Found at: 0x1bi.net:70/textfiles/file?hamradio/introswl.txt

This posting contains answers to the following questions:

o What is shortwave radio?
o Where can I find broadcasts by Radio Foobar?
o Where can I find a list of broadcasts in the English language?
o What kind of receiver should I get?
o Where can I get a shortwave radio?
o Could you explain the frequencies used?  What's the 40 meter band? etc.
o Why can't I receive all of the broadcasts listed in Monitoring
o What are some books or other resources that can help me get started?
o Where can I find further information?

o What is shortwave radio?

From a purely technical point of view, shortwave radio refers to those
frequencies between 3 and 30 MHz.  Their main characteristic is their ability
to "propagate" for long distances, making possible such worldwide
communications as international broadcasting and coordination of long-distance

From a social point of view, shortwave radio is a method of facilitating
worldwide dissemination of information and opinion, and a way to find out what
the rest of the world thinks is important.  Many countries broadcast to the
world in English, making it easy to find out what a given country's position is
on those things it finds important.  Shortwave radio can also provide a way to
eavesdrop on the everyday workings of international politics and commerce.

o Where can I find broadcasts by Radio Foobar?

The World Radio TV Handbook is the standard reference for this sort of
information.  The WRTH provides SWLs worldwide with virtually everything they
need on frequencies, schedules and addresses.  It comes out annually, right
about the first of the year, with an optional update magazine throughout the
year.  It covers virtually every shortwave station in the world, and many of
the medium wave (AM), FM, and television stations as well.  The body of the
book is a listing of stations by country, with a cross-reference in the back by
frequency.  It's available from any radio store dealing in shortwave.

World Radio TV Handbook
ISBN 0-8230-5921-9

Billboard Publications      Billboard Ltd.        WRTH
1515 Broadway               71 Beak Street        Soliljevej 44
New York, NY  10036         London W1R 3LF        DK-2650 Hvidovre
United States               United Kingdom        Denmark

The past five years have seen competition of a sort for the WRTH, in the form
of Passport to World Band Radio.  Passport's main section is a graph/table of
what's on the air, by frequency.  There are few addresses, but the beginning of
the book is filled with articles of interest to the beginner.  There is also a
comprehensive review section of shortwave receivers currently available, one of
the few places all this information can be found in one place.  The book is
more useful for identifying a station you've already tuned in than for
searching out a particular transmission; the WRTH is useful at both, however,
rendering the purchase of this book not essential.  It can still be worthwhile,
though, especially for beginners who won't be put off by the "gee whiz, look
what we can listen to" tone of some of the articles.  The book is unabashedly
an advocate of making the hobby of "World Band Radio" accessible to people who
wouldn't have participated before the advent of good, cheap portables.

Passport to World Band Radio
International Broadcast Services, Ltd.
Box 300
Penn's Park, PA  18943

For utility band listeners, there are a couple of books that perform much the
same function as the above two books, although due to the nature of
point-to-point communication, not with the same sense of definitiveness.

Confidential Frequency List
Published by Gilfer Shortwave
(address elsewhere)

The Shortwave Directory
Published by Grove Enterprises
(address elsewhere)

o Where can I find a list of broadcasts in the English language?

The World Radio TV Handbook used to carry this information each year, but this
feature is not present in the 1990 edition. (It will return, however, in future
editions.)  Nevertheless, there are still sources for this information.

-Monitoring Times magazine carries a listing every month, one of the best
arguments I know of for subscribing (it's what keeps me on their rolls....)

-The North American Shortwave Association (NASWA) periodically publishes a
complete listing in their bulletin, The Journal, sent to all members monthly;
each month there are updates to the list.  NASWA can be reached at:

45 Wildflower Road
Levittown, PA 19057
Membership costs: $23/yr; sample issue $1

-Tom Sundstrom, sysop of the Pinelands BBS in New Jersey (609-859-1910 modem)
offers a subscription service with constantly updated electronic versions of
his listing (which are also the source for the NASWA listings).  It comes in
text form, or formatted for Tom's Shortwave Database program for MS-DOS

-The best source for information of this type is the "SWL Program Guide."  This
gives not just the times and frequencies of most of the stations audible in
North America, but the names of the programs and the days of the week they're
on.  It's sort of like TV Guide.  You can also subscribe to quarterly updates
published throughout the year.  The mail order address is:
Shortwave Listeners Program Guide
P.O. Box 472
Annandale, VA 22003 USA

o What kind of receiver should I get?

That depends largely on what kind of listening you expect to do.  There are two
or three basic kinds of radios.  The first is the travel portable.  These
usually cost between $70 and $250.  Their main characteristic is their
extremely small size, making them most suitable for the person who spends a lot
of time on airplanes.  They do an adequate job of receiving the major
broadcasters, such as the BBC, the Voice of America, Radio Nederland, etc.
They are generally not capable of receiving hams, or utility transmissions, and
they do not do a good job on weak stations.  Many of them also lack frequency
coverage beyond the major international broadcasting bands.  As such, they
cannot receive the out-of-band channels that often provide clearer reception
(due to lessened interference) of such stations as the BBC, Kol Israel, and the
Voice of Iran.

