Long Live Short-Wave!

Thirty years ago, listening to shortwave radio wasn’t such a eccentric thing to do. It was still the easiest way to keep up with the rest of the world. And more significantly, it was the primary way countries on each side of the cold war communicated their propaganda to the common folk on the other side of that “iron curtain.” For people out in the arctic, the desert, or in some African village or out on a mountainside, a shortwave was a necessity. And for us in the west it was a geeky guy’s delight– tuning in distant lands from the dark caves of our bedrooms.

Yes, shortwave was still a lot of fun in 1979 when the album I’m offering here was released. It’s called “Long Live Shortwave!,” and it’s a full LP by British pop music producer (and shortwave radio fan) Mitch Murray.

Long Live Shortwave! side A  28:20

(download)

Obviously Mitch spent some time on this project, including composing a disco theme (with a morse code intro!) called “Toys For Big Boys,” which opens and closes the album. Side one features the voice of Mr. Murray himself tempting listeners with the power and possibilities of shortwave radio listening– not just tuning in news, music and dramas from around the world, but also eavesdropping on amateur radio enthusiasts and signals from outer space.

Then it gets a little technical for some, breaking down the science of radio a bit and explaining the shortwave broadcast bands. If you don’t already know some of this stuff, your eyes might glaze over. But don’t worry, the funky disco music returns now and then to keep you alert. And not only that, but Murray provided a little booklet if you care to follow along. Here’s a scan of that booklet for you here, and here. And I also have both sides of the J-card for you (which includes some liner notes) right here, and also here. (And dig the subtitle: "At last! A superb album devoted to DXing.")

There’s actually quite a bit of information on shortwave listening on side one and really not much is out of date. The science remains the same. Antenna information and propagation science are explained briefly, and you may learn something if you like. In fact, side one is really dedicated more toward the shortwave hobbyist rather than the casual listener. But that’s probably why a guy might have this at the time– to learn something. Side one ends with longtime BBC personality, Henry Hatch, who had been DXing since the hobby really began. He offers a charming DX pep talk and some good advice for the hobbyist. I like the way he emphasizes on how weak the signals are after traveling around the world and how they need the utmost care and attention upon arrival. Makes you wanna warm some milk for the poor things.

And as I would, Hatch advises you to record your DX sessions on cassette.

Long Live Shortwave! side B  25:25

(download)

Side two is a twenty-five minute time capsule sampling the sound of shortwave radio at the dawn of the 1980′s. A bit of a nostalgia trip for old DXers. It’s a cavalcade of more than thirty ID’s and identifying (or interval) signals from shortwave broadcasters around the world. Thrill to the sound of the Radio Moscow once again and listen to plenty of baritone announcers and hokey period production music.

When I heard the sound of Deutsche Welle’s interval signal on this tape I thought, “Wow, it still sounds just the same”… and then I remembered that only within the last year the German shortwave service cut off their English broadcasts to North America. Probably won’t be hearing that again on the radio anytime soon. And then I just got pissed off all over again about all the western countries turning their backs on North American listeners. And that’s a big difference between shortwave listeners today and the polyester pants crowd who might have picked up a copy of this album a few decades ago. Their shortwave radios had a lot more voices speaking in English. And despite wearing more sensible trousers, we are not quite as happy today.

That’s it for this quick post. I hope you enjoy this DXing artifact from the 1970′s. I just got my hands on this thing, and my first thought was to share it here with you. And please don’t be alarmed by the lo-fi audio issues with the disco intro section of each side. I was only able to find this album as a cassette tape, and it appears to have been slightly munched in another player. The sound quality improves markedly after the first minute or so on each side.

If you’re keeping score at home, I’ll be back soon with one of these posts I have in the pipeline right now. Of course, there’s more radio from the past coming your way with part two of that 1988 road trip, and I’m right in the middle of an extended exposition on the perplexing and tangled state of progressive talk radio in the middle of this big and brutal election year.

As always, it’s good to hear from you. Thanks for listening.

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25 Responses to “Long Live Short-Wave!”

  1. Andrew Says:

    That sure is a unique cassette tape! I just picked up a book about shortwave listening published in the 70′s talking about how popular or common shortwave listening is as a hobby. I find it interesting being a newcomer to shortwave now when not so many people really know about it.

  2. Mike Says:

    What a very interesting and well put together site!
    I shall be a regular visitor here for sure :-)

    Best regards

    Mike

  3. wireless waffler Says:

    What a terrific web site – and thanks for the audio recordings. I still worship the shortwaves in spite of digital radio and the internet. The British DX club is a great source of inspiration through publishing its logs in the monthly magazine Communication. Long live shortwave!

  4. Galen Says:

    It says we can download. Can the file be realy downloaded in mp3 format for later play? Love the content and brought back memories of an old SX-38B and yes I still have my SWL cards.

  5. David Coursey, N5FDL Says:

    I started listening to SW when I was 12, back in 1971. Listening to all these old (and some still used) internal signals is quite a treat. Thanks for making this available.

