Tag Archives: Shortwave Radio

Keith discovers a Radio Bougainville recording on the Shortwave Archive: “A 50-year old tape takes me back”

We’ve published thousands of off-air recordings on Shortwave Radio Audio Archive over the past decade. They’re freely available for everyone to search and download.

For those of us who work on the archive, it’s a pure labor of love. We are not compensated for the time and effort we put into running and curating it, although we use Patreon and Coffee Fund contributions to help pay for the site and online archives.

Quite frequently, our recordings are discovered and are intensely meaningful to individuals. Listening to radio recordings has an amazing ability to summon up memories and moments in time.

We recently discovered the following article on the blog PNG Attitude written by Keith Jackon. Keith has kindly given us permission to post it in its entirety here on the SWLing Post. Thank you, Keith, and we’re pleased this recording was so relevant to you:


A 50-year old tape takes me back

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – It had dropped into my Twitter feed via @Laselki, the account of the Lebanon-based Arab Amateur Radio Network, and @Stret_Pasin, a valued supporter and one of my 8,700 Twitter followers.

It had originated in Ontario, Canada, from the historic village of Ancaster close by the US border and Niagara Falls.

It was a fleeting recording of a shortwave broadcast.

Map showing location of Ancaster, Canada

A broadcast from Radio Bougainville transmitted 51 years ago on 21 October 1971, which had travelled 13,300 km to Ancaster and been recorded.

Then saved on a cassette tape until, for some reason, recently retrieved and shared.

“Sound is a bit crackly,” wrote @Stret_Pasin, “but this will bring back memories of Radio Bougainville.”

Truer words never were tweeted.

When you link to the brief recording here (scroll down to the black audio bar), you will pick up in rapid succession the sound of chanting to the famous Bougainville kaur flute, then an announcer’s voice and finally a snatch of Bougainville string band music.

Click here to listen on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.

I thought I recognised this sequence as the pre-recorded station identification put to air each time the station’s transmitters were fired up at Toniva, just south of Kieta, from a switch in the main studio down a ladder beside my house.

But the more I listen to it, the less convinced I am of its provenance.

All I can say for sure is that anything the captured snatch of radio was broadcast at about 12 noon on Bougainville on 22 October 1971.

This was at a time when Radio Bougainville usually broadcast for 11 hours a day in three separate sessions: 6 am – 9 am, 12 noon – 2 pm and 4 pm – 10pm.

In a small town in Canada it was late morning the day before, and a young Dan Greenall was tuning his Hallicrafters shortwave radio seeking out distant stations he would register as finding in the ether.

Even in our modern digital age, there are shortwave junkies who ferret out remote radio stations and seek QSL cards: written proof of reception. (One issued by Radio Bougainville in 2016 is pictured here.)

QSL reception confirmation from NBC Bougainville, 2016

’I heard this at such time on your station; tell me it is true.” And we’d check the log and return a QSL postcard. Yes, you had indeed heard our station.

Collecting these cards became popular with radio listeners 100 years ago and continues to this day

Dan had been doing just that 51 years ago when he happened upon a distant signal struggling through heavy interference to be captured by his outdoor copper wire aerial and delivered to the sturdy Hallicrafters S-52 receiver.

Keith’s appointment to manage Radio Bougainville was greeted by this headline in the Bougainville News

Dan has written for the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive:

“The morning of 21 October 1971 provided some of the best reception of Papua New Guinea stations in the 90 metre band that I ever experienced.

“These stations were rare visitors to my headphones but I was able to make a couple of short recordings of two PNG stations that morning, and they have survived to this day on that same audio cassette (now 51 years old).

“This one of Radio Bougainville begins with a local chant followed by announcement on the hour. The station ran 2.5 kw and their signal made it over 13,300 km to my receiver that day.

“Audio quality is passable considering the recording was made using an open mic to the speaker of the Hallicrafters S-52.”

Technical data:

Broadcaster: Radio Bougainville
Date of recording: 21/10/1971
Starting time: 1100
Frequency: 3.322.5 MHz
Receiver location: Ancaster, Ontario, Canada
Receiver and antenna: Hallicrafters S-52 using a longwire antenna

When I linked to the thin signal that had managed to land so far away so long ago, I was momentarily overcome with emotion.

I had known those sounds so well from too many early mornings wondering whether the breakfast announcer would arrive in time to open the station.

A recording something like that told me he’d arrived, fired up the transmitter and was ready to begin proceedings.

Through the static of 51 years – two-thirds of my life – came a once-familiar sequence of bamboo flute / announcer / stringband, transporting me back to a time when I was young and in my first management job which, bad bits and all, I was enjoying as if born to it.

Keith Jackson at the time of his appointment to Radio Bougainville

They were tough years for the people of Bougainville, especially in the villages around Kieta and its hinterland.

Bougainville Copper had started to dig the ore that produced great quantities of copper, gold and silver on alienated land amidst an alienated people.

Despite the volatile social and political climate, I had enjoyed the challenge of Bougainville.

I felt I’d been made for it and that it was making me.

