It has been a while since this issue has come across my mind. As international broadcasters transmitting to North America continue to dwindle, I wonder whether or not if I should still listen to shortwave radio.
Most of the stations I listened to left this medium and have found the internet. To be honest, I’ve found myself listening to internet radio and podcasts more frequently than my shortwave radio. Broadcasters such as the BBC, Radio Australia, Voice of America, and Deutsche Welle can be found on the web.
Instead of grabbing my Tecsun PL-660, I am using my HTC One as my radio. Using apps like TuneIn Radio, iHeartRadio, and PocketCasts, I am listening to content that I would have normally heard on the HF bands as a kid or perhaps would never hear (shows like “Stuff You Should Know “and “Umm Yeah Dude”). Even one of my favorite Radio Netherlands programs, “The State We’re In,” survives not on shortwave but as a podcast.
I rather connect an audio line-in cable to my phone and HD Radio/Phone dock instead of listening to static. Sound quality and content is what matters to me, not the device I am hearing it on.
With content leaving shortwave, is it even worth listening to anymore? As of this writing, I am tuned to some jazzy tunes on CBC Radio One via TuneIn Radio. Aside from Radio Habana Cuba, extreme right-wing religious broadcasters, ham radio operators, and stations transmissions targeted to regions far from North America…it seems like I should close this fun, exciting chapter of my life.
However, I am not simply giving up on a fascinating hobby just quite yet. Yes, internet radio is awesome but shortwave radio is here to stay for just a little while longer.
There are some smaller stations like PCJ Media that are expanding their HF presence, thanks to the free space in the bands. In addition, I have two big annoyance with internet radio: buffering and connection caps (thanks Comcast). Hence, this is a reason my Tecsun radio is turned on and not my TuneIn Radio app.
Regardless, I find it hard to recommend a shortwave radio to anyone who has not bothered to have an interest in the hobby. For people interested getting into international broadcasting, internet radio works just fine.
I am also set on the Tecsun PL-660 being the last shortwave radio that I’ll ever buy. Aside from listening to local and national stations, I won’t have a use for it as SW broadcasters continue to leave the airwaves.
I haven’t abandoned the hobby but it’s getting time to “throw in the towel.” It’s been fun and there are some great experiences that will stay with me.
I even have a nice collection of QSL cards, but this 16 year-old hobby has ran its course. It’s time to fully move onto the wonderful world of Internet radio.
Despite the change in my listening habits, I did manage to catch Radio Romania broadcasting on 6145 kHz on 1/20/2014 around 0100 UTC. This transmission is being received in Memphis, TN USA. Sorry for the blue tint as this is recorded from my HTC One, which has a camera glitch that causes a blue tint to most photos and video (not a white balance issue).