Well, it’s been a frustrating week here at my little Brooklyn Radio HQ. The main reason is that AM & shortwave reception has been just TERRIBLE. To be honest, I haven’t really dug into the shortwave frequencies much over this last week or so, but several stations I expected to quickly find haven’t been there and others are barely readable. And I can tell you definitively that reception on the AM band has been really awful. Dependable clear channel stations across the dial from places like Louisville, Baltimore, Toronto and Charlotte have been sadly difficult to discern out of the noise. Then again, there also seems to be a number of competing stations stepping on these AM giants, and barely audible stations I’m not familiar with have been showing up at other spots on the dial too. As I've made clear, I’m no radio scientist and I've decided not to spend a bunch of hours researching what's going on out there so I might seem to know what I’m talking about. But what I can tell you is that for the last week or two there’s been a BIG change in radio propagation out there on medium and shortwave, but I'm sure that will all change again soon. If you’re interested, there may be some information on what’s been happening in outer space that’s altering radio reception here and perhaps at a few of these links here as well.
Then again, this is what makes listening to SW and AM
interesting and drives some listeners crazy as well. It’s
unpredictable. When some dependable stations can’t be found, often
others that are often impossible to hear can be received. It’s an old
and sometimes unreliable technology. You’ve gotta love it somehow to
participate, and here in the short attention span US of A you’re in a
minority if you do. If you care, go ahead and celebrate yourself. By
the way, I also found an interesting primer on shortwave listening this
week on the web here. And this guy
had an interesting DX blog that he seems to have unfortunately
abandoned which is still worth checking out. And here's another
interesting radio blog that someone sent me a link to as well.
The idea of this particular arc of this blog series has been to go through some of the popular shortwave bands (from Brooklyn) and ascertain the source of each frequency. Which brings me to my other big frustration-- the research to make this happen.
These days the established shortwave bands have expanded a bit, and you find broadcasts before and after the official allotment for each band on the radio dial. In this post, the last station logged (Radio Tirana in Albania) is actually just past the high end of the 49 meter band (6200 kHz). I also logged a number of frequencies after that, however I spent WAY too many hours last night attempting to identify several stations and found nothing on the might internet that could assist me in any way. The radio I was using, the BCL-2000 is a single conversion receiver infamous for picking up distorted or weakened “images” of more powerful frequencies on erroneous spots on the dial. However, I’ve only experienced this problem in an obvious way on the AM dial, and I’m not sure if I could pick up a series of these images in a row on shortwave. So, if any of you more experienced SW listeners could assist me in getting an idea of what I might have picked up Wednesday night, March 1 between 7 and 8 p.m. EST at 6250 or 6295 (in Spanish), or 6375 (unknown language), 6415 (German), and 6555 (English probably from the U.S.) please send me an email here, or post a comment on this post. Any information or ideas would be greatly appreciated. And in general, please correct me if I've made some dumb error in my logging in this post. While I do the best I can, I'm an amateur at best and I'm not ashamed to get a little guidance from better informed radio folks. Again, you can email me here.
Anyway, here’s the rest of the 49 meter band scan
recording from early evening 03-01-06 recorded here in NYC with my
BCL-2000 (part one can be found here). I’m just using the whip antenna
it came with and the recording is unedited. Nothing astounding
here, just a typical night on the 49 meter band that almost anybody in
the eastern U.S. could have picked up with an inexpensive
shortwave set that evening. Unless I get some further elucidation on the frequencies
I mentioned in the previous paragraph I’ll go on to another shortwave band next week.
Segment 2-49 Meter Band (5920 to 6215 kHz) 03-01-06 (MP3)
6075 - Deutsche Welle
Broadcasting in German, from Germany. They also broadcast from seven different relay sites around the world, and in many languages. It’s the news, apparently talking about our fearless leader visiting India.
6085 - WYFR (Family Radio)
Another one of those Christian wastes of bandspace on the shortwave dial, broadcasting from Florida USA. All you get here is a snippet of churchy singing. Hallelujah, amen and all that.
6090 - The Carribean Beacon (on the island of Anguilla)
It’s Dr. Gene Scott, who you can almost ALWAYS find on shortwave, usually on a few frequencies. Which is quite a feat considering he’s not really alive these days.
Actually, Dr. Scott just left the planet last year, and for a few months I was hearing a woman (which I believe was his most recent wife, Melissa Pastore) continuing his... ah, work on the radio. But lately, it seems that his organization has decided to carry on his worldwide ministry with recordings of the wacky old guy himself. Going through the dial at night, you can hear Scott hale and hearty on one frequency, and croaky and near death on another. From the grave Dr. Scott is still shouting at his listeners to “GET ON THE PHONE!” and pledge him some dough.
