Thursday, October 31, 2019

Halloween Loggings 10/31/19

Good stuff, not sure how propagation will hold up, but right now it's great, with Ion Radio only broadcasting with 5 watts and being heard here with excellent signals!

Ion Radio: 6930.2, 1430-1515* Caught the end of "Monster Mash," then some spooky-sounding talk and CW. Ads for Diet 7-Up & Shop Rite. Count Dracula story that sounds like it's from the '50s--aah, it's one of those CBS old-time-style radio shows from the early '70s. Into long segment of Watergate news. Then investigation into dairy monopoly. Phonetic IDs. This has probably been the best signal I've had from Ion

Pumpkin Patch Radio: 6925, 1753-1800*  Just tuned in to some talk that was weak & I couldn't copy. Wondered if it was Pumpkin Patch or peskies, but then it went into a song, so I knew it wasn't peskies  :)

I missed Yeah Man Radio while I was writing about my 1st Halloween pirate listening experience. Oooops, I know, I should have been near a radio.

Ion Radio: 6870, 2004+ Wow, and I thought Ion sounded good last time! Solid, peaking up around S9+5. Wonder if this is still only 5 watts? Acover of Chipmunks "Witch Doctor" & into song "Trick or Treat." Talking Heads "Psycho Killer" Phonetic IDs, computer-voiced woman with e-mail address and said it's the Halloween 2019 show

6950, 2030 Noted in passing. I think this is Radio Enterprise from Italy. I guess I need to record this with the R8 & dig up something else to record 6954U with <Later> Maybe not. I'm getting too much splatter from 6954 to try for this station right now; the sync lock seems to be just locking in on the splatter

Argyle Radio: 6954U, 2032 S9+20 signal with a country song. Seems to occasionally cut out. SSTV images, song "I Live for the Night," Beatles "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" Rough-voiced announcer on with IDs, accidentally started SSTV image while talking "Your special Halloween show from Argyle Radio"

Radio Illuminati: 5150, 2140+ Just tuned in during a song. Signal sounds good. I have it recording in the radio room & will try to listen in the basement while painting the walls. So far, it's working. A bit of painting done & I'm setting up a receiver & speakers to listen to everything better. Announcement from the Azimuth Coordinator thanking everyone for tuning in. I think he said that both Redhat & Senile Jones are taking part in the show . . . and maybe someone else? "Werewolves of London" Specials "Ghost Town" "Monster Mash" etc. Sounds great through the amp & speakers . . . I should've gone down earlier to listen!

Radio Free Whatever: 4185U, 2230+ Best sig I've had from RFW in at least a year! DW choking on salad, clarifying that he's not a commie (despite the CCCP flag avatar), shoutouts to HFU folks. I'm ready to go back down to the bunker to keep painting & listening to the audio on the big speakers

Wolverine Radio: 6960U, 0030+ Weak signal with a variety of music (blues song right now). Can't hear it on the basement setup, so I've dropped the paint roller & am listening a bit upstairs now. At least a number of people have been tuning in these shows!

Unid: 6955U, 0100+ Weak in a lot of t-storm noise, but it sounds like a MARS or military op calling someone on the frequency in a monotone. I don't recall military using this frequency. I'm recording it, just in case it's a pirate, but I thought it might be worth mentioning

X-FM: 4185, 0007+ Decent carrier, but a lot of noise. Light pop music. Had to walk the dog a couple of times, but I gave up on listening to the radio & I've been listening to the show on an SDR in Utah. Pretty good, but even noisy there. Right now (0306), Redhat's running through all of the listeners on HFU & apparently he's about ready to sign off. Too bad because I still have about a half can of paint to use up in the basement before I go to bed.

My First Halloween Pirate Radio Experience: 1984

Thirty-five years ago today, I was traveling through New England and a bit of Canada with my family. I'd been listening to pirates off and on for more than a year, but I hadn't experienced Halloween. I don't remember what happened in Halloween 1983 that I didn't hear anything. Maybe my radio wasn't working?

At some point in 1984 I sold a bunch of baseball cards to a dealer at the local mall (OK, that was a bad idea) and I think I sold my bike, too, so that I could raise the funds to buy a used Yaesu FRG-7 receiver. The Frog-7 was pathetic compared to my R8 and R-5000 (or the Sony 2010 that I later replaced it with), but it was great to finally have a real communications receiver.

I knew that Halloween was a big deal for pirates because I'd read about the escapades of WART, Munchkin Radio, KQSB, Radio Free Wave, and others that had appropriated the airwaves in prior years. But in 1984, the family vacation was scheduled completely across Halloween. I don't remember how I managed it, but somehow I was allowed to take my FRG-7. To complete the deal, I added my logbook, a pair of nasty rubbery plastic headphones that hurt my ears after about 10 minutes, and some enameled TV yoke wire.

If I remember correctly, we were driving from place to place to place, hitting up every historic spot in New England efficiently. My dad always planned out an itinerary months in advance so that we could see everything possible. On this night, I can't recall the whys or wherefores, but I don't think we pulled in for the night until after 11 PM.

