It was a brief foray into upstate New York, but a week ago I was able to spend a weekend away from the radio noise of the big city with my new Degen 1103. Sitting on my friend's porch overlooking the Hudson as the rain fell, I was quite impressed with the lively shortwave reception (with very little buzzing and static). I wasn’t able to spend as much time scanning as I would have liked, but even late at night there were plenty of voices to pluck out of the ether.
In fact, the first band scan I recorded (a meander through the 31 meter band on Friday night June 2, 2006) was full of broadcast. So the recording I’ll offer in this post will kick off at the first readable signal on this band and continue on for a half an hour in real time. I'll follow up with more of this scan in the next post (and perhaps beyond that post as well).
A few readers have expressed continued curiosity about my hands-on experience with the DE1103 (which I talked about in the last two post in this series, available here and here), and I have to report that I’m really happy with this gadget. It is a very sensitive little receiver, and once you get used to the odd interface it’s quite easy to maneuver the controls. Besides shortwave, the medium wave reception is quite good as well, and FM reception seems to be better than any radio I have at the house. WFMU comes in well with regularity here in North Brooklyn, and no other radio I have here dependably picks up FMU in a listenable way.
Although the only bands easily accessible via the main controls are AM, FM and ten of the major shortwave bands, via direct entry of the frequency (on the keypad) the DE1103 picks up all frequencies between 100 and 29999 kHz. Long wave (below 540 kHz) in the U.S. isn’t really a broadcast band in the U.S., but I was digging around down there here in Brooklyn and all I was able to fish out were images of powerful New York City stations at predictable mathematical intervals. The same thing happened when I ventured about just above the U.S. AM broadcast band (1720 kHz and up a few hundred kHz). I have yet to identify images like this on the standard AM and shortwave bands.
Besides these anomalies, there’s those audible blips when cruising through busy bands and the digital edge the radio adds to some standard shortwave noise. (Though I have to admit I’m starting to become fond of how coming out of a strong frequency occasionlly sounds like you're drowning the signal or the announcer.) Other than these minor annoyances (for an analog radio fan) I have very few complaints so far. And considering I gave up less than seventy bucks (via ebay) for the DE1103, I really have nothing to grumble about at all.
So, after a rainy, splashy, traffic-tangled drive out of the city and up the New York Thruway I set up camp on my friend's porch by 10:30 Friday night and powered up the Degen. After noodling around a bit, I decided the 31 meter band sounded promising. So I switched on the recorder and started up from the bottom of the band. And there was PLENTY to hear. Although I scanned and recorded through the night and Saturday late as well, this was the best stretch of reception I ran into the whole weekend. Have a listen...
9345 - KOL Israel
It seemed like a good omen hearing soulful old Albert King at the onset of this scan. A solid (though phasey) signal from Jerusalem. After Mr. King plays the blues, and then there’s a brief announcement in Hebrew (mentioning John Lee Hooker) which leads into a 70's groove rock number.
9365 - (Not sure)
Very faint, and not in English. Sounds Chinese perhaps, certainly not English. China does broadcast on this frequency, but not at this time as far as I can tell. Another suspect might be a VOA in Kuwait, and other Middle Eastern countries have supposedly been found on at 9365 kHz as well. Any readers have a clue on this one?
This is difficult listening. Turn it up and drive somebody out of the room. As the announcer drones on, a distorted adjacent station is all over the signal. As I turn the dial, you hear the distortion become clear American hyperbole, just 5kHz up...
9370 - WTJC - Fundamental Broadcasting Network
(North Carolina, USA)
Wow. This is some heavily stylized preachin’ here. While it saddens me that shortwave in the U.S. is overrun with evangelical claptrap and Bible content, there is certainly some compelling content (like that Adam & Eve soap opera in my last post).
The first thought in my head when I hear this character’s bizarre phrasing and hyperbolic delivery is it sounds like some over-the-top parody or cartoon (and what a muscular larynx!). But it’s for real. It’s easy to miss the authenticity in this kind of thing when you’ve just heard the reverberations as dramitic and comedic cliches over the years. Like an auctioneer or carnival barker, this guy is practicing a long standing oral craft. But to be fair, the purpose is to scare the shit out of you and drive you to succumb to an alleged higher power (and not to lure you into taking a peek at the pig-boy in the booth).
Greek pop, I guess. Folky and funky. A nice signal beaming in from almost 5000 miles away. Then there's an announcer for a minute or two, and I turn to...
9440 - Radio Slovakia
Sounds like a male and female team giving schedule information in an Eastern European language.
9505 - WFYR Family Radio
It’s Harold Camping, a co-founder of Family Radio, and the leader of the Christian radio network for nearly fifty years. Along with Gene Scott and Brother Stair, Mr. Camping’s voice is instantly familiar to anyone who spends a little time listening to shortwave radio in North America (and perhaps the Western Hemishpere). Without the histrionics of fire and brimstone provided by the old coot we heard a few minutes before this, he’s still offering the same choice to the listener– you want Jesus or this lake of fire?
Although once popular with many Christian broadcasters and assorted church leaders and their flocks, Camping’s Family Radio doesn’t have so many friends in the broader Jesus community these days. Seems it all started when he started prognosticating the end of the world. When one particular predicted apocalypse didn’t occur (September 15, 1994), Camping put his own significance on the date anyway, claiming the “church age” was over, and right-thinking believers should get their preachin’ and prayin’ via the radio from now on (and now the internet as well). Well, this pissed off a LOT of believers. And since Camping has gotten progressively more goofy, Family Radio seems be suffering from a bit of financial trouble and has lost a few stations. Churches who used to broadcast on Family Radio are long gone now, and the stern lectures and reprisals of Harold Camping have filled the gaps. A few times I’ve heard at least two separate Camping broadcasts on simultaneous shortwave frequencies at the same time.
And he never sounds very happy.
9515 - WHRI (World Harvest Radio)
A loud clear boring contemporary Christian pop song (in English). The Jesus rock stuff tries hard to sound so MOVING. Barf, I say.
From a relay site in Hungary. Some European language.
9535 - Radio Exterior de Espana (Spain)
Classical music, then the ID in Spanish. Quite clear and snappy from across the Atlantic.
9550 - Radio Habana Cuba
A lousy signal here in upstate New York. In Spanish.
9560 - (Not sure, CRI?)
Cute music box.. an interval sound perhaps, but for what station? As you hear, it suddenly died. Probably the end of a broadcast. I suspect this was China, or some other country relaying their signal from Sackville, Canada. While it lasted, it was VERY clear.
9570 - China Radio International
From Albania, or Cuba this time, in a Chinese language.
9590 - Radio Netherlands
9600 - RNV (Radio Nacional de Venezuela)?
Either that or Radio Rebelde, either way it’s Spanish, and probably originating from Cuba.
9610 - (Not sure)
Don’t know what this is, and it’s an English language broadcast with narrative content and a station in another language is munching on the signal. From what I can ascertain, it may be the BBC coming from the Republic of Seychelles, an island Nation in the Indian Ocean. Or maybe something else. Anyone have a clue?
There you go, that was one side of a sixty minute cassette. This scan goes much longer, and I’ll continue it next week.
Other posts in this blog series can be found here, and all include radio recordings. Always interested in feedback, suggestions and especially corrections. Please leave helpful and relavent responses as comments, or email me here.
Thanks for listening.