Radio wasn’t made first as an advanced broadcasting station but it was made like a little amateur station. There were people who were operating transmitters and sending signals "on air" but those operators wouldn’t have any meaning if there wouldn’t be a wide audience of listeners.
Part of the fun of SWL'ing is collecting cards, called QSL cards, from amateurs that you've heard on the radio.
Once your station is set up and you have become familiar with operating it, you will want to start keeping track of your listening activities. This is referred to as logging your listening. This log can be as simple as a paper bound book or as elaborate as commercial computer logging software. As you already have access to a computer, I may suggest a computer logging software package. There are several available ranging from free on up.
Contesting has developed into a major activity within the Ham Community. On any given weekend, there would be several Ham Radio contests running. It's affords you a special opportunity to log several new stations in a short period of time. In several of these contests, there is a SWL class for actually competing for awards and certificates. If you wish to find out more on contests are upcoming, see our Calendar page or calendar on the right side of this site.
Every licensed Radio Amateur is given a call sign that is used to identify them and their location of license. Each country that has Amateur Radio status is allocated a range of call signs by the International Telecormunications Union (ITU).
Over the past several years, there continues to be development of different modes for Hams to communicate with on the Ham Bands. Some are as much as 150 years old eg. in Morse code and others are somewhat newer, up to and including the newest digital modes only months old.