NASWA Winter SWL Fest » 2014 Forums & Events

2014 Forums & Events

For those of you who have never been to a Fest, here’s a thumbnail sketch of how the schedule is arranged.


  • Thursday – travelers start to arrive (pm) – hospitality room opens.
  • Friday – registration (am) – forums – exhibits – swap meet (pm).
  • Saturday – registration (am) – forums – exhibits – silent auction – luncheon – banquet – raffle.
  • Sunday – travelers depart.


Updated March 7, 2014

2014 WINTER SWL FEST PROGRAM (Nearly final, but still subject to change.)

(All Times EDT.  All Forum Sessions and The Shortwave Shindig in Walnut A/B unless otherwise indicated.)

Thursday 13 March

1900 – Presidential Suite Hospitality Room Opens (or perhaps earlier)

2100 — Registration Table Opens (in Hospitality Room)

2400 – Hospitality Room Closes (earlier or later depending on use)

Friday 14 March

0815 — Exhibit Room Opens

Registration Table Opens (in Exhibit Room)

0900 — FORUM 1 – Internet 2.0 – Rob de Santos

The landscape in Internet radio is changing. There are more services than ever (Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, AccuRadio, 50,000+ streams, etc). The full arrival of Internet in the car is upon us and another slew of services are due to launch in 2014. What are the plusses and minuses? Who will survive and who won’t? For international listeners, will the Internet platform supplant shortwave entirely?

1030 – FORUM 2 – Radio’s Future – Sheldon Harvey – (Chestnut A)

There is one.  There really is!  But what is it to be?  And how will shortwave fare?  How do we preserve as much of what we love as possible?  And how to embrace the future?  Lots of questions, but Sheldon will lead a discussion searching for some answers.

1030 – FORUM 3 – Scannerpalooza 2014 – Tom Swisher

Continuing on last year’s theme of Scanning 101, this time Tom covers Trunking Basics, with an emphasis on digital systems and especially P25 Phase II systems, which are starting to pop up.  [Careful, it sounds like they’re recruiting. You’ve been warned. (ed.)]

1130 – Lunch Break (on your own)

Registration Table Closes

Hospitality Room Opens

1315 – Registration Table Reopens

Hospitality Room Closes

1315 – FORUM 4 – Pirate Radio Year in Review – George Zeller

(It’s a secret, but I bet Snowden knows.)

1445 FORUM 5 – Archiving Shortwave Broadcasts – Thomas Witherspoon – (Chestnut A)

A follow up to 2010’s Archiving Radio: Documenting the Present, Preserving the Past session that explored the art and history of capturing the sounds of the medium and shortwave bands. Topics include an assessment of where things are when it comes to establishing a permanent home for medium & shortwave audio recordings.

1445 FORUM 6 – Ionosounders 101 – Tracy Wood

This session looks at real-time propagation tools that can help DXers do their job! While researching 2012’s CODAR talk, Tracy came across some ionosounder websites and found lots of fascinating parallels. Just like the CODAR folks, there are custom-hardware manufacturers, real-networked-observation webpages and supporting research groups. This session also discusses ham-related protocols such as WSPR for those who want to play “mad propagation scientist.”

1600 – Registration Table Closes for the Day

1615 – FORUM 7 – North Korea: Behind the Curtain I – Mark Fahey

Australian Mark Fahey has travelled all the way to Plymouth Meeting to describe his travels within North Korea. Over four successive trips to each province of the country, he has “carried surreptitiously” equipment in and out of the country enabling the monitoring and recording of hundreds of hours of domestic radio and television broadcasting. These presentations—in two parts today and tomorrow–feature Mark’s analysis of North Korean society and media, audio and video examples of North Korean propaganda broadcasting, as well as photographs of the media infrastructure used by the North Korean regime as the prime instrument of control over the population.

1730 – Dinner Break (On Your Own)

Exhibit Room Closes

Hospitality Room Opens

1900 – Exhibit Room Reopens

Swap Meet

1945 FORUM 8 — Ham Radio Tools for SWLs – Skip Arey

Ham radio has a ton of propagation supports systems such as beacons, advanced audio processing–even WSPR is being used to follow HF patterns. Uncle Skip surveys the best bets for DXers.

2100 THE SHORTWAVE SHINDIG – 11th Annual Edition – David Goren

The Shortwave Shindig channels the art, history and culture of shortwave radio through archival sound, live musical performance and a poem or two. Many special guests, both live and remote, are on the card.  BYOC (bring your own cowbell) and BYOR (bring your own rooster) for a historic reenactment of Radio Botswana’s Interval Signal.