  6. Tim McGraw Says:

    What a great site ! I started dxing in 1966
    WPE8KHZ & N8YI
    73′s and tnx

  7. Stephen Says:

    The “DXkid” image is a picture of me when I was a kid. It was apparently scrapped from my web site. I was a “Novice” licensed amateur radio operator, not just listening to DX but working other DX amateurs around the world. 73. WD5EAE

  8. prof Says:

    Hey Stephen, hope it’s okay to decorate this page with your handsome boy mug. Glad you guys are enjoying the post. Have any interesting old shortwave recordings to share here? Drop me an email

  9. Donald Unruh Says:

    Very nice, brings back many fond memories. Sure do long for those days.

    Don Unruh
    WPE0FDC/WDX6ICK/N0YO

  10. Frank Cihak Says:

    Wish more kids would get interested in shortwave.

    kc0ysh

  11. hpanggabean Says:

    how wonderfull………..

  12. Bob K5SIV Says:

    What a wonderful batch of memories. Thanks so much.
    I was 12, waking in the middle of the night, putting on the headphones and finally understanding he just said “All India Radio” ! Great times.

  13. Randall King Says:

    This site brings back a lot of memories and my love for the shortwave broadcasts.

    Randall King
    VE1RO

  14. Dallas Says:

    Yep those where the days:

    Brings back Fond Memories for me, and my Old Eddystone.
    As a Dxer from pre 1952 and still going strong, (now 70 years old) it brought back two names the late August Balbey (Migt not be spelt right), also Arthur Chushin.
    Dxers we will never see the likes of Again

  15. Luke Says:

    I fondly remember listening to Shortwave as a teenager and beyond. I feel really cheated that so many of the broadcasters I once listened to are no longer on the air, and that a wonderful old hobby is dying, at least in developed countries. Finding something worthwhile to listen to (in English) is very hard now.

    Unless DRM can succeed in revitalising the band, I fear it will never return which is very sad.

  16. Brian Burns Says:

    Just discovered this site and did it bring back memories ! The happy days and nights on my Eddystone EC10; Dallas mentioned Arthur Cushin – who I believed operated from Invercargill New Zealand and I recall his articles in “How To Listen To the World”. There were many of them, an inspiration to youngsters back in the late 60s. It was another world. Its been many years since I did any DXing, so thanks for this great site – can feel the fingers starting to twitch even now ! !

  17. Adrian LaRoque Says:

    Great site, I still listen to shortwave, the radio an Sony ICF-2001D. Great times, wonderful moments of life. Long live shortwave.

  18. Mark Bailey Says:

    Wow! I actually have this LP but haven’t a clue where it is. Ordered when this first came out. Was Googling and stumbled across this site. It was great to listen to it again! I need to go see if I can find it as I think the booklet Mitch refers to is probably still with it.

  19. Mike Koskie Says:

    Just discovered your site. Really brings back memories. I was a SW DXer back in 1972 till 1976. Wish I had stayed with it longer. I still find it interesting. My very first QSL card was Radio Nederland. And my most prized QSL card is from Radio Deutsche Welle from the 1972 Olympic games. I for some reason find the older days of SW radio for interesting than today. My first radio was a small portable. I can still hear the ticking of WWV. I also had a Novice amateur radio license. Back then, it was only good for 2 years and non-renewable.  My call letters were WN5GRO. After that I never pursued the Ham Radio hobby any longer. I enjoyed the world of SW listening more. My next two radios were Radio shack, excellent radios. One of them was a DX 150. My favorite stations were BBC, Radio Moscow and HCJB. Too bad Radio South Africa no longer exist.   Mike Koskie, Jackson, Mississippi

  20. Jim Pennington Says:

    Absolute treat to come across this site… and this record – both have put  'wwr' (world-wide-radio) into context. for me.  The closest thing to D.X'ing nowadays must be internet radio and chat room combined … well they're completely different really but it seems to be one way communicating has progressed. (Progress?… maybe not.)
    Jim Pennington, London, England

  21. John Volpato Says:

    Thanks for loading up a copy of "long live shortwave" I listened to it and it also brought back many memories.  I saw it advertised in the WRTVH in 1979 and always wished I had bought it.
    Really great website too.
     
    Best 73 and compliments of the season to all!
     
    John
    Canberra, AUSTRALIA

  22. Mike S Says:

    Just stumbled onto your blog. I sure hope you keep it up! I'm putting together some material for a radio-oriented blog of my own- if I actually get it started, I'll come back and drop a line. The more, the merrier!

  23. Herman C. (Gent , Belgium) Says:

    I did start listening to Short Wave in the late 1970's and one of the very fisrt stations I did hear was RNW from The Netherlands , but a long time before in the early 70's I also did hear RNI (Radio Northsea International) but I did't know much than I was a little to young. In the early 1980's I did listen every sunday mornig to landbased pirates on the 48 and 41 mb and later to the 60 mb. A pitty that Internet did kill much of Short Wave (and MW) Stations.

    73 Herman 

  24. English Online Radio Says:

    70's presentation is really awesome. Listend and enjoyed the old taste in a present time. This is the power of Internet. Thanks for sharing.

  25. Alan Says:

    Great collection of shortwave audio… brings back lots of memories. I started to SWL back in 1964 and still enjoy it today, although the pickings are getting pretty slim with everyone going silent. Remember Radio Portugal opening on 49M with Beethoven's 5th and ending with a very stern announcer stating: " The West Can and Will Win ! "  ?      73 – Alan – N8AGU

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