentes
Location: Santiago, Chile
Notes:

I send you my participation to reception of the activity “2020 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast on June 21”. I also attach a recording in mp3 format corresponding to 44 seconds of the event.

Name: Francisco Miranda Fuentes
Receiving frequency: 7360 khz at Woofferton
Receiver: Kenwood R-1000.
Antenna: T2FD
Location of the box: Santiago, capital city of the Republic of Chile.
Recording: 128 bps mp3 format


Costa Rica

SWL: Julio Campos
Location: Costa Rica
Notes:

Hi. This is my brief reception. It was still daylight here, and there was a heavy storm. The reception was poor.


Wow!

Once again, many thanks to all of you who submitted your recordings of the BBC Midwinter Broadcast!

We’ll be sharing this post with both the British Antarctic Survey and the BBC World Service. And to all of you, from the SWLing Post: Happy (Belated) Midwinter! Happy Summer/Winter Solstice!


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Remembering Arthur Cushen

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Alfred, who shares the following:

I have taken my DX-150 off the shelf and renewing a long-ago hobby. Circumstances have certainly changed since my introduction to SWLing.

One of the major changes is my operation of the receiver non-visually. To re-acquaint myself with the technology and new operational mode, I have been gathering literature (on the computer using screen reading software). I came across this link about Arthur Cushen, who I was not aware of – and you may be, and pass the link on to you to enjoy the aspects of his life and profession as a DXer.

(Source: NFB.org from April 11, 1998)

Arthur Cushen Dies

by Timothy Hendel

From the Editor: Tim Hendel is a member of the Huntsville chapter of the NFB of Alabama. Since he was a student at the New York State School for the Blind in Batavia, he has been interested in travel, languages, and short-wave radio. That is how he first became acquainted with Arthur Cushen and his story.

This is what he says:

A large group of sighted people would tell you that the only blind person they know is Arthur Cushen. These people share the hobby of tuning around on their short-wave radios to pick up unusual stations. Hard-to-get stations are often referred to as “DX,” and people who have this hobby are called “DX-ers.” Arthur Cushen was called “the world’s only professional DX-er.” On September 20, 1997, he died in Invercargill, New Zealand.

Arthur Thomas Cushen was born on January 24, 1920, in Invercargill. This community is at the extreme southern tip of the South Island of New Zealand. It is about as far as you can get from most European and North American cities.

As a young boy Arthur is said to have suffered from poor eyesight. I do not know if he would have been classified as visually impaired in modern parlance. It is true that while in school Arthur did not receive any special educational training. During the 1930’s his sight became much worse. He lost all vision in the early 1950’s. Somewhere along the way Arthur learned Braille.

On Christmas morning, 1932, Arthur got up at 3:00 a.m. with his father and the rest of his family. They tuned their battery-powered radio to the BBC on short-wave to hear the Christmas address of King George VI, from far-away England. A couple of years later as a teen-ager Arthur picked up Suva, Fiji Islands, on his radio. By that time he was bitten by the bug and saved his money to buy better radios. He probably climbed around in his yard, putting up better antennas. Many of us have tuned around on our radios to see what we could pick up, but from his earliest explorations Arthur kept careful and detailed records of what he heard.

All of this might have remained little more than a pastime for a young man in a very isolated community, if it had not been for World War II. During that war most men of military age in New Zealand, as well as in other English-speaking countries, were called away to fight the Germans and Japanese. It was the nature of that war that many of these fighters were taken prisoner.

In the early 1940’s, Germans, Japanese, and Allies were all beginning to learn about international radio and trying to use it for their own propaganda ends. The Japanese were fond of sending out nightly broadcasts in English, touting their victories. These broadcasts went out from what was then called Radio Tokyo, but also from Manila, Singapore, and Batavia (now Jakarta, Indonesia). To give their broadcasts more realism, they often read out the names and addresses of prisoners of war whom they were holding. Perhaps the Japanese felt that these details would increase the believability of their programs. They surely never knew that they were providing great comfort to the families of those prisoners.