!!!2200 – Live Broadcast from the Fest and The Shortwave Shindig on WRMI!!! (to 2300 EDT.  That’s 0200-0300 GMT/UTC Saturday!)  7570 kHz, 100kW directed to North America from Okeechobee, Florida (USA)

2400 – Exhibit Room Closes

Hospitality Room Closes (Later if Still in Use)

Saturday 14 March

0830 – Registration Table Opens

Exhibit Room Opens

0900 – FORUM 9 – Whatever Happened to Digital Radio? – Mark Phillips

Have you ever wondered how your car’s GPS knows about the local traffic conditions? Or how that FM radio you won in last year’s raffle knows what song is playing? There’s a huge amount of digital radio out there that is both obvious and not so obvious.

We’ll recap various digital radio/TV (not Internet) methods. Look at its successes (and failures!) and look at various ways we can improve our data capture. (Subtitles will be available on BBC CeeFAX page 888…. just kidding.)

1000 –            Registration Table Closes


1030 – FORUM 10 – Loop Antennas III – Jef Eichner

Finishing up Jef’s small loop series started two years ago, he covers practical aspects of loop building, including designs, construction tips, modifications, uses, tricks, and in general how to get the most from your loop buck.  This one will be light on theory and heavy on “doing”.  If you’ve seen the first two you won’t be bored; but if you haven’t, you won’t be lost.

1130 – Hospitality Room Opens

1200 – LUNCHEON — including In Memoriam by Sheldon Harvey and short talks on World Christian Broadcasting’s shortwave transmitter projects by Paul Ladd of WCR and AM radio’s future by Allan Loudell of WDEL radio in Dover, Delaware.

(Those not holding luncheon tickets are cordially invited to rejoin the group after the luncheon at 1245 to take part in after lunch activities.)

1330 – FORUM 11 – Remote Receivers – Bruce Churchill

Learn how best to the use remote receivers like Global Tuners and Perseus Worldwide Network to enhance the remaining joys of our hobby.

1500 – FORUM 12 – North Korea: Behind the Curtain II – Mark Fahey

Yesterday’s presentation continues.  (See FORUM 7.)

1630 – SILENT AUCTION Ends (Please promptly collect your winnings and pay your bids.)

1730 – Cocktail Half-Hour (This is the “formal” part. Many of you will have already started or will take this into several hours anyway.)

1800 – BANQUET – Guest Speaker:  Dan Robinson, Longtime VOA News Foreign and Domestic Correspondent.

(Those not holding banquet tickets are cordially invited to rejoin the group after dinner around 2000 or so to take part in after dinner activities.)

2100 – LE GRANDE RAFFLE  (The management promises to try and do this in record time… record least time, that is…)

2400 – PANCHO’S “MIDNIGHT RIDE” (if one were to know…)



Date:  January 24, 2014


NASWA, the North American Shortwave Association, has announced preliminary program details for its 27th Annual Winter SWL Festival to be held at the Doubletree Suites Hotel in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania on March 14 and 15, 2014.

The Winter SWL Fest is the largest and longest-running annual meeting of shortwave radio enthusiasts and hobbyists in the Western Hemisphere.  Beyond the opportunity to renew old friendships and make new contacts, the conference serves as a forum for discussion of radio-related matters of interest and import to the attendees, which have numbered in excess of 200 in some recent years.

This year’s program of forums features two presentations by Australian Mark Fahey, who has travelled North Korea extensively in recent years. Over four successive trips to each province of the country, he has smuggled in and out monitoring and recording equipment enabling the capture and analysis of hundreds of hours of domestic radio and television broadcasting.

Scheduled for successive afternoons on Friday and Saturday, Behind the Curtain: North Korean Broadcasting and Propaganda, will extensively discuss and feature audio and video examples of North Korean internal and external broadcasting, international and clandestine broadcasters that manage to penetrate through the regime’s jamming, as well as descriptions and photographs of the media infrastructure used by the North Korean regime as the prime instrument of control over the population.

In addition to the ever-popular annual forums on scanning and unlicensed broadcasting (otherwise known as pirate radio), the 2014 Fest program also will feature the following sessions and presenters (subject to revision):

Radio Broadcasting: The Earliest Years – Dr. Harold Cones

Navigating a Future for the Radio Hobby – Sheldon Harvey, President of the Canadian International DX Club

Internet Radio 2.0 – Rob DeSantos

A Practical Guide to Loop Antennas – Jef Eichner

Developing a Shortwave Radio Archive – Thomas Witherspoon, President of Ears to Our World

Whatever Happened to Digital Radio? – Mark Phillips

Ionosounders and Other Real Time Propagation Aids – Tracy Wood

Ham Radio Tools for SWLs – Skip Arey

There’s also David Goren’s Friday night Shortwave Shindig radio studio party, as well as brief talks by Paul Ladd on World Christian Broadcasting’s shortwave transmitter projects, Allen Loudell of WDEL radio on trends in U.S. commercial radio, especially news/talk radio; and Sheldon Harvey’s annual tribute to those who departed us for a “higher station” over the last year.  Not to mention: the Saturday night banquet and Grande Raffle!

Why not join us at the 27th Annual Winter SWL Fest?  Details on location, registration, meals and lodging are available from the official web site: