AM DX'ing is a lot of fun for me. Late at night, listening to far-away
stations fade in and out as the propagation varies is both haunting and
nostalgic for me.
I like to listen to Art Bell (see
light blue sidebar), usually on 1110,
KFAB out of Omaha, Nebraska. It comes in
very well in Glasgow beginning at 11 p.m. MST. I can also hear him on 1100
and 1500. I usually use a Kenwood R-5000 and an amplified loop antenna I
have at the bedside.
Note that I have some links here you can follow to both the station and
I like to listen because it amazes me so to hear people espouse this kind
of nonsense. Try it - you'll be totally astonished at the number of
complete idiots there are in the world.
Over in the far right column you can see the various radios I've collected
over the years for SW and AM DX use - or at least, the ones I still have.
There are a bunch that I've had and sold or traded off; I'm going to try
and locate images of those, also.
The location I live in right now has a fair degree of interference, a lot
of which comes from the three computers that are running in my home at all
times (barring power failures, unfortunately common.) I've been looking at
purchasing a noise reduction device which is inserted into the antenna
line; it has it's own local antenna which picks up the local noise, and
has phase and amplitude controls which you use to re-insert the noise into
the incoming signal in inverted form, such that the noise is canceled out
and only the signal remains. I have some doubts about the potential
efficacy of this approach, but it sounds convincing in the ad (might be
kind of like listening to Art Bell!) If I talk myself into buying one of
these (they're about $200, I think) I'll provide a report of it's
effectiveness here at that time. I sure could use a noise reduction
device, lawd knows...
I have SW radios in my car and in my pickup truck, as well as portables
and fixed receivers here and there about my home. OK, Yes, I like
listening to SW. :-)
So what do I listen to? Well, mostly the BBC (British Broadcasting
Corporation) out of London, England, or ABC (Australian Broadcasting...) .
Sometimes I listen to the other ham radio operators, but I very seldom
talk back to them any longer - I find the subjects they talk about to be
somewhat, shall we say, non-stimulating. I use the various time signals
and so on as they were meant to be used... my watch is always right, and I
kind of like that. And I snoop around in general, sometimes settling on a
station that is speaking one of the languages I am interested in - Korean
Here is another shortwave radio I'm looking for:
As you can see by the right hand column here, I've got quite a few
portable radios. But there's one I don't have that I've been
wanting ever since I first saw it, sometime in the 1970's. Recently, I
found one for sale, and the gentleman was kind enough to send me a
photograph of the radio, which I present to you here:
This is a Panasonic RF-8000. It has two dial regions, both of which are
switched by a motorized drive system - the dial actually rotates into place
beneath the faceplate. Tres' Cool!
As best I can remember, this radio was one (or more) thousands of
dollars. Used, it seems to be under a thousand somewhere, and I'm
trying to get one in the range I can talk myself into (which frankly
I don't know exactly what is... DX'ing is a big hobby for me.)
Why listen to shortwave?
Here is the perfect quote on the topic from a newsgroup posting, July 18th, 1998
Author: Jim Tedford
Got another reminder today why, in this day and age of CNN and
150-channel cable TV I still fiddle with noisy, fading shortwave radio
to keep informed.
The Paupa New Guinea tidal wave has gotten scant attention in the
domestic U.S. media. Thanks to BBC, R. Australia, New Zealand, and
others, we can begin to grasp what a tragedy this is. And a bit of a
wake up call for those of us who live in earthquake zones or along the
I'm totally disgusted with the lack of domestic U.S. coverage of this.
It's barely being mentioned! One would think that a disaster killing
upwards of a thousand people would rate more than this level of
But, I guess since it doesn't have anything to do with Ken Starr or Marv
Albert (and since it's unlikely there are any Americans amongst the
dead) I guess it's not important.
I guess I had forgotten just how useless 99% of the U.S. media really
Some more on Art Bell - this show is a pure "silly season" show. Tons of UFO nonsense, channeling, exorcisms, "remote viewing", you name it and if it's silly as heck, Art covers it with his tongue so far in his cheek he'd need surgery to remove it.
His style is to lead the guests along by the nose, inserting
"oh wow", "oh my" and "incredible!"
as required to keep them spewing nonsense.
There is the occasional credible "thing" covered,
such as David John Oates "Reverse Speech" escapades.
This fellow has gotten into recording various human speech and
playing it backwards, and he shows repeatedly and (in my judgment)
credibly that there are little snippets of sensibility buried
in the reversals. He's got his own website; I recommend a
visit there for some "oh wow's" of your own. :-)
On the other hand, the primary fare is purest drivel. Some for
There's this absolute loony who babbles about the Cydonia region
on mars, how the faces and the general plateau region are absolute
proof of a Martian civilized presence at one point. He presents this
in such a way that you can almost
swallow it, but then he goes off on a rant about the elevation
of 33 degrees over the horizon is some magic number and NASA is
involved in a plot to suppress information and hide the orbiter
data from us, etc., etc. By the time he's off the air my ribs hurt
from laughing so much. What a clown. :-)
There's this "exorcist" fellow who gets on
occasionally. He's soft-spoken, about as credible as you
can be given the subject matter, and kind of spooky to
listen to, no matter if you believe or not. I don't,
but he certainly has that "scare the fecal matter
out of you around the campfire" approach down pat.
