This’s How I Got Into The Shortwave Hobby

I have an interesting story on how I got into shortwave radio. Let’s hop into the Tardis and go back to 1997. Being 13 years old, a young Chris Freitas was a member of the Boy Scouts.

Because I was a part of this organization, Boy’s Life magazine shipped to my mailbox each month. In the December 1997 issue, there was an article titled “Tune In To The World.” This printed piece literally changed my life.

BoysLife-Shortwave

While reading the article, I was amazed that there were radios capable of receiving global signals. There had to be more information. Thus, I went to the Millington Public Library (Millington is a suburb north of Memphis, TN and my hometown).

Using slow dial-up internet and reading Passport to World Band Radio, I learned more about shortwave radio, international stations, and frequencies. Before buying one at Radio Shack, there was an epiphany.

I already owned a shortwave radio and just realized it at that moment. Months before reading the article, my next-door neighbor friend sold me his radio for $25.

I thought it was neat. It was my first shortwave radio: the Worldstar Multi Band Receiver MG 6100 sold by Sears.Worldstar Radio

My first two years as an SWL were amazing. I would sit outside on weekends with my radio and listen to the BBC, RTI, RCI, HCJB, VOA, RNW, and many others.

A QSL collection grew and station stickers littered the top of my radio. I wrote to Boy’s Life about it and they paid me some money for the article.

There were great programs like Musical Mailbag, live sports, DX Partyline, and Play of the Week that I would tune into every week. My parents “loved” it, as I annoyed them with loud static.

Unfortunately with all good things, the band knob on my Worldstar radio broke. However, my father conceded to a birthday wish and bought me a Radio Shack DX-397 (my dad told me that he still has it).

I also bought a book from Radio Shack titled Listening To Shortwave. Even for the late ’90s, it was a bit outdated but there were some interesting tips about shortwave.

It also came packaged with a cassette tape (Yes, I still remember them). It was called “Sounds of Shortwave.” If you want to listen, here’s Side A and Side B.

After three years of shortwave radio listening, it was not long before changing my childhood dream of becoming a TV weatherman (I had a crazy fascination with weather and still do). Instead, I wanted to be a radio announcer (or at least work at a station).

In 2000, the Delta Amateur Radio Club was present at a “Scout Base” on Naval Support Activity Mid-South. It was there that I earned my radio merit badge and perhaps my first on-air appearance.

Since then, I’ve been to college and earned my Bachelor’s of Arts in Communications. I am now working part-time at a local radio station. I have yet worked at an international station, but still pursuing that endeavor.

20140223_131624Several stations like the BBC, Radio Canada, and Radio Netherlands left shortwave in North America. I have also been through various radios including the Grundig Mini World 300 PE, Eton E5, and Sony ICF-7600GR.

As of now, I am using a Tecsun PL-660 and I love it. Although there are fewer stations on shortwave these days, I still enjoy tuning the bands to catch some exciting sounds halfway around the world.

Chris Reviews Final Fantasy VI Android

10250139_10100987630802140_8852009242215364880_nSince its January 2014 release onto Android, I have been extensively playing Final Fantasy VI on Android. It has yet to be completed, but this game has been played through various versions on Super Nintendo, PlayStation, and Game Boy Advance. By far, this is my favorite version.

If anyone hasn’t played through this 20 year-old RPG, then here is a quick spoiler free background. The Gestahlian Empire, led by the crazed mage Kefka, lays siege to various towns worldwide using weapons of magical destruction. Piloting Magitek armor and unaware of her actions, the young Terra plows through the snowy, mountainous Narshe in search of an Esper. She soon gets entangled in quest of finding herself and saving the world.

There have been several tweaks to this classic game. Firstly, the graphics have been redone for high-resolution displays. All sprites and backgrounds are remastered and look sharp and crisp. This version has polarized fans, but I actually like the new design.

The user interface, particularly in battles, have changed as well. The Active Time Battle (ATB) still remains, but instead of a bar the character menus speed up to the top of the screen during battle. Menus have also been optimized to make use of the touch screen. Sadly, Square-Enix has yet to add controller support.1800310_10100953146748460_1115771694_n

In terms of performance, Final Fantasy VI runs well. As long as you have a current Android device like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, HTC One, or Nexus 7, there will hardly be any hiccups.

While the mobile version has been reworked, the plot remains the same as the GBA version. It carries the same script and extra scenes from that version, which had a better translation. Additionally, the extra summons, skills, and weapons from FF6 GBA can be obtained in the mobile edition.

My only criticism is the high-price point. It currently costs a hefty $15.99 on the Google Play Store, but it is still worth the price of admission. Final Fantasy VI, despite its age, still handles its own against many modern games in its class.