I've been through my logs for the past 12 months to see just how European shortwave pirates have been active, and the grand total is 179.
There will be some stations on air in 2018, but I haven't logged them while some pirate operators use more than one station name, so the final figure is a rough guide. Some stations may have only appeared once or twice on shortwave during 2018 while others are regular visitors to the bands.
Types of stations
I've split them into four types:
1. The sole operator. He will most likely broadcast from home, have no fixed schedule, just come on for an hour or so, play some music, chat a bit and sign off.
2. The non-stop music station. There have been a few of these who will play continuous music interspersed by ID jingles but no DJ.
3. The radio station. Some stations will have several DJs who will produce shows to be aired by the station which will normally broadcast from a remote location or via a relay, such as Laser Hot Hits, Focus International or FRS Holland. There are not many of this type of pirate stations still around.
4. The relayed station. Some licensed or internet stations get relayed on shortwave, such as Coast FM, Zenith Classic Rock or Charity Radio. Most of these relays originate from Ireland. I've not included these in my final total.
No prizes for guessing the country with the most shortwave pirates is The Netherlands. This is followed by the unknown locations (mainly the non-stop music stations), then Germany, UK, Ireland and Italy followed by several other European countries with just one or two SW pirates.
1. The Netherlands (99)
2. Unknown (31)
3. Germany (13)
4. United Kingdom (10)
5. Ireland (9)
6. Italy (8)
7. Ukraine (2)
8. Belgium, France, Hungary, Finland, Greece, Czech Republic, Portugal, Norway (1 each)
I've created a separate page for the list of stations heard in 2018, from Radio AC DC to Zwarte Panter. To see the list click HERE.
Some pirates have been heard on both shortwave and medium wave. The MW Free Radio blog has done a similar exercise and counted up the number of Dutch medium wave pirates he heard in 2018. To see his list go to https://mwfreeradio.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-class-of-2018.html
So despite the challenges of broadcasting on shortwave - bad propagation and interference from other broadcast stations or utilities - the scene certainly remains active. So let's see what 2019 will bring.