As I mentioned in my last post, I spent a week around the July 4th holiday in Michigan. And many of those evenings were spent in my brother’s backyard scanning shortwave and the AM band for this blog series. Although I’ve yet to dig into all the tapes I recorded, I must admit that I don’t recall that any particular shortwave scan I snagged there to be as compelling as most of the ones I’ve already featured here. To me, what makes a broadcast band tuning adventure memorable is ultimately a crap shoot. It's a roll of the dice under the influence of atmospheric conditions and the happenstance of coming across interesting content. The radio dice weren't so kind this trip.
That’s not to say that in twenty or so hours of recording I didn’t capture some intriguing and revealing broadcasting along the way. But I was ultimately disappointed that most of scans didn't stand out as being blogable or as significant audio artifacts. To me, there’s several factors that make a particular scan worth posting and discussing here. While it’s always exciting to come across viable signals from very far away (or from countries I’ve rarely if ever heard on shortwave), this is an English language blog and it seems imperative to present some radio English content in the mix (although foreign music programs often have a powerful charm all their own). I think it’s safe to say that just discussing the origin of multilingual chatter isn’t what I had in mind when I started this series. And I’m sure most readers would agree.
Of course, exotic non-English programming is part of what makes shortwave so interesting. But in the end radio is supposed to be a communication medium. When I turn on a shortwave set to explore I want to receive information and ideas from around the world, as well as log some far off programming I can’t understand. Actually my recent listening sessions upstate (for only two evenings) yielded more interesting scans, and I may return to those recordings in the next few weeks. Like I said, it’s always a crap shoot.
Most (but certainly not all) of what I did capture in English on shortwave during this were those damned US Christian
shortwave broadcasters, as well as some decent AM DXing scans, which I have yet to revisit.
In this post I’m offering a late night scan of the 49 meter band (from June 30, 2006), which is primarily a ghetto of Jesus-casting in the US at that time. The 49 meter band (the frequencies directly surrounding 6000 kHz or so) is the most popular shortwave broadcast band overnight, but after midnight very few international broadcasters aim their mighty transmitters toward North America with English broadcasts (except Cuba and perhaps China, which never seems to stop broadcasting in English and dozens of other languages on shortwave). What you typically get in the wee hours are a few distant stations intended for other continents in between the stronger signals spewing English language Christian evangelism and propaganda, most originating from the US.
If you happen to be a regular reader of this series, you know that I am largely disdainful and disgusted with the glut of disturbing Christian broadcasting on shortwave in this country. Although there have been rare instances where I’ve heard something actually inspirational or original from a Christian shortwave broadcast, in general these stations offer heaping helpings of ignorance and old world authoritarian blather. And what worse, you often catch some creepy xenophobia for good measure. At its worst, shortwave bible-banging is full of intolerance and disdain, if not hatred, for those who are the wrong color or don't embrace the beliefs of the particular Christian sect transmitting the propaganda at hand.
In this sampling you'll hear a bit of that. So, let’s scrape the bottom of the 49 meter barrel, starting out just before 2:30 AM (0624 UTC) on Friday night (or Saturday morning) June 30, 2006 (or July 1 if you’re a stickler).
5765 - WWCR (Nashville, TN) - Scriptures For America
It’s the “Scriptures For America” program, with Pastor Peter J. Peters of LaPorte, Colorado. Tonight he’s offering a replay of his Martin Luther King holiday special broadcast from January of this year. And what a tribute it is.
Okay, it’s not a tribute at all. This is a venomous indictment of MLK. Pastor Peters is a leading figure in the American “Christian Identity” movement, a racist theology based on the rather kooky theory that white folks, or “Aryans” (or just generally pale Americans) are descendants of the "lost tribes of Israel." That said, it doesn’t stop these bizarre Caucasoid practitioners from despising Jews (who one would assume they believe are actually their ancient cousins), and of course, loathing African-Americans (and basically all brown and black people). And that’s not all. Christian Identity types really HATE homosexuals, and many aren’t too fond of Catholics either. No surprise, a similar theology has been quite popular in South Africa as well.
Anyway, you get the idea. To make a long story short, Pastor Peters is a hateful little racist asshole who happens to have an international radio show. Funny how Peters barely mentions the civil rights movement (or any need for such a thing in America during MLK's era) in this nasty diatribe. Nothing original here. It’s basically a restatement of the John Birch Society case against Martin Luther King that’s been passed around in racist circles for decades. Much of it is based on rumors based around the infamous FBI surveillance of King, under the pasty guiding hand of J. Edgar Hoover.
What made King such a bad guy to Peters and the Birchers? Well, apparently he was a naughty person first and foremost. But more importantly, they're outraged that anyone would honor a communist sexual deviant, who was also a false prophet (whatever that means). And to be frank, there are lots of rumors that Martin Luther King was an unfaithful husband. And perhaps that’s true. I don't know. But If so, he wouldn’t be the first significant leader on the national or world stage who didn’t adhere to his (or her) marriage vows, or may have committed acts that some find immoral or distasteful. While I’m not an advocate of adultery or of behavior that hurts others, I have long suspected that very powerful men who have at least a moderate level of health and virility will find a way to satisfy their assorted sexual desires one way or another. As long as only consenting adults are involved, I don't personally see it as a political issue. But others disagree, which led to the moronic impeachment of Bill Clinton. (And we never did find out who was being serviced all those nights by Jeff Gannon. Take a look at those White House secret service logs.)
