iPhone/iPad/iPod app to decode NAVTEX marine transmissions
For about the past three weeks, we’ve had a bit of a mystery on the 43 meter pirate shortwave broadcast band. First logged on the HFUnderground on May 18, 2014 on 6772.6 kHz by EvilElvis as an UNID pirate playing “Tooth Powder commercial, 5 Minute Mystery, Red Skelton, Avalon Cigarettes commercial”, this station has been heard nearly non-stop since then, except for some short breaks, and a two day period between June 3 (it was last heard on June 2 at 2357 UTC and returned by 0035 UTC on June 5.
This station has been heard from coast to coast, and has a over 170 loggings on the HFUnderground Pirate Shortwave Radio Forum and has become quite the favorite of many shortwave pirate radio listeners. Many of us where disappointed when we turned on our radios on June 3 to just hear static, and equally thrilled to hear the station again when it returned two days later. I’m hearing it on 6772.6 kHz as I type this at 1323 UTC on June 6, 2014. It generally operates close to 6772 or 6773 kHz, but as also been heard on 6800 and 6880 kHz.
Possibly the same station was reported in the 13.56 MHz HiFer band previously. Glenn Hauser first logged it on 13560.7 AM on April 18 at 0520 UTC, and mentioned the following to me via email:
I haven`t heard it on any of the 6 MHz frequencies, but I keep wondering if it`s the same one I have reported thrice on 13560+. That would be 2 x 6780+ if that was ever a fundamental. Looking thru the posts (not sure I saw all of them) I don`t see anyone referring to that or to the webcast ID I heard from the 1920s Radio Network out of WHRO in Virginia. Should compare the programming to their schedule. They also have a separate mostly-music channel. 13560 was also pointed out to be a part 15 RF ID frequency which be some connexion.
The 1920s Radio Network has a website.
The general format seems to be playing music (often described as easy listening music, or even elevator music) during the daytime, and then old time radio shows overnight, hence the nickname Old Time Radio given by several listeners. No formal ID has ever been heard. News is typically heard at the top of the hour, and seems to be syndicated news audio provided by “Feature Story News“. I’ve noticed that today, June 6, I am not hearing any news.
The first thing that comes to mind is that this is a pirate radio station. There’s no SWBC stations assigned to these frequencies. While speculation about pirate radio station transmitter locations is often frowned upon by parts of the pirate radio community, propagation (based on who can hear the station at various times of the day) clearly shows that the transmitter site is somewhere in the northeastern USA or southeastern Canada. That is pretty obvious. And the signal levels are typical of what you’d expect from a pirate station running something on the order of 100 watts, give or take a factor or two or three. But the surprising thing is how active the station is, running nearly 24/7. Someone’s not that afraid of enforcement activity by the FCC. Or could it be something else, like a radio contractor doing some testing? It seems unlikely, but then again, we had the famous Yosemite Sam station years ago.
So, if you’ve wanted to hear a pirate radio station, but always seem to miss them, now is your chance. Just tune around 6772 when propagation favors reception in your location from a station somewhere around the northeast USA, and you may indeed hear Old Time Radio, or whoever they are.
June 7 Update:
At 2129 UTC on June 7, 2014, the station went QRT on 6771, then came back on 6976 (a new frequency for it) at 2136 UTC.