The best shortwave radio stations are the channels to help you to expand your horizons. Shortwave radio is a world apart from your standard AM/FM frequencies.
Often regarded as one of the most popular audio technology hobbies, shortwave makes it easy to pick up streams far and wide.
However, because shortwave isn’t quite the same as AM/FM listening, it can also be a little confusing. If you’ve already purchased a shortwave radio product but you’re not sure where to find the right signals, don’t panic.
There are plenty of great resources out there to assist you in finding a set of good shortwave stations.
Here’s what you need to know to jump in.
What's In This Article
Understanding shortwave radio stations
Before we discuss some of the active shortwave stations available today, let’s get the basics out of the way. SW radio stations aren’t the same as AM/FM broadcasts. Browsing through shortwave channels can be quite confusing for beginners.
To listen to shortwave radio, you’ll need a shortwave radio kit.
Tools like the Eton Elite with its classic selection of radio stations are a great choice. You could also consider survival-ready shortwave solutions like the Mesqool hand-crank radio.
The time of day, the equipment you have, and even your position (rural or urban) will impact the kind of shortwave stations you can listen to.
A few tips to keep in mind before you start searching for US shortwave stations include:
- Listen to Europe at night and Australia or Asia in the morning.
- Some shortwave radio stations are easier to hear than others. Usually, you’ll find more non-English broadcasts than those speaking your language.
- Remember no SW radio stations are 24/7. You may hear nothing if you start searching at the right time. You may even hear another country sharing a similar frequency.
- Note most frequencies are relayed through a different location. Just because you see a country on your shortwave radio doesn’t mean that’s where the broadcast began.
- Some major countries avoid broadcasting to North America. Germany, Australia, South Africa, and the UK are all examples of this.
If you’re struggling to find good shortwave radio stations from your handset, check online. There are various websites available to list shortwave channels. However, the best way to use shortwave websites is usually to pinpoint schedules and frequencies.
Types of shortwave stations
There are various kinds of shortwave radio stations to discover when you’re browsing on your new device. International broadcasting is usually the most desired option for many SW lovers.
You can access to things like government-sponsored propaganda and international news through shortwave. There’s also support for domestic shortwave stations, where you can find similar channels to what you hear on your AM/FM device.
Many of the shortwave stations you’ll find in domestic regions are highly political, religious, or alternative in some way. There are a handful of non-commercial and commercial individual broadcasts out there too.
Other channels you may find include:
- Utility stations: These transmit crucial messages not intended for the public, like information about marine weather or merchant stations. Listening to this kind of content can make you feel like a spy. There are even military communications out there.
- Oceanic air traffic: Air traffic control groups use the shortwave band for various long-distance communications. You might be able to hear some information about a flight somewhere in the world.
- Amateur radio: Amateur radio operators creating their own stations often exist around the 80, 60, 40, 30, 20, 15, and 17 bands. If you want to join this group, you’ll need a license.
- Time and clock stations: Many shortwave stations still offer clock and time announcements for various parts of the world.
There are also a handful of less common shortwave stations out there, like mysterious numbers stations where people broadcast random numbers over the airways. Clandestine stations are still an option too, where you can hear about rebellion, political movements, and even civil wars.
The best shortwave radio stations for global listening
According to the World Radiocommunication Conference, there are specific bands for various services around the world. For instance, 2.3-2.495 is typically a “tropical” band, while 9.4 to 9.9 is one of the most heavily used bands.
If you’re looking for active stations around the world right now, here are some great options. Notably, we’ll be listening the name of the station, the frequency, and the time the frequency is available in UTC.
- Radio France: UTC time 01:00 – 00:57: Frequency: 3.965
- HCJB Deutsch: UTC time 05:30 – 15:30: Frequency: 3.995
- World music radio: 24/7: Frequency: 5.84
- BBC: UTC time: 05:00 – 06:00: Frequency: 6.005
- Interrado Romania: UTC time: 21:30-21:57: Frequency: 6.17
- Scandinavian Weekend Radio: UTC Time: 00:01 – 00:00: Frequency: 6.170
- China radio international: UTC time: 09:00 – 00:57
- Vatican radio: UTC time 16:40 – 17:00: Frequency: 9.64
- S06 Spy Numbers: UTC time 09:10 – 09:15: Frequency: 13.565
- Golos And: UTC time: 15:30 to 16:30: Frequency: 9.50
- Voice of Welt: UTC Time: 15:00 – 21:00: Frequency: 11.53
- Radio Exterior de Espana: UTC time: 14:00 – 22:00: Frequency 17.715
- Radio Free Asia: UTC Time: 11:00 -12:00: Frequency: 17.64
- Adventist World Radio: UTC Time: 14:30 – 15:00: Frequency: 17.605
- Bit Express: 24/7: Frequency: 15.785
Popular shortwave radio stations USA
The most common reason to get involved with shortwave radio is to hear from different cultures and discover exotic music from around the world. However, you can also listen to a range of more local reports through shortwave too.
If the above frequencies are a little too complex for you, then you might prefer to start by exploring some of this US shortwave station instead:
Voice of America: Worldwide news reports
Voice of America is an international broadcaster supported by the American congress. Regarded as the largest and oldest international broadcaster funded by the government, VOA produces a host of content in up to 47 different languages.
The VOA broadcasts include:
- Saturday’s UTC time 16:00 to 16:30: Frequency 9.4
- Sunday’s UTC time 06:00 to 06:30: Frequency 7.73
- Sunday’s UTC time 20:30 to 21:00: Frequency 11.58
- Sunday’s UTC time 23:30 to 00:00: Frequency 11.58
Other shortwave radio stations US customers might listen to include:
- KSDA: Adventist world radio: 91.9 MHz
- KTWR: Trans world radio: 801: Khz
- KVOH: Voice of hope: 6:065 MHz
- WBCQ: The Planet: 3.265 MHz
- WINB: World International Broadcasting: 9.265 MHz
- WTWW: We transmit World Wide: 5.085 MHz
How to find active shortwave radio stations
The more you experiment with shortwave technology, the easier it becomes to find shortwave stations you can continue to listen to. With tools like the Retekess V115 it’s relatively easy to explore various frequencies with your tuner, and save presets you want to access again.
Products like the TECSUN R-9012 also allow radio lovers to explore AM, FM, and Shortwave radio at the same time.
If you’re exploring shortwave radio stations for the first time, the best option is to start with a schedule or online resource. A shortwave radio app may help you to find the channels active and ready to listen to when you’re using your shortwave tech.
Although technology does make it a little simpler to find good shortwave radio stations today, many SW lovers prefer to go old-school. A printed guidebook for your shortwave bands may help you to find various frequency listings and information without the need for any online browsing.
Most of the guides are available today come with helpful reference guides at the beginning.
Products like the Global Radio Guide regularly update to include new information as different stations appear on shortwave frequencies. You’ll also be able to use these guides to learn a little more about things like SWLing, and DXing if you’re new to the environment.
A comprehensive guide may include things like receiver reviews, so you know what to expect from the quality of the frequency. There’s also the option to track down guides to teach you about things like terrestrial TV broadcasters too.
Radio Fidelity: For the love of radio.