Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, The Professor, who shares the following guest post:
A 1960s Signal Sniffer
by The Professor
I just recently purchased a radio that on eBay that looks very intriguing, especially if you happen to DX AM Radio. It’s a mid-60s portable made in Japan – a Nova Tech Pilot II . However, wasn’t just a grab ën go to the beach kind of transistor set. This radio has a serious side. It’s actually an RDF – a “radio direction finder.”
I have seen these kinds of radios before, somewhere. Only the ones I’ve noticed were older and had more of a military look. Although I’ve never actually attended a hamfest, I’m sure these types of receivers might be found at a gathering like that.
But this is a smaller and frankly more stylish version of RDF. Not to go into too much detail about something I know little about, but before GPS became ubiquitous, devices like this would commonly assist in the navigation of ships and aircraft by pinpointing “beacon” transmitters at specific known locations.
As you might imagine, this type of technology was (and probably still is) a strategic tool for military purposes. In fact, one of more “infamous” incidents of using radio direction finders was when they were utilized by the Japanese in the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Their bombers just honed in on the signal of a Honolulu AM station (KGU at 760kHz) as their beacon.
So, this radio has three bands which were traditionally used by beacon transmitters. Besides the medium wave band, it also has a section of the longwave spectrum, and the VHF airband. Other models included the old marine band (around 3 to 5MHz). A later model also included the CB frequencies, and another included a VHF police band (called the Nova Tech Action!!).
So, no shortwave on this one. No FM either, but I have plenty of radios with those bands (like almost all of them). Of course, there’s not much to find on this side of the world on longwave these days, and listening to aircraft communications has its fans but it’s not something I’ve done much. But this thing has a unique toolset for medium wave DXing. And after doing a little research online I’ve discovered that the big rotating double ferrite on top is only one of the attributes it offers for AM DXing purposes.
For one, it has an RF amplifier in the front end to help pull those weak signals up out of the noise floor. For another, it has a pure RF gain function called “DF” (direction finder), which when turned on shuts down the AGC (automatic gain control) and allows you to tweak the RF gain any way you like. And it also has a very accurate tuning meter. That all sounds good to me.
So, I haven’t actually seen my Nova Tech in the flesh yet, and it will be probably a couple of weeks before I get a chance to give it a test drive. But I’m pretty confident in my purchase at this point. More than a few people have spoken glowingly of the AM DXing capabilities of this set. But one of the reasons I decided to go ahead and bid on this device was that not only did the dealer have an excellent eBay rating, but he says he also fully serviced the radio electronically and physically restored most of its original beauty. Apparently, it was cleaned up, recapped, and even a transistor was replaced. And he also aligned the AM band IF and re-peaked the antenna trim for AM and the airband.
Although this radio is still a twinkle in my eye at this point, I thought I’d mention it here in hopes some of the fine readers of this blog might have something to say about DXing with direction finding radios. And I was especially hoping that a few people might have personal experience with these 60s era Nova Tech receivers. I also noticed online that there are U.K. versions of these RDFs that were branded as “Bendix” radios.
All insights offered as comments are appreciated, and once I spend some time with this radio I’ll be sure to offer some of my own.
I always find it so much fun to await the arrival of an interesting old radio I’ve purchased on eBay, especially one that I’d never heard of before.
Thanks for sharing your find, Professor! I was not at all familiar with the Nova Tech Pilot II. I love the Transoceanicesque design! No doubt, it’ll be a handsome addition to your collection, and I’m willing to bet a MW DX machine as well!
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, The Professor, who shares the following review of the RFA200 external ferrite antenna:
The Tecsun R-9012 and RFA200 MW antenna (Photo credit: The Professor)
A Quick Review of the RFA200
I’ve considered saying something here about RFA200, as I bought one of these not long after its existence was announced on this blog a few months ago, but I’ve been hesitating because I didn’t have much good to say about it. A couple of times I’ve placed it up snug up against the the top of the two Tecsun sets I have handy (the PL-310ET and the PL-880) and found that despite a lot of knob turning it had little or no effect on improving signal on medium wave stations. I was not impressed.
