Category Archives: Nostalgia

Shortwave Radio Recordings: Radio Moscow 1984

Soviet_Union_-_Russian_SFSR_(1936).svg

We’ve just posted yet another excellent recording by Jim Jordan to the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive. This Cold War recording of Radio Moscow dates back to September 19, 1984.

Jim notes:

A nice Cold War piece from Radio Moscow on the double defection of the Soviet journalist Oleg Bitov. The real story behind it was revealed ten years later [click here to read article].

Also, check out this short mention in the Ukrainian Weekly:

THE UKRAINIAN WEEKLY SUNDAY. NOVEMBER 4,1984

THE UKRAINIAN WEEKLY SUNDAY. NOVEMBER 4,1984

Jim’s recording was made using a National Panasonic RF-2200 tuned to 9.5 MHz around 08:10 UTC. The location was South Shields, UK.

Click here to download as a (mono) MP3, or simply listen via the embedded player below:

You can listen to more archived shortwave recordings at the SRAA website, or by subscribing to the audio feed via iTunes. You can also listen to the archive on TuneIn radio.

Radio Botswana, 1987 Style

No seasoned shortwave DXer can forget one of the most distinctive interval signals ever–the “barnyard animals” which marked the beginning of the broadcast day of Radio Botswana, Gaborone, for decades.

On its long-time frequency of 4820 kHz, Botswana was an occasional catch for me from the Seattle USA area. I yearned for clearer, more reliable reception of this station and other Africans which my East Coast USA DXer pals enjoyed!

Zebras mingle with other animals at Chobe National Park, Botswana.

Zebras mingle with other animals at Chobe National Park, Botswana.

It was always fun–and a DXing challenge–to catch Radio Botswana’s interval signal and sign-on announcements, but it was typically mid winter for reception in Seattle. Propagation on 60 meters needed to be favorable to enjoy anything other than a weak, barely listenable signal. Imagine my surprise and excitement when on the evening of December 27, 1987 I came upon the following signal booming in on 4820 kHz, far, FAR better than any previous Botswana reception. Indeed, their signal that evening surpassed in clarity even the Papua New Guinea and Indonesian “regulars” I would hear on the tropical bands from the Northwest USA.


This recording begins with the famous barnyard animals interval, the beautiful Botswana national anthem (Fatshe leno la rona, or This is Our Land in English) and is followed by a full list of broadcasting frequencies and times in English and the (presumed) Setswana language. That information is followed by a flute instrumental version of the Christian hymn Beautiful Savior, which introduces a short devotional or scripture message. The 10 minute recording wraps up with an a cappella children’s choir.

Great Circle route from the Gaborone transmitter to Seattle receiver location.

Great Circle route from the Gaborone transmitter to Seattle receiver location.

My receiving setup for this 1987 recording was an ICOM IC-R70 and a 300 foot long random wire antenna. Such a long antenna is unusual for the middle of an urban area, but I took advantage of living in a 3rd floor apartment across from a small city park. One midweek day, while most folks were at work, I managed to string out this long antenna with very small diameter braided steel wire from the 3rd floor apartment balcony to a distant treetop. This “sloper” antenna had significant directivity to the northeast, which happens to be the bearing for many African stations heard from the Pacific Northwest USA. The small diameter wire was suspended so high that it was virtually invisible from ground level.

Antenna orientation for 1987 reception of Radio Botswana. I'm sure this urban location is plagued by QRM and radio frequency interference now in 2016! My ICOM IC-R70 receiver handled the strong signals from nearby MW & FM broadcasters surprisingly well with the addition of a Grove Tun3 Mini-tuner preselector.

Antenna orientation for 1987 reception of Radio Botswana. I’m sure this urban location is plagued by QRM and radio frequency interference now in 2016! My ICOM IC-R70 receiver handled the strong signals from nearby MW & FM broadcasters surprisingly well with the addition of a Grove Tun3 Mini-tuner preselector.

I continued to log Radio Botswana occasionally on 60 meters until the station eventually left the air (early 2000s I think), but I never heard them again with such a strong, clear signal as in late December 1987!

Guy Atkins is a Sr. Graphic Designer for T-Mobile and lives near Seattle, Washington.  He’s a regular contributor to the SWLing Post.

Shortwave Radio Recordings: KNLS test transmission circa 1983

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We’ve just posted yet another excellent recording by Tom Laskowski to the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive. I thought a number of Post readers might appreciate this one.

