Archive for March, 2006

Adventures In Amplitude Modulation – Part 13

Monday, March 27th, 2006

2010_1 This episode of this series continues from my evening of scanning the shortwave bands March 1, 2006. This time it’s the next hour and the next band. This is the 41 meter band (7100 to 7350 kHz), another popular chunk of the shortwave frequencies. Again, this recording is an unedited slow motion frolic through the signals using my BCL-2000, sitting at my kitchen table in Brooklyn.

And I want to again thank reader Ralph who contributed some edifying comments in last week’s post. Now I have a better grasp on tracking down “images” of stronger signals which pop up on nearby erroneous spots on the dial. This is perhaps the greatest fault of the BCL radios, and an inherent problem in single-conversion radios in general. Dual conversion sets effectively filter most images and are generally a bit more expensive.

A couple years ago, when I was shopping around for a higher end old portable I was scouting ebay and I had pretty much decided I was going to hunt down one of two classic receivers– the Panasonic RF-2200 or the Sony ICF-2010. Both are discontinued, and in good shape they generally go for about the same price on ebay– about two-hundred bucks (although a mint 2010 in its box could go for a hundred or two more). My analog instincts led to me to go after the RF-2200 and I don’t regret it. It’s a hell of a rig and it pulls the weak signals out of the ether, and is a great radio to DX the AM band. It’s also dual-conversion. However, after the 2010 was mentioned once or twice in the comments section here, it’s gotten me to take a second look at it. The 2010 is not as nearly as handsome the 2200 and doesn’t have that golden glow of frequencies, but I’ve come to realize that the 2010 is just one amazing device. And now my gadget lust has launched a little feedback loop in my radio heart. I want one. I really want one. However, I really don’t have the cash handy right now. But I’m looking at ‘em on ebay… Someday. You can read some reviews of this mighty little digital gadget here, here and here. It’s 1984 technology that Sony happened to really get right (It was manufactured for almost 20 years!). However, If you’ve got some cash on your hands and you want something new, many think the new Eton E1 improves on this radio’s legacy.

Clandestine_gear_1 Before I go on to the band scan for this week, I wanted to mention a few (free) podcasts that may interest readers of this blog series. Clandestine Radio.com offers “Global Crisis Watch” (XML feed here), a program reporting on (and promoting) democracy movements around the world. It’s a rather urgent show featuring interviews of journalists, broadcasters and activists involved in fighting oppression around the world. And of course, there’s some good information on shortwave and other radio broadcasts from time to time. It’s an interesting half hour delivered to your hard drive every week. The Global Crisis Watch is a cutting edge international news put together by a couple of guys instead of a government or corporation.

Although not many are aware of it, there’s quite a bit of pirate radio activity on shortwave and the podcast “Pirates Week” (XML feed here) offers a weekly overview of that scene. This podcast varies in length and is a much more loose and light affair than Global Crisis Watch. It’s an amalgam of many related diversions– discussions of assorted radio gear and computers, details of the realities of seat-of-the-pants broadcasting, as well as clips of shortwave pirates at play and tips on where and when to find ‘em on your radio. Also the Mediageek has a well-kept and extensive blog and podcast (RSS feed here) where he explores all sorts of media products, broadcasting trends, and the inherent toys that make it all possilbe. And his most recent podcast features an interview with Ragnar Daneskjold, the host of “Pirate’s Week." According to Ragnar, a nice warm illegal transmitter running 40 watts on shortwave can give you coverage of most of the U.S. on a good night. Hmmm…

Glenn_hauser Also, the ultimate source of all things shortwave is Glenn Hauser. The guy is dedicated. His “World of Radio” program, which broadcasts on quite a number of shortwave stations, is also a podcast (XML feed here). While not high in entertainment value, it’s a helluva dose of up-to-date shortwave news, views and frequency listings. On his World of Radio site, as well as his weekly “DX Listening Digest” Mr. Hauser puts out some great web resources which provide valuable information for mega-geeks and weak-kneed newbies alike. And it’s all listener and reader supported!

