An Introduction to Shortwave Listening

When you begin shortwave listening you are in for an exciting time. While television watchers wait for the long promised 500 channels, shortwave listeners already have an extensive variety of programs at their fingertips. You can listen to one of the world's most respected news programs from England's BBC World Service or tune in to Monitor Radio International for a different perspective on world events. Or maybe you would prefer special features such as China Scrapbook or a Cooking Show from China Radio International or maybe Arts or Politics from Radio Australia. You can learn Russian by Radio from the Voice of Russia World Service and Japanese from Radio Japan. This is just a small sampling of programs that appear regularly on the shortwave band.

Shortwave refers to the frequencies above the medium wave broadcast band. This range of frequencies generally includes 2 MHz (2000 kHz) to 30 MHz although shortwave broadcasters use specific bands within this range. See the section Where and When to Listen for more detail on these bands.

To receive shortwave broadcasts you will need a shortwave receiver. Normal household radios that are suitable for MW broadcast reception cannot usually receive the shortwave bands. For that, you need a shortwave receiver that can tune the higher frequencies. Often you can pick up a good used receiver at an amateur radio flea market. Or you can buy a new radio. These can vary from a simple portable in the under $100 price range up to as much as you want to spend.

So whether you want to listen to Jazz from Radio Habana Cuba, catch the latest DX news from HCJB in Quito, Ecuador, hear the tango from Radio Argentina, or keep up to date with politics and sports from Deutsche Welle, Germany it's all there waiting to be heard on the shortwave bands. The section What You Need to Hear Shortwave Stations will tells you what is needed to get started in this hobby.

Text © 1999 Don Cassel VE3BUC
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