Signals # 3 is finally here. 42 pages, half sized. Features articles about Food Not Bombs, The Pirates Week Podcast, and more. This issue is geared toward shortwave / pirate / community radio novice but going forward Signals will focus on the more seasoned radio listening experience. First print run is 25 copies, you can obtain one by sending $3 via www.paypal.com to singinggrove@conknet.com
As always I appreciate any support, moral or financial, for this project!


Call for Submissions

DJ Frederick is issuing a call for submissions for the 2011 issue of Signals: A Radio Zine. Looking for personal essays that involve radio related topics, interviews, and articles about any and all aspects of shortwave broadcasting, free / pirate radio stations, community radio, low power radio and the “underground” era of FM radio. Artwork, fiction, poetry and any unusual topics are appreciated as well. Please send queries to: singinggrove@conknet.com



Here's something unusual: there's a new channel on YouTube called Shortwave Adventures. There seems to be a semi-visual version of a station called KBUS posted as its first video ...


and a little internet digging uncovered the unedited audio!!!



Ms. Valerie Park Distro

In addition to being available from your zinester via PayPal (see previous post) ... Signals can be purchased from JJ at the Ms. Valerie Park Distro. Here's a link to the wonderful write up he did. 



Signals Archive: The Moscow Coup Attempt

If you’ve tuned up or down a shortwave radio spectrum for any length of time you may have heard mechanical female voices droning a series of numbers into the ether … or crisp high-toned notes chiming a folk tune several times in succession. These transmissions are mysterious signals thought to be messages broadcasts to spies and agents all over the world. They are referred to as “spy number stations” and appear and disappear regularly on both varied and fixed frequencies. For more information investigate http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numbers_station.

Derek Whitacre is the architect of The Moscow Coup Attempt and the delightfully cryptic new cd The Failure of Shortwave Radio which incorporates and weaves samples of shortwave numbers stations throughout blissful washes of melody. The title is somewhat poignant for me as a shortwave radio listener who has witnessed the landslide of shortwave stations discontinuing their broadcasts to North America over the past five years including the BBC, and RVI from Flanders.

Graciously, Derek Whitacre sent me a promotional copy of The Failure of Shortwave Radio and agreed to an interview for this blog:

DJ Frederick: How did you discover shortwave radio in general and number stations in specific?

Derek: National Public Radio. I heard a story about Numbers Stations and a CD collection of Numbers Stations called The Conet Project. From that point I was hooked.
After weeks of research into the subject, I went searching for myself. Using online shortwave radio networks, I was finding numbers stations every once in a while. It's quite a tricky feat, but if you have the right information on their occurrences, you can find them. Anyway... some of my recordings actually made it onto the album. Others I got from sources world 'round, with permission of course. I'd also like to state for the fact, that NONE of my recordings came from The Conet Project collection. I say this because the individual that compiled it is quite letigious on record.

DJ Frederick: What are you thoughts on the state of radio in the US?

Derek: Short answer, it's dead. Long answer... The corporations that own most of the stations in the US could give a shit about music. It's all about bottom line. And to them, America is the same no matter where you go. We're all a faceless horde of consumers, who will take whatever we're given. So now they have the SAME STATIONS in different cities with the SAME PLAYLISTS. "Keep them listening so we can sell more add time... Oh, this playlist works in LA, so it must work in Denver, and Atlanta, and Boston." And where do those playlists come from??? Dying major labels that don't want to invest in anything but a limited scope of "artists" because to be different is bad. Do what works until it doesn't work. Then do it again with a new hot young piece of ass and call it new. Ok, ok... yes, there are a handful of "indie" stations (most of which are owned by these same corporations) playing different blends of music. But they are few and far between.However, I don't really care all that much because I really don't do what I do to get played on KROQ or STAR or Teenie-Bopper-of-the-moment-.7 FM. If I could get on KCRW or other low budget indie eclectic shows, that would be cool. What was the question again?

DJ Frederick: What is a Moscow Coup Attempt live concert experience like?

Derek: I give everyone a gram of dried mushrooms at the door and we just stare at a bug-zapper set up in the middle of the room. Yeah, actually it's kind of like going to see a really loud art film. I play with laptop and synth and other toys to a film montage I cut to the music. It's all archival footage, really creepy images, some not, ancient war footage, NASA development shite...There's a trailer for it on the "Moscow" website. Eventually I'd like to get rid of most of the computer oriented pieces and replace them with real honest to monkeys people playing instruments that don't require wall sockets.

DJ Frederick: I’m wondering if you could talk about some of your film / visual projects?

Derek: Well, other than what I just described, I've written scores for a couple short films no one will see. Actually, one of them is a good little film about fathers and sons called "Ringside Hero," directed by John Covarrubias. There have been some video games I've written stupid little LimbBuzzcut style songs for. I'm also into photography... a lot of macro-lens laden images like the photos I did for the "Failure" album art. RIGHT NOW... I'm thinking about the next film I want to do for "the Coup." Where as I wrote this album thinking about cinema and it being music for "a movie that never was," I might go the other direction and write and film and music together. More of a narrative structure than abstract expressionism.

One listen to The Moscow Coup Attempt folds the listener into a world of “eyelid movies” and beyond. For sound samples, video and more information cruise over to http://www.moscowcoupattempt.com/. The Failure of Shortwave Radio is available to purchase from cd baby via www.cdbaby.com/cd/tmca


B Movie Bob

Back in 2000 when I became a shortwave listener, the very first show I heard on WBCQ was a 15 minute broadcast called The B Movie Bob Show. Being a fan of Plan 9 From Outer Space and other Ed Wood films, I was hooked from the start. B Movie Bob filled his 15 minutes of fame brilliantly with offbeat, quirky music and more information about B Movies than anyone could ask for.