Okay, on to this recording of reception on the 41 meter band . Actually, this scan begins just before the that band and then traverses up the numbers. The frequencies are in kilohertz. It’s Wednesday night, March 1st and Bush is over in Asia eating Indian mangoes I think. It’s early evening here, one of the best times to catch foreign broadcasters offering up English language programming for the Americas (and Spanish ones too for that matter). And more importantly, at this hour the band isn’t a kooky Christian radio ghetto yet. Closer to midnight and beyond the shortwave bands are flooded with hallelujah bullshit and not much else, at least not in English. But at 0100 UTC (all shortwave schedules basically follow the time in London, and in a 24 hour manner), which is 8 pm Eastern Standard Time, the biblical blather is only part of the mix, not the dominant force.

Actually, this begins right before eight, a fine time to start a band scan. Let’s begin.

Segment 1-41 Meter Band (6875 to 7300 kHz) 03-01-06

(download)

6875 EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network

It’s right before the top of the hour, 8 p.m. here, 0100 hours UTC. Most international shortwave stations play something called an “interval signal” in between programs, an identifying snippet of music that may include other sounds or the official ID of the station. Listening to shortwave you begin to get familiar with the these little ditties because they usually repeat for a couple minutes right before a new program ensues, and can help listeners ID a station as well as find a particular program on the dial before it begins. Interval signals almost always come at right before the top of the hour, and occasionally precede the 30 minute point as well.

Pope_internet_i_2 So, this clip begins with the EWTN’s official and soothing interval music and then their ID. This site has a huge archive of interval signals past and present. They all stream in real media. Pretty cool. I was slightly thrilled to find this one, the interval signal of Radio RSA from the 1970′s– a chirpy bird with folky guitar. This took me back to my where my interest in shortwave really began. Christmas 1971. Santa was kind enough to set me up with a cheesy eight-track tape player-AM/FM stereo. But the shoddy Hong Kong technology inside offered me a really surprising gift– stray images of shortwave stations on the AM dial! And the two stations I recall getting quite well on this little woodgrain wonder were Radio Habana Cuba and Radio RSA. I became quite familiar with that chirpy bird and the plucky guitar, and after sending them a letter I was embarrassed for years when a glossy program guide from a faraway racist regime would show up in my mailbox every few months. Then a Christmas or two later I scored a flip-cover multi-band box that introduced me to the wondrous world of cold war shortwave propaganda.

Anyway, after the interval and the ID, it’s non-stop excitement on EWTN– a Catholic with a computer. Sounds like he’s giving a presentation in front of a bunch of well dressed white folks. Anyway, the guy has a laptop, maybe running a PowerPoint presentation or something and it’s all about catechismclass.com, a web site about guess what? Yawn.

6890 – WWRB USA – The Overcomer Ministry

Bro_scare Last week I carried on about old Gene Scott, which was easy because he’s such a rich character. But in truth, there was hardly any Gene Scott to hear in that clip. I should have waited until I had some substantial Scott audio to play before I spent so much time talking about the guy. Same deal here. Brother Stair’s presence on shortwave trumps Scott’s around the clock radio preachin’, and there isn’t much of him on this scan. But if you’re new to shortwave, Brother Stair’s raspy staccato delivery may be the first voice you really become familiar with because he’s ALL over the bands. And he’s ALMOST as interesting as Gene Scott, but hardly as endearing. However, he is still alive.

Since there’s not much of the Brother Stair in this band scan, I’ll wait to say much more until I find a more representative clip. But in the world of radio evangelism, Stair is pretty unique– kind of a combination of Elmer Gantry, Rumpelstiltskin and Jim Jones. Otherwise known as “Brother Scare,” this old goat somehow manages to enslave babes with his wild-eyed shortwave harangues. I knew there must be some more earthly reasons why so many holy shysters spend all that time yammering on shortwave.

