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

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(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.

Shortwave Radio Recordings: RCI, BBC, VOA circa 1979 & 1981

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Many thanks to SRAA contributor, Tom Laskowski, who shares the following recording and notes:

A few snippets from my old shortwave tapes that were too short to upload individually. These were made using a GE portable multi band that had poor selectivity, hence the annoying ute during the BBC clip.

Times of individual clips are:

  • 00:00 – 01:59: 1979, July 19 – RCI, frequency announcements in English and french.
  • 01:59 – 09:51: 1979, July 20 – BBC, newscast, bothered by an annoying utility station.
  • 09:51 – 11:38: 1981, August 28 – VOA, science news item about Voyager 2
  • 11:38 – 14:52: 1981, August 29 – VOA, science news item about Voyager 2

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

Frank shares 1991 recordings and original notes of station IDs and interval signals

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SWLing Post reader, Frank, writes from Germany:

First let me say that I enjoy your blog a lot.

After a 2005-13 hiatus, I have rediscovered a childhood hobby and your reviews have helped me find my way to the post-Sony portable shortwave radio markets.

First, I obtained my “childhood dream” radio (Sony ICF 2001D), because at the time I made these recordings I was still in school and 1300 DM would have equaled over 1 year of pocket money, so a Supertech SR16HN had to do. I thought I got some fine results with this Sangean-Siemens re-branded receiver then, using a CB half-length antenna, a random wire, and much endurance.

The Supertech SR16HN (photo: Radiomuseum.com)

The Supertech SR16HN (photo: Radiomuseum.com)

I kept regular logs throughout the years, wrote to 50 international and pirate stations for QSL and compiled this cassette.

A few years before I got that trusty SR16HN, however, I recorded a few number stations (such as G3, Four Note Rising Scale etc) with an ordinary radio cassette recorder, and in 1991 I put them onto this tape as well. The other recordings are done with the same radio placed right in front of the SR 16HN.

Feel free to make use of these recordings. Most of it are the well-known international state-owned shortwave stations of the past; plus European pirates; plus number stations; and at the end, a few (off-topic) local Am and FM stations interval signals.

As I said, this collection I made shortly after the Wende/reunification period, when all former-GDR state broadcasters changed their names, sometimes more than once.

Please continue your good work on the blogs! Weather permitting I am often outside cycling and always have the tiny Sony ICF 100 with me (which I call my then-student’s dream radio of the later 90ies).

Cassette Side 1

Click to enlarge.

Frank’s original hand-written notes. Click to enlarge.

Click here to download Side 1, or listen via the embedded player below:

Cassette Side 2

Click to enlage.

Click to enlage.

Click here to download Side 2, or listen via the embedded player below:


Wow! Frank, what a treat to listen to all these station IDs!

I had forgotten how many interval signals have changed over time and how many, of course, have disappeared. This tape represents a flood of nostalgia for me.

I should add, too, that I’ve enjoyed hearing so many IDs in German. It’s funny, but we all get hooked on listening to language programming from our native or second languages. It makes me realize just how many broadcasters used to have German language services.

Again, many thanks, Frank, for taking the time to digitize these recordings and scan your original hand-written notes. This stuff is invaluable, in my book!

Moshe’s early birthday gift: a Philips 90AL765

Philips-90AL765-FrontSWLing Post contributor, Moshe, writes:

After reading your post about your Panasonic RF2200 pre-birthday present, I decided I want to do the same. The radio I chose has a story behind it…

My Grandfather had the same exact radio. I used to play around with the radio as a child, (especially with the shortwave bands, looking for number stations…). When my Grandfather died, about 23 years ago, the radio disappeared.

I decided this is the radio I want for my birthday. I could not remember the maker of the radio, nor it’s model, but I remembered how it looked.

I spent many days looking for all variations like “portable transistor radio” and so on, until I found a photo on the Internet: I was looking for a Philips 90AL765 radio.

