So begins the first substantive post here at The Radio Kitchen. Welcome! This blog takes flight from my previous writing on the WFMU blog, specifically my “Adventures in Amplitude Modulation” series which featured AM & shortwave bandscans and airchecks, along with discussions of the content reception. Often, these audio captures were from DXing sessions, creeping along the dial looking for faraway broadcasts. And that’s what I’m serving up in this first post.
This is a bandscan in three parts, trolling through the 49 meter band from the coast of Virginia last spring. I’m using my scanning toy of choice lately, a Degen 1103 portable receiver. It’s an able and relatively inexpensive Chinese portable, also available as the Kaito 1103 here in the states. The two or three times I’ve been able to get out of the city for a few days this year, I’ve brought the Degen and a couple other radios and recorded quite a bit of broadcasting. Some of which will become audio content here at The Radio Kitchen.
While the 49 meter band (5800 to 6300 kHz) isn’t the most popular shortwave broadcast band, it is the place where you’re most likely to pick up quite a number of signals at night, at least here in the eastern U.S. Somebody new to shortwave radio could be easily discouraged by the paucity of signals on many of the designated bands, especially during the day. However, if you’re rarely able to receive many stations on the 49 meter band at night, then you’re probably working with a lousy (or defective) radio.
In searching for a bandscan to premier on the blog, I tried to find one with a lot of varied content and ended up choosing this one. In retrospect, quite a bit of the audio of this scan is a bit sub-par. But that’s part of the fun, both with this blog and DXing in general. As you venture to push the limits of radio reception you have to be willing to brave some weak signals and interference. I think that’s why you don’t find online audio accompanying DX logs on the web in general. It’s not pleasant listening. My compromise in posting DX bandscans has been to opt for the ones that generally have better audio quality. And I do what I can to digitally clarify the sound as well.
Nothing really cosmic occurs during this radio excursion, but there is stations you might find on the 49 meter band around 11 p.m. EDT. And if you’re a newcomer to shortwave, it’s important to note that the vast majority of shortwave broadcasting in the U.S. is Christian propaganda of some kind. And when you consider the fact that shortwave listening is far more popular in other countries, it’s kind of sad that the vast majority of programming we export on these bands consists of dogmatic diatribes and proselytizing.
Unlike most media programming, there is no foolproof source for identifying shortwave broadcasts. Schedules and frequencies change all the time, often without notice. In sorting out the reception in this bandscan I referred to both the “Passport to World Radio,” and the frequency lookup page at HFRadio.org. When I’m unable to discern the reception through those sources I often do an advanced Google search of the frequency on Glenn Hauser’s excellent “World of Radio” site. Another option is searching “rec.radio.shortwave” on Google Groups. And sometimes I can’t precisely confirm the reception anywhere, but I make a good guess considering all the evidence. If I make a mistake, I’d really appreciate a correction (send me an email), which I’ll note here.
49 Meter Band pt 1 – 5950 to 5875kHz 04-09-07 0258 UTC
5950 – Radio Taiwan International (via WYFR in Okeechobee, FL)
It’s the end of Taiwan’s English language broadcast for North America, relayed from one of Family Radio’s Florida transmitters. Very clear and loud. International broadcasters in Western Asia who are serious about reaching the eastern two-thirds of America typically relay their English language (and Spanish as well) from some location in around eastern North America. The most popular relay location is Radio Canada’s transmitting complex in Sackville, New Brunswick. And some beam in from Europe as well. In my experience, it seems that the Rocky Mountains provide a formidable hurdle for radio waves coming my way on the east coast or the midwest. On the other hand, I suppose European broadcasts are a more difficult catch on the west coast. And unfortunately, it’s what prevents me from listening on North Korean’s English language broadcasts.
I think this is the first time I’ve noticed Christian shortwave superpower Family Radio renting out their equipment to anyone (possibly heathens!). I’ve often wondered how they afford all that electricity.
