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Continuing my long decent into total fucking loon, I got a short wave radio. I am just beginning to figure the damn thing out. Turns out the world of shortwave is more complicated than I expected. The truly foreign or weird is much more elusive than I naively thought. Stations don’t broadcast 24 hours a day and reception is generally poor. This probably has something to do with the fact that it is an antiquated technology no one uses anymore. I am excited about it.
For reasons that are beyond my scientific understanding but that have something to do with solar rays and other stuff, the best time to listen to foreign broadcast shortwave on the east coast of America is the middle of the night. This just adds to the crazy factor when my wife finds me toying with the radio at one in the morning.
“Find any spies?” she asks, knowing about my mission to track down a numbers station.
“Not yet, but I found a station in Korean!” I respond.
“Oh how interesting.” She says with the level of sarcasm only attainable by those who have grown up in the caldron of sarcasm known as the island of Manhattan.
Won’t she be surprised when I find UVB-76!
I might need a more powerful antenna. I am considering stringing one up to our fire escape. Is that the behavior of a crazy person?
For now my initial observations are:
- The vast majority of shortwave in English is about Jesus.
- Alex Jones has a pretty extensive presence on shortwave and he is pretty upset about the future of America.
- Almost all of what I have heard is talk radio in various languages. This is a disappointment. I was hoping for some good African music, but that now seems unlikely. The languages I have heard in order of frequency are: English, Chinese, Arabic and Korean. I wish my Arabic was better because twice I have come across a station with a very pissed off sounding woman shouting in Arabic.
- The only music I’ve heard is traditional Chinese.
Stay tuned for more reporting from the fringes of the dial.
this reminds me of the shortwave radio my parents took to africa. they expected to be able to listen to the BBC in the jungle. due to the night reception issues you mention, the only station we got was radio pakistan, and due to the weird nature of no electricity except when the generator worked, and weird house construction, every time you touched the switch you got a shock. and lots of calls to prayer and jihad.
Edited at 2012-01-13 05:37 pm (UTC)
BBC world service was one of the things I was looking forward to as well but haven't been able to find. Apparently BBC has cut way back on their shortwave service and are instead putting their resources into internet radio and other boring stuff.
They don't have a north american transmitter anymore. You're better off trying to stream that.
I am more interested in trying to rig my fire escape as a giant antenna and getting the Africa broadcast.
I'd do it. WHen I had a little Grundig I found that antenna size made every difference.
A portable Grundig is what I have! I got the antenna extension, but I think I might have to go more big time here.
Are you into this stuff? Any pointers?
I was a little and then I gave up on it because I wasn't that into it for itself - I sold the little radio and streamed the content I wanted. A big antenna makes all the difference - you want like sixty feet.
That and you never know what you're going to get - local reflectivity conditions and wider atmospheric conditions are so variable. I even got a numbers station once, I think. Unless it was just someone announcing the time.
But, yeah, a lot of Jesus.
I have a big wire antenna, I just need to figure out how to use it without the neighbors calling the police.
I thought the escape idea was good. Or just drape it out the window. You might even get some good results stringing it around the room. I'm not, like, big up on the physics of that.
I think your wife and my wife need to start a support group.
My wife wasn't sure what to get me for Christmas because everything I seemed to get excited about was, "something musty on eBay written by some long-dead magical magician."
She was absolutely right.
I actually got this radio for Christmas, my father is insisting that I bring it back up to CT next time I visit. This might go a long way in explaining why I am a crazy person.
I only glanced at the name and image on this post before I started writing it, until I got to the mention of "wife" I read this assuming it was villagecharm writing it. I guess I just made assumptions when the sentence started off with "total fucking loon."
On a (slightly) more serious note, reading you and charm talk about your interests makes me feel kind of embarassed, as my interests feel very conventional and completely not esoteric enough. It makes me feel like a sell-out.
Perhaps you are confusing well adjusted with sell-out?
I feel like I"m too maladjusted to be well-adjusted.
That is the nicest thing anyone has said about me in a very long time. I aspire to be as out of my mind as the Charm.