While we're on the subject of religious kookery, Bell
has had a woman on who claims she's a witch; I wasn't
convinced (even a little bit) of that claim, but she
certainly is one sick, clueless puppy. And someone I
wouldn't want around my friends or family.
There's a native American Indian guy who has brewed up
all manner of superstitious nonsense into a pot of
new age blarney. He goes on and on about the spirits,
the tribes, the land, until you want to take the
fellow's scalp and hang it out to dry. I find this
guy a little more obnoxious than the run of the mill
Bell guest, because the way I see it, he's simply
promoting ignorance in the guise of culture. Culture
is best described to me by the continuing development
of sophistication, grace and knowledge. Lack
of culture is primitive activity, religion and
superstition, or the maintainance thereof. IMHO. :-)
Then there are the "Remote Viewers." Here we
have a group of people whom it would be hard to exceed
for lack of credibility. Tales of canceled
government programs for telepathic sensing of future
events and locations of current objects are credible
to me - I have great faith in our government's ability
to make stupidity the norm. After all, aren't we the
country based on superstition (In God We Trust), myth
(All Men Are Created Equal) and lies (anyone can become
president)? Why, sure. :-) But where the presentations
get amazing is in the claims for effectiveness and
reliability. Trust me, if this stuff was working, you
wouldn't have a canceled Govt. program, you'd have an
active program and laws to arrest people before
they commit crimes, among other significant social changes.
It's a lot of fun to listen to, though.
Bell plays sound clips from time to time - outragously
bad fakes of (claimed) Yeti or Bigfoot creatures,
puported screams of the damned alleged to have come
from holes in the groud (and which any competent
audio engineer will recognize as a non-professional
running a reverb algorythm or resonator to it's
limits with garbage sound input.)
He claims to have seen UFO's himself; with his wife
as a second witness to the event. He receives claims
of UFO sightings as a long lost brother would as a
consequence - it's pretty hard to take. mind you, I'd
be the first guy in line to say I wish we had some
visitors - I think it's technically and scientifically
plausable that interstellar distances can be crossed
by beings with longer lifespans and more available
resources than we presently have. I just think the
odds of it being us visited are low, given what we
know of the physics involved right now.
Art Bell has this, ah, "theory" he calls
"The Quickening" in which he calls our attention
to the fact that things are changing faster and faster
(gee, really?) and that this (ready?) is a portent of
(unspecified) things to come and for which we had better
be ready. He points at the weather, pollution, population,
wars, you name it, he points at it. It's fun to try and follow;
sort of like trying to follow a celibate priest's arguments
for abstinence - he has no flipping idea what he's talking
about, but there's a heck of a lot of circular reasoning to
dig through before you can prove that - and before you get
there, the priest has left (and Art has hung up on the
caller trying to make his or her point... :-)
You can't believe the fun I have listening to this. My sweetheart
and I have a great time poking fun at the specious reasoning,
clueless guests, synchophant callers and lunatic theories
Art Bell's forum doses the airwaves with night after night.
It's worth a try. Think of it as shock therapy. :-)
I sort of got into this by circumstance, rather than planning.
I had a problem. The kind of music I like just isn't available
where I live. The local station plays top 40, alternative and country.
It has such bad production problems that listening to it is an exercise
in thinking "Man, if I were running that station...".
I have a DSS dish, and it has a classic rock channel, but it's
pretty confused - for instance, they think Bob Dylan, a folk singer, is "classic
rock". He's anything but. Anyway, it can be difficult to listen
One day, I was listening in my car, just sort of tuning around, and
I heard KRKX, a station about 179 air miles from here. I was
surprised, and delighted, because they're a classic rock station,
my preferred class of music.
In the next few weeks, I heard them many more times, and I began
to realize that it must not be all that difficult to hear them.
Eventually, I set up a small yagi antenna on my roof, and in time,
it got pointed at Hardin (where the transmitter is) and there they
were, not too bad at all, though not what you'd want to listen
to all the time, what with fading and all that.
So I reached deep into my pocket and put out for a "big dog"
Now I can hear them any time of day, no problem at all. They rarely
fade below a listenable level, and most of the time, they are full
quieting, and in stereo.
This is what I presently use for FM DX'ing and listening to KRKX:
So you could say that I listen to FM DX all the time. But I actually
do some active DX'ing now - with that big an antenna, I can hear the
most amazing things. I can also tell when DX is coming in, because
my normally steady reception of KRKX gets funky. If I'm in the mood
for DX, all I have to do is touch the Marantz's tuning dial, and
there'll be some good stuff heard within minutes.
I'm hoping to have an even more sensitive Marantz before too
much longer; I won an auction on EBay for a Marantz 2110
tuner, and if it arrives as promised and works properly,
it will no doubt become the center of my FM DX/KRKX listening
DX'ing is fun. FM DX'ing is a lot of fun. I've heard FM
stations from California come in for several hours at a time!