Anyway, more to the point, what really pisses off Peters was those “wild
interracial sex orgies” King supposedly participated in so many years
ago. While he’s not so happy about the group sex aspect, it’s the
miscegenation thing that really burns him up. “Interracial marriage is
a violation of god’s law,” Peters says. It’s “a ploy to weaken
America’s strength.” No mention of bodily fluids.
What I felt was mildly amusing in all the hatred and spite, was that Peters actually decries the policies of torture and our loss of privacy rights under Bush, despite the fact that Bush seems as close to Peter’s beliefs as any US President in our lifetime. Perhaps he’s only concerned that government sponsored torture might not be used exclusively on black and brown people. Peters doesn’t seem to find any problem with the FBI snooping on King’s every move for years.
I also mentioned Pastor Peters in this previous post.
5850 - EWTN - Eternal Word Television Network (Vandiver, AL)
From scary racist Protestant blather, to equally frightening crap from
this huge Catholic shortwave station in Alabama. On the phone is nasty
old Phyllis Schlafly, who made a name for herself by fighting equal rights for women and public school sex education for decades. She also once said the atomic bomb was a gift from god. And lately she's been promoting the idea that an independent judiciary is just a plain bad idea. According to Schlafly, some judges have too much power (i.e. independence), especially on the Supreme
Courts. According to her recent book, these judges are “supremacists,”
which is her terminology for what other rabid right-wingers refer to as
judicial activists. It’s shorthand for judges who make decisions
Phyllis and her ilk find distasteful, or somehow not Christian enough, whatever. It’s a catchy term, right?– supreme court, supremacists, super-bad... Easy to
remember. However, if you happen to look up the word “supremacist” you'll
notice that it a tern defining certain humans who believe that their race, religion,
belief system or culture is superior, or are more deserving of certain rights,
privileges and freedoms than people who are not like them. So, Rowe vs.
Wade was a matter of supremacy? Of what, secularism? Please.
Make no mistake about it. Half-wit theocrats like Schlafly and Peters are TRUE supremacists, and these days like-minded people who want to scrap our secular representative republic for something more like Taliban rule are working overtime behind the scenes to make this country a religious state. It’s happening within the Catholic and Protestant church in this country, and it oughtta scare the hell out of you. That is, unless you’re a zombie too.
5920 - The Fundamental Broadcasting Network
Holy singin’ in a big room. How much joy can you handle?
5935 - WWCR - Gene Scott
Hearing an old-fashioned money grubbing (dead) preacher is kind of a relief after all that hate and prudish garbage. Even if it is a bunch of tired gobbledygook about how HE us gave his son, and that makes us givers, or something "axiomatic" like that. Amen.
5950 - WYFR - Family Radio
Spreading Harold Camping’s warped Christian message around the world in Español.
5965 - Radio Exterior de Espana
The first secular broadcast here. Lots of weather noise. Some guitar action.
5985 - WYFR - Family Radio
More Jesus for all garbage, in a Chinese language I believe. With the contact information given in slow distinct English.
6005 - BBC World Service (from Ascension Island in the South Atlantic)
If there was one blip in the news cycle that seemed to eventually snowball into what has become a huge ongoing human disaster in Lebanon, it was the capture of the young Israeli soldier mentioned in this newscast. That already seems so long ago.
And what is really irritating, especially in a time of a major world crisis, is that the BBC World Service is now difficult, and at times impossible, to hear in North America on shortwave. The BBC has decided that American shortwave listeners just aren’t worth the time or money. Sure, it’s still a great news source (much better than NPR), but it’s really not the world service it once was. I wonder if the planet really starts to go up in a ball of flames if the BBC might butch up and offer North America the English service they need and deserve via shortwave again. After all, If things get really bad shortwave could again become the only way to hear what’s happening around the globe.
Gosh, am I pessimistic today or what?
6030 - Radio Marti
It’s freedom lovin’ America, spreading democracy to Cuba via radio instead of using good old fashioned warfare and torture. Broadcasting from North Carolina, I believe this signal is being jammed by Cuba with their infamous “havana gurgle” machine.
6070 - Radio Mundial Mahanaim (Santiago, Chile)?
It’s a pop song, in Spanish with guitar (and perhaps flute) with hip hop overtones. Not that I’m crazy about this song, and the reception is piss poor, but in my opinion this one stop on the 49 meter band had more humanity and sanity than any other signal I came across that evening. However, the clip is short here.
6090 - Gene Scott
Beggin’ for money from the grave again. I wonder how many years it will go on?
6110 - RAI - Radio International Italy (Rome)?
Or maybe a Christian station in Chile. Not sure. Very poor signal.
6160 - Radio Habana Cuba
In English. AWFUL reception.
Alright, there’s your depressing overview of the 49 meter band. I hope you enjoyed it. Next week, probably some medium wave listening, or something else. I haven‘t decided. Meanwhile, the other posts in this series can be found here. Please post comments and/or email me with corrections, comments or suggestions.
And I thank you for listening.