In the last week, I went over the tapes from my upstate NY listening session and found another interesting scan to post here. This time it’s a night hike through the 41 meter band. Audio follows the jump.
This recording is from the beginning of June, which seems like years ago as far as world news goes. With the Mideast on fire and Castro in the hospital, now would be good time to sample international news and opinion on shortwave. I wish I had the time to take a listen. Maybe this weekend. Unlike most media, shortwave radio listening can take some time and patience. And for a city dweller like me it takes some effort and dedication to escape from all the RF interference. And weather as it is, it ain’t such a swell time to sit outside with a radio either.
Next week, a special treat. Finally, a reader has actually offered up a recently recorded shortwave dial scan, along with extensive notes and commentary. And it’s a good one. Thanks Ralph!
After asking listeners to contribute radio recordings for this blog series, Ralph was the first one to come through. I had talked about what I was interested in hearing in this post, and if you think you might have something to offer (or would be willing to record some radio from wherever you might be) please send me an email. And thank to Ken Kopp in Topeka for mentioning this series on his blog and in Glenn Hauser’s DX Listening Digest, and for asking readers there to consider submitting audio for this project. Appreciate it.
Meanwhile, back to the third of June, near Catskill in the Hudson Valley, where this recording occured. That weekend the reception was strong and steady on my new Degen 1103. In the last post I offered from that listening session offered very readable reception from Madagascar, and this one touches on Southern Africa as well. But almost more significantly, I came across WBCQ in Maine coming in loud and clear after midnight (something I haven’t heard here in a while), as well as a Christian shortwave broadcast from Utah. That might not sound like much of an accomplishment, compared to picking up signals from the Indian Ocean, but it’s not always easy for me on the east coast to receive shortwave stations in the Northern Hemisphere transmitting from the continental divide and beyond.
Here’s part one of the audio...
6855 - WYFR - Family Radio - Open Forum
It’s old weird Harold Camping again, the commander in chief over at Family Radio in Oakland, California. It’s hard to believe, but this call-in talk show has actually been on the air for forty-five years. And in all of its glory, it can be heard on well over a hundred radio stations and worldwide via shortwave (and now the internet). The format is simple– People call up Harold and ask questions about the bible, or ask his interpretation of what the bible says about certain events, issues or activities. And Camping’s counsel is quirky and harsh, filtered through his strict Calvinist and apocalyptic beliefs and his dogmatic adherence to the King James translation of the good book.
Counter to the sharp edges of Camping’s grim advise and worldview, is his slow rolling baritone which plods through each call with a low-key, almost sleepy, cadence as he defines life and reality with simplistic “chapter and verse” solutions and answers. I have yet to hear an entertaining dust-up with an apostate caller on Open Forum, but I imagine that could be a lot of fun.
However, the particular call that kicks off this dial scan is an interesting one. The caller has a thick accent, perhaps Pakistani, and he asks Camping some rather pointed questions about Islam and Camping’s odd beliefs. While the gentlemen couches his inquisitiveness by saying that he’s a faithful Christian, his questions seem to be aimed at gently unbuckling Harold’s sturdy bible belt for us all to take a peak at Camping’s tight and twisted undergarments. And the caller seems to do a pretty good job.
His first question is about the Prophet (Mohammed), how he honored Jesus in the Koran and said a lot of the same kind of stuff as the Christian savior. Hmm. I just try to imagine ANY radio evangelist saying saying something overtly positive about the Prophet (especially these days).
According to Camping, the bible was just around back then, and the guy who wrote
the Koran probably borrowed a few of the bible characters to give his book
some authority. According to Camping, the Koran and every other
holy book ever written are just the “writings of men” not the “word of
god” like the King James Version of the bible. And of supernatural
events described in the Koran? Camping says that either the writer made
them up OR if such events actually occurred they had to
be the work of the devil. And according to Camping and other like-minded
KJV enthusiasts, the founding of any other religion or utilizing any
other texts (or bibles) is just plain Satanic anyway. Not a lot of wiggle room
there-- the whole world is evil, except for Harold and his flock.
Then he asks Mr. Family Radio about this “Church Age” thing. What is it? It seems a little disingenuous when the caller says he hears all these "Christians" talking about it all the time, since it’s Camping’s personal theory and isn't all that popular. You see, Camping likes to predict the end of the world. He’s done it several times, and so far it hasn’t worked out for him. His last big doom date was 1994 (I think he's up to 2011 these days), and when the world didn't go up in smoke he came up with another idea. Instead his 1994 moment became the “end of the church age,” and Camping said all right-believers should quit attending church, and get their holy teaching from broadcasters, like him. Of course, the churches that carried on doing what they do, despite Campings pronouncements are, of course, Satanic.
Okay, it’s more complicated than that. WAY more complicated. Mr. Camping has neatly divided all of history into seasons, chapters and epochs, and added all sorts of other stuff for fun. (If you’re curious, take a look at his convoluted discussion of such matters here.) For a guy with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering, Camping does a lot of thinking. And he has plenty of other odd theories as well.
So, as Camping just starts to get up a little head of steam with his cockeyed epitemology I turn the dial and move on. Listening to him is like taking a bad tranquilizer, it makes you feel calm and uneasy at the same time. Although the call was interesting, Camping himself is just so dull and depressing. (Also briefly discussed Camping in a previous post.)
7105 - BBC World Service
Broadcasting from Ascension Island in the South Atlantic. Not sure of the language. But you can taste the anticipation for the upcoming World Cup.
