This entry ends a four-post arc in this series offering a station by station breakdown of 49 and 41 meter (shortwave) band reception in Brooklyn March 1, 2006 (which started with this post). The recording offered here features the second half of the 41 meter band, a very active segment of the alloted shortwave frequencies for international broadcasting. This recording takes place from just after 8:30 until around 9 p.m. EST (about 0133 to 0220 UTC). The radio I’m using is the cute and inexpensive BCL-2000, an occasionally drifty receiver with “image” issues, which happens to offer analog tuning with digital readout of frequency. Nothing fancy.
As far as the real world a month later, I’ve had rather a hectic week and the only significant time I’ve had to concentrate on shortwave or DXing has been spent reviewing the radio recording for this post. However, I can say that in my brief dips into radio reception around here that the difficulties I've had receiving many of the monster AM clear channel stations has returned to normal over the last week or so. And shortwave reception seems to be pretty good too.
Oh, and one other thing I wanted to pass on before getting right to the audio for this post. I ran into a Usenet thread in the rec.radio.shortwave group that might be of interest to some readers of this series. First contact with a shortwave radio can be a frustrating and/or disappointing experience. The reason people with an interest in shortwave radio spend so much time researching propagation and frequencies (as well as actually logging reception), is because getting to know your way around the shortwave bands and scoring difficult to receive broadcasts is sort of a craft, a sport, even an art. But as I’ve repeatedly said, if you have a decent radio and follow some basic rules you won’t always be disappointed, and eventually you could be amazed. Rather than go into all the problems with location, interference, propagation and radios in general, you might want to take a look at this Usenet discussion. It's launched by an earnest and diligent newbie who has just purchased a Grundig Yacht Boy YB-400 (a fairly inexpensive Chinese-made digital portable) and was NOT having a rewarding shortwave radio experience up in his New England condo. And in this thread (over 70 messages long) all sorts of savvy shortwave listeners offer tips, suggestions and personal experiences that cover almost all of the main points of what it takes to get a little performance out of a shortwave radio. Recommended.
That said, I didn’t read every post in this thread, but from what I looked at most of the posts seemed informative and constructive. Rec.radio.shortwave, and the radio discussion groups in general on Usenet, are sadly prone to inane flame wars and childish off-topic garbage these days. Yet I still find this shortwave newsgroup to be a decent source for news and information. However, it's not uncommon to see a reasonable discussion in that group turn worthless after one dopey post.
Speaking of that, I won’t ramble any longer. Here’s the other half of the 41 meter band-scan offered last week. Nothing as sonically pleasant as the Turkish music I featured, and there's a number of nearly non-existent broadcasts in the mix on this recording. But it is unedited reception. It’s really what you might have heard that night on your own radio in the northeast U.S., except I’m the one who chose when to turn the dial.
7305 - Vatican Radio
Holy stuff I’m sure. Sounded like Italian to me at first. But that’s kind of what Spanish with a heavy Italian accents sounds like when it’s a rather faint buzzy radio signal.
7320 - Libyan Jamahiriya Broadcasting & BBC from Cyprus (unknown language)
Here's an interesting accidental collage-- emotional and frothy Arabic on top of a steadfast BBC newsreader. From all the handwringing I’d guess the Libyan broadcast is of a religious nature. The BBC fellow is very hard to read, but I do hear the word "Iraq" in there somewhere. The BBC signal is from a relay on the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean, while the Libyan broadcast is being relayed from central France.
7335 - Vatican Radio
Very faint, some language, again sounds like an Italian accent, VERY faint with Brooklyn RF taking its toll. Lots of buzz. Imagine you have a all sorts of tech tools to eliminate much of the inherent noise and gradually pull in a crappy signal like this and turn it into something cogent and you have an idea of what raw reception a serious DXer might contend with to log some distance or exotic catch.
7345 - Radio Prague
Rather faint, but present. Female newsreader. I believe might be Spanish with a Czech accent. Something about Californica. Fanfare right before I move up the dial.
7390 - Voice of Russia
Very difficult read, unknown language, slight buzz, thick whine. If you’re not annoyed by listening to this low-volume indistinct human voice within a wavering noise envelope like this (and could potentially have some interest in the nature of the content) then maybe you should pick up a shortwave radio, if you don’t already own one.
