I’ve started doing some concentrated work on a new Category that will be ready sometime soon.
It’s Radio Manuals.
I have my old Zenith Trans Oceanic stored away and shielded but just recently got a more modern Shortwave Receiver to play around with and see what’s still going on in the Shortwave world. I used to follow shortwave many years ago well before the age of computer BBS and later the Internet.
For those born since the Web fully emerged shortwave it was the radio equivalent of the Web in a sense. Countries all over the world operated radio stations that broadcast in the Shortwave bands which could often be received pretty much anywhere in the world though most often between sunset and sunrise due to the way shortwave operates.
Obviously each country presented news and information from their own national perspective. Depending on which country was your homeland and which were your country’s “enemies” what was being presented was often categorized as Truth or Propaganda.
In World War II soldiers on both sides listened to the broadcasts of the enemy and even knowing they were propaganda could enjoy the other aspects of the broadcasts such as music and cultural shows. Even at the height of the Cold War many Westerners and Easterners listened to BBC World Service, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle, Radio Moscow, Radio Peking or the ever popular Radio Albania for the long entertaining harangues about Capitalist Running Dogs interspersed with some excellent music. Radio Havana always had some great music even if the price was the all too often Fidel Castro Speech. Once a Fidel speech started you knew that was the end of music on that station for the evening.
At the same time, especially in the 60s and 70s, as people became more and more cynical about their own governments in both the eastern and the western world shortwave often became a source of news that you could NOT get in your own country and on your own media. Most people born since the internet came of age have no conception of the impact shortwave radio had on the world in the second half of the 20th century.
In a world trying to rebuild after an EMP or other disaster that cripples the technical and industrial infrastructure the internet is not going to be rebuilt for a long, long time. If it’s as bad as some of us envision where industry has to essentially be bootstrapped it could be generations before the re-emergence of something like the internet.
For a long time in that world radio will be the primary form of long distance communication. Shortwave will re-emerge quickly as well to provide information to people too remote for direct point to point communication. A lot of the transmitters and receivers for such communications will have to be built from scratch but for many years, perhaps decades many existing radio transmitters and receivers will still be salvageable and usable. Shortwave transmitters tend to be simple, large, robust and would probably survive most potential EMP events. Surprisingly many shortwave stations still use the transmitters and equipment built back in the 1950s with vacuum tubes and discrete point to point wiring. The damage that even a massive EMP event caused to such equipment could be fairly easily repaired by a competent radio technician.
The likelihood is that shortwave radio would re-emerge fairly quickly as a method to disseminate information of a large area and even to help re-establish communications between extremely distant regions.
Shortwave manuals seemed like they would be a worthwhile addition to the Library. While looking for them I’ve run across other radio manuals including Users manuals, Service manuals and even complete Schematics for many types of both civilian and surplus military equipment. A lot of this older equipment is robust enough that with even minimal shielding they would likely either survive a significant EMP event or be repairable, especially if a schematic and service manual was available.
Rather than try to limit the list to strictly shortwave or any other narrow category I’m going to compile all of the manuals I’m finding and include them since they aren’t that large. With luck I’ll have them all collected, checked out and cataloged in a week or two.
And as and aside to those experienced shortwave listeners I have to admit I’m a bit surprised that the numbers stations are still in operation. Haven’t these people heard of the internet??