7120 - BBC World Service
Broadcasting from South Africa this time, in English. A impassioned discussion on the need for fuel efficiency and conservation of petroleum products. Reception here is poor but listenable. Well maybe not to some ears, but you can hear what they’re saying. Sure would be nice if there was some spot on the dial where this broadcast was loud and clear from the U.S.
7125 - Voice of Russia?
Maybe. That’s all I could come up with that matches the time of this broadcast. It’s just a snippet of pop song here. VOA broadcasts on this frequency as well, and I wondered if this might be Radio Farda or Radio Sawa, VOA’s Middle-Eastern propaganda outlets.
7135 - Radio France Internationale
Energetic discussion, French Females.
More French, possibly about “cinema.”
7160 - BBC World Service
In English, from Ascension again. Poor reception. I think this might be a continuation of the earlier discussion regarding our planet's petroleum problems.
7170 - Deutsche Welle
In Arabic I believe, from Germany. Accompanied by a rather thick buzz.
7220 - (Not sure...)
While I could find no online documentation that “Voice of the Democratic Path of Ethiopian Unity,” a Clandestine service, is broadcasting at the time of the recording (just before 0500 UTC), this does sound to my ears something like that. The accent is African, and the announcer sounds rather serious. Anyone have any insight on this. The clip is short.
7225 - Deutsche Welle
Germany, broadcasting from Rwanda. It sounds like Arabic pop to me.
7235 - RAI (Italy)
In English, from Rome with some adjacent broadcasting (SSB?) making it difficult to listen to. Some news about Italian troops leaving the American created nightmare in Iraq. I wish this came in better, I don’t hear English broadcasts from Italy all that often.
7250 - Vatican Radio
Sounds like some Catholic information, in French.
7260 - Radio Algerienne International (Algeria)
A man speaking in Arabic, I believe. And a signal relayed from the UK.
7275 - Radio Tunis
7315 - WHRI - World Harvest Radio
Some contact information from Christians in Indiana.
7325 - BBC World Service
Sounds like news (In Arabic?), from the UK.
7335 - CHU - Ottawa, Ontario
It’s the official time, Canadian style. It’s 0459 UTC (almost 1am EDT)
7345 - Deutsche Welle
Their Interval signal, warming up for a new broadcast coming up at 0500 UTC. I don’t stick around for the curtain to rise.
And here’s part two.
7405 - Radio Marti
It’s US propaganda for the Cubans. It would be easier to understand if Cuba wasn’t broadcasting all that electronic gurgling on top of it.
7415 - WBCQ
It’s “Shortwave Overnight,” a relatively new program on WBCQ, running from 1 to 3am EDT (0500 to 0700 UTC) on Saturday night, or Sunday morning. (I’ve always thought that the next day should start around 6am instead of midnight.)
The hosts, LF Midwood and Miss Gina, have just taken over the show at this time, and before this WBCQ’s Timtron was a host (and perhaps others have taken a turn as well). I like the idea of this program a lot– an offbeat late night call-in show on international shortwave. And it’s not bad, although I could do without some of the classic rock interludes. A stoned Texan calls in to report a possible UFO he’s watching out in his yard, and recounts being followed by a saucer on a drug run one night, and a retired country DJ calls in to make radio small talk in this clip. (There's also a one second silent spot from when the tape ended.)
An old associate of WBCQ stalwarts (and Radio NewYork International alums) Allan Weiner and Johnny Lightning, LF Midwood has since ended his relationship with WBCQ, at least professionally. Don’t know the details, but Johnny Lightning’s RNI site (which I had linked to here) has been replaced by this new one, which briefly recounts the falling out. (As I’m writing this, Johnny's new site, or blog, is still rather bare bones.)
While this isn't the greatest radio I've ever heard, it's good. And it sure would be swell if more shortwave programming had a little tiny bit of the the adventuresome spirit of WBCQ. Really.
7465 - WHRI - World Harvest Radio
Let’s pray for young Jeff, the rebel.
7475 - Voice of Greece
Sounds ritualistic, with holy type reverb. Orthodox, I suppose. I let the music play here for a few minutes. Kinda soothing.
7505 - KTBN Salt Lake City, UT
“All we need are a few volunteers to start a revolution. It might as well be us.”
It’s Max Lucado, author and inspirational minister speaking at “The Promised Land,” the Austin mothership for a franchise of Texas megachurches. Have you heard of these things? These giant mall-like suburban worship centers are sprouting up like monster mushrooms, especially in the south. Thousands of folks attend the services at these “churches.” This particular megachurch sits on twenty-six acres? And did I mention that Mr. Lucado has a Texas megachurch of his own?
Anyway, it’s all about finding “the sweet spot.” And I did think it odd that such an important fella as Lucado hadn’t heard the word “eclectic” until just recently. And then to wrap it all up Lucado requests the Promised Land band play a fast number. And instead of a gospel stomper, you hear a hard rock Texas funky (almost hip-hop) Jesus rave-up that I have a hard time explaining. Suffice to say it’s kind of an audience participation number with a lot of "feeling". And from what I understand this is typical megachurch entertainment-- Christian rock for the masses.
7250 - WYFR - Family Radio
Not sure of the language here, eastern European I think.
7540 - EWTN
Catholic programming, for our Latin American friends.
7780 - WYFR - Family Radio
More of Harold Camping’s warped Christianity, in German this time.
That’s it. Always interested in comments, corrections and suggestions. The other posts in this series are here. Thanks for reading these, and for listening.