Sitting almost at the bottom of the world, listening to his radio, was Arthur Cushen. He had been rejected for military service due to his vision. Arthur, together with his wife Ralda, copied down the names and addresses of the soldiers and civilians as they were broadcast from Tokyo, Singapore, and Batavia. (Arthur says that those were the strongest stations and had the greatest number of prisoners, but that he also monitored Shanghai, Chungking, and many other smaller stations.) Then Arthur would try to track down the families and tell them that he had heard news of a relative on the radio. True, the man might be a prisoner, but at least families got word that their loved one was alive.

To understand how Arthur did his work during World War II, we should bear in mind that there was no Internet, no cassette recorder, no word processor. I cannot even find any mention of his having had a typewriter. He dictated his messages to his wife and other helpers, who would often go to the local telegraph office and send telegrams or write letters to the families. Even long-distance telephoning seems to have been limited, perhaps because Arthur could not afford it. After the war letters of thanks poured into Arthur’s home. In 1970 Queen Elizabeth awarded Arthur the MBE (Member of the British Empire) for his service during the war.

During the Vietnam War Arthur monitored the Voice of Vietnam (Radio Hanoi) and contacted many U.S. families whose loved ones had spoken over that station. By this time the actual voices of the prisoners were broadcast, and tape recorders were common, so Arthur was often able to provide recordings to the families.

In 1953 Queen Elizabeth made a trip to New Zealand. She made it known that she wanted to spend at least one night alone in her hotel room. She also requested a radio and asked that someone provide her with a list of frequencies on which she could hear the BBC. Arthur Cushen was called upon to do this and has kept the special souvenir card on which he listed the frequencies for Her Majesty. Another scoop came to Arthur on November 23 (New Zealand time) 1963. After President Kennedy was shot, Arthur monitored many U.S. AM broadcast band stations and relayed the news he heard to the local New Zealand stations. In that era before satellite coverage, they would not have had so much news if it had not been for Arthur.

In February, 1942, Arthur was contacted by the BBC in London, who had heard of his radio work. They wanted someone in New Zealand to check on reception of their programs and send them a cable each week, telling them how the station was doing. After the war Voice of America, Radio Canada, Radio Netherlands, Radio Sweden, and many other stations made similar arrangements with Arthur.

Between 1952 and 1954 Arthur had several eye operations. He hoped that they would restore his sight. Instead, he lost most of the vision which he had. At that time he felt that he could not continue the work he was doing and needed to find another source of income. He asked the stations for which he had already been doing monitoring if he could be taken on their payroll as a regular staff member. This is how it came to pass that Arthur Cushen became the world’s only professional DX-er.

In addition to his work for the large broadcast stations, Arthur wrote many articles talking about radio. Some of these were published in radio hobby magazines, others in newspapers in New Zealand. Arthur wanted as many people as possible to discover the magic of tuning their radios to far-away stations. He also wanted people to know that they could do this with whatever radio they had on hand, instead of going out and spending lots of hard-earned cash for a special receiver. Victor Goonetilleke of Sri Lanka said, during a tribute to Arthur by Radio Netherlands, “Arthur always put in stuff that was easy to pick up, as well as the rare, hard-to-find stuff. He was a great encouragement to those of us who were starting out, especially us who lived in Asia. No one else was talking about stations that we could hear.”

Glenn Hauser of the well-known short-wave program “World of Radio,” said, “Arthur is the only person who was active in the hobby when I started in 1957 and is still heard.”

I was a boy at the New York State School for the Blind when I first heard Arthur giving reports over Radio Netherlands, talking about stations he had heard. It is hard to describe the thrill I felt when, as a teen-ager living in what I thought to be boring Upstate New York, I heard Arthur talking about picking up Fiji, Tonga, or New Guinea. It certainly whetted my appetite for travel, languages, and radio—interests which I still have.

In the early 1970’s I lived in Hawaii, and I had the thrill of exchanging tapes with Arthur. He wanted to know how well Radio New Zealand was received in Honolulu. I was able to fulfill his request. In 1986 I met Arthur at a short-wave convention in Montreal. It was wonderful to see everybody, blind and sighted, clustered around Arthur as he told stories of World War II and radio in the exotic islands of the Pacific.

