Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Dutch Medium-Wave Logs via Twente: 12/17/19

1617, 2122-2205* song in English, but I think it's a '70s pop song "Darling I Love You So . . ." Honky-tonk song in Dutch. UKDXer had Radio Marianne here about an hour ago, so maybe it's still that station. Did hear mention of the name, though pronounced like "Mariana"

1670, 2152-2155* Disco, including "The Hustle." Audio fading up and down all over the place. Sounds like the op must be talking over the music, but he doesn't realize his mic isn't working

1640, 2210+ Instrumental polkas. Good signal, but weak mic audio. Sounds like op was either talking about or to (or both) Radio Marianne

Monday, December 16, 2019

Dutch Medium-Wave Logs via Twente: 12/16/19

I have been listening to the radio some, but I haven't been posting here. I've been spending a lot of time trying to restore an antique trunk as a Christmas present. I've been debating posting it here because it's not at all radio related . . . but on the other hand, I it's something different & maybe a few people would find it interesting.

I'm working on it today & am by the computer, so I thought I should take in a few Europirates via the computer and post.

Via Twente, Netherlands web receiver:

1631, 1530 Station on a few minutes earlier with schlager music & talk in Dutch by a male announcer. Not sure if same station or different, but a bit of schlager & talk in Dutch. My guess at the ID is "Bambreaker," but this doesn't match up with anything on the UKDXer station list, so I'm sure that I butchered the ID

1666, 1525-1533* '70s British pop music. Off mid-song. Excellent signal

1644.95, 1539+ Weak signal, man talking in Dutch & schlager music

1656, 1540-1554* Schlager, very strong. Heard the ID a few times and it sure sounds like "Radio Cairo" to me, but again, I'm not finding this ID on the UKDXer station list.

1640-1660v, 1556 Schlager with the signal changing frequency & varying all over the place. Only looked like one sideband of audio was there and couldn't see the carrier, but it sounded OK in AM (so not an SSB transmitter). Maybe it was FMing? Back on at 1601 & I watched the signal go from around 1610 to 1660 kHz, then drop down to roughly 1646 kHz.

1657, 1622-1629* Much older-sounding instrumental schlager, maybe from WWII or earlier? Into pieces of '70s pop and country songs. Didn't hear any talk

1667->1670, 1630-1640* Variety of schlager, cut a few songs mid-song. Sounds like the station that was on 1657 a few minutes earlier. Some talk, but missed it because I was in the kitchen

1630, 1643+ Weak with Booker T & the MGs "Green Onions" (a song I actually know!). Johnny Cash "I Walk Alone" around 1715 UTC

1613.7, 1720+ Weak/fair with '70s (Dutch, I think) pop music. Yodeling schlager song at 1734

R. Nordzee: 1635, *1800-1806* Huge carrier & signal. Male announcer talking over '60s radio production music in Dutch

1670, *1808+ Polka. Male announcer, but I didn't hear anything that sounded like an ID

1615, 1830+ Archies "Sugar, Sugar" Huge signal cut right at 9 kHz wide, a bit distorted, CCR "Green River" (live) & "Proud Mary," 5th Dimension "Age of Aquarius," Led Zeppelin "Whole Lotta Love"

Friday, November 29, 2019

Pirate Radio Annual Christmas sale

It's Black Friday and I've been driving all over every bit of strip mall suburbia in the county, searching out bargains and buying gifts.

I figured I might as well combine the two. Here's a bargain and a little gift: from through 1/1/2020, the 2017-18 Pirate Radio Annual is $14 + 3 shipping ($17) to everyone in the US. Outside of the US, the shipping will be much higher because our post office eliminated the international book rate. (I forget what the rates to Canada & Europe are, but I'll try to search it out & post it here later.)

In turn, you can pass along the gift of pirate radio to a loved one (or yourself).

The address for PayPal payments is info /at symbol/ hobbybroadcasting dot com

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Driving around the Midatlantic Listening to Tater Patch Radio

The last entries that I wrote in the blog were about Greek and Dutch medium-wave pirates that I heard via SDRs. Medium-wave piracy isn't booming in the United States, and it's generally been a rarity to have the chance to really listen most any time in the past 20 years. Oh, there are examples, such as Radio Moshiach and Redemption and Radio Celesial if you lived in the New York City area, but not much sustained activity.

