Is There a Shortwave Propaganda War Going On?

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By the author of The Faithful Prepper and The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications.

I was fiddling around with my shortwave radio the other night, toying around with hoping to pick up maybe a BBC or VOA (Voice of America) broadcast. For those that don’t know, Voice of America is the United States’ shortwave broadcast program. It can be picked up internationally and contains news about current events from an American perspective.

I won’t get into whether or not VOA is trustworthy or not, because, frankly, I don’t listen to it enough to feel that I can give a fair statement to that. I will say that a lot of the Left were upset with VOA about four years ago if that tells you anything, but, again, this is a mainstream media source. Take that for what it is.

After turning through the shortwave spectrum a bit, I finally picked up a broadcast I initially thought was one of the two – either the BBC or VOA. I figured it was the BBC as it was a British accent I was hearing. (It soon switched to native Chinese speakers.) The longer I listened, though, it soon became apparent that I was listening to China Radio International (CRI).

China Radio International is Beijing’s version of VOA. It’s a state-sponsored “news” program, updating its listeners on current events with a Chinese twist. There was quite a bit of talk about Shanghai as I was listening going on.

The ability to pick up Chinese broadcasts here in the United States shouldn’t really surprise anyone. That’s the way shortwave radio works – it travels internationally. I had a nearby copy of the World Radio TV Handbook nearby, though, and began to look at the listings of what frequencies were used for VOA and what frequencies are used for CRI.

The World Radio TV Handbook is the definitive guide to looking up shortwave radio broadcasts. I don’t just recommend picking up a shortwave radio – I also recommend picking up this guidebook. It’s the modern version of the TV Guides your grandma used to keep scattered throughout the living room. Known as the WRTH, this helps you to know not only what it is that you’re currently listening to, but it allows you to look up broadcasts that may be of interest to you. (Coincidentally, this is the last year that the WRTH will be published, so I would recommend picking up a copy sooner rather than later.)

Here is what I noticed, and I thought you might find it interesting.

There are 121 different frequencies that VOA is broadcast on. China Radio International is broadcast on 254 frequencies, slightly more than double of what America pumps out. That in and of itself isn’t too noteworthy. What is, is that I went through and compared the frequencies that VOA and CRI use.

A total of 40 frequencies that VOA uses to broadcast its message are also used by CRI. This means that a full third of VOA frequencies are also CRI frequencies.

Seeing that CRI has double the frequencies as VOA, this makes it so that only 15% or so of CRI frequencies are also utilized by the VOA.

Where this gets interesting is when you start to think about finding a VOA broadcast. If you’re looking for a VOA broadcast, there is approximately a 30% chance that you’ll pick up a Chinese broadcast instead. Yes, I understand that there are a lot of other factors at play with one’s ability to pick up shortwave broadcasts, but if we’re simply looking at the number of frequencies used, it means that a Taiwanese civilian who is looking for news from an American perspective may very well be unable to do so because they only frequencies they can access at the time are the Chinese news broadcasts.

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Is this just a coincidence? 

I don’t think so at all. The shortwave radio spectrum is typically stated to be from 2000 kHz to 30000 kHz. With that large of a swath of the radio spectrum to choose from, is it sheer coincidence that 30% of American shortwave radio broadcasts would also be exactly the same as perhaps the largest enemy that America currently has?

According to my count, here are the frequencies that both CRI and VOA hold in common (all are in kHz):

1188, 6020, 6040, 6080, 6150, 7275, 9490, 9550, 9585, 9620, 9760, 9765, 9795, 9800, 9825, 9880, 11610, 11650, 11720, 11760, 11820, 11870, 11875, 11900, 11910, 11945, 11975, 12070, 13580, 13590, 13630, 13750, 15110, 15120, 15180, 15260, 15425, 15560, 17680, 17720.

Here are my thoughts. 

The way radio jamming works is that the stronger signal wins. We’ve talked about the Russian Buzzer briefly in the past here and how it was thought that Ukraine (and perhaps civilians as well) was jamming it. The Buzzer signal has been overridden quite a bit of late with saying such as “Stop The War” being spelled out when one looks at the waterfall display (a picture version of radio frequencies) of The Buzzer’s transmission.

Islands in the Pacific are much closer to China than they are to America. If China is putting out a much more powerful signal than America within that region, it is the Chinese signal that is going to be picked up. If a group of people in Japan or the Philippines is trying to pick up VOA, they very well may not be able to do so because the Chinese signal is stronger, and thus, the Chinese signal is what’s going to be playing through their radio. These people will then be unable to get access to the information they’re looking for as it’s effectively been drowned out.

Though there’s nothing illegal about this, the end results are the silencing of American media throughout the Pacific.

A short wave goodbye

(I want ya’ll to know how proud I am of that pun.) Just a random happening I literally stumbled upon last night I thought you might find of interest. What are your thoughts? Do you have more to add here? Let us know in the comments below.

About Aden

Aden Tate is a regular contributor to and Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has three published books, The Faithful Prepper The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications, and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.

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Aden Tate

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  • Two observations: on ‘the stronger signal wins’ – might be true, if the ‘nearby’ islands get a substantial ground wave, but more likely they will find themselves in the skip zone as the wave travels to the ionosphere to be reflected back to earth much farther away.
    Second, you sure about that whole ‘China is our biggest enemy’ bit? A lot of domestic folks – politicians and business leaders alike who sent our supply chains, jobs, and money to China since Nixon are a lot closer AND more culpable.

  • Without digging into the math of short wave antenna design, it’s worth mentioning that short wave signal strength is highly dependent on both the presence of an external antenna AND a ground wire connection. Back in the day when I used to spend a lot more time monitoring short wave broadcasts, I would clip a child’s Slinky toy to the tiny telescoping antenna and then stretch it upward to provide some useful working length. For convenient portability it would easily collapse as needed.

    The second mandatory addition is an effective ground wire connection. Decades ago short wave set manufacturers were a lot more helpful in making it clear where to connect a ground wire. Unfortunately some of the more recent sets left omitted that courtesy, so you might have to contact that maker to learn where to connect on the set.

    Then the other end of the ground wire has another mystery. You might not have a handy iron water pipe to clip onto. What I found that worked exceedingly well was the center screw of any of my indoor 110vac power outlets.

    Was that combination effective? That’s how I was able to listen to the (now late) retired USAF munitions development general Benton Partin explain shortly after the 1995 bombing of the federal Murrah building in Oklahoma City that the ammonium nitrate fertilizer in Timothy McVeigh’s truck was a slow speed explosive. That meant that it was utterly incapable of cutting the steel girders as happened to the Murrah building. He then explained that only high speed explosives such as the military uses were capable of doing such damage.


    • I remember the local stations covering/truthing about possibly more bombs inside, multiple suspects, etc. They went to break, upon return NY had taken over broadcasts, morphed into one man Uhaul load of fertilizer. Sheeple bought it.

    • Lewis…
      I used to clip an antenna wire to and old (working) dial-telephone finger stop. It worked!! (if one didn’t have an actual antenna available.)

  • Well that is interesting. While spending the weekend golfing with one of my Marine sons (and his fellow Marine friends) who are in the data systems analyst field (don’t ask me much about the titles since they are always being promoted) …one of the guys is being deployed to the Philippines very soon. Ironic this story comes up the day after! Between the 3 of them, I asked why the Philippines (I am slow at keeping up sorry) and none of them legitimately knew why. I can’t help but think the timing of this article is appropriate.

    • Jennifo – I was in that business myself – Good probability they are not allowed to talk about what they do and why !!

  • China has been investing a lot of money in shortwave jamming in recent years, which includes drowning out existing traffic using more powerful signals. Part of the reason is because pro-democracy groups have been broadcasting signals into mainland China for a number of years as well in an effort to get uncensored information to the mainstream Chinese population. As far as I know, there are no laws against this, so it has always been a ‘game’ between opposing ‘forces’ – for many years.

    Based on this article, and some of the comments that have been posted, perhaps there’s some indication things are going to get more interesting (whether we want them to, or not).

  • Meanwhile back at the RF discussion…..
    That is interesting, but not a surprise. Have to control the narrative and the only way you are going to do that is control the message…meaning your message! Don’t need the other guy stepping all over you signal! I loved the Slinky story! We use to use those in the Marine Corps believe it or not! I had a acquaintance when we were up at Meade who was using one in his room. I think he actually made and sold an antenna based on this.
    And yes Grounding is kind of important!
    HF was not my favorite just because we were really too close on most of the “stuff” I did. Usually VHF/UHF…aircraft/SATCOM……
    I really miss Radio Shack! Always could get components for improvised field antennas…

  • Just a quick note. In the short wave spectrum frequencies are shared based on time of day and day of week. So, you may tune in at one time and hear VOA another time on the same frequency and hear Vatican Radio, then another time and hear Chinese Radio. ( This is just an example.) It gets confusing. Several shortwave listening groups provide up to date frequency and time charts. Since they can change it is good to check in about once a month for any updates. As for China, they are always up to something in all spectrums.

  • Most of the pacific islands on the western side of Hawaii used to listen to an Australian broadcast, it was radio australia or something similar, but about 12 years ago Australia shut down the broadcast due to budget cuts. Since that time the Chinese have taken up transmitting on the frequencies that the Aussies used, so now the pacific islanders get their news from China, it’s done in english, but the news source is chinese. Fiji, Tonga, the Solomons, and all those islands get their current affairs and news from the ccp.

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