Short Wave radio has been around for a long time. It is a wonderfully reassuring feeling when far from home to listen to a familiar voice on a Short Wave radio.
Sadly, Short Wave reception is increasingly difficult for people touring France, Germany and the rest of Europe. BBC World Service signals are now aimed only at Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
But - if the skies are merciful - you can still hear the BBC bouncing off the ionosphere from somewhere distant. And China Radio International gives you a powerful signal, proudly telling listeners "we will never give up on Short Wave."
Romania, Bangladesh and the Vatican are the next most enthusiastic on
international radio broadcasting. So don't ditch the Short Wave radio,
polish it up and get tuning!
In recent years, many wonderful international radio stations went silent as their bosses found the costs of transmitting on Short Wave (usually $200 an hour) rather inconvenient. However, the stations failed to ask the listeners whether silencing their radio signals was convenient for them.
Listeners have NOT so far been seduced by the idea of listening to radio stations on their mobile phones, as currently battery power and data allowances are far too valuable, particularly when on the move. So a station announcing its Short Wave closure is effectively saying it doesn't want to exist.
In 2014, Voice of Russia stopped explaining its country's actions to the world on Short Wave radio, timed perfectly for its takeover of Crimea.
The BBC World Service cut its English Short Wave service by 60 per cent on 31st March 2013. The Cyprus Short Wave relay station, which had been in use for 50 years, has now been closed. BBC Arabic is no longer transmitted on Short Wave, except to Sudan. BBC Arabic radio is generally now only available if Arab governments choose to let their people hear the BBC on FM or online.
Now though, there are signs that Short Wave could be coming back into fashion. An effort was made in late 2014 to start a new station to the US and Europe from Florida on 9.395 MHz, appealing to those who just want to be "off grid". It couldn't find enough private funding, but the idea isn't dead. Radio Spain announced a switch off, only to return on Short Wave (although not to Europe) in early 2015. France switched off English to Africa and then switched it back on.
Many feel that the future of Short Wave is offering some signals in digital Short Wave, which overcomes the problematic sound quality of traditional Short Wave reception and magically upgrades it to near FM clarity. This can be done by sending the signal in DRM, which stands for the Digital Radio Mondiale standard. New receivers are expected to come to the market soon (check Amazon etc) that can decode DRM, as well as pick up all the other listening bands.
Romania and All India Radio are particularly enthusiastic on DRM, although
the digital signal from India to Europe (having travelled 5,000 miles) is
not always strong enough to be an effective service. The BBC's DRM service
is one hour a day to Europe from its Short Wave station in Woofferton in
Australia closed its shortwave service to the Pacific - signals that
were often heard all over the globe. But Radio New Zealand maintains
its shortwave service, understanding that the role of a broadcaster is
to provide a service that is free of the unreliability / bother /
censorship / hacking and govt monitoring risks that come if you try to
deliver international radio programmes solely via the internet. The BBC
has confirmed its Thailand relay station has closed after it failed to
reach an agreement with the Thai government for a new lease on its site
at Nakhon Sawan.
UPDATE SEPT 2018:
Kuwait has come to the rescue of short wave listeners in the mornings with a brand new signal from 6-9am UK time on 15.53 MHz. There's news and music - all in English.
Radio Romania continues to power the strongest signal into North West Europe. Listen in from 6.30-7am on 9.70 MHz. Meanwhile China starts up at 8am on 13.71 and 17.49 MHz and continues all day.
You can also try Radio Austria on 6.155 MHz from 6-7.15am BST with news in German plus plenty of classical music. The BBC is normally inaudible in the mornings with the best hope being at 8am on 15.40 MHz.
In the European evening, there’s a lot more choice. India sends a clear signal for much of the evening to Europe on 7.55 MHz. Romania provides 3 different transmission times. The best BBC hours are from 5-7pm on 6.195 MHz and 7.445 MHz. The details are in the charts! When trying to find an interesting programme to listen to, it can be difficult to know what to look for. But these charts make reception quick and easy.
SUMMER LISTENING (April to October):
In all languages, listening in NW Europe from 1400-2300 GMT in September 2018
WINTER LISTENING (October to March):In the European winter morning, Radio Romania is powering a signal into Western Europe at 6.30am on 7.345 MHz, while China launches in English at 7am on 17.49 and 11.785 MHz and continues all day. There’s more morning choice if you speak German (Radio Austria on 6.155 with plenty of classical music) or Turkish (9.70 MHz). Your best BBC option is 6.005 MHz at 6am from Ascension Island directed at West Africa.
These charts are not exhaustive, so go to these sites for more detail:-
listening news, interviews, reviews and more:
Glenn Hauser's World of Radio: http://www.worldofradio.com/
Here's a brand new site with some great maps indicatinng where signals are targetted: http://shortwave.am/
The official broadcasters' site, but some countries don't take part: http://www.hfcc.org/data/
This one has some nice maps: http://short-wave.info/index.php
The best guide to public radio stations available online is:
The blog of Chrissy Brand, the general editor of the BDXC British DX Club, for up to date opinion on what's worth listening to:
And for up to date gossip and news, check out:
This tells you everything heard in North West Europe in English in January 2013:
Summer 2012 saw the disappearance of Radio Netherlands in Europe, while Vatican Radio ended its information programmes to western Europe. But there are still many stations on the air and these 4 charts take you on a tour of what you can hear as you wander up and down the short wave bands in the winter 2012-13 schedule:
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