Here's a link to B Movie Bob's very first show to listen or download ...




Signals Archive: An interview with Dr. Benway Undercover Radio

Since New Years 2003, shortwave listeners have been treated to numerous transmissions from Undercover Radio. Programs often consist of avant garde music and readings by the ever acerbic beat generation refugee William S. Burroughs or performances by mesmerist Laurie Anderson as well as announcements from Dr. Benway. Undercover Radio claims to be broadcasting “from the middle of nowhere” but to me, seems to be coming from the edge of the collective unconscious. I’m pleased to transcribe an interview with Dr. Benway regarding his shortwave activities:

DJ Frederick: What are the origins of Undercover Radio? Can you tell me about its history or inspiration?

Dr. Benway: I first experienced pirate radio when I heard KIPM through the titanium crown on my tooth. I was completely freaked and couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on. It was so surreal. Come to think of it, I was probably tripping at the time. I eventually found out about 6955kHz and got my hands on an old Lafayette shortwave radio. After a while I thought I might have something to contribute to the pirate community and decided to find a way to get on the air.

With the help of some friends I got my hands on an old ham radio. I found some great audio mixing software and pieced together a broadcast. All this happened just before Christmas 2002 as a spur of the moment project. I picked William Burroughs for the broadcast because I hadn’t heard anything quite like it even in the pirate scene. I thought Burroughs would really turn some ears and grab some attention.

Laurie Anderson comes from a later generation, but I think just about everyone can connect with her unique perspective on life in one way or another. I was very surprised to find out how many listeners were already familiar with Burroughs and Anderson. I guess that says a lot about the pirate crowd.

DJ Frederick: What type of transmitting equipment do you use?

Dr. Benway: It’s some kind of new-fangled ham radio with big tubes that glow a beautiful orange when you really crank them up. The unmistakable smell of Ozone is intense.

DJ Frederick: What are your thoughts on the free radio scene (or other thoughts on radio?)

Dr. Benway: The free radio scene seems to be alive and well. I used to think the internet was the free radio scene. You can broadcast just about anything you want on Live 365. However there is nothing like the excitement of firing up the transmitter and doing whatever the hell you please without worrying about the consequences (other than being caught). There is some kind of magic that happens with radio. No one knows what surprises might pop up on 6955 and I think that’s part of the excitement of listening. Anything can happen. All you need is an old shortwave and a piece of wire.

WAIR All Indie Radio

A new broadcast of free radio shortwave station WAIR is available for download ... apparently the torch has been passed from previous station operator Robert J. Yardbrown to new host A. J. Kretchmar. WAIR used to specialize in hard-to-find indie music and it's good to hear that spirit is continuing ...


First post in millenia

Hello folks

Ye Olde DJ's zine projects are not dead but have been hybernating. A new issue of Signals (number three ...though something like number seven of the /wave project series ... don't worry about keeping tally) is imminent. While rummaging through the archives I found five copies of the very first zine I created called SHORT/wave ... this is the second printing, from 2007, thus is known as SHORT/wave 2 ... regardless of my esoteric numbering schemes, the zine is 30 pages long and includes:

  • An interview with Captain Ron Shortwave
  • An interview with Dr. Benway from Undercover Radio
  • An article about KMUD's broadcast from the Mojave Phone Booth
  • An article about Radio For Peace International

& more. If you want a copy of this DIY zine send $2.50 via paypal to singinggrove@conknet.com & I'll mail one out as soon as I can get to the post with my insanely busy day job.


Pirate Profile from the Archives: Mystery Science Radio

Mystery Science Radio was a shortwave pirate station that was inspired by the television series Mystery Science Theater 3000 (known as MST3K) which was broadcast for a total of 11 years on American television. MST3K started at a small UHF station KTMA in Minnesota and was quickly picked up by Comedy Central, then finally the Sci-Fi Channel for its last three years. Mystery Science Radio appeared in late 2000, broadcasting tributes to Andy Kaufman, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and a whole program devoted to Theremin music.

MST3K involved Joel (and later, Mike) trapped in space by mad scientists (Dr. Clayton Forester and TV’s Frank) on the Satellite of Love with robot puppets Tom Servo, Crow, Gypsy and Cambot. Each week they were forced to endure horrible B movies and the show revolved around their satirical and hysterical commentary while watching the movies. Typical films shown were Japanese monster flicks such as The Creeping Terror, or movies like The Amazing Colossal Man or The Atomic Brain. Between movie segments audiences were treated to comedy sketches with Joel (or Mike) and the bots. Many of the sketches were themed around the week’s movie. Sometimes they’d even break into a song such as Slow the Plot Down sung as a sea shanty with Joel and the bots dressed as pirates.

In the early transmissions of Mystery Science Radio, the lone host was Cherokee Jack Perkins. Cherokee Jack claimed to be broadcasting from the Yellow Submarine where he was somehow forced to listen to really bad radio shows. Later episodes included Cherokee Jack’s sidekick Torgo (a character from MST3K cult favorite Manos, Hands of Fate). Torgo had a wavering voice and loved bizarre records like Music for a Pack of Hungry Cannibals. According to Cherokee Jack, the December 2002 transmission of Mystery Science Radio was the final broadcast, however the station then evolved into Theremin Radio which was heard once on shortwave frequencies during 2003.

Cherokee Jack once said, when asked if he’d be returning to the airwaves, “I never say never, except just then.”

Here's a link to an archived Mystery Science Radio from 2002: