Thursday, September 29, 2016

The return of Radio Delta

The Dutch pirate MW scene in the 1970s was very different to what we have now. If you think there's lot of stations on air these days, there were even more back then. And you could hear plenty of international programmes with all sorts of music, particularly rock, regularly taking the band by storm.

Radio Johnny Walker was one of the big names and, like many stations of the day, he could be found on 1.3 MHz. Another that could often be heard around this area of the band was Radio Delta from Elburg. They later found their way on to shortwave, where they were last heard nine years ago. But it all started out on MW, although they haven't been heard on the band since the late 1970s. Until now.

Last Friday night (September 23) at just before 2300 UTC a signal appeared on 1650 kHz. Reception here in the UK was fair, with peaks up to a sinpo reading of 35333. There were no announcements, just non-stop music. But, nearly 40 years since they were last on the band, this was the first test transmission from Delta. 

On Monday and Tuesday night there were more tests on the frequency - and these are in preparation for programmes with plenty of chat and English music, harking back to the days when Delta first started out. Transmitter power at the moment is around 150 watts into a 60-metre longwire antenna, but there are plans to increase the output to ensure a good signal into Europe.

These are exciting times . . . the Dutch MW pirate scene could really do with another station catering for an international audience. Roll on the day when programmes start for real.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Pictures from the Pier

I've been enjoying Thursday evening listening to the radio while getting some work done. There has been all sorts of music coming out of the speakers here, courtesy of a handful of pirate broadcasters from the Netherlands.

One of the best signals tonight came from Wadloper, who was joined in the studio by Relmus, and together the Pier Clan were on 1646 for a good few hours blasting away some great music. They sent me these pictures from the studio while they were on air. You can see the antenna mast, stretching up into the night sky, together with the transmitter, variac, which controls the power supply, and the power meter.


When Wadloper closed down, the Witte Raaf, also from Friesland, came on the air and continued the music. His signal has had some super peaks, like most of the stations on air tonight, including Napoleon on 1629 kHz, Bluebird (1638) and Radio Alice, usually to be heard on SW but on 1620 tonight. That's the first time I've heard him on 1.6 MHz. Hopefully it won't be the last. And perhaps tonight will go on a bit longer than I expected - Barones signed on 1625 kHz a few minutes ago!

I made some recordings tonight as usual, and you can get a real flavour of how the pirates were coming through tonight.

Midweek breakfast surprise
The sun is rising here at about 0645 at the moment and, as I've mentioned before, it's not easy to catch pirates at this location during the daylight hours, so I had a nice surprise on Wednesday morning when at 0800 local time there was a signal coming through on 1636 kHz on the Lowe HF150 receiver. 

Reception came up quite nicely after a few minutes and the signal was perfectly listenable. I had my suspicions I was tuned in to
Radio Havanna who always uses this frequency and gets a very good signal into the UK. When I could still hear the signal at 0900 I was sure it was him. And sure enough came the ID.

I'm looking forward to the clocks going back an hour next month so that more early morning reception of the Dutch guys is possible. There are plenty of stations who don't transmit at night which means I don't get to hear them very often.

And here's what I've been listening to over the last few days:

Thursday, September 15, 2016
1620          1955         Alice 35333 music programme
1629          1956         Napoleon 33433-45444 music programme
1638          1957         Bluebird 55444 programme
1646          1957         Wadloper 45444 music programme
1646          2017         Zwarte Bizon 42433
1615          2047         Uniek 35333-45444 music programme
1645          2104         Witte Raaf 35333-45444 music programme
1625          2231         Barones 55444-55555 music programme

Wednesday, September 14, 2016
1636          0700         Havanna 25322 music programme
1620          2122         Vloedgolf 45444 qsoing
1629          2124         Noordzee 35333-45444 music programme
1613          2130         Monte Carlo 45343 qsoing
1633          2131         Barcelona 54444 qsoing
1620          2215         Mi Amigo 33333-44444 report for Noordzee
1640          2216         Professor Sickbok 55444 report for Noordzee
1625          2231         Pandora 55444-55555 music programme 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016
1620          2300         Barones 55444-55555 music programme