And I enjoyed working with talented station staff, most from Bougainville, like Tom Kathoa, Sam Bena, Perpetua Tanuku, Justin Kili, Aloysius Sahoto, Aloysius Nase and Aloysius Rumina – most now gone from our midst. That’s what 51 years does.

And that simple recording – made so long ago and so far away – brought it all rushing back.

You can read more about my Bougainville years here in Brink of Secession.

So thanks to Dan Greenall, the Arab Amateur Radio Network and @Stret_Pasin for giving me a free ticket to fly back more than half a century. I really enjoyed the trip.

Read this full article and check out Keith’s website PNG Attitude here.

Also, a very special thanks to Dan Greenall and all of our contributors on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive. 

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Teaching an old dog old tricks

By Jock Elliott, KB2GOM

It was Don Moore’s excellent article — An Introduction to DXing the MF Marine Bands — that inspired me. If you haven’t read it, do so now; it’s terrific. But be warned: my guess is that it will inspire you too.

Bottom line, ever since I read it, I have very much wanted to hear at least some of those MF marine stations that Don writes about. One of Don’s recommendations is “Hang Out on 2182 kHz.” So sometimes when I am messing around in the radio shack, I will park one of my shortwave receivers on 2182 USB in the hopes of hearing some marine communications. 2182 is the frequency that the US Coast Guard once monitored as a distress frequency, but no more.

According to Don: “Today 2182 kHz still gets some use as a calling frequency, where a ship and a shore station quickly arrange to have a conversation on another frequency. But the more common use now is for shore-based marine broadcasters to pre-announce marine information broadcasts they are about to transmit on other frequencies.”

Just the other day, I brought up 2182 on my Satellit 800, but the atmospheric noise was pretty bad. I fooled around with a couple of different indoor wire antenna configurations but wasn’t able to achieve any substantial improvement. But in the midst of that messing around, I “rediscovered” my Icom IC-706 MkIIG on a shelf. It receives from 30 kHz to 199 MHz and from 400 to 470 MHz, and I used mine for over a decade to run the Commuter Assistance Network on two meters. I still keep the 706 as a back-up in case my main rig for running the net goes down.

But I had never used the 706 extensively on HF (weird, I know, but that’s the truth). Nevertheless, a little voice in the back of my head (probably one of the brain dudes) kept saying “Why don’t you give the 706 a try as an HF receiver?”

So I did. I hooked up the 706 up to my horizontal room loop through some coax and an LDG 9:1 unun (the same antenna setup I had been using on the Satellit 800). And – shazam – the 706 is substantially quieter on 2182 with that antenna than the Satellit 800.

That’s good, I thought, but what if the 706 appears to be quieter because it is less sensitive? So I did some comparative tests with the 706 and the Satellit 800 on the 80 and 40 meter ham bands and satisfied myself that the 706 is both quieter and more sensitive than the Satellit 800. I could just plain hear the signals better (and more pleasantly) with the 706.

The only substantial weirdness with the Icom 706 MkIIG is that, as a small unit, it has relatively few buttons on its face. As a result, it has no keypad for direct frequency access. There are buttons for jumping from one ham band to another and another button for changing tuning steps, so with judicious use of those buttons and the tuning knob, it’s fairly easy to get from one frequency to another, but it is not as fast as direct entry.

And, of course, the 706 does not have all the cool seek-and-store functions and the like that are available on today’s really slick shortwave portables.

Here’s the upshot: if you’ve been on the hunt for a better HF receiver with single sideband capabilities, an old dog, like an old ham transceiver, might be just what you need. And if you are already enjoying an old ham transceiver as a shortwave receiver, I’d like to hear about it.

So, have I heard any of those cool MW maritime stations? Not yet, but I’m sure I’ll have fun trying!

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Radio Waves: US Emergency Alert System Vulnerabilities, Tape Measure Antennas, Eight Year Old Chats with ISS, and Power of Prison Radio

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!


“Huge flaw” threatens US emergency alert system, DHS researcher warns (ARS Technica)

Hackers can disrupt legit warnings or issue fake ones of their own.

The US Department of Homeland Security is warning of vulnerabilities in the nation’s emergency broadcast network that makes it possible for hackers to issue bogus warnings over radio and TV stations.

“We recently became aware of certain vulnerabilities in EAS encoder/decoder devices that, if not updated to the most recent software versions, could allow an actor to issue EAS alerts over the host infrastructure (TV, radio, cable network),” the DHS’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) warned. “This exploit was successfully demonstrated by Ken Pyle, a security researcher at CYBIR.com, and may be presented as a proof of concept at the upcoming DEFCON 2022 conference in Las Vegas, August 11-14.”

Pyle told reporters at CNN and Bleeping Computer that the vulnerabilities reside in the Monroe Electronics R189 One-Net DASDEC EAS, an emergency alert system encoder and decoder. TV and radio stations use the equipment to transmit emergency alerts. The researcher told Bleeping Computer that “multiple vulnerabilities and issues (confirmed by other researchers) haven’t been patched for several years and snowballed into a huge flaw.”