7400 - Radio Bulgaria
Nice and clear compared to what you just heard, although there is another distant broadcast chewing on the edges of this reception. Male and then a female speaking in an unknown language, and then a mediocre pop song kicks in.
7405 - Voice of America (from Greenville, NC)
This is the news in “Special English," a tradition on VOA. What’s special about it? It’s headlines read at slow pace and with a limited vocabulary. I assume this is somewhat similar to what the morning briefing for Mr. Bush might sound like.
Actually, the headlines in this segment are all concerning labor and economic issues in Latin America, the assumed target for the this broadcast.
7415 - WBCQ (Nothing...)
Here that silence! While there’s no discernable noise at 7415, there’s not any WBCQ Either. And that’s what I’ve been able to hear from WBCQ in Maine at this time on almost any given night for months now, which is a big disappointment. When 7415 powers up in the afternoon I can usually pick them up here in the city as before, but after dark “The Planet” has been MIA.
I’ve heard second-hand that the folks at WBCQ have said that their 7415 signal “hops” around the country and reception from further away has been much better than it has been here in the Northeast and Midwest. If somebody from the WBCQ posse, or just a more knowledable radio mind, can clear up what’s going on with 7415 lately, I’d like to know. Some of the more interesting shows on all of U.S. shortwave run on this frequency.
7475 Voice of Greece
Some ouzo drenched song stylings, in a mournful manner. And then an announcer...
7500 Radio Bulgaria
That thick whine, and some VERY quiet music and then a female announcer becomes more distinct. Unknown language, which I assume is Bulgarian but I don’t know. Another broadcast splatters in, not much else.
Now, for some real drama. Actually, it’s a documentary on one of one of the most famous military operations of post WWII era, "Operation Thunderbolt,” the 1976 Israeli hostage rescue mission at the Entebbe airport in Uganda.
Actually, KTBN is just mainly an audio feed from the “Trinity Broadcasting Network,” the biggest Christian TV network in the U.S. And do you think this is a regular feature on hostage rescues on TBN? Not likely.
While the Entebbe raid was a brave and incredible effort to save lives, to many it was armed conflict at its finest. And when you consider that it was also a major historical victory against a band of terrorists that had little if any international repercussions, you can see why the retelling of this harrowing and successful mission might also be a propaganda tool to bolster support for the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
7520 - WYFR (Worldwide Family Radio)
Very faint, which is fine as far as I’m concerned.
7545 - KOL Israel
In Hebrew. Years ago I recall hearing quite a bit of English language programming from Israel, but in my casual listening over the last few years I don’t think I’ve heard much more than news headlines in English from Israel.
And the reception of this station kicks in with music. Which brings me to this observation. Sometimes, you can still get the gist of a the lyrics of a pop song without understanding a word of the language used. Here's a possible case in point.
There seems to be an urgent narrative element to the song that begins this sampling of KOL. It’s my guess this is a story song, a hurrah to some brave Israeli person, town, or the country itself--. Something rousing with flutes!
Although this song is a much catchier tune, it reminds me of “The Ballad of Roger Young,” a right-wing folk song about a soldier who sacrifices his life to save his buddies, which I was forced to sing in elementary school. I seem to recall some screed about the glories of the Vietnam War attached to it by the music teacher as well.
I have a couple of Israeli albums I’ve found in thrift stores with songs celebrating the Six Day War that they sound quite a bit like this song. Then again, forgetting context I can imagine that it's Yma Sumac belting out some seafaring theme song on a ship in a 50's South Pacific action-adventure flick. If anybody who speaks Hebrew could enlighten me on the lyrics of this song, or the general content of this clip from Israel, I’m certainly curious.
After the epic “yo-ho-ho” anthem, there's some chatting, another rousing number, then more talk and the cheerful windup of the program with outro music. Then I believe there’s a several promos for some upcoming features, which sound very similar to advertising. Some fast paced productions, obviously promoting or selling something.
This ends this little review of the 41 meter band, including a few stations on either side of its official boundaries. Questions and comments can be left on this post, if appropriate, or you can send me an email. Other posts in this radio blog series can be found here. I'm very interested in corrections and translations, as well as general feedback.
Next week? Back to the AM dial I think. And in future posts I may just cherry pick a bunch of shortwave band-scans I’ve made here in Brooklyn with my old Zenith Transoceanic over the last few years, or maybe I'll think of something else to talk about in the meantime. If you have any ideas, email me.
Thanks for listening.