I am going to mention a radio frequency of an emergency broadcast radio station in a post apocalyptic video game (I'm part of the dev team), and I would like to make a reference to real world radio. Are there any historically (or currently) famous radio frequencies?

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    $\begingroup$ 500 KHz is just below the AM band and is the international maritime distress frequency. Have you looked at Wikipedia? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_distress_frequency $\endgroup$
    – SDsolar
    Jun 13 '17 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Ansis Māliņš If you want up-to-date maritime frequencies, search for term GMDSS distress frequencies. For short range, the radio-telephone frequency is Channel 16 at 156.8 MHz using FM. For longer ranges where regional coverage is needed you have 2182,0 kHz using single sideband modulation, which is also an iconic frequency. For very long ranges, you have 4125,0 kHz 6215,0 kHz 8291,0 kHz 12290,0 kHz 16420,0 kHz. Usually, a coastal station would announce its transmission on one of those frequencies and then switch to a so-called working frequency where it make the actual broadcast. $\endgroup$
    – AndrejaKo
    Jun 13 '17 at 21:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Ansis Māliņš Here's an example of a regular weather broadcast for ships using FM youtube.com/watch?v=ENwNB3uX4gw and here's one using SSB:youtube.com/watch?v=FVTD1qex3Q0 There are also data-only frequencies, for example using NAVTEX service at 490 kHz and 518 kHz. These stations will send text data which will be either printed out or displayed at computer screen. The contents are more or less the same as what you'd hear in audio broadcasts. For aviation, the so called guard frequencies are 121.5 MHz for civilian planes and 243 MHz for military planes. $\endgroup$
    – AndrejaKo
    Jun 13 '17 at 21:24
  • $\begingroup$ You could always use WKRP in Cincinatti - 1530 AM. google.com/search?q=what+frequency+was+wkrp%3F $\endgroup$
    – SDsolar
    Jun 15 '17 at 1:16

The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) has established a small set of emergency frequencies. Some of these are global and some are for one of the three IARU regions. The IARU calls these frequencies "emergency centres of activity".

The full list is here:


By far the most common one is 14.300 MHz. That is monitored in the US by the Maritime Mobile Service Network (http://mmsn.org/).

For your game, if you need global broadcast, I'd use one of the global frequencies. If it is more local, use one of the regional frequencies that are around 3xxx kHz (80 m band) or 7xxx kHz (40 m band). 80m is good at nightime, 40m at daytime. Either one is regional, covering something like most of California.

The regions (http://www.iaru.org/regions.html) are:

IARU Region 1: Europe, Africa, Middle East and Northern Asia

IARU Region 2: The Americas

IARU Region 3: Asia-Pacific

There are other frequencies for non-amateur use, mostly marine and aircraft. The primary marine distress frequency was 2182 kHz, but the US Coast Guard stopped monitoring that in 2013. Marine distress traffic now digital to satellites with GPS data.

This is a good list of those frequencies.


If you want a US-oriented throwback flavor, I'd go with the CONELRAD frequencies from the Cold War era. In case of a major attack, AM broadcast stations would shut down, with only specific stations on either 640 or 1240 kHz continuing to broadcast. Those frequencies were marked with a triangle-in-circle icon on radio dials.



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