I found it on Ebay. A very kind seller from Australia had it.
I purchased and receive the radio on the 26th of June (my birthday was the 12th of July). As soon as I got the radio, I opened it up; it needed cleaning (the case itself and the contacts).

Philips 90AL765-Back

After cleaning the contacts and washing the case, the radio runs (and looks) like new. I thought I would have to recap the radio, but it sounded perfect and without even a hint of hum, so I left it as it is.

It has the volume and tone knobs missing, but it can be operated with no problem. Sound quality is amazing (I added a video of the radio playing All India Radio on 6155 kHz)–it works very well on all bands and is very sensitive. By ear, the bandwidth sounds like 8 kHz or more. Radio bands are: MW, SW (2 bands) And FM.

The shortwave band is divided in two: SW1: 2.3MHz- ~7.4MHz, SW2: ~9.4MHz- 22.5MHz. For fine tuning on shortwave, the radio has a “Fine Tuning” control, which is a potentiometer connected to a varicap.

If you place the control in the middle (It lacks a detent spot) and tune in a station, this control will put you spot-on (the receiver is very stable).

Some info about the radio: According to Radiomuseum.org, the radio is dated to 1977, and was made in Austria (mine and my Grandfather’s were made in Singapore).

It contains 13 transistors, 3 of them are can transistors (not plastic).

Tuning is slide ruler type, and the only connection is A DIN5 for recording (wired for mono).

Philips 90AL765-Back2The radio can be operated from 4 D cells, or directly from AC (in the picture you can see the transformer). It can be operated from 230V or 120V. Note that if you move the plastic pin cover from the left pin to the right one, the center pin remains visible at all times. Also you will have to move the plastic cover piece on the back to the left.

The Ferrite is 14cm long, the telescopic antenna is 79cm fully extended, and it has an elbow joint that allows you to place the radio in your lap and still the antenna will point up with no problem. Only thing is that if the antenna is extended, the handle cannot change position since the antenna is in the way.

Philips 90AL765-Side

Width of the radio itself is 29cm (31cm with the handle and the knobs).
Depth is 7cm.
Height is 16.5cm (21cm with the handle).

All in all, it is a very fine radio and I love it!

Moshe, thanks so much for sharing your story!

Perhaps, one of the true virtues of sites like eBay is that they allow us to search the world for somewhat obscure devices that have such a strong family and nostalgic connections. Congratulations on your find!

WG2XFQ: Brian Justin’s annual longwave broadcast Dec 24-25

Reginald Aubrey Fessenden (October 6, 1866 – July 22, 1932)

Reginald Aubrey Fessenden (October 6, 1866 – July 22, 1932)

Now an annual Christmas tradition, Brian Justin (WA1ZMS) will put his longwave experimental station WG2XFQ on the air to commemorate the 108th anniversary of Reginald Fessenden’s first audio transmission.

WG2XFQ will broadcast on 486 kHz from Forest, Virginia, beginning on December 24 at 0001 UTC. WG2XFQ will remain on the air for 48 hours.

Listener reports may be sent to Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, at his QRZ.com address.

If you would like more information about Brian Justin and WG2XFQ, check out our interview with him last year. Indeed, I successfully heard the 2013 WG2XFG broadcast and posted this audio clip on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.

Additionally, SWLing Post reader, George Stein has a very personal connection with radio pioneer, Reginald Fessenden: click here to read his story.

Shortwave Radio Recordings: beHAVior Night

RadioListeningFor your listening pleasure: beHAVior Night, a shortwave radio show which showcases music from the first four decades of the 20th Century.

This show was recorded on Friday, November 28, 2014. While beHAVior Night is broadcast all year long via WBCQ, I’m not able to hear them easily at my home during Daylight Savings Time (DST) as the propagation path is not yet open to the south. During the winter months, however, the signal is quite strong as you will hear.

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

You can catch beHAVior Friday afternoon/evening at 17:00 EST/22:00 UTC on 7,490 kHz (WBCQ). Check out beHAVior Night on Facebook by clicking here.