Tag Archives: Nostalgia

A Good Friend Who’s Always There

cas-pro-relaxThis summer has been a tough one for me in many ways, not the least of which is the minimal amount of time I have been able to spend playing radio. I have several commitments involving radio each week/month, but I do not consider that “playing” radio. To me, playing radio is where we get to sit down in front of a radio of any kind and do something with it just for the pure joy of it. The good thing about this hobby is it is always there whenever you are ready. It is like a good friend who is always there. Radio is, in fact, a bit like my dog.

For those who enjoy dogs like I do, one of the most rewarding things is to come home and find your dog waiting for you, tail wagging, and excited to see you. It does not matter how long you have been gone — a short trip elicits the same excitement upon your return as you would get being gone all day. Good dogs require very little maintenance to be happy, and they are ready for love and attention whenever you are available to give these to them.

My radios do not wag their antennas when I walk into the room, but they are there ready to go when I am, and they provide a world of enjoyment when called upon. As I sit here looking at the radios in front of me (only a small portion of the radios I have around the house overall), each one means something special and calls to mind enjoyable times. My 220 rig gets very little use overall, but it always reminds me of an amateur radio friend who was an Elmer to me in the hobby.

As I am typing this my 2-meter APRS channel has come alive with signals from the digipeater in the International Space Station (ARISS) and I am hoping for a contact or two. This past week I made a contact with AF4B in Texas, which was his first ISS contact! What an honor that is for me — whenever I have the privilege of being someone’s first contact in any manner of radio I am thrilled!! It always brings to mind my “firsts” and how exciting were those moments!

As I look at my Uniden Bearcat BC898T I remember going to my first Dayton Hamvention and buying this beautiful analog scanner. One of the fellows there tried to talk me out of it because it was only analog, and some of the local departments had moved to digital. Fortunately there are still many analog signals to catch in my area, and I am interested in more than just Public Service transmissions. I like Marine, Aviation, Railroads, Coast Guard, and a dozen other things which can be picked up by analog scanners. The 898T was my entrance back into the scanning hobby after many, many years away from it. There was a great deal to learn, but this was my re-introduction to scanning.

I have previously talked about my Yaesu-Musen FRG-7, in some ways the ultimate in shortwave radios for nostalgia, quality workmanship, and manual control of a radio. 40+ years old and still a gem!! Oh yes, and then there is my Swan 350, another marvel of a radio from the past. Never known as a top-of-the-line rig by any means, I treasure its heft, its vacuum tube warmth, and its mechanical tuning which turns like tire compared to the optical tuning wheels on modern rigs. In fact, its a lot like me — slow to get going and needs some time to warm up, but gets the job done eventually. (Why does it seem getting up out of bed and getting started each day gets harder and harder . . . I can’t be that old, can I??)

Fall and winter are coming, definitely great times of the year to play radio, and I hope to do just that. A little work on my antennas should get me back up to  speed in terms of capabilities, and my hope is life will slow down enough to let me have some fun. I know whenever I have the time my old friends will be there ready and waiting! I hope the coming months are filled with radio fun for each of you! 73, Robert

Robert Gulley, AK3Q, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.

Gary’s Arvin Model 61R35 brings back memories

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gary Wise (W4EEY), who shares the following guest post:

It’s funny how much we radio folks share in common. The recent posts on Arvin radios made me smile because I have an Arvin radio too. An Arvin transistor was my very first radio, and here she is:

Arvin Transistor Radio

This is the Arvin Model 61R35 in Ice Blue (it also came in black). My parents bought it for me in roughly 1962 or 63. It was the first radio that was mine (though we did have an older Crosley tabletop in the living room of our house in Midland, Michigan that we all used). Mine had seven Germanium (!) transistors (as silicon transistors were not yet in wide production in the early 60s).

Arvin Model 61R35

And Made in America! Arvin was an Indiana company as I recall.

Arvin Transistor Radio

It used a Round 9V battery. They were hard to find even back then, and I expect impossible to find today.

Arvin transistor radio

I used to love to put my fingers on the PC board while the radio was on and listen to the buzzes and noise that I could create. Unfortunately, I think this is what killed the radio and required my folks to mail it off to the big city (Flint, Michigan) to have it repaired. No one in my “little” town could fix solid state radios back then.

Arvin Transistor Radio Repair Tag

I was fortunate not to lose this radio in my many moves throughout the years. I display in proudly in my ham shack.

Arvin Model 61R35 in leather case

Thanks for the memories!



And thank you for sharing your memories and the great photos of your Arvin Model 61R35, Gary! What a cute little radio–I’m glad you’ve taken care of it all of these years.