5960 – NHK (Nippon Hoso Kyokai, Japan)
5965 – Radio Exterior de Espana (Spain)
5975 – Voice of Turkey
It take some effort to listen all the details in this reception, but you can certainly sort out the spirit of the newscast. The barrage of bad news from neighboring countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran provide the majority of the events discussed. A sad litany of bombings and attacks dominate the news, along with associated political intrigue. There’s also some mention of Turkey’s pursuit of European Union membership, which has been a consistent topic (with much cheerleading in favor of their inclusion in the union) on Turkey’s English language programming for a while now. They want it bad.
The news is followed by a lightweight news magazine featuring pop culture info bits from around the world. Love the cheesy cinematic bumper music.
49 Meter Band pt 2 – 6000 to 6100kHz 04-09-07 0313 UTC
6000 – Radio Habana Cuba
A sweet Cuban love song, with harmonic noises.
6005 – BBC (From Ascension Island in the South Atlantic)
6020 – China Radio International (from Sackville, Canada)
Clear and crisp Chinese programming.
6025 – Radio Budapest (faint Russian w/CRI on top?)
6040 – Vatican Radio (Sackville, Canada)
6050 – HCJB (Equador)
It’s a Jesus ditty in Spanish I suppose. Reception okay.
6060 – Radio Habana Cuba
6065 – WYFR (Family Radio) – Florida, USA
It’s the Hallelujah Chorus. It’s Easter. It’s Family Radio.
6075 – Deutsche Welle (Germany)
Until not long ago, Deutsche Welle was an excellent European shortwave news source for North America, with daily English programming beamed here every day. However like the BBC World Service, DW has cynically decided to save money and depend on allotted slots on some U.S. public radio stations and the web to reach North American listeners. This simple decision was a dull kick in the groin for American shortwave listeners looking to balance their news diet.
6090 – Carribean Beacon
Gene Scott was an incredibly unique and strange religious broadcaster who’s first claim to national fame was via his California based syndicated TV show in the late 70’s and 80’s. An irreverent maverick on the televangelism scene, Scott was a seriously educated (able to read and interpret untranslated original biblical text) and a deep oddball scholar (willing to entertain all sorts of off-the-wall theories and perspectives). A true self-made man, Scott built a religious media empire through his surly and passionate on-air fundraising techniques. To get a flavor of the Gene Scott at his peak, check out a 1980 Werner Herzog documentary (“God’s Angry Man”) online. You can find torrent downloads, or at least YouTube edits from it, if you do a little searching around.
While I believe his national TV presence reached a peak in the 1980’s, his ministry remains a fixture on the fringes of cable and satellite TV. However on shortwave Gene Scott is ALWAYS preaching. And for a while, he didn’t let his death get in the way…
In his heyday, Scott used to pull in a million a month through his brute charisma It’s easy to understand how she opted to continue Gene’s money machine on autopilot for over a year, running reruns of her late husband almost exclusively. From my experience in sampling the shortwave broadcasts from Scott’s empire this year, it seems that she’s been going live (or at least creating new broadcasts) to bolster revenue, and bring the ministry up to the post-Gene Scott era. The website has drastically changed, and now focuses on Mrs. Scott (with a small page on her late husband) and has far less features. It will be interesting to see if she can keep it up, and make the oddball media juggernaut of Dr. Gene her own. Or turn it into something else.
6100 – Radio China International?
49 Meter Band pt 3 – 6140 to 6180kHz 04-09-07 0336 UTC
6140 – Radio Habana Cuba
Noisy and Spanish. A broadcast aimed at Central America.
6150 – Carribean Beacon
6165 – Radio Netherlands
6175 – Voice of Vietnam
6180 – Radio Habana Cuba
That’s the end of this bandscan and this post. It’s good to get this blog underway and to decorate it with some mildly random shortwave reception. Expect another shortwave excursion sometime soon.