But I guess I’ve kind of changed my mind on that. And oh yeah, I bought another radio. It’s funny how you can talk yourself into things when you’re talking someone else into something. But after I had mentioned to a reader here the other day that the very inexpensive Tecsun R-9012 was a worthy analog DX portable, I decided to drop twenty and pick one up for myself. After all, it was about the same price as a fancy Brooklyn hamburger. It arrived a couple days ago.
So, I have been playing with it a bit over the last few days. It’s as good as the other ones I’ve had which are the same basic radio (I’d mentioned that the bandswitch slider broke in a couple of mine). It’s single conversion. The bandwidth is a little wide, but it’s a very sensitive and simple analog set.
Yesterday I was going through the AM band and remembered that ferrite from Greece, and I pulled it out recalling that in my experience some radios are more susceptible to reception improvements using passive loops than others. Maybe this ferrite bar might be similar. And sure enough, the antenna made a notable difference this time. By placing it up against the R-9012 and tuning the thing I could certainly increase signal a bit. And I could even see it in the slight brightening or steadiness of the tuning light.
So, not a total waste money after all. I would emphasize that the difference in reception doesn’t seem to be as dramatic or sustaining as you might hear with a tunable loop antenna next to your radio. But it’s not junk either. Then again, for fifty dollars shipped it is a little pricey. Twice as much as a Tecsun tunable loop antenna, and two and half times more expensive than the R-9012 itself.
I found the best way to use this antenna is to tune the radio separately first and when you find a weaker signal you want to improve physically go ahead and rotate the radio until the signal is strongest and THEN put the antenna along the top of the radio and adjust the tuning knob on the antenna. Focus in on strengthening the signal you actually hear, going back and forth until it gets strongest. If you seem to be pulling up other stations it’s because the antenna adjustment will bring in adjacent stronger stations if you move it too far either way.
I’m surely not able to pin down the science involved in exactly how these things work, but perhaps somebody can chime in on this. I’m wondering if analog radio tuning in particular is better suited to the use of these tunable passive antennas, as opposed to PLL and DSP radios?
If you buy one of these be prepared to wait. At least mine took weeks to get here from Greece. And don’t expect miracles. But it seems rather well constructed, and will probably work with some radios. The seller has a 100% rating on eBay and has all sorts of interesting antennas for sale. I’m glad to see people succeeding in that business.
Many thanks, Prof, for sharing your fine review of the RFA200! Thanks for also mentioning the Tecsun R9012–I purchased one a couple years ago with the intention of reviewing it, then gave it to teenager who expressed interest in shortwave. I don’t think I actually put it on the air myself. I do enjoy simple old school analog radio–especially when making band scans.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, The Professor, who shares the following review of the XHDTA D-328:
First off, this is the best radio I’ve ever operated… that cost me less than ten dollars new. When I saw the promotion on the SWLing Post for free or half price radios, I had to bite, especially because the deal was that the first ten to respond would get a free XHDATA D-328. They told me I was the 15th caller, so I was allowed one for half price. And since they were going for just under fourteen bucks on Amazon, it felt like it was almost free.
Of course, I didn’t expect much. But as they wanted the people who received these free or very inexpensive little radios to leave reviews, I figured the Chinese manufacturers knew there were some good features radio folk might notice. And there are. And I’m not sure if I’ll post part of this brief review on Amazon, but I’ll do so here in this comment.
If you want a radio that will reliably pick up local AM and FM stations and play some MP3 files, this will work, and work pretty well. And it doesn’t sound bad at all for the size. I personally don’t have much love for these new analog-style tuning DSP radios, but I suppose people who aren’t as radio wise as readers of the SWL Listening Post won’t notice the less than poetic effects of moving between stations on these sets. Most probably tune in their desired stations and just listen to it, and this radio does this well enough.
