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Do you ever do any casual SWL'ing on the non-Ham bands these days...? Did you do much SWL'ing during your pre-Ham days...? What do you think of the SWL "scene" in 2013, compared to when you first started...?
  Posted: Jul 21, 2013   (1172 votes, 51 comments) by VE3CUI

  YES! I still listen to those parts of the spectrum that do not contain Amateur transmissions, and I love doing so...
  NO! I never was a SWL, not "way back when", & not now, either...
  The SWL bands to-day are far too populated by domestic right-wing political & religious stations...
  I occasionally "snoop" the SWL bands when I have nothing better to do, but that is very rare...
  There are FAR less foreign broadcasters on SW than there were "back in the day", I'm afraid...
  I sorta MISS the high-powered lectures on the evils of capitalism from Radio Moscow, Radio Havana, Radio Tirana, Radio Peking, etc.
  Bye-bye SWL'ing---NOBODY misses you!
    (1172 votes, 51 comments)

Survey Results
YES! I still listen to those parts of the spectrum that do not contain Amateur transmissions, and I love doing so... 34% (404)
NO! I never was a SWL, not "way back when", & not now, either... 10% (120)
The SWL bands to-day are far too populated by domestic right-wing political & religious stations... 7% (85)
I occasionally "snoop" the SWL bands when I have nothing better to do, but that is very rare... 22% (252)
There are FAR less foreign broadcasters on SW than there were "back in the day", I'm afraid... 14% (169)
I sorta MISS the high-powered lectures on the evils of capitalism from Radio Moscow, Radio Havana, Radio Tirana, Radio Peking, etc. 10% (119)
Bye-bye SWL'ing---NOBODY misses you! 2% (23)

Survey Comments
UK CB Radio DX!
Now that 10 Meters has heated up, I get a kick out of
listening to the UK CBers who are reaching the US
mainland with just 5 Watts using FM! You can find them
just under the 10 meter Ham band if you have FM
receiving capability. The UK CB frequencies are also
listed online.

Posted by ONAIR on March 25, 2014

If there is such a shrunken demand for SWBC/utility spectrum, why the heck can't we get them totally above 7.3 and have a clear band for nighttime QSO's? Frankly I tried to become a steady SWL but most of the conversations I could understand were about as interesting as talk on NPR.

Posted by W8AAZ on August 21, 2013

SWL Listening
Although not as many as in years past, there are still stations out thre worth listening to. Radio Havana, Vietnam and some eastern European Countries. Radio China International is all over the place! Check for latest information - great site. Ever wonder why BBC, CBC, VOA have all but disappeared while Radio China International maintains a large shortwave presence?

Posted by WB8WTU on August 19, 2013

I have recently started renovating old valve (tube) short wave receivers from Hallicrafters, Eddystone, Heathkit and others, and it has lead to a revival of interest in listening in to the various broadcasts around the world. Of course you have to take all the propaganda with a pinch of salt - in fact it can be quite amusing how they take themselves so seriously. Somehow the mellow sound of these old radios cannot be matched anymore by modern equipment, and it is a unique pleasure just to listen in, and adjust the analog tuning with the variable capacitor.

Posted by G4PUM on August 18, 2013

wired a speaker to my room and sleep to foreign broadcast

Good way to judge prop or station performance.

Posted by KD7IIC on August 17, 2013

Back when I was working on my Novice 1 year ticket,or waiting for the 1 1/2 hour or more drive from my folks home to Baltimore from near Fredericksburg, VA To take the General Test. When I got tired of copying off the air. I listened to the Ham Bands on either a S38 Hallicrafters Or a SX99 Hallicrafters that I bought and did several repairs to. When the dots started to blur I would tune the Bands. I listened to Germany, the BBC World Service, Irish Radio, I loved the music as a Tween and Teen. I listened when I could get it to Australia.

