Tag Archives: Radio History

Update: Cold War Clandestine Radio from Greece


Saturday, I published a post referencing Cold War Clandestine Radio from Greece with links to Richard Cummings’ excellent website Cold War Radio Vignettes.

My post was written some time earlier and scheduled to publish Saturday while I was traveling. Unfortunately, the Cold War Radio Vignettes articles I had linked to were removed prior to Saturday.

I contacted Richard Cummings who has kindly assembled a small PDF booklet with the text from all of the posts I had referenced and is allowing me to share it here on the SWLing Post.

Richard asks that if any Post readers have information about these clandestine broadcasts and is willing to share it with him, he would me most thankful. His contact information is on the front page of the PDF.

Click here to download the PDF booklet.

Again, many thanks to Richard Cummings for making this free PDF booklet available to us!

Cold War Clandestine Radio from Greece


UPDATE: The links to Cold War Radio Radio Vignettes below became inactive just prior to publication. Richard Cummings has kindly assembled the texts I referenced and made a PDF booklet available for SWLing Post readers. Click here to download.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor Kim Elliott who (some time ago) shared a link to a series of posts by Richard Cummings from his website, Cold War Radio Vignettes.

Cold-War-RadioCummings is the author of Cold War Radio: The Dangerous History of American Broadcasting in Europe, 1950-1989 and Radio Free Europe’s “Crusade for Freedom” Rallying Americans Behind Cold War Broadcasting, 1950-1960.

Cumming’s blog is updated frequently and features many fascinating historical “vignettes” regarding Cold War radio broadcasting.

Kim specifically mentioned a series of posts with a focus on Cold War American broadcasting from Greece, suggesting SWLing Post readers might enjoy this bit of Cold War history. I completely agree!

Below, I’ve linked to a total of six posts Cummings published on the topic. Enjoy:

Cold War American Clandestine Radio Broadcasting over the Iron Curtain from Greece

Cold War American Clandestine Radio Broadcasting over the Iron Curtain from Greece, to Ukraine

Cold War American Clandestine Radio Broadcasting over the Iron Curtain from Greece: “Future of Romania — Voice of National Resistance”

Cold War American Clandestine Radio Broadcasting over the Iron Curtain from Greece: Nasha Rossiya (Our Russia)

Want more?

If you enjoy Cold War radio history, I strongly recommend that you bookmark Cold War Radio Vignettes. I’m placing a permanent link in our sidebar.

Thanks again for the tip, Kim!

UPDATE: It appears the posts have been removed from the Cold War Radio Vignettes site.  I will contact the owner and see if they can be re-posted.

1953 film anticipates the transistor’s impact on technology


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


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.

Radio connection: English city named after Maine relay station


Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Cuff, who writes:

“Thought the blog might enjoy this…it’s actually longwave related more than SW, but I know you often include historical items in blog posts.”

Indeed I do, Richard! Thanks for sharing. Here’s an excerpt from the Bangor Daily News:

Former radio relay station in Houlton may lead to new connection to England

HOULTON, Maine — Rugby Radio Station, a radio transmission site in the United Kingdom that once had ties to this Aroostook County community as part of a transoceanic communications network in the 1930s, is being re-imagined as a new city in England that will be aptly named: Houlton.

Rugby Radio Station was a radio transmission facility near the town of Rugby, Warwickshire in England. From 1927 to 1957, Houlton served as a relay station for long-wave transoceanic transmissions between New York and London.

Located on the County Road, the Houlton site was decommissioned on Oct. 1, 1957. That property is home to Roger and Carol Hand.

James Scott, who is the director of planning and communication for Urban and Civic, a property development and investment company based in London, was in Houlton on April 29 to meet with town officials and local historians to get a better feel for the American community that will bear the namesake of the new development.

[…]The Rugby site, which will be renamed Houlton, is 1,100 acres and over the next 20 years it will be developed into 6,000 homes, three primary schools, one secondary school and 1 million square feet of commercial floor space.

“The radio station [in England] was in operation from 1926 until 2005,” Scott said. “The site is really interesting in that it is mainly open fields, with some very large buildings and 12 800-foot masts. It was a very emotive site for a lot of people, but it was not very well developed.”

The masts have all been torn down, but some of the buildings were preserved for historical purposes.

[…]In the early days of transoceanic transmissions, a crew of five individuals worked at the Houlton station from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., according to a November 1957 article in Long Lines, a company magazine produced by employees of American Telephone and Telegraph. As demand for service increased, coverage was extended from 4 a.m. to midnight.

Houlton was chosen as the relay station because the signal could not reach all the way from England to New York directly. The local site did not have massive antennae reaching upward such as the location in England. Instead, the transmission lines here were placed horizontally and stretched for many miles.

By the mid-1930s, long-wave transmissions declined because of technological improvements in short-wave radios. The Houlton site was also used in the 1940s as a ship-to-shore service.

Read the full article, at the Bangor Daily News site.