Tom notes:

KNLS – Anchor Point, Alaska, from what I believe is a test transmission on August 1, 1983. According to Wikipedia, KNLS signed on the air July 23, 1983. The program consists of the sign-on ID in English and Russian then is mostly a mix of Big Band music. This recording is 31 minutes long.

Tom’s receiver was a Sony ICF-2001 and he started recording at 09:00 UTC on 11.820 MHz. His location, at the time, was South Bend, Indiana (USA).

Click here to download the recording as an MP3, or simply listen via the embedded player below:

You can listen to more archived shortwave recordings at the SRAA website, or by subscribing to the audio feed via iTunes. You can also listen to the archive on TuneIn radio.

1953 film anticipates the transistor’s impact on technology

TheTransistor-Film

Many thanks to an SWLing Post reader who shared this brilliant 1953 documentary film about the anticipated impact the transistor could have on technology.

Here’s the film description from the AT&T YouTube channel:

Made between the 1947 invention of the transistor at Bell Labs and the 1956 awarding of the Nobel Prize for Physics to its creators, this documentary is less about the discovery itself than its anticipated impact on technology and society. The intent of the film was clearly to give the public of that era their first understanding of what a transistor was and why it mattered so much.

Made for a general audience, the film provides a clear and concise presentation on technological developments that began with the vacuum tube, showing different types of transistors and explaining the significance in their ultimate replacement of tubes.

Included are visions of “things to come,” concepts and creations of how the small transistor might free up an encumbered world: the wrist radio, similar to Dick Tracy’s, but with a cool lapel sound speaker worn like a boutonniere; a portable TV set, which must have seemed astonishing at the time given the huge, heavy cabinetry required to accommodate the plethora of tubes inside 1950s TVs; and the “calculating machine,” or computer, whose size, we’re told, will one day be so reduced because of transistors that it will only require “a good-sized room” rather than a space the size of the Empire State Building. The concept of how small computers could be still remained decades away.

While The Transistor’s vision of the future seems somewhat quaint in retrospect, it captures a moment in time before the transistor became ubiquitous; a time when Bell Labs wanted the world to know that something important had occurred, something that was about to bring tremendous change to everyone’s daily lives.

Click here to view the film on YouTube, or simply watch via the embedded player below:

WWII Correspondence Collection highlights POW radio letters

Atwater-Kent-Dial

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Cuff, who shared the following article via the Winter SWL Fest email group:

(Source: Ithaca.com)

He Got News to Families of POWs

The word “archives” can conjure up an image of dusty boxes of documents and sepia photographs. Do not be deceived. In fact, the files in the Tompkins County History Center Archives are filled with stories and all manner of tantalizing clues and evidence about the lives of those who came before us. And in the hands of Archives Director Donna Eschenbrenner—knowledgeable, helpful, ever eager to assist—those files can come alive.

Such a collection is file V-63-7-6, the ‘Meredith Brill WWII Correspondence Collection. In early 1944 15-year-old Caroline resident Meredith (“Bub” to his family) Brill was a shortwave radio enthusiast. What made Brill remarkable is that he was able, with his radio, to get information from Nazi-occupied Europe thousands of miles away, about American servicemen who had been taken prisoner by the Germans. He wrote the names, ranks serial numbers and home addresses down, and then sent letters to the families of the prisoners. He wrote dozens of such letters. The archives file is comprised of thank-you letters from those families, Brill’s notebooks and some of his letters that were returned unread.

His own letters are extraordinary. They are simple without being blunt, and his all-caps typewritten directness doesn’t disguise the very human impulse to ease a family’s anxiety. “I hope this information will be of help to you because I know many parents worry a great deal about their sons and daughters in the service.”

Shortwave radios captured the imagination of a lot of young people in those days. The technology has been called the “first internet.” A shortwave radio uses frequencies just above the medium AM broadcast band, and it can be used for very long distance reception by means of “skip propagation,” in which the radio waves are reflected back to earth from the ionosphere. It allows communication around the curvature of the earth. Sound quality can vary greatly, and it depends on the season and time of day, but you can hear broadcasts from around the world. Generally, the signals are best at night.[…]

Continue reading at Ithaca.com…

Back in 2011, I posted a short review of Lisa Spahr’s book, World War II Radio Heroes, which also focuses on these amazing POW messages. Such a fascinating piece of WWII radio history.