World Band Radio

I was at a used bookstore recently and I came across Passport to World Band Radio, a 1992 edition. Partially because I couldn’t resist the Gahan Wilson illustration on the cover, partially because I’m curious as to whether or not the majority of the stations listed in the book would still be operational.

Would they?

I don’t have a world band radio, but I’d buy one just to use it in accompaniment with that book.

What is a world band radio?

Good score on the Wilson cartoon!

Seem to be lots of them still broadcasting.

I used to have a shortwave-capable radio as a kid–got it at a yard sale or flea market, bulky thing with lots of dials and switches and gages and a rotating bar-shaped antenna on top. If it wasn’t this one, it was a close cousin.

Actually, mine might have been more like this one (though I had mine before 1990.)

AKA “shortwave” receiver – the sort of thing back then you’d use to catch BBC or Radio Moscow or Voice of America. Many shortwave broadcast stations are up and running. I’d imagine some of the ones in the book may be gone and replaced by others, some may remain but have changed frequencies or others may have such a longstanding legacy at a particular band that they stuck on, but have changed formats in the quarter century since.

And yeah, those Gahan Wilson covers (new one every year!) made that book stand out at the hobbyist section of bookstores.

I have a 20-year old Sangean ATS 909, but I haven’t used it for shortwave for um, probably 19 years. I got it with the idea I could listen to a bunch of cool stuff on SW when I was camping in the desert. I never had a lot of luck with that so it ended up being used as an expensive AM/FM clock radio.

Yeah, my step dad had one in the 70,s. I thought it was pretty cool. Talking with people all over the world.

But, with the internet, we are doing that now.

Currently browsing eBay for vintage radios. Does anyone have any suggestions as to a good radio for picking up these broadcasts, say in the under-$100 range?

To clarify: I’ve been searching for “World Band Radio” specifically, but I take it any “short wave radio” will do the trick?

It’s been a long time since I’ve tried messing around listening to shortwave (strong-signal North American broadcasts from the BBC, CBC, etc. have long since been shut down - and if you want to try to listen to Radio Bulgaria or whatever, you can just stream it on the internet nowadays) but if you want to do so, realize you will be limited by your antenna setup - start researching THAT (can you, say, run 100’ of wire in your attic or somewhere?) before you buy anything…

Grundig Yacht Boy

I can, but I’ve got too much on my plate at the moment to deal with any more tinkering. It would be a cool project some point down the road though.

Are there any of these radios available on eBay that will be able to pick up a decent number of these signals with just the stock antenna?

IMO, no - the physics of the signal wavelength etc. are what they are.

Do you enjoy listening to weak, static-y, AM radio stations playing random stuff you probably aren’t interested in?

That’s similar to what you’re going to get AT BEST - more likely, you won’t be able to pick up anything at all - I mean, it’s 2018 - getting into shortwave radio is about like getting into refrigerators powered by blocks of ice.

(FYI I do have a Grundig radio like the one linked to above.)

I’m not sure what you mean by a “vintage” radio; you probably do not want anything predating integrated circuits…

I would not worry about any labels like “world-band radio” and “short-wave radio”. What you should worry about is the actual frequency range of the receiver. Continuous coverage of at least 100-30000 kHz is what you want; that should get you all those broadcast stations. Look for a decent transistorized PLL-based tuner, not anything too “vintage”, and you absolutely need a FM/USB/LSB/DSB switch because different stations use different modulation, as you can see on the broadcast schedule.

I’ve used those portable battery-powered radios while travelling; they’re OK. They have a telescoping antenna that you can extend and rotate until you get the best reception. On the right frequency at the right time of day, you can get quite decent reception over many thousands of kilometers; stations like the BBC broadcast on many different frequencies depending on the time of day and transmitter location.

Why speculate, when you can try before you buy? Go to one of those sites that has a remote-controlled receiver hooked up to the internet, and tune in different stations to see if there is anything you like.

Will something like this get it done? Or does the frequency coverage not extend high enough?

That one appears to cut off at 28 Mhz rather than 30 as suggested, but it should work fine. It likely has connection points on the back for a ground connection and a “long wire” connection which will greatly increase reception quality.

I have a Sony ICF-2010 bought in the early 90s and it still works fine. I’m a Ham and have several HF transceivers, but the Sony is portable.

One like the second one I linked would cost you around 22 bucks including shipping.

Specifications say it covers 525-1610 and 3900-28000 kHz as well as 87.5-108 MHz, which is OK. I never had one, but some reviews say it has good medium-wave performance and adequate shortwave performance.

What I would be more worried about is what shape it is in. Your link describes a used unit with a broken FM antenna, and who knows about the rest of it with 40-year-old capacitors and what not.

I have a portable Sony ICF-SW7600-something sitting somewhere. The digital tuning/scan comes in handy sometimes.