This post returns to a band scan I started to post last week from a listening session I recorded June 2, 2006 near Albany, New York. It's a slow cruise through the 31 meter band (9400 to 10000kHz). As with all the posts in this blog series, there’s MP3 audio you can download so you can listen along. And each frequency is listed (or my best guess), along with a brief description of each broadcast.
This was the first chance I had to play with a new shortwave portable (a Degen 1103) away from the radio interference of city life. And in this one long sweep of this band (in just a few hundred kilohertz) I picked up nearly fifty stations. I was impressed.
A good shortwave radio is truly a world receiver, and the Degen is just that. Although the fidelity of signals coming from thousands of miles away is never quite as crisp and steady as a local AM or FM station, many are quite listenable. And certainly some are difficult to hear or understand, but just knowing that they are coming through the air from so far away can make you curious to linger and try to figure out where they’re coming from, and perhaps what they're saying as well. This is DXing.
So, here’s some casual DXing from the East Coast. I’m not using as extra external antenna, and I haven’t researched any particular station or country to hunt out. However, I do plan to print out some pages from websites like this one and try to track down some far-flung English language broadcasts when I get a chance.
As far this scan recording, I skipped a few weak and relatively insignificant signals I happened across, and the first MP3 (or two in this post) picks up where the 31 meter band started to get interesting again.
Shortwave radio is unlike standard U.S. AM and FM listening in so many ways. At one hour you can hear one particular station, and in the next hour or two another one might take it’s place on the dial. Stations often broadcast on several frequencies at once, or change the frequencies they use through the year. Add to that the fact that reception is directly affected (both negatively or positively) by changes in the atmosphere, conditions in outer space around the Earth, and what’s happening on the sun itself, it adds so many variables that makes listening to shortwave both a challenge and (if you don’t mind some strange audio artifacts and a bit of noise) as rewarding as radio gets.
9645 - Radio Romania International
Spanish programming. Nice old-fashioned bumper music. It sounds like news.
I believe this is Iran broadcasting in Russian. Quite faint. A male and then female announcer followed by some Classical music, which sounds like moody and dark Russian classical music actually. I think there might be an ID in here as well....somewhere.
This is an atrocious copy of this signal, but hard core DXers listen to this kind of noise soup all the time, but if you have some fancy equipment you could clean this up a bit. But it still wouldn’t sound clear.
9660 - Voice of China Reborn
It’s a clandestine broadcast from Taiwan, which is often jammed by China. Lucky to catch this one. They only broadcast for ten minutes twice a day! It’s an announcer (speaking a Chinese language) with moody music in the background. Another station is eating away at the signal (which seems to be the Voice of Russia 5kHz up), but it’s fairly strong. I believe I hear a word that sounds like “democrat” or “democracy” in all this. Would be very interested in the subject matter, if any readers speak the language.
9665 - The Voice of Russia
Anyway, I miss old Joe. Still, this does remind me of the old days of Moscow Mailbag a bit, as the so-called “war on terror” has replaced the cold war as the major vector of international disharmony. A listener writes to ask if Iran has been helping the Chechen rebels, who of course are the biggest (Islamic) terrorist threat within modern Russia. Iran is Russia’s friend the host insists, and seems to insinuate that the idea of Iran helping out the Chechnyans is U.S. propaganda, and then he remarks about how Turkey (a U.S. ally) HAS been offering the rebels a hand. He also mentions how insane it would be for the U.S. to use military force against Iran. Maybe Bush oughtta take a deeper gander into Putin’s eyeballs next time.
Then again, the listener question about cable and satellite TV in Russia today speaks to what a different world we live in since the cold war. Instead of clunky old Soviet TV, they now get most of the same glossy cable crap that we love here in America. Moscow Mailbag started out as English language propaganda tool, offering western listeners insight into the dark and secretive Soviet Union. Now it’s a bit of an artifact, offering the same service at a time when the U.S. might be a bit more dark and secretive than even Russia.
9860 - WYFR - Family Radio
Bible stuff, in Spanish.
9690 - China Radio International
English service from a relay in Spain. It’s a male/female team, also answering mail (or email) from listeners. But what a difference between this superficial happy-talk and Moscow Mailbag. No controversy here, just chipper hosts reading gushing fan mail from international listeners. It kind of reminds me of the perky proceedings of Radio Disney, only with Chinese accents. The hosts are like leaping puppies attempting to please everyone, especially the Chinese government.
Even one note of bad news is all hope and sunshine. At one point the male host remarks: “We are very sorry for the latest earthquake that struck part of Indonesia. And we hope that everything is going fine with the people in the quake stricken area, and that life will come back to normal for them.” Deep, eh?
In general, I find all this blank cheerfulness rather disturbing. While I’m
quite accustomed to (and expect) propaganda from international state
broadcasts, this kind of absurdly carefree banter smells of something
really dark and twisted lurking under the surface– kind of like
some shortwave evangelists out there.
9700 - Radio Romania International
Poor reception with deep phasing effects. In Spanish.
And here's part 2 of the audio for this post--
9715 - WYFR - Family Radio
In Spanish. De Cristo, all that jazz.
9720 - Radio Tunis (Tunisia)
Arabic pop music. I love this stuff, and let the tape roll for a few minutes on this station. A female announcer speaks a bit before I turn the knob.
9715 - The Gene Scott Network (from Costa Rica)
Some hokey musical interlude on the Gene Scott show, which never seems to end. Kind of a fake country rave-up. As I’ve said before, Gene remains as worldwide as he is dead.
9745 - HCJB (Ecuador)
In Spanish. HCJB has been a huge shortwave presence for decades. They seem to be one of the biggest Christian outlets in the Western Hemisphere, outside of U.S. of course. And they’re very friendly.
9750 - BBC World Service
In English, a poor signal coming in from an island in the Indian Ocean. A discussion of global warming. Alot of U.S. shortwave listeners were pissed off when BBC quit providing English language shortwave service to North America a few years back. A damn shame.
9780 - Republic of Yemen Radio
A male announcer and then some more Arab pop. The acoustic guitar here is beautiful and intricate. The signal is weak, but there’s no interference getting in the way. The reception you hear is probably a good example of the advantages of DXing outside of a major urban area.
According to this site, Yemen is only broadcasting with 50 kilowatts at this frequency. If that’s true, it furthers the positive ruminations on the Degen 1103 that I’ve offered here on the WFMU blog.
9790 - China Radio International
A relay from Cuba this time, in English. “Moments in Love” by the Art of Noise is often used as bumper music on CRI. It’s perfect– a phoney and profound sounding theme for a government broadcast faking emotive and empathetic content. Yuk.
That’s it for this week. Appreciate hearing feedback, suggestions and corrections. Or if you’ve got something to add to the conversation, please leave a comment. And you can email me here. And here's the link for the other posts in this series.
As I said last week, I am interested in submissions of shortwave radio or AM DX recordings you might have. And I’m hoping a couple readers will offer to record some dial scans from other parts of the country or the world for this series as well. Please email me if you’re interested.
Meanwhile, I’m blocking out some days this summer away from the megalopolis here to have some more fun with this new portable. And I hope to pass along some of the high points here.
Thanks for listening.