And hell, nobody could really replace Gene Scott, not even his porn star turned evangelist widow. When he wasn’t talkin’ about the lord and savior, he might lecture for a while about UFO’s or discuss the mysteries of the pyramids at Giza (Just LOOK at his website, where you’ll find no reference to his death either). Besides being a bit of a crackpot who made his living sapping cash from his followers, he was also a loud-mouthed vulgar hard drinking "man’s man" kind of guy, and at times a rather likable one in some strange way. If you’re not familiar with Dr. Scott, download this video of Scott in his TV heyday featuring the “FCC Monkey Band.” Or check all sorts of anecdotes that were posted on the web after his passing here ,here and here. More Gene Scott blogging and links can be found here, and more clips from his TV show are available at this site. Werner Herzog did an excellent documentary on Dr. Scott back in 1980, and is worth searching out as well.
And although I’ve gone on here at length about Dr. Scott's career, the clip of him in this scan is woefully short (a half minute) and in very poor fidelity. I’m not even sure what he’s talking about. Sorry. I heard him SO often on shortwave, and over the last few years he had taken to droning on and on more than shouting and misbehaving in any real entertaining fashion. My general habit has been to keep scanning when I come across his voice on the dial, and that's what happened here. I’m sure I have a some more compelling radio recordings of Dr. Scott around here somewhere.When and if I find one I’ll try to post it here. He was an interesting character.
6100 - Radio Canada International
It’s French. Something about television.
6110 - BBC World Service
Broadcasting from their relay at Ascension Island in South Atlantic. Language unknown (to me). Strange reverb on this one.
6135 - Deutsche Welle
In in German again. However, this time it’s coming from one of their relay
sites in Portugal. Coming in clearly. Talking about
6145 - NHK (Japan’s world service)
In English. Just the sound of this intrigued me right away. The sunny naivety of this woman at first made me think I was tuning into another Christian broadcast, but I was wrong. It’s the last episode of a monthly feature on Japan’s shortwave service– “Love and Hope For the Children.”
You hear just the beginning of this feature, introduced by Agnes Chan of UNICEF. Lots of reverb and sweetness. It’s all about flowers in your heart. It would be easy to cynical or turn on the irony receptor when you hear somebody so earnestly discuss the concerns about children around the world in trouble. I mean, when you hear a politician invoke the concerns of children you KNOW there’s an ulterior agenda. However, despite Ms. Chan’s almost unbearable sweetness, the topic is quite serious. There are many children all over the world in horrible circumstances. Yet, when I hear her say on the radio that it’s nice to see me again and thanking me for listening to this “show” over the whole year, I have to wonder why she either wasn’t coached on the realities of radio, or utilized on this series as a guest instead of a presenter. Nonetheless, she’s more real than just about anyone you’ll hear here in the USA. And that’s a good thing, to me.
6165 - Radio Netherlands
A review of the news and the beginning of a documentary in English. Radio Netherlands is a comprehensive international service in the mold of the BBC World Service. I’ve heard some great documentaries on shortwave (in English!) from Radio Netherlands over the years. They’re impressive, and one of the few international broadcasters that still make shortwave listening an informative and pleasant pastime.
Before the documentary on ethnic prejudice kicks in, they’re discussing a new scandal in the Dutch royal family. Apparently, a “princess” has returned to the fold after making secret tape recordings of conversations and arguments with the queen and apologized for making them. It all sounds rather seedy and a bit sad. As an American, I have a hard time understanding why some western democracies continue to embrace “royal” families and give a rat’s ass about what they say or do. In general, I’m all for tradition, but the ongoing narratives concerning kings, queens, princes and princesses seem so irrelevant and lacking in news value that I gotta wonder why anybody cares.
6180 - Radio Nacional Amazonia (Brazil)?
This is a bit of mess, but adjusting the antenna I believe I’m receiving some domestic shortwave from Brazil. Some singing here. It sure ain’t English. Very faint, by the way.
6215 - Radio Tirana (Albania)
From what I can tell, this is a broadcast in Albanian from Albania. I recently read a rumor online that Radio Tirana was getting rid of their English broadcasts on shortwave. I hope that’s not true. Albania, we need you!-- in some small Balkan way.
Other posts in this series can be found here.
Thanks for listening.