live broadcast sound collage

As lighting travels through the magnetosphere (the area of space that is affected by the Earth’s magnetic field) it creates electromagnetic energy that can be picked up in the Very Low Frequency (VLF) radio band as far as 3000 miles away. The electromagnetic waves created by lighting occupy the frequency range of 3Hz-3000Hz, most of which is within the range of human hearing. All that is needed to transform the electromagnetic energy that is dispersed by lighting and bounced around the globe into sound is a VLF antenna and receiver.

This edition of Special Collections features VLF radio recorded by University of Iowa, Stanford VLF Research Group, Alvin Lucier, Wolfgang Buscher (DL4YHF), Renato Romero (IK1QFK), Michael Hess (WX9HV), and the godfather of natural radio, Stephen P. McGreevy (N6NKS). Real time lighting map courtesy of


Broadcast date: January 23rd 2018
KCHUNG Los Angeles 1630AM

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