“Turn on your radio anytime today, but especially around twilight and tune between 6,920 – 6,980 kHz. Pirates broadcast on both AM and SSB; you’re bound to hear a few.”
Many wind-up and emergency radios from brands like Eton have shortwave band capability, so you might even have a shortwave radio without realizing it. However, these radios, and most inexpensive receivers, will only get AM shortwave broadcasts (not to be confused with the AM band), which require higher power from the broadcaster.
Because they broadcast with low power and often without warning, hunting shortwave pirate broadcasts requires some patience. The Pirate’s Week podcast producer Ragnar Daneskjold often tweets the pirates he receives. So an interested listener is advised to follow him. Also, I’ll bet he’ll play some highlights he records tonight on a future show.
Informal counts indicate that the government shutdown period from October 1 – 13 saw a surge in shortwave pirate activity. Because shortwave broadcasts easily propagate over large areas, it requires more active monitoring to track down their origination. With FCC agents on furlough there were no government officials on duty to do this tracking, greatly lowering the likelihood of pirates getting caught then.
It will be interesting to see if Halloween 2013 will rival the shutdown for shortwave pirate activity. As the Commission plays catch-up from the 13-day furlough, sniffing out shortwave pirates may not be at the top be at the top of their agenda today.
As John Anderson at DIYMedia points out, the FCC was engaged in very active enforcement of FM pirates in New York City from June 1 to September 5. Very little has been registered since September, though that doesn’t mean that Commission offices aren’t readying lists of unlicensed broadcasters to track down. However, again, shortwave pirates require more active hunting, simultaneous with their broadcasts.