I don’t really listen to FM much, but the XHDATA D-328 seems adequate enough. And with headphones on it sounds quite rich on FM. AM isn’t bad either, but it’s far from selective. I was able to dig out clear channel regional biggies like Zoomer Radio at 740kHz and WHAS at 840kHz in Louisville from here in Brooklyn at night, but in between often easy to find fifty-thousand watt stations like WBBM or CKLW weren’t there. The DSP tuning just defaulted to the next local station like WNYC or WABC when I turned the dial.
Shortwave was worse. Beyond the U.S. powerhouses like WWCR this radio doesn’t seem a very worthy shortwave set for those of us in North America. But I can imagine in that in third world countries where international and local broadcasters still target broadcasts that this radio might be an inexpensive way to access that programming.
I must admit that listening to MP3 music files was kind of pleasing. Again, the audio is really good for a radio at this price point. However you are listening blind, there’s no screen to tell you what you’re hearing, and no shuffle function to make a folder full of MP3s into unique sequences of songs each time. What you get are the songs in the alphabetical order of the file titles, although you do have the option to jump ahead 10 files before or after the one you are playing. So the best use of an MP3 player like this would be to listen to podcasts or whole radio programs with it. What I would do is copy the files onto the SD card and then perhaps number the filenames in the order I would like to hear the shows.
So, for the price there’s not a lot to complain about. People have already mentioned the off-center small kickstand, and that’s a little cheesy. But the tuning thumb wheel moves smoothly thru the imperfect DSP tuning function, and the volume thumb wheel is actually analog which make it much easier to get the exact volume you want out of this radio. But the sliding band selection switch under the tuning scale is a bit worrisome, as I’ve had a few cheap Chinese radios with a switch like this and just normal use eventually rendered them unable to switch bands adequately. This one feels a little bit more stable then they did, but time will tell.
All that said, there are radios that are not too much more expensive than this radio that offer much more in a number of ways. The small and inexpensive analog Tecsun radios from a few years ago are a case in point. Selling for twenty to thirty dollars, those multi-band radios are a little challenging to tune (a stiff thumb wheel on some), and the tuning scale may be a little off and they may drift a little, but the analog tuning is a much better experience. And you can DX with them. I remember listing to All India Radio with a decent signal one afternoon on my Tecsun R-9710.
There’s a lot of similar analog radios which I believe are probably just about the same radio – the Tecsun R-9012, the Tecsun R-911, the Tecsun R-909 and the Kaito WRX-911, among others. Once you get a look at these you’ll recognize other similar radios in this family. I’d say they’re the best really cheap receivers I know of. They generally run between twenty to just over thirty bucks. I believe these radios appeared on the scene in the early 2000s.
I have this fear that they’ll start turning these radios into DSP sets. That would be a real shame, but I’ve heard no mention of that. However I did notice that the marketers of the XHDATA D-328 didn’t even mention that it was based on a DSP chip. And Chinese manufacturers are notoriously not very open about how they are altering radios that they’re putting out, so be aware of that.
As far as MP3 playback, the one radio I would really recommend is the Meloson (or Tesslor) M8 (or the Meloson M7 or S8 if you can find one). It’s simply the best audio you’ll hear in a really small radio, AND you can shuffle the MP3 files in a folder with these. While it only give you the sequential number of the song in the display, it will generate a unique sequence of songs each time you shuffle. Fill a folder on a card full of songs and let it rip. It’s the perfect micro music player if you make a good folder of music. And the DSP radio in these is not bad either. It’s digital, not fake analog tuning, and most AM clear channel targets you can usually find at night in your region will show up on these. They used to go for less than thirty bucks, but right now I see they cost close to fifty dollars.
Two other radios I have that I can recommend for MP3 playback, are the Tecsun ICR-110 and the Tivdio V-115. Neither one offers playback shuffle, but they will play the files in alphanumeric order just fine. But they both have a cool feature in that you can press a button and record the broadcast you’re hearing as an MP3 file. And they both also sound great. The Tivdio has incredible sound for a tiny radio, but the ICR-110 is even more impressive. I believe it has the same speaker setup as the much more expensive Tecsun PL-880 and it also has similar warm and clear audio.