One note about pirate radio in the early '80s. It was late. Sure some people were broadcasting at 2200 or so, but that was the start of it. It wasn't like today (literally today), when I heard Ion Radio at 1430 and what might have been Pumpkin Patch Radio around 1700 UTC. Back then, you just didn't hear many pirates during the daylight hours and most activity occurred between about 0000 and 0700 UTC.

Today, if I had to start listening after 0400, I might not even bother trying. But in 1984, I was really hopeful. We pulled into a BNB (I think these were more of a New England thing back then, not the schmansy place you think of now) in Newcastle, Maine, and I unpacked the Frog and started running wire around the room. Turned on the radio . . . and there was WMTV on 7440 kHz. I had heard WMTV a few times earlier that fall. The station had nice audio and broadcast the hits that were being aired on MTV at the time: The Fixx, The Cars, Yes, Scorpions, After the Fire, and The Police. They had some professional-sounding promos and announced that they were "South Florida's Best Rock" while giving out a phone number and a Del Ray, Florida, mailing address for reports. I listened to WMTV for about 75 minutes, but the signal wasn't nearly as strong as previous broadcast (no surprise, given my much greater distance from Florida when listening this time).

Part-way through this show, Radio Sound Wave fired up on 7425 kHz USB. I only heard Sound Wave for about 11 minutes this time. A couple of things that I'll never forget about Radio Sound Wave are that this is the first place I ever heard Madonna. I hadn't heard her on the radio or on a video show before--it was "Lucky Star" on Radio Sound Wave. Also, Radio Sound Wave was one of the few SSB stations back then, along with Radio Free Radio, Radio USA, and Radio Amity. Finally, I heard rumors that the station suddenly left the air in 1984 because the operator was arrested for fraud, I think. I don't know if that's true, but it was really active until that point and it quickly disappeared. Anyway, on this particular show, I think I heard a song or two by the Chipmunks, the announcer gave the mailing address, talked about QSLs, said hi to Mike Harris (a listener and, I think, ACE member), then said "This is RV and that was Radio Sound Wave" before turning off the transmitter.

By now, it was 0530 UTC and I probably should've been hitting the sack. My parents were asleep, and I think I was keeping my sister awake. I was writing notes in the logbook by the light of the FRG-7's front panel lamps. Given that my sister needed a lot of sleep, I covered part of the front panel with a shirt to try to give her a break.

In 1984, pirates weren't as concentrated around 7425 kHz as they would be around 7415 in the early '90s, so it wasn't unexpected to be tuning. At 0538, I found a huge signal on 7390 kHz with audio from horror movies, including The Exorcist. At the time, Halloween-themed programs were really unusual, so I was glued to the radio as I heard repeating clips of laughing, organ music, growling, and an announcement of "The Mister Nasty Show, ha!" This was something because the only way to create repeating clips was to splice them on an open-reel deck--so much more difficult than with today's digital audio programs. Some of the audio from movie trailers included The Night Caller, The Return of Count Jorga, Daughters of Satan, and Superbeast. Finally came the real ID: "666 on your dial, WBST, Salem, Massachussetts." WBST also played "The Witch of New Orleans," The Doors "Riders on the Storm," AC/DC "Problem Child," and Napoleon XIV "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha Ha." Another ID was "This Halloween, remember the phrase that pays, WBST brings out the beast in me." The signal was nearly perfect for the full 62 minutes that I was listening.

Finally, at the same time I was hearing WBST, I was also tuning up to 7425 kHz to hear Secret Mountain Laboratory. I think this was the first time I heard SML and the station wasn't as strong as WBST, but it was hitting S9+10, so not too shabby at all. SML featured a lot of eclectic programming and this show was about a small-time political candidate named Jack who works his way up through the political system.

At 0640 UTC, WBST was still on the air, but I knew my dad would be getting ready in just a few hours so that we could pack up the car and keep heading toward Canada. Incidentally, I think it was the next day that I would see the Radio Canada International towers at Sackville and take some photos. If I could find one of those photos, I'd post it, but I'm not sure where it is.

That was my first Halloween listening for pirates . . . and the events of the evening made a real impression on me.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Pre-Halloween Loggings and More 10/30/19

Some Halloween activity is (and has been) taking place today. Halloween pirate listening is always fun, but when it's windy and pouring rain? Of course, it's perfect.

I was running around the house setting up a makeshift antenna so that I can have the Kenwood R-5000 going in the basement while the Drake R8 is recording other stuff. Now, I need to get something set up for the R-5000 to record with. My basement (more of a cellar) is slowly getting whipped into shape (concrete and drains put in the floor a few years ago) and I'm about to work on the walls. My point is that it's a work in progress.

Over the next few days, I'll probably be posting a lot of loggings & updating the posts, so be aware that a new post might not be up, but the most recent one might be updated.

Radio Illuminati via relay: 5150, 2149+ VG signal here on both the R8 and the R-5000. Pop music interspersed with audio clips from Dr. Strangelove and numbers stations and numbers station-related SSTV images. Fun stuff to listen to on Halloween eve. Myteaquinn captured an SSTV image near the end of the show with "Radio Illuminati relayed program" on it.