The second category overlaps with the first, and consists of slightly larger
portables.  Common among this category are radios like the Sangean ATS-803A, a
fine starter radio with many capabilities for the inexpensive price of $200.
These radios often have digital readout, making it easier to know which
frequency you are tuned to, and such features as dual conversion (which
decreases the possibility of your radio receiving spurious signals from other
frequencies), audio filters (which allow you to decrease interference from
stations on adjacent frequencies) and beat frequency oscillators (which allow
you to decode morse code and single sideband (SSB) transmissions on the ham and
utility bands).  The top range of this kind of radio includes technically
sophisticated radios like the Sony ICF-2010 and Grundig Satellit 500, which
contain innovative circuitry to lock on to a given signal and allow you to
choose the portion of the signal you want to listen to, depending on which part
gets the least interference.  If you follow the newsgroup for any amount of
time, you're bound to notice some discussion of the relative merit of these
features versus their cost (about double that of the Sangean radio.)  Many of
these radios can be and have been used to receive distant and weak stations
from a number of countries; they're also suitable for listening to programs
from the major broadcasters.

The third category of receivers is the tabletop receiver.  These receivers cost
from $600 upward, with a concentration of radios around $1000.  These radios
naturally contain many more features than the portables, and are used by
serious hobbyists who specialize in rare and weak stations.  Current radios in
this group include the ICOM R-71A, the Kenwood R-5000, and the Japan Radio
Corporation NRD-525.  These radios can be very complex to operate, and are
generally not recommended for the beginner.  Radios from the first two
categories can give a beginner a very good idea of what's on the air and where
their interests lie, at which point one of these radios may be an appropriate

There are many sources for detailed information on specific radios, most of it
provided by two groups.  Larry Magne, who publishes the Passport to World Band
Radio, includes a review of virtually all shortwave radios currently available
in that publication.  For more extensive reviews of selected receivers, he
offers detailed "white papers", which run between ten and twenty pages or so.
Magne also contributes a monthly review column to Monitoring Times, and also
appears on Radio Canada International's "SWL Digest" program monthly with
equipment reviews.

The other main source for equipment reviews is a group centered around Radio
Nederland and the WRTH in Holland.  The WRTH, as mentioned above, has a review
section covering mainly new receivers, but also contains a table with ratings
of most currently available radios.  Radio Nederland also offers a free booklet
with receiver reviews.

There are also two books published by Gilfer Shortwave in New Jersey that cover
the subject of receivers, called *Radio Receivers, Chance or Choice*, and *More
Radio Receivers, Chance or Choice*.

Here are some addresses for sources for more information and receivers
mentioned above:

RDI White Papers
same address as Passport to World Band Radio

Radio Nederland Receiver Guide
Engineering Department
PO Box 222
1200 JG Hilversum
The Netherlands

Radio Receivers, Chance or Choice
More Radio Receivers, Chance or Choice
Published by Gilfer Shortwave
(address in next section)

o Where can I get a shortwave radio?

Many stereo stores and discount chains carry the Sony and Panasonic lines of
receivers; the people there, however, generally don't know much about
shortwave, and you're not likely to find many accessories there.  Mail order
stereo sources like J&R Music or 47th Street Photo in New York generally give
the cheapest prices, but have the same problem.  More knowledgeable, and
falling roughly between the two in price, are the mail order houses that
specialize in ham and/or shortwave radio.  Many of them offer catalogs that
contain useful tips for the beginner.  Listing all of the houses is beyond the
scope of this posting, but here are addresses for some of the better-known and
respected businesses:

Electronic Equipment Bank              Gilfer Shortwave
137 Church St. N.W.                    52 Park Ave
Vienna, VA  22180                      Park Ridge, NJ  07656
(800) 368 3270 (orders)                (800) GILFER-1 (445-3371) (orders)
(703) 938-3350 (local and              (201) 391-7887 (New Jersey, business
   technical information)                 and technical)
(703) 938-6911 (FAX)

Grove Enterprises                      Radio West
P.O. Box 98                            850 Anns Way Drive
Brasstown, NC 28902                    Vista, CA  92083
(800) 438-8155                         (619) 726-3910
(704) 837-9200

Universal Radio
1280 Aida Drive
Reynoldsburg, Ohio  43068
(800) 431-3939
(614) 866-4267

o Could you explain the frequencies used?  What's the 40 meter band? etc.

As you tune around, you'll notice certain kinds of signals tend to be
concentrated together.  Different services are allocated different frequency
ranges.  International broadcasters, for instance, are assigned to ten
frequency bands up and down the dial.  These are:

3900-4000 kHz (75 meter band)         13600-13800 kHz (22 meter band)
5950-6200 kHz (49 meter band)         15100-15600 kHz (19 meter band)
7100-7300 kHz (41 meter band)         17550-17900 kHz (16 meter band)
9500-9900 kHz (31 meter band)         21450-21850 kHz (13 meter band)
11650-12050 kHz (25 meter band)       25600-26100 kHz (11 meter band)

In general, lower frequencies (below 10000 kHz) are better received at night
and for a few hours surrounding dawn and dusk, and higher frequencies (15000
kHz and up) are better received during the day.  The frequencies in between are
transitional, with reception being possible most times.  In practice, these
guidelines are not absolute, with reception on high frequencies being possible
at night, and lower frequencies can provide decent medium-distance reception
during the day.