It became my favorite Broadcast listen. Today I listen on my 745 and 751, I still love listening to the Broadcast almost as much as when I grab a rare one for DXCC. I had unofficial set of Grandparents or Godparent when they found out I like radios they gave me 3 S 38 Hallicrafters as the HRO I had was in fairly rough shape, so while I fixed it, I had them to listen to, work on and modify, the one I used all the time, I add a 1 tube Q-mulitplier, an outboarded a selecto-jet, after building in a regulated Power supply using OA3s. SWLing made me a serious DXers of all sorts. I guess I am going to have to buy and build a new S 38 and repeat that 40 odd years later I have a ton of tubes and supplies. It gave me 2 great hobbies Ham Radio and SWLing for a while i even did AM Broadcast DXing all have magic to them

Posted by KA4PXK on August 13, 2013

I keep a venerable, old DX-150 on the bedside
table. I often have insomnia, and the
soothing sounds of radio white noise and
distant, ghostly voices tends to lull me to
sleep. I guess it reminds me of my youth when
I did a lot of SWL'ing before I got my ham
license at age 13. Of course, I never listen
to the ham bands when doing this, because if
I came across a rare one I needed, BOOM, I'd
be out of bed and in the shack in a minute,
and there would go my sleep for that night!

Posted by WB2GMK on August 13, 2013

As a schoolboy in Holland, tuning my
transistor radio away from the music of the
pirate 'Veronica' and tuning into the famous
coast station 'Scheveningen Radio' (PCH) on
160 is how I caught the 'radio bug' and
started in this great hobby. Listening to and
receiving QSL's from far flung stations gave
me a great thrill and helped with Geography
and Language study whilst still at school.
Although licensed for 30 odd years, like so
many others, I listen far more than tx and
still marvel at the wonder of radio! Long
live ham radio and SWL'ing!
73's de Ed (G4SNR)

Posted by G4SNR on August 13, 2013

Well SWL is not what it used to be. During the cold war, it was nice to listen to VOA and also Radio Moscow. Very interesting times. I also liked the numbers stations. SWL is now mostly religious stations. Ham radio is not what it was also. So when I get bored of the dull dx-paper chasers and the rude contesters or the swearing on 80 meters, I will tune around the shortwave band. I miss my old hobbies of ham radio, swl, lowfering, TV-DX (analog) TVRO, scanner listening. Brave new world.

Posted by KB6QXM on August 11, 2013

SWL and SDR remote receive
I like 9580 Radio Australia here in FL. Booms in with a low dipole. Have lots of users on my SDR-IQ remote receiver, seem to favor everything from SW BCST, not heard in their country, to local South FL AM broadcast stations. Meanwhile I like 1030 WBZ Boston on friend's remote receiver in NH. Want to learn more? I'm SWL/WV4I here:
Other obvious application is quick check of DX propagation, see lot of short connect times on my receiver, likely for this purpose.
73, Link, WV4I

Posted by WV4I on August 11, 2013

A favorite of mine is Alcaravan Radio, 5910 khz,
for genuine Colombian music all night. Puts that
shortwave chill down my spine like I had back in
the 60s.

Posted by RSHIRE22 on August 9, 2013

Right wing radio
I too am leery of right wing and religious radio
but the more I listen to Alex Jones the more he
makes sense. Same with Michael Savage. The
problem isn't left vrs right. It's personal freedom
vrs big brother. The left used to defend personal
freedom years ago but today the right defends it.
It' more of a spiritual or psychological problem -
individuals and an entire population can become
what they hate. In this case the left have become
what they hated which was intolerance so today
the left are intolerent. Those who hate racism can
become racist. The right today has become weak
and ineffectual the way the left used to be. Today
the left are the ones to fear for this reason.

Posted by RSHIRE22 on August 9, 2013

It is to bad that I did not have a simple "No" for a choice.

Posted by WD4CHP on August 8, 2013

It is to bad that I did not have a simple "No" for a choice.