Arthur wrote two books. The World in My Ears is a combination autobiography and beginning guide for those who want to know about short-wave radio. NLS has recorded it as RC15856. Another book, Arthur Cushen’s Radio Listening Guide, has not been recorded.

Most of the tributes to Arthur have focused on his radio activities. In passing they have mentioned that he “did a lot for the blind of New Zealand,” but I have been able to obtain very little information about this facet of his life. Apparently he helped found the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind. During the early 1960’s he and his wife Ralda began some kind of simple newspaper-reading service for the blind. Ralda would read articles on tape. These tapes were placed on an answering machine, where people could call in and hear them. Today most of New Zealand, as well as Australia, is served by radio reading services which operate on open channel, usually on the AM broadcast band.

In the tributes which many short-wave stations broadcast about Arthur, his wife Ralda was always mentioned. It was said that Ralda was “his eyes” and his greatest help. It is certain that Arthur and Ralda worked a great deal together, but I do not know how much of this reflects some sighted people’s ideas about what we can and cannot do without sighted help and how much reflects the actual way this couple chose to work together. A careful reading of his book reveals some gentle chiding of certain sighted people who, he felt, were trying to take over the running of some organizations in New Zealand, putting into place what they thought was “necessary for the blind,” rather than consulting with blind consumers.

It is true that Arthur grew up in a time and place when the special tools we take for granted were not available. I have no evidence that he used talking computers and other modern devices. I do know that he used Braille during his broadcasts. I used to fancy sometimes that I heard him rattling his Braille paper, though I don’t know if this was true.

Arthur’s family has requested that any contributions in his memory be sent to the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind, 172 Queens Drive, Invercargill, New Zealand.

Tributes and condolences to Ralda Cushen may be sent to Ralda Cushen, 212 Earn Street, Invercargill, New Zealand.

Condolences and recollections of Arthur may be e-mailed to

condolence@navigator.co.nz

Radio New Zealand ended its tribute to Arthur Cushen with a beautiful Maori sacred song. A very well-known blind person has passed from among us.

Thank you for sharing this remembrance, Alfred. I’m willing to bet there a number among the SWLing Post community who remember Arthur Cushen even though he passed away in 1997.

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Listener Post: Fabien’s love of radio which lead him to collecting

Fabien’s radio story below is the latest in our series called Listener Posts, where I place all of your personal radio histories.

If you would like to add your story to the mix, simply send your story by email!

In the meantime, many thanks to Fabien who writes:


I’ve been a radio listener since the age of 14. I was an SWL and a listener of local VHF free stations too.

In the beginning, my receiver was a poor radio-cassette, with a little segment of the shortwave bands. I used it for two years.

Then, for 16th birthday I received a Philips AL 990 shortwave receiver.

It was a great receiver because the sound was clear and it was easy to identify the stations when listening with my usual headphones–even those broadcasts with very weak signals and an unidentified language. The negative of this receiver was the frequency was not easy to see/read and I was at the same display for hours.

After my school period, I worked for two years and with my savings I was able to buy a JRC NRD 525 in Swizterland, where this receiver was less expensive and easier to find than in my country of France at the time.

The Japan Radio Company NRD 525 receiver. Photo: Universal Radio

The good with the NRD 525 is that it was easy to tune to a frequency, easy to read the display and easy to connect the receiver to another unit for decoding RTTY signals with an old computer monitor and a small EPSON dot printer.

I was in paradise!

But the NRD 525 has a problem with its sound. Even with my best headphones, I was not able to understand the station voices when the signal was poor and the language was not mine, so it was difficult to have sufficient details to make a good reception report for sending it proudly to the logged radio station.

My solution was strange but the only one possible : I searched for rare signals with the NRD 525 and after I found them, listened to those signals with the AL 990 and my headphones.
With this solution, I was able to send a lot a reception reports and receive some beautiful QSLs from official, pirate and clandestine stations (clandestines were my favorites).

