I used to be real big into short-wave radios about 10/11 years ago, I had an old set from that must have been 40 years old at the time, this old WW2 navy vet gave it to me and helped me restore it. It was real fun for me back then, but this was before the net made the world a 'global village' so basically I can get the same thing over real player without the effort.
So maybe if you found and old one, restored it and got a radio station from Saudi Arabia it would be more worthwhile then say picking up some digital player from Radio Shack in your local mall.
Amateur radio might also be something for you to consider. You have to take some classes and get licensed, buy a boat load of equipment if you plan to communicate long distance but I've always found it fascinating. Most communities have a club for it, so I'd check them out if your interested. I got novice (no code) licensed at 14, but never had the money to buy my own radio which sucked for me, for it's quite the expensive endeavor but a very popular one.
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It kinda depends what you are going to do with your radio. If you just want to tune into the big signals (BBC, Voice of America, RFI, Radio Netherlands, etc.), then a radio from Radio Shack with a longwire antenna works fine. My workaday radio is a Realistic DX-380 with 100 feet of wire, which gets me all the stations I listen to on a regular basis.
If you are chasing rare and distant signals, then you need a top of the line receiver, like a Drake. They can run up to $1000, but you can sometimes find one cheap from a radio enthusiast who is looking to trade up.
Some of the old tube driven sets are pretty good too, if you don't mind hunting down the spare parts. I'm personally looking for an old GE SuperRadio 2 for my medium wave listening hobby.
Hope this helps!
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The internet has made things easier, but just the idea of having a shortwave has always been something I've wanted to make a reality. From what you have both told me, there's a lot more to it.
I visited RadioShack and all they had was a small set that's meant to be used as a novelty item for kids. It claims to be able to pick up signals from all over the world, but there's no antannae and it seems that there's not much one can do to upgrade it.
I've been listening to NPR (National Public Radio) for years and they always pick up the BBC as latenight programming. So, the curiousity of picking up signals such as those and listening to hockey game broadcasts from Canada would be great. I remember reading something about David Letterman having one when he was a kid and talking to sea captains via the radio set up he had at home, so I'm assuming there's plenty to do once you have the right equipment.
I'll look around online and see if I can find anything for sale and look up some clubs as well.
If you can find a Radio Shack DX-440, it's basically a clone of the tremendous Sangean ATS-803A, and it's usually quite a deal used. Try EBay...
On my ATS-803A I was able to hear many of the medium-sized West African stations with a longwire alligator-clipped to the extended antenna. But, with the whip alone you ahould be able to get the larger international broadcasters. It has ten memories, AM, longwave and FM...the ability to hear sideband amateur radio and utility stuff...
I was able to get a monster eBay deal on a Drake R8...it was quite a kick to hear Papua New Guinea from central Illinois....
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