Archive

Pirate Radio Recordings: Wolverine Radio

Though summer conditions can be tough–with regional storms generating HF static crashes–I did manage to capture about thirty minutes of Wolverine Radio. As you can hear for yourself, their upper side band signal was strong on 6,950 kHz:

Audio clip: My tribute to Radio Netherlands Worldwide

In a previous post, I mentioned a short audio piece–a tribute to Radio Netherlands Worldwide–I recorded for the NRC DX Audio service. Here is a SoundCloud copy of the clip:

Shortwave Radio Recordings: Voice of Greece, Radio Croatia and Radio Romania International

For your listening enjoyment:  Voice of Greece (9,420 kHz), Radio Croatia (9,925 kHz) and Radio Romania International (9,700 kHz). The Voice of Greece and Radio Croatia  broadcast an extensive mix of music; while Radio Romania International offers their English and French hours.

I recorded these broadcasts simultaneously via my WinRadio Excalibur, yesterday at 00:00 UTC.

Shortwave Radio Recordings: Radio Kuwait and music variety

Donovan’s “Mellow Yellow” is tossed into this Radio Kuwait mix (Photo: Billboard.com)

Any of you who’ve been following the SWLing Post for a while know how much I love recording music over the shortwaves. Lately, Radio Kuwait has been booming into my part of eastern North America with great vivacity.

Yesterday, I recorded several hours of their broadcast on my WinRadio Excalibur. I couldn’t help but notice, the last time I posted a recording, that their music had a great deal of variety. Their mix yesterday afternoon encompassed hip hop, country, pop, rock, R&B, and even a little Billy Joel and Donovan.

Though the hip-hop and boy bands don’t particularly hold my personal interest, hearing “Mellow Yellow” over 7,000 miles of ether certainly has appeal.

If you’re looking for music variety (well, a lot of variety), with some items of cultural interest thrown in, check out Radio Kuwait:

Tribute to Radio Netherlands Worldwide on the NRC’s DX Audio Service

The National Radio Club requested that I read and record my tribute to Radio Netherlands Worldwide for their audio service intended to benefit their visually-impaired readers. The broadcast is divided into sides A and B (of a cassette tape).

My narration begins about midway through side B.

Click to download:

 

Recording Radio Kuwait with the RadioJet’s IF recorder

While playing with the Bonito 1102S RadioJet the other day, I received a strong signal from Radio Kuwait. I thought I’d record the music they were playing, as the fidely was impressive for a signal traveling nearly 7000 miles.

Instead of recording the actual audio of the broadcast with the RadioJet’s AF recorder, I decided to use the IF recorder, which saves and records 24 kHz of actual spectrum. This is an excellent way to record while leaving it unattended. Later, when you review the material, you can refine and shape your recording of an individual broadcast.  Then, if an adjacent signal or some other condition requires you to adjust filters, you can do so just as you would when recording a live broadcast.

Though the file sizes are marginally larger than those the AF recorder produces, it’s not a hard drive-eater like broad spectrum recordings on an SDR.

One more (very cool) RadioJet feature: while making an IF recording, the RadioJet embeds UTC time code in the recording. This way, should you make a recording and forget to note the time you begin it, the time code shows up in the display. The Perseus also does this, and I think it’s a brilliant addition.

If you want to hear the 30+ minute recording I made of Radio Kuwait, simply listen to the file embedded below, or click here to download the mp3:

Is there anything to listen to on shortwave?

I am asked this question, or a variation of it, almost every week:

“I’ve been thinking about buying a shortwave radio, but have heard that shortwave is dying out. Is there actually anything to listen to on shortwave? Should I even bother?”

It’s no wonder I get asked this question so much. First of all, the root website for the SWLing Post is SWLing.com, which is dedicated to teaching people the basics of using a shortwave radio. Indeed, if you search the internet for shortwave radio reviews or how to use a shortwave radio, you’ll most likely see this site somewhere near the top of the search results.  So it makes sense that many of our readers are just starting out in shortwave.

But the primary reason people wonder about shortwave’s vitality and want to check its pulse, is due to recent news about shortwave broadcasters leaving the spectrum. Most recently, Radio Canada International, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, Radio Bulgaria have all closed up shop, and broadcasters like the BBC World Service and Vatican Radio have trimmed down their shortwave offerings.  It’s unfortunate, and does make the continuation of shortwave seem doubtful to those who know less about it.

The Edward R. Murrow Tranmission Station’s slewable curtain antenna.

Question: So is there anything to listen to? Answer: Absolutely!

Regular shortwave radio listeners already know the answer to this question. Sure, the landscape of the shortwaves is changing, but it’s such a vast landscape that, even with a few major players dropping out, there is still so much to hear and appreciate. In fact, we’ve only been talking about  governmental international broadcasters, in the main–which doesn’t even include pirate radio, clandestine stations, utility stations, religious networks, spy numbers stations, digital modes, and ham radio communications.  Among others.

Doubt me?  Well, then–check this out:

250 kHz of 31 Meters on a Friday afternoon

The WinRadio G31DDC “Excalibur”

Last Friday, I spent a pleasant afternoon reviewing the WinRadio Excalibur software defined receiver (SDR). Perhaps my favorite feature of many modern software defined receivers is their ability to record not only individual shortwave radio broadcasts, but also record radio spectrum.  In other words, instead of recording a single station on 9,555 kHz, the WinRadio Excalibur (and similar SDRs) could easily record everything between, say, 9,410 and 9,635 kHz. Later, you can play back the spectrum to listen to and record individual broadcasts as if they were live. At least, this is exactly what I did last Friday at 20:00 UTC.

Fast forward to yesterday:  While listening and tuning through the Friday spectrum, I once again realized how many stations are crammed into this relatively small chunk of the shortwave spectrum. Yet I only captured about 250 kHz, or .25 MHz of shortwave spectrum. To put this in perspective, this is a chunk of spectrum so small, you could fit four of them between 95 and 96 MHz on your car’s FM dial.

And  what did I find? A lot of stations–and a lot of variety! In fact, I then went through and recorded 8 samples of the stronger broadcasts.

Here is some of what I heard just in that wee swatch of spectrum:

Voice of Greece – 9,240 kHz

Voice of Iran – 9,460 kHz

WWTW – 9,478 kHz

Deutsche Welle - 9,490 kHz

Radio Riyadh –  9,555 kHz

Radio Marti – 9,565 kHz

North Quebec Service – 9,625 kHz

Voice of Turkey – 9,635 kHz

Here is how the actual spectrum chunk appeared on the Excalibur’s display:

Note from the DDC spectrum window (the one immediately below the tuning knob and S Meter) that there are many, many other stations–indicated as spikes in the spectrum, above–that I did not bother to record.

I didn’t set out to find the most active piece of shortwave spectrum–I chose this one pretty much by chance.

Is shortwave radio dead?  Only if you’re not listening

Perhaps the real fascination I find in listening to recorded spectrum, as I did above, is that each time I go back through a recording, listening carefully, I find so many other items that I would have otherwise missed. In other words, the better your ears, the more you will hear. And there’s lots to hear.

A good portable radio, like the C.Crane CCRadio-SW, can easily receive the major international broadcasters and even some low power regional shortwave stations.

So, what are you waiting for?

Prove it to yourself. Pull out your portable radio, your tabletop, your SDR or your general coverage ham radio transceiver, and just listen. There’s still a vast, informative, oftentimes mysterious world out there on the shortwaves, simply waiting for your ears.

Join me in the Shortwave Radio Archive Project:  post coming soon!

A little more Saturday Night Country via Radio Australia

Saturday Night Country host, Felicity Urqhart, receiving CMA’s 2012 International Country Broadcaster Award (Source: RadioInfo)

I’ve mentioned before how much I love this show–you don’t even need to be a fan of country music to have a true appreciation for it.

Saturday Night Country should be on your shortwave listening schedule. If you live in North America, you’ll find the signal out of Shepparton, Australia is so strong that even a mediocre portable radio can receive it with ease.

Here’s a two hour and 50 minute taste of Saturday Night Country for your Monday morning:

Radio Netherlands says farewell in style

Thursday night, by the light of an oil lamp, I tuned my trusty Sony portable shortwave to 6,165 kHz. At 2:00 UTC, I was rewarded with a rich, full signal from Radio Netherlands Worldwide’s transmission site in Bonaire. Here in this off-grid cabin, on sixty rural acres, I bask in the freedom from electrical noise that might otherwise interfere with my shortwave radio listening—at least in this respect, this is the perfect DXpedition cabin.