Posted by WD4CHP on August 8, 2013

It is to bad that I did not have a simple "No" for a choice.

Posted by WD4CHP on August 8, 2013

Good 'ol days
Oh wow. I grew up in interior Alaska, and in the mid to late 70's we had no TV, etc. Radio Australia's Papua New Guinea service was loud and clear though. Much more entertaining than Radio Moscow.

I never thought to ask for a QSL card from any of the shortwave stations I could hear.

Posted by KL2ZZ on August 6, 2013

curious phrases
Curious as to why right wing and religious are mentioned here? Compared to the liberal, left wing media in the U.S. just saying...
I do miss Shortwave before the Internet

Posted by KT4EP on August 5, 2013

Hello, W8OKX...
Oh, gosh, please don't mis-intrepret the comments that I
posted here earlier...!

No, I don't condemn the religious zealots, OR the right-
wing fanatics, for "ruining" the SWL experience---not one
little bit. They're all just filling-in a niche that's been
opened-up as so many of the big-time, power-house SW
BC'ers vacated the spectrum (and it saddens me that our
own Radio Canada is one of them, too).

I think that time & technology, both, have conspired
against SWL'ing. PERIOD. Irregardless, to me it's crying
shame, as I remember with considerable fondness hearing
London's Big Ben's toll coming through the loudspeaker of
my Hallicrafters S-77A, listening to Radio Havana's boasts
of yet another superlative sugar cane harness, the
heralding trumpets on the frequency marker of Radio
Tirana Albania, the jilting "Yankee Doodle Dandy" theme of
the VOA, etc. etc. etc.

It's a time that we were all most fortunate to have borne
witness to, a time of recognized---and celebrated---
national differences, a global community of nations
struggling to make their individual voices heard amongst
the QRM of all those other BC stations on the band...

It sure was great for this then wide-eyed teenaged &
impressionable "ranger" of the airwaves!

Posted by VE3CUI on August 4, 2013

The preponderance of religious, domestic SW
stations notwithstanding, please don't presume
to make these folks the "bad guys". I prefer
to say there's a dearth of secular,
international SW stations. I guess this is one
of the side-effects of Algore having invented
the internet. ;-)

Posted by W8OKX on August 4, 2013

Change NOT For The Better
I oft-times wonder that if the SWL scene back in '69 was
like it is to-day, would it have sustained my enthusiasm
for things related to to the short wave spectrum such that
I might ultimately have earned my Ham ticket in the end,
such as I did...?

I think the answer would most likely have been a flat-out
& definitive NO.

To-day's airwaves have been essentially taken over by
religious & right wing groups. I no longer hear Air Force
One around 9-MHz, the old SAC frequency below the 40-
meter band is no longer there, the ship-to-shore
telephone frequency below 5 MHz is no more...the list
goes on & on.

The SW spectrum was once---to me, at any rate---a
whole new world, just ripe for discovery & chock-full of
mystery & wonderment. But that world of 1969 is long
gone...heck, I'm not 17 years old anymore, either! Time
marches on, & waits for no one...

Posted by VE3CUI on August 4, 2013

I know this is kind of a cross-post, but here
goes anyway. I hope Joe's correct in his
presumption that SW broadcasting [particularly
overseas] may stage a comeback. I too hope for
this. Between the internet getting clogged
with viral activity [pun intended] and the real
possibility of an eventual major CME or even
EMP event, I think some of us old-timers with
"glow in the dark" radios will prevail. :-)

Posted by W8OKX on August 3, 2013

To Joe, KB0TXC:
You can bet your finals, if I had room for a
Beverage, I'd be hooking up that baby to my
station's output as well as input. I envy the
obvious size of your real estate, my friend!

Posted by W8OKX on August 3, 2013

There's not near the broadcasts on the SW bands now.
And recently I saw a movie about SW numbers stations
that was supposed to be recent. I used to hear
numbers stations all the time in the 1970's and into
the 80's. But I haven't found a numbers station since
the mid 80's. I guess the spys are more high tech now.

