Why Play Radio…
For about 50 years or so, rail fans have used radio scanners to listen to the railroad frequencies in the land mobile FM portion of the 137-174 MHz band. The railroad frequencies are right below the National Weather Service 162 MHz frequencies and can be found in the 159 to 161 MHz range.
Because the land mobile band is close to the Amateur Radio two-meter band, and many amateur radio transceivers can receive the Weather Service band, those transceivers are capable of listening in on the land mobile frequencies. You cannot transmit, but you can listen.
The other evening I was at local rail fan spot waiting on a Norfolk Southern heritage unit. Some other fans arrived. I have noticed this before, but it was especially obvious that evening. One of them was using a cell phone and a scanning app. I do not know which one, but Broadcastify is a common app. They have receivers and capture the radio traffic and put it on the internet where it can be accessed via an app or website. There is a time lag as all this happens. My amateur radio receiver, set to 160.980 MHz FM, would pick up something. About a minute later the nearby cell phones would begin making noise and we’d hear the same conversation again.
I have spent well over 30 years in pursuit of the perfect “scanner”. I think I have almost found it…and used it for many years now. But I am still slightly amused when I see someone rolling in and they sort of look down on this “old guy clinging to his outdated technology”. Then they are amazed when I hear stuff they have not heard yet.
Radio is cool!
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“… I am still slightly amused when I see someone rolling in and they sort of look down on this “old guy clinging to his outdated technology”. Then they are amazed when I hear stuff they have not heard yet.”
Rail Fan and
Amateur Radio Operator