The signal coming out of Bonaire, however, would have overcome any interference: Radio Netherlands, my dear friend of some 32 years, had opened a special frequency for those of us in eastern North America…in order to say their good-byes to the airwaves.

I can only describe the experience of listening as radio bliss…pure radio bliss…marred only by the bittersweet realization that these were RNW’s final days on the air. The experience harkened back to the day when the big broadcasters had booming signals directed toward us.

But, alas. All too brief.

The broadcast was simply entitled Farewell and Thank You. You can hear it just as I heard it—through my recording–here (actual broadcast starts at 1:15):

Then, all day Friday, for nearly 24 hours straight, RNW bid good-bye and farewell to various parts of the world via shortwave, satellite and the internet. I was lucky enough to catch two more broadcasts.

This time of day (19:00 UTC), however, I needed bigger ears than the Sony could provide. I was listening to broadcasts targeting west and east Africa, not North America. Having already charged my laptop battery, I plugged in the Bonito Radiojet (an SDR that I’m currently reviewing) and, just before 1900 UTC, directed her towards 17,605 kHz. Though my Sony found the signal barely audible, the RadioJet produced beautiful fidelity.

This RNW broadcast, entitled The First 50 Years, took listeners through the highlights and history of the Dutch radio service. Here’s the recording I made with the RadioJet:

A final sign-off

RNW headquarters in Hilversum, Netherlands (photo coutesty: RNW)

At 20:00 UTC, RNW broadcast their very final show—a repeat of Farewell and Thank You (above) appropriately targeting Africa once more. I tuned the dial to 11615 kHz and listened again to the full broadcast. This time, however, as the program drew to its close, the broadcast crew added a personal message.

Jonathan Groubert, the talented host of The State We’re In, broadcasted live from Hilversum’s Studio 4 for a deeply touching adieu. Tears were shed, and I’m not ashamed to confess that I, too, listened through a haze of them as these capable and dedicated journalists, whom I’ve grown to trust, signed off the RNW airwaves for the last time.

But listen for yourself:

Jonathan Marks, RNW’s host of MediaNetwork, also featured in the farewell broadcast, recorded the final sign-off from within Studio 4. You can listen to this and read the description on his excellent website.

Dank je wel, Radio Nederland

RNW–my dear radio friends—I’m going to miss you. Your personalities–and the collective personality of RNW itself–your award-winning content, news, reporting, and your integrity stood out amongst all those Cold War broadcasters I listened to growing up—who, as you so well put it, were merely mouthpieces for their respective governments.

Radio Nederland, I loved your broadcasting because you were fearless: you marched to the beat of your own drummer, were not afraid to turn a critical eye even upon yourself, and as a result–in a world of sham journalism, of compromise and hypocrisy—you earned my trust. You had nothing to hide, and you had so many stories to tell.

RNW: I listened.

I wish you (and your intrepid creators) the very best in all that you do. I trust your new incarnation(s), whatever form they take, will do much good in this world which so sorely needs it, and sincerely believe that your integrity will live on.

Final episode of the final Maple Leaf Mailbag now online

On Facebook, Wojtek Gwiazda kindly shared the following message from Terry Haig (who has been subbing for Ian Jones on the MLMB):

Dear Friends,
I am distraught that the final edition of the MLMB did not go out properly this past weekend because of technical glitches. The show can be heard on line by clicking on the search button on the RCI website and writing in “Maple Leaf Mailbag.” Then hit “programs” and click “listen.”

My apologies that we could not spend our final hour together as planned. Once again, I thank you all for your undying love, support, insight, graciousness and generosity. You are wonderful and magical.

I shall never forget you. Be well, everyone. Au Revoir and peace!
Terry H.

———————————————————
To hear the programme just click here:
http://www.rcinet.ca/english/archives/program/the-maple-leaf-mailbag/home/

I should note that, the Maple Leaf Mailbag was one of my favorite RCI shows to catch on shortwave. It was informal, quirky, interactive and always fun. It also had a very strong international listenership. Terry has been an excellent sub, but admittedly, I’ve really missed hearing my good friend Ian Jones on the show.