With the new introduction of AI technology to the general public, we are now beginning to see fake mash ups of celebrities, politicians, and other fictional characters saying absurd and highly outrageous things for both malicious intent and comedic effect.
Prior to this introduction of AI technology we as a nation have begun to see increased amounts of political polarization which has been perpetuated by a few of the big mainstream news stations. We have also had various celebrities push narratives on social media platforms that were based on information that was either altered or completely untrue based on their own personal and political bias.
Ironically, everyone is already aware of misinformation in our daily news outlets. Everyone is aware of the monetization potential of making controversial titles and creating polarizing debates. Despite all of this, people still turn to their same “trusted” news outlets which all typically spout the same political topics and bias creating ones very own echo chamber(s). Sure this is all good to gain the attention of the viewer short-term, but on the long scale it creates a deep divide between neighbors and relatives as well as strain on one’s mental health.
I personally refuse to trust one single news source nowadays and question the amount of propaganda that we intake throughout our lives since we live in what is now currently one of, if not the most powerful country in the world, which can control and bully other countries to get its way both through economic restrictions or by physical violence as seen in the wars in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, etc.
Beyond the threats of propaganda, after going to college and feeling that some social and political perspectives were not merely mentioned, but force pushed on new students I began searching for means to get more diverse news sources besides NPR and the BBC. It was around this time that I also started becoming fascinated with various radio hobbies such as Citizens Band radios (CB’s) and Ham radios.
After listening to various videos online as well as recordings of people enjoying the hobby, I eventually fell into the rabbit hole and discovered shortwave radios.
Shortwave radios were used during World War II as means of promoting international propaganda across the globe (ironic I know) though they peak use of international radio stations was during the 1950’s and 60’s. The radios operate using high frequency (HF) which operates between 3 to 30 mHz (100 to 10m bands). This allows for the radio signals to be able to bounce off of one of the layers of the atmosphere known as the ionosphere. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as “skip” and allows for signals to reach thousands of miles further than they would typically under normal conditions.
Though the current amount of shortwave stations isn’t what it used to be and many radio enthusiasts today are plagued by the amount of electrical interference generated by modern telephone poles and houses, the radios are still useful. They are useful in warzones as they broadcast large distances from one or two transmitters making it harder for government officials to censor them.
In an ever-changing world where everyone is more connected than ever thanks to the internet, it is important to realize that we have grown accustom to this luxury. If there were ever any lapse of time where the internet is gone or electronics don’t work, the only means of information would be through radio signals and physical media. Because of these reasons, I will highlight the perks of owning a portable shortwave radio and why I believe everyone should have one for entertainment, freedom, and emergency preparedness.
1. Free Entertainment
Despite the average radio hobbyist being on average very old, many young people today are familiar with the term, “pirate radio”. In the case that you aren’t, pirate radio stations are used to describe unlicensed and illegal “random” broadcasts from around the world. These stations play whatever they want it could be someone’s favorite music, a talk show, sound bites from a movie, political/religious rants, anything. I personally like the chaos and the randomness that they bring as you may never know what is going on.
I will also mention that a lot of portable shortwave radios also come with standard AM/FM tuning which allows you to get local radios stations in your house as many of these devices run on lithium ion batteries. This is a nice comfort if you are stuck at home and the rain has knocked out your power and your phone is dead.
I also get enjoyment form listening to the diverse music options some nights as you will hear music from some far away land that you would have never known existed had you not turned on the radio that night.
2. Updates You During Emergencies
As I mentioned previously, in a time of natural disaster you are still able to access local radio stations that can give you emergency insight on what is happening around you and globally. This is essential for the average person as we have too much reliance on the internet and our phones. A few years ago when a storm with strong winds knocked out the power of much of the town for a day or two, many had all of their food spoil in their fridge and were left in the dark in regards to what was going on.
It is also beneficial if there are strong global issues in the future which could potentially impact us such as a war or economic crash of an allied power or trading partner.
3. Gives You Diverse International Perspectives
You may not see the appeal of hearing the news in other countries, but if you are looking to have a global perspective and be more empathetic of other countries especially in areas that are not deemed “first world” or still developing. The more you understand the worlds issues, the greater you will be able to understand what is going to come our way in the sense of economic hardships, food/housing crisis, new wars, potentially good investment opportunities, and just an overall increase in empathy for your fellow man.
Understanding the connectivity and modern reliance on global systems and trade is crucial to being able to predict and avoid trends which are negative and coming to your neck of the woods and take advantage of the time in between so that you aren’t left out of the loop/conversation.
4. The Overall Obscurity
Another plus of being “in on the loop” globally is that you are exposed to some interesting and unique perspectives and entertainment. I can remember one night being able to hear Alex Jones (fringe political talk show host, most infamous for his over the top banter for his show Infowars), then next I could hear a Spanish station talking about news regarding the catholic church in Italy.
What you are able to receive is completely up to chance and the length /direction of your antenna, building composition, height, as well as proximity in regards to electrical lines and concrete structures. The lack of censorship is both breathtaking and repulsive, but I tend to love to follow the fringe and hear the unpredictable rants and raves.
5. Free of Censorship
Lastly, radio is what many consider to be the “last frontier” of uncensored free speech. Take that statement as you will, but true free speech is both ugly and refreshing within the same breath. There are many talk show hosts and stations that I do not align with, but I like the notion that there is room for people to sell their beliefs and ideology and as long as they have the equipment, time, and financial ability the space is theirs.
You have the ability to hear new perspectives that you may not here from mainstream outlets in the states. This is ideal for the average person as now you can sift through all the different options and perspectives to make a well-rounded opinion on a subject based on the information you have acquired. Diversity of perspective and knowledge is what makes one a rational, educated human being.
Shortwave radio has an interesting history and importance to the world. It is a tool that many people have never heard of or undervalue as a whole. I love radios as I feel that the niche they fill is irreparable in the modern day. For the amount of entertainment, information, and comfort that these little devices bring the cost is worth it by far.
In the coming years as climate change and authoritarian political/economic pressures potentially impact our daily lives, I doubt you want to rely solely on one device. You will not regret diversifying your means of receiving communication and emergency notifications during a time of panic. Owning a small portable shortwave radio is inexpensive and brings your family a little more security for the uncertain futures ahead.
I urge all readers to check out the listings on amazon or my affiliate link for the great portable radio (the Tecsun PL-880) that I currently use as it has a great speaker (great for listening to music). I will post a video of me showcasing