I love it! I'm actually a ham radio veteran. LEARN SOME MORSE CODE AND THEN GET BACK TO ME, ATTHESAMETIME!
I'm really afraid that soon the three of us are going to be in a parking lot together addressing each other by CB handles.
Roger that, good buddy. Ten-four.
I remember someone tell me that in the eighties there was an avant garde CB radio scene in New York. Man I wish I had been part of that world.
Charm, are you actually a ham radio veteran?
Whenever I think I'm going down some truly high dork path, there's Tom in front of checking his watch saying "bout time you got into this, I've been digging this scene since 97".
My brother was the one who was really into ham radio - he had the operator's license. But I tagged along on many summer nights, broadcasting from the spare room in our house.
I'm still surprised when people outside of Austin know who Alex Jones is, although I shouldn't be. I remember when he was just a dude on public access tv talking about Waco. He was much more wistful in the beginning, waxing nostalgic for the days when he could just paint and work out before his mind got blown by the whole New World Order situation. Also, he had a phase where he did all of his shows in front of a green screen and his paintings were on rotation behind him. You could tell he really liked Van Gogh.
Alex Jones is big time on the conspiracy circuit now. I listened to about ten minutes of his program last night, part of which was taken up by his endorsement of a company that sells "heirloom seeds" which apparently you are going to need in the coming enviro/political apocalypse.
He's massive. He's way big around here.
Heirloom seeds are a real thing - they're older cultivars that have survived in small-time cultivation. They often have advantages in taste and other characteristics over more commonly-grown cultivars. We've grown a whole bunch of heirloom tomatoes. Delicious!
Sad to hear it on Alex Jones, though. Sad to hear anything at all about him.
Not yet, but boy am I thinking about it.
That's a Whole Thing. I never got into it, but it seems a thriving world still.
This is fantastic. Short wave radio! That's varsity-level eccentric, my friend. It's you, spies, evangelicals, and, apparently, Chinese folk musicians.
I somehow assumed the internet had killed shortwave radio. My dad had one when I was in high school and I messed with it a tiny bit but never really go into the whole thing.
My gentleman friend at some point made a piece of electronic music based on "number stations" which are this weird shortwave phenomenon that may or may not have something to do with espionage.
Now I want more eccentric, loony hobbies, to keep up with you. Knitting is only eccentric because I am a male person.
I am all about numbers stations. I have the complete conet project, which I actually listen to because I am a strange man.
Knitting is definitely superior to shortwave radio. All listening to shortwave produces is exasperated looks by your partner, knitting produces hats!
Feel free to stay with me when you come for the HAM radio operators test or convention or whatever DORKS R US event that I always see signs for at MIT.
Maybe you can pick up exciting port activity from the Navy Yard? If this is the same thing that my dad has, he uses his to listen to ships in the channel of the Bay (Chesapeake), Coast Guard communications, etc. He has listened for about 15 years and got one great story out of it, which was two (ship) pilots talking to each other, one saying, "it looks like you've got a faaar in your stack?" other: "what?" "i think you've got a faaar in your stack." other: "a what?" "a faaaar in your stack. you know, a stack faaar." "what?" "a stack faaar. your stack's on faaar." ah, maryland accents. Almost as exciting as African music?
Anyway, have fun.
What your Dad was doing is I think listening to a scanner, which is different. I considered getting a scanner, but for now I'm just trying to acclimate E to one strange new hobby.
The thing that is going to keep me from going too far down this road is I'm just not enough of a science nerd. Just trying to read the "DXing" websites makes my head hurt.
yes, you are right - a scanner. which is why/how he can also listen to police communication.
anyway, i heard there is this new fangled thing that lots of people broadcast all sorts of weird stuff on now called the internet! maybe you should check that out!
haha, no, have fun with the new hobby!
The radio is all part of the spend less time fucking off online trend in my life. Now, I fuck off with the stupid radio and then write about it on the internet.
Sametime, I really hope you're wearing glasses, because if you weren't pushing your glasses in with your index finger while saying, "What your Dad was doing is I think listening to a scanner, which is different.", you were only at 70% nerd.
Fuck you, Geek. There is a difference!
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