10 years ago I bought cheap world band receiver (Silvercrest from LIDL) but it has no direct fx entry, nor lateral bands, or external antenna input, batteries lasted nothing… and SWLing experience was very poor and didn’t woke up my SWL interest. SWL is just listening to the Short Wave bands (3-25Mhz).
It’s amazing how ionosphere propagation helps radio signals travel across the world directly to your cheap radio receiver. Cheap.. or not. There are people who spends more than 200$/€ on shortwave receivers. The thing for a good experience is that the receiver has external antenna input, good filters and lateral bands (USB/LSB) in addition to habitual AM/FM.
Recently I just discovered the XHData D808, a chinese brand new world receiver that has all the features that expensive receivers has, but less than half the price. It has lateral bands, FM RDS (w/OIRT band), AIR band, Squelch, li-ion battery that lasts forever… 100% recommended.
After some days playing, I deployed a simple longwire (25m) on the roof and reception is so much better, although more noise is added. I maintain a shortwave reception Log on the wiki. It is fun to discover which radio stations you can receive at your location. In addition to commercial stations, you can hear pirate radios, HAM radio operators and utility stations (like this one: Weather forecast in RTTY)
Then if you write to the station and tells them your reception report, usually they send you a QSL Card. And I have received my first one from World Harvest Radio received on 9505Khz. Its amazing to know that I heard a station broadcasting 7220Km away from my location without any kind of infrastructure.