Getting into Shortwave Radio Listening



It’s not often that I get to talk about some of my hobbies on this site. The Genealogy sites are reserved for one of those hobbies, but time certainly takes it’s toll and frankly it’s hard to have much time for my hobbies these days. One of those that I’ve developed in the last few years is shortwave radio listening. I’ve mentioned a software program that can help you use nternet resources to find programming to tune in to (or figure out what you heard.) I’ve talked about my favorite radio (the Sony ICF-SW7600GR).


But I was thinking if you’ve never heard shortwave before you might need a bit of an introduction to it. I didn’t have much of an introduction, I just learned about it as I went along. Whatever information was provided in the manuals for the radios I acquired and what I could find online. For starters, the first thing is. “How do I tune into a BBC news broadcast”. (For instance.) With AM and FM radio, we have it quite easy. We know a certain station is ALWAYS at a certain frequency. Around here if I were to pick the biggest AM and FM stations (570 AM and 99.9 FM) they’ve been there as long as I can remember, on those frequencies, day and night.

Well, shortwave is different. For starters shortwave frequencies are “above” the AM bands (above 1700khz). In fact AM is also called “Medium wave”. Shortwave bands are categorized by how many meters the length of the radio wave is. Anyway, some frequencies (the lower end of the band, under say 10,000khz) transmit long distances better at night. Other’s (above 10,000 khz) transmit (propogate) longer distances better in the day. For that reason you may find that a particular broadcast will move from one to another, to another frequency throughout the day. If it’s a continuous broadcast, they’ll announce the move at the top of an hour “to keep listening, please tune to….”

So, how do you find something specific. Well, you could just tune around, but that get’s boring after a bit, kind of like flipping tv channels. So, you either need to look online (or a software program to do that) for “what time the BBC broadcasts in English to North america”, or a book. Now the schedules change frequently and books can be outdated quickly, but there are some, yearly published guides.

When I got the Sony, I also bought a copy of (an earlier version) Passport to World Band Radio, New 2006 Edition (Passport to World Band Radio). I’ve found it to be a good introduction to shortwave listening, equipment reviews, broadcast frequencies. (Good charts with more than just the English language broadcasts.)

In fact, I’d recommend this book if you’re mildly interested in shortwave radio, but don’t know where to start.

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