Ham Radio News: Finding International Shortwave Broadcasts

This installment of a regular column discusses the value of international shortwave broadcasts and practical steps for finding and tuning in to them.

| November/December 1979

  • 060-copthorne-macdonald-international-shortwave-broadcasts
    Copthorne Macdonald, the inventor of slow-scan television, considered international shortwave broadcasts a valuable alternative source of information about current events.

  • 060-copthorne-macdonald-international-shortwave-broadcasts

In much of the world, including many remote areas of our own continent, shortwave broadcasts provide a primary source of information. However, most North Americans are so saturated by the constant bombardment from local and national media that they totally ignore this international news source. And that's an unfortunate situation, because people need the variety of perspectives on world situations that such broadcasts can bring to them.

Wouldn't it have been interesting, for example, to have listened to the Voice of Iran during and after that nation's uprising against the Shah; to have heard the guerrillas' description of the Nicaraguan revolution on Radio Sandino; or just to have gotten a different slant on this morning's news from Radio Moscow, Radio Sweden, or the BBC World Service?

Of course, serious shortwave tuning—listening for specific stations on specific frequencies at specific times—requires up-to-date information on what programs are available at the times and frequencies they can be heard, along with a sensitive, accurately calibrated receiver. Let's look first, then, at sources of program schedules.

What's Happening When

World Radio TV Handbook (WRTVH), the 544-page "bible" of international broadcasting, is published annually in March and contains a comprehensive country-by-country listing of stations, along with the times, frequencies, and languages of their broadcasts. The Handbook's editors have also indexed this important information in a number of other ways: They provide a separate list of English-language programs, for example, and a compilation of stations indexed by frequency. In addition, the book contains a time conversion table, a list of shortwave hobbyist "DX clubs," and a variety of useful maps. The current 33rd edition of WRTVH is available postpaid from Gilfer Shortwave.

And to find out which foreign programs are worth hunting for and listening to, you can check out the monthly Review of International Broadcasting. It publishes the opinions and criticisms of folks who listen to shortwave broadcasts, and presents both sides of controversial issues as well. The Review also contains articles of interest to shortwave fans, and four times a year-presents an up-to-date list of English-language programs that are beamed to North America. A subscription is $12 a year.

NDR's own George Wood, (SM0IIN) who is Radio Sweden's "DX Editor," feels that the WRTVH and the Review of International Broadcasting together provide most of the information that listeners need. George also points out that many broadcasters will mail a program guide at no charge to listeners who request them, and that some stations have on-air programs dealing with the general subject of shortwave broadcasts.

2/8/2008 6:05:53 AM

Sorry to say, it is no longer 1979. Those were great years for SW listening. Unfortunately most of this info is way outdtaed. Gilfer is gone , the model radio mentioned is now considered classic . Broadcast stations , frequencies have changed. Glen Hauser now lives in Enid Oklahoma and is active on the net . Readers should go to Monitoring Times or Popular Communications magazines for current info .


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