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Ok, stop sniggering because I have a SW Radio! This does not mean I have huge aerials on my house and I like to talk to truckers on my CB all night. The point of SW is it allows very long radio communication by bouncing the waves off the ionosphere and back down to the other side of the planet and so very practical, not only ideal for talking between ships and aircraft but great for backpackers wanting a slice of home when in foreign exotic lands. It's also great for radio links in poor countries and the only system that would work after massive nuclear strikes or meteor impacts. When everything else doesn't work SW could still be crackling away. All those sado's with SW radios will rule the world! The band is also used by illicit pirate radio broadcasters and intelligence services; the so-called 'numbers broadcasts', the most mysterious of white noise out there on the SW jungle of static, the numbers the plotline for the American TV series 'Lost', of course. These numbers broadcasts are happening right now and believed to be some sort of code between intelligence operatives and spy agencies. Only recently, 2008 I think, the so-called 'Lincolnshire Poacher' numbers station, named after the folk song of the same name which it steels three bars from in the broadcasts, believed to be emanating from a military base in Cyprus. It finally went off air after 60 years of broadcasting seemingly random bursts of five numbers, the final number always given more emphasis from the automated female voice. Cherry Ripe, in the dusty centre of Australia, has taken up the mantle and continues to broadcast them. It's deliciously mysterious and Wikepedia lists the times and bands you can hear them on SW.
Anyhow, I'm not in MI6 or the West Midlands CB club but have a portable SW\LW radio for one reason only, to listen to live sport and trusted news from home when I'm abroad. When your in the southern hemisphere these babies are invaluable for sports fans and you can pretty much pick up the World Service wherever you are in the world on those high flying SW beams. I have listened to English football pretty much everywhere, from New York to Namibia, Cairns to Los Angeles. It takes some twiddling to tune in but once you get it you are very happy, even though the volume and reception are generally pretty poor, especially when you get sand in the frame. You tend to have to stand on the highest rock in the desert to get that signal and in 40 degrees heat that may not be wise. I recall being on the Botswana border near a minefield listening to Alan Green calling a Man United game. It was somewhat surreal. Having LW/SW radios may not make you popular at home but when your travelling or holidaying abroad and you can get English football on the beach where people least expect to hear it you get very popular very quickly. I remember being surrounded by Brits on Miami Beach for some soccer commentary from the Premiership near the end of the season as they gathered around my battered portable. The radio has been updated to this Sony job but no beaches of late to test it out.
LW, although uncool because it basically broadcasts Radio Four and some obscure European stations, also has its uses, why the BBC hasn't cut it. Firstly our nuclear submarine deterrent use it to communicate and secondly it's has this wonderful idiosyncrasy of relaying the shipping forecast at 6pm everyday, often in the middle of Test Match Special, all very surreal, the cricket my only reason to require LW on a radio. Right now I'm enjoying England/South Africa V Pakistan in the test match and raised a chuckle when the Pakistan commentator had to introduce the shipping forecast mid over, much to his bemusement. You do wonder if all the crews and captains of the trawlers and ships out there in our waters are huge cricket fans now.
With internet radio and the dominance of MW and FM on our radios portable ones with SW and LW are hard to find on the highstreet.I bought mine off Amazon for around £29.99 with some dooyoo vouchers about two years back, mainly because it was indeed portable and light and would fit nicely into my backpack if I chose to go adventuring again. At the moment it's used for listening to the cricket in the park for my lunchtime snooze in the sun as I ogle gorgeous girls in those lovely Laura Ashley style summer dresses. Even if girls have big ankles they look great in those. I'm so not into those figure-hugging leggings this year girls. I'm sure those pretty girls are not looking back at some bloke listening to cricket and then some clipped public school accent talking about Dogger Bank and Chromety facing a force 8 gale and precipitation...
Analogue FM/MW/LW/SW (1-9 tuner)
FM stereo via headphones
Dial tuning and LED tuning indicator
Supplied shortwave guide
Sound Output Mode: Stereo
Radio: Worldband radio - 12-band - radio tuner - AM/FM
Speaker(s): 1 x speaker - built-in
Sound Output Mode: Stereo
Battery - 2 X AA's
Connector Type: 1 x headphones (mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm)
Service & Support Details: Limited warranty - 1 year
Service & Support: 1 year warranty
Aerial Form Factor: Built-in AM / telescopic FM
Tuning Display: Tuning scale
Speaker(s): 1 x speaker - built-in
As I say it's nice and light and about the size of a VHS tape. You need to extend the aerial for SW to get the signal and with 7 bands to tune into there's chunky switches and dials to easily operate it. Two AA batteries load neatly into the radio like bullets into a pistol and the power will last a while and with a carry case and string loop it will probably survive a drop or two on the floor or concrete. With a one year guarantee you should be OK. Volumes good and its not too distorted the higher it goes and the stereo sound makes for goof FM easily listening for those tunes in the back garden sun. An ear jack can personalise things and you can also run it off a 4.5 volt adapter (not supplied) if you so chose.
On the whole it's an ideal portable radio for home and away and the much mocked SW/LW duo do have their uses guys. When you cell phones go down after the next terror attack my SW will be crackling away and only yours truly will know how CB 'Hotdog' Dave from Redditch conversation will go with a Polaris nuclear submarine off the coast of Iceland...
Expand your horizons! Sony's ICF-SW11 12 Band World Band Receiver Radio features an easy to use analog tuner as well as an FM Stereo Headphone Jack.