Posted by KA8ZYZ on August 2, 2013

SWL listening
I started listening around 1970 on a Realistic SW-60.
Then I picked up a Hallicrafters S120 in a pawn shop
for 25 bucks in 1972. Later in 72 I bought a new
Realistic DX160. I was at Ft. Bragg at the time, and
when I got orders for Germany I took it with me
packed in the middle of my duffle bag. I picked up a
Sony Earth Orbiter at the PX in Germany. All that SWL
got me into Ham radio. But I still love to check out the
SW broadcast bands.

Posted by KA8ZYZ on August 2, 2013

My first "SWL" experience was at age 11. A friend of my mother gave me an old Heathkit HR-10B. I heard what I think was a MARS transmission. It was somebody who was earnestly wishing that they were back home and not in Vietnam. I was hooked.

Today, as an amateur op, I still listen to the shortwave bands and broadcasts, what still remain. My main "listening" antenna is a simple 80 foot random wire.I also use a small outdoor "active antenna" from MFJ (yes, it works). This winter, God willing and it does not freeze too early, I plan on installing an eighty meter Beverage antenna at the back property line in an East-West configuration. These antennas are just for listening and are not for my "ham" activities.

I so wish that SW broadcasting from the EU nations would resume. Yes yes, I have the internet, but nothing compares to listening to the human voice over a warm sounding AM broadcast disseminating the news and viewpoints from afar without the US media filters in place.

I predict that someday (sooner than later) that SW broadcasting will again resume, due to any number of reasons, including natural disaster (Massive CME), Nuclear terrorism, a new cold war, etc and etc.


Posted by KB0TXC on August 2, 2013

I caught the SWL bug shortly after I began BCB DXing. Even after getting my ham ticket I still listened and enjoyed the big EU signals on 60, 31 and 25 meters. For a kid in a small town, the variety of viewpoints and national philosophies heard on these broadcasts was mind-opening. Year later I found that a small, battery powered radio was a "must have" while camping or sailing.
Today, many of the broadcasters have gone QRT or direct their programming to other regions of the world. So, there is far too little to listen to on SW, and what is there is weak (i.e. BBC which no longer broadcasts to North America; I struggle to hear an S3 signal directed to the middle East)

Posted by K3YD on August 2, 2013

Late night BCB listening in the 60's
When I was still in high school (before ham radio) I had a 6 transistor radio that had an 8 inch loopstick antenna. It seemed quite sensitive and directive. I used to easily pick up stations like WABC, WNBC, WBZ, etc. There was a gulf coast station (I forget the call) that used to come in late at night. Some nights I used to pick up Wolfman Jack on his station with transmitter in Tijuana, Mexico. I was hooked.

Posted by W8NSI on July 30, 2013

I was more into BCB DXing. I searched mainly for "So Called Radio Evangelists", Billy Graham was about the only legitimate one as far as I am concerned. I used to be "entertained" listening to a guy named Curtis Howe Springer". He had a "resort" at Zyzzx Mineral Springs in the heart of the great Mohave Desert in California. He had cures from everything from callousis to constipation. The Feds eventually booted him off the land he was on. What a Quack! Google Curtis Howe Springer to read more about him.

Posted by KE0XQ on July 29, 2013

There are still "rare Ones" on the bands, the Tropical bands. Most South & Central American countries have local short wave broadcasting stations they use like we use AM & FM. They are usually low power and still do qsl if you know how to do it. My rarest one is Radio Cima, Dominican republic-1000 watts maybe! Caught them on 4960khz and they sent me a pennant and qsl verification..So don't give up!

