Thursday, 28 July 2011

Mediterranean summer shortwave sounds

Photo: Chrissy Brand: Dorset flag at Lyme Regis beach

First published as part of my monthly column "Long Medium and Shortwave: Broadcast Matters" in Radio User, PW Publishing, July 2011  

Mediterranean sounds
The Mediterranean is a region that northern Europeans quite understandably flock to from May until October. Whether you take a portable radio on your holidays or prefer to tune to the sounds of the Mediterranean from your radio shack, here’s a round-up of some of the English broadcasts you can hear.

Albania is an up and coming tourist destination these days, although I am not sure that their radio station always reflects this. Broadcasting form two transmitter sites in Shijak and Fllake you can hear English to western Europe from 1430 to 1500 UTC on 13625kHz; 1845 to 1900 UTC on 7520 and 13735kHz; 2000 to 2030 UTC on 7465 and 13735kHz. Incidentally, if you fancy hearing Radio Tirana in its mother tongue there are two Albanian broadcasts to western Europe, at 0630 to 0800 UTC on 1458kHz mw and 2030 to 2200 on 9860kHz.

Radio Portugal has been heard easily on shortwave for many years and I often enjoy the music they play on their Portuguese programmes. They send QSL cards too, although recently announced a temporary suspension of shortwave. If you want check on this progress or to see if anyone else jumps into their place, the frequencies allocated to RDP in the current season include 7420, 9715, 9820, 11850, 11905,11940, 11995, 12020, 12060, 13755, 15160, 15180, 15295, 15560, 17575, 21655 kHz. Their address is RDP Internacional, Av. Marechal Gomes da Costa, 371849-030, Lisboa, Portugal.

Syria is still very much in the news and you are not alone if you have been tuning to state broadcaster Radio Damascus to follow developments. Radio Damascus is keen to hear from its listeners. You can write to them at Radio Damascus, P.O. Box 4702, Damascus,

Syrian Arab Republic or send your comments by e-mail to  Before you can write you’ll need to be able to hear them.

Their English schedule is currently a one hour evening broadcast to Europe on 9330kHz and the irregularly used 12085kHz to North America. Programmes start with a lively Syrian song and a full schedule check with some technical details not given by other stations. There is a surprisingly friendly feel about the station, with the announcers introducing themselves and the technicians on duty, and jovial programme handovers that are more akin to the BBC World Service hour long newscasts.

Once the music finishes the evening proper commences in the form of a news bulletin, complete with a military signature tune. News, as you would expect is from the regime’s point of view and includes sentences such as “The victims and martyrs defending the homeland.”, “the imprisonment of rioters.” and “attacks by arms smuggling groups terrorising the locals and forcing the army to intervene.” Current day news from Palestine as well as historical features on the neighbouring country certainly pull no punches about the Syrian regime’s support of Palestine in their struggle with Israel.

However, I must say I greatly enjoy the music on Radio Damascus- to my British ears it has a very exotic sound, with Middle Eastern instruments and vocals. Musical instruments you will hear coming together to form hypnotic pieces include the oud, rabab, nev, violin and the tableh, or goblet drum. The weekly “From Our Literature” programme with its strange echoes and western classical music background rounds off an interesting hour of programmes.

Mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands are always a popular place to soak up some sunshine and sangria, and I find this is often reflected in the broadcasts of Radio Exterior de España. Reader Geraint Gill heard them in English on 9665kHz at 1920 UTC but there was bad co-channelling with Radio Rossi in Russian on this frequency at that time. You might have better luck if I give the full schedule. If you are burning the midnight oil then the 0000 to 0100 UTC broadcast on 6055kHz to the Americas might be a good place to start. Next up are weekday afternoons with a short news bulletin from 1435 to 1438 UTC on 5970, 11815, 15585, 17595, 17755, 21540 and 21610kHz. We are well served in the evenings however, with an hour long broadcast from 1900 to 2000 UTC on weeknights using 9665 and 11610kHz.

On Saturdays and Sundays this is an hour later and just on 9560kHz. The station states that “The English Language Broadcast of Radio Exterior de España has been on the air since 1944. Our daily broadcasts seek to inform listeners about goings-on in Spain, as well as offer a Spanish perspective on world events. News, sports and weather, presented live, are followed on weekdays by a variety of different programmes on subjects ranging from art and culture to history, politics, and the latest trends.”

The Voice of Turkey is another station that still faithfully transmits its English language programmes into the ether. They are always a good catch and you can be entertained for a good hour or so each night. From the Emirler transmitter you can hear them from 00300 to 0400 UTC on 6165 and 9515kHz. A lunchtime listen is always a nice way to break the day from 1230 to 1330 on 15450 to Europe and the Americas. You may not be able to catch the 1630 broadcast to Asia on 15520kHz but the 1830 to 1930 UTC to Europe on 9785kHz should present few problems. There is a 2030 to 2130 UTC broadcast on 7205kHz for Asia and Australasia, then one for Europe and the Americas from 2200 to 2300TC on 9830kHz. This has been logged by Geraint Gill with a 555 SIO so a good one to aim for.

Programme-wise The Voice of Turkey airs its “DX Corner” on alternate Saturdays but that is just one of many diverse and high quality programmes. “Hues and colours of Anatolia” is one such example, covering history and folklore. I only have to hear its jaunty theme tune to be transported on dusty trails across ancient parts of Turkey.

The Letterbox programme is well received by its listeners and correspondents write from as far away as USA, Italy, Bangladesh, Indonesia, China and India. They are also plagued with many begging letters, or rather begging emails, that they mention on air. I know all stations get these but I don’t know of any that mention them on air!

So why not give the Voice of Turkey something more interesting to talk about in their listeners’ programme, and drop them a line with your brickbats and plaudits, plus your reception reports and questions about Turkey. Email them at  or write to Voice of Turkey, PO Box 33306443, Yenişehir, Ankara, Turkey.

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