The New York City area was a hotbed of MW activity in the late '70s & early '80s. Some of the first pirates of any type that I heard included the KPRC on 1616 kHz and WDX on 1630 kHz on a GE boombox with its whip antenna. A couple of years later, I logged WWW on 1615 kHz and WHOT on 1625 kHz (I haven't verified these frequencies with my old logs, just winging it from memory) on my FRG-7.

By the end of the decade, I was hearing WENJ, WCPR, WKND, AM 1650, WJDI, and probably a few others. These stations were all heard on my FRG-7 while I was pining for a better receiver. But at the time, I never considered that the car radio might be a worthy listening option.

On October 19, I saw logs for Radio Corsair before I had to be drug around the neighborhood by our family dog. I tuned the Drake R8 to 1710 and started the recorder. Upon returning, I checked the car radio before going into the house. There it was! Strong signal & great audio on 1710 kHz. The operator talked at length about the station's setup and 500-watt transmitter, reasons for broadcasting, etc. Great stuff. I sat, riveted.

After about 20 minutes of listening, I went inside to the R8, where I knew the signal would be much better. Except that it wasn't. It was audible, but most of the talk was not copyable. A far cry from the big signal in the car. Is it the antenna length? The polarization of signal vs. my antenna? Is the car radio and antenna just "better optimized" for reception on these frequencies? I'm not positive, but I have a few ideas.

About two weeks later, I was in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and I felt compelled to tune the radio to 1630 kHz because I'd seen reports of Tater Patch Radio on the frequency. By golly, it was there and it was strong, but mixing with KCJJ, Iowa City. I checked 1710 and I could hear the same audio on that frequency, too. After maybe 10 minutes of listening, I heard “'80s, . . . the decade of Molly Ringwald's breasts . . . Tater Patch Radio, just good music, like this” into Van Halen “Hot for Teacher.” A minute or so later, the Van Halen song was preempted for a documentary on rockabilly.

We had a carload of people and conversations, so I only turned up the volume occasionally to check if Tater Patch Radio was still audible. And it was, the whole way from Harrisonburg to home in central PA. On the next weekend, we were near Sunbury, PA, and could hear Tater Patch Radio for about two hours.

In neither case was I in an optimum situation for listening, but they were still great experiences that I might not ever forget. And that takes me to the main point of this post. Why didn't I try listening in the car earlier? OK, that's kinda rhetorical because I didn't think the car radio would perform well and I just haven't had many MW pirates lately.

But it was just a fantastic listening experience, driving hundreds of miles at night with a pirate on the radio. Electromagnetic waves bouncing across the sky, as I pass small cities, large towns, and individual houses, and stare off into the night, enjoying the atmosphere of it all.

Now, I'm superimposing this experience on past stations. What if I had gone out to the car and listened to WKND's inaugural broadcast on Halloween night on 1621.3 kHz? What if I'd've heard KPRC while driving across the state and paused at a pay phone to talk with Pirate Joe?

All I know is that it would have been even more memorable. And I'm looking forward to hearing more broadcasts on 1710--especially while driving in the car.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

More Greek Pirate listening, 11/6/19

After checking out the Greek MW pirates the other day, I wanted to check for Serbian pirates because I know the country has a number of powerful stations. Unfortunately, no Kiwi SDRs are located in Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Albania, or Romania, but I did find a couple in Hungary. And I checked the SDR and heard a few pirates. Of course, my comprehension of Serbian is just as nonexistant as of Greek. But I doublechecked the SDR against the one south of Greece and it appears that all of the stations I heard on the Hungarian SDR this afternoon were Greek pirates.

As of now (2215 UTC), via the Zakynthos, Greece, SDR, I'm hearing Greek pirates on 1620, 1630, 1660 (very weak), 1670, 1680, 1690, 1700 (two stations & a heterodyne), and 1710 kHz. All of these except 1710 are non-stop Greek folk music. 1710 is very strong with electronic dance music; believe it or not, I'm not hearing the looping technical difficulties announcement from WQFG689 underneath it.

The 1620 station isn't playing any of the ID spots that were aired on Tuesday, so my guess is that these are two different stations.