Posted by KU2US on July 28, 2013

In 1989, with nothing more than a Realistic
DX-360, I was able to regularly listen to
Radio Pyongyong, Voice of Moscow, Radio
Havana Cuba (which I still listen to), and
the best of them all...BBC World Service from
Bush House. Now, if you DO manage to find
English SW broadcasters, it's Radio
Jesus...or Radio Republican Fire-and-
Brimstone Jesus...or CRI. Try using a STOCK
HW-7 on 40m with the bible-thumpers wiping
out most of what you're trying to hear.

Posted by KB2HSH on July 27, 2013

Started in 1966 with a Lafayette HA 63 (still have it, recently restored), and I still have all my QSL cards from back in the day as well.

Yes a lot has changed, but now Radio Habana plays a lot more great Cuban music. A lot of the big players are gone now.

I still collect QSLs, but they are from my ham radio contacts now.

Posted by W4FJT on July 26, 2013

Foreign broadcasts
The smartest countries have continued their foreign broadcast services. Not everybody has good internet access. Besides, one can listen to radio without being tracked by "big brother".

Posted by WA2DTW on July 26, 2013

SWL way back
Back in the late 40,s I had an old wooden Zenith that I would listen to. Moscow and Radio Free Europe were my favorites. In the mid 60's I was stationed in Germany for three years. I got tired of listening AFN propaganda and bought an old Hallicrafter to listen to the real world news. I've been listening ever since (I do have a newer radio). I am looking to up-grade to something a little more sophisticated, just have to make a decision.

Posted by VESPA on July 25, 2013

I still listen to shortwave broadcasts. There are still lots of
programs to catch, and you never know what you'll hear
unless you tune the bands.

Posted by KE7TMA on July 25, 2013

I Wish
Unfortunately, most of the SWL stations of the past are gone. Many have gone internet-only, and the rest have become virtually identical to domestic BCB stations. BCB AM DX has lost much of its appeal to me, too. All the stations play syndicated stuff, so why would I want to listen to it coming in from Calgary or WWA when I can hear the same program on my local station, or the internet?

I used to love sending for QSL cards of BCB stations, but lately I've actually found more than one engineer who wouldn't send a card, but took the time to write me a letter to say that they didn't really care how far away I received them, that their concern was their local market. I also had one broadcast "engineer" who (I wish I was making this up) said they had never heard of QSL's, and didn't know what a beverage antenna was.

Posted by K8WRQ on July 25, 2013

SWL & Amateur Radio
Yes, I still listen to the few stations left that are worth listening to here in West Coast U.S.A.

I use my little Tecsun PL-380 as a "spotter" radio as it can scan all the short wave bands in one pass and load any listenable stations found into memories. A great time-saver now that there are few stations on the bands.

It was Short Wave radio and "Practical Wireless" magazine that introduced me to Amateur Radio (PW had a bit of everything radio and electronic in it back in the 70s).

Amongst others, I do miss HCJB World Radio from Ecuador which, although being a religious station, had something for everyone in it's heyday and could be heard reliably pretty much anywhere.

I also have an internet radio with something like 18,000 stations available; of all genre's. That's great in it's own right, but definitely not the same as the Short Wave listening experience.

Posted by AA1UY on July 25, 2013

Digial SWL'ing.
Being a digital mode enthusiast, I used to tune around and try to decode some of the various signals. I had a program that would automatically determine what type of digital signal it was, and then decode it, but I cannot remember the name of the program. So it is indeed rare that I SWL anymore, and really don't need the general coverage in my ham xcvr.

Posted by WB4M on July 24, 2013

I sure do tune all around the bands... Although not as populated as in my early days of SWLing, I still find it interesting to listen around and occasionally do find interesting radio...

Posted by KB2DHG on July 24, 2013

I ocasionnally listen to the broadcast bands' there is simply not the variety of stations to listen to as there was in the past. If it wasn't for swling I would have never known any thing about amateur radio.

