Having a lot more time in the evenings to play radio at the moment Ive been taking a long overdue trawl around the broadcast bands and the huge changes that have taken place over the last few years got me thinking.

Radio Caroline's Ship The Ross Revenge

Radio Caroline’s Ship “Ross Revenge”

Its painfully obvious to anybody who has an interest in commercial broadcasting on the shortwave bands that the best years are a long way behind us. That doesnt mean the SW part of the radio spectrum is now defunct, just that the future may take a whole new direction,

With the bigger outfits now turning off their transmitters for good does this leave the way open for a much more semi-regulated network of pirate radio stations to take their place.

In certain places the pirates are starting to outnumber the established stations with well funded organizations like Voice of Russia and the BBC deciding to cut back or jump ship altogether.

Is it the case though that just because they don’t see enough of an audience to warrant the money spent does that mean smaller operations can’t attract the right quantity of listeners to survive.


If regulation of anything is only governed by those who care or if misuse effects other uses, will the inevitable evacuation of huge sections of the shortwave spectrum make any sort of control pointless?. If there’s no money in the game is anybody going to give a hoot how many pirates operate if they’re only interfering with each other, after all regulation itself will always cost money.

Of course there will always be grouping of stations around certain frequencies, so its not like the pirates will be bumping into the more critical services that still use the HF bands. Either through equipment design or sticking with the herd, pirate radio stations know that making it too difficult for listeners to find their transmission is never going to fly.

Good News For The SWL?

Not matter what anybody says not all change is good and the stripping out of a huge proportion of the usual SWL fodder can only end in disappointment for those that enjoy this side of the hobby.

The only way I see light at the end of the tunnel is if the pirates are so numerous (and long lasting) it adds a brand spanking new dimension to broadcast SWL as we all try to log these lower power output stations.

Maybe I paint a future of shortwave broadcasting that’s very bleak but the rate of decay can only make me wonder how things will look in another 10 years if other commercial stations don’t take up slots on the shortwave bands.

Ross Revenge Courtesy of Wikipedia (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)

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