October is here and for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, days are getting shorter, temperatures are finally cooling down, and fall is almost here. In other words, Radio Nights are here!
I love fall and winter for the radio opportunities they bring. Quieter atmospheric conditions mean more signals to hear, more beacons to catch, and more radio activities. Pirates will be on the air toward the end of this month, as Halloween brings out many pirate radio stations. AM broadcast chasing really comes into its own during winter months. On quiet nights you can expect to hear stations from all across the country, or in Europe, from many countries, and if you are lucky, some true DX will sneak in!
For the amateur radio operators out there this time of year really opens up the lower bands (again, for us Northerners! You Southerners will get to enjoy the upper bands for a change!). 40 meters, 80 meters, and even 160 meters will open up into the night, with 40 meters lasting most of the day and night. Shortwave listeners benefit as well, because the broadcast schedules change to meet the propagation conditions, and so 25-90 meters will have many openings.
Fall and winter are special to for another reason. Life tends to slow down when the days get cold and the nights even colder. The warmth of a fire, an easy chair, some hot chocolate (or other preferred beverage!) and a shortwave radio make for a cozy evening. A simple wire strung up around the room can bring in a world of signals. Even better, an old standalone radio with its vacuum tubes and warm lights, room filling sound, and beautiful rich wooden tones can make for a memorable night, to be sure!
Radio offers something no other medium can quite create – an experience of the mind. A friend of mine compared radio to reading books, another of my favorite activities. Both offer a treat for the mind and a way to touch the soul in special ways. Radio simply adds the dimension of sound which creates texture to what we hear. The accent of a native speaker, the pulsing drive of the rhythms of each culture’s unique music, the discovery of a land’s rich heritage — all within our mind’s eye and imagination!
I am going to restart something I tried several years ago, but sadly let slip by. I am going to take one radio a month (beyond my usual radio activity) and explore its possibilities fully. I have many old radios and each one deserves time to tell its story, to bring out its glory and honor the hands that made it. But which one?! A pleasant predicament indeed!
It’s October 1st and I’ve got Radio on my mind . . . . how about you?
Happy listening! Robert