Making Waves; Warming Clouds

When I was a kid, my family headed to Fort Leavenworth where Dad was to attend the Command and General Staff College. Crossing the desert we went many miles with nothing but static on the AM radio in the station wagon. It’s not that way anymore. Any one with XM satellite radio can listen to a wide selection of music, talk radio, news, and the Family Radio (Christian broadcasting) channel from coast to coast without interruption.

There was a time in the States when cars had another band in addition to AM called MF, which is a shortwave band. That ceased in the early 1950s when, allegedly, politicians didn’t want Americans to easily be able to listen to broadcasts from Communist Russia. Unlike the AM and FM radios, shortwave radios are able to receive broadcasts from around the world.

As technology changed giving us the internet and satellite radio, many people thought that shortwave broadcasting would drop off through disuse. It hasn’t. What I’ve noticed is that over the past year, with folks staying at home, there’s been a renewed interest in shortwave reception.

One of the first shortwave broadcasts I listened to is HCJB. “1931–On Christmas Day, the HCJB Radio Station begins transmitting with 200 watts of power from a remodeled sheep barn north of Quito. The broadcast was a combination of Spanish and English, and the program christened the HCJB Radio Station “La Voz de los Andes”, and included the hymn “Grande es Tu fidelidad,” according to its website.

In addition to expanding it’s transmission of the Christian message, it provided small receivers to enable people to listen to the broadcasts. Today, HCJB has a global reach in many languages, assists other organizations in establishing broadcast stations, and trains broadcasters. Unfortunately, from what I was able to find, HCJB no longer has English-language broadcasts to North America. It does have one in Australia, which might be possible to receive as the sunspot cycle returns to its highs.

There are other stations with broadcasts in English, and that are located in the States. One is WWCR, broadcasting from Nashville, TN. An example of a program it broadcasts is Truth For Life with Pastor Alistair Begg of Parkside Church. That program is broadcast at 8 am CT on 15.835 MHz (That’s in the 19 meter shortwave band.)

What does it take to receive these shortwave broadcasts? Looking on Amazon, for instance, there are still a number of reasonably priced shortwave receivers available. The cheapest at around $50 probably won’t work well. For $149 and up to $200, there are some that may work well. Like most electronics the sky’s the limit as far as cost. While the higher end receivers are going to be better in receiving, they also have many “bells and whistles” added.

A quick introduction to using one of these receivers. While many have short antennas attached to them, similar to the old AM-FM radios we used to take to the beach, they won’t really work all that well. Like the days of rural living and trying to get a TV station from the big city, it takes an antenna outside the house to work best. It can be a simple wire connected to the receiver and strung outside through a window stretched to a tree, for instance.

L-RD Bless, Keep, Shine. . .


If interested in shortwave broadcast listing, called Shortwave Listening (SWL) there are a number of websites devoted to it. SWLing is but one of them.

Here’s a Wikipedia article: Shortwave Broadcasting in the United States, that may be of interest. I contains a listing of broadcasters, including some Christian.

With one of my hand-held amateur radios I was able to receive a few stations using the antenna on it. They were weak. I hope to find some time, perhaps use some saved during daylight savings time, and toss a wire out the window for a go at it. I do hope the HOA board doesn’t see it and complain.

I mentioned some ideas for local, small-church pastors to connect to their congregations apart from the internet. I’m working on that. Sorry.

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