FO Podcast Episode 007 – Sparks on Communications Monitoring – Forward Observer Shop

FO Podcast Episode 007 – Sparks on Communications Monitoring

On this episode of Forward Observer Podcast, we speak with “Sparks” of the Signal Corps Blog (otherwise known as Sparks 31).  Sparks is a US Army veteran and a former writer for the Special Forces underground publication, The Resistor.

Sparks talks about the importance of communications monitoring for early warning of emergencies.  He also makes some recommendations for gear and some best practices.


Communications Intelligence (COMINT)

Signals Intelligence (SIGINT)

Show Notes:


Sparks31 Blog

Sparks’ Grid-Down Communications, Vol 1 (MUST READ)

Recommended Gear: Uniden Public Safety Receiver – HomePatrol

Download this podcast (Right Click + Save As…)



Mike Shelby is a former military intelligence NCO and contract intelligence analyst. He spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the intelligence and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.


  1. wow the information within this podcast is absolutely awesome. I wish the audio was cleaned up. The interviewer is really quiet and Sparks is really loud. This is a very small thing in the scheme of things considering the wealth of information contained in this podcast.

    1. AOR,

      Yes, you’re right. When I listened to the audio through my headphones, it sounded alright. I really need a sound engineer or something. I’ll work on getting it fixed in the meantime. Be well and thanks for listening!

  2. Thank you Sam, Huge amount of knowledge to take in & learn, The information is there for us all, Patriots need to be in on the discussion to be aware of what we can do and how we can best achieve our goal. I see this as a new learning tool to help. As my Father (Military) says ” Knowledge is Power ” ~

  3. Yes, good info from Sparks…and I appreciate Sam’s time and effort in making these podcasts, but I just don’t get it why podcasters can’t get the audio levels right. I am about to give up on podcast listening. Even someone like Michael Bane (a freaking TV producer, for goodness sake) apparently makes no attempt to get his voice audio level up high enough to make it practical to listen. The biggest offenders are the podcasters who run interviews that are either done with the guest on the telephone or coming in over Skype or some other IP voice system. I listen to quite a few podcasts and the only ones who seem to get the levels close to right is Radio Free Redoubt and the Delta 04 podcast. Sam’s podcasts have not been too bad in terms of this up until UNlucky #7. I could barely hear Sam but Sparks’s audio level was fine. Usually it is the guest that I can’t hear. Ballistic Radio podcast, a relatively good show in terms of content has awful matching of the levels. And, that’s a show that goes out live first on real broadcast radio. The host has decent audio, but his guests call in on cell phones and their audio levels are awful. How his radio station lets him broadcast that crappy audio product is beyond me. Mostly, Sam, what i’m saying is that #7 was really bad in terms of the audio level and I’m about to give up on podcasts because very few people even seem to try to get the levels right. I used to teach radio broadcasting (production, on-air DJ, basic engineering) to kids at a summer camp AM-FM radio station in the 1980’s. I can teach a 10 year old to get his audio levels right. It bugs the pants off of me when I hear adults screw it up. Sorry for the rant, and I don’t put Sam in the category of people who don’t try or don’t care, so please don’t give up or take offense, but man, you got to get the audio issues squared away or the show will not grow as much as it could,.

    1. I think that sometimes crap audio detracts from the content of any media. However, even a tattered worn out book that has great content is worth the read. I am sure when there is a budget for audio engineering it will be better, but I also hope that the quality of the content stays the same.

    1. I am glad that there was theory and practice mixed together. I am going to buy a home patrol and Doppler directional finder and give both a try.

    1. Hey Keeper – Thank you for listening! I love this job, and am glad to hear that you enjoy the work. Please let me know how we can do better.

  4. Sparks, you can get Audacity software for free, and equalize the interview or even magnify the quiet and knock down the loud by hand if you need to. When I worked as a legal secretary and had depositions to transcribe I would sometimes take the audio and do that, because in order to hear the quiet one I’d have to crank it up and my ears would be bleeding from the loud one. It’s not rocket science but it does take a little time.

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