I thought that with the dance music, 1710 would be my best chance of hearing an ID in English, but some vocals just came into the techno song that I'm listening to and I think it's also Greek. Oh well.

Most of these stations seem to be IDing and having regular announcements, so the big issue is just having someone who speaks Greek who can ID them.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

A Few Logs via Twente, 11/5/19

Via Twente, Netherlands Web Receiver

Radio Merlin: 6305, 1427+ ‘70s pop music & male DJ. Lots of IDs, both by the DJ & also prerecorded. “Rock Me Gently.” Fair signal starting to fade badly. Switched to a woman DJ around 1515

Radio Spaceshuttle: 9290, 1517+ Weak with complete fade-outs, but some dance music coming through well, clear IDs. Adjacent-channel utility QRM

1616, 2018: Schlager & calliope music. Very strong. Male announcer, I think he mentioned “Mariana” a couple of times. One song sounds like a Dutch Elvis with a few lyrics in English (“Lovely Diana”). I saw on UK DXer's Shortwave DX Blog that he heard Radio Marianne around the same time on 1617 kHz, so maybe that's what this is.

1631, 2050: A chaotic live soul song with lots of horn solos. Near the end, the singer yelled "take off your clothes!" Songs "Dream, Baby, Dream" Roy Orbison "Only the Lonely"

1660, 2100+: Weak, but some audio was making it through. Not sure if it was a Greek station or a very low powered Dutch station, so I checked it against the Zakanthyos, Greece, online receiver and it's very strong there. Male DJ using lots of reverb and talked to someone on the phone for a little bit. Some Greek folk music

Monday, November 4, 2019

Greek Pirates via Web Receiver, 11/4/19

I've logged a number of Dutch medium-wave pirates via the Twente SDR over the past few years. As I've mentioned on the blog and other places, the Netherlands is a hotbed of medium-wave pirate radio. I publicized the Greek and Serbian MW pirate scene via a fairly long interview with Finnish DXer Harri Kujala in the 2012 Pirate Radio Annual, but I've heard very little about the pirate scene in this area of the world or from Harri, for that matter.

So, on a whim I started tuning around on a web receiver in Zakynthos, Greece. Zakynthos is an island to the southwest of Greece that appears to be maybe 250 miles from the "heel" of Italy, and maybe 300 miles from Turkey. After looking at some photos of Zakynthos, I think I'd rather be listening to a radio there than tuning in via web receiver in my small, dark office! But that's beside the point.

I assume that everything I'm listening to is a Greek pirate, given the location, but Serbian pirates are extremely powerful as well (both Greek and Serbian pirates often use several kilowatts or much more), so one or more of these could be Serbian. Also, I have heard nothing about pirates in Turkey, Cyprus, Albania, Macedonia, or Bulgaria. Could one or more of these stations be from these countries? I have no idea, but given the size of the Greek MW pirate scene and the location of the SDR, I'm assuming they're all Greek

Not sure if any Greek listeners or pirates ever read this blog, but it would be great to make contact and read more about pirate radio in this region. I think the last Greek pirate I heard directly on shortwave was Radio Odyssey, so it's been a while.

Via Zakynthos, Greece web receiver
1620, 1615+ Three guys who seemed to be having a debate in a relatively empty room. Getting excited & sometimes talking over each other. Some echo, but sounded like it was the guy or two who was further from the mic & room atmospherics were being picked up. VG signal that later faded. Tuned back the 1620 around 1645 and heard a lot of Greek folk music. Professional-sounded and some IDs with laser sound effects

1640, 1630* DJ talking over what sounded to me like Middle Eastern music before signing off

1670, 1637+ Greek-sounding folk music into fairly long talk in presumed Greek by male announcer with good radio voice. Someone occasionally tuning up & swishing VFO underneath

1690, 1645 Off and on with more modern Greek music and male DJ. Somewhat distorted & there seems to be a light het

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Global HF Weekend Sunday Logs, 11/3/19

Really calm weekend, considering it's both a couple of days after Halloween and GHFW. Looking back at Halloween, I'm surprised by the type of activity. No complaints, but I'm surprised by how many of the major stations in terms of signal coverage and popularity, but very few Halloween-themed and "occasional" stations were active. Instead of five or six stations on the air at the same time, it was a somewhat orderly display, with one major station leading to another.