The reception with the V-115 is OK, nothing stellar, but the ICR-110 is kind of a monster on medium wave. I’ve been impressed. The ICR-110 is rather big compared to the other radios I’ve mentioned, closer to the PL-880 in size, but quite a bit lighter. The ICR-110 used to be cheaper, but can be found for around forty bucks. The Tivdio V-115 still goes for just under twenty if you look around. A bargain. Tecsun, Tivdio, Degen and other Chinese manufacturers have all sorts of inexpensive radios for sale out there, and others I haven’t used or mentioned might be quite good as well. If one appeals to you, do a little online research.
Of course, since I’m talking about small and inexpensive radios I should mention that the Tecsun digital DSP sets like the PL-310ET, the PL-360, PL-380, PL-390 and other variations are all amazing inexpensive radios that will run you around 35 to 50 bucks. The ultralight DX community loves these things, and for good reason. And there’s a version of the PL-390 that plays MP3 files from an SD card and another that offers bluetooth playback. No, none are perfect, but they’re solid sets, and all would have been dream radios thirty years ago.
So, that’s my evaluation of the XHDATA D-328, well worth fourteen dollars, but for a few dollars more you can get radios with similar features that do much more. It’s small, it doesn’t sound bad, and it’s fairly well-built. It will pick up all your favorite local stations and play all your MP3 podcasts effortlessly. Not bad. Like I said, it’s the best super cheap radio I’ve ever used.
Excellent review! I’m impressed that the D-328 has enough AM performance to grab some night time clear channel stations. It’s disappointing, however, that it lacks performance on the shortwave bands.
Thanks for posting your review–always great to hear from The Professor!
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, The Professor, who shares the following guest post:
Late Night Pre-Christmas Medium Wave Scan, NYC 2017
I haven’t recorded a proper scan of the AM dial in New York City for a while, so I took a shot at it a week before Christmas, starting around three A.M. Monday morning, December 18.
I asked Thomas if his readers might be interested in the audio from an AM scan here and some annotations, kind of like I used to do on my Radio Kitchen blog not so long ago. When I scan the dial I often start at the top of the AM dial and work my way up, but sometime it’s fun to do it the other way around and begin with more low power small stations where the fare is a little more exotic than the typical talk and news formats you hear from regional and powerful clear channel transmitters up the dial.
I have a number of radios that would really be better candidates to do this sort of thing, but since I’m kind of between places right now and most of my radios are in a storage unit somewhere, I’m using the Tecsun PL-880 I have with me. And typically I’d do this with a loop antenna up next to the radio, but they’re in storage too. So it’s just the stock ferrite antenna inside the radio doing all the work here. There’s some of the typical urban RF noise in the mix, but it’s not all that bad. Then there’s the awful splatter of digital IBOC to plow through. Not fun to listen to, and some stations you might otherwise find are masked by hash.
If you don’t listen to AM this late at night (or this early in the morning), it’s really not a great time to hear live programming. A lot of talk shows from daylight hours are rerun at this time, and the few music stations you might find are often running music automation with no live DJs. But a few talk local talk shows in big cities are live, and syndicated ones like Coast to Coast or Red Eye Radio are broadcast live overnight on quite a number of stations.
Instead of trying to do a lot of DX digging and pull in the really hard to hear stuff, I’m not equipped for that right now so I just plow through looking for what I can find without too much trouble. As I said, I didn’t have another antenna to assist me, but I duly rotated the radio and adjusted the bandwidth when appropriate. If you’re keeping score at home I do at least pause on every viable MW frequency, even if there’s nothing there.
I wouldn’t say it’s a typical late night New York medium overview of the band, as a few common finds on the dial were missing, and didn’t find many of the smaller Canadian locals I’ve heard on other nights. The one difference is that for years I’ve been listening from my former home in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. For now I’m down in Bay Ridge, at the bottom southwest corner of Brooklyn, and a few things are different. Like the very first station I come across.