This SWL period was until 1988. In 1988 I was obliged to move from my city to a new location where it was more difficult to be a SWL. The following years, I was more a BCL (Broadcast Listener) than an SWL.

I did BCL DX until 1999, and after 1999 most of my radio listening time was only BCL easy listening, without looking for weak signals.

Because of the Internet, online SDRs, and the closing down of a lot of broadcasters, I’m less  interested in contact stations directly, save from time to time. For me, the chase of weak signals was the most important part; now we can listen to a station via the Internet (online on a website or with a SDR online)…even the pirates stations.

My actual interest today is to have all of the receivers I was dreamed about when I was a teenager. In 2020, at 53 years old, I am now more a collector of receivers than a real BCL. I like all electronics, including many hifi systems/components and radio items.

I also love black and white film photography/laboratory too and I collect stickers from French radio stations.

Here are two pictures of part of my actual listening post. On one, you could see a model boat of the famous offshore radio station ” Radio Caroline “.

My favorite shortwave receivers are the Drake R8-E (European version of the R8), the BEARCAT DX-1000 and the Yaesu FRG-7.

My favorite receiver for synchronous detection reception is the SONY ICF-2001D (the European version of the ICF 2010).

To receive mediumwave stations, I prefer my JRC NRD 515 connected with an Australian active loop antenna.

For travel, I use a small Lowe HF 150.

For VHF FM-commercial band, I use my Grundig Satellit 500 and a Sony ICF 6800W.

Some of my best souvenirs/memories of SW reception are Radio La Voz de Alpha 66 (USA), Radio Venceremos (El Salvador), Radio Botswana, Radio Bardaï (Tchad or Libia), Radio RFO Tahiti, and Radio Bandeirantes (Brasil).

My regrets from the years 1981-1988 are not being able to receive the signal of Radio BHUTAN and the signal from The Faklands Islands.

I don’t like to travel outside my beloved country, but for the pleasure of visiting some radio stations, I made an effort and I traveled to Phnom Penh (Cambodia), La Habana (Cuba), San Salvador (El Salvador) and Ciudad Guatemala (Guatemala).

Truly Yours,
Fabien SERVE, in France


Thank you, Fabien, for sharing your story! You’ve added some truly classic receivers to your collection over the years!  I love the Radio Caroline model too! 

I encourage other SWLing Post readers and contributors to submit their own listener post! Tell us how you became interested in radio! 

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Radio Waves: First Microprocessors, Ocean FM, SWL Interviews, and NPR’s take on All-Digital AM

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 Marty, Martin Butera, and the Radio Survivor for the following tips:

The Surprising Story of the First Microprocessors (IEEE Spectrum)

Transistors, the electronic amplifiers and switches found at the heart of everything from pocket radios to warehouse-size supercomputers, were invented in 1947. Early devices were of a type called bipolar transistors, which are still in use. By the 1960s, engineers had figured out how to combine multiple bipolar transistors into single integrated circuits. But because of the complex structure of these transistors, an integrated circuit could contain only a small number of them. So although a minicomputer built from bipolar integrated circuits was much smaller than earlier computers, it still required multiple boards with hundreds of chips.[]

Ocean FM Was Fire: How Local Radio Done Right Can Heat A Cabin | Radio Schmaltz (Part-Time Audiofile)

[…]The cabin on a rocky peninsula in Northwest Ireland might not have had all the letters for its Scrabble set or a microwave, but it did have another marvel of 20th century technology. It was a little CB/AM/FM radio crouching behind a box of matches on top of a kitchen cabinet.

I decided to put the switch on FM and started swirling the dial. As soon as I heard a lilting woman’s voice underneath a sheet of static, I began carrying it around the tiny room while adjusting the rabbit ears.

Now the signal was as clear as the peat-rich water was brown, a farmer was being interviewed about the economic downturn. It was a quick piece — just some brogue-ish assurances that one doesn’t choose agriculture for an easy life. Then came a trio playing an Irish ballad, and then came North West Hospice Bingo: a bingo game that allows listeners from across the broadcast range of Ocean FM’s two regional frequencies to play bingo, including the residents of the hospice.

