Analogue listening
January 20, 2014 4:38 AM   Subscribe

As a child, I used to love what I later found out to be called MW DXing - tuning a medium-wave radio carefully to find unusual and far away broadcasts. Has digital radio, and the ability to hear broadcasts from anywhere - both 'official' stations and amateur-run - killed this off? Is there such a thing as digital DXing?

I've had a digital radio since 2003, and we have an internet radio as well, so all the stations of the world are available to us. However, I used to find seeking out stations on the dial really fascinating (I could pick up Irish radio, Radio Sweden, pirate reggae stations, morse code stations and on one occasion the cordless phone conversations of my next-door neighbour from my basic MW receiver in NW England), and didn't even know there was a name for what I was doing until a couple of years ago. I used to write down the names of stations I found, or send off for leaflets, but I couldn't always identify everything as they were not always in English.

I acquired a second-hand ICF-SW7600GR a couple of years ago (though I need to find a mains adaptor that won't affect the signal) and I kind of miss the crackle of analogue static. However, with some analogue signals now being turned off, is it still possible to find something interesting out there? I've had a look online, but many of the sites I've come across seem aimed at ham radio people, which isn't what I'm interested in. I'm intrigued that this wee pastime I used to enjoy has a name, and I'm interested to know whether people are still doing it - rather like digging in crates is less exciting now you can buy a record in minutes online should you have the cash spare, I'm wondering whether, with technology making the world feel smaller and more accessible, it's still being done. I had a book listing all the frequencies for worldwide stations, which sadly got lost when I moved house - are things like this still being published somewhere?
posted by mippy to Technology (3 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Your radio should do great at this. To avoid the mains adapter interference, I find it best to just run it on batteries. I don't know about Europe, but the MW band is as active as ever here in the US, and loonier than ever. The international shortwave bands are still active as well and fun to scan through. You may want to check out the WRTH (World Radio TV Handbook) to find frequencies to try.
posted by DarkForest at 5:12 AM on January 20, 2014

I can't find it again now, but I remember a couple of years ago stumbling into a web site where enthusiasts were logging in to record the most distant AM station they could tune in each night. So it is still a thing.
posted by COD at 5:35 AM on January 20, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for answers so far (and digging your name, winterhill). FM radio is often unusable in London due to the amount of pirate stations - unless, of course, you want to listen to grime or happy hardcore, which you won't often find on regular networks. I'm surprised pirate broadcasting is still happening given the legal risks and the (possibly) cheaper and easier internet broadcasting methods available now. The Irish stations I used to pick up on MW were RTE 1 and 2FM, which I don't believe even broadcast on MW then.

I live on top of one of the few hills in London, next to a massive transmitter - when we moved in, I thought this would have been perfect if I were still 14 and had a CB radio. I struggled to get any useful signal on MW on our shower radio though. When I was away at Christmas and scanning on an analogue radio for the first time in years, in a rural area of Scotland where I was picking up French language stations at night, it got me thinking about this again.

REALLY intrigued by the DAB DXing - I have a small portable for my iPod which allows for fine tuning.
posted by mippy at 6:13 AM on January 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

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