1710 kHz – This scan begins with an oddity, WQFG689 a “traveler’s information station” broadcasting just a notch above the x-band, but a spot on the dial that is still included on contemporary AM radios. According to Wikipedia it’s the only legit station in America broadcasting on 1710. It’s owned by Hudson County in New Jersey broadcasting on a handful of ten watt transmitters. I’m assuming this reception might be coming from Jersey City, which is across the water not far from here. A few years ago one of the Hasidic communities in Brooklyn had a lo-fi pirate station at this frequency, but I haven’t heard it there in a long time. And as WQFG689 sits in a very lonely place on the dial, this station is a popular DX target. Apparently at this hour they were experiencing “technical difficulties.”
1690 kHz – Some contemporary R&B style pop song with a male singer. It’s an English language performance however (is it Spanish?). I’m not sure what this might be, but from looking around on the web it may be CHTO, a multicultural station in Toronto, Ontario.
1650 kHz – A weak reception of a talk radio show. Some discussion of the desires of Harvey Weinstein and other matters. Perhaps this is WHKT in Portsmouth, Virginia.
1630 kHz – At this spot on the dial I receive an image of WINS (1010kHz) as well as some station broadcasting the unavoidable Brother Stair. Don’t know exactly what is going on there, but the PL-880 is known to toss in some stray images on the dial in dense radio markets like New York.
1600 kHz – Some spirted South Asian pop music. Bollywood stuff I suppose. This would be WWRL here in New York, broadcasting from Secaucus, New Jersey.
1570 kHz – I believe this is the Eagles singing about Christmas. I have no idea what station this might be. WFLR in Dundee, New York is a guess.
1560 kHz – A little bit of Bible from Family Radio – still on New York City radio, but not on the FM dial anymore. Otherwise known as WFME here in New York. Armed with fifty-thousand watts, their signal has quite a reach. I hear the ghost of Harold Camping on here from time to time.
1530 kHz – Speaking of ghosts, it’s Ol’ Brother Stair buying some time on WJDM in Elizabeth, New Jersey I believe. Is he in prison yet?
1520 kHz – Sports talk from WWKB in Buffalo, New York.
1500 kHz – A discussion of Christmas treats on WTOP in Washington, D.C.
1480 kHz – Seasonal mischief in Chinese from WZRC, a Cantonese station here in New York.
1460 kHz – Some distant choral or Christmas music from somewhere.
1430 kHz – Casual talk of God’s happiness plan from WNSW in Newark, New Jersey. Not to judge, but Catholic talk radio is just more civilized than most Protestant talk radio. A little more breezy than the fire and brimstone stuff. They always sound like their shirts are ironed. Carrying the Catholic radio network “Relevant Radio” is the latest format at this frequency in the city. Before that the “Voice of Russia” was broadcast here.
1380 kHz – More Chinese talk. This time it’s from another multicultural station – WKDM here in New York City.
1350 kHz – A poor reception of late night talk. I believe it’s “Red Eye Radio.” I really don’t know where this is coming from.
1310 kHz – A female host on a talk radio program. Mediocre reception from another unknown AM station.
1300 kHz – Again, a female conversation here as well, but this time the topic is spectator sports of some kind. I’m thinking this is the ESPN affiliate WAVZ in New Haven, Connecticut.
1280 kHz – A medical case study in Spanish and English from WADO, here in New York. This is a Spanish news/talk station owned by Univision.
1250 kHz – It’s WMTR in Morristown, New Jersey, which is essentially the only true oldies station that reaches New York City. During the day it’s not a rock solid signal in New York, but anybody who knows how to fiddle with a decent AM radio can pick it up. At night, I had a hard time getting a good read on WMTR when I lived up at the top of Brooklyn, but down here in Bay Ridge at the South Brooklyn waterfront it’s pretty solid as you can hear. Starting with “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “Sugar, Sugar” I let it roll for a few minutes. Not many radio stations play a “classic oldies” format these days, or if they do it might just be the torture of a super tight 300 song playlist. While WMTR can’t top the huge music library of WLNG out at the end of Long Island, they rotate a respectable mix of the old hits. There’s a rather interesting Wikipedia entry for WMTR, where you can read about their experimentations with AM Stereo and how they’ve tweaked their oldies rotation over the last few years, partly in response to WCBS-FM in New York moving away from oldies into a morass of format noodling.
