Letter Re: Alternative News Sources When The Grid Goes Down


I have been hooked to your blog for weeks now and have a topic suggestion for you.
The only news I can trust comes from independent blogs with communities of users working together to bring critical information to light. Web sites like The Housing Bubble Blog have saved me tens of thousands of dollars by being months ahead of the mainstream media (MSM) and by reporting honestly. With the internet we have the means to organize grassroots efforts to support candidates like Ron Paul. We can be kept up to date with the latest injustices and know when our fellow citizens are taking a stand against a corrupt government. Most importantly we have time to react.
We cannot be dependent upon the Internet in a SHTF scenario, yet we will all be in desperate need of quality and timely information regarding future government/societal moves. It would seem to me that we need to establish a pre-internet means of communication or at least a self-sufficient internet community networking through their own dedicated satellite!
What steps are you and your readers taking to provide “foreign intelligence” on operations outside their retreat location? – Daniel L.

JWR Replies: Although the Internet is designed to be high resilient (a carryover from its original design as a US military network), it cannot expect to survive a grid-down situation. The best that we could hope for in those circumstances is a combination voice and data packet network, via High Frequency (HF) shortwave. (Perhaps the Army Aviator or one of our other readers that are senior ham operator would care to chime in on how a quasi-Internet could be piecemealed together using packet modems and HF ham gear.

At the very minimum, to gather local, regional, and international intelligence, weather data, accurate time of day, and to maintain overall situational awareness you should own at least two radios, neither of which need be very expensive:

1.) A general coverage AM/FM/shortwave receiver. Most of these cover all the way from 500 KHz all the way up to 30 MHz. This includes the AM and FM broadcast bands, many of the amateur bands, the international HF broadcast bands (for stations like BBC, Radio Netherlands, HCJB, WWV, and so forth), and the Citizen’s Band (CB) channels. The inexpensive Kaito KA1102 radios are ideal for anyone that is on a budget. These are available from Affordable Shortwaves–a SurvivalBlog advertiser. If you have a bigger budget, I would suggest (in sequence of price) the following

The Sony ICF-SW-7600G (around $195 to $210, new.)

The Sony ICF-2010 (Discontinued, but used ones are available for around $175 to $275 on eBay.) This model was replaced by the ICF SW-77, but a lot of listeners prefer the controls on the ICF-2010.

And if you have a “The sky is the limit” budget, get a Drake R8A (around $1,100 new, or $750, used.)

BTW, even if you eventually buy a more “spendy” receiver, I recommend that you keep a couple of the little Kaito KA1102 radios as spares, preferably stored in metal ammo cans to protect them from EMP.

2.) A VHF police/marine/aircraft/weather band scanner. Try to get one of the more recent models that can demodulate trunked traffic. One relatively inexpensive “trunked” model is the Bearcat BC898T. They sell for around $240. If you have a big budget, get a digital model, but expect to pay at least $500. OBTW, nearly all scanners cover the NOAA weather bands.