Posted by W4SLT on July 24, 2013

SWL'ing in the past
I remember Listening to Radio Moscow, BBC, Switzerland and VOA during the Suez crisis in the mid 50s.. I recorded what they each had to say on a reel-to-reel and played the Tape recording in my High School English class -12th grade - we were studying propaganda - it was a mind blowing experience for the teacher - and I got my "A"... Used my old HRO-7 (Still works)

Posted by W3DMB on July 23, 2013

I listened to short-wave on the 41 meter band on a transistor radio I returned. Radio Moskva was a powerful station. I would listen to anyone speaking English. I was just amazed that radio broadcast could travel so far. That was when I was 14/15 years old. Now that I am an old man 56, and have a excellent radio a Pro III I don't listen very much, not even the ham bands.

Posted by KA5ROW on July 22, 2013

I listened to short-wave on the 41 meter band on a transistor radio I returned. Radio Moskva was a powerful station. I would listen to anyone speaking English. I was just amazed that radio broadcast could travel so far. That was when I was 14/15 years old. Now that I am an old man 56, and have a excellent radio a Pro III I don't listen very much, not even the ham bands.

Posted by KA5ROW on July 22, 2013

I still enjoy SWLing, but I no longer live in the US - there are some very interesting programs here in the Philippines (even broadcast in English) and great music too. When I was still in the US it was not very good and I was losing interest. I do miss stations like VOA, Radio Moscow, Radio Kiev and BBC - ahhh such is life.

73, Trent WB0HZL/DW5HT

Posted by WB0HZL on July 22, 2013

In the 60's and 70's swl was great. Used to love Swiss Radio International. The BBC used to have such a rich variety of programing. Now it is like CNN(third world and anti west).
Go on Youtube and search for shortwave interval signals. You will get some great memories.

Posted by KC2JDU on July 22, 2013

I used to love the propaganda broadcasts from Peking, Havana, Moscow etc...was a lot more fun than now. Mostly nothing but people trying to "save" us sinners. What a bore.....

Posted by W7WQ on July 22, 2013

I started by swl'ing in the 1950 era and
continued thru the years, even to this day.
It is most disappointing except for a few
like Radio Japan, Radio Australia. I also
agree with N4VNV about the purchase of a
digital receiver being on fixed income.
I doubt it but who knows, maybe they will
come back someday. Still able to catch a
VOA to Africa sometimes. I think the right
wingers and religious zealots are a lost
Ray, W5XE 7/22/2013

Posted by W5XE on July 22, 2013

Does listening to triple nickel count as SWLing? What about 6925 kHz?

Today's conventional SW broadcasts in English don't interest me, so I don't bother
listening to them. I guess one exception is WBCQ out of Maine, but they broadcast the
interesting stuff on weekdays only...

Posted by N8YQX on July 22, 2013

SWL activities:
I like in having shortwave as a backup when I
can not hear what I normally do on the
broadcast band. Shortwave still has a niche to
fill. I like radio variety. As long as I can
get the former broadcasters of shortwave on the
Internet, I can live with it. I am also on a
fixed income so I have to listen on the cheap.

Posted by K0IC on July 22, 2013

No reason, just no.
For me, number 3 says it all.

Posted by K0CBA on July 22, 2013

SWL needs help
I agree with N4VNV. SWL used to be a pleasant break from DXing and contesting, and even sometimes from rag chewing, but many countries are off the air now. If digital format catches on well and prices come down, I would consider getting a digital receiver.
I am not nostalgic, but unless they make a real effort to revive it, the golden days of SWL are in the past. Listen while you can.

Posted by AI2IA on July 22, 2013

I was knee deep into SWLing for MANY, MANY years. But now days there are only a few Countries transmitting to the USA. I still have about 3 or 4 I listen to every few days, but for one thing I lost all the ones that converted to a digital format. I WILL NOT purchase a digital receiver until they get down into my income level. Which being on a fixed income, I doubt they ever will.

Posted by N4VNV on July 22, 2013

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