Shortwave Radio Listening: The Cure for FOMO?

View our Recommended Shortwave Radio KIT

In today’s fast-paced and interconnected world, it’s easy to experience the fear of missing out (FOMO). We constantly seek to stay updated with the latest news, trends, and events happening around the globe. But what if there was a way to access a wealth of information, entertainment, and cultural experiences from across the world without relying on the internet or social media? Enter shortwave radio listening (SWLing), a fascinating hobby that offers a cure for FOMO by connecting you to a vast and diverse world of global broadcasting.

What is Shortwave Radio Listening?

Shortwave radio listening, also known as SWLing, involves tuning in to radio broadcasts transmitted on shortwave frequencies. Unlike FM or AM radio, which have limited coverage areas, shortwave radio signals can travel long distances, spanning continents and oceans. This global reach allows listeners to tune in to stations from various countries and immerse themselves in different cultures, languages, and perspectives.

The Benefits of Shortwave Radio Listening

Shortwave radio listening offers numerous benefits that make it a unique and captivating hobby. Let’s explore some of these advantages:

  1. Global Coverage and Diversity: Shortwave radio signals can traverse thousands of miles, giving you access to a wide range of stations from around the world. Whether you’re interested in international news, regional music, or cultural shows, shortwave radio provides a window to diverse content that isn’t limited by geographical boundaries.
  2. Independent and Alternative Media: Shortwave radio serves as a platform for independent and alternative media outlets. In regions where freedom of speech may be limited, these stations often offer uncensored news, critical analysis, and alternative viewpoints. By tuning in, you can gain a fresh perspective on global events and expand your understanding of different opinions.
  3. Resilience and Accessibility: Shortwave radio is known for its resilience during emergencies and natural disasters when other forms of communication may be disrupted. Its low-power requirements and wide coverage make it a reliable source of information in times of crisis. Moreover, shortwave radios are affordable and accessible, making them ideal for people living in remote areas with limited internet connectivity.

Here is a link to the Prep Comms Podcast episode featuring Shortwave Radio

Getting Started with Shortwave Radio Listening

To embark on your shortwave radio listening journey, here are some essential steps to follow:

  1. Purchase a Shortwave Radio Receiver: Invest in a quality shortwave radio receiver that offers multiple frequency bands, selectable sideband modes (SSB), and a digital display. Portable receivers are a popular choice for beginners, as they provide flexibility in finding the best reception spots.
  2. Set Up an Antenna System: An efficient antenna system is crucial for enhancing the reception capabilities of your radio. Depending on your setup, you can choose from options such as wire antennas, vertical antennas, or outdoor antennas for optimal performance.
  3. Explore the Shortwave Bands: Familiarize yourself with the different shortwave frequency bands and their characteristics. Experiment with tuning in to various bands during different times of the day to discover the best reception conditions for specific regions or types of broadcasts.
  4. Discover Popular Shortwave Stations: The world of shortwave radio is filled with captivating stations catering to diverse interests. Explore broadcasters like the BBC World Service, Voice of America (VOA), and Radio Havana Cuba, among others. Each station offers a unique lineup of programs, ranging from news and current affairs to music and cultural shows. Be aware that these stations also offer their own unique flavor of nationalized propaganda; it can make for some interesting and enlightening listening.

Tips for an Enhanced Shortwave Radio Listening Experience

Here are some additional tips to optimize your shortwave radio listening sessions:

  1. Experiment with Antenna Placement: Position your antenna in different locations to find the optimal spot for reception. Adjust its height, orientation, and proximity to buildings to maximize signal strength.
  2. Take Advantage of Time of Day: Shortwave radio propagation changes throughout the day due to ionospheric conditions. Certain bands perform better during specific times, so be flexible and explore various bands at different hours to improve reception.
  3. Learn Morse Code: Some shortwave stations still use Morse code transmissions. Familiarizing yourself with Morse code can add an extra dimension to your listening experience, allowing you to decipher hidden messages and identify stations.
  4. Buy the Correct Gear: Make sure to purchase a radio that is Single Sideband (SSB) enabled. This will allow you to listen to the thousands of Amateur Radio Operators around the world on the Shortwave bands.

View our Recommended Shortwave Radio KIT

Listening: Best Practices and Processes

Here are a few pointers to enhance your shortwave listening experience:

  1. Time and Frequency: Different regions of the world are best received at specific times of the day due to changes in atmospheric conditions. For example, in the morning, you can try listening to Asia and Australia, while in the evening and night, Europe tends to be more accessible. Keep in mind that shortwave frequencies are not available 24 hours a day, so research the schedules and plan your listening accordingly.
  2. Language Diversity: Shortwave radio offers a wide range of broadcasts in various languages. Don’t limit yourself to English-only broadcasts; explore the dial and discover broadcasts in other languages. You might come across fascinating content, including exotic music and cultural programs.
  3. Station Variety: Some stations may only air a few minutes of English content, primarily in identification announcements or language lessons. Be patient and attentive to catch these brief English segments. Additionally, note that the country of origin listed for a frequency may not always be the actual source, as many frequencies are relayed from other locations.
  4. Non-North American Broadcasts: Major countries like Australia, Germany, South Africa, and the UK may no longer intentionally broadcast to North America. However, longer frequency lists for these countries can still provide you with opportunities to hear broadcasts aimed at other regions. Don’t overlook these extended lists in your search for interesting content.
  5. Multiple Stations and Outside Broadcasts: Some countries may have multiple stations operating under their umbrella or even have broadcasts originating from outside the country. For instance, countries like Liberia, Nigeria, and Sudan may have broadcasts that involve multiple stations or external sources. Keep an ear out for these diverse broadcasts.
  6. Religious Broadcasters: Many strong signals from religious broadcasters, both from the US and other countries, may not be listed in the available frequency guides. If you are interested in religious programming, explore the dial, and you may come across powerful religious broadcasts.

How to locate broadcasting stations

Sometimes finding a transmitting station is like a treasure hunt, other days they’re just there for the picking. Here are a few tools to use to help in your Shortwave Listening Journey.


In conclusion, shortwave radio listening offers a cure for FOMO by providing access to a world of information, entertainment, and cultural diversity. With the right equipment, exploration of popular stations, and implementation of optimization techniques, you can embark on a journey that combines technology, culture, and the thrill of discovery. Tune in, and let the waves of shortwave radio transport you to a world of knowledge, entertainment, and new perspectives.

Link to the Prep Comms Podcast Episode featuring Shortwave Radio

View our Recommended Shortwave Radio KIT

Cale(b) is an author, speaker, longtime stay at home dad and small business owner. He and his wife of over 25 years, Carla, have 5 beautiful children and 2 Goldendoodles. Caleb is a FM Radio veteran and licensed Amateur Radio Operator (K4CDN). In the days before kids and radio, he spent nearly a decade in the Professional Fire Service as an Engineer and EMT. Caleb’s heart to serve and to teach shines in his work, whether on the page or over the air.