Friday, October 25, 2013

Revisiting an old friend: Shortwave radio

Did something yesterday I hadn't done in years.

I spent an afternoon and evening poking around the shortwave bands.

I was an avid DXer (long distance radio listener) as a kid and well into adulthood. But I sort of lost track of the hobby as the Internet grew into full swing.

For now, a simple Sangean ATS505
is my sole shortwave receiver
Well, I've been bitten by the bug again. But the neighborhood sure has changed. The BBC no longer targets broadcasts to North America, and I didn't intercept a single signal out of Moscow.

Couldn't find Voice of America either, for that matter.

Radio China International used to be Radio Beijing. Today, CRI announcers sound more British than the BBC of old I remember. Meanwhile, the English of some Radio Havana announcers sounds just as stilted as forty years ago.

As for signals coming out of the U.S., there's plenty of preachers up on domestic commercial shortwave outlets. And there's some political talk shows, but most I heard seemed sort of fringy, with heavy focus on the New World Order. (I'm more focused on fact-based signs of a coming world disorder).

I plan to spend more time getting reacquainted with shortwave. Was a time, it was the only way an average American could directly access news, views and opinions from outside the states in real time. All that seems old fashioned, limited, even irritating with shortwave's static filled frequencies, when we have crisp, clear interactive Internet options today.

But for those who ever find themselves in a grid-down, long term loss of Internet situation, those who take the time to stay at least a little DX savvy will likely be glad they did.

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