I’d bundle up for walks outside where the wind was loud, blustery, and sacred. The ocean crashed against the rocks in a way I never conceived as being real outside of movies. But when I was inside, the radio might as well have been a Soviet relic with only a volume control and no tuner because I simply couldn’t touch that dial. I learned the schedule quickly, timing walks and firewood runs so that I’d be back in time for Country Jamboree, a boy-girl-boy-girl style line-up of Irish and American country tunes.

As I’d stand by the wood-stove, taking off my cold wet socks to put on the toasted, at time singed socks that I’d been roasting, I felt the fulfillment of the promise of radio. I could hear Fessenden making history with the first radio broadcast of music, Oh Holy Night transmitted on a rocky coast on Christmas Eve of 1906 and heard by ships at sea.[]

Coffee and Radio Listen

Coffee and Radio Listen is an investigation of Brazilian radio listener, by Martin Butera.

How they began listening to radio, the local or international stations that influenced them, the interests they have when tuning to a station, the languages they like to listen to, if they send listeners reports and collect QSLs, their antennas and receivers, and all aspects related to the radio listen both in shortwave and in other bands and modes.

Each month they will have in this blog, an exclusive interview with a Brazilian radio listen. At the end of this project, a free downloadable e-book will be available, which contains all the interviews and statistical references.

Every month there will be a new interview, this month of March launch month we start with 2 interviews

Martin is Argentinian, born in the city of Buenos Aires capital. He currently lives in Brasília DF, capital of Brazil. He is also a journalist, documentary maker and founding member of Radio Atomika 106.1 MHz (Buenos Aires, Argentina).

To know more about CREW 15.61 Radio Listeners’, please visit the following link.

Guest Post: Brazil’s newly-formed “15.61 Crew”

Collaborate on this project by Martín, our friend Rob Wagner (VK3BVW), Mount Evelyn DX Report (adapting the recordings).

Click here her to check out the Coffee And Radio Listen website.

NPR Supports All-Digital on AM, With Caveats (Radio World)

National Public Radio “generally supports” allowing stations to transition, if they wish, to all-digital AM transmission using HD Radio in the United States. But it believes the commission needs to go further on how it would handle interference complaints from neighboring analog stations in the band.

About 80 AM public radio stations are affiliated with NPR or receive operational funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, including WNYC(AM) in New York City.

NPR says it has significant interest in any measures to help AM broadcasters better serve the public by improving the listening experience.

“Facilitating the expansion of HD Radio and its additional functionality for program and public safety information and services would serve the public interest, provided the transition to all-digital HD Radio operation does not cause harmful interference,” NPR wrote in comments filed with the FCC this week.

“As it has in the past, NPR supports the expansion of HD Radio, but not at the expense of current analog AM service.”[…]


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Jack’s Tailgate DXpedition

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jack Blanke (WB5LVP), who shares the following:

Really enjoyed your article yesterday, and felt compelled to respond with a similar DX’ing jaunt of mine two days ago.

I found myself in the same mindset and ventured out to a nearby peaceful fishing and yacht harbor to try out my new Tecsun PL-380. I have had it about 10 days and I have figured out that I have about all the urban power line and electrical noise I can stand at my home location, so I was headed out to give the 380 a chance to exercise its ears.

I found the most deserted corner of the parking lot at the harbor, positioned my pick-up for maximum shade, dropped the tail gate to provide a work surface, strung out about 75 feet of stranded #14 insulated copper wire and positioned my portable chair for DX action.

I did not have a copy of the WRTH, but I do use an iPhone app called Shortwave Broadcast Schedules by Black Cat that has really worked well for me and I highly recommend. With great anticipation, I flipped the power switch and enjoyed the most beautiful silence from man made electrical noise that I have ever experienced!! I could not believe how much quieter the receiver was in a more more pristine environment.