The signal’s weak and there’s some phasing going on, but Stair is in the middle of one of his usual unflagging rants. Some important information here about the Antichrist perhaps. Occasionally I find him mildly entertaining, but not this time. His “Overcomer Ministry” rents this international transmitter from WWRB 24/7, but he broadcasts on plenty of others too. Now you know why some people in other countries might think we’re strange. Read more about the sordid details regarding this twisted geezer here and here.

7125 – Voice of Russia

In Russian. Sounds like the news. Nice sounders. Something about Bosnia…

7160 – WRMI Radio Miami International (Radio Republica)

Wrmi Wow, it’s almost unbelievable, another U.S. shortwave station NOT run by Christian crazies. It seems incredible, but I looked around their website and saw absolutely nothing about lambs, blood or that horrible lake of fire. Maybe they’re just coy Christians. Either way, they do allow the Bible people to rent time on their transmitters. There’s just not a long line of normal people out there willing to put up the dough to broadcast on shortwave. So like WBCQ, WRMI needs to take the cash where they can find it.

This particular broadcast is put on by an organization known as “Radio Republica.” They’re for non-violent change in Cuba, human rights, that kind of stuff. As far as I can tell they’re not related to Radio Marti and any propaganda arm of the U.S. government.  But they’re not making Fidel happy either.

Of course, this broadcast is in Spanish. This short clip features a smokey voiced woman who might be talking about a “political prisoner.” They’re signal is often jammed by Cuba, and I’ve read that Radio Republica just started using this frequency.

7180 – Voice of Russia

In Spanish. I believe this is news.

7250 – (Unknown in Spanish)

It’s strange, but this one’s out of order. I might have backed up to find Radio Slovakia after this OR I wrote down the wrong frequency. Nonetheless, it’s VERY clear and most likely originating from North America. Could be Christians doing their dirty work, but I have no idea. If anybody can translate this (or knows of a Spanish broadcast on 7250 at this hour) and can make sense of this reception, I’d appreciate it. There is some urgency in this program.

Slovakia_qsl_2 7230 – Radio Slovakia International

This is a typical English international broadcast from overseas that you might stumble across on shortwave. It’s around ten after the hour and we probably just missed some headlines. And now it’s time for some features on local doings in Slovakia. And at 150 Kilowatts of power from well over 4000 miles away, it’s coming in quite nicely.

Apparently there’s a bunch of illegal weapons stockpiled in closets and attics across the Slovak Republic, and the government’s trying to get people to voluntarily hand them over. Previously loose gun laws have tightened up quite a bit since the end of the cold war. While thousands of Czechs gave up their guns in a similar program, the Slovaks are a bit more wary about letting go of their weaponry so far.

The next story– all about a Slovak high school course on how to prepare a business plan. (And please, when producing radio and the subject of money comes up, don’t even THINK about playing that damn Pink Floyd song again.) Jeez. Enough already.

However, this is still one of the small joys of shortwave radio– hearing small regional stories from thousands of miles away that would never garner coverage in American media.

Egypt_qsl 7270 – Radio Cairo

Spanish talk, female speakers, Middle-Eastern pop bumper music. Plenty of countries beaming Spanish language programming to the Americas. After all, probably a higher percentage of Spanish speakers on this side of the world know how to operate a shortwave radio.

7285 – Hrvatska Radio (Croatia)

Unknown language, broadcast from a relay in Germany.

7300 – Voice of Turkey

As far as music on shortwave radio, this is one of my favorite stops lately. It’s a program of haunting, beautiful and catchy Turkish music. One of these songs has lodged itself in my brain, and it keeps playing there– a comforting exotic loop in the background when I’m lost in thought, and that’s fine with me for now. A couple weeks ago I was haunted by “Saturday In The Park” by Chicago. WHY I ask? What did I do to deserve this?

Votsticker I have an old Zenith Transoceanic in my room, and throbbing modulated music like this from afar played through that warm old tube radio could make you cry. Or, at least it could make me cry. You might laugh. The music plays on in this clip for almost 15 minutes. A female announcer talks between tracks.