Some old friends that I thought might be back include Undercover Radio, Renegade Radio, and a KIPM relay. And I thought there was a possibility of someone getting fired up about pirate radio and making their first broadcast this year--even if they disappeared forever afterward. Not so this year. It was a great time and plenty of stations were on the air, just a bit different from how things have unfolded in past years.

This weekend, instead of hearing overflow stations from Halloween or some repeat programs, most people seem to be resting from the activity of the past week.

Recycle Radio: 6923, 1613+ VG signal. '60s garage rock: Johnny Kidd & the Pirates "Shakin' All Over"

Reflections Europe (tent.): 6295, 2240+ Pretty good carrier, but no audio making it here. Utility QRM isn't helping

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Global HF Weekend Saturday Logs, 11/2/19

I saw that yesterday's Mix Radio International broadcast on 12095 kHz USB was heard with a good signal in England and Argyle Radio made it to England with a fair signal during its Halloween broadcast.

Mike Radio (Netherlands): 6910 USB, 2109+ This appears to be a broadcast specifically to North America because he's using SSB and in 43 meters. Weak, but can hear some clear IDs. Lots of talk. Thanks for the long broadcast for us!

Quadzilla (tentative): 6950, 2200+ Have the carrier, but no audio has made it through yet

Via SDR in Twente, Netherlands
6390, 1209 I think I heard a phone number given out as "00061126726" Weak with some clear fade ups. Wide variety of folk, pop, & modern dance music

6265, 1212 Carrier & just heard a few beats fade up.

Pre-Saturday GHFW Notes, 11/2/19

Not sure if we'll have any tests or broadcasts specifically for this season's Global HF Weekend, but the great thing is that we've got web receivers now (and plenty of them) so that we can hear stations from other parts of the world. Of course, listening to stations on your own radio is always better, but web listening beats a couple of hours listening to static, hoping that some audio will make it through on that weak carrier you've been tracking.

I'll try to update the blog from time to time today, but I'm taking my R-390A out to be electrically refurbished. It still works, but I think it needs to be recapped, realigned, etc. The PTO is non-linear by about 2 kHz and the tuning takes about 1/5 of a turn before it "catches" and engages the gear tuning system.

For anyone who isn't familiar with the R-390A, it's a U.S. military receiver that was designed by Collins Radio in the early '50s. If you want to know a bit more about the R-390A, here's a Wikipedia entry about it. If you really want to know more, an amazing amount of information is on Chuck Rippel's R-390A site. There's a ton of raw data, opinions, etc. to wade through.

I've restored & messed around with some radios here, mostly basic designs. I might consider working on an R-390A at some point, but I just want one that I can expect to work well for another 60 years. And who knows if I could ever get one tweaked to the point that the performance was top notch.

Feel free to post in the comments if you have a station that's planning to test today or tomorrow. Or you can e-mail me to post the time & frequency, but as I mentioned above, I'll be out delivering my R-390A for part of the day.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Global HF Weekend, Day 1

And, guess what? It's already time for the Global HF Weekend to start! I'm not sure what or who will be running this weekend, but I'll be following activity as closely as I can.

Skippy Radio: 6930U, 2230+ A couple of electronic songs & SSTV. Huge signal

Logs via Webreceiver in Twente, Netherlands

Enterprise Radio: 6285, 1350+ Weak/fair. Pop song into horror movie soundtrack, then howls and slow, heavy organ music. Specials “Ghost Town” Uncopyable announcements, “Ghostbusters” Computer-voiced woman with IDs & e-mail announcements

Coast FM: 6230, 1544-1552+ Singing ID, Yes “Owner of a Lonely Heart” & other pop music. Good signal, DJ back announced the song & said it’s 30 C, then read a fairly long PSA about flu vaccinations, into an ad

Laser Lot Hits: 6205, 1555+ Pop music, female ID with laser sound effects. Male DJ. Signal is only fair and much of the DJ patter isn’t copyable. Lots of quick, shallow fading

All ‘80s Jukebox: 5800, 1655+ VG signal Sheena Easton “Morning Train” ID “This is All ‘80s Jukebox” Not sure if this is a new station or if it’s someone testing with the feed from the All ‘80s Jukebox web station. Started fading heavily around 1700