Friday, February 18, 2011

Shortwave Radio Update

Earlier, I announced that I'm back into listening to shortwave radio. Most Shelf readers at this point are saying, 'oh, great...Slimbo has finally lost it'. Female Shelf readers might be logging off for good as I've confirmed the worst of their nerd fears.

Intense solar storms are interfering with shortwave radio transmissions right now so I suppose it's a good time to follow up on this topic.

The image above adorns page one of my shortwave listening log. You have to keep a log of what you hear, when you hear it and at what frequency you received it. Otherwise, you can not make sense of anything. Here's goes:

1. What I've found on my radio falls into three categories: (1) AM stations I would never find normally, (2) Ham Radio operators in my general area and (3) world band broadcasts from around the globe.

2. The illustration above was inspired by the endless religious fanatics who broadcast on shortwave, all lusting for the End of Times / 2012 / New World Order.

3. As I browse through my log, here are some highlights:

9980kHz - As I mentioned, shortwave frequencies are filled with apocalyptic, droning biblical doomsday fanatics. They all hate President Obama and the end of the world is a'comin'. But then there is Brother Stair. Check out his Wiki page, then come back to me.

You're back? Awesome. I don't know what it is about Brother Stair - maybe it is the ancient cadence in his voice. I just find him so listenable. He claims to be broadcasting from "a farm in South Carolina". Sometimes he has a gaggle of followers with him who emphatically yell 'Amen, Brother, yes!' whether Stair is describing the end of times or a trip to the store.

11820kHz - Now on the other end of the spectrum is the recitation of the Holy Quran, as broadcast on this frequency most afternoons from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Mixture of spoken word and cantation.

7415kHz - WBCQ, The Planet. Great show on the weekend called Trailer Trash Radio. This show alleges that it is broadcast from an actual trailer somewhere in the woods of western Massachusetts. One show was a conversation between members of the janitorial staff of Amherst College. Another show played various versions of Tex Williams' vintage country ditty, Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette.

6000kHz - And again on the opposite end of the spectrum, Radio Havana, Cuba's English language broadcast. This is Castro's version of Voice of America, blasted towards American in full force - always a very strong signal here on the East Coast. Most of the broadcasts either document mundane agricultural updates or the failings of the United States. (One is reminded of Garrett Morris's Chico Escuela: Bad Stuff 'Bout The Mets.)

AM Band - late at night I'm able to pull in a crazy array of AM stations:
  • AM700 - WLW Cincinnati
  • AM 720 WGN Chicago
  • AM 750 WSB Atlanta
  • AM 760 WJR Detroit
  • AM 780 WBM Chicago
  • AM 800 CKLW Windsor, Ontario
  • AM 810 WEDO Pittsburgh
  • AM 840 WHAS Louisville
  • AM 860 CJBC Toronto
  • AM 900 CHML Hamilton
  • AM 1020 WKOK Pittsburgh
  • AM 1030 WBZ Boston
  • AM 1060 W(cbs) Philadelphia
  • AM 1090 WBAL Baltimore
  • AM 1110 WBT Charlotte
  • AM 1120 W(cbs) St Louis
  • AM 1140 WRVA Richmond
  • AM 1180 WHAM Rochester
  • AM 1210 WPHT Philadelphia
  • AM 1440 WDOW Dowagiac, MI
As you can see, I've pulled in a lot and there's still plenty of holes amid the frequencies I've yet to fill in. Of course, you don't need to have dozens of AM stations in America because (with a few valued exceptions) AM programming is essentially all the same - (i) what to be afraid of, and (ii) shit that's just plain ol' made up.

3875kHz - 3885kHz - This appears to be the best range of frequencies to pick up Ham Radio (Amateur) Operators (licenced folks who transmit from home). I got spoiled in my first real opportunity to listen to Hams in early February as a Transmitter Rally was underway. I heard from amateur broadcasters checking in their call signs from New Hampshire, Upstate NY, the Ohio Valley, West Virginia, all the way down to Tampa and Alabama. Very impressive - and interesting personalities.

As with anything, the great mysteries exist between the official frequencies. There are allegedly several active numbers stations, but I have as of yet to find them. At kHz, 3415 and 3485, I can barely make out a droning voice rendering weather report, but have no idea from where it originates. Sometimes while dialing I'll just come across a massive data transference that sounds somewhere between a fax machine, a satellite dial-up and a machine gun. Some frequency rages are just jammed intentionally. What's there?

No comments:

Post a Comment