Some Summer Short Wave Listening


Over the past few months I’ve spent some time tuning around the international shortwave bands.

I vividly recall how jam-packed these bands were when I first discovered the magic of radio, back in the peak years of Solar Cycle 19. Much has changed in this part of the radio spectrum since then, but after having read so many dire comments describing the demise of international SW broadcasting, I was pleasantly surprised at what I discovered.

Although there are certainly not the large numbers of stations there once were, there is still a large amount of activity to be found throughout the various bands allocated to international SW broadcasting.


Trying to keep track of station schedules and frequencies is a hobby unto itself but now made easier with the availability of so many online information sources. As when younger, I found the best way to stay organized was to keep a SW logbook, eventually settling on a simple ‘diary’ format which is still evolving.

Its next refinement will be an additional notebook having separate pages devoted to each individual frequency within a given SW band. This will allow for updating frequency information from various postings of the daily online ‘heard’ reports.

I’ve always had a great interest in QSLs and collecting cards was one of the things that initially attracted me to SW radio back as a pre-teenaged DXer. For me, not much has changed in the last several decades and I still enjoy QSLs ... the real, traditional cards, as opposed to the now popular e-card. For me, an e-card just doesn’t have much appeal for some reason but for many others, they work just fine.

As I slowly re-learn much of what I had forgotten about SWL’ing, I discovered that there are still many SW broadcasters that will acknowledge a reception report with a real paper card ... just like the good old days!

If you are keen on doing some serious listening, I cannot recommend the WRTH highly enough.

Studying the latest WRTH revealed the QSL policies of most international as well as domestic SW broadcasters as well as contact information. It is a superb annual reference and well worth the investment! With this information in hand, my listening has become more focused on recording and submitting reception reports to those stations still practicing the courtesy of acknowledging reports with a traditional QSL. Many stations also issue an e-card, but these are of little interest to me at present.

With a small amount of spring-summer time devoted to SW listening, I generated and submitted a few reception reports along with linked audio files on my website ... so far, the following QSLs have arrived:

Radio Exterior de Espana
15520 kHz - Noblejas, Spain

Radio Free Asia
9950 kHz - via IBB on Tinian Island, S. Pacific

All India Radio (AIR)

9865 kHz - Bengaluru, India

DX Clube Sem Fronteiras Broadcast via WRMI 7730 kHz, Miami

T8WH - 9965 kHz Palau, South Pacific

HSK9 - 5875 kHz Udon Thani, Thailand
Radio Liangyou - Hong Kong

9275 kHz via Bocaue, Philippines site

Radio Romania - 9730 kHz - Bucharest, Romania
Radio Nikkei 2
3935 kHz - Chiba, Japan

I’ll do an upcoming blog on some of the great information and online sites to support international SW listening activities.

Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

5 Responses to “Some Summer Short Wave Listening”

  • Richard KWØU:

    Good to see there is so much left. I too have lots of broadcast DX cards (as well as some from pirates, utilities, and time stations). Here in Minnesota Radio Havana comes in strong, occasionally I get China and naturally the big US broadcasters. With conditions so poor my little dipole doesn’t hear as much as it used to, but in DXing hope springs eternal. Here’s to better times!

  • Robin N6RLS:

    Thanks to the many KiwiSDR receivers located worldwide via listening to SW radio is fun again. Noisy conditions and a paucity of US-beamed stations of any interest make using a radio here in Calif. unpleasant at best. Also, it’s easy to invoke a link to while actually listening to a station, to help identify it and get other info about it. Cool!

  • Steve VE7SL:

    Richard…Cuba is everywhere it seems but China is in a different league altogether with dozens of transmitters on all bands, many of them being used to block or jam broadcasts being directed to China. There are some real battles being fought on the airwaves today, very much like during the Cold War … same for N. Korea.

    As for the poor solar activity. This benefits the lower bands (~ 40m and below) which are really coming to life under these conditions and should only get better over the next few years.

  • Chuck Whittinton, K4CEH:

    Thanks very much for a most interesting article. Being a caregiver for an XYL
    with health problems has taken away from both ham radio and SWLing for me. I used to really enjoy bird calls and other identifying sounds that would precede the various stations going on the air. In the sixties I worked at a NASA tracking station south of Quito, Ecuador. I enjoyed sitting next to Clarence Moore on a flight from Miami back to Quito. Clarence was the designer of the Cubical Quad antenna and Chief Engineer for Station HCJB on a mountaintop near Quito. At one time that station was broadcasting religious programming in seventeen different languages. Thanks again — and have a very nice day.
    Chuck Whittington, K4CEH — Canal Winchester, Ohio

  • Zal VU2DK:

    Brings back pleasant memories of my SWL days when I signed VU-0006 in the mid 1950s & 1960s—not sure if we going to see that kinda propagation again—I remember my dad–the original VU2BK (Boston Kilowatt as the Stateside boys would call him ) using a single 1625 in the final–about 18 watts input & with dipole/Quad antennas–working the President of Telrex Labs. in NJ–everyday–long & short path on AM—-old Mike (W2BDS) was always amazed at how my dad worked this way !! By the way–my dad was one of the 1st. to experiment with the Cubical Quad in VU2 circa the 1950s–we used the antenna for years before switching over to Yagis for ease of maintenance, in old age !!

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