Jack’s ultralight Tailgate DXpedition kit

I opened the app to search for some DX’ing frequency possibilities, began tuning the bands and I was amazed at the number of short wave broadcast stations, the strength of their signals and the pure listening quality coming out of my 380, which is little larger than a pack of cigarettes!! I have been a licensed ham since 1970 and at one point back in the early 1970’s, I had a complete R. L. Drake HF station which might be called “Boat Anchors” by today’s standards. I was now listening to stations from around the globe on a receiver that comfortably fit in my pocket and a long wire strung out to a nearby “NO PARKING” sign post.

The Tecsun PL-380

Within a matter of a couple of relaxing hours, I had logged and enjoyed listening to Radio Habana, Voice of Vietnam, China Radio Int., Voice of Nigeria, Radio Romania Int., KBS World Radio and several other stateside shortwave broadcasts from Miami, Nashville & Lebanon Tennessee. I was totally thrilled at the performance of the radio/antenna combo and I anxiously await the opportunity to visit the area again for another Tailgate DXpedition!! I am particularly looking forward to fall days and cooler temps to go lose myself in the reverie of the shortwave bands, this time with a few brewskies in the ice chest, along with lunch.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and I could not help but relate to your article when I read it!! Next time, I plan to photograph my Tailgate DXpedition, simple though it may be to share with others. I have been away from radio for some time, but have maintained my amateur license for nearly 50 years. Now that I am retired and have more time, I plan to enjoy my long lost love of radio once again.

Thanks for your web sight. I look forward to the newsletters and enjoy its resources.

Take care.

’73’s
Jack Blanke

Thanks so much for sharing your story, Jack!

Isn’t it amazing how the shortwave bands simply open up when you remove all of the urban noise that plagues our receivers? That’s the brilliance behind impromptu DXpeditions. Plus, I’ve always believed that radio is best enjoyed outdoors.

We look forward to seeing some photos and a report of your next Tailgate DXpedition, Jack!


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Guest Post: Report from the 2019 Henry’s Island DXpediton

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Sandipan Basu Mallick (VU3JXD), for sharing the following guest post:


Henry’s Island DXpediton 2019

World Radio day is observed by the UNESCO on 13th February every year. This year is the 8th year world day being celebrated with theme “celebrate radio and how it shapes our lives”.  In recent times there has been a sea change in radio listening and radio broadcasting. More and more radio broadcasters are shifting to FM which radiate over a small distances and require low power transmitters. Medium wave broadcasting and shortwave broadcasting which is used to reach audience over larger distances is gradually becoming less important with the growth of internet connectivity. Broadcasters are increasingly streaming their content over the internet to reach their audience via the PC, Laptop and now via the mobile phone.

DXing is the hobby of listening to the faraway and distant signals and the hobbyist are called DXers. DXers would switch on their radio set, connect it to the piece of wire which is the antenna and turn the dial to search and listen to the far away and sometimes feeble radio signals. For these radio enthusiasts challenge is becoming greater. The big names of yesteryear such as BBC, Voice of America, Radio Moscow and Deutsche Welle, the German radio are all gradually shifting their content from shortwave broadcasting to the internet. Now with data connectivity to the mobile phone available to everyone, the shortwave broadcasters find a more reliable and popular route to reach their audience through the internet rather than troublesome “bounce” through the ionosphere. Then with the rise of household electrical devices which radiate “radio noise” such as the LED bulb or the TV, the radio signals from distant lands have to rise over this local noise to reach the ear of the audience.

That is why a band of radio enthusiasts from all over India have travelled to the listening camp set up at a resort in Henry Island at Bakkhali in the state of West Bengal, India. This year the listening camp ran from 10th – 13th Feb, which celebrated World Radio Day and the hobby of radio. The dedicated radio enthusiasts who have been drawn into this radio listening camp, are drawn from different parts of country varying from New Delhi to Tripura. Kolkata the home of the Indian DX club International (www.idxci.in), has been promoting the hobby since 1980 has naturally most participants in this camp. They were very upbeat while worldwide radio enthusiasts have to cope up with bad news for the hobby. In the last few years, stations after stations have closed down and so have iconic radio clubs like Danish Short Wave Club and periodicals like Monitoring Times. Broadcasting mega corporations like VOA and DW have reduced their presence in the airwaves to a faint whisper compared to their former roar.