“When asked what can be done after successful exploitation, Pyle said: ‘I can easily obtain access to the credentials, certs, devices, exploit the web server, send fake alerts via crafts message, have them valid / pre-empting signals at will. I can also lock legitimate users out when I do, neutralizing or disabling a response,’” Bleeping Computer added. [Continue reading…]

Just how good is a tape measure antenna anyway? (Hackaday)

Amateur radio operators have played a longstanding game of “Will It Antenna?” If there’s something even marginally conductive and remotely resonant, a ham has probably tried to make an antenna out of it. Some of these expedient antennas actually turn out to be surprisingly effective, but as we can see from this in-depth analysis of the characteristics of tape measure antennas, a lot of that is probably down to luck.

At first glance, tape measure antennas seem to have a lot going for them (just for clarification, most tape measure antennas use only the spring steel blade of a tape measure, not the case or retraction mechanism — although we have seen that done.) Tape measures can be rolled up or folded down for storage, and they’ll spring back out when released to form a stiff, mostly self-supporting structure.

But [fvfilippetti] suspected that tape measures might have some electrical drawbacks, thanks to the skin effect. That’s the tendency for current to flow on the outside of a conductor, which at lower frequencies on conductors with a round cross-section turns out to be not a huge problem. [Continue reading on Hackaday…]

Broadstairs eight-year-old to feature on NASA website after radio chat with ISS astronaut (The Isle of Thanet News)

A Broadstairs eight-year-old has chatted with an astronaut aboard the International Space Station and a recording of the conversation will feature on the NASA website.

Isabella Payne spoke to Astronaut Kjell Lindgren as the ISS flew overhead last week.

The youngster was with dad Matthew who is a license holding amateur radio enthusiast and tutor. He and Isabella are both members of Hilderstone Radio Society.

Matthew said: “Isabella has been a member of the radio club ever since she was born and has been playing with the radio since she was six. Because I have the full licence she can sit on my knee and use the radio to speak to people as long as I am controlling it. Everyone at the club can do that. She has been involved in a few radio events, Children On The Air events, and will hopefully go for her own licence soon. [Click here to read the full article and view the photos.]

The power of prison radio in giving voice to the voiceless around the world (ABC)

“I plan my life by the radio these days, my contact with the outside world in a sense…”

The first ever international prison radio conference has just been held in Norway, bringing together representatives of prison radio shows from 19 countries, including Australia, where Indigenous people continue to be grossly over-represented in prison populations.

Prison radio shows, wherever they are in the world, all work to give voice to the voiceless and empower people by enabling them to tell their own stories.

Click here to listen to the podcast episode.


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Alan Roe’s A22 season guide to music on shortwave (version 3)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Alan Roe, who shares his A-22 (version 3) season guide to music on shortwave. Alan provides this amazing resource as a free PDF download:

Click here to download Music on Shortwave A-22 v3 (PDF)

Thank you for sharing your excellent guide, Alan!

This dedicated page will always have the latest version of Alan’s guide available for download.

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Jerome’s response from Australian Foreign Affairs regarding shortwave to Pacific

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jerome van der Linden, who shares the following response from from the Australian Foreign Affairs department regarding any future shortwave services to the Pacific. As Jerome notes, the letter “suggests that all is not yet lost, though it’s lacking in commitment.”

Click here to download a PDF of the response.

Quite correct, Jerome. The letter is noncommittal, but at least acknowledges the government will take this under formal review.  I doubt anyone should hold their breath, of course.

Thank you so much for sharing!

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What is it about SWLing that keeps you coming back? A reader participation post.

By Jock Elliott, KB2GOM

After trying to copy Shortwave Australia on 4835 this AM, the curiosity bug has bitten me. What, I wonder, is it about SWLing that keeps my fellow readers of SWLing.com coming back?

For me, it’s three things. First, I think Treasure Island ruined me as a kid. Ever since I read it, shiver me timbers matey, the search for The Hidden Thing – whether treasure in the ground or a signal on the airwaves – has been a lifelong fascination for me.

Second, I enjoy trying to tease a faint signal out of the ether. That’s why I got a kick out of trying to hear the Armed Forces Crossband Test.

Finally, I enjoy the physical act of operating a radio, turning the dial, adjusting the controls, tuning the preselector, and so forth.

So now, it’s your turn – what keeps you coming back and tuning the airwaves?

Please comment!

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Podcast dives into world of Cold War Numbers Stations

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ulis, who shares a link to the following episode of the Cold War Conversations podcast which focuses on numbers stations:

Cold War number stations

You might remember listening to short wave radio during the Cold War and coming across weird transmissions of metallic voices reciting random groups of numbers through the ether. These are number stations, shortwave radio stations characterised by broadcasts of formatted numbers, which were being sent to spies operating in foreign countries.

Number stations were used widely during the Cold War and we speak with Jo Reggelt of ShortwaveNumbers.com. Jo has been working with Simon Mason who was a founding member of ENIGMA, launched in the 1980’s after identifying several of these stations.

We discuss in detail the operations behind the transmissions and the stations themselves. You will hear some sample transmissions, including one of drunken Stasi officers serenading their agents after the opening of the Wall. [Continue reading…]

Click here to listen to this podcast on the Cold War Conversations website,
or via iTunes or Spotify.

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