Shortwave Bonanza

Unlike their microradio cousins operating on the FM dial, shortwave pirate broadcasters aren’t in the game to serve a specific community – unless you include those who’ve turned the hobby of scanning the shortwave bands into a science.
Shortwave radio broadcasting and listening is a very different sport from low power FM. Both types of broadcasters use only dozens of watts to get a signal out but FM signals are very localized. They only travel in a line-of-sight fashion, at best covering dozens of miles.
Shortwave radio, on the other hand, takes advantage of the upper levels of the atmosphere to extend their range. Using the electrically charged particles in the ionosphere, it is possible for a shortwave signal to “skip” through this layer and be heard hundreds or thousands of miles away.
This provides a fascinating challenge to the shortwave listener, who must optimize their receiving antennas and other equipment to best pick up these whispers of pirate radio. Continue reading “Shortwave Bonanza”

Summer and Shortwave

Being a radio pirate isn’t easy. Going on the air without a license means having to evade the FCC and there’s often the need to broadcast “on the run” – moving from location to location, trying to stay clear of the law.
Shortwave pirates face additional challenges that unlicensed FM stations do not – the range of an FM station’s signal is much, much shorter. FM signals travel in a “line-of-sight” manner – the only receivers that can pick up an FM signal are those that can “see” the transmitting antenna. It takes thousands of watts to cover a few dozen miles on the FM band.
Due to the tendency of shortwave signals to propagate through the atmosphere, it is possible for a 10-watt signal on the shortwave band to travel hundreds – even thousands – of miles. Continue reading “Summer and Shortwave”