live sound collage broadcasts


CW, or continuous wave broadcast, was the only way to communicate during the first decade of radio transmission. Tesla, Marconi, and Edison were all working with low frequency, low-bandwith transmissions, using the long amplitude of VHF frequencies to span large distances with wireless transmission. Morse Code was the lingua franca of the project, since it was much more efficient to transmit a simple binary communication system across the radio than to transmit voice.

To broadcast on CW, the tools used today are much the same as they were in the early days of radio. Station operators use a modified telegraph key that interrupts the radio signal they broadcast in either short (dot) or long (dash) pulses.

QRP is one of the standard abbreviations, or Q codes, used by Morse Code operators that has become a part of ham radio lexicon and means “reduced power.” In the ham radio community, QRP has come to mean transmitting at very low power levels, generally under 5 watts, while aiming to obtain maximum effective range.

A small segment of the amateur radio community, QRP broadcasters pride themselves on being able to span 1000 miles per watt of transmission power, and using CW broadcasting and Morse Code provides the perfect combination of high transmission capacity with low transmission overhead.

Using Morse Code over the CW band provides a means to communicate worldwide without cellphones, the internet, or even electricity. Many CW operators have portable solar and battery powered radio kits expressly for the purpose of traveling to ideal broadcast locations, essentially creating radio that is not only off-grid, but no-grid.

Tonight’s broadcast celebrates the community of CW QRP broadcasters.


Broadcast date: February 23rd 2016
KCHUNG Los Angeles 1630AM

SPECIAL COLLECTIONS is a broadcast project by Sam Rowell.
Each edition is mixed live on the air.