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Over Easy: Shortwave Radio

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Good morning Firedogs. Thought I would go into a bit of history on communicating thoughts, ideas and positions. There is something different about hearing a voice tell you something rather that reading words on a page. The impact can be quite different, which is probably one of the reasons that even in this day and age broadcasting still endures.

Long before cell phones and satellites and cable and the internet, if a country or group wanted your particular message to get out to the world, shotwave radio was the medium of choice. By international agreement these frequencies are divided up amongst various services.   Usually referred to by their wave length in meters. IE 31 meter band or 60 meter band or 25 meter band. For international broadcasting and marine and aviation and governmental and general utilities and amateur radio.

During the cold war years before satellite use, the shortwave bands or HF – High Frequency bands were hopping I can tell you. Nearly every country large and small had an international broadcast station, broadcasting in their native language as well as English and at least two additional languages. Such as Spanish and French. A number of the larger one broadcasting to some area 24 hours a day. With facilities in a number of countries around the globe, usually current or former colonies.  Each giving their version of The Truth™ AKA propaganda. And lets face it, all broadcasting is propaganda of one type or another.

For all official broadcasting there is of course the opposition, the clandestine radio or pirate radio stations. Those some of these proved to be not what they seemed. Such as Radio Swan or WNYW [Radio New York Worlwide], both of which were funded in whole or partially by the CIA. And both magically disappeared or were sold when this information came out. Of course the governments targeted have tried with very limited success to jam or remove them. Not all pirate radio was political in nature. Radio Caroline   and Radio North Sea International broadcast for years simply to give people an alternative music station. And many more have come and gone. Just a search of clandestine radio on google will bring up page after page dedicated to just this one aspect.

Nearly all of the big broadcasters though have been shut down. Even the Voice of Russia. Sill on the air though are China and Cuba and a lot of the smaller countries. Not to mention those whose intended audience is in their own country or adjacent countries. As well as a score of religious broadcasters. Piping out their messages to non believers and far right broadcasters piping out paranoia that can make FOX look positively tame.

Then there are the Numbers Stations®. Exactly what the name says, stations that come the air that either speak or send lists of number in morse code and that’s all. The current thought being that they are sending messages in a cryptic, probably one time use one way code. Not unlike the Nazi Enigma machine. Amateur and professional and government sleuths have been trying for years to break the codes and pinpoint the locations of these broadcasts but mostly to no avail. And unlike sending of the internet, they seem to be fairly secure.  To this day they can be heard and spark an interest.

So there you have it. And interesting past time. Have your say Firedogs on what ever subject comes to mind. As you can see, others have to world wide listeners.

And old educational video.


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