Old-Time Radio unid: 6770, 2307+ I was hoping OTR would return over Halloween after weeks or months off. One of the best signals I've heard from this station over the past couple of years. Comedy program: "You know, singers run in my family." "I can see why." Into Vitalis ad.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Auds'n'Ends 10/26/19

I was planning to post this last night, but life got in the way. Maybe I'll post later tonight. We'll see.

First, a link to an underground radio-like station in New York City. As so often happens with magazine writers, they confuse radio with webcasting. If it's not on the radio, it can't be radio. But the opposite isn't true if the radio station is within the reception range of an SDR. If that's the case, a radio station is also online. But all of this is a topic for another day. The point is that it's a collective who are creating webcasts and actually have a physical location for people to come down and help out.

Next, as I've typing this (1240 UTC), I'm hearing some fairly intense Middle Eastern music on 11520 kHz. This isn't a pirate, but it's interesting in light of current worldwide political events. I've been reading about the Kurdish clandestine Denge Welat and how the Turkish government is doing its best to broadcast its own propaganda and to jam Denge Welat. As a result, there's been frequency hopping among 11520, 11530, and 11540 kHz. I have no idea if I'm listening to the Kurdish station or the Turkish one. I hate to see this level of fighting and the violations of human rights that seem to be following it, but it's great to hear radio from the source in real-time. Denge Welat does have a website but I didn't see live streaming or downloads of programming available.

I heard Radio Corsair last weekend and it sounded great on the car radio. Unfortunately, it was much worse on my R8 with the inverted V. Wonder if it's because local noise is much worse on medium wave or because the antenna isn't optimum for the frequency? I recorded it from the home receiver, but it was not the best source (a few words copyable vs. 100% understandable on the car radio). Radio Corsair was on again last night, but it seemed to be only a brief transmission and I was in the car listening just after it went off.

The last singer on 11520 reminded me of Peter Gabriel. Just singing in Arabic. Or Kurdish. The station just had some announcements.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Looking forward to Halloween 10/24/19

I'd intended to quickly post again on here . . . and that's exactly what I'm doing--except that the past 15 days have passed by in, what, about four?

Reminder: We're less than a week away from Halloween, so if you're in North America (or want to hear stations from this continent), this is a great time to do it. DXers will want to hear everything direct, but if you're not on this side of the pond, try listening on an SDR. Check the loggings on HF Underground, and start checking SDRs over here until you find good signals.

For years, the best times to listen for pirates on Halloween would be about 2200-0600 UTC. The past few years, however, the times have mostly shifted to about 2000-0100 UTC. This is more convenient for European listeners, but not great for those on the West Coast. A couple of big factors this year will be whether stations drop frequencies to maybe 4000-4100 kHz and keep broadcasting later in the evening or if all of the broadcasts will get lumped at about 2200-0000 UTC, and five stations will be on at the same time? Needless to say, I'd prefer the activity to be spread out so that I can listen to as much as possible. Otherwise, I wind up missing some of the short tests, weak carriers, and stations on oddball frequencies.

Halloween local time is generally best for listening, but some stations tend to crop up on Halloween UTC time. So, Wednesday night (local time) in NA should have a few stations, but Thursday local should be the big one.

Reminder #2: The Global HF Weekend follows Halloween, running from November 1-3. I haven't heard about specific tests yet. I plan to be updating my blog with advance tests if/when I receive notice & also post logs. Because of the conditions lately, no one's been too adventurous about testing on high frequencies. We'll see if that changes. If not, look for shows in the standard frequency ranges: 6770-6980, 6200-6320, & 4000-4100 kHz

Halloween wish? Hmmm . . . one real treat would be a new Halloween program from He-Man Radio, after about two decades away from the bands. His trick or treat night show from around '96 or so was one of my Halloween listening highlights. Maybe I should start thinking about some other Halloween radio treats from the past to mention in the upcoming week.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Auds'n'Ends 10/9/19

As promised, here's my Captain Morgan clock, QSL #122, from 2008. I don't know how many of these have been sent out, but the generosity of many pirate ops is really something.

I think I heard Crystal Radio a couple of times on Sunday on 6950.5 kHz. I made recordings, but both times, the signal was too weak to pull any details. The past couple of days, I've missed their relays of Samurai Radio on the same frequency. I think these Samurai Radio shows were from around 1983 or '84 because the station operator was announcing the old Battle Creek, Michigan, maildrop.

Another station that I've wanted to log is Radio Corsair, the medium wave pirate on 1710 kHz. It was on last night and I forgot to check the car radio. Tonight I did listen, but only had WQFG689 with a "technical difficulties" loop announcement. Every time this happens, I think they should just bring in the WHOT guys to broadcast via their transmitter.

Because this post is called "Auds'n'Ends," I need some audio, so here's Kilokat7's recording of Radio Corsair from about two weeks ago. It's really rough, but the signal starts getting a bit better around the 8-minute mark