As we've mentioned here before, sometimes the best place to find news about what's happening
in the world, especially during a time of increased military action,
is on the radio. Not just any radio, though, we're talking about short-wave.
It's an ideal time to get a short-wave radio again. The tools are simple,
the method precise, and the results remarkable. In short, you'll need
a good shortwave radio, a wire antenna, and some patience.
A couple years ago, when people talked about shortwave, a lot of the talk focused on the
loss of BBC broadcasts aimed across the pond to North America. As it
turns out, however, many BBC frequencies broadcast to the Middle East,
Africa and Asia come in so clearly, that we actually haven't lost that
much after all.
Shortwavestore.com has put together an excellent list of the BBC shortwave frequencies you
can hear at various times throughout the day. During the day, I was
able to listen to several frequencies in the Middle East and Europe
almost effortlessly just by attaching the wire antenna to my
But if you go for shortwave, don't limit yourself just to English language broadcasts.
When US forces arrived in Afghanistan, it was fascinating to hear US
Broadcasts to the Afghan people. Granted I couldn't understand what
was being said, but every once in a while a word or two would sneak
through that couldn't be translated from English into Pashtu or Dari
(Afghan Persian). Of course, if you studied a foreign language, even
way back in high school, it's also fun to tune in, say, a German, French
or Spanish broadcast, just to see what's going on in their worlds as
well. Whatever you choose to listen to, you're sure to hear something
you just wouldn't hear otherwise through ordinary, commercial radio
And then there's SSB. Briefly, and super-simplistically, single side-band involves putting
an ordinary AM signal through a band pass filter. Here's why. For the
sake of sound quality (fidelity), AM signals use a carrier band as
well as the bands above and below that band. Though the AM frequency
has greater sound, the use of three bands actually limits the distance
the signal can travel because it takes more power. By elimination the
carrier and either the upper or lower band, single side-band signals
can travel up to 16 times farther than an ordinary AM signal. Moreover,
since the carrier band is removed, when you're not transmitting, no
one hears anything, making it seem like nothing is there. You can imagine
why the armed forces would take advantage of single side-band's characteristics
for making their transmissions travel farther and harder to detect.
If your radio can pick up SSB frequencies, be patient with it, and
you may get a chance to here some interesting stuff every now and then.
By the way, it's almost always best to listen to shortwave at night and on the weekend.
If you are new to shortwave be sure to check out our Getting
Started In Shortwave Page. Also visit our
Shortwave Listening Tips Page for more
information on shortwave.
Be sure to check out our Shortwave Radios.
To read more articles, please visit our What's in the News Archives.
As always, please contact us with any comments or
article suggestions you might have.
If you are interested in using C. Crane's articles on your own Web site,
please let me know. I'd be happy to take a look at your Web site and
see what we can do. Good-bye for now, Carlos. About