Memories and transistor radios

Magnovox 1R 1203Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors, Ron and Aaron, who shared a link to Jay Allen’s latest post–an update on his pocket AM/FM radios.

Like Jay, I’ve always had an affinity for pocket transistor radios.

The Realistic Model 23-464.

The Realistic Model 23-464.

My first one was an AM-only model: a Realistic Model 23-464. It was about the only new pocket radio I could afford–and purchase locally–when I was a kid.

It was surprisingly sensitive on the AM broadcast band, but the dial was a far cry from accurate. At some point, I either gave this radio to someone or lost it. Last year, I happened upon one on eBay and purchased it for $9 shipped. Its plastic body shows signs of wear, but it works and reminds me of my childhood.

My grandpa's Magnovox 1R 1203

My grandpa’s Magnovox 1R 1203

Another pocket AM/FM radio that brings back a flood of memories is the Magnovox 1R 1203. It belonged to my dear grandpa, who also shared and conveyed a love of radio. When I was a kid, we would sit around on his front porch on hot summer days and listen to local AM stations on this little radio, cicadas whirring in the background.

I still have his Magnavox–it sits here in my radio room and brings back memories every time I look at or listen to it.

Am I a nostalgic fellow? You bet!

Anyone else have memories associated with pocket radios? Please feel free to comment and share!

Download the 1923 “first Wireless Christmas” edition of The Radio Times


(Source: BBC Genome Blog via Mike Barraclough)

The much-loved Christmas edition of the Radio Times made its first appearance in 1923. 

It was all very different to today’s multi-channel, on-demand world. There was only radio, and London station 2LO had a meagre five-and-a-half hours of programmes on Christmas Day.

But to some extent, the first Christmas issue set many traditions which have prevailed for decades in various guises. The cover was a warm splash of colour and very festive in tone, while the publication’s austere masthead was festooned with snow and holly.

John Reith, who went on to become the BBC’s first director general, was given the first page to deliver a message to listeners, in which he deliberated the meaning of Christmas and then inevitably talked about the joy of broadcasting and the “first Wireless Christmas”.

“The loud speaker is such a convenient entertainer,” he wrote. “He doesn’t feel hurt if a cracker is pulled in the middle of a song, or offended if the fun grows riotous during his performance”.

While Reith was keen to talk up the virtues of broadcasting, the magazine was packed with adverts for radio sets and cartoons about the joys of consuming radio programmes.

But Christmas is all about giving, and we’d like to offer you the chance to download the first Christmas issue. It’s a fascinating document and we hope you will enjoy it. Happy Christmas fromBBC Genome!

Download a PDF version of the 1923 Christmas Radio Times by clicking on this link

Fessenden Christmas Eve Commemorative Transmissions

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This  was reported in the ARRL Newsletter:

Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, will again put his 600 meter Experimental Station WG2XFQ on the air on for a Christmas Eve commemorative transmission. WG2XFQ will transmit on 486 kHz from Forest, Virginia, to mark the 109th anniversary of Reginald Fessenden’s first audio transmission. Historic accounts say Fessenden played the violin — or a recording — and read a brief Bible verse. It’s been reported that other radio experimenters and shipboard operators who heard Fessenden’s broadcast were astounded.

Justin will conduct a run-up to this year’s event starting at around mid-day Eastern Time on December 23. The “official” Christmas event will begin on December 24 at 0001 UTC (the evening of December 23 in US time zones) and will continue for at least 24 hours. Justin said he plans to repeat the commemorative transmissions on New Year’s Eve and on New Year’s Day.

Fessenden’s transmitter was an ac alternator, modulated by placing carbon microphones in series with the antenna feed line. Justin’s homebuilt station is slightly more modern, based on a 1921 vacuum tube master oscillator power amplifier (MOPA) design. Listener reports are appreciated and may be sent directly to Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, at his QRZ.com address. (Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, built this replica circa-1920 transmitter, capable of CW and Heising modulated AM.      Photo by Brian Justin)

While I have not heard Brian’s transmission before, I have actually heard a transmission on the experimental frequencies between 465 – 515 kHz. I never expected to be able to hear anything due to extremely high local noise, but one night the propagation gods smiled upon me and the evening was exceptionally quiet. I listened on my Elad SDR receiver over and over to the Morse Code signal which was extremely weak, but mostly readable. I confirmed with Multipsk software, verifying I was indeed hearing one of the experimental stations out of Connecticut.

For information regarding the 500 KC experimental project you can follow this link.

Why not give a listen? You just might be surprised like I was to hear something on this band, and you could add a little Christmas Eve radio memory to your collection!!             73, Robert

Robert Gulley, AK3Q, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.