Every so often, there comes a publication which is so unique and so outstanding that you know instantly it will become a classic. This is one such publication. To sum it up in a single word: masterpiece." - Radio Netherlands


Review by Dr. Adrian M. Peterson, Coordinator of International Relations, Adventist World Radio, Indianapolis, Indiana, April 1999.

Review by John C. Herkimer for "The Journal" of the North American Shortwave Association, May 1999.

Reviewed by Dr. Kim Andrew Elliott, Voice of America, "Communications World," May 1999.

Reviewed in "Monitoring Times," June 1999.

Reviewed by Radio Netherlands "Media Network," June 1999.

Reviewed in "QST," Official Journal of The American Radio Relay League, July 1999.

Reviewed by Richard D'Angelo for the World DX Club monthly bulletin, "Contact," July 1999.

Reviewed by William E. Denk for "The Old Timer's Bulletin," Official Journal of the Antique Wireless Association, Inc., August 1999.

Reviewed by Bart Lee for the "Antique Radio Classified," September 1999.

Review by Harold Sellers for "DX Ontario" of the Ontario DX Association Association, August 1999.

Review by Bruce Vaughan, NR5Q, for "Electric Radio," September 1999.

Review in "Popular Communications," December 1999.

Reviewed by Douglas A. Boyd, Professor of Communications, University of Kentucky, in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly.

Reviewed by Paul J. McLane, Editor, "Radio World."

Reviewed by Alan Pennington in "Communication," the monthly Journal of the British DX Club. 

Reviewed by James Tedford in the "Radio Enthusiast" Bookshelf.

As radio developed in the early 1920s, the focus for most people was the AM band and early domestic broadcasting stations like KDKA. However, as knowledge about the capabilities of various frequency ranges increased, another broadcast method developed and became popular among many early listening enthusiasts. It was shortwave broadcasting. Unlike amateur radio, where hobbyists operate their own stations and talk with one another over the air, shortwave broadcasting is the transmission of news and entertainment over great distances via shortwave for the listening public. Such long-distance ("DX") listening was an exciting aspect of the new medium of broadcasting.

The development of early shortwave broadcasting has received comparatively little attention. This book addresses its development in general, and the growth of long-distance radio listening in North America from the perspectives of both those who tuned the shortwave bands for the programming and those who enjoyed the thrill of the hunt.

With its many references to the popular radio literature of the 1920s, 30s and 40s, the book conveys a flavor of the mystery and magic of shortwave's early years. It begins with a review of broadcasting's roots, and then covers the story of shortwave broadcasting from its beginning through World War II.

Among the topics addressed are:

  • early personalities in the development of radio
  • the radio acts of 1912 and 1927
  • the amateurs
  • early radio broadcasting
  • frequency utilization and interference
  • shortwave "hi-fi"
  • the "BCL" (broadcast listener)
  • early shortwave literature
  • receivers, antennas and set building
  • all-wave, communications and "hi-fi" shortwave sets
  • early shortwave broadcasters in the U.S. and overseas
  • the birth of the Voice of America.
  • clubs and other shortwave organizing
  • reception reporting, QSLs, applause cards and EKKO stamps
  • shortwave propaganda
  • government and private monitoring
  • broadcasting during the war
  • clandestine radio
  • shortwave broadcast traitors.
  • listening in wartime
  • The book is 7x10" in size and 272 pages in length, and includes endnotes, a list of additional readings and an index. It is also rich in illustrations from shortwave's early days (including many QSLs). It was originally published in hardback (ISBN 0-7864-0506-6), but in general it is now available new in paperback only (ISBN-13 978-0-7864-3029-1). "On the Short Waves" can be purchased from the publisher, McFarland & Co., Inc., Box 611, Jefferson, NC 28640, by mail, phone, FAX or on the web. (It is not available from the author.) See the McFarland website www.mcfarlandbooks.com for details; or e-mail them at info@mcfarlandbooks.com; or call them at 336-246-4660 (FAX 336-246-5018). The telephone order line is 800-253-2187 (FAX 336-246-4403).

    "On the Short Waves" is also available from other major Internet booksellers.



    Waterstone's ranks "On the Short Waves" as an essential title.

    The author, Jerry Berg has been active in shortwave radio circles for over 50 years as listener, editor and collector. He lives in Lexington, Massachusetts, and is the co-producer of ontheshortwaves.com.