Friday 11 July 2008

Radio Websites July 2008, first published in Radio User, PW Publishing

Educational and Quirky Websites

For July we relax with some summer sounds, dip into the mysteries of spy stations, and track down that missing receiver manual for you.

Summer sounds online

Jango and Ivory Towerz have been accompanying summer evenings on my city centre balcony. No, not a little known jazz duo but some more online radio I have been enjoying.

Missing the intuitive online radio service that Pandora no longer provides due to copyright reasons, I have found a similar service that goes by the name of Jango: Just type in a name of a band or musician you like and you will be given options of other bands of that genre that you can add to your playlist. These are often bands you’ll not have heard of (along with more familiar names), so it broadens your musical education as well as being entertainment on-tap, or rather on-line. You can do much more at Jango such as tuning into other members’ stations. A whole social network awaits you.

The Ivory Towerz blog (“Shining a light on the cultural crossroads”) has plenty to say and also hosts an interesting podcast made last summer, at:

Easier still, go to: and scroll down for the 30 May 2007 broadcast.: “pull up a chair on the porch, light the grill, and let the podcast play the sounds of summer for 2007. There's an extra dollop of new music in the playlist this week, as we search for an underground summer hit. But you can count on the usual: a trip through more than 65 years of modern music, centering on rock but including dashes of country, folk, and funk along the way.”

Beach House Radio is another online station that may suffice until you can make it to an actual beach. Lots of acoustic and laid back sounds at: or even easier via:

When you do reach the beach how will you cope without a beach FM radio head rest combo? Available at the Geek Alerts website for $40 US dollars:

Spies and spooks
The infamous numbers stations are still operating out on the shortwave bands. Here is a round up of some of the best websites covering the strange sounds of espionage and agents.
A good starting point is for an overview of Spy Numbers Stations.

Simon Mason in the UK has maintained a well crafted and hugely enjoyable website for over a decade. He has written a book on the subject too and nicely summarises the phenomena as: “Perhaps the strangest of all transmissions are the Spy Number Stations. These do not officially exist and no one has ever explained what the purpose of these stations is. They consist of the most boring content imaginable. A strange non-human voice reading out series of numbers, sometimes accompanied by weird tones or odd melodies”. I

f you stumble across a numbers station then you can log your catch onto a shared database at: This also has audio samples. Listen out for the Lincolnshire Poacher, Cherry Ripe, Arabic Man, Five Dashes and the Tyrolean Music Station, amongst other insanities. It also has a list of loggings which probably is the nearest you are going to get to a schedule.

To subscribe to an e-mail group which gives you all the latest numbers stations logs and news visit: or the Enigma 2000 long-standing UK group:

There are many other introductory texts on the subject. One good example is at the Southgate Amateur radio site, written by Paul Beaumont:

In the Netherlands one of the experts is Ary Boender. He runs the Numbers and Oddities bulletin and an updated logs database:
Finally on this subject, a light hearted game of numbers station bingo is yours for the taking at: This was invented in April 2008 and uses real number station codes read out from the Conet Project set of CDs, with a random bingo card. Almost as bizarre as the numbers stations themselves, but perhaps more fun and easier to understand!

Manual labour
Have you lost the manual to a piece of radio kit that you are trying to restore or repair? Did you buy a receiver off of eBay or at a radio sale but need a manual and service guide to give you all the details? You are not alone in this dilemma and there are many good websites which can soon find your missing manual. Here are a few of them:

The Instruction Manuals website is very useful and does what it says on the label. A reassuring union flag flutters in the cyber breeze at the top of a simple and effective website at:

User guides for everything they say and there is a link to some witty guides too (click on the laughing face marked ‘funny manuals’. Check out the 1970s Elizabethan 12 inch portable black and white television. This was advertised as being ideal for use at a family picnic or on your speedboat!

More useful information includes a wide range of Sony manuals at which also covers radio cassette players and the Sony walkman. The latter are probably now quite a collectors’ item. Who would have foreseen mp3 players when the Sony Walkman was all the rage in the early 1980s?

There is a very readable article on the origins of the Sony Walkman at:

Mauritron Technical state that they provide service and instruction manuals for any radio related equipment: “The world’s largest library of Technical Information available for supply as collections on CD or via Download. From the earliest Vintage Valve Wireless to the latest Video, CD, PC or Test Equipment Over 450,000 manuals listed online with full search facilities”. They are also involved with engraved badges and model railways, Details at the above site.

Radio Manuals Info are a group of vintage radio enthusiasts with “thousands of service sheets, diagrams and manuals. including the full set of traders, ERT, Broadcasters and R&TVS Plus manufacturers manuals.” A bonus is that you can download these for free, unlike some of the manual archive websites: Items are listed in alphabetical order of manufacturer, from an 1950s Ace Mayfair radio to a 1934 Zetavox radio. Comments are welcomed so send an e-mail to the quaint address of

Finally, Geoff Brown G4ICD/GJ4ICD puts his 40 years of experience as an engineer and a radio ham into a website on Yaesu equipment: Amateur and commercial operating manuals are available on CDs at £10 each.

Once upon a time: to smartphones and podcast apps

Once upon a time, many years ago, when I was a child, I used to dream of owning a magic book that would contain every comic strip, poe...