Monday, September 12, 2016
1660          2115         Blackbeard 35443 music programme
1615          2116         Uniek 45444 music programme
1640          2117         Veronica 35333-45444 music programme
1634          2120         Melkbus 35333 music programme
1645          2138         Monte Carlo 35343 report for Veronica
1620          2206         Monaco 34333 report for Uniek
1635          2206         Monte Carlo 35443 report for Uniek  
1626          2206         Melkbus 35333-45444 report for Uniek
1641          2219         Casablanca 55444-55555 report for Uniek
1628          2225         Melkbus 35343 qsoing
1624          2241         Jeneverstoker 25322 qsoing

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Happy memories

I've been listening to MW for the last half hour or so tonight. When I tuned in on this Sunday evening the first three stations I heard were Barones (1624), Matrix (1670) and Batavier (1615). By the strangest of coincidences these three Dutch pirates were all at our wedding nearly four years ago! 

Matrix and Batavier have now closed down for the evening, but Barones is still going strong with his usual powerful signal. 

I didn't get chance to listen too much last night, but I did catch a few stations. Polidor is one I don't hear very often so it was a change to get him coming in very well on 1644 kHz, while Blauwe Koe was on 1629 with a long programme in which plenty of alcohol seemed to be consumed! He eventually closed down at 0050 UTC, just before 0300 in the Netherlands!

Sunday, September 11, 2016
1638          1640         Bluebird 25342 music programme
1670          2018         Matrix 34343 music programme
1624          2018         Barones 55444-55555 music programme
1615          2018         Barones 24332-34443 music programme via Batavier
1615          2025         Batavier 34333-44444 music programme
1631          2027         Melkbus 23332 music programme      
1642          2033         Digitaal 44444 music programme 

Saturday, September 10, 2016
1644          2301         Polidor 44444 music programme
1648          2301         Moby Dick 44444 music programme
1629          2305         Blauwe Koe 35232-45444 music programme
1655          2310         Snowman 25322 music programme

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Early start, early finish

It's very quiet on MW on Wednesday evening as I write this - in fact, I can't find any pirate activity. So I'm listening to Radio Mi Amigo 259, run by a longtime British pirate who has broadcast offshore, on land, on FM, MW and SW and who can now be found on the internet every Wednesday and Sunday evenings.

This morning kicked off with a big signal from Zender Johan on 1620 kHz, but it was one for the early risers as he signed on at 0423 UTC, although that is a more civilised time of 0623 in the Netherlands.

There was a killer signal earlier this evening from Schaduwjager, and last night Bluebird was similarly strong. I've made some recordings in the last few days, which you can find below. It never ceases to amaze me just how well some of the Dutch pirates can be heard in England. Last night I listened to the last 30 minutes of the Bluebird broadcast on the tiny Tecsun radio with with only the in-built ferrite antenna. Sure, the signal was not as impressive as on other receivers connected to the outdoor loop antenna, but it was very listenable and had some great peaks.

The first station I heard on Tuesday was at 1645 UTC, a clear sign that autumn is on the way. The window for hearing Dutch pirates on MW here in England is becoming greater every day.

