The operator of longtime British AM pirate Radio Blackbeard asked an interesting question on his Facebook page on Monday evening. He wanted to know if anybody listens to a SW or MW station longer than the time it takes to get an identification. Good point, and one I often think about.
As readers of this blog will know, I provide lists of the Dutch pirate stations I've heard on MW, which means I spend a fair bit of my time tuning around the band. I guess, in a way, that means I am a collector of station names. However, it goes a bit further than that with me - I don't listen just to catch a station name so I can send off a reception report for a QSL card.
For me, there are so many strands to our hobby. Many of the stations I hear are very low power... many talk little English... some don't have the greatest modulation... some broadcast on the same frequency and at the same time as other stations... all these are complications that I enjoy trying to master.
I also like to let the station operators know I have heard them - that signal report can bring a great deal of pride for somebody who has built his own transmitter bit by bit, trial and error over several months. I remember the first time I heard Radio Soerabaya. So does the station operator - he has the date written on a bottle in his studio. He simply couldn't believe it when I got in touch to tell him that his little transmitter was sending out a signal right across the Netherlands and into the UK. It more than made his day.
And I actually like the AM sound - those warm, rich tones you get from listening to the stations still using this old-fashioned method of transmission. You can't beat getting a cracking signal and putting it through a decent amplifier and speakers and enjoying the sheer quality.
Today I listened to a recording I made on Sunday night of the Zwarte Panter from Oldenzaal. I was busy with other things while he was on air, so I spent over two hours enjoying his programme this afternoon - unable to tune away to hear anything else - just his signal. I also listened to some other recordings I made last week - Barones, Bluebird and others, appreciating their sound and the effort I know they sometimes have to go to just to get a signal on the air.
When you have listened to as many Dutch pirates as I have, you are often able to work out who they are before they even open the microphone fader. The strength of the carrier... the stability of that carrier... the quality of the audio... the music being played... the depth of the modulation... the frequency... all clues to the station you are listening to, and I always enjoy trying to work out exactly who it is before any announcements. For me, that is another slice of the hobby that entertains me. Yes, I could switch on my FM receiver and listen to the local legal station, but where is the excitement? You'll be waiting a long time to hear music that is anywhere near slightly obscure, and most of the presenters may as well be robots. In fact, many stations are merely computers late at night, with no actual people in sight. Sure, there is any number of internet stations to tune into these days but, again, for me there is little excitement.
There is also a social aspect to our branch of the radio hobby. I've been tuning around for over 20 years and have made many friends in this country, in the Netherlands and around Europe. And it is always a bit of a thrill to hear those friends in the air, playing music for me. I know there are probably not many listeners - but I am listening, part of an exclusive club, a special band of people.
So yes, I write down the names of the stations I hear and share them here on the blog, but that is just a tiny part of my interest in the AM radio scene.
Perhaps I am a rare breed, but in my case I certainly do listen for longer than the time it takes to get an ID.
Let me know your thoughts. Leave a message on this post, drop me an email through the site, drop by the Facebook page, or make contact through Twitter. In the meantime, here are some logs from the first days of February:
Monday, February 6, 2017
1651 1628 Vrijevogel weak signal, 35333 at 1703 music programme
1628 1659 Zwarte Schaduw weak signal asking for report
1628 1709 Digitaal 35343-45444 report for Zwarte Schaduw
1655 1722 Batavier 25222-35333 qsoing
1620 1724 Johnny Camaro 25222-35443 music programme
1660 1738 Batavier 35333 qsoing
1665 1742 Digitaal 35343 qsoing
1635 1755 Digitaal 35333 qsoing
1635 1816 Vrij Drenthe 35333 qsoing
1655 1849 Batavier 45444 testing
1630 1855 Moonbreaker 35333 qsoing
1629 1857 Spanningzoeker 55444 qsoing
1611 1930 Meteoor 44444 report for Moonbreaker
1634 1950 Toulouse 35333-45444 qsoing
1611 1957 Poema 34433 qsoing. Modulation problems
1611 2006 Malibu 34433 qsoing
1611 2028 Digitaal 44444 qsoing
1635 2029 Ruisbreker 35333-45444 music programme
1629 2034 Malibu 24222-35333 music programme
1665 2037 Batavier 45434-55444 testing
1647 2222 Armada 45434-55444 music programme
1629 2222 Noordzee 35333-45444
1611 2223 Batavia 33333 music programme
1625 2230 Monte Carlo 35333 asking for report
1650 2241 Wilskracht 35333-45434 reporting
1645 2300 Monte Carlo 35333 report for Wilskracht
1652 2301 Alabama weak signal report for Wilskracht
|Radio Batavier was doing lots of testing on|
Monday evening. The reason? He's trying out
this new transmitter which is working very well
Sunday, February 5, 2017
1615 1853 Illegaal Kabaal (Zwarte Panter) 34333-45444
1626 1854 Twentana 35333-45444 music programme
1635 1854 Relmus 25322-35333 music programme
1647 1854 Witte Tornado 35333-45444 music programme
1620 2200 Alabama weak signal-25222 report for Zwarte Panter
1645 2326 Monte Carlo 35333 report for Witte Tornado
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
1623 0600 Eskimo 35443 qsoing
1629 2203 Noordzee 35333 music programme
1610 2206 Anton 34433
1635 2221 Bluebird 45434-55555 music programme
1620 2221 Anton 35333 report for Noordzee
1629 2235 Barones 43434-54444 testing new microphone amplifier
1625 2314 Barones 45434 testing