Listen to the Globe

There was a time when electronic hackers (or hobbyist, enthusiasts, geeks, or whatever you want to be called) were better than average at geography. Probably because most of us listened to shortwave radio or even transmitted with ham radio gear. These days, if you try listening to shortwave, you have to be pretty patient. Unless you want to hear religious broadcasters or programming aimed at the third world, there’s not much broadcast traffic to listen to anymore

The reason, of course, is the Internet. But we’ve often thought that it isn’t quite the same. When you tuned in London on your homebrew regenerative receiver, you wanted to know where that voice was coming from, and you couldn’t help but learn more about the area and the people who live there. Tune into a BBC live stream on the Internet, and it might as well be any other stream or podcast from anywhere in the world.

The New Shortwave

Maybe we need to turn kids on to Radio Garden. Superficially, it isn’t a big deal. Another catalog of streaming radio stations. You can find plenty of those around. But Radio Garden has an amazing interface (and a few other unique features). That interface is a globe. You can see dots everywhere there’s a broadcast station and with a click, you are listening to that station. The static and tuning noises are a nice touch.

Other Features

As for the other features, the site itself explains it best:

In the section on History you can tune into clips from throughout radio history that show how radio has tried to cross borders. How have people tried to translate their nations into the airwaves? What did they say to the world? How do they engage in conversation across linguistic and geographical barriers?

Click over to Jingles for a world-wide crash course in station identification. How do stations signal within a fraction of a second what kind of programmes you are likely to hear? How do they project being joyful, trustworthy, or up to the minute?

Then stop and listen to radio Stories where listeners past and present tell how they listen beyond their walls. How do they imagine the voices and sounds from around they globe? How do they make themselves at home in the world?

Gateway Drug?

If you are an old shortwave fan, you might find this interesting. If you know a kid who might be turned to the dark arts of radio, show them the site. If you do get a kid hooked on radio, the next step is a cheap software defined radio. Of course, there’s not much to listen to on shortwave, so maybe you can try listening to public service radio, too.

19 thoughts on “Listen to the Globe

    1. No. You need an upconverter for RTL-SDR type dongles that were intended to sample a higher frequency range. If you’re using an SDR that was intended to receive MF and HF frequencies (SDRplay, KiwiSDR), no upconverter is needed.

  1. So the world goes from wired to wireless and back to wired. That’s progress? I suppose in some ways it is, considering that any internet-connected device can serve as the “radio”. Ham radio is alive and well by the way. There are more licensed hams today than there ever has been.
    – n0xmz

  2. I have my license for a while now, and the biggest problem I have is setting up an antenna. It’s really a problem if you live in an apartment. Currently I’m thinking magnetic loop, but it’s not really a good transmit antenna. And I’m a bit weary to ask for access to the roof, I’m not even sure if it will be feasible to put something up there and have a coax to my place (bottom floor). So yeah, that’s the biggest showstopper.

  3. I live in a townhouse where one spring afternoon, last year (2016), my landlord told me to ttake down my antennae. I am a HAM, and enjoy the hobby a lot. It just pains me that I now have to stealthily run a long wire all across the townhouses just to do some SWL. Active Antennas work nicely, but not when you have a transformer in your backside, and a grocery store on the other side, and then opposite that, concrete structures. It’s like listening from the Eastern Block to the west sometimes. It was a miracle I could get 2M to the repeater 1.5 miles away with all the noise. Thanks for the Radio.Garden link…I can listen to my Oompah music while I work on my coding for arduinos and pi’s. ;) 73 de KC8KVA

  4. You can disguise an antenna as a Weather Instrument (weather-vane), a Birdhouse Antenna (PVC for the pole), a Tire Swing Vertical, a Badminton Net Antenna, a Bicycle Prop Antenna (the safety pole w/ a flag on top), a Patio Umbrella, a Flag Pole (again made out of PVC w/ an antenna inside). Search on “stealth ham radio” or similar terms. Also, most Home Owners Associations (HOAs), including mine, say “no VISIBLE antennas”. If all else fails, wait for the “Amateur Radio Parity Act” to pass http://www.arrl.org/news/amateur-radio-parity-act-passes-in-the-us-house-of-representatives (it will eventually pass.)

  5. I think that the Radio Parity Act is a great thing for hams to have, as a brother to all other hams I support it fully. The problem that I see is that if it doesn`t pass, then it will be modified then, again and again until it does pass and each time it will be modified and scaled down until it does pass. The way I see it is that the modification will allow the purpose of it to loose it`s identity and become less as effective for amateurs that rely on the purpose of the bill as it was when it was orginally written and submitted for approval.

  6. The user interface is HORRIBLE. It takes TOO long to “Sprout” stations. There’s FAR too much scripting going on, you essentially have to let your guard down entirely and allow the application full scripting reign over your browser (not good). If you don’t fully open up scripting, all you get is Station Unreachable. There are lots of other radio station sites with clickable lists – which is a far better interface in my opinion.

    Sometimes more technology is not better technology. This is one of those times.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s