Shortwave Radio. The long and the short of it.

Geek Culture

A cross-post from reader Matt Comstock’s blog:

My son is working on his Radio merit badge. I’ve had a shortwave radio for years, but I’ve never figured out when to listen and where on the dial to look for stations. This gave me a reason.

This has been a lot of fun.

I’ve listened to Radio Havana Cuba – they were talking about the School of the Americas, aka the School of the Assassins (see

I learned that China has been having some trouble with snow on China Radio International.

I listened to a discussion of aboriginal displacement on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that sounded a lot like our own country’s history and Native Americans.

I listened to a couple of folks talk of the strange things they’d eaten, riffing on the upcoming Year of the Rat on Radio Taiwan International,
“Rat’s not that bad.” They also noted in response to a listener’s letter, that the reason they were off-the-air the other night was due to radio-jamming by mainland China!

I heard a really really really bad cover of Radar Love on Radio Nacional de España.

Here’s a couple of really good site for finding out what’s on:

Here’s a really detailed discussion of radio propagation and the ionosphere: Introduction to HF Radio Propagation

A good book for schedules is Passport to World Band Radio.

When you think about the radio vs. the web, it’s hard to imagine that shortwave could last. In fact many countries no longer aim their broadcasts toward the US (BBC , Deutsche Welle) and I wonder if that’s not part of it: online radio and podcasts are much cheaper than a huge antenna.

But no one can tell what you’re listening to on the radio. And you can’t get web access everywhere yet.

Combine HF with the web and Open Spectrum gets interesting? Or becomes amateur radio?

I am having a blast! My son? Not so much. What are some good ways to pique a kid’s interest in Shortwave – or should listening to static be its own reward. That is, if he’s not interested so far, will he ever be?

Interestingly, he’s way more interested in Amateur radio and actually talking to people
than in simply listening. I guess this is similar to our differences in playing computer games – I like playing against bots, he likes playing with foul-mouthed wackos online.

Link to Matt’s blog.

Liked it? Take a second to support GeekDad and GeekMom on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!