1210 kHz – WHPT in Philadelphia playing the conspiracy/paranormal Coast to Coast program, the most popular syndicated overnight radio show in North America. It’s George Knapp hosting, but during the week it’s George Noory. The original host and creator of the program, Art Bell is long gone after quitting radio about five times. After one A.M. or so, moving across the AM dial means you’ll come across Coast to Coast many times. Tonight the topic is Area 51, which is hardly surprising.
1190 kHz – Some contemporary R&B flavored Christian music from WLIB. in New York. This station was actually the original flagship station for “Air America,” the short-lived progressive talk network. For those of you who may remember WOWO, the Midwest clear channel 50,000 watt station heard far and wide at 1190 from Fort Wayne, WLIB’s powerful 30,000 watt upgrade is directly related to that Indiana station’s demise as a nighttime powerhouse. Back in 1994 the owners of WLIB actually bought WOWO for the specific purpose of cutting back their signal after dark (It’s now only 9,300 watts and directional) so WLIB’s could be increased up to what it is today. Sneaky, eh?
1180 kHz – Coast to Coast again, this time coming from in WHAM, in Rochester, New York. Great call letters.
1170 kHz – Coast to Coast coming from WRVA in Wheeling, West Virginia this time.
1130 kHz – WBBR in New York, otherwise known as “Bloomberg Radio.” I may find it kinda tedious, but if you’re a big time profiteer this might be your favorite radio station. Just listen to the commercials, sheesh! And as a bonus you get a public service announcement about how high-tone Manhattanites should prepare for disaster.
1110 kHz – A strong read of Coast to Coast from WBT in Charlotte, North Carolina.
1100 kHz – It’s WTAM in Cleveland, Ohio broadcasting Coast to Coast. Not as strong as the signal from Ohio.
1090 kHz – WBAL in Baltimore, Maryland offering some tips on “layering” customer rewards programs.
1050 kHz – Sports in Spanish from WEPN in New York City.
1030 kHz – WBZ in Boston, Massachusetts. Something about hips. One of the few talk stations I’ve heard which still specialize in local programming around the clock. WLW in Cincinnati would be another.
1010 kHz – WINS in New York. News radio which still features the hokey teletype sound effects in the background. I let this play for a few minutes, including a PSA about a cocaine cessation program.
960 kHz – Something about a meatball sub. It may well be WELI in New Haven, Connecticut.
970 kHz – 970 “The Answer,” otherwise known as WNYM in Hackensack, New Jersey with top of the hour Fox News. The big story – the power outage at the airport in Atlanta.
970 kHz – More Fox News from WNYM in New York City.
950 kHz – Choral Christmas music. Probably the Family Radio outlet WKDN in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
930 kHz – WPAT, a brokered station in Patterson, New Jersey. In this late night slot it’s either an infomercial or just a discussion of meditation and mindfulness.
920 kHz – Newsradio 920, an iHeartMedia station – WHJJ in Providence, Rhode Island. The weather.
910 kHz – “Eight Days a Week” from the Beatles. I don’t know where this is coming from, but it might be bumper music for a talk radio show like Coast to Coast (They often let the bumper music play for a minute or two) or a full playing of the song on a music radio station. Some crosstalk from a talk station in the mix on this reception.
900 kHz – CHML in Hamilton, Ontario. I know this Canadian news and talk station for playing old time radio shows overnight. Kind of odd to me that they’re covering the hearings of an American judge. Followed by some news about Prince Harry.
880 kHz – It’s WCBS in New York, a powerful clear channel news outlet heard across the country. Here you get a dramatic report on four separate shootings in New York City, the kind of news you don’t hear so much these days. I let this play for a few minutes.
860 kHz – Very poor reception of CJBC, a French CBC outlet in Toronto. I’ve heard a wide variety of great music on this station over the years. I almost always would get a good copy on this station from my former home in North Brooklyn, but then again late night AM reception does vary.
820 kHz – WNYC-AM in New York, the sole NPR outlet on the AM dial in the city. Overnight they carry the BBC World Service, which is what you hear in this scan.