That’s it for this week. And as if there’s any enlightenment you can offer– mistakes I’ve made in this post, or translate any of the foreign languages in this band scan– either may assist me in amending or correcting this post in the future. Please post a comment or send me an email here. Other articles in this blog series can be found here.

Thanks for listening.

(This post originally appeared in Beware of the Blog.)

Adventures in Amplitude Modulation – Part 12

Monday, March 20th, 2006

Brooklyn_air_kingWell, it’s been a frustrating week here at my little Brooklyn Radio HQ. The main reason is that AM & shortwave reception has been just TERRIBLE. To be honest, I haven’t really dug into the shortwave frequencies much over this last week or so, but several stations I expected to quickly find haven’t been there and others are barely readable. And I can tell you definitively that reception on the AM band has been really awful. Dependable clear channel stations across the dial from places like Louisville, Baltimore, Toronto and Charlotte have been sadly difficult to discern out of the noise. Then again, there also seems to be a number of competing stations stepping on these AM giants, and barely audible stations I’m not familiar with have been showing up at other spots on the dial too. As I’ve made clear, I’m no radio scientist and I’ve decided not to spend a bunch of hours researching what’s going on out there so I might seem to know what I’m talking about. But what I can tell you is that for the last week or two there’s been a BIG change in radio propagation out there on medium and shortwave, but I’m sure that will all change again soon. If you’re interested, there may be some information on what’s been happening in outer space that’s altering radio reception here and perhaps at a few of these links here as well.

Then again, this is what makes listening to SW and AM interesting and drives some listeners crazy as well. It’s unpredictable. When some dependable stations can’t be found, often others that are often impossible to hear can be received. It’s an old and sometimes unreliable technology. You’ve gotta love it somehow to participate, and here in the short attention span US of A you’re in a minority if you do. If you care, go ahead and celebrate yourself. By the way, I also found an interesting primer on shortwave listening this week on the web here. And this guy had an interesting DX blog that he seems Panda_dial1to have unfortunately abandoned which is still worth checking out. And here’s another interesting radio blog that someone sent me a link to as well.

The idea of this particular arc of blog posts has been to comb through the HF bands from my NYC home and attempt to ascertain the source of each frequency. Which brings me to my other big frustration– the research to make this happen.

These days the established shortwave bands have expanded a bit, and you find broadcasts before and after the official allotment for each band on the radio dial. In this post, the last station logged (Radio Tirana in Albania) is actually just past the high end of the 49 meter band (6200 kHz). I also logged a number of frequencies after that, however I spent WAY too many hours last night attempting to identify several stations and found nothing on the might internet that could assist me in any way. The radio I was using, the BCL-2000 is a single conversion receiver infamous for picking up distorted or weakened “images” of more powerful frequencies on erroneous spots on the dial. However, I’ve only experienced this problem in an obvious way on the AM dial, and I’m not sure if I could pick up a series of these images in a row on shortwave. So, if any of you more experienced SW listeners could assist me in getting an idea of what I might have picked up Wednesday night, March 1 between 7 and 8 p.m. EST at 6250 or 6295 (in Spanish), or 6375 (unknown language), 6415 (German), and 6555 (English probably from the U.S.) please send me an email here, or post a comment on this post. Any information or ideas would be greatly appreciated. And in general, please correct me if I’ve Shortwave_receiver_schematic_1made some dumb error in my logging in this post. While I do the best I can, I’m an amateur at best and I’m not ashamed to get a little guidance from better informed radio folks. Again, you can email me here.

Anyway, here’s the rest of the 49 meter band scan recording from early evening 03-01-06 recorded here in NYC with my BCL-2000. I’m just using the whip antenna it came with and the recording is unedited. Nothing astounding here, just a typical night on the 49 meter band that almost anybody in the eastern U.S. could have picked up with an inexpensive shortwave set that evening. Unless I get some further elucidation on the frequencies I mentioned in the previous paragraph I’ll go on to another shortwave band next week.

