We seek to understand and document all radio transmissions, legal and otherwise, as part of the radio listening hobby. We do not encourage any radio operations contrary to regulations. Always consult with the appropriate authorities if you have questions concerning what is permissible in your locale.

Author Topic: Introduction to European Mediumwave Pirates  (Read 1527 times)

Offline Shortwave_Listener

  • Moderator
  • DXing Phenomena
  • *****
  • Posts: 3818
  • British Columbia, Canada
    • View Profile
    • The Shortwave Listener
Introduction to European Mediumwave Pirates
« on: December 02, 2022, 0545 UTC »
This board is for loggings of European Mediumwave Pirates, so it makes sense to me to have a topic with relevant information about these stations.


European Mediumwave Pirates typically operate from 1611-1800 kHz, with 1600-1700 kHz most used. The upper end of the mediumwave band (about 1494-1602 kHz, especially 1512 kHz) is sometimes used, but these stations have to put up with severe interference from high powered legal stations. Stations operating in the mediumwave band are most often low power stations that operate during the day to reach a local audience. The benefit of operating inside the mediumwave band is regular listeners (people with standard broadcast receivers) can hear the broadcast. Because only hobbyists will have receivers that tune far above 1602 kHz (some regular radios can tune as high as 1620 or 1631 kHz), stations operating above the mediumwave range are mostly listened to by hobbyists (often people who have their own stations).


There are four main regions that mediumwave pirates broadcast from: Netherlands, Greece, Serbia, and Russia. Others, such as Croatia and Ukraine, are also occasionally heard. The programming of mediumwave pirates is very distinct from that of shortwave pirates. They mostly focus on the music of their own country (with some exceptions) and only broadcast in their country’s own language. They can be difficult to identify if you are not familiar with the language of the broadcast.


It is much more difficult to obtain QSLs/eQSLs from mediumwave pirates than shortwave pirates. Currently, only Dutch stations have known contact information (except Radio Augusta International from Belgium). The percentage of Dutch stations with email addresses is low but I have found about a dozen of them. No current contact information is known for Greek, Serbian, Russian, or Ukrainian stations.


Dutch pirates are usually found from 1611-1710 kHz, with the lower frequencies on 9 kHz spacing preferred. Power is usually 20-200 watts, more than 500 watts is rare. Coil antennas are often used. Many stations choose to use only one frequency because the efficiency of coil antennas can be effected by moving just a few kHz. Modulation and frequencies accuracy/stability is usually very good, comparable to legal stations. Polka music is most common, but German Schlager and other genres of Dutch music are also often heard. Station operators often greet listeners and give stations identifications in Dutch several times during broadcasts. English is used in the fairly uncommon case of greeting a listener outside of the Netherlands. The Dutch name for these stations is “middengolf piraten”.


Greek pirates can be found in the upper part of the mediumwave band and 1611-1700 kHz (frequencies around 1611-1700 kHz most used). The most used frequencies are 1660 kHz and 1700 kHz (especially for QSOs). They are usually found on standard channels in-band and 5 kHz spacing from 1611-1720 kHz. Power is rarely less than 1 kW, and up to 50 kW has been used. 5-15 kW is most common. Stations are primarily located in the industrial areas of Athens and Thessaloniki, where there is enough power to run the transmitting equipment. Modulation and frequency stability is usually excellent. Some stations even use C-QUAM AM Stereo! Stations primarily play La´ko and folk music, although some stations occasionally play music from the USA and techno. Many stations are frequently heard having what I call “Musical Conversations”. I say this because they will often mix in music with their conversations, often talking over music and playing it before they respond to other stations. Most stations use a lot of reverb/echo on their voice. English is never used by any stations, only Greek. Stations are very difficult to contact, there are currently no known email addresses for any stations. Some stations have websites, but they are difficult to find without knowing the names of stations. They occasionally post videos of their equipment on YouTube. The Greek name for these stations is “ραδιοπειρατεία”.


