Short-wave Radio

I do not have a television, and I do not listen to local commercial FM stations where they have only music and a lot of advertising. In my view, it only makes sense to listen to international short-wave stations, where there is a lot of interesting information. Nowadays, when entire countries stick to the box in the evening watching another soap, the short-wave radio sounds weird. Many people have no idea that it even exists. But they had better do.

The earth is round. Since radio waves propagate roughly speaking as a crow flies, broadcasting is possible only within the limits of direct visibility. That is the reason why they try to make TV towers as tall as possible, and that is why cell phones do not work in the country. However, short-wave (from 10 through 100 meters) has a feature. The upper atmosphere layer is constantly bombarded by cosmic rays. As a result, the air is ionized. We will not delve into physics, let us simply note that such ionized gas is mirror for short-wave (the idea is the same as in the case of the surface of metal). The earth can reflect radio wave too. What do we have? A wave sent in the sky at an angle to the horizon, will be reflected by the ionosphere. But when it falls on the earth, it will be reflected as well. In this way it can travel beyond the horizon and you can listen to the Voice of America in Siberia.

Using the radio you can learn a foreign language very efficiently. You can read about it in my article “English By Radio”.
I also have the list of major stations. All of them have an English service and many also broadcast in Russian. Most have online presence.
At the next page there are frequencies of the stations broadcasting in English and Russian. There is also a broadcasting grid, that I compile basing on what I can currently listen to in Ukraine.

Real Audio

Unfortunately, a computer can cause heavy interference with the radio. So, as I spend most of my time at my desktop, I do not listen to the radio as much as I used to. Sound cards with radio let you only listen to the FM band that I do not want whatsoever. This sad situation changed, however, when I was lucky to locate a link to special software. Many radiostations let listeners tune in via the Net using so called real audio. However, it requires very good connection, let alone the necessity to be online during the entire broadcast. Since my Internet access had always been limited and the quality was very low, I would never think about that seriously and with time I forgot about this possibility.
But everything changes, and my Internet access situation is not so hopeless now… Surfing the web pages of international radiostations I remembered about real audio, all the more as many of them had a link to Real.Com, where you could download free software. After I had installed the software, I found that I could now listen to many broadcast while online. Not all though and not all available can be listened to live, but this seems to me inessential, because the point is I can finally listen to the radio again!
Using the program you can even tune in to New York FM stations live if I am not mistaken. And of course, play MP3 and watch movies (MPEG4 & AVI). So, I did not need television before, but now I do not want it whatsoever!!

About the stations

What is so interesting about all of those radiostations? For me first of all because there are no commercials. I can understand everything, but when commercials pop up every ten minutes and last five, sooner or later it will make you crazy. However, something else is far more important. While shows at the FM stations and on TV are meant basically for fat stupid couch potatoes (it looks like teenagers know better how to have fun), short-wave broadcasts are very interesting and full of information. I always learn something new. Finally, you can always drastically improve your knowledge of a foreign language without going to that country.
So it makes me laugh when I hear opinions that short-wave radio is about to die. I know anyway that I there are a lot of like-minded people out there. In the meantime, there is hope that the problem of short-wave broadcasting will be solved in the future. I mean the fact that short-wave is subject to interference. High audio quality frequency modulation used by local stations of the VHF band cannot be applied to short-wave and amplitude modulation is used instead which picks up all rubbish on its way. The rapid development of digital technologies over the past decade gave us digital modulation, beside other things, which can be successfully applied to short-wave. The only problem is that it requires new radio sets. You can compare it to the need of replacing CPUs in all computers when switching to a new much better operating system. But I believe that sooner or later it will come and we will be able to listen to the BBC anywhere in the world just like you listen to your favorite FM station. But now we have just have Real Audio.

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