Segment 2-49 Meter Band (5920 to 6215 kHz) 03-01-06  17:40

(download)

Dw_logo 6075 – Deutsche Welle

Broadcasting in German, from Germany. They also broadcast from seven different relay sites around the world, and in many languages. It’s the news, apparently talking about our fearless leader visiting India.

6085 – WYFR (Family Radio)

Another one of those Christian wastes of bandspace on the shortwave dial, broadcasting from Florida USA. All you get here is a snippet of churchy singing. Hallelujah, amen and all that.

Scott_eyes_1 6090 – The Carribean Beacon (on the island of Anguilla)

It’s Dr. Gene Scott, who you can almost ALWAYS find on shortwave, usually on a few frequencies. Which is quite a feat considering he’s not really alive these days.

Actually, Dr. Scott just left the planet last year, and for a few months I was hearing a woman (which I believe was his most recent wife, Melissa Pastore) continuing his… ah, work on the radio. But lately, it seems that his organization has decided to carry on his worldwide ministry with recordings of the wacky old guy himself. Going through the dial at night, you can hear Scott hale and hearty on one frequency, and croaky and near death on another. From the grave Dr. Scott is still shouting at his listeners to “GET ON THE PHONE!” and pledge him some dough.

And hell, nobody could really replace Gene Scott, not even his porn star turned evangelist widow. When he wasn’t talkin’ about the lord and savior, he might lecture for a while about UFO’s or discuss the mysteries of the pyramids at Giza (Just LOOK at his website, where you’ll find no reference to his death either). Besides being a bit of a crackpot who made his living sapping cash from his followers, he was also a loud-mouthed vulgar hard drinking "man’s man" kind of guy, and at times a rather likable one in some strange way. If you’re not familiar with Dr. Scott, here’s some flavor…

Nice, eh? You can read more anecdotes about Mr. Scott that were posted in his memory here ,here and here. More Gene Scott blogging and links can be found here, and more clips from his TV show are available at this site. Werner Herzog did an excellent documentary on Dr. Scott back in 1980 (the above clip is from that film), and is worth searching out if you’re in the mood for Gene’s particular brand of spirituality.

And although I’ve gone on here at length about Dr. Scott’s career, the clip of him in this scan is woefully short (a half minute) and in very poor fidelity. I’m not even sure what he’s talking about. Sorry. I heard him SO often on shortwave, and over the last few years he had taken to droning on and on more than shouting and misbehaving in any real entertaining fashion. My general habit has been to keep scanning when I come across his voice on the dial, and that’s what happened here. I’m sure I have a some more compelling radio recordings of Dr. Scott around here somewhere.When and if I find one I’ll try to post it here. He was an interesting character.

6100 – Radio Canada International

It’s French. Something about television.

Ascension_bbc_relay 6110 – BBC World Service

Broadcasting from their relay at Ascension Island in South Atlantic. Language unknown (to me).  Strange reverb on this one.

6135 – Deutsche Welle

In in German again. However, this time it’s coming from one of their relay sites in Portugal. Coming in clearly. Talking about Bosnia-Herzegovina…

6145 – NHK (Japan’s world service)

In English. Just the sound of this intrigued me right away. The sunny naivety of this woman at first made me think I was tuning into another Christian broadcast, but I was wrong. It’s the last episode of a monthly feature on Japan’s shortwave service– “Love and Hope For the Children.”

Agnes_chan You hear just the beginning of this feature, introduced by Agnes Chan of UNICEF. Lots of reverb and sweetness. It’s all about flowers in your heart. It would be easy to cynical or turn on the irony receptor when you hear somebody so earnestly discuss the concerns about children around the world in trouble. I mean, when you hear a politician invoke the concerns of children you KNOW there’s an ulterior agenda. However, despite Ms. Chan’s almost unbearable sweetness, the topic is quite serious. There are many children all over the world in horrible circumstances. Yet, when I hear her say on the radio that it’s nice to see me again and thanking me for listening to this “show” over the whole year, I have to wonder why she either wasn’t coached on the realities of radio, or utilized on this series as a guest instead of a presenter. Nonetheless, she’s more real than just about anyone you’ll hear here in the USA. And that’s a good thing, to me.