Serbian pirates are usually found from 1611-1800 kHz, with frequencies around 1660 kHz on 5 kHz spacing preferred. There are two main types of Serbian pirates I distinguish: high power stations and low power stations. High power stations behave similarly to Greek stations. They use preferred frequencies (because they have the ability to squash any other signals there) and often QSO along with playing music. Low power stations are often found from 1710-1800 kHz and mostly only broadcast music (some broadcasts contain no talking or identifications at all), they do not focus on QSOs. They use these frequencies to try to avoid QRM from the massive amount of Dutch and Greek stations with higher power in the lower part of the band. They often still suffer QRM from Russian/Ukrainian QSO stations in this part of the band. Up to 10 KW stations have been documented but most stations are in the “low power” category and use less than 100 watts. Most stations (all the high power ones and most low power stations) have very good modulation and frequency stability, although a few low power stations have drifty or FMing modulation. Music is always Serbian folk music, I have never heard any exceptions to this. Some high power stations have the “Musical Conversations” the Greek stations do. Some stations like to use reverb/echo boxes for voice. English is never used by any stations, only Serbian. Stations are very difficult to contact, there are currently no known email addresses for any stations. They occasionally post videos of their equipment on YouTube. I do not know what they refer to themselves as.


Russian pirates are usually found from 1611-1750 kHz, with random frequency spacing. These stations use very primitive equipment, mostly designs from the 1960’s and 1970’s (that were already poor designs then). Modulation and frequency stability is very poor. I am not sure how many were built then and are still in use or how many are built recently using old designs. It is difficult to estimate the power used, but it is probably about 10 watts (based on the TX designs). They broadcast mainly to a very local audience, and certainly have no interest in foreign listeners. They are difficult to hear outside of Russia, the only other countries they can be heard in are Finland and Ukraine (a small amount of stations are from Ukraine as well). Music is often modern Russian pop music, but others including music by VIA bands and home recordings are also played. Operators often speak only at the end of broadcasts to identify (usually using a one word “handle”, such as Magnet, Compressor, East, etc.) or occasionally comment between songs. They sound very unprofessional, using a poor microphone with no processing and significant feedback at first when the microphone is turned on. They speak only in Russian, English is never used. No contact information for any stations is known. They were completely unknown to western listeners until Harri Kujala in Finland began logging them in 2006. I suppose Russian mediumwave DXers must know about them too, but I have not found anything written about them by Russian listeners. They often post videos of their equipment on YouTube. The Russian names for these stations is mainly “шарманщиков” (organ grinders), and “радиохулиганы” is sometimes used by the authorities and some of the station operators (I have seen them write using that term but I have never heard it on air). “радиохулиганы” is mainly used for the QSO stations and “шарманщиков” is only used for music stations.

There are many pirates from the former USSR that have no music programs, they only have conversations (QSOs). The operators of these stations are not the same as those that play music (although the music stations occasionally have short QSOs after a music program and QSO stations occasionally play Russian pop music or electronic music). They run much higher power, and their ranges are 1700-1800 kHz and 2900-3200 kHz, plus 10460 kHz for long distance (often used in Siberia). They use similar homemade transmitters, but they are much higher power versions. 2910, 2920, and 10460 kHz are used for Upper Side Band (USB), all other frequencies are for AM. Occasionally relays of Russian government stations are heard. Stations having conversations are to be logged in the “Other” board, not this one (although they are rarely worth logging. They are of no interest unless you speak Russian and there are many active every day and have been since the 1960’s).

Any corrections, additional information, or comments are welcome.

See Also (google translate needed for some of these):

Website by a Finnish DXer for all MW pirates

MW Free Radio (about Dutch pirates)

Discussion on Russian Mediumwave Pirates (HFU)

European Mediumwave Pirate email addresses (HFU Wiki)

Russian “Amateur radio site” with a section for the pirate stations (focuses on stations that QSO, not the music stations)

Anodos (Greek MW Pirate Forum)

Example of a Greek stations website

ukdxer’s Log

Irish Paul’s Radioblog

BetaJBK dxing

Terry’s Radio Blog

Greek Pirate Radio Website
« Last Edit: January 15, 2023, 1940 UTC by Shortwave_Listener »
Lucas Bandura
eQSL appreciated! lucasnerite@gmail.com
Songs are identified with Shazam if needed. I usually use KiwiSDR receivers. Reception from my QTH is using an SDRPlay RSP1A for SWL with a 40 meter band Inverted V at 40 feet. Kenwood TS-570D for ham use.
My website: https://swl7.wordpress.com/
Shortwave Radio Archive: https://www.youtube.com/@SW_Archive