“Sam,” I said, ‘there’s one thing we haven’t discussed regarding survival. What if things get really chaotic and we need news of what’s happening?”
“Great question,” Sam said. “It’s time we talked a little about survival communications. Since you asked about news, we’ll keep our focus on receiving information. Then later we can tackle the issue of communicating person to person.”
“I assume you have thoughts to share?”
“Of course,” said Sam. “In a basic situation, such as a winter storm, a radio’s a must when power goes out. Of course, if we have a national emergency of some kind, martial law, or whatever, we’ll need access to information. Who knows whether we’ll have access to TV, the Internet, or even electricity? No one knows the extent of the chaos we might experience, but I suggest having a good radio on hand, preferably one that can pick up shortwave.”
“I know that shortwave isn’t the same as ham radio, so why do you recommend it in a survival situation?” I asked.
“While an AM-FM radio may be good for local media coverage—and that’s often questionable these days—there may be news on shortwave that can’t be heard either locally or nationally.”
“Well,” I said, “now you’ve got me wondering about how useful an AM-FM radio is.”
“It’s essential these days to have one,” Sam said. “My concern is that the practice of big media companies gobbling up so many radio and TV stations has all but hollowed out local news staffs. Have you noticed when there’s severe weather that you hear the same content broadcast on half a dozen stations? Not many years ago those stations were separate and had their own news and weather coverage, though quality may have varied. At least you, the listener, had a choice. Now, if there’s a regional or national situation, we’ll get less diversity in what and how the story is covered. Having said all that though, I still recommend a radio for AM and FM.”
“OK,” I said, “but what about shortwave?””
Years ago a man tried to discourage me from listening to shortwave,” said Sam. “He said it was hard to find English language programming, and you had to be listening at just the right time and on just the right frequency. Then there could be fading or interference, such as what we hear at night when we listen to distant AM stations. It’s different than what we’re used to from our local stations. I’ve listened to shortwave a great deal over the years, in spite of this man’s negative comments, and I’ve gained a great deal of perspective not available elsewhere. Sadly, there aren’t as many English speaking overseas stations as in recent years, but there are several commercial shortwave stations here in the U.S. that carry programs you simply don’t get on local media. One has to be discerning, of course, but the Alex Jones program is broadcast on shortwave.”
“But now we’ve got satellite and Internet radio,” I said, “so what’s the appeal of shortwave?”
“Remember,” said Sam, “we’re talking about a potentially extreme situation, where we might not have access to local media, let alone satellite channels or the Internet. Listening to an AM station 50 to 100 miles away could be helpful if local stations are off the air. You want more than a $10 pocket radio in such a situation. On the other hand, let’s say we have another 9-11 type of incident. Even if you can hear every station in your area, how reliable do you think the coverage will be? Do you think we’ll get the full truth? I hope Alex Jones and those like him will still be on the air. If not–this may sound strange–but what if we have to listen to Radio Havana Cuba or China Radio International for perspective?”
“Aren’t shortwave radios expensive and hard to get?”
“Not at all,” said Sam. “Prices vary, but a good shortwave radio can be had these days starting as little as $50. I was delighted to discover that several of the companies in your Prep Mart carry various kinds of emergency radios.”
“That’s right.” I said.
“Many nowadays are wind up radios, and some are solar powered. Most operate from conventional power sources, like battery and AC. Most receive AM, FM, and either weather bands or shortwave.”
“That sounds pretty good,” I said.
“That’s not all,” Sam said. “More radios are made with survival situations in mind. Some have a built-in LED flashlight, which is a great feature in emergencies, and some even have a cell phone charger.”
“That’s a lot to pack into a radio,” I said.
“It’s a good idea to have convenient portable radios on hand. They’re definitely worth having in a survival kit. Have an extra one or two in strategic places around the house. You never know when you’ll need a good radio for survival.”