Saturday, January 25, 2020

All About Radio

Although radio is more than 100 years old and your basic AM/FM radio has lost its luster due to so many other options (satellite radio, streaming services,etc), using radio--both AM/FM as well as HAM radio--is still something everyone should do.

  • AM/FM radio is free and can be accessed by the tiniest radios, car radio, multi-service radio (radios that include NOAA and short wave), through your computer, and even through your TV.
  • Here is a general overview of how radio works.
  • Anyone who lives in an area where weather disasters are common (tornadoes, hurricanes) should have a NOAA weather radio that includes an alarm that will sound if there is a weather emergency in your area.
  • Among the radios in my gear: tiny battery-operated AM/FM radio, a Sansa MP3 player with FM radio, a hand-crank radio, HAM radio, and a NOAA radio (not so useful where I live now but quite useful when I lived in Atlanta).
  • HAM radio may be the only means of communication when the grid goes down.  Check out YouTube for lots of good videos on all aspects of HAM radio and get info on licensure here; also, a great way to practice your HAM radio skills is to volunteer with ARES/RACES which helps out with emergency communications during a disaster.
  • For those who aren't licensed, there are a variety of personal radio services that they can use.
  • Years ago most cell phones had AM and FM radio in them; these days the radio part may be locked or non existent.  Here is info on how to unlock FM on your cell phone if that is available on your phone and here is info on using NextRadio even if your cell phone doesn't have a signal.
  • You can listen to various emergency radio services via apps on your cell phone/tablet/computer.  Apps such as Broadcastify and Scanner Radio allows you to listen to unencrypted emergency services radio traffic, you can listen to live Air Traffic Control radio here, and there are numerous apps for both subscription streaming radio as well as free apps that pull in radio stations from all over the world.
  • Radio Reference is a great site for radio information.
  • Here is a quick read on how radio has been used for propaganda throughout the past decades.
  • Pirate Radio is another interesting topic; I think pirate radios hit their peak in the late 60s and early 70s.
  • Shortwave radios have their own fans and for those with a conspiracy bent, the topic of numbers stations always peaks people's interest.
  • Radio World is a good site for the latest news and information on all things radio-related.
  • The agency that oversees radio use and services in the US is the Federal Communications Commission.
  • The wiki on radio in the US can be found here.
Tldr; have a variety of radios on hand, know how to use them, and make them a part of your emergency preparedness gear.

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