6165 – Radio Netherlands

Dutch_royal_feud A review of the news and the beginning of a documentary in English. Radio Netherlands is a comprehensive international service in the mold of the BBC World Service. I’ve heard some great documentaries on shortwave (in English!) from Radio Netherlands over the years. They’re impressive, and one of the few international broadcasters that still make shortwave listening an informative and pleasant pastime.

Before the documentary on ethnic prejudice kicks in, they’re discussing a new scandal in the Dutch royal family. Apparently, a “princess” has returned to the fold after making secret tape recordings of conversations and arguments with the queen and apologized for making them. It all sounds rather seedy and a bit sad. As an American, I have a hard time understanding why some western democracies continue to embrace “royal” families and give a rat’s ass about what they say or do. In general, I’m all for tradition, but the ongoing narratives concerning kings, queens, princes and princesses seem so irrelevant and lacking in news value that I gotta wonder why anybody cares.

Rnamazonia_1 6180  – Radio Nacional Amazonia (Brazil)?

This is a bit of mess, but adjusting the antenna I believe I’m receiving some domestic shortwave from Brazil. Some singing here. It sure ain’t English. Very faint, by the way.

Radio_tirana 6215 – Radio Tirana (Albania)

From what I can tell, this is a broadcast in Albanian from Albania. I recently read a rumor online that Radio Tirana was getting rid of their English broadcasts on shortwave. I hope that’s not true. Albania, we need you!– in some small Balkan way.

Other posts in this series can be found here.

Thanks for listening.

(This post originally appeared in Beware of the Blog.)

Adventures In Amplitude Modulation – Part 11

Monday, March 13th, 2006

Kitchen_radios1In a real way, this post finally begins to realize the intention of this series. I come to you after a number of recent safaris of shortwave listening, and now if you’ve got a few minutes to listen a humble radio travelogue is about to begin.

In other words, a couple weeks ago I had a chance to finally spend some quality evenings at my Brooklyn apartment with a couple of radios and logged what I found. And as usual, I recorded the results. Over the course of the next few posts in this blog series you’ll be able to hear some of these dial scans.

While I’d rather do this kind of listening far from the big city, that hasn’t been possible for me lately. So instead, I set up a listening station on my kitchen table, which is about as far from my computers and household electronics as I can get here. Yes, there was some residual RF– a bit of buzzing, and whirring and crackling from time to time, but I was pleasantly surprised how most stations really overcame the noise once I got a hold of them. But I do love the rural glory of hearing SILENCE between shortwave frequencies.

What makes this different from all my previous shortwave listening, is that for the first time I’m getting a real idea of where many of the foreign language broadcasts I find are actually coming from. I’ve enjoyed shortwave since I was a kid, but I’ve never seriously logged what I’ve heard, or spent much time trying to ID non-English broadcasts. Doing this blog series has given me a good reason to research the overall potential of shortwave listening. And it’s been interesting.

Again, I’d like to emphasize that I’m not a shortwave or DX expert, and I’m using relatively inexpensive equipment. Many of the stations I’ve logged here from faraway countries could have been heard by anybody with a radio that might cost as little as twenty or thirty bucks. The only real tricks to this is having a slow and steady grip on the tuning dial, listening carefully, and occasionally adjusting the whip antenna. And then all it takes is a little patience and curiosity to make it all happen.Kitchen_radios3_1

I doubt there’s anything I heard during these sessions will impress any serious DXer’s out there. And while the experience and resources of a true enthusiast would make most of the discoveries I made during my dial scanning seem pretty commonplace, I still find receiving mainstream shortwave broadcasts from Europe, Asia and the Middle East pretty fascinating.  And while I only speak English, I still find the formatics and technical aspects of the radio production worth a listen, and music itself transcends language anyway.

As I said in my first couple posts in these series, one of the things I that keeps me listening to shortwave is that compared to almost every other kind of broadcasting, it isn’t just about money. In fact, there’s almost no profit motive in most international shortwave broadcasting. Almost all the international stations you hear on shortwave are subsidized by governments, international organizations or (especially in the U.S.) religious groups. Unlike TV and the AM & FM bands, for the most part shortwave is not about providing content that will keep you listening between the commercials. It’s a raw lo-fi medium for spreading information, ideas and opinions.

British_empire Without the need to titillate and stimulate that is inherent in more capitalistic media, shortwave (and to a much lesser degree AM) radio gets right to the heart of spreading memes without all the hullabaloo and sideshow action. That said, whoever is paying for all that electricity, air talent and overhead to reach radio listeners around the world probably has an agenda. Even the BBC World Service, the gold standard in disseminating unbiased news to the world via shortwave, still caries the worldview of the western powers and Europe, and could be interpreted as a relic of the global caretaker mentality of the former British Empire and the subsequent British Commonwealth

While the BBC of late has had it’s share of disputes with the government that funds it, there’s still an element of the centuries western grip on the dissemination of information around the world. And when you hear the news from Israel or Turkey or China you know you’re hearing facts and stories that are coming through the filter of the culture and government of that area of the world. But if you know a little bit about geopolitics that isn’t such a bit deal. You can decode the information with your own knowledge or understanding. To me, it beats the hell out of the news for profit model that has model that has poisoned mainstream American media.

Jesuslordwhatever Then there’s the religious broadcasters, mainly of the Christian persuasion. In this series I’ve bemoaned the fact that the U.S. shortwave scene is totally dominated by followers of Jesus and Mr. Almighty (and I’m never quite sure if they’re the same guy). And in the American tradition, some of these holy morons actually profit from their broadcasts by begging in the name of the cloud being. The sad fact is that most Americans don’t even know what shortwave broadcasting is, let alone listen to it. And like once thriving cities gone to decay and ghettoization the American shortwave bands are overrun with thugs and gangsters who have taken over. And Jesus is the godfather. Luckily, the rest of the world is different.

This post begins an excursion into the 49 meter band. This little section of the shortwave expanse includes the frequencies between 5950 and 6200 kHz. While shortwave covers almost 30 megahertz of space on the band, standard broadcasts are generally only found on a dozen or so little parcels within that range. And in the evening, the 49 meter band is the most crowded band out there. And this scan begins just before seven in the evening Eastern Time, prime time for international broadcasting to the U.S. After midnight, it would be overrun with bible bangers, but at hour they are only part of the mix. Thank god.

Red_bcl2000_front_2 This dial scan was recorded Wednesday March 1 on my BCL-2000 (a radio I discussed in detail in this post). What I really like about his radio is that it has analog tuning which allows you to tweak the tuning by microscopic increments AND displays a digital readout of the frequency so you can truly track where you are on the dial. And while years ago I would have had to subscribe to newsletters and buy books to track my way through the shortwave savannah, these days the resources of the mighty internet are enough to guide anyone through the roving packs of shortwave broadcasts out there. By the way, if anyone reading this discovers that I have mistaken one station for another in this post, please do send me an email and I’ll check it out. And if you like, I’ll credit you for correcting me as well.

So, this is part one of this foray into the 49 meter band that I’m offering you. I’m dividing the audio segments that accompany this post into 10 frequency captures. In general, I stay on each station as long as it happened to be interesting to me at the time. These particular scans are in real time, no edits. It will give you an idea of how crowded the 49 meter band actually is each evening.

I welcome questions and comments at my email address here. But if your input might benefit other readers I’d appreciate if you left them as comments on this post. If topics here interest you, but you’ve not come across this blog series before, I invite you to check out the other posts in this series here. All posts have accompanying audio.