770 kHz – Trump apologetics from “Red Eye Radio” on WABC in New York. While this syndicated program has roots in Bill Mack’s great country music program, now it’s just one more conservative talk show. But it’s the exception to the rule as most live overnight talk radio programs don’t stray into political opinion like this, unlike during the day when it’s everywhere.
750 kHz – WSB in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s a strong signal up the east coast. Here I find them in a commercial break which leads into a snippet of a rebroadcast of the Johnny Kielbasa Final Fast Food Review of 2017. Then the much beloved Meg calls in.
740 kHz – CFZM, or “Zoomer Radio” in Toronto, Ontario. It’s a quirky format, and often the only dependable music radio station for listeners in the eastern middle of North America. Here we’re treated to Jim Croce and some holiday fare.
710 kHz – WOR in New York. It’s former WABC talk host Mark Simone enthusiastically selling “My Pillow.” AM radio can be so comforting late at night, but the IBOC surrounding this frequency not so much.
700 kHz – You can almost hear WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio trying to cut through the IBOC from WOR, but it’s a mess. I guess it’s a sacrifice so all those dozens of HD radio listeners can enjoy WOR in all its digital glory.
660 kHz – WFAN in New York. Sports radio heaven I guess.
640 kHz – Some old-fashioned vocal belting in Spanish. Not sure what this is. Perhaps WWJZ in Mount Holly, New Jersey.
620 kHz – WSNR in Jersey City booming in. Here you get one of the epic and much-played recordings of Alexander Scourby reading from the King James Version. What a voice – warm, authoritative and dramatic. I have to admit he sounds dated, but in a good way. His recitation of the Bible is still popular almost seventy years after it was recorded.
610 kHz – Difficult to read signal of a talk radio show. Male host. I’m guessing this is sports talk WTEL in Philadelphia.
600 kHz – Another hard to hear transmission of a talk show with a male host, and it seems to be another sports discussion.
570 kHz – A cheesy Infomercial on WMCA. Once a great top 40 station, WMCA was also where the “Father of Talk Radio” Barry Gray got his start back in the nineteen-forties. Nowadays it’s a New York City Christian outlet owned by Salem Media, which apparently pays some bills by playing tightly edited testimonials praising the miracles of consuming fruit and vegetable pills. I never hear programming like this promoting a diet of real fruits and vegetables.
560 kHz – More Christian broadcasting from another former legendary top 40 station, WFIL in Philadelphia. They’re also owned by Salem. Some more traditional preaching, and not a great signal arriving here in Brooklyn.
From there, I stop by a couple very weak signals up to the top of the dial, and that’s it.
There were a number of radio stations I almost always hear late at nights that were absent or very faint in this scan, like WHAS in Louisville, WAY in Schenectady, WJR in Detroit and WHKW in Cleveland come to mind. And on a good night (especially if the IBOC on an adjacent station isn’t active), if I can null out a booming local next door I can receive WSM in Nashville, or KMOX in St. Louis and even occasionally pick up WLS in Chicago sneaking over the edge of booming clear channel WCBS at 880.
I hope some shortwave listeners find something of interest in this medium wave excursion. Thomas runs a fantastic blog, and I’m proud to be a little part of it today.
Thanks for listening, and reading.
Thanks so much, Prof, for taking us on a guided tour of the Brooklyn AM radioscape!
I thoroughly enjoyed your recordings and, especially, your commentary and insight. You’re welcome here on the SWLing Post anytime. I’m also posting your recordings and notes to the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.
I saw that David posted a comment on your blog where he wondered what radio the guy in that “Shortwave” film might be using. Well, watched a couple trailers and discovered that the movie featured a few receivers.
So I took screen shots, and I thought some of your readers might be curious about this as well, and I’m sure some will ID all of them.
I had hoped the movie might feature Gene Scott or Pete Peters broadcasting from the underworld, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Anyway, here are some stills from the trailers[…]
Thanks, Prof! There are some classics here–Heathkit, Hammarlund, Hallicrafters and more.
Perhaps Post readers can comment with makes and models!