Hams (who have their own newsgroup, rec.ham-radio) and point-to-point, or
utility communications, fill most of the rest of the frequencies.  The
Confidential Frequency List and The Shortwave Guide mentioned above can provide
more information on what can be heard in these areas, as can utility loggings
in magazines like Monitoring Times and Popular Communications, and in club

o Why can't I receive all of the broadcasts listed in Monitoring

This is a fact of life on shortwave.  Because of propagation, antenna headings,
the kind of radio you have, your local environment, etc., you're never going to
be able to hear all the things you find in a list.  The lists in Monitoring
Times, etc., aren't lists of what's being heard in a general location.  They're
lists of everything that you could possibly hear, from a daily powerhouse like
the BBC to a once or twice a year rarity like Bhutan.  They're listed because
you *might* hear them, depending on where you are and the given circumstances,
not because they're necessarily being heard outside of their immediate target

If you want lists of what is actually being heard in something roughly
analogous to "your area", the best source for these are the logging sections of
the bulletins of the SWL/DX clubs.  You might want to sample a few club
bulletins to see if they'll help.  The bulletins also offer articles from
experts on many facets of the hobby.

o What are some books or other resources that can help me get started?

There are a number of books dealing with the basics of the hobby.  One of the
best is *Shortwave Listening with the Experts*, edited by Gerry Dexter, with
contributions from many of the most experienced people in the hobby.  The book
makes an excellent introduction to a wide variety of aspects of the hobby, from
basics like how to set up your shack, to in-depth articles on DXing the Andes.

There will soon be another posting available listing many other worthwhile
books for the hobbyist.

o Where can I find further information?

There are a number of hobby publications available.  Two glossy magazines which
cover the hobby are Monitoring Times and Popular Communications.  They both
cover a number of aspects of the hobby, including international broadcasts,
scanning, pirate radio, QSLing, and Utility broadcasting.  Monitoring Times
also contains listings of broadcasts and programs in English, which gives it a
slight edge.  PopComm, however, is the one you're more likely to find on your
local newsstand.

Monitoring Times
published by Grove Enterprises (address elsewhere)

Popular Communications
76 North Broadway
Hicksville, NY  11801

There are many clubs catering to the hobbyist, many of which publish bulletins.
The umbrella organization for many of these clubs in North America is ANARC, or
the Association of North American Radio Clubs.  Robert Horvitz of ANARC
is active on this newsgroup, and posts the ANARC Club Scan on a
bimonthly basis.  The Club Scan contains a complete listing of ANARC associated
clubs and their interests, gives an idea of what they're up to currently, and
lists where you can contact them, membership fees, how much a sample costs,
etc.  ANARC also hosts yearly conventions for hobbyists. The next one will be
September 15-16, 1990 in Virginia Beach (for more details send a SASE to
ANARCON-90, P.O. Box 9645, Norfolk, VA 23505-0645). You can also subscribe to
the bimonthly ANARC Newsletter ($8/year to US addresses, US$8.50/year to
Canada/Mexico, US$13/year elsewhere).  It's a forum for discussing issues of
concern and interest to monitors of all parts of the spectrum.

ANARC Publications,
1218 Huntington Road,
San Marcos, CA 92069 USA.

ANARC has counterpart organizations in Europe and the south Pacific.  The
European organization is the European DX Council (EDXC).  More information on
their constituent clubs is available for 2 International Reply Coupons from
P.O. Box 4, St. Ives, Huntingdon, PE17 4FE, England.  In the south Pacific, the
organization is the South Pacific Association of Radio Clubs, or SPARC.  They
offer information from P.O. Box 1313, Invercargill, New Zealand.

A company called The Radio Collection offers a number of publications in a
series called "Radio 101" aimed at the beginner.  The compiler hasn't seen
any of the publications, but judging from the titles, they look like they
would be useful to anyone getting seriously interested in the hobby aspects
of shortwave radio.  A catalog is available for US$1 from The Radio
Collection, P.O. Box 149, Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510.

And, naturally, listening to the radio can provide you with excellent
information on radio.  There are a number of excellent "DX" programs on the air
for the radio hobbyist.  The WRTH contains a comprehensive list of such shows;
Tom Sundstrom also has a list as part of his Shortwave Database subscription
service, and Al Quaglieri of SPEEDX freely distributes a list of some of the
better programs electronically.  Different shows have different strengths.  DX
Party Line on Ecuador's HCJB is directed toward the beginner.  Sweden Calling
DXers on Radio Sweden is a compendium of news about shortwave and satellites,
including frequency changes, station reactivations and deactivations, and such.
Radio Nederland's Media Network is a slickly produced general-coverage program.
Radio Canada International's SWL Digest is another strong entry along these

*** EOF