Sandipan Basu Mallick (VU3JXD) with Dr Supratik Sanatani (VU2IFB)

Sandipan Baus Mallick (VU3JXD), who is the principal in organizing this year’s DXpedition from IDXCI says that the appeal of radio is still there among the various age groups. These camps are set up in remote locations, which enable the radio enthusiast to come together with likeminded people to exchange ideas and experiment with their equipments and brush up their skills with conventional radio. People from various races of life participated in this years camp.

Among the participants Sudipto Ghose (VU2UT) who just retired from a job with the Ministry of Finance is drawn by the technical part of the hobby and toys with new radio receivers and accessories such as antennas and preamplifiers.

C K Raman (VU3DJQ) from Delhi whose job incidentally involved professionally monitoring broadcast stations, has narrowed his interest down to the medium wave stations and the tropical band stations such as stations from Brazil, Colombia and Indonesia and has come down looking for such exotic signals.

Suvendu Das (SWL), who professionally managed ship communications has suddenly become interested in the hobby of broadcast band listening.

Pradip Kundu (SWL) of Tripura who after retiring as a Principal has more time to pursue his childhood passion and is an avid QSL collector.

Babul Gupta (VU3ZBG) an interior designer still spends time to seek those rare signals at the wee hours and has to his credit listening to some of the most rare to hear stations from India such as Cross Radio, an evangelist radio station broadcasting from the Carribean.

Alokesh Gupta (VU3BSE) has flown in from Delhi for the radio camp is an avid enthusiast who also served to coordinate the Listeners association of Radio Taiwan and runs the website radioactivity.org which disseminates information related to radio broadcasting.

Kallol Nath (SWL) is among the newest entrants in the DXer squad. Armed with XH Data D-808 receiver, he logged a number of pirate stations on the MW band.

For Sandipan, a marketing professional worked to set up this camp and bring together radio enthusiast from various parts of India. He is also drawn by the technical aspects of the hobby and can flaunt many a radio gear just like his friend Debanjan Chakraborty (VU3DCH) who is a radio collector and has radio sets.

Accompanying them is Eye Surgeon Dr Supratik Sanatani (VU2IFB), who has key interest in home brewing various radio equipment, and a veteran in DXpedition also came together explore the airwaves from the Bay of Bengal.

Henry’s Island marked with a red location pin.

Henry’s Island is at the tip of the Bay of Bengal which for the radio listener gives a good opportunity to hear distant signals from Australia, New Zealand, Oceania, Indonesian archipelago and Papua New Guiniea.

DXpeditioners strung long wire antennas aimed in their favorite direction and then connect their modern digital radio receivers to try to catch the feeble signals from exotic radio stations. During their whole night listening sessions, some would exclaim at 2.30 am that the Phillipines medium wave station was opening with a greeting its local audience in the local language Tagalog–or someone might simply record the Maldivian medium wave station from Male ending its transmission with their national anthem. The fisheries ground also has the advantage of low noise from electrical devices. To run away from local noise, the hobbyist might even have to pitch a tent in the middle of nowhere and use their advanced radio receivers with battery power.

What is the pinnacle of success? Just like the bird watcher catching a glimpse of the rare migratory bird, for the DXers it is the thrill of listening to exotic signals such as from the American Forces Military Base at Diego Garcia to the barely audible Papua New Guinean station from Port Moresby. Then there are others like that Peruvian station Radio Tarma with excited football commentary which comes through to India only during a short window in the very early morning before day break and only on few days in a year. Even though the 11 year old solar sunspot cycle which influences radio transmission, is at its favorable “ low”, we can still confirm that DXing as a hobby is still alive and kicking!!!

DXers in Action


Thank you so much for sharing this report, Sandipan! It appears that you not only enjoyed some excellent DX on Henry’s Island, but you also strengthened friendships that will last a lifetime. Well done!


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