Lastly, let me say none of this is easy listening. There’s static, funny noises and foreign languages. But what you will get, that you might not discern if you’re not an experienced shortwave listener, is a feel for what can actually be heard if you take the time to figure out what you’re receiving on a shortwave radio. The difference here is that I’ve done the work for you. You know, these radio waves are all around you every day. All you have to do is tune in…

Segment 1-49 Meter Band (5920 to 6215 kHz) 03-01-06  16:05

(download)

And it starts with the inherent RF noise of listening from a home in Brooklyn. And you hear different aspects of that intermittently during these recordings. All frequencies listed are in kilohertz.

Big_hat_jesuscaster_2 5920 – Either the “The Grace Missionary Baptist Inc” or the “The Fundamental Broadcasting Network” (Does it matter?)

It’s some churchy singing either way. Besides broadcasting on a number of frequencies, the Fundamental Broadcasting Network have a couple of stations of their own, including WTJC (Working Till Jesus Comes) at 9370 kHz and WBOH (Worldwide Beacon Of Hope) at 5920 kHz. How about starting a station called KJTY? (Keep Jesus To Yourself) Take a look at the some of the handsome Caucasians who host programs on the FBN network here.

5930 – Radio Prague (probably)

Faint. Not English.

5950 – Radio Taiwan International

It’s the on the hour fanfare for Radio Taiwan. Dramatic and clear, and not in English. Radio Canada International runs a relay complex in Sackville, New Brunswick. International Broadcasters who have a real jones to get their signal to North America rent time on their huge 250 thousand watt transmitters. Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan and China and others all pony up the dough to relay their international broadcasts to America via this facility.

Bbc_mic_3 5975 BBC World Service

The news in English. Bush in India, working out nuke deal with India and messing up the world in general. I believe this broadcast originates from a relay on the island of Antigua in the Carribean.

5990 – China Radio International

Spanish language programming to America, probably relayed from Canada. China broadcasting in Spanish to the Americas makes a lot of sense on many levels.

6000 – Radio Habana Cuba

In Spanish. Some lively conversation and laughter.

6005 – China Radio International (probably)

In a Chinese language, I believe.

6020 – Chinese Radio International

Cri_guy_3 CRI again this time in English, again coming from the Canadian relay. The news, rather dryly read. Listen to the positioning statement after the news headlines– “Working to bridge the cultural gap. Narrowing the differences day by day. From China for the world, this is CRI.” You wouldn’t imagine that this broadcast is froom an oppressive regime that squelches internal dissent and has no real democratic infrastructure. Doesn’t it seem like the deeper the U.S. and China get into this hopelessly entangled financial synergy that our governments are becoming more and more alike in their behavior? Just a thought.

When “News And Reports” resumes after the headlines, you immediately begin to notice that the U.S. government under the Bush regime doesn’t escape criticism on Chinese international radio. There’s a pointed reference here to the futile search for Bin Laden, and a snarky comment about Bush only spending four hours on the ground in his unannounced visit to Afghanistan. While the rhetoric isn’t nearly as contentious as the cold war era, the Chinese government continues to challenge and question American policy and supremacy with their official news services. If you really want to get the flavor of how dozens of commie shortwave outlets used to slam ol’ Uncle Sam, you can still hear the same old-fashioned hostility (in English) on Radio Habana Cuba every night.

6040 – China Radio International.

In Chinese, from the Sackville relay again. Do you notice a trend here?

Radio_espana_towers_3 6055 – Radio Espana

In English, it’s the international radio service of Spain. News. Maoist upheaval in Nepal. Cats spreading Bird Flu. And it seems that concerns of “homeland” terrorism and illegal immigration are endemic to Spain as well. Then we go on to a cultural program for a moment– “Spain-Day By Day.” Let’s hear some music…

More next week. Thanks for listening.

(This post originally appeared in Beware of the Blog.)