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Thursday, March 20, 2003

Radio war

So it begins.

I know that shortwave radio sales have spiked upward in the runup to this. I'm listening to the radio right now. The US broadcasts a Arabic-language pop music station, Radio Sawa, to the Arabic world. Looking at their web site, it appears that they've separated out a stream specifically for Iraq, Radio Sawa Iraq. I'm listening to them on 9805 kHz shortwave, and they're mostly playing their usual mix of western and Arabic popular music as if nothing was happening. The Sawa web site does include a photo of what is presumably a US jet over Iraq, so they're not ignoring it completely, and a newscast did come on at 11:45 pm (0445 GMT, 7:45 AM in Baghdad). The newscast is running longer than their usual five minutes, too; right now it's been running for more than 25 minutes. At 12:10 am, I heard a US telephone operator's announcement mixed in telling someone to hang up and dial again, so they're having some problems with this on-the-fly reporting thing. I am hearing multiple bubble jammers in the background, so it appears that Iraq is attempting to block reception of the station. I don't know how well it's working in Iraq, but it is making it kind of annoying to listen to the station at times here in the eastern US. I would expect the jamming transmitters to be bombed off the air in the next few days. You can also listen to the station online; the Iraq feed is the second one on the right-side navigation bar.

In Afghanistan, the 193rd Special Operations Wing of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard aired extensive psyops radio programming which was well heard around the world. They're performing the same mission over Iraq at the moment. The frequencies to listen to on shortwave are 9715 kHz and 11292 kHz. I'm trying tonight but can't hear anything because the sunspot numbers are too low to allow frequencies that high to propagate to North America at this time of night. I'll probably try during the day tomorrow.

My friend Mika Mäkeläinen has put together an extensive page on his shortwave web site,, listing as many of the relevant stations in the region as he can. A lot of the stations broadcast on the AM broadcast band and are extremely unlikely to be heard in North America. There are plenty of stations that can be, however.

There are two stations aimed at keeping invading forces informed and entertained. British Forces Broadcasting Service has been widely heard in North America. Their schedule is available on Mika's page. American Forces Radio and Television Service has some relatively low-powered transmissions in single sideband mode, which is a pain to listen to on the kind of relatively inexpensive shortwave radios most people would be likely to have or buy. I haven't tried to listen to them. They mostly re-air domestic US programming in any case.

Radio Netherlands has a long history of closely following news related to international and clandestine broadcasts, particularly those on shortwave. They've put together a lengthy dossier on media in and around Iraq, which is updated regularly. They've got an interesting report on Radio Tikrit, which is apparently a "black clandestine" aimed at sowing confusion and dissension among Iraqis. One thing that's not included in Radio Netherlands' report is the discovery by Egyptian DXer Tarek Zeidan that one of the announcers on Radio Tikrit also appeared as one of the announcers on Information Radio, the radio run by the 193rd Special Operations Wing. Whoops!

I haven't seen any reports of anyone hearing the Iraqi state radio on shortwave recently. In the past, they've been audible sporadically on 11787 kHz. That's a frequency that might bear watching.

Posted at 12:22 AM


Note: I’m tired of clearing the spam from my comments, so comments are no longer accepted.

One of my friends points out to me that US anti-Cuban station Radio Marti is also on 9805 kHz at that hour, so the jamming was far more likely to be from Cuba. I thought the jamming sounded familiar, but I hadn't thought to check for Marti, because the station I was hearing was so clearly Radio Sawa Iraq. Interesting that Sawa, which was from a transmitter in Morocco, was overriding Marti, which was from a transmitter in North Carolina.

Posted by ralph at 10:27 AM, March 20, 2003 [Link]

hello my friend, greetings from Egypt....seeing my name on your page really caught my eye ;) a job very very well done man..keep up the good work.

all the best from Cairo,Egypt.

Tarek Zeidan

Posted by Tarek Zeidan at 10:15 AM, March 29, 2003 [Link]

hi again,

about the commando solo project Information radio...check 4500 kHz from 17.00 UTC=GMT and maybe you'll be able to get it.

all the best from cairo,Egypt

Tarek Zeidan

Posted by Tarek Zeidan at 10:17 AM, March 29, 2003 [Link]

Thanks, Tarek. I haven't had any luck hearing Information Radio on 9715 or 11292 from my location in eastern North America. Maybe I'll have more luck with 4500 kHz, although 1700 UTC is too early for it to propagate here. I'm getting the slightest indication of a het on 4500 right now at 2106 UTC, so maybe in the next hour or so.

Posted by ralph at 4:06 PM, March 29, 2003 [Link]


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What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

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