And some logs from this week:

Wednesday, September 7, 2016
1620          0423         Johan 55434 music programme
1630          1829         Oldtimer 35443 music programme
1611          1857         Poema 34333 testing
1620          1929         Schaduwjager 55544-55555 asking for report

Tuesday, September 6, 2016
1620          1645         Nova 4 25352 qsoing
1620          1647         Spanningzoeker 35343 qsoing
1636          1651         England 25342 qsoing
1632          1655         Oldtimer 25332 qsoing
1630          1708         Smokkelkapitein 25332 qsoing
1630          1845         Marianne 44444-55444 music programme
1660          1920         Blackbeard 24332-34333 testing
1624          1925         Melkbus 24322 music programme
1645          1927         Turfsteker 24222 music programme
1638          2032         Melkbus 24322 music programme
1638          2222         Snowman 24342-34443 music programme
1633          2235         Bluebird 55555 music programme

Monday, September 5, 2016
1640          1830         Veronica 35443 music programme
1650          1834         Vrijevogel 25232 music programme
1660          1839         Mike 35333 testing, later in USB (45444)
1635          2120         Bluebird 55444 music programme


  • Not so long ago the majority of Dutch pirates were using top-loaded coil antennas which give out plenty of groundwave, perfect in a country the size of the Netherlands. However, the inverted L is now becoming increasingly popular, and two stations have been testing this design in the last few days. Poema was trying it out on Wednesday evening on 1611 kHz with good results, while on Monday, MW newcomer Mike Radio was giving it a go. He also did something you don't hear on MW very often, and tried out some USB broadcasting, and with great results, too. Check out the recording below and you'll see what I mean
  • Blackbeard crept back up on to 1.6 MHz on Tuesday night, switching from 1494 to try 1660. Reception was substantially better on this clear channel and was very listenable at times. He too is using an inverted L antenna.
  • Radio England is a new name but a MW regular. 1636 is his usual frequency of choice, and he's been playing plenty of Swinging Radio England jingles on recent broadcasts, although if you listen carefully he usually drops his regular station name into his talking at some point!
And on to some recordings made during the last few days:

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Breakfast time is best (if you're awake)

It's been a very quiet Sunday evening on the pirate radio scene - on SW and on MW - largely owing to poor propagation conditions. I was looking forward to catching some of the Free Radio Service Holland on 5800 kHz tonight, but the signal never made it here (unless I was checking at the wrong time) and the band remained very quiet all day.

I'm listening to Witte Tornado on 1647 as I write this and, although the signal is perfectly listenable, it is down on usual and the noise level is higher too. 

There was plenty of activity from the Netherlands on MW this morning, although I was too busy sleeping to actually try and catch any of it. I hear that Turftrekker started things going nice and early on 1620 kHz - a change from Zonnester or Bootsman who can usually be found on the frequency at this time. And when Turftrekker closed down there was an appearance from Zonneschijn.

What interested me the most though, was some in-band activity. Shortwave pirate Mike Radio recently tried MW for the first time, and this morning he was busy on 1593 kHz. Just down the band was Sunday morning regular Zwarte Valk on 1539, while Quintus was occupying 1512. Also broadcasting in the main part of the MW band was Antonio, broadcasting on 1422. 

I must try and wake up earlier next week in an attempt to hear some of these stations.

Here are some logs from this side to keep everything up to date. All times are UTC as usual, while the receiver is the Lowe HF225 and antenna the usual outdoor Wellbrook loop pointing directly towards the Netherlands.

Sunday, September 4, 2016
1647          1822         Witte Tornado 35333 music programme
1637          1824         Melkbus 24322 music programme
1640          1825         Veronica 25322 qsoing
1615          1832         Odynn weak signal music programme
1620          1841         Weduwe 35333 music programme
1638          2054         Bluebird 45444 music programme
1640          2200         Veronica 32432 report for Witte Tordano
1614          2202         Johan 45434 report for Witte Tornado
1645          2206         Monte Carlo 25222 report for Witte Tornado

Saturday, September 3, 2016
1620          2250         Barones 55444 music programme
1648          2252         Moby Dick 45333-45444 music programme
1654          2255         Snowman 33333 music programme
1630          2256         Noorderzon 24332-35333 music programme
1636          2258         Barones 35333 live relay
1636          2328         Radio England (Romax) 35333-45434
1625          2338         Pandora 55444 music programme