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What Is Shortwave Radio? – 7 Facts You Should Know

What is a Shortwave Radio?

Shortwave radio is a type of radio transmission technology that uses Shortwave frequencies (between 3.3 and 30 MHz) to carry voice or music. It’s one of the oldest broadcasting methods, dating back to just after the turn of the 20th century. 

What Is Shortwave Radio? - How does SW Radio Work?

In short, Shortwave radio has been around since the beginning of the 1900s and rose to popularity in the 1920s. It carries voice and music across broadcasting signals to allow you to continue communications with others. 

Despite the fact that more modern technology is available, it’s still widely used today, both for its historical significance and in countries where modern infrastructure is limited. This article will teach you everything you need to know about Shortwave radio technology, as well as how it works.

Types of Shortwave Radios

Shortwave radios can be broken up into three types: Shortwave broadcast radio, Shortwave non-broadcast radio, and Shortwave maritime radio.

Shortwave broadcast radio refers to amateur and commercial radio stations which transmit on Shortwave frequencies, while Shortwave non-broadcast radio refers to the use of Shortwave frequencies for military or emergency services purposes. Shortwave maritime radio refers to the use of Shortwave frequencies for communication on ships.

Shortwave broadcast radio is used for public service or commercial purposes, such as news bulletins, music broadcasts, and advertising messages. Shortwave non-broadcast radios are used to communicate between military forces in the field, while Shortwave maritime radios relay communications between a ship and shore stations.

How does Shortwave radio work?

While Shortwave radio is one of the oldest broadcasting methods, it’s not how Shortwave radio technology works. Shortwave radio waves are broadcast from a transmitter, which can be either terrestrial or satellite-based. 

The signal is then picked up by a receiver, which can be located anywhere in the world and will receive a strong reception if it’s within line of sight or if there’s enough atmospheric humidity for reflection. 

The signal is then converted into sound and transmitted to the receiver, where it’s played back. This method requires that the receiver has an antenna capable of picking up this type of transmission and that the space between transmitter and receiver is clear (usually 30 kilometers or less).

How Far Can Shortwave Radio Travel?

A Shortwave radio can travel as far as 300 miles! It’s possible to contact someone who lives on the other side of any continent, and it’s easy to transmit across oceans. This is because Shortwave frequencies can easily pass through mountains, forests, and even buildings. 

For example, if you live in Indianapolis and someone wants to call you in Toronto, they can contact you using a Shortwave radio. This is because Shortwave radio can travel through the atmosphere and communicate with you from a distance.

There are two different types of Shortwave transmissions: AM and FM

Shortwave AM transmission uses a carrier frequency (in this case, between 1.6 and 3 MHz) with amplitude modulation (AM). On the other hand, FM uses 75-150 kHz for its carrier frequency with amplitude modulation.

Who Invented Shortwave Radio?

The credit for the invention of the Shortwave radio goes to Guglielmo Marconi. In 1896, he was granted a patent for his idea of sending wireless signals over long distances. By 1900, he had successfully transmitted across the Atlantic, proving that the concept was feasible and practical.

Marconi’s idea of using waves to transmit data wasn’t new, but it was his use of frequency – specifically, Shortwave frequencies in order to transmit over long distances – that gave Shortwave radio its name and made it far more effective. It also set him down the path towards developing a device capable of receiving messages sent by wireless telegraphy–a machine he called an “oscillating coherer.” This type is still used today as one basic component in modern-day radios with which you can listen (but not send) on a medium wave or long-wave frequency band.

What Other Ways Was Shortwave Radio Used?

Shortwave radio wasn’t always used to transmit sounds through electromagnetic waves; its original purpose was to transmit Morse code signals at very long distances. It was developed by German physicist Heinrich Rudolf Hertz in 1888 and was originally called “Hertzian waves.” 

Its use of frequencies below 1 MHz made it possible to transmit messages without affecting other stations’ broadcasts and allowed it to penetrate fog, rain, snow, and other weather conditions. 

In today’s modern-day, with internet technology being so prevalent, many people have stopped using Shortwave radios due to their limited range. However, for those who live in countries where infrastructure is limited or those who want to preserve their historical value, Shortwave radio remains a valuable tool that still allows you to communicate with people from all over the world even if they

Is Shortwave Radio Still Used?

Shortwave radio is still used in many countries, including China, India, Iran. The United States and the UK are just a few examples of where this technology has been embraced. In some regions of the world – such as Australia or parts of Africa and South America- it’s actually a more reliable method to communicate than other types of technologies.

Which Mode Is Used for Short Wave Broadcast Service?

Shortwave radio is transmitted in one of two ways: 

  • Conventional broadcast
  • Signal modulated on a carrier frequency

The former is the most common method, while the latter allows for long-distance communication, with no need for ground stations to relay the signal.


Shortwave radio is a tool that’s been around for over 100 years and will probably continue to be used for many years to come. It’s not as popular as it was in the past, but it still has its benefits. 

It’s a good idea to keep an SW radio around if you want to communicate with people from all over the world, or if you just want to listen to some international broadcasts. You should also keep it around if you’re worried about power outages and other emergencies.

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